New Ashford MA
New Ashford is a town in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, United States. It is part of the Pittsfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 247 at the 2000 census.
New Ashford was first settled in 1762 and was officially incorporated in 1835. It was named for Ashford, Connecticut, where the founding citizens came from. The town has mostly been a rural farming community, with few mills ever set up in the town. Beginning in 1916, New Ashford had the distinction of casting the first vote in presidential elections, the way Dixville Notch does today. Accordingly, this small rural town holds an important place in history, as the location where a woman cast the first vote in a U.S. national election, in 1920. The old wooden ballot box used on this historic occasion still sits in town hall, and is still in use today.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 13.5 square miles (35.1 km²), all of it land. It is the third-smallest town in Berkshire County by land area.
New Ashford is bordered by Williamstown to the north, Adams to the east, Cheshire to the southeast, Lanesborough to the south, and Hancock to the west. New Ashford is 11 miles north of Pittsfield, 57 miles northwest of Springfield, and 140 miles west-northwest of Boston (although, like much of the Berkshires, it is closer to both Hartford and Albany than its own state capital).
New Ashford sits in a small natural valley within the Taconic Mountains (popularly grouped with the Berkshires). To the east, Mount Greylock State Reservation rises, with the mountain itself peaking just northeast of the town. The peak of Saddle Ball Mountain, a part of the range, lies within the western part of town. The Mount Greylock Scenic Drive crosses through the eastern part of town, on its way to the peak, as does the Appalachian Trail. To the west, Brodie Mountain runs along the western border of town, peaking in neighboring Hancock. The town is home to the Brodie Mountain ski area, a popular ski resort founded in the 1930s.
U.S. Route 7 passes through the center of town, and is the main road. No other state routes pass through town. There is no rail or bus service, with the nearest bus service being in Pittsfield. The town is located between two local airports, Harriman and West Airport in North Adams and Pittsfield Municipal Airport. The nearest airport with national service is Albany International Airport.
As of the census of 2000, there were 247 people, 94 households, and 72 families residing in the town. New Ashford is the second least-populated town in Berkshire County, and fourth smallest town in Massachusetts (behind Mount Washington, Monroe and Gosnold). The population density was 18.2 people per square mile (7.0/km²), making it fourth to last in the county and ninth to last in the Commonwealth by population density. There were 110 housing units at an average density of 8.1/sq mi (3.1/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 95.55% White, 0.81% African American, 3.24% Asian, and 0.40% from two or more races.
There were 94 households out of which 36.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 66.0% were married couples living together, 9.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.4% were non-families. 16.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.63 and the average family size was 3.00.
In the town the population was spread out with 28.8% under the age of 18, 4.9% from 18 to 24, 29.6% from 25 to 44, 31.2% from 45 to 64, and 9.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 100.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.7 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $51,250, and the median income for a family was $58,125. Males had a median income of $46,250 versus $41,250 for females. The per capita income for the town was $28,323. None of the families and 2.2% of the population were living below the poverty line.
The town uses the open town meeting form of government, and is led by a board of selectmen and a town administrator. The town has its own fire and public works services. Police services are provided by the Massachusetts State Police. The town has no public library.
On the state level, New Ashford is represented in the Massachusetts House of Representatives by the Second Berkshire district, which covers central Berkshire County, as well as portions of Hampshire and Franklin Counties. In the Massachusetts Senate, the town is represented by the Berkshire, Hampshire and Franklin district, which includes all of Berkshire County and western Hampshire and Franklin Counties. The town is patrolled by the Fourth (Cheshire) Station of Barracks "B" of the Massachusetts State Police.
On the national level, New Ashford is represented in the United States House of Representatives as part of Massachusetts’s 1st congressional district, and has been represented by John Olver of Amherst since June 1991. Massachusetts is currently represented in the United States Senate by senior Senator John Kerry and interim junior senator Paul Kirk. A special election is scheduled to be held on January 19, 2010 to fill the Class 1 seat currently held by Kirk.
New Ashford has no schools of its own. Students from pre-kindergarten through sixth grade are sent by agreement to Lanesborough Elementary School, and students from seventh through twelfth grades attend Mount Greylock Regional High School in Williamstown. Private schools are located in Williamstown, and vocational and parochial schools are located in Pittsfield and North Adams.
The nearest community college is Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield. The nearest state college is Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams, and the nearest state university is the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The nearest private college is Williams College in neighboring Williamstown.