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Select Board members, from left, Jeffrey Thomas, Anne O'Connor and Andy Hogeland participate in Monday's meeting.

Williamstown Finance Committee to Review Nonprofit Requests

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Select Board will be considering articles for the town meeting warrant at its next scheduled meeting on April 8, including all the financial articles.
 
The town's Finance Committee has spent the past couple of months reviewing those articles and will wrap up its item-by-item review on Wednesday when it hears from the Northern Berkshire Vocational Regional School District (McCann Tech) and three non-profits that are asking the town for help with their operational budgets in fiscal 2020.
 
All three of the non-profits in question, the Williamstown Youth Center, Williamstown Chamber of Commerce and Sand Springs Recreation Center, have been supported by town meeting in the past. Last year, was the first year that Sand Springs sought operational support, a request that spurred the Fin Comm to create a more formal procedure for all such requests, requiring non-profits to submit certain financial data for the town as part of the request.
 
Select Board member Andrew Hogeland at Monday's board meeting said the detailed application and financial data were helpful and that he had concerns about two of the requests: the Chamber and Sand Springs.
 
In the case of the latter, Hogeland noted that town voters in May will be asked to support the recreation center in two separate warrant articles; it also is seeking a one-time infusion of Community Preservation Act funds to help make the second floor of its building handicapped accessible.
 
Hogeland had greater concerns about the Chamber, which in recent years has sought and received from town meeting 10 percent of the town's share of the rooms and meals tax revenue from the prior year.
 
"I've always been worried that the town has given them 10 percent of the hotel tax, which isn't based on [the Chamber's] needs," Hogeland said. "It's just what they get.
 
"I feel as though we're on automatic pilot. … I don't want to be on automatic pilot anymore."
 
Hogeland also questioned why the town's grant — proposed to be $46,302 in FY20 — is more than the approximately $32,000 the Chamber receives in membership support.
 
"If their members support them, maybe we support them as well, but maybe not more," Hogeland said.
 
He said he planned to share his concerns with members of the Finance Committee prior to Wednesday's meeting to see whether they wanted to make any changes to the proposed warrant article on the Chamber of Commerce support, but he wanted to bounce the idea off his colleagues on the Select Board first.
 
Thomas noted that while the Chamber would get more from the town than it does from direct membership support, the agency also has other revenue streams, like grants, and the town's contribution as proposed would be less than half the Chamber's revenue in FY20.
 
"The other thing I think about is we rely on the Chamber to organize two of the most well-attended community events every year: Holiday Walk and the Fourth of July parade," Thomas said. "They're certainly a service to the Spring Street businesses. I don't know how much they benefit businesses not on Spring Street. But I also see them as a big community benefit. They're really big days, and people turn out."
 
Hogeland said he was not suggesting the town pull its support to the Chamber of Commerce. He did indicate that such support could be more thought out.
 
"I just want to make sure that the Chamber, its volunteers and part-time staff know that we do appreciate the work they do," Thomas said. "The question is what's the right funding model and exercising our role as stewards of town dollars."
 
The Finance Committee meets Wednesday, March 27, at 7 p.m. in the Select Board Room. 

Tags: chamber of commerce,   fiscal 2020,   williamstown_budget,   

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Williams College Announces Four Recipients of Olmsted Awards for Secondary School Teachers

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Williams College has awarded the annual George Olmsted Jr. Class of 1924 Prize for Excellence in Secondary School Teaching to four outstanding high school teachers.

The recipients are Katherine D. Nuzzo, a chemistry teacher at Joel Barlow High School in Redding, Conn.; Lois Sauberlich, an English teacher at Wrightstown High School in Wrightstown, Wis.; Brian Sheehy, a history teacher at North Andover High School in North Andover, Mass.; and Nickolas T. Wilson, a former English teacher at Northcoast Preparatory Academy in Arcata, Calif., and current English teacher at Durham High School in Durham, Calif.

Each year, Williams seniors nominate high school teachers who played influential roles in their lives and education. A committee of faculty, staff and students choose winners from among the nominees. Recipients of the award receive $3,000, and an additional $5,000 is given to each recipient's school. The Olmsted Prize was established in 1976 with an endowment from the estates of George Olmsted Jr. and his wife, Frances.

Katherine D. Nuzzo, Joel Barlow High School, Redding, Conn.

Megan Siedman ’20 reflected on her time as Nuzzo’s student in saying, "She has made me a problem solver, a future educator, and, in so many ways, someone who was capable of graduating from Williams College." Nuzzo is committed to helping her students reach their full potential both inside and outside of the classroom, and Siedman noted that Nuzzo encouraged her students to pursue every opportunity and challenge, fostering deep personal connections with them.

Since 1996 Nuzzo has taught chemistry at Joel Barlow High School. Beyond the classroom she has brought several programs to the school, including Unified Wellness, a program that brings together general education students, local gardeners, and students with special needs; the Connecticut Science Fair; and the Sikorsky STEM Challenge, in which students apply their STEM knowledge to solve a real-world problem. Nuzzo cares about the entire school community, and is a mentor for new teachers. Trained in social and emotional learning (SEL), she has spearheaded school-wide efforts to spread the SEL message among all members of the community.

Nuzzo sees her classroom as a place to learn real-world skills and reminds students to "be kind, do the right thing, know yourself and take care of yourself mentally and physically. Be flexible, find your passion, take risks, failure is how we learn, grades aren't who you are, but where you were at that moment in time, discover how you learn best, find your humor and above all become a contributing member of your community." Joel Barlow High School’s Head of School Gina M. Pin called Nuzzo "a changemaker who builds sustainability by shifting responsibilities to the students. [She] trusts the abilities of all students and challenges them all to think more deeply."

Lois Sauberlich, Wrightstown High School, Wrightstown, Wis.

Landon Marchant ’20 called Sauberlich "a tireless defender and advocate for those who cannot speak up or need an ally. Lois taught me what it looks like to stand up for oneself as well as others, when to be quiet and when to raise hell — a lesson that has informed my advocacy and life." Marchant added. "When I attended high school, no one talked about PFLAG, GLAAD, or HRC. We didn't use words like 'multiculturalism,' 'intersectionality,’ or ‘privilege.’ But Lois saw injustice and hurt, saw children wondering if they belonged in this world, and saw potential — she took all that in, and gave us everything."

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