Sunday, December 21, 2014

Petitioned Warrant Article to Prohibit Smoking in Town Facilities

New Hampshire’s statewide ban of smoking became effective on September 17, 2007. No on can argue with the fact that smoking kills. According to the June 2014 Report of the US Surgeon General:  "Evidence in this new report shows tobacco’s continued, immense burden to our nation—and how essential ending the tobacco epidemic is to our work to increase the life expectancy and quality of life of all Americans. This year alone, nearly one-half million adults will still die prematurely because of smoking. Annually, the total economic costs due to tobacco are now over $289 billion. And if we continue on our current trajectory, 5.6 million children alive today who are younger than 18 years of age will die prematurely as a result of smoking."
As a Respiratory Care professional, I have seen first hand for nearly 36 years how smoking causes debilitating illness and often prolonged and painful deaths. Smoking is bad for you, it is bad for those exposed to second hand smoke and the image of town employees smoking while at work is not in my personal opinion, a positive public image we ought to be projecting. 
To that end, I did some research and found that many towns in NH have enacted strict non-smoking policies. I found the policy in place in Wolfeboro ( enacted in 2009) to be a reasonable one and other than a few cosmetic changes I intend to submit it as the following petitioned warrant article for 2015 Town Meeting as a private citizen: 
"To see if the Town will vote to enact the following ordinance: In accordance with the NH Indoor Smoking Act (RSA‘s 155:64 to 78), the smoking of tobacco products is prohibited in all Town-owned buildings, other enclosed spaces, and vehicles owned by the Town of Moultonborough. In addition, it is the policy of the Town of Moultonborough that Town employees are prohibited from smoking on any properties owned by the Town of Moultonborough, including streets, sidewalks, and parks, during “on-duty” hours as a Town employee, with the exception of outdoor designated smoking areas that may be established by Department Heads to accommodate Town employees, and others who wish to smoke in designated areas. All Town-owned buildings shall be posted for “No Smoking”, as well as posting for “smoking-allowed” designated areas. Town department Heads and supervisors are charged with enforcing this policy by use of the Town’s progressive disciplinary procedures.  Any complaints about noncompliance with this policy should be directed to the Town Administrator. 
Smoking is defined as having in ones possession, a lighted cigarette, cigar or pipe or any device designed to produce the effect of smoking.
All terms in this section shall have the same intent and meaning as described in NH RSA 155:64 to 78.
The policy will be effective 60 days after ratification by the legislative body"

Copies of the petition in .PDF format can be found here for easy printing. We need 25 signatures of registered voters in Moultonboro to put this on the ballot. So go to the link, print out the petition and collect as many signatures as you can. When done, please mail the petition to:
Paul Punturieri
Box 297
Moultonborough, NH 03254
You can also drop off petitions to me at any BoS meeting.
The deadline to submit petitions for the 2015 Warrant is February 3rd, 2015.
In addition, I will have hard copies with me when I attend public meetings in Town.
Thank you in advance for your support of this important initiative. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Last Board of Selectmen Business Meeting of 2014

Last nights BoS business meeting was the last of the year because of the upcoming holidays. The BoS will meet this morning to attempt to finish up the budget and get the warrant ready for 2015 Town meeting.
The Broadband committee presented it's report to the BoS and the public and it was positively received. The full report can be found here .  The recommendations as follows were adopted by the BoS in full:
Short term:
1. Adopt a goal of 100% internet availability to the curb, so that all property owners can choose to connect. Direct town staff and volunteers to research solutions for unserved areas and to develop to a cost sharing formula that funds expansion of the communication infrastructure. This will be a best-effort goal and not a property owner’s right.
2. Direct that proposals be solicited from broadband providers, to extend service into pre-identified unserved areas. Be ready to repeat the process if new unserved areas are identified.
3. Ensure zoning/planning/building codes include broadband availability for new development.
4. Create a volunteer digital assistance program to manage expansion activity and help businesses
and residences get more value and productivity from online services.
Long term:
1. Charge the digital assistance program to expand the provider matrix, developed by the broadband working group, into a guide for residences and businesses.
2. Document unserved properties, possibly via property assessment records.
3. In support of the town’s marketing effort, continue to improve the town’s broadband footprint documentation, including mapped areas where business class service is available.
4. Plan to revisit goals and investments every three years.

In addition to the above, the BoS added an immediate goal to utilize some money from the technology fund to install a public open wifi access point in Town Hall. I think that it will send a positive message that we are open for business.

In other business, the Town Engineer contract with KV Partners was not renewed. ( It does not expire until July 2015).  A Town Engineer search committee will be formed after the first of the year. This was not an indication that the town is dissatisfied with KV Partners, and they may very well be the first choice going forward, but rather after 6 years or so it is appropriate to undertake this process to assure that taxpayers are getting the best possible bang for the buck.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

UNH Preliminary Feasibility Study Report not A "Slam Dunk"

Dr. Bob Barcelona, the UNH Feasibility Study team leader, delivered a "preliminary" draft report to the Town team last Monday afternoon. It was apparent that the UNH team put a lot of effort into the study and were themselves conflicted as to some of the results. I think the Town team was as well. At least I was. What was presented was a preliminary report of their findings. The full report with data sets is still being vetted by the UNH team and after some more input from us, it should be in final form sometime in the first quarter of 2015.
It was interesting to hear that we were the smallest town the UNH team has yet studied, but had the largest turnout for the focus groups and town wide meeting. Clearly the public was engaged.990 total surveys were completed. 85 were paper surveys, the rest were online.
No crystal clear winner in my mind, but many more questions. I was hoping for definitive answers along the lines of " the data shows that...." We did get some of that, but as to the big question of the need for a new gym/facility not quite there yet. The team was emphatic that we should immediately undertake the top three recommendations " right now" however:
  1. Extend partnerships  between the Town and the SAU for school facility use, particularly in the after school hours and during the summer.
  2. Explore partnership opportunities for indoor recreation use with local communities and organizations.
  3. Provide sufficient financial resources for on-going operations and maintenance of existing recreation facilities, including athletic fields, beaches, boat launches and playgrounds.
How well we accomplish these recommendations should the BoS decide to undertake them will impact to a large extent the decision point that the UNH team left us with: definitively settle the issue of a new indoor recreation center and gym facility. Each of the above three recommendations came  with more details such as looking at Belmont, NH as a model for town/school partnerships  wherein the school provides the town access for a 6 week summer program.  As per the report " In turn, the Recreation department should be responsible for programming and using the space that is available to them. This will require creativity."
In regards to partnerships with other communities, there are many facilities within a 10 square mile radius and perhaps a number of communities working together can justify the need for a regional approach with shared costs for any new indoor facility. Recommendation number three explores the possibility of divesting some town owned property and cautioned on the high cost to dredge the States Landing beach and instead develop the outdoor park area and focusing on the boat launch. Selling the States Landing property was suggested, but there is some question as to whether we can legally do that. A private/public partnership was suggested as a possibility.
There was also a fourth recommendation involving renovating the Lions Club building or possibly divesting the property if a community center were to be built.
We did get a "thumbnail" sketch of the benchmarking communities that answered the UNH teams request for information  ( 9 of 15 responded) and I look forward to seeing the details of those responses. Of the nine communities that responded, five have some sort of indoor facility. They range from Ashland which has an 800 square foot " Booster Club" and accommodates their after school program and summer camps. Conway has a 5,400 square foot indoor facility  that includes "administrative space for the Parks and Recreation Department and supplemental office space. It includes a multipurpose ball field that can accommodate little league baseball, soccer, field hockey and football, a gymnasium with an indoor basketball court, an outdoor basketball court, and a playground. The site also includes an indoor gymnasium (with a basketball court), library, art room, game room, computer lab, kitchen and restrooms. There are 50 public parking spaces." A good example of a scaled down approach that still manages to meet the needs of the community.  Meredith was by far the largest with a " community center" of 18,000 square feet and per the UNH team is unusual for such a small community. Ossipee has 3,500 square foot Town Hall gymnasium and basketball court which has led to a number of interesting issues, such as noise disrupting the workings of Town Hall. Probably not a model for Moultonboro.
Speaking in basketball terms then, this was not a slam dunk answer. It does get us closer though and there is a tremendous amount of data yet to sort through and much food for thought. As I mentioned when the meeting closed, the trick for the BoS will be to find the right balance that meets the needs of the community as a whole. A ways to got yet to be sure, but we did make some progress.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Got Salt?

Apparently there is plenty of it at the Highway Garage. I'm not talking about the road salt, but far below the ground in the wells. As legend has it, ( no one really knows for sure) lighting hit a well head some time ago and ever since the salt levels in the water supply have been exceedingly high. Be that as it may, a recent water test came back with a sodium level of 1,421 milligrams per liter ( EPA limit is 250) and a chloride level of 2,100 milligrams per liter ( EPA limit is 250).
Seawater salinity   by comparison is about 35,000 milligrams per liter. Not exactly the Atlantic ocean  here in Moultonboro, but not ideal for equipment washing or drinking. Most plants can tolerate only about 200-800 milligrams per liter of sodium in irrigation for example. At the levels indicated for the Highway Garage it is certainly noticeable when washing and drinking and can damage plumbing and fixtures and equipment. According to the World Health Organization,water will become increasingly undrinkable in the 1000-2000 mg/L salinity range.
According to the NH DES "Some sodium is found in all natural water supplies, but more so in areas where seawater and road salt seep into the ground. Sodium has no set hazard level, but those individuals on a low sodium diet should take into account the amount of sodium in their water when determining overall sodium intake.Although chloride is not considered a health hazard, the standard has been set because of the level at which the average person notices a salty taste. Chloride is associated with infiltration of road salt, fertilizer, backwash from a water softener and even seawater. "
The solution being proposed is for a reverse osmosis system that will include four 300 gallon tanks with a 1000 gallon per day reverse osmosis system, a UV light, acid neutralizer, water softener and a constant pressure booster pump. It will provide 500-750 gallons per day due to water temperature. 
The estimated cost is approximately $17,600 with an annual maintenance cost of $1,600. Reverse osmosis however, produces a "reject brine"  that must be disposed of. The vendor is suggesting a dry well be dug outside so that the salty groundwater and brine could evaporate.How large a pond and any environmental impact were not indicated.
The NH DES tells us that reverse osmosis is not the most efficient in NH due to the typically cold temperature of the groundwater which make the water "sticky": "In New Hampshire, treatment efficiency based on the volume of water produced is poor, typically in the range of 20 to 30 percent. This is due to the typically cool temperatures of the state’s groundwater. For example, assuming the volumetric efficiency of an RO treatment device was 25 percent, if 10 gallons of raw water is fed into the device daily, only 2.5 gallons of water will migrate through the membrane to become treated pure water.The contaminants and the remaining 7.5 gallons of water will become reject water and will be discharged to a sewer, leach field, or drywell. Typical New Hampshire groundwater temperature is 40 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature is fairly constant year round. RO devices are often rated at an operational temperature of 77 F at 60 pounds per square inch (psi) applied pressure. The technical condition causing this low rate of production is the viscosity (stickiness) of the water when cold."
What are the options? Other than drilling a new well without any guarantee that the water quality will be satisfactory, there are not many. Town Engineer Ray Korber advised the BoS that the cost to pipe and pump water from the Playground Drive facility which may have better water quality is too costly. The main issue is the ability to wash the highway vehicles with water that is not  potentially corrosive. 
How the salt got there in the first place has not been definitively answered. According to the NH DES, well water originates as rain and snow that then filters into the ground. As it soaks through the soil, the water can dissolve materials that are present on or in the ground, becoming contaminated.
"Road salt melts snow, but it contaminates groundwater and damages habitats" is the title of an article in the Washington Post that states that we toss 13 times more salt on our roads in the winter than is used by the entire food processing industry. "The stuff doesn't just disappear when the snow and ice melts: It washes away into lakes and streams or seeps into groundwater supplies. Researchers in Minnesota recently found that, in the Twin Cities area, 70 percent of the salt applied to roads stays within the region's watershed. Once it gets there, the contamination is difficult and expensive to remove. " On the positive side, it is good to know that the Highway Dept. is using new techniques and products to minimize the amount of road salt used.
Of course the answer may be the most obvious one: tons of road salt stored on the ground for many years. "The stuff doesn't just disappear."
The BoS may make a decision on whether to include this in the 2015 capital budget next Friday.




Thursday, December 11, 2014

Budget Meetings to Continue Friday December 12th 2014.

Quite a bit on the "agenda" including the Department of Public Works  and the Recreation  Department budget presentations.  Public Work is scheduled to begin at 08:30 to be followed by Recreation. Hard to say how long each will last.
In addition among other items, there will be a discussion of warrant articles and amendments proposed to the CIPC and MPIC charges and the proposed extension of the KV Partner's contract.

Moultonboro Village Vision Committee December 8th, 2014

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Moultonboro Selectmen Meeting ( December 4th and 5th) 2014

Videos of both meetings can be found here on the Town website.

Email Marketing Boot Camp – January 7th , 6:00-8:00pm at Corner House Inn

The third in a series of e-marketing workshops hosted by the Sandwich Business Group in conjunction with the Plymouth Chamber (originally scheduled for Dec. 10) has been rescheduled for Wed. Jan. 7th
 
Join the Sandwich Business Group on Wed. Jan. 7 as we welcome presenter Joanne Randall, owner of Leap Year Marketing and Local Expert with Constant Contact. This seminar is free and is open to Sandwich Business Group members as well as interested members of the local community.
Below is a description of the Jan. 7 workshop. Please contact Don Brown at don@cornerhouseinn.com or 284-6219 if you are interested in attending, or if you have questions regarding the event.
 
Email Marketing Boot Camp – January 7th , 6:00-8:00pm at Corner House Inn
(Recommended: Attendees should have a laptop and have either already registered for a free Email Marketing trial with Constant Contact or have a paid account. We will not be taking time at the beginning of the workshop to set up free trials.  Sorry, no exceptions.)
Despite all the hype about social media, email marketing remains one of the most effective and direct ways to communicate with customers.  
 
In this hands-on workshop, attendees will learn how easy it is to create emails for marketing campaigns.  Step-by-step, Joanne Randall of Leap Year Marketing and Local Expert with Constant Contact will guide the class through the stages of crafting an email newsletter.  Participants are encouraged to bring their own computers to work within the Constant Contact program.
 
Small business owners will gain strategies, tools, and techniques that can be implemented immediately to improve business success.  Attendees will learn how to employ timesaving procedures, create valuable content, and build a quality community.  Joanne will show how to best use graphics and designs within the software as well as how to share the email on social media channels.
 
Business owners and marketers will walk away with best practices for acquiring and maintaining quality, loyal subscribers who can become the foundation of a solid customer base.
 
This educational seminar and professional skills training brought to you by the Plymouth Regional Chamber of Commerce is part of their active support of the regional businesses and is possible through the generous support of key area businesses, professionals, and Constant Contact.
For more information about the programs or the Plymouth Regional Chamber of Commerce, contact the Chamber office at 536-1001, or email info@plymouthnh.org.