CHESHIRE, Mass. — The prospect of a tent site for Appalachian Trail hikers is closer to becoming a reality.
"We still have steps to take but it looks like the boxes are being checked," said Planning Board Chairwoman Donna Defino on Tuesday night at the Board of Selectmen meeting. Although originally proposed for land at the site of the former Cheshire school the town feels it has a better spot.
The school site had several issues, not the least of which was safety as some residents and officials were concerned about the imminent move of the Youth Center to the school building. The new site is located near the intersection of the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail and the Appalachian Trail.
The town will apply for a special permit to the Planning Board. Town Administrator Edmund St. John IV is aiming to have the application ready by Aug. 5 to present to the board.
Selectman Jason Levesque hopes that this tent site might be a good jumping off point for a more developed plan in the future. Chairman Robert Ciskowski ended the extremely civil discussion by saying, "This is a great example of a seemingly insurmountable problem we had not that long ago that was solved with some hard work and thought. This how Cheshire can move forward.”
After 71 years of service to the town, most recently as the Council on Aging coordinator of activities and volunteers, Anna Farnam will be stepping aside. Familiar face Carole Hildebrand was picked out of a pool of six to take over the post. COA Chairman Gene Gebarowski was unequivocal in his support.
"She's demonstrated a passion and commitment to the COA and she will hit the ground running," he said. "You're getting more bang for your buck by hiring her."
Her appointment was slightly delayed as Selectman Mark Biagini made a motion to table the vote until the Board of Selectmen expands from three to five. He made it clear it had nothing to do with the choice of Hildebrand but that he wanted to let the new selectmen have their say. Ultimately his motion was defeated and Hildebrand was appointed by a vote of 2-0 with Biagini abstaining. The 90-year-old Farnam will still be involved in the Senior Club.
In other business, Ciskowski expressed concern over the condition of the road at the privately owned Pine Valley trailer park.
"I'm worried about our ambulance, fire, and police with accessibility," he said.
All three board members agreed it is a problem for emergency vehicles. Resident Michael Biagini warned the board about the town potentially maintaining a private road. "I don't want to open up a Pandora's Box and have the town start to take care of private property," he said.
Ciskowski agreed and said the board will discuss solutions going forward.
St. John told the board he will have a draft of the job description for the new Department of Public Works superintendent at the next meeting. The position became available when current roads chief Blair Crane announced his resignation effective Aug. 2.
"I'd like a super that is willing to get his hands dirty. To earn the respect of the crew and also to cut costs," said Mark Biagini, hoping that to be included in the job posting. Ciskowski had a different take, "I want the person to be a supervisor first but have the ability and licenses to jump in the field as well."
One thing all three board members agreed on was to wait until the board expands to five next month to start the hiring process. Several options are being considered in the interim. Crane previously recommended the hiring of Jason Howard as the interim superintendent and the board seemed amenable to the idea. Regarding the possibility of shared services with surrounding towns, Ciskowski added, "Let's not throw out the idea. Let's keep the option open."
The board also signed off on the special election warrant presented by Town Clerk Christine Emerson to elect two more members on Tuesday, Aug. 13, with polling hours from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Community Center. Five residents are vying for the two seats.
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Explorers Guide to the Berkshires: 'Berkshire Destinations'
By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
Raven Rock in Adams is a remote and challenging destination to reach.
CHESHIRE, Mass. — Local authors Jan and Christy Butler penned "Berkshire Destinations," an explorers guide to waterfalls, boulders, vistas and points of interest of the Berkshire Hills and Western Massachusetts.
"Berkshire Destinations" is the Butlers' fourth book and the "unconventional explorer's guide" includes 159 chapters that will guide readers to known and obscure waterfalls, glacial erratics, vistas, gardens, cultural institutions, and historical landmarks found in the Western Massachusetts foothills.
"Having a hiking guide to vistas, boulders and waterfalls is all well and good, so long as the weather is cooperating," Christy said. "So diversifying does provide a change of pace for rainy days or after completion some alternatives for those who want a change of pace."
Christy said he first planned to write a book only about New England statues but after receiving some feedback from friends and readers, he decided to keep his focus in Berkshire County and Western Massachusetts.
iBerkshiresTV host Jeff Snoonian speaks with Selectmen Chairwoman Michelle Francesconi and Town Administrator Edmund St. John IV about the upcoming annual town meeting, the budget voters will decide and the precautions being put in place because of COVID-19.
The annual town meeting is being held... click for more
On Friday morning, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association released the sport-specific modifications that on Thursday unanimously were approved by the associationís COVID-19 Task Force. click for more
The Finance Committee recommended using $376,000 in free cash to offset the tax increase necessitated by the town's rising costs. The Selectmen had decided to reduce last year's offset number from $140,000 to $110,000.
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