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Cheshire to Repair Town Hall Emergency Exit

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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CHESHIRE, Mass. — The emergency-exit staircase on the outside of Town Hall will be fixed at a cost of nearly $32,000.
The Selectmen awarded the bid for the repairs to Outlook Builders of Cheshire, owned by Nicholas Mirke.
"He can bring over his equipment at the end of the week," Town Administrator Jennifer Morse told the board Tuesday. "I reached out to four different companies."
Morse said Outlook Builders was the lowest bidder and that the project will cost $31,750, an amount the town has budgeted.
Chairwoman Michelle Francesconi said the project was urgent because without a functioning staircase, the building could be shut down.
"We knew we had to deal with it," she said. "It was a big red flag."
Morse added that while Outlook Builders is set up, Mirke will also repair the library stairs.
Francesconi said there is plenty more work to do at Town Hall, including repairing the remaining staircases and installing emergency exit lighting. 
Continuing with building maintenance, the fire station will undergo a building assessment.
Morse told the Selectmen that after conversations with Fire Chief Thomas Francesconi, she would like to re-engage efforts for a building assessment.
"The fire chief reminded me that we still needed to do one so I put it on the agenda," Morse said. "I am not sure where to go with this at this point."
The fire station has a history of piecemeal repair work. In 2018, a portion of the roof collapsed and most recently, in 2020, the town had to address major heating issues in the building. 
There was talk about moving the fire station to the former Cheshire Elementary school. There was also some discussion on overhauling the current structure.
Either way, the Selectmen agreed they needed a clear assessment of the building.
"I will reach out and start getting some estimates on that," Morse said.
In other business, the Selectmen approved an increase in the Building Department fees. Permits would increase from $5 per $1,000 project valuation to $15.
This is more in line with other communities.


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Cheshire Mammoth Cheese Featured in Netherlands Cheese Magazine Kaas!

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
CHESHIRE, Mass. — The Cheshire Mammoth Cheese is certainly known in these parts, but its fabled journey to Washington, D.C., has turned heads at Nederlands Nationaal Kaaskeurconcours, the Dutch National Cheese Inspection Competition.
"We understood that in certain domestic circles the story of the Mammoth Cheshire Cheese was revered, however, I'm not sure anyone expected this kind of international attention," said John Tremblay of the Cheshire Community Association.
As the story goes, the 1,235-pound wheel of cheese was commissioned by Elder John Leland after the election of Thomas Jefferson as president in 1800. Local historians say Cheshire was the only town in Berkshire County to have voted for Jefferson.  In fact, it is believed that every single vote but one went to Jefferson.
Townspeople converted a cider mill into a giant cheese press and with the help of more than 900 Cheshire cows, the half-ton cheese wheel was created and delivered to the new White House.
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