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Robert Collins is running for a seat on the Dalton Select Board.

Robert Collins Runs for Dalton Select Board Seat

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
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DALTON, Mass. — Robert Collins says it's time for change on the Select Board and he's hoping voters will feel the same. 
 
Some of the Select Board members have been on the board for many years, and Collins felt it was time for a new voice to "shake things up a bit." 
 
If elected, he would like to see more debate among board members and prioritize financial responsibility. 
 
"Debate on the board, I feel, is sometimes lacking," Collins said. 
 
The local landscaper and licensed forester is vying against incumbent Robert Bishop for the three-year seat on the board in next month's town election. 
 
Collins is the owner of REWC Land Management Inc. and has been involved in forestry associations, including seven years as president of the former Massachusetts Association of Professional Foresters (now part of the Mass Forest Alliance) and on numerous advisory panels for state management of forestry reserves.
 
"I've donated my time to forestry. I'm a licensed forester, so I've done forestry reviews and walkthroughs with people on Earth Day and participated in some of the local events in Massachusetts for Arbor Day," he said. 
 
Serving on these boards taught him how to communicate and listen to what people want or need and how to get answers to things that need to be done, he said. 
 
And while he agrees with some of the Select Board's decisions, he feels that the discussions are often one-sided.
 
"I have the utmost respect for [Bishop] and what he's done for the town. He's given a lot of his time and a lot of years to the town in the community but I just believe it's time for a change and a new-looking Select Board," Collins said. 
 
If elected, one of his priorities would be to provide fiscal responsibility and sustainability for the taxpayers and ensure positive oversight. 
 
Just because there is money in the budget or free cash does not mean the town has to spend it, he said. 
 
Collins believes that there have been a number of past purchases or warrants that were not necessarily needed but were approved because the money was available. 
 
The Select Board needs to have an effective response be a transparent governance, he said. 
 
"I think sometimes things happen within the Dalton Select Board that get by the community because there wasn't much debate on it and or it got slid around and through a meeting so fast that nobody really caught what just happened, or they bundle it with something," he said. 
 
Throughout the interview, Collins highlighted the need for transparency. 
 
"From what people were telling me, they feel that the town does a fair job of getting the word out about topics and discussions," he said.
 
"But sometimes some of the people that have talked to me have mentioned that they feel that sometimes some of the topics and discussions don't take the extra step and being 100 percent clarified in some of the town documents and or publications." 
 
To improve transparency, Collins believes the town should have a direct line of communication whether it's through informative emails or meetings. 
 
There could be more interactive situations where the Select Board gets together to llisten to the public's concerns and requests, he said. 
 
Sidewalks 
 
Sidewalks have been a widely discussed topic for over the past year because of the large number that need repair. The topic has heated up recently due to the inclusion of two articles on the May 6 town meeting warrant. 
 
One article proposes amending the town's bylaws to mandate the use of concrete for all future sidewalks; the other one requests funds for a sidewalk paver to create asphalt sidewalks.
 
Sidewalks are a necessity in today's society, Collins said. 
 
"A sidewalk is sort of like the rail trail, right, it's people's time to meditate or just go out and socialize, and walk with their husband or kids, and having sidewalks in a town on roads that are busy makes it very safe and attractive," he said. 
 
There are places in town that warrant a blacktop sidewalk, but Collins is unsure what these areas are. However, maintaining an asphalt sidewalk would require additional manhours. 
 
"I would say that concrete is long-lasting. I mean, there are some sidewalks in town, as it's been pointed out before, that are well over 50 years old in the town of Dalton that are still in good shape. I'm not sure that you could put down a blacktop sidewalk that would remain in that good shape," he said. 
 
Housing 
 
Multiple boards and committees have been discussing the housing crisis that many communities are facing, looking for possible solutions such as Accessory Dwelling Units, possible rezoning options, and the exploration of housing options for the Old Dalton High Property
 
This issue is one of the trickiest things for "the people in Dalton to try and grasp at, for a number of reasons," Collins said. 
 
Green space is one of the gems of Dalton, but one of the proposed housing and infrastructure projects is in an area "that people find pristine, and it's been woods and forests forever, or it's been a field forever," he said. 
 
Houses for sale do not last long on the market in Dalton because of the community, its beauty and the school district, Collins said. 
 
Collins lived in Dalton for seven years before moving his family to the west side of Pittsfield; but after 12 years, they decided to move back.  
 
"I'm very happy in the town of Dalton; the people are great. My wife and I've been here for six years, and I just feel that I'm getting to the age and position in my life that I feel that I should get back to the town that I like and treasurer," he said. 
 
The election will be held at the Senior Center on Monday, May 13, from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m.

Tags: election 2024,   town elections,   


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Pittsfield Girls Softball to Host New England Regional

Community submission
PITTSFIELD, Mass. – Pittsfield Girls Softball will host the New England Babe Ruth Regional Tournament at the Doyle Softball Complex from June 28 to June 30.
 
The tournament will feature 15 teams, including the Berkshire Force 12-and-under and 14-and-under travel squads. The event will get under way at 8 a.m. on Friday and run through about 3:30 p.m. on Sunday.
 
Winners from the tournament will advance to the 40th anniversary Babe Ruth Softball World Series in Florence Ala., in July.
 
“The Pittsfield Girls Softball League extends its appreciation to the City of Pittsfield and all of our event sponsors for their assistance in making this tournament possible,” PGS President Jack Roy said in a Tuesday news release.
 
For more information about the tournament, contact Roy at 619-318-3908 or royjack254@aol.com.
 
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