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Nancy Nylen accepts the Scarborough-Salomon-Flynt Community Service Award at May's annual town meeting in Williamstown.

Nylen Recognized with Community Service Award in Williamstown

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — This year's winner of the town's community service award said it was as much about community as it was about service.
"It isn't about me," said Nancy Nylen. "It's about you and all of us. The most important word in this award, to me, is 'community.' I feel so lucky to be part of this community, this green community, that I've come to love, where David and I raised our two sons, and where I've worked side by side with so many people, some who are in this room, some far away, some no longer with us.
"There's not a single thing I've ever done that hasn't involved another person, a group of people, many who have become dear friends. So it never is about one person, but it is about each of us, all of us, knowing that what we do together matters."
Nylen received the Scarborough-Salomon-Flynt Community Service Award at May's annual town meeting, where she was recognized for her work in environmental issues and other causes.
"You must have a direct source of renewable energy because yours never seems to run out," the citation honoring her read in part.
Nylen is a member of the board of directors of Pittsfield's Center for EcoTechnology. Closer to home, she helped found Williamstown's COOL (CO2 Lowering) Committee and Climate Action Committee and served on the town's Green Communities Task Force.
"You helped write the bylaw to enable community solar projects and stretch that code that led to hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants for projects in the community," the citation continued. "You helped lead the effort to inventory the town's carbon emissions, create a plan to reduce them and launch its implementation."
In addition to her extensive work in green causes, Nylen also served as co-president of the Mount Greylock Parent Teacher Organization, as a member of the town's Conservation Commission and on the board of the Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation.
Nylen said in her remarks that among the people she has come to respect and love in Williamstown are the annual award's namesakes: Faith Scarborough, Edith and Adolph Salomon and Hank and Mary Flynt.
And she concluded her brief acceptance speech with a call to continued action in the community.
"We still have lots to do, and by doing it together, we really will change the world," Nylen said.
"So I thank you for what you have given me from the bottom of my heart."
The Scarborough-Salomon-Flynt Award is one of two given at each year's town meeting.
The other, presented by the League of Women Voters, recognizes the work of a town employee.
This year, that honor went to Sam White of the Milne Public Library.
Anne Skinner of the League of Women Voters described White as a "cheerful face" with "a well informed mind and extremely helpful personality."
White could not attend the meeting, but Milne Director Pat McLeod accepted the award on his behalf.
"I would like to thank league for voting for Sam this year," McLeod said. "He has been with me for over 15 years. If you've ever been at library, you know he's a model of customer service. He always has a smile. He meets and greets you with whatever you need."
The 2019 town meeting will be remembered for passage of an accessory dwelling units bylaw amendment, but it also was the year the town implemented the concept of a "consent agenda" to pass most of the standard fiscal warrant articles that are on the agenda each spring.
Nearly 20 articles were passed in two different consent agenda votes, after residents had a chance to place "holds" on any one article and pull it out of the consent agenda block for further discussion.
Three such holds were utilized. One related to the town's debt service, one funded the town's apportionment of the Mount Greylock Regional School District budget and one was a Community Preservation Act expenditure in support of Sand Springs Recreation Center.
All three passed by unanimous or nearly unanimous voice votes after discussion and explanation from town and school officials.
David Rempell, a former member of the Select Board and principal at Williamstown Elementary School, said voters should expect more information about the school budget at town meeting.
"I understand that this is an omnibus [district] budget, but I'm curious if someone from the School Committee could tell us what amount is for the elementary school and what amount is for Mount Greylock," Rempell said. "What is the percentage increase for each and what is the administrative cost for our school system.
"We used to have more information in the warrant about the school budget, broken down to what the expenses are."
The Mount Greylock School Committee, by law, holds a public hearing on its budget in the late winter or early spring and presents the full budget to the Finance Committees of Williamstown and Lanesborough prior to town meeting. The Williamstown Finance Committee this year recommended the the budget to town meeting in an unanimous vote.
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Williamstown Select Board Discusses Justice Department Program for Schools

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Select Board on Monday discussed inviting a U.S. Department of Justice program into the local public schools to help address bias incidents.
Randal Fippinger told his colleagues about the DOJ's "School-SPIRIT" initiative, which is similar to but not a part of the federal agency's Strengthening Police and Community Partnerships program, which came to Williamstown two years ago.
SPIRIT, which stands for Student Problem Identification and Resolution of Issues Together, involves bringing trained facilitators from the DOJ to the schools to lead conversations addressing "tension and conflict related to issues of race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, or disability," according to the DOJ website.
While stressing that SPIRIT and SPCP are separate programs with different constituencies, Fippinger indicated that the process will be familiar to those who went through the law enforcement program in 2022.
"The folks who led that program enjoyed working with the Williamstown community, so they are very open to working with us again," Fippinger said. "There was a three- to six-month planning process to come to a facilitated community conversation to identify what the priorities are and what the needs are.
"Part of it is meant to be restorative practice, where we get to identify the problems and try to address the problems by the people who are suffering from the problems, as opposed to some outside group coming in. It's meant to be problem solving from within."
Fippinger said he hopes the Mount Greylock Regional School Committee will consider inviting the DOJ to run the program in the district.
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