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Talks taking place on possible establishment of Energy Commission

Date: 8/4/2009

By Katelyn Gendron

Reminder Assistant Editor

AGAWAM - City Councilors are hoping the upcoming formation of the town's Energy Commission will garner more support than the Agricultural Commission, established on May 4.

The three-member Agricultural Commission, like the Energy Commission, would serve in an advisory capacity to town officials; however, only one resident has applied for the Agricultural Commission as of July 31. City Councilor Jill Messick, a sponsor of the resolution to create the Energy Commission, is confident that residents are dedicated to fuel conservation, providing enough applicants for the 11-member board.

"The only way that things get done [is by forming such committees]," Messick said during an interview with Reminder Publications. "The only reason we have a Go Green [Agawam] Committee is because we have people who are passionate about green energy. We can rest assured that the work that needs to be done will get done."

The council passed the first of three readings of the ordinance to create the Energy Commission at its July 27 reading but has sent it to the Ordinance Committee for possible amendments. The ordinance, as written, calls for 11 members - three city councilors, four citizen members and four department heads - charged with the task of developing energy conservation initiatives to reduce costs and monitor usage within city buildings.

"I'm for the commission on an advisory basis," City Councilor Robert Rossi said. "The concept is a good idea. I just have some questions."

He explained that he doesn't agree with the ordinance's mandate that certain department heads become members of the commission or the large size of the board.

"My thought is [to have] a three to five member commission with citizens and have department heads come in [to meetings] as needed," Rossi said.

City Council Vice President Cecilia Calabrese, also a sponsor of the ordinance to create the Energy Commission, said the board will demonstrate the town's commitment to energy conservation, especially when vying for state and federal funding.

"By establishing an energy commission it says to the authorities that administer these funds that Agawam is [serious] about energy conservation," she added.

Calabrese noted that she too believes there is strong support from the community for this commission, as opposed to the lackluster response for the Agricultural Commission.

"What we need to do is do a better job to let the local growers know that the [Agricultural] Commission is in place [and accepting applications for membership]," she said.

Mayor Susan Dawson is charged with appointing citizens to the Agricultural Commission. She will also appoint residents to the Energy Commission if its creation is passed by the City Council. The next reading of the ordinance to create the Energy Commission will take place at the meeting on Aug. 17.

Those interested in applying for a seat on the Agricultural Commission must send a letter of interest to the attention of Rebecca Budreau, Mayor's Office, 36 Main St., Agawam MA 01001.