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Clarksburg Officials Trying to Get Meetings Back in Town Hall
By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
05:09PM / Thursday, February 23, 2023
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The administrative assistant's desk and file cabinets with town documents were moved into the Ketchum Meeting Room a couple of years ago. The Select Board is trying to find room for other governemental bodies to meet.

CLARKSBURG, Mass. — Officials are trying to figure out how to fit all its essential offices on the first level of Town Hall. 
The last Select Board had shifted meetings to the handicapped-accessible Community Center, in part because of the pandemic, and the administrative assistant was moved into the Ketchum Meeting Room. 
Select Board Chair Jeffrey Levanos said he would like to see all meetings returned to Town Hall noting that the Ketchum Meeting Room had been designated years ago for that purpose.
"We designated this as the meeting room, and to me, this is where all the meetings should be," he said at Wednesday's meeting. 
Town Administrator Carl McKinney said moving the administrative assistant had worked out well but a lot of the town's data was now located in the room with her. 
"I am concerned that we not be able to monitor other boards, committees and audiences in this room after hours," he said. "There is some rather sensitive data that is locked up a lot but there is some that is not ... we have a duty to protect that."
While the Select Board has moved back to Town Hall, the Planning Board and Conservation Commission are still at the Community Center — but material they may need is at Town Hall. 
"I have had a pretty robust discussion with the Planning Board and they don't like meeting at the Community Center because their stuff isn't there," McKinney said, adding that if the board had to continue meeting there, it would want its records available. That, he said, would also put town documents at risk since they couldn't be secured.
Planning Board Chair Karin Robert had told him a portable table in the lobby would be agreeable, he said, but Select Board members weren't sure that was appropriate. 
"It just doesn't hit me right, a table and folding chairs ... I don't want it to be the norm," said Levanos. Board member Dan Haskins didn't like that a board would be meeting in the lobby while citizens were coming in for other business. 
He asked if the administrative assistant could be moved back to the lobby area, opening up the meeting room for all boards and commissions. McKinney didn't think there would be enough room because the town clerk is now in that location, which he said has been working out very well. 
The town clerk had previously been upstairs, which had sometimes required her to come down to meet citizens who couldn't maneuver the stairs. Some boards had also met upstairs but that limited public access since there is no elevator. 
The board also raised the idea of having other boards and commissions meet during the day when the administrative assistant was in the office but McKinney said that would disrupt her work. Plus, he didn't want those boards to begin to consider the assistant as working for them. 
"All I'm looking for is a temporary solution," he said. If the other boards didn't mind setting up in the lobby after the town clerk left at noon, that could work for now. 
A more definitive solution would have to come during budget talks since it would likely mean partitions and utility changes. 
"We're going to have to put our heads together to figure out how to reconfigure the first floor," McKinney said. "We do have some space, whether it's appropriate or not ... ?"
The first level, which is fully accessible through the back of the former Briggsville School, was renovated more than a decade ago to house the police station. That section and the town clerk's office take up at least half the first level. In addition to the meeting room and lobby, there's also the town treasurer's office a storage area and the mailroom, which has had water issues. 
The board agreed to do a walk-through of the first level to see where more space could be found and discuss it during budget talks. In the meantime, the other commissions could use the lobby. 
McKinney said he would also bring up staffing as a budget matter. The town has been roiled by turnover over the last few years and he said having four full-time people run the town has been a "herculean task." 
The pandemic really exposed the precariousness of the town's staffing, said McKinney, and losing one person shouldn't cripple the entire town. 
"I think it's very important that we look for assistance to our major players," agreed Levanos. 
In other business, McKinney reported that companies that expressed interest in bidding on a stair lift at the school were invited to look at the building on Thursday. School is out this week for winter break. 
An organizational committee is being formed to plan for the town's 225th founding, which coincides with the library's 125th and the fire company's 85th anniversaries. The town will be looking for some funding and volunteers. 
• The treasurer's office will be closed next week for the new town treasurer/tax collector to be trained. Kelly Ryan of Clarksburg begins the job on Monday. Ryan has a background in banking and loan servicing and was most recently a commercial loan specialist at Inland Management. 
She was the recommendation of an interview committee consisting of board members Levanos and Robert Norcross and Town Clerk Marilyn Gomeau. Levanos and Norcoss voted to offer her the post two weeks ago. 
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