Select Board Meeting Minutes 08/25/2020

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Select Board Meeting Minutes

Otis Town Hall

Conference Room

August 25, 2020

7:00 p.m.


*This meeting is being conducted remotely through Zoom. You must check back within 24 hours of the start time for a link to join.

Pursuant to the Governor’s March 12, 2020 order suspending certain provisions of the Open Meeting Law, G.L. c. 30A, Sec 18, this meeting is being held via remote participation to the greatest extent possible. Every effort is being made to ensure that any member of the public may access the meeting in real time, via technological means. Agendas will be amended to show the link and participation code to access the meeting no sooner than 48 hours before. Recordings and/or draft proceedings of the meeting will be available on our website as soon as possible.


Present: Bill Hiller, Larry Southard, Gary Thomas, Heather Morgan, Brandi Page, Kendra Rybacki, Chris Bouchard, James Wilusz, Jeffrey Gamelli, Larry Gould, Leigha Chaffee, Lyn Obrien, OWENB, Terry Gould, Tom Pease, James Crandall, Sonia Morrison, Diane Provenz, Tom Pease and Tom Soules (19 Participants)


Call to Order

7:00 PM


Approval of Select Board Minutes from August 11, 2020

The Board unanimously approved the minutes.


Review and Approval of Warrants


Pole Hearing Lincoln Road 6B030488

The Board reviewed the submission from Eversource. There was no abutter comment. The Board unanimously approved. The petition will be signed and then certified by the Town Clerk.


735 Tolland Road, variance

Jeffrey Gamelli mentioned this property is 0.2 ac and the old system is failing.  It is owned by Tom Pease. He is requesting variances to the current setback standards for the new septic system.  The well would need to be tested before the system is put in.  There was no abutter objections. The new system is a jet system and will be an upgrade to the system that is there now. Jim Wilusz will follow up on calculations but they don’t impact approval tonight.

The Board unanimously approved.


Jim Wilusz commented there will be a Household hazardous waste Collection on October 24, 9-1 PM at the Great Barrington Recycling Center.


Vocational Transportation

In working out the logistics for vocational transportation this year Brandi stated we were down to two options. Option A is to go with Dufour and Lecrinski utilizing bussing and a current stop in Blandford. Option B is to purchase a van through state bid and hire a driver.  With the current virus situation Brandi was concerned about the second option and how we would cover any absences if we hired the driver. The safest plan this year seemed to be utilizing the bus companies. The funds for vocational transportation has already been approved.  Garry questioned why the Town was to decide on this and feels that the planning should stay with the School.

The Select Board decided its best let the School continue to handle the logistics while the Town is responsible for the cost.


Food Pantry

Kendra spoke. She first wanted to thank Tom Soules, Brandi and Larry for their donations help. The COA has been amazing, volunteering and donating food.  She feels that there is still a need in the Town of Otis for subsidized food.  Families have lost their jobs and are struggling financially.  She feels the town would benefit from a food pantry.  She would like to have the food accessible 24 hours a day and have it stocked with non-perishable food.  She feels that there would be people that would volunteer to help run the food pantry.  Kendra suggested that the food pantry could be separate from town hall but on the property.  Possibly a small 10 x 14 shed with a window.  Roughly sixty cases of food delivered to seniors every other week and to about fifty to sixty families every week between Sandisfield and Otis school families.  The food delivery will be stopped on September 10th due to school reopening.  Kendra is concerned about the seniors and that people may be reluctant and embarrassed to take the food.  Bill feels that there should be certain hours and the food pantry should be in the cafeteria and gym to start.  The closet is a possibility.  Bill would like to start small and start a committee.  Tom Soules would like to be on the food pantry committee as well as Brandi and Terry Gould. Kendra will put the working group together. Ralph Gleason has some money left from donations that could be used.  James mentioned that the closet gets very warm during the winter.  Larry will measure the space and get the pricing for the racks.

The Select Board will continue the discussion at the next meeting.


Bill would like to give credit to AMVETS and Tom Soules for all they did to help the community by donating and delivering food and even pet food.  He would also like to acknowledge Kendra for all her hard work and dedication. The Town is very grateful to everyone who helped and donated.


Mattress Charges

It costs the town $25 each to dispose of a mattress. Last month it cost the town an extra $700.  The Transfer Station takes in about 265 mattresses a year, 65 mattresses come in to the transfer station in August.    James feels the price to dump a mattress should be increased from the current charge of $5.  Surrounding towns charge about $25 a mattress.  All agreed that the price needs to be increased.  It was suggested that the fee be increased to $15. Larry suggested $20.

After much discussion the Select Board unanimously agreed to raise the fee to $20 per mattress.


Any topics not reasonably anticipated by the Chair at the time of the original posting.

Diane Provenz would like a subcommittee to be formed with members from both the Historical Commission and the Select Board.  Sonia would like to continue working with Larry Gould.  She would like the documents for the roof of the church so she can do some research. Bill agreed to be the point person for the time being to open the lines of communication with the Historic Commission so we can work to clarify a few issues.


Leigha Chaffee shared that the Diversity Awareness meeting last week was very successful.  Many people attended and Chief Hamill spoke. The next meeting will be in September outside.


Terry Gould suggested getting a bigger box for outside town hall to collect the mail in voting ballots. Lyn stated these drop boxes run $1400. Currently there is no money in the budget to pay for it.  Lyn expressed that most people have been dropping off their ballots between 9 AM and 12 PM.  Lyn’s biggest concern is that the option for mail in voting may not be popular after the November election therefor the cost of the ballot box may not justified. Lyn will check into what other communities are doing.  She is open to it but feels it is a lot of money.


Sonia wanted to mention that the nation is seeing a migration from cities to rural areas.  She would like to bring it up so the Select Board and Finance Committee is aware and planning for this. Brandi clarified that in response to an earlier email from Sonia on the topic that this was something under the purview of the Planning Board. Larry agrees that they need to be aware and there may be impacts that arise with more people migrating to Otis.


  1. Adjournment

8:13 PM


Respectfully submitted by

Heather Morgan

Selectmen’s Secretary, Town of Otis



List of Documents

Pole hearing petition and sketch

Vocational bussing information

Mattress documentation

Minutes from 8/11/2020