Dalton Select Board Votes to Hold Off on Certain Voting Options for Local Election

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
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DALTON, Mass. — The Select Board voted to hold off on offering early voting by mail or in person for for the local election on May 8.
The town had "successfully" implemented these practices as required during the September state primary election and November general election. However, towns and cities may opt out of early voting in municipal elections after a public hearing and vote 45 days prior to the election.
"It was a little bit of a learning curve for everyone and it was something that actually came out of Charlie Baker's votes act that was brought up in June and started on July 1 of this year," Town Clerk Heather Hunt said.
She felt practices were successfully implemented last year but they came with additional work and costs.
The state is supposed to reimburse some these additional costs, which the town did apply for, but Hunt said it is unclear how much Dalton will receive because of the large number of cities and towns applying. 
Hunt said the Board of Registrar's voted on Jan. 4 not to offer early voting for the town election because the clerk's office is located at the bank while Town Hall is under renovation. 
The office has already been experiencing issues that make it difficult to operate, including parking. The large number of residents who might vote early would worsen these conditions, Hunt and office staff member Jean Gingras said.  
"I just was going to mention the fact that it would be very costly, because with the state elections, they generate and send out the cards to be filled out. We would have to send out more than 4,000, and all that expense would be Dalton's expense," Gingras said.
"We have more than 4,000 voters and that includes inactive voters, they would have to receive these too. There's a big expense up front and then the man/woman power." 
Hunt agreed with this statement adding that in addition to the labor the postage is about 84 cents a "whack." 
Although they recommended opting out of these practices for this local election it is something they are willing to consider in the future, Hunt said. 
Of the 2,610 ballots cast in the November election, 991, or 38 percent, were mail-in ballots. Another 150, or 5.7 percent, of voters came to the office in person to vote. 
This would not affect voting by absentee ballot. 
In other business: 
Resident Henry Rose attended the meeting to express his opposition for the new committee membership policy. 
The policy restricts having multiple members from an immediate family be part of the same committee. 
Rose argued that the town has a lot of vacancies for many of its committees and that this policy will have unintended consequences. Just because two people are in the same family that does not mean they share the views, he said, suggesting one-year terms if town officials are worried about it.
Selectman John Boyle said he is in favor of the policy. The policy will be added to a future agenda so it can be discussed further. 
• The board also determined that some recent water issues related to a discontinued drain was not a town problem.
Town Manager Tom Hutcheson said Building Superintendent Patrick Pettit conducted a site visit with  Conservation Commission member and Selectman Robert Bishop.
If the owner were to reopen the drain and place a pipe underneath it, the water would drain from the road, Bishop said. This cost is at the owner's expense. The board will be sending a letter to the resident to show that the town has closed the issue. 
• The board voted to approve a Game Machine License for the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion posts.
The board also voted to accept a seasonal license policy that would allow businesses to apply for alcohol licenses for April 1 to Jan. 15 at half the annual fee. 
This policy was designed when two businesses reached out to the town after being rejected by the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission. This would be in addition to their other license. 

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Pittsfield Man Running Marathon to Raise Funds for Boston Children's Hospital

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The thing Brent White loves about running in the Berkshires is the sense of community.
"The nice thing about this area is people support each other," he said. "Whether you're winning the race or finishing dead last, it's a very positive environment."
Last year, White found a new way to take that positive energy and put it to work supporting the broader community.
This month, he will share that spirit of community on the sport's biggest stage.
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