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The new Select Board of Jeffrey Levanos, left, Ronald Boucher and Danille Luchi. Levanos and Luchi were elected two weeks ago.

Clarksburg Begins Search for Town Administrator

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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CLARKSBURG, Mass. — The town of Clarksburg will begin the search for a new town administrator within the next week but the Select Board is keeping an option to hire for two part-time positions: a town administrator and a grant writer.
"I know the present position is four days a week. I feel that need to be three days," said Chairman Ronald Boucher on Wednesday. "And the money that we save there, it can help pay for a part-time grants writer."
Boucher had signaled his intention to focus on grants at the annual town meeting. A grant writer, he believes, can pay for his or her salary by bringing in funds to the town of projects. 
Since the resignation of Carl McKinney as town administrator nearly a month ago, Boucher has been stepping in. That experience led him to consider a three-day administrator and a "someone whose sole energies would be getting money for the town."
New board members Jeff Levanos and Danielle Luchi questioned how much each position would be paid and if it would be confusing for applicants. Boucher said he planned to speak to some other communities about grant writer wages but believed they could go forward with advertising the town administrator post. If the right person was weak on grants, they could go re-advertise for a part-time grant writer. 
The fiscal 2020 budget currently has $50,000 in the town administrator line. 
The board agreed that if someone applied who could fill both posts, the town administrator would be full time. However, they stressed grant writing ability in the job posting, which is expected to advertised at least by next Monday. 
Karin Robert, who served on the board the past year, also agreed with the emphasis on grants. 
"You need a strong grant writer and a weak administrator because we need the money more than the administrative piece," she said. 
Resident Paul Lemaire thought it an "outstanding" idea.
"It's in our best interest to find a better alternative so we don't end up in this same place next year," he said. "I think that's an excellent start in our town."
Boucher also proposed, and the board agreed with, a five-person search committee to vet applicants, conduct initial interviews and forward the two best candidates to the board. 
The committee will be comprised of Town Accountant Donna Estes, Town Treasurer Ericka Oleson, Administrative Assistant Deb Choquette, Planning Board member Erin Scott and Finance Committee member James Stakenas. 
"I need whoever the next town administrator is, for these people in this building to be comfortable," Boucher said. "I think these people will ask the tough questions."
Levanos said the selection was "spot on."
In other business:
The board reorganized with Boucher remaining as chairman and Levanos becoming vice chairman. Boucher thanked everyone for standing for election and Karin Robert for the past year she had been on the board. He also recognized the late Howard Chesbro, a former longtime firefighter and fire chief, who died June 13. 
Boucher reported that the town is close to a pilot agreement with the solar array at the former North Adams Country Club for $200,000 or $10,000 a year for 20 years. He said he had also been advised that renovations will begin at the clubhouse and that the developer is moving forward with plans for a par 3 executive course. 
The town is also pushing for the solar array on Gravel Bank Road to enter a pilot agreement. In the meantime, it will be billed for personal property taxes of about $21,000 on solar equipment valued at $1,336,892. Boucher said those funds would have to be set aside in case the array appealed under state law. 
• Edward Denault of Peter A. Cook Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9144 informed the board that the VFW is making plans to commemorate the town field to Cook. A sign was installed last year and the post helped a family fill out the paperwork for a medal and citation for Cook, who was killed in action. 
"We would like to make it a big deal ... maybe a family day," he told the board, asking for its blessing. Board members said they help in any way. The commemoriation will be in August or September.
• The board voted to postpone action on a bid of $25,450 from Barile Environmental to remove asbestos from the school building until it get some clarifications from the contractor. A second bid from Gem Environmental was $58,900.
• The board also appointed Erin Scott to the Historical Commission and heard from Superintendent of Schools John Franzoni about the upcoming vote on merging the Clarksburg and Stamford (Vt.) School Districts. Stamford is voting on the merger options on July 8; should it pass, the board will set a special town meeting at its July 11 meeting. 

Tags: search committee,   town administrator,   

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Clarksburg Officials Trying to Solve School, Library Relations

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff

Principal Tara Barnes, far right, asks if there is a way to alleviate the library's concerns.
CLARKSBURG, Mass. — The Selectmen have been trying mightily to bring different factions of the town into harmony over the past year or so, most recently facilitating the rejuvenation of the Council on Aging.
Overcoming the tension between the connected library and school may be an even tougher challenge.
An hourlong joint meeting between Selectmen, library trustees and representatives from Clarksburg School ended with Selectmen Chairman Ronald Boucher demanding the library supply the school with emergency access. 
"I want a key at the school so it's accessible to the school not to wait for chief of the Fire Department, chief of the Police Department, or the state police to get there. I want a key in the school," said Boucher last Wednesday. "That's it. That's how I feel. I hope the board supports me on that. But I feel that way. It's very important to me."
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