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Barrington lifts town water bottle ban and suspends ‘non-essential’ meetings

GREAT BARRINGTON — As one of the last towns in south county to do so, Great Barrington announced on Wednesday afternoon it would be closing public access to its town buildings and parks equipment until further notice.
But Town Manager Mark Pruhenski says that just because the building isn’t open to the public that doesn’t mean services are. Employees will remain working and providing services to residents electronically and by phone during normal operating hours.
“We’re all working and going to continue providing services. We’re just doing it in unique ways,” said Pruhenski. “We haven’t closed our doors and walked away.”
The town clerk’s office will provide all services online, by email, and by regular mail, including dog license renewals, transfer station bag tags and vital records. To obtain or submit nomination papers for the upcoming town election in May, contact Town Clerk Jennifer Messina at Jmessina@townofgb.org or call 413-528-1619 ext. 3 to arrange for drop-off/pick-up.
The treasurer/collector’s office has installed a drop-box for tax payments, located in front of Town Hall. Payments are also accepted online at no additional charge when using a checking account; credit or debit card payments also accepted. For questions, contact Treasurer/Collector Karen Fink at Kfink@townofgb.org or call 413-528-1619 ext. 4.
Both the Mason and Ramsdell library buildings are closed, but access to their collections will be available. In addition to their online collection, patrons will have access to the physical collection by a drive-thru pick-up system, said Pruhenski. Staff will assist patrons by phone at 413-528-2403 at Mason Library. Residents may check the gblibraries.org website for more information about drive-thru pickups and other updates.
The Claire Teague Senior Center has also closed, but many services are still available, said Pruhenski. A daily pre-packaged meal will be provided to elderly residents in need. To register, contact the center one day in advance to arrange for pick-up, 413-528-1881. The town first suspended a few larger classes and fitness activities at the center last week.
This past week, the town suspended board and committee meetings deemed “non-essential” until further notice and lifted its town-wide ban on the sale of single-use plastic water bottles until Thursday, April 30.
In response to the state Declaration of Emergency issued by Gov. Charlie Baker this past week, Great Barrington stepped up preventive actions to help reduce residents’ risk of exposure to, or transmission of COVID-19, coronavirus.
The town decided not to cancel all meetings and services across the board, but will instead carry on meetings that have essential business that needs to be conducted, said Pruhenski. Options are being explored for conference call meetings or video conferencing with products like Zoom conference calling software, by Zoom Video Communications, based out of San Jose, California.
“CTSB-TV is also stepping up their attendance at essential meetings, understanding that there will be more people staying home that want to stay informed,” said Pruhenski.
The next essential meeting is of the town’s Selectboard slated for Monday, March 23 at 7 p.m.


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