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Voters elect officials, approve plowing of private ways

By Courtney Llewellyn

Reminder Assistant Editor

WILBRAHAM Only seven percent of Wilbraham's registered voters turned out for the town's annual election on May 17. Town Clerk Beverly Litchfield said she was "very disappointed" with the turnout because the elections weren't taking place just for candidates to fill seats there were two questions that needed town approval as well.

The 682 voters who visited the polls re-elected James Thompson to the Board of Selectmen, John Wesolowski to the Board of Assessors, John McCarthy and Peter Salerno to the School Committee, Thomas Pilarcik as Water Commissioner, Ted Stevenson to the Planning Board, Anne Turcotte and Wallace Kisiel to the town's Housing Authority and Llewellyn Merrick as a Library Trustee.

Officials who gained seats due to write-in votes included Wilfred Renaud to the Cemetery Commission, Elyse Dunbar as Library Trustee and Adam Basch to the Planning Board.

Judy Cezeaux won the only contested seat, a three-year term with the Housing Authority, beating opponent Todd Luzi.

The binding question of whether or not the town would continue to remove snow and ice on private ways open to public use was approved, 533 116.

"The number of private ways varies, because every time they build a street, until it is accepted as a public way, it's a private way," Frank Shea, superintendent of streets, explained. He said the permanent number of private ways in Wilbraham is between 35 and 40.

Shea said that prior to this vote, every street in town was plowed if it had two or more homes on it.

"[This winter,] we treated private ways the way we always did, vote or no vote," he stated. "They're usually plowed later, because public ways have priority."

The nonbinding question did not have such a clear-cut majority, however. Three hundred eighty-seven voters were in favor of consolidating Wilbraham's four polling places into a single polling place at Minnechaug Regional High School. Two hundred fifty-nine voters were against this idea.

"This question is not going to have an effect for a while," Litchfield said. "It's research. We have to make sure there won't be any lines and that voters can get in and get out."

She said that even if the polling places are consolidated, the actual change would take place "a couple years down the road."

"We asked this question to see if the townspeople were interested in this," Litchfield said. "With only a seven percent turnout, it's kind of hard to judge."