Clarksburg School Committee Fills Vacancy

By Brian RhodesiBerkshires Staff
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CLARKSBURG, Mass. — The School Committee has appointed Mary Giron to its vacant seat.

Giron will become the third member on the board, replacing former member Eric Denette who stepped down recently after moving out of Clarksburg. Denette had declined to run for a second term last spring but accepted after winning through write-in votes. 

North Berkshire School Union Superintendent John Franzoni discussed the vacancy with the two remaining committee members, Chair Laura Wood and Cynthia Brule, at its meeting on Thursday.

"Mary is obviously very dedicated to the town and the school. She should be a great voice on the school committee," he said. 

Giron recently retired after years as the administrative assistant at the school. Franzoni said she was the only applicant for the vacancy.

"We had multiple inquiries and we're very happy that Mary followed through and applied," Franzoni said. "If you approve Mary as a new School Committee member, she can come here Monday morning, get sworn in, and be participating starting in January.

In other business, Kimberly Rougeau, filling in at the meeting for Principal Sandra Cote, updated the committee on the first quarter of the school year. She highlighted a Girls on the Run bake sale, in which they raised money for Berkshire Humane Society.

"You haven't seen a bake sale in years, so it's nice to see. They raised $391 for Berkshire Humane Society and made a lot of people happy," she said. "All the teachers were eating it for lunch, dinner, snack, so that was nice."

Rougeau also mentioned the holiday concert scheduled for Dec 20, which families and others will be able to attend online.

The committee also discussed updating the policy for town residents to use the gymnasium, cafeteria, or any other area of the school building and property. The conversation involved planning around multiple events, how people using the facility would access it, as well as cleanup and other use policies.

"I know there's been inquiries about using the school again, which is great news," Franzoni said.

Franzoni said he would do some further research on the issue.

"I can do a survey and see, beyond North Adams, what other communities do," he said. "... We should look into that a little more. Maybe start allowing it under the old way but have some more discussion about what we actually want to have in that policy."

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Adams COA, Town Seek Funds for Memorial Building Bathrooms

By Brian RhodesiBerkshires Staff

ADAMS, Mass. — The Council on Aging is still waiting to transition its programming from the Visitor Center to the Memorial Building and is looking to the Community Development Department for help. 

The COA has been waiting for additional bathroom facilities to be completed for the facility, but the council and the town have so far been unable to obtain grant or other funding for the work.


COA Director Sarah Fontaine said they are working with Community Development to find funds for the bathrooms and other small improvements, including increased entrance accessibility, renovations to the former music room and fixed windows. 


"I had voiced my concern. It's a very extensive list, I don't expect that it will all be done before we transition over. The only need is the bathrooms," Fontaine said. 


At last week's Board of Selectmen meeting, Community Development Director Eammon Coughlin said he looked into using Community Development Block Grant funds for the project. He said, however, that the Memorial Building is ineligible.


"The guidance we received from [the state Department of Housing and Community Development] has basically told us that the building is ineligible for funding because we already received funding in 2018," he said. "There has to be five years between the application for senior-center type projects. So based on that guidance, I don't believe Memorial School is eligible for funding."  


Fontaine also mentioned the auditorium in the building, which the town plans to renovate separately as a future capital project. 


"It would be nice as a senior center to have the auditorium available for guest lectures and other things like that," she said. 


Moving staff to the Memorial Building now while keeping programming at the Visitor Center, Fontaine said, is not an option. She noted that the Hoosac Valley Regional School District had previously expressed interest in using the second floor of the Visitor Center for its office space. 


"I was very firm in saying, logistically, it's hard for us to manage things just being upstairs. It's going to be very difficult if we're off site to try and manage programs downstairs," she said. 


In other business: 


  • The Council on Aging is looking for volunteers to fill vacancies on its advisory board. It filled one of the vacancies on Wednesday, appointing Barbara Ziemba. Ziemba, an active participant in the COA, had already filled out the paperwork needed for her appointment. 


"I have attended many COA activities, volunteer, and am a member of the Friends of the Council on Aging and attend meetings. I have been interested in being a member of the Board of Directors for some time. Please consider my appointment to the board," Ziemba wrote, explaining in her paperwork why she was interested in the position.           


The group also discussed two other vacancies on the board and potential candidates to fill them. Two members have been unable to attend recent meetings for health reasons. 


  • The board voted to approve updated bylaws. The bylaws were revised and written primarily by Board Member Elizabeth Mach. 


"I just wanted to make a comment, or rather an appreciation, for Liz for taking this project on," Fontaine said. 


The new bylaws have a provision to allow honorary members. Fontaine said there are currently no honorary members. 


The board appointed Bruce Shepley as the board's chair to replace Barbara Lagowski, who filled one of the now vacant member seats. 

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