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Fire Chief Craig Pedercini, left, participates in Wednesday's meeting with Prudential Committee members Lindsay Neathawk and Ed Briggs.

Williamstown Fire District, Architect Still Without Contract

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Nearly five months after its building committee selected an architect for planned station project, the Williamstown Fire District is ending the calendar year without a signed contract for those services.
 
But the absence of a deal has not kept the district from moving forward with the planning process.
 
The district's Prudential Committee met on Wednesday at town hall, and Ed Briggs informed his colleagues that they did not have a contract to ratify with Pittsfield's EDM to design a new station for a Main Street parcel.
 
EDM and its partner, Mitchell Associates, have been doing preliminary work on the project since its August selection.
 
Earlier this month, Robert Mitchell discussed the requirements for a new station with the Prudential Committee. This week, the Building Committee passed along to the elected Prudential Committee members a draft of the programming report that will inform the design.
 
While the final contract may have to wait until 2022 to be signed, the district does have money in hand to pay for the work already completed and work yet to be done.
 
"The state has issued the grant package and contracts for the  Rural and Small Town Development Fund grant we received for design services," Treasurer Corydon Thurston told the committee. "The good news is as soon as we get that approved and sign, we'll be able to utilize those funds."
 
Thurston said the COVID-19 pandemic caused delays in the commonwealth processing the $400,000 design grant, but now the money is available for district to access.
 
"Even though we just got the contract, the award is effective back in October," he said. "So we'll be able to go back to, for instance, the $22,000 bill you saw today, we can go back and submit that because that was for work done after the grant was awarded."
 
The Prudential Committee Wednesday also received updates on other grants the district is pursuing.
 
Chief Craig Pedercini reported that the WFD is applying for nearly $15,500 in equipment grants from the commonwealth's Department of Fire Services. He hopes to use the grant to purchase nine pagers, an ice rescue suit, a rescue sled and other equipment.
 
Meanwhile, the district is going after grants to replace a 1993 brush truck used by the Forest Warden, a $2,500 grant for a new automated external defibrillator and a joint communications grant with other Northern Berkshire County departments.
 
Pedercini was able to pass along good news on the staffing front at the Prudential Committee's last meeting of 2021.
 
"We have six college students who have had physicals and passed them," Pedercini said. "When they come back from their break, we will work on getting them equipment and getting paperwork for Cory to get them on the payroll.
 
"And two local people have taken physicals. One has totally completed the process, and we've had them on the deparmtent for a week or two. He's been responding to calls. Another just completed his physical, so we'll move him right along."
 
With burn permit season just around the corner, Pedercini informed the committee that the fire district, which assumed control of the Forest Warden from the town this year, is developing an online permitting process.

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Williamstown's DIRE Committee Discusses How to Deal with 'Article 37 Reports'

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The town's diversity and racial equity committee Monday talked about how it should process reports it receives from other boards and committees in town government.
 
In 2020, town meeting passed a warrant article that, in part, stated that "town employees and public office holders" should submit quarterly reports to the then unnamed "race and equity advisory committee."
 
According to Article 37, which passed overwhelmingly at the meeting, those reports, "should include types and vendors of equity training and policies and procedures created to advance access for traditionally under-represented groups."
 
Article 37 did not specify what the advisory committee, now known as the Diversity, Inclusion, Race and Equity Advisory Committee, ought to do with those reports.
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