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Lanesborough Mulls Background Checks for Volunteer Boards

By Jeff SnoonianiBerkshires Correspondent
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LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — Town is considering requiring the members of its boards and committees to undergo CORI checks. 
The Criminal Offender Record Information checks look into a person's criminal history to determine if they might pose a danger while working with the public. It is most commonly used for positions that might come in contact with children, the elderly, or the disabled.
"I've been seeing that some towns CORI check 100 percent of everybody, including its volunteers on a board or committee, so I did a little more research and it's like 50/50," Town Manager Kelli Robbins told the Selectmen on Monday. "Here we only CORI check employees. So my question to you is, would you like to include others in that group?"
Selectman Henry "Hank" Sayers asked Robbins what the cost of a CORI check was and, upon hearing it was free, said, "No cost, we should do everybody."
Robbins was a little skeptical of the need to check everybody's background.
"So you want to CORI check all the volunteers, everybody that's on every committee even though they may not have any contact with the elderly or children? It would be highly unlikely that, say, the finance board would be having a meeting with kids. Do you see where I'm going?" she said to Sayers.
The board and Robbins agreed to look into what, if any, policy currently exists and revisit the issue at a future meeting.
The board voted unanimously to accept a new townwide social media policy as long as it passes muster from town counsel. Robbins said she was exhaustive in trying to craft one that works and is defensible should issues arise.
"I reviewed I believe 75 town social media policies and this was, by far, the best written of the bunch. If you approve it I would like to have it vetted by town counsel to make sure that we're not overstepping the mark anywhere. There is a lot of case law now that supports this particular policy," she said.
Robbins also announced that the Fire Department has received a state grant of $3,065 for the Senior Safe and Student Awareness of Fire Education programs. The programs teach senior citizens and students about fire prevention and life safety issues in case of an emergency.

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Lanesborough Fire Department Continues Senior Holiday Meal Tradition

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff

P.J. Pannesco hands out meals to Lanesborough seniors.
LANESOBOROUGH, Mass. — The town's volunteer fire department has been filling bellies and raising spirits at the holidays for nearly 50 years.
The COVID-19 pandemic curtailed its plans to do the latter. There was no way the firefighters were going to stop doing the former.
Sunday at noon, area senior citizens began lining up for a drive-thru holiday meal at the Main Street station. It wasn't exactly the same as the annual community meal the department has hosted since 1974. But it was the best the volunteers could do under the circumstances.
"It was never a consideration that we weren't going to do it," firefighter P.J. Pannesco said as volunteers made final preparations to serve the meals. "When we realized that it was not going to be possible to put 75 people in a room like this — and we can do it because we have plenty of tables — we said, without a doubt, all the restaurants are doing drive-thru and curbside and so can we."
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