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Williamstown Fire District Signs Deal on Tanker Truck

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Fire District has signed a contract for the purchase of a tanker truck that was approved at this year's annual district meeting.
 
Chief Craig Pedercini on Wednesday reported to the Prudential Committee that the district received one bid for the truck, and it accepted the proposal from New England Fire Equipment and Apparatus for a purchase price of $366,987, just a hair under the price tag that district voters approved in July.
 
"We appropriated $380,000," Chair John Notsley noted. "There's a little leftover, which I understand will go to providing the vehicle with radios and other miscellaneous equipment."
 
The $380,000 is coming out of the district's stabilization fund, which means that the district will not have to borrow for the expense, and the purchase itself does not affect the tax rate. This summer, voters approved raising $50,000 from taxation to put into the stabilization fund.
 
The Prudential Committee OK'd a more modest expenditure, up to $5,000 to replace pagers for the firefighters.
 
Pedercini told the committee that he had a quote for $9,400 to replace 20 units but asked for the panel's guidance about whether to make that investment right now.
 
"We don't have to necessarily purchase them all," Pedercini said. "I think if we wanted to go with 10 and hold off for a little while and see how the budget goes, I'm OK with that.
 
"The ones the guys are using are OK with one or two exceptions, but as they start to fail, that would give us room."
 
Notsley suggested that the district buy 10 units now and wait and see what its budget looks like in the spring before adding any more to its supply.
 
Notsley also reported Wednesday that the district's Building Committee held its inaugural meeting on Sept. 9.
 
Its first step will be to put out bids for an owner's project manager for the station that district leaders hope to build at 562 Main St. (Route 2), Notsley said.
 
District Treasuerer Corydon Thurston is drafting a request for proposals for an OPM, based on the RFP the town used when it found a manager for the new police station project.
 
"The committee will review that," Thurston said. "Ultimately, it will go to legal for review before it gets published."
 
Notsley said that he hopes that review can take place at the next meeting of the Building Committee, which brings together representatives from town government and the community with Fire District personnel.
 
"My hope is that once the OPM goes out to bid and once an OPM is chosen, probably the first order of business would be to put out an RFP so we can get a different slant on what new consultants feel we should be looking for in a new station," Notsley said.
 
"We don't want to just stick with what we have from Maguire. We want different ideas."
 
In other business on Wednesday, Pedercini reported that a Williamstown resident who formerly served in the Pownal fire department has decided to switch to the Williamstown Fire Department.
 
He also noted that four Williams College students in the call-volunteer department are on campus, though they will be restricted to the campus itself until the end of September, like the rest of the student body.
 
Pedercini said both July and August were busy months for permits with 12 houses changing hands in the month of August.
 
The department also had 24 fire calls in the month, including 12 for activated alarms. Among the three motor vehicle accidents was one involving a fatality and another that required an extrication using newly aquired battery-power cutters that personnel trained on in the spring.
 
In another nod to the COVID-19 pandemic, Pedercini said that the department will have to forego an annual tradition that helps promote fire safety and awareness of the WFD.
 
"We've decided that this year, like many events in the area and around the country, we're going to cancel the open house and give thought to some other ways to reach out to the kids," Pedercini said. "I might reach out to some of the other local departments to see what they're doing. I don't know if it might be some type of video like we're doing now [referring to the virtual meeting]. In the meantime, the actual open house at the station is going to be canceled."
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Lever Seeks Applicants for Mohawk Trail Entrepreneur Challenge

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Entrepreneurs have about two weeks to apply for a grant program that looks to support sustainable, woodland-related businesses.
 
Lever Inc. in North Adams is hosting the Mohawk Trail Entrepreneur Challenge, which offers a prize of $25,000 to the winner and guidance in developing a business plan to all who apply.
 
It is the latest in a series of challenges organized by Lever, which has helped launch 46 new companies in the Berkshire regions since its inception in 2014.
 
This time around, Lever is partnering with the Mohawk Trail Woodlands Partnership, a collaboration of 16 municipalities in Franklin and Berkshire County's Mohawk Trail (Route 2) corridor whose core mission includes "natural resource-based economic development."
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