Hilltown Voices: Williamsburg and Chesterfield to hold town elections on May 4

  • Williamsburg Town Hall FILE PHOTO

For the Gazette
Published: 4/8/2020 8:27:52 PM
Modified: 4/8/2020 8:27:42 PM

Williamsburg and Chesterfield’s annual town elections, traditionally held on the first Monday in May, are scheduled to go forward on May 4 despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both towns are strongly encouraging residents to vote remotely by means of early voting or absentee ballots to avoid public spaces, especially seniors and anyone who is immunocompromised, or those who simply want to avoid possible exposure to the novel coronavirus.

“That’s the plan at this point,” Williamsburg Town Clerk Brenda Lessard said. “I am really hoping they will vote early or use an absentee ballot.”

If people do show up to vote on election day, Lessard said she will be enforcing social distancing protocol and limiting the number of people who can enter the voting area. She also will be systematically wiping down surfaces and pens.

Lessard is not expecting a large number of voters to participate in the town election this year.

“In a good year we might get 340 people out to vote, but I have also seen turnouts of 140 people,” Lessard said. “This year there are no contested races so I am not expecting a big turnout.”

In Chesterfield, however, there is a contested race in which Ed Severance and Don Willard are running for a seat on the Select Board to replace retiring board member Robert Recos. The contested election will likely draw more voters.

“This year we have moved voting over to the Community Center at 400 Main Road to allow enough room for social distancing, and we are going to limit the number of people who can come in,” Town Administrator Sue Labrie said. Like Lessard, she hopes residents will vote remotely to ensure the health and safety of themselves and their neighbors.

As in Williamsburg, pens and surfaces will be disinfected after each use, Labrie said.

Labrie says forms for early voting and absentee ballots are available on the bulletin board at the Chesterfield Post Office, as well as from the town clerk’s page on the town’s website.

In Williamsburg, forms for early voting and absentee ballots are available from the town’s website. Residents can email an application, mail it to the Town Office at 141 Main St., Haydenville, or drop it off in the designated drop box at the door. Voting in Williamsburg is at the Town Offices, in the auditorium.

Melt Down ends

GOSHEN— The popular annual charity event, the Goshen Melt, has come to an end as of March 28 at 1:38 a.m., when the 69-pound weight and pallet sunk to the depths of Hammond Pond, and bets placed on the date and time of its sinking were tabulated.

Event coordinator Bob Labrie said that between the money raised through $1 ticket sales and $487 in outright donations, the Melt Down raised $910, which will be split between the “Take and Eat” program and Jon Sass, who placed the winning bet.

The proceeds from the Melt Down come at a crucial time, when isolation and food insecurity resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic are greatly increased and affecting many seniors in the hilltowns.

The “Take and Eat” program, overseen by Our Lady of the Hills Parish and the Haydenville and Williamsburg Congregational churches, provides hot meals to any seniors in need and is not dependent on church affiliation.

Labrie said that this year, people’s “generosity will provide 455 hot meals to seniors.”

Sass, who owns a cottage on Hammond Acres, has been participating in the Melt Down since 2005. This year, he placed the closest bet as to the exact time the pallet plunged through ice without going over the time on the clock that records the submersion.

COVID-19 assistance

WORTHINGTON — The town has received $2,400 to support prevention and monitoring efforts related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The money is coming from $250,000 of state funding from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission.

The money will help to provide the services of a shared public health nurse who will be working closely with the Worthington Board of Health.

Ideas for this column on life in the hilltowns can be sent to Fran Ryan at Fryan.gazette@gmail.com.

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