Dalton American Rescue Plan Act Committee Makes Recommendations

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
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DALTON, Mass.—The Dalton American Rescue Plan Act Committee held its first meeting on Tuesday night to approve recommendations on where to allocate the remaining ARPA funding. 
The town received ARPA requests amounting to $489,362 for purposes ranging from equipment replacement, sidewalk repairs, studies, and green initiatives. 
The committee recommended that the Green Committee's requests for $60,000 to cover the cost of a "Climate Change Roadmap" and $7,500 for a climate fair be placed on the town warrant as a capital request. 
The Climate Change Roadmap is required for communities to achieve Climate Leader status, which creates more grant opportunities. It would outline the changes Dalton needed to make to meet Greenhouse Gas emission targets. 
Along these same lines, the committee voted to recommend allocating $42,000 to fund the request for two electric vehicle charging stations. There are two EV ports per station. 
The original request was for $66,000 to fund an additional 14 charging ports as part of a state electric vehicle incentive program.
ARPA committee member Thomas Irwin advocated for the Climate Change Roadmap over the full EV port request. He was concerned that if it was not being funded by ARPA because it could get voted down.
"I'd prefer that the roadmap be under ARPA, and that the EV ports be part of a warrant. If there was a preference to be made I think that in the long run, having that roadmap is more critical to Dalton than the charge ports are," he said. “Although it is very important we get the charge ports. Just my personal opinion."
Town Manager Tom Hutcheson noted that option would not be possible because the EV ports request is smaller than the Roadmap request and there isn't enough in ARPA to fund it. 
The committee voted to recommend that the town utilize $4,750 of ARPA funding for Emergency management equipment and the Community Emergency Response Team. 
They also recommended that the town approve the Department of Public Works request for $226,000 of ARPA. $26,000 will be used to purchase a roller for paving purposes, and $30,000 will be used for a paper compactor for the transfer station, recommended by the Northern Berkshire Solid Waste District. 
The remaining $170,000 would cover the paving for new roads after the town's street scan results came back showing many are in poor shape.
The committee voted to recommend that the $3,000 for one Automated External Defibrillator for shelter be listed as a capital item rather than ARPA funds. 
They also approved the Police Department's request for $34,444 to cover the cost of rifles and laptops. 
The town has to vote during town meeting to approve capital requests. 
The committee also voted not to recommend $50,000 for another Hydrologic and Hydraulic (H&H) study that would evaluate and prioritize solutions for flooding in-town culverts, Center Pond flooding, and to explore options for bioswales and rain gardens–where possible. 
The town already has similar studies including the H&H study and Storm System Evaluation Study. 
Currently, the scope of the H&H study is too broad and not ready to be funded.   
With these recommendations, the town now has $2,437 remaining in ARPA funding. 
The Select Board established the subcommittee in Feb. to determine the best way to use the remaining ARPA funding. The committee is made up of some Finance Committee and Select Board members. They appointed Select Board member John Boyle as chairman. 
The town received $1,950,367 in ARPA funding that will need to be used by October 2024.
Thus far it has spent $3,600 on COVID-19 tests, $9,400 for road engineering, $12,700 for a trailer, and $71,400 for an excavator for the Highway Department, $53,816 for a police repeater, $119,500 for a fire truck, and $145,000 for Water District engineering. 
The town has committed $540,188 for paving, $86,000 for Dalton Division Road sewer engineering, $53,875 for police tasers, and $31,257 for 500,600 grants. 
The town estimates that it will use $380,000 for sewer repairs, $4,000 for fiber ring network overage, $22,000 for the Public Works' heat pumps.
The town reserved $150,000 for the Town Hall renovation.

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Future Teacher Signing Day at Wahconah Regional High School

DALTON, Mass. — Central Berkshire Regional School District will be hosting a Future Teacher Signing Day ceremony to celebrate Massachusetts' next generation of educators. 
Some students from Wahconah Regional High School's Class of 2023 who intend to pursue a career in education will be recognized at 1:30 P.M. on May 26 in the Wahconah Auditorium. 
The ceremony will emphasize educators' importance and the impact they can have on children's lives.
Each of our future educators will sign a letter of intent acknowledging the commitment they are making to the field of education and their communities. School officials will be on hand to profile each student and celebrate their decision to pursue a career in education. 
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