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Challenger Michael Murphy, left, beat incumbent Hank Sayers for a three-year term on the Board of Selectmen.

Lanesborough Elects Murphy as New Selectman

By Jeff SnoonianiBerkshires Correspondent
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Election workers sit behind plastic partitions inside Lanesborough Town Hall to abide by social distancing guidelines for COVID-19. Plenty of gloves and sanitizer was available and only four voters were allowed inside the polls at one time.
 
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — There was only one contested race in Tuesday's annual town election and it delivered a change in the makeup of the Board of Selectmen
 
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. 
 
Murphy declined to speak to iBerkshires at the polls and has not yet replied to a request for comment Tuesday evening.
 
In a letter to iBerkshires prior to the election, he spelled out some of his goals:
 
He said the Berkshire Mall is a major issue but he sees two opposing points of view in regards to the property being redeveloped and sees no easy answer but "will try to work with those on both sides to ... find a common ground with which to proceed together for the benefit of the town."
 
He said in talking to residents they alleged that "opportunities for public comment have been severely diminished if not eliminated altogether" on issues that affect their quality of life as well as their pocketbooks. His goal is "make Town Hall accessible, open, and welcoming to all."
 
He is also concerned with what he sees as a lack of people willing to fill the open positions in Lanesborough. He feels that "opening the door and putting out the welcome mat for all town residents-young and old-to know they are needed and wanted is a step in the right direction."
 
He supports public safety and he sees the potential new police station as a major issue. He said many residents feel the process is "taking too long and the department is suffering for that." His goal is "to move the process forward as quickly as possible to reach a final decision and move on to finally relocating our chief and his officers to a healthy and safe location."
 
In other results, Jodi Szczepaniak-Locke was re-elected to the Finance Committee for three years; Rob Reilly was elected to a one-year seat on the Finance Committee as a write-in; incumbent Sherri Wilson was re-elected to a three-year term for library trustee; Gwen Miller was written in for a five-year term on the Planning Board; and Chris Dodig was not only re-elected as town moderator but will serve for the next three years as the town voted 260-153 to increase the moderator's term from one year to three.
 
The election itself was a first for the town under social distancing guidelines. There were plenty of wipes, sanitizers, and gloves available and only four voters at a time were allowed in the Community Room at Town Hall. Pollsters sat behind plastic partitions and pens and surfaces were cleaned after every use.
 
Town Clerk Ruth Knysh felt despite the changes it was business as usual.
 
"A separate in and out, an extra person wiping down all the booths, sanitizer, gloves, and masks available for everyone. Other than that … ," she said shrugging matter of factly. "It's been steady I think because there is a contentious seat for the Selectmen so it's been pretty busy. I also had 200 early voters voting through the mail."
 
Unofficial results tallied 451 total votes cast out of 2,280 registered voters for a turnout of slightly under 20 percent.

Tags: election 2020,   town elections,   

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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. 
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