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Voters nix residency requirement for key posts

ERVING — The former Usher Paper Mill boiler building will get a roof patch and planning work for future use and Erving Elementary School will receive security upgrades to the tune of $50,000.

Residents approved spending for both these measures at Monday’s three-item special town meeting, while resoundingly nixing the final proposal, a town residency requirement for four key town positions.

The bylaw change would have required that future hires in the police chief, fire chief, highway superintendent and town administrator positions live in town. Selectman Eugene Klepadlo said the change would mean these employees were closer in the event of an emergency, but would drastically limit the pool when hiring. Selectman Margaret Sullivan said the item was on the agenda because Selectman Andrew Goodwin — absent due to work — wanted it.

The first spending question generated the most discussion, with residents questioning how much more money the town would spend on the tax-taken Usher property.

Jeanie Schermesser, who co-chairs the Usher Mill Reuse Committee, said the environmental study included in the $67,236 transfer request is necessary before any plan can be made for the property, and the boiler building is worth saving in part because it will qualify future developers for state and federal historical tax credits.

“We have a chance to develop an actual town center here, where people are actually going to want to come and walk and spend time,” Schermesser said.

The motion passed 31-8. The money is to come from what Klepadlo said is the approximately $100,000 remaining from a previous demolition appropriation.

The second spending article appropriated $50,000 to upgrade security at the Erving Elementary School, the exact use of the money left vague for security reasons.

Klepadlo said the upgrades were identified by three police auditors trained by the state as a proactive move following the Newtown shooting.

Police Chief Christopher Blair said he was present at the security review and fully supported the recommendations.

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

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