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The Father Tom Campsite opened earlier this year for through-hikers on the Appalachian Trail. Cheshire became an Appalachian Trail Community two years ago.
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Hikers have access to water, electricity, a portable toilet and bikes.

Cheshire's AT Campsite 'Smashing Success'

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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The Selectmen voted to dispose of the former Water Department building. It will either be moved or demolished.
CHESHIRE, Mass. — The town's camping site for Appalachian Trail hikers has been a "smashing success."
 
The Father Tom Campsite near the town garage opened earlier this year, more than a year after the idea was first broached to offer a replacement for St. Mary's Church, which had long hosted hikers. It's named for the church's former pastor, the Rev. Thomas Begley.
  
"It's winding down now, but I just want to say it was a smashing success, and hikers were thrilled beyond belief to stay there," said Eileen Quinn, head of the Appalachian Trail Committee told the Selectmen on Tuesday. 
 
Quinn said she checks in on an app where through-hikers leave comments and reads what they put in the sign-in book. 
 
Two hikers had posted that they were going to continue through until the saw the campsite, which has electricity and USB ports for charging phones and devices, water, a picnic table, portable toilet and bicycles.
 
"They were thrilled and like amazed that there was electricity and bicycles and they were just ... it's going to be famous and the words going get out from Maine to Georgia," she said. 
 
Quinn said she wanted to make town officials aware of how the campsite was being received. Volunteers have been going to the site regularly for cleaning, checking with hikers and "dealing with whatever is there."
 
"Thank you for all the town support," she said. "It's really been a wonderful, positive thing."
 
Chairwoman Michelle Francesconi, who had been one of the advocates for the site before being elected to the Selectmen, thanked her for sharing the information.
 
"Obviously this year had a whole bunch of ups and downs and we weren't sure exactly ... we didn't have a grand opening, but at the same time, every time I did encounter people there everyone seems happy," she said. "And I've heard nothing but good things even from community members so kudos to you and your team, and all the volunteers that have assisted. I'm glad it was a success."
 
The subject of the campsite had "circled around" from a conversation about the disposal of a structure on the site that had been part of the Water Department. There are some supplies still in the building that will be removed.
 
Francesconi said there was one person who inquired about moving the building and volunteer interest in demolishing it. Once the vote made it available for disposition, she suggested seeing if there was community interest in moving the structure before demolishing it.
 
Gary Trudeau, who attended remotely, said Quinn had asked him to look at the one-story building. He wasn't sure it was up to being moved because sections of the floor and supports are rotted. 
 
He volunteered to tear down the structure with his excavator and load it into dumpsters provided by town for the purpose.
 
Francesconi said she was aware of the rot and if no one had inquired about the building, "we probably would have moved forward demolition right from the get go."
 
It would likely be spring anyways before the town could inspect for asbestos, coordinate dumpsters, acquire permits and get through the winter, Trudeau said. 
 
In other business, the board voted to set trick-or-treat hours from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Oct. 31 with plans to continue discussions with the Police Department on a possible town-sponsored candy distribution or providing safety tips to the community. Officials will also be considering what other towns are doing and public health data closer to the event. The vote was three in favor with Mark Biagini abstaining.
 
The U.S. Centers for Disease Controls has issued guidelines that puts door-to-door trick or treating as high risk for transmission of COVID-19. 
 
"It is an event that is within the jurisdiction of each individual homeowner whether or not they distribute candy and people can chose to trick or treat or not," said Francesconi. 
 
The board appointed Ray Killeen and Gene Pierce as transfer station attendants and to make all members of the Conservation Commission special municipal employees.
 
• Saturday, Nov. 21, from 9 to 7 was selected as the date for a debt exclusion vote to purchase a new highway truck and related equipment for $130,000. Annual town meeting approved the borrowing on Sept. 16. 

Tags: Appalachian Trail,   campground,   trick-or-treat,   

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Cheshire Stays With Single Tax Rate

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
CHESHIRE, Mass. — The Board of Selectmen on Tuesday voted to stay with a single property tax rate for fiscal 2021. 
 
According to calculations presented to the board, this would make the tax rate about $13.38 per $1,000 valuation, but Board of Assessors Chairwoman Barbara Astorino cautioned they were not setting a rate but rather classification. 
 
"This is not a set tax rate. So don't base on this tax rate. Until all of the documents go in and the state reviews everything ... You don't have a set tax rate," she said during the tax classification hearing. 
 
Her statements came after a discussion about splitting the rate to shift more of the tax burden to the commercial and industrial side. Cheshire has historically maintained a single tax rate.
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