CONCORD — In a brief meeting at the Statehouse this week, recorded by no fewer than four video cameras, the Belknap County Convention approved the minutes of the meeting held on March 4, which began with a dispute over the minutes of the meeting of Feb. 18, when a motion to adopt the 2014 budget recommended by the Belknap County Commissioners fell one vote short.
On the snowy evening of Feb. 18, Rep. Colette Worsman (R-Meredith), who chairs the convention, delayed the start of the meeting 44 minutes for lack of a quorum. While she waited to open the meeting, she arranged for Rep. Guy Comtois (R-Barnstead), who was tending to a failing roof, to participate by telephone.
The issue before the convention was the adoption of the budget prepared by the Republican majority, which trimmed $858,350 from the budget presented by the commission. Shortly after Worsman called the meeting to order, Rep. Beth Arsenault (D-Laconia) moved to adopt the commissioners' budget. The motion failed on a tie vote, seven-to-seven, as two Republicans sided with the five Democrats in support of Arsenault's motion and Comtois, voting by telephone, joined the six Republicans present to force the deadlock.
Within the week the five Democrats asked the Belknap County Superior Court to overturn the vote, charging that Worsman violated the Right-to-Know in allowing Comtois to participate by telephone. Noting that the statute does not require the convention to allow one or members to participate by "electronic means," they claim the decision properly rested with the convention, not the chair. Moreover, they charge that no notice was given to the convention that Comtois would be permitted to participate by telephone nor was the reason he could not be physically present recorded in the minutes as the statute requires.
When the convention next met on March 4 Worsman sought to amend the minutes of meeting of Feb. 18 to show that before the meeting was convened she and other members referred to the Right-to-Know law and discussed the procedure for allowing Comtois to participate by telephone. She proposed adding the following statement: "This was done after consulting RSA 91-A:2 with specific examination/discussion of RSA 91-A:2, III for its permissibility of having Rep. Guy Comtois participate by phone."
Rep. David Huot (D-Laconia) reminded Worsman that at the time there was no quorum and not all those who were present were party to the discussion. Arsenault questioned recording a discussion that took place before the meeting in the minutes. When Worsman's motion to amend the minutes was put to a vote there was much confusion about who was and was not present when the supposed discussion occurred and therefore would be eligible to vote. Ultimately the motion failed five-to-four, with five abstentions. With an eye to the litigation, Worsman tersely noted that the minutes were approved without reference to the discussion of the Right-to-Know law prior to the meeting.
This week, when the convention addressed the minutes of the March 4 meeting, Rep. Ruth Gulick (D-New Hampton) was troubled to find that the discussion of Worsman's attempt to amend the minutes of the Feb. 18 meeting, including the wording she proposed, was recorded.
After a sharp exchange between Gulick and Worsman the convention approved the minutes of the March 4 meeting by a roll call vote of 11 to 6 with one abstention.
Last Updated on Friday, 21 March 2014 12:36
GILFORD — Budget Committee Chair Phyllis Corrigan said yesterday she will convene the committee on April 5 at 7 p.m. to determine how to move forward with filling the vacancy created when former member Richard "Rags" Grenier was elected to the Board of Selectmen.
Corrigan said there are two ways to proceed — the first being soliciting letters of interest from Gilford residents who would like to fill the one-year term and having the board make the decision.
The second would be to award the seat to Scott Davis should he still be interested. Davis ran for the Budget Committee in the March 11 election and finished fourth with 373 votes. David "Skip" Murphy finished fifth with 361 votes.
She said the only thing she knows for sure is that the full board will make the decision as to how to proceed.
"I assume we'll make our decision in May," she said.
Even though the Budget Committee won't begin its duties until October 2014, Corrigan said she wants all of the members seated before summer so they "can hit the ground running" come fall and winter.
When reached, Murphy said he is still interested in serving on the Budget committee. "If I wasn't interested I wouldn't have run," he said yesterday.
The Daily Sun was unable to reach Davis.
Last Updated on Friday, 21 March 2014 11:53
BELMONT — At the recommendation of Fire Chief Dave Parenti, selectmen promoted Firefighter/EMT Ryan Brown to lieutenant Monday night.
According to Parenti, the department advertised for the spot made available when Lt. Bob Laraway retired and Brown applied as did many others.
He said after testing, an oral board conducted with representatives from other departments and a chief's interview, Brown finished with the highest score.
"He has taken great initiative and has done what he needed to do," said Town Administrator Jeanne Beaudin when making the recommendation to the board.
Parenti said yesterday that he will begin advertizing for a full-time firefighter to replace Brown and a full-time firefighter to fill an additional position authorized by the voters at annual town meeting. He said one position is a 24-hour rotation spot and the second position – that will be filled as of July 1 – is a full-time day position boosting the number of firefighter/EMTs during the day time from two the three.
In other Belmont news, selectmen voted to deed the property at 200 Daniel Webster Highway (China Garden) to the town for non-payment of taxes. Beaudin said she had tried to contact the owner but has not had any response. The business has not paid property taxes in three years.
Selectmen also noted that under a previous agreement, the Casino on Route 106 continues to pay the town $3,000 a week to catch up on its back taxes. Selectmen voted last year to allow the gambling venue to catch up by making the weekly payments and Beaudin said that with one exception, they have lived up to the agreement.
Selectmen also signed an eight-year contract with Casella for solid waste removal and recycling. Beaudin told selectmen that the contract amount for 2015 is $220,000 which includes the company picking up curbside recyclables.
"It's an extremely reasonable rate," Beaudin said.
The town reported that the rebuilding of the lower part of Ladd Hill Road is ready to begin this summer. The project goes to bid on April 10 and the sealed bids will be opened on April 24. The project is being done in two parts with the lower part being done this summer and the upper part being scheduled for 2016.
Last Updated on Friday, 21 March 2014 12:16
MEREDITH — The New Hampshire Department of Transportation (DOT) has included Barnard Ridge Road in its draft reconstruction and resurfacing program for 2015, which the agency released earlier this month.
The program, which is "subject to change pending further evaluation and design," consists of one set of resurfacing and reconstruction projects to be undertaken with the $15.6 million in current funding, and a second set contingent on increasing the gas tax to provide an additional $25 million.
With the additional funding the one mile pavement on Barnard Ridge Road from Route 25 to Meredith Neck Road would be rehabilitated. For the past several years the Board of Selectmen has been pestering the DOT to improve Barnard Ridge Road and Meredith Neck Road, both unnumbered state roads. Town Manager Phil Warren this week told the selectmen that the roads are not far from becoming "hazardous."
With the current level of funding the DOT plans to resurface the 5.9 miles of Meredith Center Road between Route 106 and Route 104 while with the extra funds the 9.5 miles of Route 104 between I-93 and Route would also be resurfaced.
Elsewhere in Belknap County, one mile of Route 107 between Route 129 and Route 140 in Gilmanton, one mile of Route 25B from Route 3 to Route 25 in Center Harbor and 1.6 miles of Clark Road and Colby Street from Route 3 to School Street in Tilton would all be rehabilitated if funding for the program is increased.
In Tilton, the 2.7 miles of School Street from Route 3 to the Sanbornton town line would be resurfaced with current funding and with additional funding the 2.3 miles of Route 3 between Franklin and Grant Street.
Last Updated on Friday, 21 March 2014 12:30
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