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Williamstown Fire District Election, Meeting Set for Tuesday

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Fire District will hold its annual election and annual meeting on Tuesday in the Williamstown Elementary School gymnasium.
The polls will open at 4 p.m. and will stay open until at least 7 p.m. for the election, in which John Notsley, the chair of the five-person Prudential Committee, is one of several candidates on the ballot running without opposition.
At 7:30, the annual district meeting will commence with eight warrant articles to be decided by voters in the district.
The largest single expenditure on the agenda is a $495,865 request for the district's operational expenses for fiscal year 2021.
Although that number is up slightly from the $488,151 voters approved for FY20, the entire spending plan is down slightly from the current fiscal year because of reductions in other warrant articles.
Voters and attendees on Tuesday evening are asked to wear face coverings and observe social distancing. The meeting has been moved from the elementary school's cafeteria to its gymnasium to promote social distancing, a move that was easier because the school's maintenance personnel were able to leave the mat that covers the gym floor in place after last week's town election.
Generally speaking, the Fire District's annual meeting attracts a couple of dozen voters or fewer. Last year, a larger than average number of district residents attended, and the main topic of conversation was a plan to replace the town's street lights with LED fixtures.
In response to concerns raised at the meeting that the new fixtures, while more energy efficient, would create increased light pollution, the Prudential Committee ultimately pulled out of an agreement with National Grid to change the lights.
The district's annual meeting was postponed from its traditional May date due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic. As is not uncommon in Massachusetts, the town's fire district operates as a separate municipal entity apart from town government.
Williamstown's annual town meeting, which normally precedes the Williamstown Fire District meeting, also has been postponed to a date to be determined.
The town meeting normally is conducted in the gymnasium but attracts a much larger crowd — last year more than 250, in 2017 as many as 280. The Select Board last week asked the town manager to develop plans for an outdoor town meeting to be held some time this summer. 

Tags: annual meeting,   fire district,   

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Mount Greylock Committee Member Pushes to Reopen Schools

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff

Steven Miller participates in a recent meeting of the Mount Greylock Regional School Committee via Zoom.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The chair of the Mount Greylock School Committee's Education Subcommittee on Tuesday repeatedly pressed the district's interim superintendent to develop benchmarks that could be met in order to allow a return to full in-person instruction.
For now, school officials are planning to begin school in mid-September in a hybrid model that sees half the students in preK through ninth grade attending classes in person two days a week with the rest of their time on learning spent remotely; sophomores through seniors in high school would attend school one day a week under the current plan.
Several times during a more than two-hour virtual meeting, Steven Miller reiterated his contention that the Lanesborough-Williamstown district is uniquely situated to move to full, in-person instruction.
"We are in a wonderful situation where we are in a rural setting with people who are responsible, who are socially distancing and wearing masks," said Miller, who also referred to the county's low incidence of COVID-19 positive tests.
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