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Cheshire Receives Multiple Bids For Maple Drive, Grader

By Jeff SnoonianiBerkshires Correspondent
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CHESHIRE, Mass. — The Covid-19 virus and its related restrictions on gatherings and social interactions has not stopped the Selectmen from nearly finalizing two projects they have been working on since last year. 
The Maple Drive paving project was put out to bid last spring and received no responses. The request for proposal was broadened and reissued recently and attracted five bidders. At a virtual meeting Wednesday night, Town Administrator Edmund St. John IV opened each of them and let all interested parties know the results via webcam. 
The bids ranged from just over $115,000 to nearly $170,000 to perform a total resurfacing, catch basin repair, and sidewalk and curb work. The town will be utilizing state issued Chapter 90 road funds for the project.
Given the unique nature of current municipal meetings, Chairman Robert Ciskowski felt the board members needed a day to digest the numbers after they received them from St. John.
"Perhaps we should take the numbers under advisement once we get them. I would be more comfortable taking a day to mull it over as Maple Drive [repaving] has been around for a while and I want to do this correctly," he told the board.
Ciskowski will be recusing himself from the Maple Drive award as he cited a conflict of interest with a couple of the contractors.
The town received two proposals for the purchase of a road grader to assist with the maintenance of its heavily traveled dirt roads. The equipment was a key piece for Highway Superintendent Robert Navin when he took the job last year. Navin has made better upkeep of the dirt roads a priority for his department.
"The procedures here weren't to do them how I would do a dirt road. They don't rake them all the time because they didn't have a rake that worked that great. After grading it needs to be raked out well, compacted by a roller ... and put a dust control on it. That's the direction I want to head in with these dirt roads. A road done right will last a lot longer,” he said at an October 2019 meeting.
The town has been renting a grader to perform all the necessary upkeep but often the equipment broke down and was under repair for much of the time it was needed. Some dirt roads went two years with little work being performed due to these limitations.
In a presentation to the board last fall, St. John provided a cost comparison of owning versus annually renting. The ownership option was proven less costly over a 20-year period.
In a special ballot election, in December the town passed a debt exclusion that gave the board the authority to borrow up to $195,000 for the purchase of a grader.
One proposal from Milton Cat out of Clifton Park, N.Y., for a new Caterpillar machine was for $379,777 but with various manufacturer and dealer discounts came to just under the $195,000 threshold. 
A second from Five Star Equipment out of Dunmore, Pa., quoted a 2015 John Deere for $173,000.
The Caterpillar would not be delivered until August while the John Deere is available in April.
Municipal bidding processes usually, but not always, favor the low bidder. Qualifications, availability, and experience can factor into the awarding of contracts as well.
The Selectmen will mull the numbers and reconvene for a virtual meeting Tuesday, March 31, to select the winning bids.
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Cheshire Cleaned Up In May

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
CHESHIRE, Mass. — A pandemic should never stop a little spring cleaning and residents took the month of May to spruce up the town.
Since 2014, the Cheshire Community Association has organized a community cleanup during the month of May and even with challenges this year they found a way to persist.
"The CCA's first community event in October 2014 was a town clean-up day that attracted more than 40 hardy souls, including State Representative Gail Cariddi (may she rest in peace)," Cheshire Community Association members John Tremblay and Eileen Quinn said in a joint email. "During this very challenging time of separation and anxiety, our objective is to use this shared goal as a way of maintaining connection among our residents and continuing to build on the theme of ‘Cheshire Proud'."
Of course there is a stress on health and safety this year and volunteers are asked to wear personal protective equipment and work with family members or alone to minimize contact with others.
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