News Briefs: GB construction update; GB candidates’ forum; Conservation Land Tax Credit bill approved

Downtown construction update for the week of Monday, April 29

Great Barrington — During this week, contractors will be working on pouring new sidewalks and installing curbs on Bridge, Elm, Church and School streets.

The streets should remain open to traffic, with police officers directing traffic when necessary.

All inquiries can be directed to the Great Barrington Department of Public Works at (413) 528-0867 or

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Candidate forum to be held Wednesday, May 1

Great Barrington — A public forum for all candidates will be held Wednesday, May 1, at 6:30 p.m. at the Claire Teague Senior Center, 917 South Main St.

Three contests are on the ballot for the Tuesday, May 14, town elections. Vying for two seats on the selectboard are incumbents Steve Bannon and Dan Bailly, and challenger Leigh Davis. Walter Atwood III, Meredith O’Connor and incumbent Tom Blauvelt seek two seats on the finance committee. Incumbent Karen Smith and Eileen Mooney seek the one seat on the housing authority.

The forum moderator will be Ken Knox of West Stockbridge. He is assistant professor of mathematics at Bard College at Simon’s Rock. Until this month, he had resided in Egremont and was chair of the Southern Berkshire Regional School Committee. He has resigned from that committee.

The forum is sponsored by the NEWSletter and the Democratic and Republican town committees.

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Pignatelli-sponsored Conservation Land Tax Credit bill approved in House 2020 budget

Boston — The Massachusetts House of Representatives approved a bill to the fiscal year 2020 state budget to increase the state Conservation Land Tax Credit, an incentive program for landowners who voluntarily donate qualifying land for permanent conservation to the state, municipality or a nonprofit conservation organization. The bill was sponsored by Rep. William “Smitty” Pignatelli, D-Lenox.

The bill, filed by Pignatelli and House Minority Leader Brad Jones, R-North Reading, was included as an outside section in the FY ‘20 budget and was unanimously approved by members of the House.

By the end of this year, the CTLC program will have conserved approximately 13,000 acres of land across all regions of the state. Lands conserved include those that protect drinking water supplies, wildlife habitat, and agricultural and forest product industries. By voting to increase the cap to $5 million per year, the Legislature has helped ensure that pending credits are fulfilled; that future landowners can receive their credits in a timely fashion; and that more land important for farming, forestry, wildlife habitat, and water quality is conserved. This increase will happen $1 million per year over the next three years, and then sunset after 10 years.

The Senate and Gov. Charlie Baker would need to approve the increase to the CLTC for it to take effect.