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West Stockbridge reverses course on new Fire/EMT Committee meetings

The joint sessions will now be open to the public, with the first meeting set for July 10 in Stockbridge.

West Stockbridge — Following a June 21 statement by Town Administrator Marie Ryan to The Berkshire Edge that the town’s new Fire/EMS Committee meetings would be held in private, West Stockbridge officials changed course. On July 2, Ryan emailed The Berkshire Edge stating that the Shared Fire/EMS Committee meetings—to include representatives from Richmond and Stockbridge—would be open to the public. However, she did not respond by press time as to whether any sessions of the West Stockbridge Fire/EMS Committee alone, without representatives from the other two towns, would be available to the public.

The committee’s first meeting is scheduled for July 10, at 1 p.m., in the West Stockbridge Town Offices at 21 State Line Road. It is also available via Zoom.

The agenda for that meeting can be found here and includes the Richmond and Stockbridge representatives in a discussion of current and projected fire and emergency medical services, as well as a presentation by the town administrators regarding potential shared services.

The West Stockbridge committee was announced May 14 as being an “ad hoc” group by newly appointed Select Board Chair Andy Potter, with its purpose to “develop and report out the best option for the board” regarding its emergency services, fire, and EMS departments currently shared with Richmond. West Stockbridge does not have any emergency services personnel, with those specialists employed by Richmond. Along with Fire Chief Steve Traver, Ryan, and Select Board Member Kathleen Keresey, Joann MacQuarrie serves as the committee’s citizen at large with an unnamed Fire Department member slated to be in the group as well.

Recently, town administrators for the three municipalities met to discuss shared services. For West Stockbridge, the issue has been contentious, with local fire department members offering to walk off the job during a Select Board meeting should the town replace its shared services with Richmond in favor of Stockbridge. At that April session, Select Board members heard a proposal by a hired consultant who studied response times and efficiency should the town partner with Stockbridge instead of Richmond.

The joint session is seen by the coordinating towns as necessary since volunteer emergency services staffing has increasingly been viewed as problematic throughout the state.


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