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Alford voters swiftly approve warrant at town meeting, including funding for 250th anniversary celebration

Alford Village Church, Alford Massachusetts.
By John Phelan - Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10055800
Alford Village Church, Alford Massachusetts.

The Southern Berkshire County community of Alford, Massachusetts – population around 500 – held its annual town meeting at the firehouse Tuesday night. The 13-article warrant was approved in under an hour, with voters signing off on municipal finance issues including a $1.9 million operating fund, $150,000 in highway repairs, the purchase of a compact wheel loader, and a $470,000 enterprise fund. The meeting also gave residents an opportunity to discuss plans for this summer’s celebration of Alford’s 250th anniversary, which includes a square dance. Alford select board chair Charlie Ketchen spoke with WAMC.

KETCHEN: There was really nothing too serious on the warrant at all. It all passed. There was a little bit of talk about a $9,500 that was for the 250th anniversary and that eventually passed. Other than that, the school budget passed, everything passed, it was done in 45 minutes.

WAMC: Give us a sense of how Alford is doing financially right now- What's the story there?

Financially, we’re in very good shape. We've got about $250,000 in stabilization, $225,000 in assessors overlay, and free cash another, $150,000, $175,000 about there.

Now, give us a sense of what life is like in a small town like Alford. We hear about rising cost of living all over Berkshire County- What do you see as the big challenges before the town heading into fiscal year 2025?

I don't see anything that that we can’t overcome. But what is happening here in the town of Alford, our housing is very expensive here in town, people that have come here from the city, and there's been many of them, and the cost for an average working person to be able to afford a house in Alford is almost impossible.

So, what do you see as the route forward from that?

I have no idea. [laughs]

Now, this year Alford is going to celebrate its 250th anniversary, you referenced that earlier- What is that going to look like in the town?

Oh, there's just going to have a few parties, a square dance, some town walks and guest speakers and that's about the size of it.

If someone had never been to Alford before, now that it's reaching this this milestone, 250 years old, how would you describe the community to an outsider?

The tower has no gas stations. They have no commercial businesses. It's a dry town. This is what Alford is, it’s just a bedroom community that is five minutes outside of the town of Great Barrington.

Now, looking into the rest of the year, what do you think the big challenges are going to be for Alford? What's coming up on the docket?

Nothing out of the ordinary.

Josh Landes has been WAMC's Berkshire Bureau Chief since February 2018, following stints at WBGO Newark and WFMU East Orange. A passionate advocate for Western Massachusetts, Landes was raised in Pittsfield and attended Hampshire College in Amherst, receiving his bachelor's in Ethnomusicology and Radio Production. His free time is spent with his cat Harry, experimental electronic music, and exploring the woods.
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