image description
Moody Bridge in Williamstown, which carries Route 7 over the Hoosac River, will be the subject of three weekend closures in 2022 according to a plan from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

Williamstown Looking at Four Candidates for Interim Police Chief

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
Print Story | Email Story
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The town has received four applicants to serve as its interim police chief, the Select Board learned on Monday night.
Anne O'Connor, who is a non-voting member of the interim chief advisory committee, told her colleagues on the Select Board that the search group has interviewed three applicants and is hoping to arrange a fourth interview.
Outgoing Town Manager Jason Hoch asked the Select Board to form a search committee to make a recommendation to his office for the interim post after then-Chief Kyle Johnson resigned in December.
After some initial uncertainty about the level of community interest in serving on the search committee, the town received 22 applications and appointed eight residents to the panel. O'Connor said its work so far has been heartening.
"For me, it's been a beacon of hope," O'Connor said. "There are many different viewpoints represented on the committee, but folks have been working collaboratively, working through differences.
"For me, as an observer, because I'm a non-voting member and there to facilitate the process, it's been encouraging to see their work."
It is unclear at Monday's meeting whether the search committee will be making a recommendation to Hoch, who has said he will stay through the end of the month to smooth the transition to an interim town manager, or to incoming Interim Town Manager Charles Blanchard, who was offered the post last week.
On Monday, the Select Board voted 5-0 to approve a contract with Blanchard to serve in the corner office through Oct. 8 at a salary of $1,750 per week for at least 25 hours per week.
Andrew Hogeland said Blanchard was ready to start in the position on Tuesday and planned to be in town on Wednesday.
As for Blanchard's replacement, that will be a matter for the next iteration of the Select Board to decide.
On Monday, the board looked at a projected schedule for the search process put together by GovHR, the head-hunting firm the town hired to do a nationwide search.
The proposed timeline would have the position posted in mid-May with a yet-to-be-named search committee of town residents reviewing resumes in mid June. The Select Board would in early August conduct interviews with the finalists the committee recommends and hire a full-time town manager in mid-August with hopes that the successful candidate could be on board in mid September, according to the draft timeline.
Current Select Board Chair Jane Patton said she and Hugh Daley will chair the search committee, which will have up to 12 community members, including members from other town committees, like the Finance Committee.
"We cannot have a bigger community than this," Patton said. "It becomes unwieldy and impossible to get a quorum."
Any resident interested in serving on the Town Manager Search Committee should email a letter of interest to by April 21, Patton said. Interested residents should include some information about themselves and why they want to serve, and they can include a resume.
Patton said that the town will keep that email address open throughout the search process to continue taking feedback, and that she and Daley will host the first listening session related to the search on Wednesday, April 14, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. via Zoom
"We really want to hear from folks," Patton said. "We know there are voices out there that want to be heard, and we're working at creating platforms to be able to do that."
Monday's Select Board meeting covered a wide range of topics — from the board's annual Arbor Day Proclamation to a review of the draft warrant for June's annual town meeting.
On the latter note, Hoch informed the board and the viewing audience for Monday's meeting that the deadline to submit warrant articles for the town meeting via citizens' petition is Monday, April 19. Articles brought by citizen's petition need 10 certified signatures from residents to get on the warrant.
Hoch used Monday's meeting to inform the board and the town that the Massachusetts Department of Transportation is planning work on Moody Bridge, which carries Simonds Road (Route 7) over the Hoosic River and a railroad line, for the spring and summer of 2022.
MassDOT anticipates that the work will require closure of the bridge on three weekends but has not determined which three weekends, he said. The state agency is asking for input from the town about which weekends would be least disruptive; Hoch mentioned that the town likely would want to avoid events like Williams College's graduation and reunion weekend as well as the move-in period for the college's Fall 2022 semester.
Hoch said MassDOT chose weekends for the work because traffic counts and, in particular, truck traffic counts, are significantly lower on Saturday and Sunday. The bridge closure likely will mean detouring traffic over Bridges and North Hoosac Road to Cole Avenue and back to Main Street (Route 2).
"We're bringing this up now, one to provide some awareness and two, to get it on people's radar screens over the next week so if there are particular weekends to avoid in the May-to-September time frame, email me," Hoch said.

Tags: police chief,   search committee,   

2 Comments welcomes critical, respectful dialogue; please keep comments focused on the issues and not on personalities. Profanity, obscenity, racist language and harassment are not allowed. iBerkshires reserves the right to ban commenters or remove commenting on any article at any time. Concerns may be sent to

Williamstown Names Interim Police Chief; Process Sparks Committee Member's Resignation

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The interim town manager Monday announced that Lt. Mike Ziemba will serve as the town's interim police chief.
Ziemba, who has been serving as acting chief since the departure of Kyle Johnson in December, was vetted by a committee of concerned citizens created by the Select Board to advise the town manager, who has hiring authority under the town's charter.
That committee's role was called into question on Monday when one of the residents appointed to serve announced on Facebook that she was resigning over concerns with the process that led to Ziemba's appointment.
While making it clear that she had no objection to Ziemba's elevation to the position, Aruna D'Souza charged that Blanchard "overruled" the advisory committee by not appointing its preferred candidate.
View Full Story

More Williamstown Stories