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Williamstown Interim Town Manager Candidates Named

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The former mayor of Springfield is among the two candidates seeking to be the town's interim town manager when Jason Hoch vacates the corner office this spring.
 
Robert T. Markel and Charles T. Blanchard will be interviewed by the Select Board in a special meeting on Monday. The board already has set an April 5 special meeting for the purpose of selecting a temporary replacement for Hoch.
 
Up first in the virtual hot seat on Monday will be Blanchard, whose interview is set to get underway at 6:30.
 
Blanchard brings more than 35 years of experience in municipal management, most recently as the town manager of the Western Mass town of Palmer in the Springfield suburbs.
 
Blanchard led the town hall in Palmer (population 12,500) for eight years, starting out as an interim town manager in 2011 and retiring in June 2019.
 
Prior to his time in Palmer, Blanchard was the first town administrator in Paxton (population 4,800) in Worcester County.
 
Blanchard also brings experience in the volunteer side of municipal management. He served on Select Board and Water and Sewer Commission in Sturbridge. His service on that town's Select Board covered 18 years, from 1987-94 and from 1996-2005.
 
Markel spent four years as mayor of the commonwealth's third-largest city. He led Springfield's city government from 1992 to 1996 after serving on the City Council for more than a decade.
 
Markel made headlines last summer when he helped introduce then-candidate Joe Biden on the final night of the Democratic National Convention. Markel and Biden were classmates at Archmere Academy in Delaware.
 
After serving as mayor in Springfield, Markel spent 14 years as the chief executive officer in three New England communities: Norfolk (population 12,000), Ipswich (13,000) and Kittery, Maine, (10,000).
 
He spent the last eight years working as a part-time interim manager in six different Massachusetts communities, including Becket, where he was the interim town administrator from January 2018 to 2019.
 
Currently, Markel is the town administrator in Hampden, a town of 5,100 near East Longmeadow in Hampden County.
 
Markel's Monday interview is set to begin at 7:45.
 
Both interviews will be held via Zoom; the public will be allowed to observe via Zoom or on the town's public access television station, Willinet, but the members of the Select Board will conduct all the questioning.
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Mount Greylock District Builds Diversity Training Days Into 2021-22 Calendar

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Mount Greylock Regional School Committee last week approved a 2021-22 academic calendar that includes six half days for all-staff professional development with an emphasis on diversity training.
 
"When it comes to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging work, that's a community effort, and it starts with the community in the central office and goes to everyone who works in school buildings or around school buildings," Superintendent Jason McCandless said in proposing the calendar.
 
"I would suggest to you that if we adopt this calendar, it becomes, in many ways, a template for moving forward with inclusion of half days as professional development time. We need time to reflect, to gather and learn from one another, and we need time to learn from experts, whether joining us in person or virtually, who are helping us become better practitioners all the time."
 
McCandless scheduled the half days for staff training on Oct. 8, Oct. 29, Jan. 14, Feb. 11, March 11 and April 18 — all Fridays. He also built into the schedule a full day for professional development on Friday, March 18.
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