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Williamstown Fire District Clerk Sarah Currie and Prudential Committee members, from left, David Moresi, Richard Reynolds and Edward Briggs participate in Tuesday's district meeting.

Williamstown Fire District Voters OK Purchase of Tanker Truck

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Voters on Tuesday unanimously approved the Williamstown Fire District's budget in a brief annual meeting at Williamstown Elementary School.
The Prudential Committee, which governs the district, had asked voters to OK a spending plan that calls for slightly less revenue to be raised from taxes in fiscal year 2021 than the district sought for the current year.
The largest of nine articles on the warrant, Article 5, covers the district's operating expenses for the year ahead. It was up by $7,714, or 1.6 percent, to $495,865.
The second largest appropriation came from the district's stabilization fund, which will pay the $380,000 approved on Tuesday to acquire a 2,600-gallon tanker truck.
As noted in a memo to voters accompanying the warrant for Tuesday's meeting, the tanker will fill a long-standing need for the call-volunteer fire department.
The memo noted that more than 89 percent of the town's 47 square miles is not covered by the town's water district and, therefore, does not have fire hydrants.
Although neighboring town's departments have tankers and do provide mutual aid to the Williamstown firefighters, a truck at the Williamstown fire station will potentially get to the scene of fires faster, the Prudential Committee argued.
"The fire district cannot stress enough the importance of getting as much water to the fire scene as quickly as possible, especially to those residents currently living and building homes in that 89.4 percent unprotected by the water district," the memo read.
Prior to Tuesday's 15-minute meeting, the district conducted its annual election.
Current Prudential Committee Chair John Notsley, the only member of the five-member panel up for re-election, was returned to his seat with all 30 of the votes cast. Moderator Paul Harsch, the only other official up for election, received 25 of 30 votes.
About a dozen voters participated in the meeting, and just one took advantage of the opportunity to ask for more information about the articles.
Jeffrey Thomas asked whether the Prudential Committee felt the $20,000 sought in Article 6 for the district's "Design Fund" for a new fire station was sufficient.
Notsley and Treasurer Corydon Thurston confirmed that the district is carrying about $25,000 in the fund from previous years' appropriations, and the committee feels that $45,000 is sufficient to continue the work of planning for a new station at 562 Main St.
In his opening remarks on Tuesday, Notsley said the station project remains a priority for his committee.
"The district is moving forward at a slow and steady pace to be able to present to the town the district's plan for a new station," Notsley said. "Our current station, built in 1949, has served the town well but is totally inadequate. We will propose a facility that will last for many years into the future.
"Since there may be opportunity to obtain federal funding for a new building, the district must pursue a plan for the project. We will be soliciting proposals for the new station, and a building committee will be selected to provide input before a proposal is presented to the town."

Tags: annual meeting,   fire district,   town elections,   

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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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