Mike Kruszyna, seen with his wife, Karen, at the polls Monday, unseated incumbent Jeffrey Warner for a three-year term on the Cheshire Board of Health.
ADAMS, Mass. — Adams and Cheshire held their annual town elections Monday and despite all the changes necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, there were no problems reported at either polling station.
The towns typically hold local elections on the first Monday in May but the social distancing guidelines implemented by Gov. Charlie Baker nearly 80 days ago forced them to draw up new plans. The towns are obligated to hold elections on the same day because of their shared school district.
Voter turnout was down in both towns, which could be attributed to the virus or to the lack of uncontested offices.
Cheshire had just two, the Board of Health, where challenger Mike Kruszyna unseated incumbent Jeffrey Warner for a three-year term (275-141), and a write-in campaign by Colin Haas that fell just short (195-173) for the Water Commissioner spot held by Mickey Biagini. There were 420 votes cast in total.
Adams had only one contested race, for library trustee, which saw incumbent Brian Bishop re-elected and also Linda Rhoads voted in for a three-year term.
The towns shared a contested race for School Committee as incumbent Regina Hill bested challenger Erin Milne in Cheshire (213-140) and in Adams (317-163).
Both selectmen races in each town were unopposed as Jason Levesque of Cheshire and Christine Hoyt of Adams have gained another three-year term.
Levesque said in an email that he is "Thankful the residents of Cheshire decided to allow me to continue to serve them and we will press on in bringing to light all that Cheshire has to offer."
Cheshire Town Clerk Christine Emerson said it was business as usual at the Community Center other than a few minor changes because of the virus. Election workers wore masks and were behind plastic partitions, voters exited through a side door instead of back through the main entrance, and the booth configuration changed to adhere to social-distancing guidelines. When asked if the process was working smoothly she provided only positives.
"So far yeah. The numbers are below my expectations but you never know. It always surprises me, we have a dead afternoon but then it will pick up," she said. "We've done everything that we can possibly do to make it voter-friendly, given the circumstances. We've got signage, footprints on the floor showing where to go. So far no complaints."
Emerson hopes the experience voters got Monday will alleviate any problems they might have in the upcoming primaries in September and general election in November. Both of which are expected to draw a heavier than usual turnout.
"The voters that are coming today are going to be very aware that the polls have changed. We don't go in and go out the same door. We are coming in the front and going out the back. The booths are set up differently. If they didn't vote today we will keep trying to inform them on what to expect."
In Adams, at the polling station in the Department of Public Works garage on North Summer Street, volunteers also were behind plastic panels and masked. Pens were quickly disinfected after each use and each booth was wiped down after use. Just like the scene in Cheshire.
Also like its neighbor to the South, turnout was trending lower than usual.
Town Clerk Haley Meczywor registered no problems with the voting process as of mid-afternoon.
"So far everybody that has voted has put their mask on. Everybody has been very respectful and we're happy about that. Everything has been going as expected. I figure we'll do about 500 [voters] if I had to guess," she said.
Meczywor is also hoping the smaller town election will be good practice for both her staff and the voters before the national elections this fall.
"This is a definite good warmup. I like hearing from my workers, too. If there's anything different we can do. I think September will be OK but it's going to be our November elections that will be trickier. We might have to look at some different in-and-out options. But maybe things will be different [by then]."
Both Meczywor and Emerson reported a huge increase in absentee and early voting this year. Out of roughly 900 ballots cast between the two towns about one third were submitted by mail.
Unofficials results Cheshire:
Hoosac Valley School Committee: Cheshire representative, Adam Emerson, 373; Adams representative, Regina Hill, 213, and Erin Milne, 140
Selectman: Jason Levesque, 370
Assessor: Barbara Astorino, 350
Board of Health: three-year term, Michael Kruszyna, 275, and Jeffrey Warner, 141; one-year term, Brian Trudeau, 328
Water Commission: Mickey Biagini, 195
Cemetery Commission: Stephen LaFogg, 310
Planning Board: 51 write-in votes, no winner determined yet
Unofficial results Adams:
Hoosac Valley School Committee: Cheshire representative, Adam Emerson, 405; Adams representative, Regina Hill, 317, and Erin Milne, 163
Moderator: Myra Wilk, 442
Selectman: Christine Hoyt, 434
Assessor George Haddad, 432
Board of Health: three-year term, David Rhoads, 393; one-year term, Laura Grandchamp, 413
Library trustee (two seats); Brian Bishop, 368, Linda Rhoads, 274, and Robert Harris, 179
Parks Commission: Jacob Schutz, 434
Planning Board: David Krzeminski, 411
Cemetery Commission: Frederick Hobart, 402
McCann School Committee: three-year term, Daniel Maloney, 424; one-year, Bruce Shepley, 425
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New Adams Police Chief, Officers Union Contract Announced Wednesday Night
By Jeff SnoonianiBerkshires Correspondent
Officer Josh Baker reads from a portion of the new three-year union contract that was ratified by the Selectmen on Wednesday night.
ADAMS, Mass. — The Board of Selectmen on Wednesday officially introduced new interim Police Chief Troy Bacon in all too common COVID-19 style.
The appointment of a municipality's top law enforcement officer is usually heavily attended by town officials and accompanied by dozens of handshakes. Because of restrictions in place from the worldwide pandemic, this one was carried out with nary an elbow bump.
Bacon will assume the post on Tuesday, July 14, after current Chief Richard Tarsa's retirement becomes official at 11:59 p.m. Monday night. Bacon, 44, recently retired from the Frankfort, Ind., police department after 20 years. He had one of his daughters with him this week for a whirlwind tour of the area before she headed back on a plane to the Midwest.
"One thing she said was, 'There's a lot of trees here dad," he answered smiling when asked by Selectman Joseph Nowak about his daughter's first impression of the area. "I told her yes, that's right, that's one of the reasons I applied here.
Bacon will assume the post on Tuesday, July 14, after current Chief Richard Tarsa's retirement becomes official at 11:59 p.m. Monday night. Bacon, 44, recently retired from the Frankfort, Ind., police department after 20 years. click for more
Late last year, the Board of Health agreed to implement a new regulation that would limit the amount of tobacco sales permits allowed in town. The new regulation would not affect those already selling tobacco products.
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The past few weeks have seen on-site retail sales return and patio seating reopen, followed by a socially distanced form of inside dining for restaurants.
Wednesday night the board, with guidance from Code Enforcement Officer Mark Blaisdell, took the necessary steps to reopen parks and open... click for more
Just like its partner in the Hoosac Valley Regional School District, Cheshire, and the school district itself, Adams will wait for definitive state aid numbers from Boston before approving a hard budget. The COVID-19 pandemic has spawned wide speculation of revenue shortfalls in the commonwealth.... click for more