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West Stockbridge Select Board unanimously appoints Andrew Potter as chair

As his first order of business, Potter announced that the Select Board meeting format would be changed to allow Citizen Speak time following each action item.

West Stockbridge — By unanimous vote, the West Stockbridge Select Board gavel moved from the hands of former Chair Kathleen Keresey (on Zoom) to newly appointed Chair Andrew Potter at the start of the May 14 session. The measure followed the town’s May 13 election during which incumbent member Andrew Krouss retained his seat on the Select Board in a battle with challenger Wayne Cooper.

New meeting format

As his first order of business, Potter announced the meeting’s format would be altered from providing only one opportunity at the beginning of the meeting for citizens to comment on the agenda to allowing for citizens to speak after every action item on the agenda. Additionally, a general Citizen Speak time will be offered towards the top of the session.

Potter said the new Citizen Speak times must be used for discussions “relevant” to the adjoining topic and intends to keep the new format going forward.

“It’s an attempt to increase transparency and relevance to our deliberations,” Potter told The Berkshire Edge in an email.

The former system of providing only one chance for residents to speak to the Select Board before any topics were discussed had been sharply criticized by attendees at previous sessions. Those meetings included sessions that addressed an odor-mitigation report from cannabis cultivator Wiseacre Farm in January, as well as a recent meeting during which town consultant Jeffrey Blanchard, JB Consulting Group, reported on his study of the town’s Fire/Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) response times and configuration as a shared service.

Fire/ambulance committee to be formed

Although the May 14 discussion items included the next steps for a shared fire/ambulance service and the results of a report filed by the town’s consultant regarding Wiseacre Farm’s proposed odor-mitigation plan, those matters were tabled. Potter said the fire/ambulance discussion would not be taken up due to “some moving parts that we want to discuss.” He said the town is seeking to establish an ad hoc committee as an advisory group with five members including Town Administrator Marie Ryan, West Stockbridge Fire Chief Steve Traver, a member of the West Stockbridge Fire Department, a Select Board member, and a citizen at large, with an open call to the community for volunteers for the citizen at large position. The committee’s focus will be to develop and report on the best option for the Select Board to consider regarding the town’s shared fire/EMT services.

Additionally, at the end of the month, the three administers for the towns of West Stockbridge (Ryan), Stockbridge (Michael Canales), and Richmond (Danielle Fillio) will meet on the topic, Potter said. “We want to make sure we have the best information possible before we move forward,” he said.

The issue had been a contentious one during last month’s meeting in which at least three members of the West Stockbridge Fire Department said they would walk off the job should the Select Board choose to change their shared services from the town of Richmond, that provides EMTs, to the town of Stockbridge, the subject of the study issued by Blanchard. That study can be found here.

Consultants to discuss cannabis grower’s odor-mitigation plan

Tech Environmental, the town’s consultant, has produced a written review (see agenda backup materials here) of Wiseacre’s odor-mitigation plan introduced by Byers Scientific, and Keresey said the Select Board wanted to be sure the two companies have an opportunity to discuss the plan between their representatives before a public meeting and formal presentation are scheduled.

Other matters

During the meeting, Ryan reported that she and the town’s Department of Public Works personnel completed cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training. Additionally, she said the town’s cannon, owned by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, is being repaired and will be completed by Memorial Day. A grant to add a handicap entrance to the West Stockbridge Public Library’s main entrance has moved forward, Ryan said, with two quotes for the project in hand. “That’s a real step forward in terms of accessibility,” Potter said.

With his May 13 win, Krouss used the Select Board Speak time to thank his voters. “And for those who didn’t vote for me, we are trying our darndest to make you guys happy and comfortable and do what we can, our darndest to make everybody in the community on the same page,” he said.


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