Cheshire Officials Talk School Heating Issues, Facilities Management

By Brian RhodesiBerkshires Staff
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CHESHIRE, Mass. — The Board of Selectmen discussed ongoing heating issues in the Cheshire School building and highlighted growing facilities issues in town.

The building currently houses Youth Center Inc. and Hoosac Valley Regional School District's offices. Town Administrator Jennifer Morse said on Wednesday that the heating issues have been present since Dec. 28, despite not being told about it until last Friday.

Morse said Adams Plumbing & Heating Inc. came to fix the issue, but heating problems persisted.

"They did a temporary fix to that; they weren't sure if it was going to be temporary or if it was going to be a permanent fix. It was not a permanent fix," she said. "They were called back again around January 7th. At that time, they found that they had some freezing issues. And now we're waiting for them to come back again this week and do a more permanent fix."

Morse said she is not exactly sure when Adams Plumbing & Heating plans to fix the issue permanently. The town was billed $1,300 for the first visit and Morse said she was not sure how much the permanent fix will cost.

Selectmen Chair Michelle Francesconi said she hopes that the town can eventually find a way to manage facility-related issues better, noting that several buildings in town, including the Fire and Police departments, have similar problems. She said Highway Superintendent Robert Navin is currently the person overseeing facilities.

"To be asking a highway superintendent to manage facilities is a lot on one person's plate," she said. "There is a number of aging buildings that we have and there's a number of problems with these buildings."

Having a dedicated facilities employee, Francesconi said, would be helpful to make sure problems do not go unaddressed. She said such a position has been discussed in the past but was cut for budgetary reasons.

"If somebody is designated to pay attention to facilities, they may notice something is not right before the actual problem gets to be as bad as these problems are getting," she said.

Also discussed at the meeting, Morse said she spoke with Adams Town Administrator Jay Green about several topics. One discussion they had, Morse said, was the possibility of the two towns having a shared animal control officer position.

Currently, Cheshire does not have an animal control officer. The animal control officer in Adams is Kimberly Witek.

"The two chief of polices from both communities will be speaking, just to get an idea of how that might work," she said. "And then we'll get back together and talk about it when [Green] is back in town again."

The board approved a Massachusetts Council on Aging grant. The Cheshire Council on Aging plans to use the grant, which will run until June, for an administrative outreach consultant.

The board will be meeting with the Finance Committee next week in a joint meeting to discuss the town's budget.

Tags: cheshire school,   maintenance,   

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Hoosac Valley Engineering Team Wins STEM Competition

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
CHESHIRE, Mass. — Brother and sister Katie and David Scholz teamed up and won the General Dynamics Mission Systems High School STEM Competition.
"These two kids are really smart, and they absolutely do not give up on a challenge once they accept it," teacher and project mentor Philip Koamaya said. "I had a feeling from our first meeting about the competition that they were going to rock it."  
The competition took place in April and consisted of an engineering challenge involving designing and building mechanical and electrical systems and integrating them by programming computer controls to solve a real-world problem.
David said teams were asked to build a model bridge that cars could drive over and boats could pass under.
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