West County Notebook

Shelburne fire chief: Thanks for snorkel

SHELBURNE — Selectmen’s Chairman Robert Manners thanked the Shelburne Falls Fire Department for providing the snorkel fire truck and the crew members who used the bucket lift to take an architect and structural engineer up to the top of the Pratt Memorial Building/Arms Library roof last week for a detailed inspection for the roof project.

“The good news is, it’s a fairly structurally sound building for 100 years old,” said Manners. “But the drains are undersized. They saw shingles breaking off, and looked at the repairs and patches on the copper dome.”

Manners said the project manager George Dole and structural engineer John Wathne may have rough estimates of the repair costs by mid-September.

Panels tackle
thorny Mohawk financial issues

SHELBURNE — Selectman Joseph Judd, who is chairing the newly formed Mohawk Trail Regional School District Long-Range Planning Committee, says the new committee has broken up into subgroups to study cost issues of greatest concern to Mohawk’s long-term stability.

He said one group is studying busing and state rules that require the district to provide a school bus seat to every eligible student — whether they ride the school bus or not. He said many students don’t use the school bus, which means the district pays for “half-empty” buses, just to meet state requirements.

A second group is studying state funding formulas that require full-time principals and nurses in schools. Judd said such regulations presume that the schools have 250 or more students, which is not true of the Mohawk elementary schools.

A third group is exploring the Massachusetts School Building Authority’s willingness to consider alternative uses for unoccupied space in Mohawk’s elementary school buildings. For instance, the Mary Lyon Educational Foundation leases some of the unused classroom space in the Buckland-Shelbure Elementary School, which saves the district money.

This committee was formed to consider the long-range economic stability of the school district, which has seen an enrollment decline over the past decade and has unoccupied classroom space in buildings that have been repaired with state funds.

Cleaned Cowell
has many suitors

SHELBURNE — Now that renovations have been completed at the Cowell Gymnasium, Cowell Director Emily Crehan told selectmen that she has recently received inquiries about using some of the building space. One inquiry is from the Center for Self Reliance, which operates the West County Food Pantry, which now operates two Wednesdays per month out of the Senior Center. Another was an inquiry from the YMCA.

Meanwhile, the Board of Selectmen is also considering moving the town’s Police Department from two town office spaces in Memorial Hall into the lower floor of the Cowell.

Crehan reported: “We’ve seen interest from pingpong groups, dance groups. I think, once we open up in the fall, it’s going to look great.”

Where else to put Shelburne
police station?

SHELBURNE — Besides the renovated, mold-remediated Cowell Gymnasium, town officials are looking at other buildings that could better accommodate the town’s Police Department. Selectman John Payne said this week they are taking another look at the Jehovah’s Witnesses Kingdom Hall property, which has been for sale for at least three years. The town had considered buying the property for a new police station in 2011. Another venue to explore, he said, is the former Sweetheart Restaurant, near the intersection of Route 2 and South Maple Street.

Selectmen’s Chairman Robert Manners warned that the Sweetheart building could have water and sewer issues to be resolved. Also, he said, an elevator would have to be installed for handicapped accessibility if the second floor were to be used.

Payne said he would like to have a proposal for moving the police department to a new location ready for town-meeting approval next May.

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