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Mount Greylock Adds Committee Member, Moves Forward on Athletic Fields

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Lanesborough resident Ursula Maloy was appointed Tuesday to fill the last 18 months of a vacant seat on the Mount Greylock Regional School Committee.
 
The panel’s other six members then decided to put to bid a project to address deficiencies in the middle-high school’s athletic fields.
 
The project, with an estimated cost of around $1 million, would bring the playing fields at Mount Greylock Regional School into compliance with Title IX and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
 
Maloy, who needs to be sworn in by the Lanesborough town clerk, was not able to participate in the decision about the fields project. That was on a separate agenda for a School Committee meeting following the joint session of the school committee with the select boards from Lanesborough and Williamstown.
 
According to the regional agreement between the two member towns of the district, that joint meeting is the mechanism that is used to fill vacant seats in between state elections, in November of federal election years.
 
Maloy was the lone applicant to fill the seat vacated by Michelle Johnson earlier this spring, and she was approved enthusiastically by the 13 officials who participated in the joint meeting: six School Committee members, all three Lanesborough Selectmen and four of the five Williamstown Select Board members.
 
Maloy told the elected officials that she grew up in Eastern Massachusetts, went to school at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., and moved to the Berkshires to work for General Dynamics.
 
She chose Lanesborough to raise her family because of the school system.
 
“I value education for myself and my family,” Maloy said. “I value the role public education plays in our community. I think it’s really important. And I’d love to be part of the School Committee to bring my energy and leadership to advocating for our schools and our students -- continuing to preserve the quality and improve, where we can, the quality of our school district.
 
“I think it’s a great school district. I don’t have any complaints. And I’d like to see it continue to be great. So I’d love to be a part of that.”
 
Maloy said she has one child in the middle school and two in the elementary school.
 
“I’d like to thank Ursula for stepping up,” Lanesborough Board of Selectmen Chair John Goerlach said. “She’s a great person. Her skills will be well suited for what she’s going to be doing.”
 
Maloy faced just one question from the participants in the joint meeting. Willliamstown Select Board member Andy Hogeland asked her if she had considered applying for a vacant seat on the School Committee the last time a Lanesborough resident seat opened up.
 
Maloy said she’s always had an interest in the schools and had considered running for the committee in the past. The timing now works because she is finishing up her second term on the board of the directors of the Berkshire United Way, where she currently serves as treasurer.
 
“The end is coming up in a couple of months,” Maloy said. “That frees up some time to focus on something else. To be honest, I don’t want to overcommit.”
 
If all goes according to plan, one of Maloy’s first votes with the School Committee in a month or so will be on whether to accept a bid for work on the baseball and softball fields at the middle-high school.
 
The district needs to act by April 2022 to correct deficiencies related to handicapped accessibility and Title IX, the federal legislation that mandates equity in girls and boys athletic opportunities.
 
“With respect to Title IX, the core issue was the varsity softball field has not seen the same upgrades over the years as the varsity baseball field,” District Business Administrator Joe Bergeron told the School Committee.
 
The improvements needed include adding a dugout out and safety fencing to the softball field as well as redoing the varsity softball field’s infield and outfield.
 
From an ADA standpoint, the district needs to have accessible paths to each of the fields as well as a drivable road to reach accessible parking within a reasonable distance of the varsity baseball diamond -- at the far southern end of the campus -- and the varsity softball field, which is being relocated to the site of the existing JV softball field.
 
The School Committee reviewed an estimate for the total project cost of about $994,000.
 
On Tuesday, it voted to add to the base project by including what previously had been an “add alternate,” improved drainage to the JV softball field to increase playability, at an estimated cost of $50,000.
 
The project as approved by the School Committee on Tuesday still includes one add alternate, new backstops for the JV softball and baseball fields.
 
At one time, district officials had hoped to address the Title IX and ADA concerns as part of a broader athletic field improvement plan that would have included an artificial turf field, but that effort stalled in January. The School Committee has always discussed paying for the needed improvements from the proceeds of a $5 million capital gift from Williams College.
 
Tuesday’s 6-0 vote authorized the district administration to iron out the details in bid documents prepared by architect Perkins Eastman and put the project out to bid.
 
Bergeron said that it is anticipated the district could have bids to review in about a month and work could start at the beginning of July.
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Williamstown Sees Unusually High Turnout in Local Election

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — There were a lot of big winners in Tuesday's town election.
 
But the biggest of all appears to have been democracy.
 
On Wednesday morning, Town Clerk Nicole Pedercini announced that the total turnout for the local election was 1,823, or 38 percent of the town's registered voters.
 
That is modest compared to the 3,600 local ballots cast in last fall's presidential election, but it swamps participation numbers for a typical spring vote.
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