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Edmund St. John IV, far left, sits by Mark Webber, who he will be replacing as town administrator for the next few months.

St. John Attends First Meeting as Cheshire Interim Town Administrator

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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CHESHIRE, Mass. — Edmund St. John IV sat in on his first meeting Tuesday as interim town administrator.
Retiring Town Administrator Mark Webber told the Selectmen that the majority of his workday was spent with St. John showing him the ropes.
"I've been spending most of the time with Ed showing him things, reviewing things, and so forth," Webber said. "I think it has been a good productive day." 
St. John, an attorney by trade and former selectman, was hired as the interim town administrator last week and will hold the position until at least the May elections. At that point, the board can decide to keep him on permanently or reopen the position.
This decision came after the two selectmen broke their gridlock. They were split on St. John and Thomas Spiro, former program coordinator at Elms College's Greenfield campus and town administrative aide in Conway.
Selectman Robert Ciskowski, who backed Spiro, was willing to compromise and approve St. John, Selectwoman Carol Francesconi's pick, on an interim basis.
After the meeting, the Selectmen held an executive session to negotiate an agreement with St. John, who had stepped down from the board to apply for the post.
St. John will be paid $769.23 per week, which is the $40,000 salary divided by 52. He will tentatively work 12 hours Tuesday and 12 hours Thursday but Francesconi said these hours will be flexible.
St. John was sworn in when the Selectmen reconvened after the executive session.
"I am ready to hit the ground sprinting," he said.
In other business, Highway Superintendent Blair Crane said he had met with National Grid representatives to address last week's incident at the highway garage where a truck delivering sand hit the high tension wires and caused a power outage that affected much of the town.
The driver had stepped out of his vehicle but miraculously was not electrocuted.
Crane said the representatives from National Grid discussed moving the lines or raising them but he felt they were not terribly happy with the idea.
"That would make them a nonfactor neither of which at this point National Grid is overly excited to do there," Crane said. "There would be a pretty significant cost involved."
He said this would also be at the town's expense.
Crane said they do plan to take some measures and may provide the town signage or better mark the lines. 
"At this point, it is going to be a half and half. I will change how I route traffic in the yard and try to negate it the best I can," he said. "They will possibly put some sort of high-wire mark on the lines to make them more visible or possibly a sign but the details are still fuzzy."
He said he anticipated that the lines will just stay where they are.
The Selectmen also heard from resident Fred Jayko, who wanted to know if the town could do anything about the dilapidated mansion across the street from the fire station.
We are almost at the end of the year and is anything going to be addressed with that?" he asked. "Towns can motivate people."
Francesconi said there is nothing the town can do.
"We have tried to motivate people in the past but they are not behind on their taxes, they are paying their taxes," she said. "Our hands are tied."
Webber added that the Board of Health could condemn it and secure it but that's about it.
Applications for the Community Development Block Grant Housing rehabilitation program are available at Town Hall. The town has sought funds for residents to make small improvements to their homes.

Tags: National Grid,   power lines,   town administrator,   

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Cheshire Receives $10,000 Senior Grant

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
CHESHIRE, Mass. — The town has received a $10,000 AARP grant to support age-friendly activities and purchases.
Town Administrator Emund St. John IV said the AARP grant will allow the town to enhance the Council on Aging and senior activities.
"I was pretty happy to hear about that," he told the Board of Selectmen on Tuesday..
The grant can be used to increase mobility options for local seniors and St. John mentioned purchasing recumbent bikes and helmets. 
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