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Bourque sets priorities for presidency

Date: 1/11/2011

Jan. 12, 2011

By Katelyn Gendron

Assistant Editor

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Town Councilor Michael Finn may have stepped down from presidency this month but his work on the council is not over, nor is the work the town's legislature must complete in the New Year.

Finn offered his resignation at the Jan. 3 Town Council meeting due to his appointment to state representative of the 6th Hampden District. Councilor Kathleen Bourque was elected to take his place by a unanimous vote.

"I'm very, very pleased by the unanimous vote. I want to make my councilors proud. Hopefully my experience being a senior member of the council [will aid me in this new post]," she said.

Bourque has served previously as the council's vice president but never president. Councilor John Sweeney retained his post as the 2010 - 2011 vice president, choosing not to seek the presidency.

Bourque has already instituted some changes to council business including mandatory reports from district councilors at the first meeting of each month; and inviting students from each grade to lead the council in the Pledge of Allegiance, beginning in February.

Bourque commended Finn for stepping down from the presidency. "He didn't have to do that. I admire him because he was thinking to the needs of the community," she added.

Finn said as a state legislator and town councilor he would continue his efforts to "protect the programs that the people rely on the most such as infrastructure and education."

"We have the potential for a new [public] library and the new high school. It's a very exciting time right now," he said of some of the council's top priorities in 2011.

The School Department is currently working with the Massachusetts School Building Authority to retrofit one of its "model schools" to meet the district's needs. Library personnel are preparing to submit a grant proposal this month to the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners to fund a new facility.

Bourque and Sweeney said the fiscal year 2012 budget would also be of concern given federal and state forecasts of diminished funding.

The next Town Council meeting will take place Jan. 17 at 7 p.m. at Town Hall, 28 Central St.

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