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Voters follow along as Fire District Moderator Paul Harsch reads the act enabling expansion of the district's Prudential Committee.

Williamstown Fire District Voters OK Expansion of Prudential Committee

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
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Prudential Committee members Ed Briggs and Ed McGowan follow Tuesday's special district meeting.
 
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Williamstown Fire District on Tuesday approved a plan to restructure the way the district is managed.
 
Sixteen voters checked in to a special district meeting, where they unanimously approved a proposal to expand the Prudential Committee, which governs the town's Fire Department, from three to five members.
 
The same vote also authorized the district to change its clerk/treasurer position from an elected to an appointed office.
 
Both changes require a change to the district's charter and, therefore, need an act of the Legislature. If that blessing is received, the current Prudential Committee has announced its intention to hold a special election to increase its membership in advance of the regular May election.
 
The expansion was, in part, a reaction to comments the Prudential Committee members have heard over the years about under-representation in the district's governance.
 
The same criticism has led the committee in recent years to take steps like moving the annual district meeting to Williamstown Elementary School, site of Tuesday's special meeting. The committee also occasionally has held its monthly meetings at Town Hall, where it can be filmed by the town's community access television station, WilliNet.
 
Changing the clerk/treasurer position to an appointed office will allow the Prudential Committee to name the most qualified person it can find to the specialized office.
 
The fire district operates as its own taxing authority apart from town government. It holds a separate annual meeting to approve its budget and its own annual election of officers apart from the rest of the town elections.
 
The Prudential Committee is the functional equivalent of the town's Select Board and hires the fire chief, just as the Select Board hires a town manager to run town departments.

Tags: fire district,   prudential committee,   special meeting,   

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Williamstown Fire District Seeks New Perspective from Advisory Panel

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
WILLLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Williamstown Fire District has had eight chiefs in 122 years of its existence.
 
It is governed by an elected committee that, until last year, had just three members, each with decades of experience in fighting fires, including one whose father served on the same committee.
 
And it is looking for a fresh perspective.
 
"We're set in our way and need to listen to fresh ideas," Assistant Chief Robert Briggs said last week. "That's what we're looking for. Myself, the chief, the other assistant chiefs and three members of the Prudential Committee have been here for 30 plus years.
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