LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The town has implemented a series of protocols intended to keep residents safe and comfortable attending the annual town meeting on Tuesday.
At Wednesday's meeting of the Board of Selectmen, Town Manager Kelli Robbins laid out the procedures the town has in place for the annual gathering at Lanesborough Elementary School.
She said the protocols have the backing of Town Moderator Chris Dodig, who last week joined the Selectmen's virtual meeting and questioned whether it might make sense to postpone the meeting in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and learn from other towns who hold their meetings first.
Robbins said she met with the Dodig earlier in the day on Wednesday.
"He appeared to be very comfortable going forward with the meeting," she told the board. "He said he didn't need to attend tonight's meeting and asked that I relay that information to you."
Robbins said she would post the protocols for Tuesday's 6 p.m. annual town meeting on the town's website and alongside public postings of the meeting's warrant.
"It's going to feel different," she said in a meeting telecast on Lanesborough Community Access TV. "But it's a temporary difference. The intent is [Thursday] to provide the residents with a list of the expectations in how we're going to proceed to get everyone in safely and the safety measures we're taking for the meeting."
Robbins at Wednesday evening's meeting listed four specific changes that will be in place for the June 9 meeting: the doors will open one hour earlier, seating in the elementary school will be spaced, "social distancing and face covering guidelines will be requested," and residents will be asked to do a temperature check before entering.
"We're going to ask people if they would mind if we take their temperature," Robbins said in answer to a question from Selectman Hank Sayers. "It's a non-invasive [thermometer]. It doesn't come in contact with them. And if anyone has a fever of 100.3, which is the state guideline for non-admittance, we'll ask them if they're not feeling well if they would mind, please, staying at home.
"They may not know they have a fever, but as an adult myself, if I have a fever of 100.3, I'm not going to feel well enough to go out. So I don't think that's actually going to be an issue."
One of the two selectmen in the room with Robbins could be heard saying, "Right," after that last statement. Selectman Gordon Hubbard participated in Wednesday's meeting remotely.
The public health measures are not the only thing that will be a little different at this year's town meeting.
On Wednesday, Robbins told the Selectmen that the town's new electronic voting system has been tested twice and is ready to go for Tuesday night.
She said each voter will be given a clicker, which is "self-explanatory" with a green button next to the word "yes," a red button next to the word "no" and a yellow button if the voter wishes to abstain. The voter also simply can not press any button in order to abstain.
"All the votes will actually be anonymous, so people can feel comfortable using that," Robbins said.
At the end of Wednesday's 17-minute meeting, Chair John Goerlach made a brief statement apparently referencing the wave of unrest that has been witnessed across the country since the Memorial Day killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
"I'm glad our area is not getting involved in the nonsense in many other cities, that people are much more civil in what's happening out there," Goerlach said. "It was a sad thing that happened, but that officer will be punished, along with the other officers. These are tough times. There's a lot of nonsense going on, people getting hurt for no reason."
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Lanesborough Hoping to Reopen Recycling Process Soon
By Jeff SnoonianiBerkshires Staff
Newly elected Selectman Michael Murphy, center, participates in his first meeting on Thursday night.
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The Selectman welcomed new member Michael Murphy, elected last week, to the board with a fairly light load Thursday evening.
Cable TV contracts, Gulf Road and recycling were on the agenda among other items.
At their last meeting, the board had decided to keep Gulf Road closed until Dalton was comfortable opening the seasonal dirt byway. It serves as a shortcut between Lanesborough and Dalton and allows drivers to avoid shopping related traffic at Allendale Plaza and Berkshire Crossing in Pittsfield. It also could serve as an emergency detour should Route 8 be closed for any reason.
On Thursday, the board again voted but this time to reopen the road. But Murphy said he had spoken to a resident of Gulf Road who had wanted to advocate for the road to stay closed. This led into a discussion of why there is no public comment portion of the meeting since participation is now limited because of Town Hall being closed in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Former Finance Committee member Michael P. Murphy easily ousted incumbent Hank Sayers, 295-156. Sayers has served on the board since winning a special election in 2013 to fill a vacant seat.
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Town Moderator Chris Dodig kicked off the meeting by explaining the town's thought process in deciding to have the meeting at all despite the novel cooronavirus pandemic that has wreaked havoc on the municipal budget process across the state and forced many towns to postpone meetings and even some... click for more