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Athol cannabis analytical testing facility expected to bring in five to 10 chemist positions

  • Keith Bisogno, Executive Consultant for CERES Labs, shakes hands with Athol Town Manager Shaun Suhoski following the Athol Selectmen’s meeting Tuesday night. —Jackie Bisogno

Published: 3/20/2019 4:21:23 PM
Modified: 3/20/2019 4:21:31 PM

ATHOL – Keith Bisogno, Executive Consultant for CERES Labs, based in California, spoke at the Selectmen’s meeting Tuesday about the new 3,000 square foot cannabis analytical testing facility to be located at 134 Chestnut Hill Ave. Bisogno explained how it is state law that every cannabis product must be tested for microbial, chemical and other contaminants to ensure nothing exceeds specified levels of foreign material, bacteria, pesticides, solvents or heavy metals. He likened the regimen to food safety testing. 

Bisogno said the Athol lab “is not a place where we’ll have customers or visitors.” It will be a secure campus with a badging system. The lab will become International Organization for Standardization (ISO) certified as part of the licensing and build out process meeting very high quality control standards for lab operations, and will bring in five to 10 chemist positions.

The mission of the company is not to cultivate but to be the gatekeeper in assuring the safety of the cannabis product before it hits the shelves, Bisogno said. It will offer a “one stop for analyzing plant material, extracted oils or manufactured products.” The product testing will provide important labeling information like Tetrahyrdocannabinol (THC) potency or affirming amounts of Cannabidiol (CBD).

CERES Labs will also provide water testing for the town as part of the Host Community Agreement (HCA).

According to Bisogno, “our goal is to get the lab operational as soon as possible. Our biggest priority over the next number of weeks will be working with the Cannabis Control Commission to get our state license, which would then allow us to implement the laboratory.”

The board acknowledged and praised former town official Evelyn King who recently celebrated her 100th birthday. While she was unable to attend a party last Sunday in her honor, her family was presented with a proclamation from the Board of Selectmen naming Sunday, March 17 “Evelyn King Day” in Athol.

Selectman William J. Caldwell was applauded and presented a parting gift for his service to the town and board. He will leaving for a position in Becket as Town Administrator.

Several permits were granted for upcoming events:

A one-day all alcohol license was approved for the YMCA Dinner Dance Fundraiser on March 23.

A one-day event permit was approved for Clean Green Athol to take place at Millers River Park behind the Athol Public Library on April 27. Wednesday morning, organizer Heidi Strickland noted the time of the cleanup has been changed to 9 a.m. to noon, with the celebration to follow from noon to 1 p.m.

The board approved a one-day event permit for the 202 Dek Hockey Helmet Drive for the Athol-Orange Avalanche street hockey team to take place at the Main and Exchange streets intersection on April 6 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Applicant Scott Dubrule said there will be older kids and adults stationed in the area and safety vests will be worn. The rain date of April 20 was also approved.

Vendor/Peddler Permits were granted for the River Rat Weekend parade on April 13 with a request not to block the road during the parade:

Action Enterprises: Allyson Maltese and Alan Dragunoff will be selling balloons and novelties.

Andy’s Novelties:  Alan St. Martin and Andrew Nameron will be selling toys and novelties.

Multi-day event permit applications from the Disabled Veterans Home of Athol Inc., and the Mark Fanelli Traveling Amusement Park, Inc. for a carnival to be set up April 10-14 in the Lord Pond Plaza parking lot were approved. An amendment was made to issue the permit based on both applicants inserting the town as being covered in the certificate of insurance. Town Manager Shaun Suhoski said he will follow up on getting increased police presence at the carnival as there were some minor incidents there last year.

The North Quabbin Veterans Outreach/Athol Congregational Church received approval for a veteran tribute display on the Uptown Common bandstand in May and a memorial service at the common on May 26 from 11 a.m. to noon. The Congregational Church was also given permission for its Annual Country Fair at the Uptown Common on June 1st.

A public hearing was held regarding a proposal to move a National Grid pole 11 feet to the north to accomodate the Crescent Street bridge construction. National Grid engineer Richard Nalewski said the present pole location is close to the bridge location. Public works superintendent Douglas Walsh questioned if there is a way to transfer the wires and who would be responsible for moving them. Nalewski said he would have to look at them as he hasn’t seen them yet. Joe Summer, a Starrett employee, expressed concern that the pole is positioned close to a Starrett water main. The Department of Public Works will map out where the lines are so there is no disturbance. 

The next Board of Selectmen meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, April 2 at 7 p.m. in Room 21 at the Athol Town Hall.






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