Cheshire to have Special Town Meeting March 6

By Brian RhodesiBerkshires Staff
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CHESHIRE, Mass. — A special town meeting is set for March 6 to vote to adopt the design for the $2.6 million Sand Mill Road Bridge project. 


The board approved the date at its meeting on Tuesday. The project, to be done by the state Department of Transportation, will replace the bridge and expand the width to include two 10-foot travel lanes and shoulders on both sides of the roadway. 


The project will begin construction in Spring of 2024, pending design approval at the town meeting. While there is no meeting warrant yet, Town Administrator Jennifer Morse said she is working on one with town counsel. 


"That was the date that was agreeable to the Town Clerk and the Moderator," she said. "... I have reached out to counsel to get the language I need for the bridge, and I have not heard yet. So as soon as I do, I'll start putting together the warrant." 


Other proposed improvements to the bridge include new roadway approaches, wingwall and retaining walls, guardrails and drainage improvements. MassDOT held a public hearing for the project in March last year.


The town meeting warrant will also include lead service line work to be performed by Engineering Firm Tighe & Bond. Morse said the town is mandated to do an inventory of service lines. 


In other business: 


  • The board unanimously voted to opt out of early voting for the annual town election. Voters will be able to vote via absentee ballots or on election day. 


The board plans to have the town clerk visit a future meeting to discuss the process for poll workers and how to get equal representation of Republicans and Democrats among them.  


"I've worked election recently people are jumping to actually come out and volunteer work elections," Morse said. "Especially after the last presidential elections we've had, people want to work polls."


  • The board approved the appointment of Recreation Committee members Tim Garner, Christopher Garner and Corey McGrath. 


  • The board approved the job descriptions for the Cemetery Laborer and Foreman positions.

Tags: bridge,   town meeting,   

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Hoosac Valley's Kathryn Scholz Receives Superintendent Award

By Brian RhodesiBerkshires Staff

CHESHIRE, Mass. — Hoosac Valley student Kathryn Scholz has received a certificate of academic excellence from the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents. 

Hoosac Valley Superintendent Aaron Dean presented Scholz with the award at the school committee's meeting on Monday. Only one student from every district receives the award each year. 

"This is from the Mass Association of School superintendents, my organization," Dean told Scholz as he presented her with the award. "Coming to you as the top student at Hoosac Valley, so congratulations." 

Scholz participates in a number of clubs at the school, including Leo Club, Gardening Club, National Honor Society, Skii club and Girls Who Code. For college, she is considering Boston College, Bowdoin College, University of New England, University of Massachusetts Amherst and Williams College. 

Hoosac Valley High School Principal Colleen Byrd read several anonymous comments from Scholz's teachers. 

"She has incredible curiosity, compassion and dedication that she brings out in her life. She is trusted by the faculty and administration as someone who is reliable and hardworking," one comment said. 

"She's one of the most determined students. When she sets her sights on a challenge, she boldly commits with grace and humility that is far beyond her years," another said. 

Byrd highlighted Scholz's extracurricular activities, such as track and field, cross-country skiing, gymnastics and rowing. She said Scholz is "Very busy." 

"Everyone concurs with all of these fabulous things about you. So congratulations on this award," she said

In other business: 

  • The maintenance subcommittee met earlier in the day before the meeting. Dean said they have used a recent $231,663 HVAC grant to pay for the replacement of a unit at the high school and are waiting on a quote for the elementary school. 

He said the subcommittee is looking at several other projects and has a running list.  

"We have a consultant coming in to assess our systems and look for any improvements we can possibly utilize the remainder of that funding for," he said. 

Dean also briefly discussed the budget for the upcoming year. He said his team is still waiting on firm cherry sheet numbers from the state. 

Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) money, Dean said, runs out in September of 2024. He said the next two budgets will be crucial for determining what ESSER funded items will remain in the budget in subsequent years.

"It really is putting everything on the table and taking a look at all of those pieces. We also have to look at the operational needs and what we need to do in terms of maintenance," he said. 

  • The committee approved an increased compensation plan for the school's paraprofessionals that applies when they serve as substitute teachers. Dean said this change keeps their compensation in line with recently increased rates for substitute teachers. 

  • The committee approved the adoption of school improvement plans, which it reviewed at its last meeting


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