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Cheshire Special Election OKs Debt Exclusion for Capital Spending

By Gregory FournieriBerkshires Correspondent
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CHESHIRE, Mass. — Both debt exclusion articles on the special election ballot passed on Tuesday.
The election was held to determine whether voters would authorize the town government to exclude borrowings for two new projects. Town meeting earlier this year had approved the spending dependent on the debt exclusions passing.
The yes votes on the articles will allow the town to bypass the levy limit imposed by Proposition 2 1/2, meaning it can raise and appropriate money to finance certain projects outside of the levy restrictions.
The first article allows the town to purchase a new truck for the Highway Department. In an email to iBerkshires before the election, Selectmen Chairwoman Michelle Francesconi said, "the purchase of a new highway truck is extremely important as it is set to replace a 2006 truck that had already been rescued from the weeds once and is barely limping by."
This question passed with 91 votes in favor and 60 votes against.
Francesconi pointed out that the truck purchase is critical to the town's plowing ability in the winter, and that the truck should be purchased in order to take care of the town's construction and plowing services.
During a Selectmen's meeting on July 6, Highway Superintendent Robert Navin implored voters to vote in favor of the article. "Anybody listening," he said at the time, "please support us with the special town election."
The price of the truck Navin was eyeing cost $235,000, but he warned that price could increase dramatically over time. This, in part, was why the Selectmen and Navin wanted the debt exclusion vote to pass at this election.
The second article allows the town to borrow $500,000 to complete a water main replacement project on Route 8. Francesconi noted that the updates were mandated by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.
This question passed with 102 votes in favor and 48 votes against.
The project "is also extremely important and it is good to see that the voters recognized the urgency and supported the expenditure," Francesconi told iBerkshires.
Voter turnout was low and only 151 out of the 2,518 registered voters made it to the polls 

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Cheshire Selectmen Raise Concerns Over Data Security With School District

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
CHESHIRE, Mass. — The Board of Selectmen is leery of a program being used by the Hoosac Valley Regional School District to assess students and the school community.
The board asked school officials to attend Tuesday's meeting specifically to discuss Panorama Education, a platform the district uses that provides reports that give educators individualized data they can use to inform their support for students' academic, social, and emotional learning.
"I think there are some issues that we need to work through as a community, and I think we can work together on navigating security issues that I can see being a part of the whole system and others related to software," Chairwoman Michelle Francesconi said Tuesday during the joint meeting. 
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