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Cheshire Replacing Waterlines on Crest Drive

By Jeff SnoonianiBerkshires Correspondent
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CHESHIRE, Mass. — The Board of Selectmen made a recommendation Tuesday night to award the project of upgrading the waterline on Crest Drive. The lowest bid was submitted by Geeleher Enterprises of Southampton.
"We had six bids submitted that we opened up last week. It was done in two parts, a base and an alternate," said Selectman and liaison to the Water Department Ron DeAngelis. "There was an alternate bid for Arnold Court and Stonehedge and we did that because we wanted to make sure we had the money to at least get part of it done."
The town will only be performing the Crest Drive work for now and DeAngelis said Geeleher won't necessarily do the other two roads. Work will include an upgrade to 8-inch ductile iron pipe, hydrant and valve replacement, pipe replacement across Route 8, and other associated road work. 
"They won the base bid but his alternate bid was high. We have to accept the lowest bid. They were the lowest on the base bid, John's Tractor and Excavation Services was lowest on the alternate," he said. "We can't split them but we can re-bid the alternate. We have the money to take care of Crest and the two crossings on Route 8 ... so when we do go to do Arnold and Stonehedge we won't have to do anymore jacking on the main road."
There is a slight delay in signing the contract as the town wants to make sure the pipe already on hand is used up use up to get credit from the contractor.
"The contractor we award the bid to, we're looking for him to agree that we use all our ductile pipe that we have first and we get credit towards the contract," DeAngelis said. "We might have enough 8" ductile iron pipe to do all of Crest."
The winning bid came in at $259,751. The highest bid submitted was over $1 million.
New Highway Superintendent Bob Navin has hit the ground running. An all but abandoned town vehicle left for dead is in the process of being refurbished and should be ready for plow duty this winter.
"It was way better than anything we expected. The rear brakes have all been rebuilt the front brakes are all working now, new alternator, that's all done," Navin said. "The truck is running. We tested it around town, it was all good. It sat for two years. One summer sitting in the salt shed and then a year and a half sitting outside. I was not expecting it to be in as good a shape as it is."
The town will be advertising for a new equipment operator/laborer for the Highway Department after Michael Biagini gave his resignation notice to Town Administrator Edmund St. John III. His last day will be Oct. 18.
"I sent a notice of the position that we will use to advertise for your approval that includes a requirement that the person has experience in plowing and a preference for somebody that has mechanical skills as well," said St. John.
Navin weighed in on the need for an experienced plow operator.
"I approached Ed to try to expedite this. Here we are in October and I already have one employee who has never plowed snow before. I requested that we put in there for someone who has plowing experience. We need to get somebody as fast as we can," he said. "Starting someone in December or January is too late. They might have to give two-week notice as well."
Applications are being accepted until Oct. 17. St. John said although they might not officially close the application period then, he highly recommends they be received by that date.
In other business, repairs and maintenance to Cheshire School to accommodate its new tenants are ongoing to varying degrees of completion. Bids for replacing and repairing some heating pipes in the west wing came in higher than expected.
"The number was nearly double what we had planned to spend. Given that high number, we are forced to reevaluate our plans for the heating system there," St. John said. "Essentially, we were looking at this as a Band-Aid. That's what we told town meeting this was going to be. 
"So this repair would last until we could possibly become eligible for a Green Communities grant and replace the system in the entire building. However, given the change in the pricing it just seems that we have to reevaluate. We are looking into alternative heating supplies for Berkshire Body, which is the sole tenant in the affected area."
The town needs to form an advisory group for any grievances that may arise from the Community Development Block Grant it received in partnership with New Marlborough. St. John is looking for a three to five member group to serve as the first level of engagement should a grievance be filed. He has only received interest from one volunteer.
"I'm hoping to have volunteers come forward by Thursday. That way we can have them for next week," he said. Anyone interested should contact officials at Town Hall.
• St. John said he met with new Adams-Cheshire Superintendent pf Schools Aaron Dean and invited him to next week's meeting to introduce himself officially and answer any questions from the board.
The town received word from the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission that it has locked in a fixed price for heating oil at $2.3275 per gallon. This is slightly lower than originally estimated.
• Board member Jason Levesque had an update from the Police Department.
"I spoke with the police chief and they are hiring a new part-time officer. It's not going to add any cost, it's just replacing a shift. Having another officer available to fill in."
He also thanked Whitney's Farm Market & Garden Center for donating some bushes and volunteers for planting them at the new Appalachian Trail tent site.
• The town set its trick-or-treat time for Oct. 31 from 5:30 to 7 p.m., so watch for children and drive carefully on that evening.
• The next Board of Selectmen meeting will be Tuesday, Oct. 15 at 6:30 p.m.

Tags: cheshire school,   DPW equipment,   paving,   

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Cheshire Selectmen Eye Salary Increases in FY21 Budget

By Jeff SnoonianiBerkshires Correspondent
CHESHIRE, Mass. — The fiscal 2021 budget preparation dominated at Tuesday night's Selectmen's meeting.
Aside from reviewing the Board of Health and Council on Aging operating budgets, the board discussed at length what some members see as stagnant salaries for many town positions.
Town Administrator Edmund St. John IV recently undertook a salary study with input from the Massachusetts Municipal Association's Human Resources department. Chairwoman Michelle Francesconi feels Cheshire has fallen behind other similar communities in compensating it's employees.
"Based on feedback that we received at the town meeting last year, a concerted effort has been made by the Board of Selectmen and the Finance Committee towards improving the overall salary structure of our town. We have been undercompensating our employees, we do recognize that, and it's something we are looking to address," she said to the virtual attendees.
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