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Williamstown Fire District's Prudential Committee Elects New Chair

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
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Richard Reynolds was elected the new chairman of the Prudential Committee, replacing John  Notsley.

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Williamstown Fire District's Prudential Committee on Wednesday elected Richard Reynolds to be its new chairman.

"Richards is the perfect guy for the job," Ed Briggs said of his colleague.

He has big shoes to fill. Outgoing Chair John Notsley has been involved with the district for 50 years and has chaired the panel that governs the district for several years.

Notsley said that while he will continue his role as a member of the five-person committee, it makes sense for him to step aside from the leadership role.

"I'll be out of town for the next six months," Notsley said. "I'll be available by phone, email, computer, etc., etc., but it doesn't bode well for the Prudential Committee to have an 'absentee landlord,' if you will."

Briggs praised Notsley for his long record of dedication to the district.

"As many of you know, John has provided leadership over the years to provide the town and residents a well-trained and well-equipped fire department on a limited budget," Briggs said. "Fortunately, John will remain on the Prudential Committee until his term expires, which is an asset to us."

Reynolds agreed.

"I made it clear when I was talking to John … there's a lot of experience on the committee, and I'm going to need to learn from that experience," he said. "Each of you, to differing degrees and at different times, will hear from me for your advice and counsel."

One piece of business that Notsley hopes to see completed before he leaves town: the start of a search process for the district's owner's project manager for a new fire station.

District Treasurer Corydon Thurston told the committee that he has nearly completed the request for proposals for the OPM and, after review by the Prudential Committee and its newly formed building committee, he wants to get the procurement document posted by mid-November. If the timeline holds up, the district could be interviewing OPM candidates before the end of the year, Thurston said.

Wednesday's agenda covered a wide range of topics, ranging from streetlights to glow sticks.

On the former, the committee learned that it may be offloading some of its responsibilities for maintaining streetlights to the town.

Thurston told the committee that Town Hall continues to study along with the volunteer Carbon Dioxide Lowering (COOL) Committee how to replace the current light fixtures with ones that are energy efficient but also do not create light pollution.

Although the Fire District has jurisdiction over streetlights -- a function that goes back to the days of gas lights -- Thurston said it might make sense to transfer some of that authority to the town.

"They've done some research," he said. "I've continued to support their studies with some analysis of the bills and usage. I think, for the sake of all of the efforts and grant opportunities that might exist for changing the streetlights and switching to LEDs and deciding on a color … it would probably be most appropriate for the town to make those decisions."

Thurston said the district likely would be able to hand off those powers through an intermunicipal agreement with the Select Board.

"It won't require a town meeting or fire district meeting," he said. "We can probably get that done by year end."

As for the existing streetlights, Chief Craig Pedercini told the committee he recently completed his annual inventory. After driving around town, he found 27 lights out.

"That's not too bad," he said. "I've had more in the past."

Pedercini said he hoped to have the out-of-service lights addressed in time for trick-or-treating on Oct. 31.

The Fire District also plans to shed a little more light on the Halloween festivities by distributing glow sticks to the trick-or-treaters. Pedercini said. The children will be able to bend the devices and wear them around their wrists to help provide some visibility and safety during the twilight activity.

Pedercini said firefighters will be at a half-dozen locations in the Cole Avenue and Southworth Street neighborhoods starting at around 5 p.m., ahead of the town's announced 5:30 to 7 p.m. trick-or-treating hours.

In other business on Wednesday, the committee discussed a new training program for recent recruits being offered through the Berkshire County Fire Chiefs Association.

Pedercini said the county chiefs invited a trainer from Hampden County to offer the program, which provides six eight-hour training sessions on weekends. He already has spoken to two recruits about the training, and there might be some Williams College students who work with the local fire service who are interested.

The training, likely to be held at a Central Berkshire location, will start next month, Pedercini said.

"It's going to give them some really good basic training -- fire awareness, fire behavior, [self-contained breathing apparatus], ladders -- basic stuff that we will still train with, but they'll get it as a group with a bunch of other young firemen who probably are on the same level of training," he said. "I'm excited to see that, because if we do that and it works well, we could probably do it again in the spring.

"It's sort of in lieu of doing a Firefighter 1 and 2 [course], and they can certainly take advantage of that, if they'd like to, as well. But that's a big commitment as far as hours, as a lot of our guys already know."

Pedercini said there is money in the district's training budget to cover the cost of the weekend program.

Engineer Mike Noyes told the committee the manufacturer supplying a new tanker truck the district ordered is on track to receive the chassis it ordered by early December, but the district has to rethink the way it monitors assembly of the apparatus.

In the past, representatives from the district have visited suppliers during assembly to monitor construction of new trucks, but with the contractor this time in Ohio, a visit would require anyone making the trip to quarantine for 14 days after their return to Massachusetts.

"We could certainly do a Zoom meeting and do something with all the officers," Pedercini said, noting that the virtual process would allow the district to get even more eyes on the assembly. "That may not be a bad thing. The down side is when you're out there looking, you tend to look where you want to look and not where they want to point the camera."

Thurston suggested that the district ask the manufacturer to send regular images during assembly as the truck is built. He said he had the chance to stop by a Connecticut truck manufacturer on a regular basis and check in on the construction of a different apparatus.

"That was helpful because you could pick up a couple of things during construction and call it out before it became a bigger issue, Thurston said


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Mount Greylock 'Snow Days' Will Be Remote Days

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Snow days will be school days in the Mount Greylock Regional School District, at least through the middle of February.
 
On Monday, newly installed Superintendent Jason "Jake" McCandless told the School Committee that he has decided to use snow days for remote learning in the PreK-12 district until after the February vacation.
 
After the planned one-week break, the first two snow days will be treated as actual days off before going back to the remote "snow day" model. North Adams made the decision to treat snow days as remote days earlier this month.
 
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