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The town believes a site closer to where the AT and Ashuwillticook meet could be used for AT through-hikers to overnight camp.

Cheshire Sees Solution to Appalachian Trail Campsite

By Jeff SnoonianiBerkshires Staff
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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. 
 

Tags: Appalachian Trail,   camping,   COA,   special election,   

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Hoosac Valley Students Learn Composting for Gardening Program

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff

Lindsay McGinnis is teaching students about the benefits of composting. Their lunch leftovers will help create nutrient-rich soil for planting.
CHESHIRE, Mass. — When Hoosac Valley High School students return to school it will be time to start planting to support the Cornerstone Grown Project farm-to-school program.
 
In the weeks leading up to school closures because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hoosac Valley was ramping up its composting program. Teacher and program organizer Lindsay McGinnis had her eyes set on the spring.
 
"We want kids to be more environmentally conscious but also to see that everything is connected," she said. "There is a community connection but also environmentally things are connected."
 
Last year, the school received a $25,000 grant from the Henry P. Kendall Foundation to help roll out the program that ties in several departments, classes, and organizations.
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