Conway voters pass ‘Safe community’ bylaw 104-71

  • Recorder/Paul FranzConway Town flag PAUL FRANZ

Recorder Staff
Published: 5/14/2018 11:19:15 PM

CONWAY — After months of contention of trying to become a “Safe Community,” residents passed the bylaw that touches on national immigration policy by a majority vote of 104-71.

The bylaw may not have much impact, as the police chief made it clear that he’s following, regardless of how the vote may have gone, the similarly worded Massachusetts Supreme Judical Court ruling.

Despite the months of debate, whether it be in person, online or through letters to the editor, there was still more heated discussion that set the tone of Conway’s Annual Town Meeting Monday night.

One resident against the bylaw, an immigrant who stated she has citizenship, said, “I find it insulting to compare me with all of the other illegal immigrants.” She pointed at the standing-room-only crowd at Conway Grammar School, and then said, “So if this thing passes, I know who to sue.”

A resident in favor of the bylaw said it was insulting to call immigrants terrorists, and instead pointed, half-jokingly, to the Selectmen, and said it’s white men in this country who have repeatedly shown themselves as terrorists, hinting at mass shootings in the country which are largely carried out by white, American men.

In an unusual move, the roughly 200 seats at the grammar school all had a copy of Selectman John O’Rourke’s “My Turn” in the Greenfield Recorder last week, which stated his disdain for this bylaw.

“I would like to see all the enthusiasm, efforts and money being spent to shield illegal aliens from the law in sanctuary communities being spent to help our veterans, the men and women who have stepped up to defend our country, our laws and our citizens, especially those severely wounded, those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the estimated 50,000 that are homeless, and the families of those who have died for us,” O’Rourke wrote.

O’Rourke’s wishes, that of a former United States Marine and a member of several regional and statewide municipal boards, were not granted by the will of the residents. Instead, Conway will now be able to call itself a “safe community.”


The $5.85 million budget was passed with little issues.

The price tag to run the town increased by about $265,000, or by 4.7 percent. About 77 percent of the budget increase is in costs directly related to education.

The $5,851,510 budget includes $64,116 for the Conway Grammar School and $92,210 for Frontier Regional High School.

Brief debate occurred over Town Administrator Tom Hutchison’s salary increase. In the middle of a three-year contract, Hutchison’s salary called for a 6.3 percent increase, to the dismay of at least one resident.

O’Rourke explained from his knowledge across the state, “salaries of town administrators have gone up far more from what you would expect,” because of lack of depth of experienced administrators in the hiring pool.

Residents questioned the informational technology budget of nearly $30,000, an increase of about $8,200 from the prior budget year. Some of the money will go to a consultant for technology issues and some to increasing bandwidth speeds.

Money used a few years ago to build a new website should be actualized shortly, with the new town website set to launch soon.

Capital projects and other spending

Residents agreed to spend $330,000 for money toward repairs for the bridge on North Poland Road.

Hutchison warned residents that there is more spending on the horizon, given the aging of its 13 bridges and lack of accessible state money.

“If any luck we can stave off bridge replacement for a number of years,” by repairing the bridges, Hutchison said, although town officials acknowledged they have their work cut out for them to finance it.

A $35,000 price tag to replace the 2013 Volvo excavator was voted down, by nearly two-thirds of residents. Highway Superintendent Ron Sweet said it has about 1,600 hours on it.

The town will make available $10,000 to rent a hydraulic boom lift for the Highway Department. The article originally asked for $20,000 to buy a used boom lift.

Residents requested to go with the option of renting the boom lift, to avoid maintenance concerns and costs, to which Sweet replied, “If you’re going to give me $10,000 a year to rent that one piece of equipment, I can’t say no.”

Other items approved:

$50,000 for the highway garage stabilization account

$48,000 to replace a police cruiser with about 109,000 miles on it, which will then be given to the fire department to replace a vehicle

$125,000 for the capital stabilization account

$25,000 for the Conway Grammar School capital stabilization account

$32,000 for the Conway Grammar School’s capital expenses for the replacement of the well pump, inspection and re-lining of the 2,000-gallon water tank

$5,677 toward the purchase of a John Deere tractor for Frontier Regional School, marking the final town to need to approve this measure

$14,000 for a Lucas cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) compression unit for the Ambulance Department

$10,000 for other post-employment benefits account, totaling $30,000 in the account

$6,500 for further labor and supply costs of the Assessors’ software

$5,000 for the recertification of property values

$5,518 for a part time position within town offices

$2,513 for local library operations and expenses

$1,000 for the Christmas tree fund

$500 for the flag fund

Mosquito district

The town voted down —- with a healthy amount of discussion following a sparse description of the article — joining the pilot year of the Pioneer Valley Mosquito Control District.

The initiative headed by Deerfield Selectwoman Carolyn Shores Ness, who O'Rourke described, without naming, as a “selectman from Deerfield who ... provides us with things to do in western Mass.”

Little detailed information was provided about the article, which is centered partly on the facts that climate change have caused increased issues with mosquitos and ticks in recent years than from when almost everyone at Town Meeting grew up.

While the district was typical heralded by liberal-leaning residents in other towns, where it was approved, liberal-leaning residents in Conway were the ones who knocked it down with concerns of spraying chemicals into the environment.


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