Cheshire Select Board gets to work as new five-member panel

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CHESHIRE — The newly expanded Select Board has broadened its leadership role to help market the town, plan its future and stay in close contact with town department heads.

The five-member panel met for the first time Tuesday night, a week after voters chose Michelle Francesconi and Ronald DeAngelis to the fourth and fifth seats up for grabs during the Aug. 13 special election. Voters at the annual town election May 6 gave the final go-ahead to expand the board from three to five members, a process that began in 2015 involving several initial approvals on the local and state levels.

The enlarged board's first task was to pick a chairman, voting 4-0, with Robert Ciskowski abstaining, to keep Ciskowski at the helm.

"This is a pivotal time in Cheshire. People are going to look back and say the town really took off with a five-member board," he said.

In an effort to move the town forward, the board created three liaison positions, each assigned to a different Select Board member.

Francesconi was tapped to work with town administrator Ed St. John IV and other town officials to market and work on strategic planning.

DeAngelis will have the task of keeping the Select Board directly in touch with the town's Highway Department superintendent.

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"My background puts me in a position to do the job," he said.

DeAngelis spent 42 years in a variety of roles with Petricca Industries, a Pittsfield-based construction business that includes Unistress, the state's only manufacturer of prestressed concrete.

Selectman Jason Levesque will be the emergency services liaison, serving as the go-between with the police and fire departments.

Levesque and Mark Biagini are also first-time selectmen, winning their seats at the table during the annual town election in May.

The enlarged board's first key decision in the coming weeks is picking a new leader for the Highway Department. St. John tells The Eagle that he has received 12 applications, which the board will begin reviewing in a closed-door session at Tuesday's weekly meeting. Once the board determines the best candidates for the job, it will interview the potential successors to Blair Crane at a public meeting.

Crane resigned effective Aug. 2, after two years as highway superintendent. Crane submitted his resignation July 16, but the then-three-member Select Board decided to delay finding a new road boss until after the special election.

Dick Lindsay can be reached at rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com and 413-496-6233.


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