Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Carroll County Delegation Reviews Auditors Report

The Carroll County Delegation reviewed the focused audit that attempted to answer the most pressing questions that the Delegation had regarding the budget issues of the past few years. The video of the May 22nd meeting can be found here. The Delegation also reviewed the first quarter of 2017 financial reports.
There was no decision made as to whether to pose additional questions to the auditor or to delve into a deeper review of the numbers. They wanted time to digest the information provided. Judging by the questions asked which seemed to be focused on finding a " gotcha",  no smoking gun was found and the auditor expressed no concerns that anything was out of order.
Delegation chair McConkey ran a very good meeting in my opinion and took a far more positive approach then his predecessor, Karen Umberger who frequently took a negative and combative approach which in the end was non-productive.
McConkey went out of his way to compliment the county for its good work in preparing the budget and doing some good work the past few years. Clearly the addition of Ken Robichaud as the first Carroll County Administrator and Chuck Stuart as Finance Director has made a big difference in getting the county finances in order.
At the end of the meeting, the Delegation recognized Chuck Stuart who is retiring from the county at the end of May.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

First Ever Democrat Elected to NH House in Wolfeboro

 Democrat Edie DesMarais won a special election NH state House seat previously held by a Republican in Tuesday's voting 811 to 755. 
 In doing so, DesMarais became the first candidate in the country to flip a federal or state legislative seat from red to blue. DesMarais also became the first ever Democrat elected in Wolfeboro.
The 15 member Carroll County Delegation will  now have 11 Republicans and 4 Democrats.

The special election was held to replace Rep. Harold Parker (R) who took a role in the Gov. Sununu administration. The decision to hold a special election was up to the Wolfeboro Selectmen who at first back in December decided to not hold a special election. That decision proved to be controversial  and after considerable public outcry, the Wolfeboro BoS reversed their decision on January 18th and the special election was set for May 23rd. 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

"The Auditor will report to the Delegation a robust conversation to follow"

The Carroll County Delegation will meet tomorrow at 9am at the County Complex in Ossipee Monday morning May 22nd.  According to the agenda posted on the County website:

"9am Pledge of the Allegiance 
Opening comments by the Chairman 
Due to limited time, available for the Auditor discussion, the initial public input will be capped at five minutes.
The Auditor will report to the Delegation  a robust conversation to follow
Review the First Quarter 2017 Budget
Delegation appointment by the Chairman:
• Grant Review Committee
• Energy savings performance review committee
Fund transfer request
Public Input"

I suspect that the auditor's report will  indeed cause a "robust conversation" among some of the delegation,  as the report found no wrongdoing. I am certain Rep. Cordelli is disappointed that his witch hunt has been for nought.
The County Delegation last August  agreed to pay an auditor $20K to provide answers to a dozen questions put together by the county Finance Director and County Administrator to determine the reason for the 2015 county budget shortfall.

Friday, May 19, 2017

"There has always been school choice"

There has always been school choice 

Carroll County Independent, May 18th, 2017

If there is one issue that bothers us the most in current politics it is school choice. Proponents of legislation to fund scholarships or vouchers that would subsidize children attending private schools argue that there is a need for parents to make educational decisions for their children that would take them out of public schools, and that many cannot make that choice for financial reasons. The truth is that Americans have always had the freedom to choose how they want their children educated, and even today thousands of private schools attest to that fact, and many more students are schooled at home.
The real issue is not freedom of choice but subsidizing alternatives to public schooling using tax revenues. To us this idea of either taking funds away from public schools to help fund private schools (or alternatively, raising taxes to pay for the additional funding) undercuts two core ideas in our democracy: providing a common education that supports an informed electorate able to find common ground and shared purposes, and having the governments we fund provide the greatest good to the greatest number at the lowest reasonable cost. Heaven knows that we already have a country where people even in the same town or city seem to live in different worlds and sometimes find it impossible to talk to others not in their group. The last thing we should do is put out the fire under the “melting pot” that made people from many cultures and countries one.
We need to find more common ground, not less, and that process begins in our schools. Also, we think that those who feel public schools do not provide a good education fail to see how much much our schools have changed over the years and adapted themselves to provide the education needed to succeed in the current world economy. We report on that progress nearly every week in this newspaper. We accept that there are parents who feel strongly that their children need a religious as well as an academic education. Our Constitution, however, is founded on a clear separation of church and state, and anyone paying attention to the murderous effects of religious factions competing for political power in the world, should be thankful for our founders’ decision to keep religion and government separate

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Visit to the Dollar General

Made my first visit to the Dollar General in Moultonboro this morning and was pleasantly surprised in a number of ways. They do stock a lot of common everyday items and ( so far) very good prices and there is good variety of things to choose from in a rather large interior. There were other customers, including a few MA students and even a school bus driver.
There is a thread on the Winnipesaukee Forum that began in 2015 and the latest comments are mostly negative and some downright silly, like when the store fails it would become the new Moultonboro Rec center and which selectman would it be named for. One even made an idiotic pun using a play on a current selectman's name.
We will shop there frequently and I am sure many other will as well,  and I predict the seasonal crowds and pass through traffic will find it to be a very convenient location.
It's interesting that some will continue to tell us that only seasonal businesses can survive in this area, but here we have a new business that brought some year round jobs. increased tax revenue and fills a shopping niche.

I say best of luck to the owners and I wish them great success.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Another One Bites the Dust?

At tonight's BoS meeting, it was announced that the Technical Review Committee reviewed the plans of the new owners for the Berry Pond property and the old Country Fare building at the intersections of Old 109 and RT 25. The new owners are planning on building a multi-commercial development ( no residential use) and in the process,  plan on razing all the buildings on the two lots.

According to Town Administrator Walter Johnson, the owners just could not find a way to re-purpose the old former Country Fare Inn Restaurant building in a manner that would be economically feasible. Where the building now sits would become mostly green space and parking according to the proposed plans.

The photos above are from old postcards. The property is just oozing with history, from a medical building, to a boarding house, to restaurants. It is very sad to learn that it may soon be nothing more then a memory.

There Doesn't Have to be a There, There

To some, it would seem that the Moultonboro village area is a lost cause and should just be forgotten. Nobody goes there except to the bank or post office and the tourists that frequent the Country Store, so why bother to do anything with it? Others don't want anything to change and would like to keep things as they are. The problem is that old buildings don't always age well as evidenced by the two most visible in town: the Taylor building and the Grange Hall. Leaving these buildings to continue to deteriorate will only worsen the look of the village and we would lose two more valuable pieces of local history.
As a town, I believe that we have an obligation to protect a few historic properties that are irreplaceable, and yes it may cost some money to do that.  I find it disheartening that there are some that see no value in saving this heritage. Once they are gone, they are gone forever, and unfortunately, some just don't care about that.
It would be wonderful if some private entities came forward with a plan to repurpose some of these properties along the lines of the Bank of NH building, but is that realistic? Maybe,  if there were some meaningful financial and infrastructure incentives from the town.
As cars drive through the village, I would prefer they see a vibrant street scape instead of some run down buildings. I hope that the Heritage Commission can offer some solid ideas to make that possible.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Capital Improvements Program Committee Hard At Work

The Capital Improvements Program Committee ( CIPC ) is off and running and starting the 2018 to 2023 Capital Improvements Program. Enid Burroughs is the new CIPC Chair. The tentative work plan for this cycle can be found here at this link.
At the May 3rd meeting, Town Administrator Walter Johnson presented an overview of the BoS decisions on the 2017 CIPC recommendations:

 Public Safety Parking Lot  $175,000 Approved; to be completed in FY17
 Facilities Energy Upgrades $ 75,000 Approved; to be completed (TBC)
 Lions Club improvements $ 50,000 BOS withdrew item
 Road Projects $850,000 TBC in 2017; all in Capital Reserve
 1 Plow & Sander $ 50,000 Approved
 Equipment trailer $ 20,000 Approved
 Fire Command vehicle $ 48,643 Approved – on order
 Con Com Purchase Lee’s pond $ 50,000 Not recommended pending more info
 Police – Crown Victoria replacement cruiser- $ 51,203 Approved
 Rehab Playground Drive ball field $75,000 Approved and completed
 State’s Landing $ 300,000 Approved ( Capital Reserve Fund)
 Replace 1 set of play equipment $ 75,000 Approved
 Bathrooms and Pavilion $ 3,500 Not submitted; DPW can complete in house.

The CIPC will next meet on Wednesday, May 17th at 8am at Town Hall.

Friday, May 12, 2017

To Burn or Not to Burn: Burn Permits are State Law

The BoS on Thursday had a brief discussion about when a burn permit is required and how to obtain one. The crux of the discussion started by Selectman Bartlett, was whether burning in a backyard fire pit was illegal without a permit. I suspect many are not aware that it is in fact illegal in most situations in NH without a burn permit.  Per the Fire Law Brochure put out by the NH Division of Forests and Lands, " EVERY person, firm or corporation who kindles or causes to be kindled any fire or burns or causes to be burned any material, except when the ground is covered with snow, SHALL obtain a written fire permit from the Forest Fire Warden in the town or city where the fire will be kindled."
And yes, there can be significant penalties for violating this law: ANY person violating the permit law and its provisions, and any person who willfully or recklessly kindles a fire that endangers woodlands, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $2,000 and/or up to one year in jail, or both.
This is not local law, but rather state law (NH RSA 227-l:7, I and II)  and the reason it is necessary is that the main causes of wildfires in New Hampshire are illegal or improperly extinguished fires.

The process of requiring a permit ( can be obtained at no charge in person from a Fire Warden or a $3 fee if obtained on line) is fairly painless and one can obtain a seasonal permit if you anticipate burning on a regular basis.
NH is of course the live free or die state, but balance that with Smokey Bear's sage advice: "only you can prevent wildfires."

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Heritage Commission to Meet On Site at Taylor Property Friday May 12th at 3:30PM

The Heritage Commission will hold a public meeting on site at the Taylor property tomorrow at 3:30 pm, to walk through the property and do a preliminary review of it's condition.
This is a public meeting even though it is a site visit,  and as such is open to anyone who wants to attend. It is a good opportunity for those interested to gain more intimate knowledge of the condition of this town owned property.