CLARKSBURG, Mass. — Officials are struggling to prepare for a special town meeting and upcoming elections without town clerk.
Select Board Chairman Ronald Boucher said Town Clerk Carol Jammalo had given her notice in mid-July.
He said at Wednesday's Select Board meeting that the town has been reaching out to the Massachusetts Town Clerks' Association, other communities and town clerks for support and help in preparing for the August special town meeting and the state primary on Sept. 1.
"We have a very tough situation here in this town. All of you know that the town clerk resigned right square in the middle of a primary election, a town meeting," he said. "And a lot of the stuff that needed to be done wasn't done."
Town Administrator Rebecca Stone said Town Hall has been working to get the mail-in ballots out and processed as early voting by mail began this week.
"The state Elections Division of the secretary of state's office has been fantastic the town clerks' association and other area town clerks I spoke with today," she said. "And we're just getting the ball rolling with what we need to do and some deadlines we've already missed, but we're making up for them."
Election workers are covering for the final day of voter registration for the Aug. 26 special town meeting. Voter registration is being held Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. in the Selectmen's meeting room at Town Hall.
Stone said she is working up a schedule for the state primary on Sept. 1 and the national election on Nov. 3.
In the meantime, the town is seeking a temporary town clerk to carry the town through the November presidential election.
Voters at the special town meeting on Aug. 26 will decide if the position will be an appointed one like the town account and treasurer/tax collector. Those positions were changed to place them under the control of the Select Board in 2011; the town clerk had also been considered for appointment but was voted to remain an elected position.
Boucher said at least one person had indicated interest in taking the temporary position and that he had reached out to others, including retired North Adams City Clerk Marilyn Gomeau, for assistance.
"Even though she doesn't want to take take on the reins, which I don't blame her, she'll be there to help us," he said. "I had a couple of residents called me looking to help to do whatever they can help us. And we appreciate every little bit of help we can get for this very, very monumental task. ...
"This is not a good time to be with out a town clerk."
The special town meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 26, at 6 p.m. at the Senior Center will also include articles authorizing the Select Board to enter into payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreements for two solar arrays and an article authorizing the Select Board to place a new employee at a step in the pay grade commensurate with their experience and education.
In other business:
• The board continued a public hearing on placing electrical poles for a solar array at the former North Adams Country Club over questions from neighbors on the placement and type of panels being installed and the permitting process. The array had first been approved in 2015. Boucher said the board will make inquiries with the Planning Board and building inspector before resuming the hearing.
• Members of the Council on Aging asked about reopening the Senior Center for use. The board, in discussion with Health Inspector Norman Rolnick, who called into the meeting, determined that the center will remain closed for regular use for the time being because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
"We've basically had the Health Department here in Clarksburg sort of lead the way and let them set the precedent on what needs to be done this time to keep everybody safe," said Boucher.
COA members Robert and Lauren Norcross and Shirley Therrien said the building had been used by the Veterans of Foreign Wars and for a community meeting for the proposed marijuana operation on Cross Road.
"I'm not saying this pandemic isn't serious," said Robert Norcross. "I think it's overreaction not to be able to use a building. Because the other side of this is that your seniors are stuck in their home. They want to get out."
He said four to six seniors have been using it a few times a week and that they've been wiping down and cleaning the building when they leave.
"I really think that we've got to make sure we don't overreact and as long as we take steps to clean everything afterwards, I don't see why we can't continue to meet," he said.
Rolnick asked them to be patient. Town Hall is open but limited (the Select Board is meeting there in person but the public hearing was held in the parking lot), and the library is still doing curbside service.
"We honestly are considering different steps as far as opening that up. We're just trying to make sure that we do it in a safe, a safe way. So it's going to take a little bit of time," he said.
Boucher said the town had had a positive case recently in Clarksburg, the third since March when the town had the first case in Berkshire County.
"We don't want to go open too fast. We want to make sure everything's in place, and that's how Norm feels," he said, adding that the board would keep the COA informed. "And again, as a select board, we refer to him. He's the expert."
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Pittsfield Community Radio, 89.7 WTBR-FM, won Hometown Media Awards in a national contest conducted by the Alliance for Community Media.
"Christmastime in the City," produced by the Town Players of Pittsfield, and "Nothing But Old 45's," produced by Larry Kratka, were chosen out of nearly one thousand submissions as best in their categories.
The Hometown Media Awards is the Foundation of the ACM's yearly awards program. It is established to honor and promote community media, community radio, and local cable programs that are distributed on Public, Educational, and Governmental (PEG) access cable television channels. Proceeds go to the ACM Foundation which is exclusively used for facilitating, preserving, and promoting education in community media.
"Christmastime in the City" won in the category of "Local Performances - Independent Producer." The program is typically a live stage performance. Because of COVID-19, the Town Players of Pittsfield moved the annual event to a community television production which aired several times during the holiday season on PCTV.
Pittsfield's Emmanuel Nda broke a meet record and helped the Generals break into the top 10 at Saturday's Central/Western Massachusetts Division 1 Championships at Westfield State University. click for more