Around Amherst: Incumbents may continue as holdovers, pending council

Staff Writer
Thursday, May 10, 2018

AMHERST — Many residents on various appointed committees whose terms expire this summer will be able to continue as holdovers, including those who have reached the Select Board-imposed limits of serving six years or two terms.

The board voted this week to allow anyone whose terms are ending June 30 to continue until a reappointment is made by the Town Council, or a member submits a resignation.

Town Manager Paul Bockelman said the idea is that this freezes current appointments, and is also consistent with the provisions of the new home-rule charter adopted by voters in March, which limits the Select Board’s actions to “those matters essential and necessary” before the Town Council is seated.

Select Board member Andrew Steinberg, the committee appointments coordinator, issued a memo to his colleagues suggesting a policy that would continue appointment of committee members with terms expiring June 30 to stay on until the Town Council makes a decision on reappointing or removing. The council members are scheduled to be elected Nov. 6 and seated Dec. 3.

The board supported Steinberg’s idea, though member Connie Kruger said the term “holdover” didn’t differ much from “reappointment.”

Board member Jim Wald said the decision means the Town Council will get a say on the makeup of committees it appoints. “This puts the onus on them to throw someone out,” Wald said.

Youth group recognized

The First Church Amherst Youth Group on Sunday received the Joan Lindeman Interfaith Opportunities Award, which was a recognition for its work studying world religions.

The youth, with the guidance of John Aierstuck, who is the Youth and Family Director for the First Congregational Church, have visited different congregations to experience firsthand the practices of different faiths.

The Interfaith Opportunities Network, which has representatives from different faiths, including members of Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Quaker and Unitarian congregations, gave the award in recognition of the youth group’s “contribution to understanding and mutual respect in a time when misunderstanding and even suspicion often characterize relations between different religious faiths.”

Past recipients of the award, created in 2013, have been The Karuna Center and the Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst’s youth program.

The award is named for Lindeman, who was instrumental in founding ION in 2005.

Town Hall art

Art will continue to be displayed at Town Hall as part of the monthly Arts Night+, but pieces will no longer be in the main staircase.

Bockelman said the decision was made both because of fire safety codes that prohibit wall hangings in an area that serves as a main emergency evacuation route, and that the staircase is not accessible to people with mobility challenges.

To accommodate the same number of works of art, the railings on the top of walls on both the main level of Town Hall and in the second floor lobby were extended.

“It means about the same number of art, just in different locations,” Bockelman said.

In addition, the walls in the staircase, which have been repeatedly nicked and scraped by the art, were recently repainted.

Former superintendent a finalist for Berkshires job

Former Amherst Regional Schools Superintendent Maria Geryk, who left the district in 2016 with a $295,000 settlement, was recently a finalist to become superintendent of the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District.

The Berkshire Eagle newspaper reported that following a search and interviews with four finalists, the School Committee voted to enter contract negotiations with Taconic High School Principal John Vosburgh for the position.

Geryk is currently director of student services in the Central Berkshire Regional School District.

Film discussion series

A film discussion series aimed at dismantling racism continues with the screening of “Imperial Dreams” at the Woodbury Room at Jones Library Tuesday at 7 p.m.

The movie focuses on a young father and reformed gangster who returns home from jail eager to care for his son, Daytona, and become a writer.

For more information about the free event, call 259-3223.


MONDAY: Select Board, 6 p.m., middle school band room; Town Meeting, 7 p.m., middle school auditorium.

TUESDAY: Amherst Housing Authority, 8:30 a.m., community room, Jean Elder Apartments; Disability Access Advisory Committee, 11:30 a.m., conference room, 210 Old Farm Road; Human Rights Commission, 5:45 p.m., Bangs Community Center, Room 101; Amherst School Committee, 6 p.m., high school library.

WEDNESDAY: Select Board, 6 p.m., middle school band room; Town Meeting, 7 p.m., middle school auditorium.