Letter: Williamstown Racial Justice & Police Reform Supports Bernard for Interim Town Manager

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To the Editor:

Despite the enormous racial justice and police reform challenges facing Williamstown, the town has been operating with less than a full-time town manager for over seven months. We call on the Select Board to choose North Adams Mayor Tom Bernard as interim town manager.

We believe that Mayor Bernard is the unicorn that Select Board member Jane Patton hoped for when she asked for administrative and racial justice experience in a candidate. Mayor Bernard has hired a police chief, one of the key tasks for the next town manager. Furthermore, Mayor Bernard said "North Adams also has been part of an overdue national reckoning with the legacy of racism and white supremacy," in his State of the City address.

Although he has not shown tangible results in the 17 months since the murder of George Floyd, he has listened closely and avoided many of the pitfalls that neighboring cities and towns, including our own, have experienced.

We commit to the work of structural change necessary to ensure that this town's future includes safety, dignity, and collective responsibility for each other. We believe Mayor Bernard will uphold Articles 36 & 37 in ways that center those who are and have been marginalized in our community. We know that Williamstown is not exceptional in its exposure to white supremacy and structural racism.

We firmly believe that the insistence of transparency and accountability from those in leadership positions is a positive development that shows respect for every resident and visitor, regardless of their life experience. The recent accusations by Mayor Bernard against Representative Barrett should not impact this decision. If we allow it to adversely impact the decision we are doing exactly what Mayor Bernard was trying to guard against by making the accusations public. Mayor Bernard is not being accused of any wrongdoing in regard to the Mohawk Theater and he should not be treated as if he did something wrong.

We hope residents and leaders will closely examine the vestiges of our town policies and Charter to imagine creative improvements together and open Williamstown and its many gifts to others for decades to come. Mayor Bernard has a personal and multigenerational connection to Williams College that will let him hit the ground running on some of these bigger issues facing the town.

It is for these reasons that we enthusiastically support the candidacy of Mayor Tom Bernard for the interim town manager of Williamstown.

Huff Templeton, Bilal Ansari, Hugh Guilderson, Arlene Kirsch, and Janice Loux, representing Williamstown Racial Justice & Police Reform
Williamstown, Mass.



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Historic Store at Five Corners Reopens in Williamstown

By Brian RhodesiBerkshires Staff

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Under new ownership and management, the Store at Five Corners reopened Tuesday morning for the first time in more than two years. 

The store and cafe, built in 1770 and located in the town's Five Corners Historic District, had been closed since July 2020. The 252-year-old building, originally a tavern, went through several recent owners before being purchased by the nonprofit Store at Five Corners Stewardship Association in January of this year. 

"It took us a few months to get it to where it is right now but I feel like our hard work paid off," said store operator Corey Wentworth. "I feel like it's really nice in here." 

The association had done an email survey of residents in October that had an 85 percent return, with most giving the store a high rating for its importance to themselves and the community and that it remain independent. The nonprofit, first working through the South Williamstown Community Association, has been working to raise the more than $1 million needed to purchase the property and secure its future. 

The stewardship association chose Wentworth as the store's new operator in April. He has several years of experience in restaurants, including the Salty Dog and Flour Bakery and Café in Boston, Duckfat and Fore Street Restaurant in Portland, Maine, and Tourists resort in North Adams.

There were some renovations, Wentworth said, to get the building ready for reopening day. Additionally, he noted that works from local artists are displayed on the walls across the store. 

"So far, it seems like, what we have been working toward, is working," he said. 

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