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Cheshire Approves Grader Borrowing

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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CHESHIRE, Mass. — Cheshire voters narrowly approved the borrowing of nearly $200,000 to purchase a used grader by just more than 20 votes. 
 
The $195,000 debt exclusion passed Tuesday with 95 residents casting a vote in favor of the borrowing and 73 voters voting against. The numbers are not yet official. 
 
"We appreciate everyone who came out to vote and the support to move the town forward," Town Administrator Edmund St. John IV said. "This is a key step in addressing just one of the many needs we have to improve our roads."
 
The town currently has a 1986 Dresser grader that is no longer usable.
 
Former Highway Superintendent Blair Crane strongly advocated for a replacement in 2018 and the selectmen did consider purchasing a new one. However, a new grader would have likely run the town nearly $300,000 -- an amount the Selectmen were unwilling to expend.
 
It was agreed that repairing the current grader was also not possible. It would not be financially responsible nor an easy task with many parts obsolete so the town began to seek out used options. 
 
In June 2019, the annual town meeting was asked to borrow $95,000 to go toward the purchase of a used grader, but town meeting shot this down with many residents requesting more options.
 
It was generally agreed upon and recommended by the Finance Committee that the town continue to lease a grader.
 
The concern among the Selectmen with renting the grader was that it may not always be readily available which current Highway Superintendent Bob Navin said in October of 2019 has been the problem. He asked the selectmen to again place the item on a town meeting warrant, which they obliged.
 
Town meeting was held later that month and approved the borrowing of $195,000 to purchase a used grader. The $195,000 debt plus expected operating and maintenance costs over the next 20 years would come in at around $450,000; continuing to rent at the current rate would be slightly over $500,000.
 
The vote was needed Tuesday to separate the amount from the levy. With a majority vote the amount would still be reflected in the tax rate but it would not permanently affect the town's Proposition 2 1/2 calculations.
 
St. John said the town now has to finalize grader specifications so it can put the item out to bid. He said the hope is to have the grader by spring.
 
Voter turnout was low with only 168 voters out of the 2,425 registered voters making it out Tuesday. 

Tags: debt exclusion,   DPW equipment,   special election,   

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Hoosac Elementary Principal Invites Selectmen to Be Guests for a Day

By Jeff SnoonianiBerkshires Staff

Principal Becky Sawyer invites the Selectmen to see a day in the life of students and faculty at Hoosac Valley Elementary.
CHESHIRE, Mass. — The Selectmen were invited to spend some time at Hoosac Valley Elementary School in Adams. 
 
Principal Becky Sawyer attended the board's Tuesday's meeting to issue the invitation to spend a day with the staff and students. Sawyer sees it as a way to not only get to familiarize themselves with the staff but also to see how the town's largest expenditure is being utilized.
 
"I know the school district occupies such a large percentage of your budget and I feel like it's only fair to let you come see what we're spending it on. What good work is being done with what we are getting [from the town]," Sawyer told the board. "We'd like to have our third-graders give a public tour of the building, and then ... have you shadow a teacher, and then we would invite you to have lunch and recess with our  children. 
 
"Which I can tell you is the best part of the day. It's the most fun that I have."
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