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Clarksburg Moves Town Election, Town Meeting to June

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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CLARKSBURG, Mass. — The Select Board on Wednesday voted to move the annual town election to June 11 and the town meeting to June 24.
The town election had been tentatively scheduled for May 26 but Town Clerk Carol Jammalo had asked the board to reconsider the date to give her more time to plan because of the ongoing pandemic. 
"I know we went back and forth a lot on this and I figured we were just going to leave it," said Chairman Ronald Boucher. "I don't think there's anything big on the election, there's no big questions."
Select Board member Danielle Luchi, however, agreed with Jammalo. 
"I would like to see it moved to June 11," she said. "I'd like to make sure the Board of Health is OK with the polls and [Police Chief] Mike Williams has trained to figure out a way to get people safely in and out while coping with the COVID-19 stuff."
Luchi also said the process for getting an absentee ballot is ponderous. "It's like jumping through hoops a little bit. You have to print out the [application] and then you have to fill it out and then [Jammalo] has to process it."
State officials are encouraging voters to use absentee ballots, lifting the restrictions that are supposed to limit their use to voters who are unable to physically get to the polls. However, the process still requires a voter to request an application for a ballot [or download it], which then has to be mailed to them, signed and returned before they can get the actual ballot mailed back to them. 
"It's a little bit of a process and I think an extra week will help out a little bit," Luchi said. 
Jammalo said she also working on getting election workers to help her. Many of her regular poll workers are senior citizens who are among the most vulnerable to the novel coronavirus. 
Boucher noted that Gov. Charlie Baker was expected to present plans on May 18 for "reopening" the state, which has been largely locked down to prevent the spread of the highly contagious COVID-19. And, he said, most communities want people to vote by mail. 
So, he didn't think there would be a very large turnout for the town election but, he asked, what did Jammalo want to do? 
She wanted to hold off until June, as have many other communities. Select Board member Jeffrey Levanos also agreed and the date was changed to Thursday, June 11, from noon to 7 p.m.
The decision on town meeting went faster and it was scheduled for Wednesday, June 24, at 6:30 p.m. But where town meeting is to be held is still up for discussion. 
"We can do it at the school but we have to plan it," said Boucher. Levanos joked that "I don't think you'll get 20 people."
The governor's stay-home order requires a certain amount of space for per number of people to ensure social distancing of more than 6 feet. Town meeting is held in the elementary school gym so if the order still holds by June 23, officials would have to figure out how many people could safely enter the space. 
Or, Boucher suggested, if the weather was nice they could hold it at Peter Cook Veterans Memorial Field next door to the school. It was decided to hold off on the location for now. 
Under "topics not reasonably anticipated," the board voted to open the entrance to Town Hall for the first time since March 7. The hallway in the rear of the building is the main entrance into the building and is normally open for residents to read postings, pickup applications and drop off documents and payments. 
The building was closed after the first COVID-19 case was found in Clarksburg and only employees and officials have been allowed in since. But with the push for absentee ballots, it was decided that the hallway, with the OK from the Board of Health should open so residents can confidently drop important documents like ballots inside. 
"I think we should be able to unlock that door so people can access that hallway and if people have to drop something off, it will be protected by the weather," Boucher said. 
The rest of the building will remain locked and off-limits to the public. 
In other business: 
The board decided to hold off on renting the pavilion at the town field. The structure has serious issues, including a concrete pad that has heaved and split. One of the posts needs repair and the roof should be redone. 
Boucher said he didn't think it was a point of collapse but it is in dire need of repair. Highway Foreman Kyle Hurlbut has been looking into estimates to have slab and roof redone. 
"The water is coming off the roof and settles there ... Before we fix the pad we need to fix the problem and that's the drainage there," Boucher said. 
• The Finance Committee will meet on May 18 and is expected to have a fiscal 2021 budget for the Select Board to review at its next meeting May 27. 

Tags: COVID-19,   town elections,   

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Clarksburg Town Meeting Passes $4.6M Budget, OKs Truck Purchase

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff

Select Board member Allen M. Arnold is sworn into office by Jeanne Moulthrop, voted temporary town clerk for the meeting.
CLARKSBURG, Mass. — A sparse town meeting burned through a 19-article warrant on Wednesday night under sunny skies. 
The meeting, held on the lawn of the Senior Center because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, swiftly approved a town budget of $4,565,710 and the purchase of a new Department of Public Works truck for $250,000.
Based on the financial articles passed on Wednesday, including a transfer of $98,000 from free cash to reduce the tax rate, the property tax rate is estimated at $17.86 per $1,000 valuation, three cents lower than this year.
The town has a current free cash fund of $518,892; town meeting also approved transferring $250,000 in free cash to the stabilization account and using $64,138.20 to pay off the library loan. 
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