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Cheshire Highway Foreman Advocates for New Grader

By Jeff SnoonianiBerkshires Correspondent
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CHESHIRE, Mass. — New Highway Superintendent Bob Navin wants the town to take better care of its dirt roads. 
He has asked the board to propose at town meeting buying a grader as opposed to continuing to rent one as they currently do. He has other ideas as well.
"The procedures here weren't to do them how I would do a dirt road," Navin said. "They don't rake them all the time because they didn't have a rake that worked all that great. After grading it needs to be raked out well ... compacted by a roller ... putting a dust control agent on it. That's the direction I want to head in with our gravel roads. A road done right will last a lot longer."
As for the grader purchase, that will be taken up by the town at next Tuesday's special town meeting. Town Administrator Edmund St. John IV prepared numbers for the board that weren't shared publicly but most members agreed that buying might be the best option.
"It was nice to notice that two of the options were almost $50,000 less (than the $190,000 spending limit being requested) over 20 years in total cost to the town as opposed to renting as we've been doing," said board member Jason Levesque.
Chairman Robert Ciskowski likes the idea of having the equipment available 24/7.
"One thing that's hard to quantify is having it parked out there whenever we need it. It's a hard thing for me to put a value on. If we need to put an operator in it at two in the morning we can do that," he said.
 Selectman Mark Biagini wants no stone left unturned should the town approve the money to purchase the grader.
"I know other towns have gone through the military surplus to buy used. I just want to make sure we leave all options open to get it as cheap as possible," he said. "I know the military takes good care of their machines."
Cheshire will hold the special town meeting Tuesday, Oct. 22, at 7 p.m. at the Community Center on School Street. There will be three articles up for debate:
Article 1 asks for $40,000 from the stabilization fund to pay for tuition and transportation for a student to attend an out of district vocational school. It will require a two-thirds vote to pass.
• Article 2 asks to authorize the treasurer to borrow up to $195,000 to purchase a used road grader and also dispose of the current one to the highest bidder. This also will require a two-thirds vote plus majority townwide ballot in March for a Proposition 2 1/2 debt exclusion. 
This means the borrowing will be outside the town 2 1/2 restriction and will not extend beyond the conclusion of the debt.
• Article 3 asks for just over $3,500 from the stabilization fund to pay old bills from fiscal years 2018 and 2019. This will require a four-fifths vote.
There will be an abbreviated Selectmen's meeting prior to the special town meeting.

Tags: DPW equipment,   special town meeting,   

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Cheshire Still Seeking Right Fiscal Equation For Elementary School

By Jeff SnoonianiBerkshires Correspondent

The Selectmen have hoped to use the former school as a revenue generator. 
CHESHIRE, Mass. — When the Cheshire Elementary School was closed two years ago, the only silver lining to be found was the potential revenue source it might provide to the town through leasing the space privately. 
The Board of Selectmen are still working hard to figure out a formula that works.
Tuesday night's meeting was a good example as the board weighed the cost of temporary heating upgrades for the cafeteria versus rent the town receives from tenants. The upgrades would essentially serve one tenant that holds fitness classes in the west wing of the building. The school currently has three lessees: Youth Center Inc., the school district administration, and Berkshire Body.
"Electric heaters look to be the safest and most cost effective means to provide heating for the space," said Town Administrator Edmund St. John III. "We estimate the cost of the installation will be somewhere around $3,500." 
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