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Ann Banash reflects on 21 years at helm of Gill government

  • Ann Banash, who has spent the last 21 years on Gill's selectboard, enjoys her retirement party with friends and neighbors at the Gill Tavern on Monday. Banash said she will be spending her winters in Florida from now on, but will be home in Gill for the summer.<br/>Recorder/Micky Bedell

    Ann Banash, who has spent the last 21 years on Gill's selectboard, enjoys her retirement party with friends and neighbors at the Gill Tavern on Monday. Banash said she will be spending her winters in Florida from now on, but will be home in Gill for the summer.
    Recorder/Micky Bedell Purchase photo reprints »

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  • Ann Banash, who has spent the last 21 years on Gill's selectboard, enjoys her retirement party with friends and neighbors at the Gill Tavern on Monday. Banash said she will be spending her winters in Florida from now on, but will be home in Gill for the summer.<br/>Recorder/Micky Bedell

GILL — After just over three decades wrapped up in town government, Ann Banash has left the cold for good and attended her last meeting as a member of the Selectboard.

“I’m having a little more trouble than I thought I was going to,” Banash said Thursday from Florida, her winter and soon permanent home. “Going to my last meeting was really hard, as I think about it most of my adult life has been spent going to meetings for Gill, doing budgets, every other Monday night, and all the other things that go along with it.”

Banash has served for 21 years, seven consecutive terms, on the three-seat board responsible for the decisions it wouldn’t be practical to convene a town meeting for, from crafting budgets to tracking down sewer problems. Previously, she had served for 10 years on the Finance Committee. Soon she will turn 65.

Banash moved to town from Greenfield in 1981 and bought a house in ’83.

It was the house and the land for the horse she had at the time that brought her to town.

Banash previously ran her family’s business, Greenfield radio station WHAI, and was active in the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, and served on the Franklin Regional Council of Governments since before it was called that, she said.

It’s the challenge that kept her interested.

“Small town politics can actually be a lot of fun, and also frustrating,” Banash said. “There were times when it got very frustrating. Things in government don’t always work as fast as you want them to, but for the most part it certainly isn’t the same thing every day. There’s always a new challenge, always something new to think about and plan for.”

Banash has said several times that the only thing keeping her from staying in Gill and the post is winter.

Opinions of New England winter have historically been mixed.

Winter has kept her in Florida for the past three winters, participating in Selectboard meetings by phone.

Looking back, Banash said the thing she is most proud of is almost the thing she most regrets; the town’s purchase of the former Mariamante land. Banash said it was the right move for the right reasons, to prevent a housing development in Gill, but now the land is tied up in conservation concerns.

Over the past three decades, Banash said she has seen the town grow, and hopes it continues to do so within the parameters established; she hopes to see business growth along Route 2, not in Gill’s farms and forest.

This is the end of politics for Banash, who now lives in a city of 172,000 and is selling the Gill house.

“I loved being part of Gill and part of Franklin County, and I never aspired to anything larger than that, and I don’t here either,” Banash said. “I enjoyed it tremendously, and I love the people in Gill. I love Gill ... but don’t love winter and that’s truly the only reason I left.”

You can reach Chris Curtis at: ccurtis@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 257

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