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Residents of Maple Drive have been waiting years for their road to be redone.

Maple Drive Project A Go For Cheshire

By Jeff SnoonianiBerkshires Correspondent
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The Board of Selectmen listens to updates from Highway Superintendent Bob Navin about the Maple Drive project.
 
CHESHIRE, Mass. — Residents of Maple Drive will be happy as Highway Superintendent Robert Navin and the Selectmen confirmed at Tuesday's meeting the road will be getting a makeover come spring.
 
"The Maple Drive project is a go. It's in the state's hands ... I'm waiting for approval and I should have that any day. Then I can put it out to bid so early spring we can get this going. Everything is on track," Navin told the board.
 
The repairs include a repaving, catch basin repair, and some sidewalk and curb work. The town will use Chapter 90 road funds. A portion of that work went out to bid last year but received no responses. The town hopes that with a larger bid package, the response will bear fruit this time around. Navin expects the bid to go out later this week or next.
 
Navin is also looking into the potential cost of demolishing two buildings in late stages of disrepair that the board has been discussing for several meetings. The old Beechwood nursing home structure and old veterinary practice on North State Road (Route 8) are considered too dangerous for any kind of emergency services to enter should the situation arise.
 
The town is considering  several options including a tax taking or officially declaring the buildings unfit and demolishing them. Both are long processes that typically take one to two years.
 
"I reached out to a local contractor about getting an estimate ... just so we have a rough idea. Whatever we end up with for a number, it's not going to include if there's asbestos or anything like that. It's just so we have a rough ballpark number," Navin said.
 
Navin also mentioned that he is entertaining the possibility of subcontracting out the maintenance work at the school fields. 
 
"We're looking into the possibility of subbing the school fields out. It's nothing in stone, it was just something we discussed. I have two different lawn-care professionals that are giving me a rough idea [of the cost] and I can bring it to the board if it's something we want to do or not."
 
Although they didn't get into any specific numbers, the board members said they have been working on the upcoming budget in concert with the Finance Committee for the annual town meeting. Selectwoman Michelle Francesconi said these are not your average meetings.
 
"Last Thursday we had a joint meeting with the Finance Committee ... that actually went for nearly four hours. We're tackling some broader scope ideas to improve transparency within the town and [Town Administrator] Ed [St. John] is working to implement some of those ideas into the budget," she said.
 
Chairman Robert Ciskowski thinks one aspect of this year's budget will stand out as unique.
 
"That was a good meeting we had, it was long but we got a lot done. I believe the compensation review report is going to be an interesting thing. There's going to be a lot of variables on that, a lot of passion on that both ways. That's going to be possibly controversial. But I'm looking forward to getting a plan in place." he said.
 
The town is reviewing all of its paid positions in hopes of coming up with a more consistent compensation plan to present in future budget seasons.
 
In some town housekeeping, the board appointed Brian Trudeau to the Board of Health to finish out the last 2 1/2 months of the recently resigned Rick Salvi. It announced that nomination papers for anyone seeking to run for a town position are due at the town clerk's office at Town Hall no later than March 16 at 5 p.m.
 
The board will be temporarily displaced from the Community Center for next Tuesday's meeting because of presidential primary voting. The meeting will still be at 6:30 p.m. on March 3 but will take place upstairs at Town Hall.
 

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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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