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Trenten Lynch, left, and Chad Cellana give a presentation on their plans for a marijuana grow facility off Cross Road.

Marijuana Greenhouse Proposed in Clarksburg

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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The Select Board discusses the status of the Senior Center with members of the Council on Aging.
CLARKSBURG, Mass. — Town officials are hoping to see some green come rolling into town — marijuana green. 
Chad Cellana and Trenten Lynch of New England Regional Dispensaries (NERD) are proposing to build a pot production greenhouse and retail outlet at 28 Cross Road, within the marijuana overlay district approved at town meeting two years ago. 
"I think this is an exciting opportunity for the town of Clarksburg," said Select Board Chairman Ronald Boucher at Wednesday's meeting. He had intimated at a recent meeting of the Finance Committee that the town could see an opening to bring in more revenue. 
Cellana and Lynch told the board and a number of residents attending the meeting that the potential revenue could be significant, forecasting gross sales in the $12 million to $14 million a year range. 
"This will bring a lot of extra tax revenue into the town," said Cellana, an area native who has spent the last 20 years in the Boston area. "Not only has the state set it up to get the 6.25 percent sales tax, there's also another 10.75 percent excise tax on our business. And if when we open a retail store, there be an additional 3 percent that goes directly to the town. ...
"That adds up to roughly an extra $400,000 for the town to use."
Beyond that, NERD will also have to come to a community host agreement with the town that would supply more revenue or other benefits such as employment guarantees as well as pay regular taxes. 
Both men have been involved with marijuana production and sales over the past four years. Cellana started as an entry-level cultivator and moved up to management; Lynch has a degree in plant and soil science and is head grower at an existing dispensary in Hollister. His background is in farming and greenhouse management.
The proposed facility would be a completely enclosed hydroponic greenhouse with an affiliated retail operation. Their plans are to install odor and air filtration units inside so the facility isn't noisy or odiferous. Security and construction are largely dictated by state mandates and someone would be on guard 24 hours a day. 
The greenhouse would be located on property owned by John Cellana and Erin Scott and set back behind his business, A1 Septic. 
"There won't be any pollution, there won't be any problems that you can see," said Lynch. "The one big thing that we've learned about is odor mitigation. So we'll be cleaning and filtering the air on its way out. There won't be any nuisance to the town or to the surrounding people based on odor. We will be tucked away behind another business. Nobody will even know that we are there."
They estimated up to 20 employees with the potential of adding a second greenhouse and doubling the work force. 
"We've been in this business long enough to have made tight ties with the commission that runs it, as well as local leaders and business people in town and we feel Clarksburg is the ideal spot for our business," Cellana said. They will, however, reguire investors for startup costs and he said they had some lined up.
They have set a timeline of getting a host agreement signed with Clarksburg and an agreement with the landowner by the end of September. Once that's completed, they will be able file their application with the state and have a provisional license in hand to break ground at the beginning of the year. 
Planting is forecast to begin by July with a perpetual harvest every 15 days. 
Select Board member Jeffrey Levanos suggested that the town should hold a meeting on the proposal even though zoning was passed. 
"We're still community, we still want to hear neighbors' opinions," he said. "I'm not saying it's going to be a witch hunt. I'm saying people are going have a lot of questions and from people who don't understand cannabis and that type of thing." 
Cellana said they would be open to hosting a meeting and answering any questions people might have. 
"I live close as close as anybody to the area," said Clebe Scott, whose daughter is Erin Scott. "And I'm glad to see this sort of industry — quiet, low-profile industry — come into what we have left of our industrial zone. I can't think of an industry that could have more of a positive effect on the town."
In other business, the board voted to allow the Council on Aging to continue operating the Senior Center until the end of the year. During this time, they hope to develop a plan to turn the Senior Center into a Community Center that could be shared with the town's seniors. 
Such a scenario will require someone to coordinate the use of the center but that person or persons would have to be a volunteer, said Boucher, because the town does not have the revenue to hire someone.
"I believe the building has potential but it comes down to organization and it needs someone to drive that," he said. 
The status of the Senior Center has been in question because the current Council on Aging was losing members. 

Tags: COA,   Council on Aging,   marijuana,   

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Clarksburg School Preparing for Reopening Scenarios

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff

The new security doors can be seen in the school lobby. The doors are one of several updates at the school, including a public address system and an accessible bathroom. 
CLARKSBURG, Mass. — Principal Tara Barnes is working on a "nice puzzle challenge" in figuring how students will be situated within the elementary school come fall to comply with public health guidelines for the pandemic.
The state guidelines, so far, are requiring social distancing as well as masking for students in Grades 2 and up. Schools will also require a separated space for children who may be showing symptoms of COVID-19.
"I feel from most of our classrooms, about 15 students is the max of what we're able to get in there," she told the School Committee on Thursday. Further guidance from the state in regard to desks and dividers could mean a few more, but, she said, "I don't want at any point to compromise the safety of students or staff when I'm looking at these spaces."
Barnes said she's reviewing the use of "overflow" spaces such as the gym and rethinking uses of non-classroom areas and how that might affect special education teaching and splitting up classes to keep the numbers down. 
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