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My job as the Gilmanton Fire Chief is to have the best interests of residents at heart

To The Daily Sun,

An open letter to Gilmanton residents:

It was my hope to leave my pen down, and not have to address you all once again in this forum.
After Selectman Guarino's letter on March 6, I was compelled to leave you one more note. I appreciate a good letter to the editor and it is a great way to exchange ideas and information. Mr. Guarino's letter was not accurate on several fronts and it makes it necessary to rebut so that, as a voter, you are well equipped when you enter the voting booth on March 11.

I did indeed make a motion to amend petition warrant Article 30 at deliberative session. This was merely to add language to the article that would clarify its intent. The amendment to the article was the insertion of the number "4" in front of the word full-time positions. This amendment was simply a response to the board's attempt to eliminate a full-time FF/AEMT position that has been funded since 2004.

Article 30 now reads, "To see if the voters will continue to support the current 208 hours of weekly paid Fire Department coverage using both "4" full-time, and part-time certified personnel as has been past practice."

At this time the board is looking to replace a decade-old permanent position with two part-time positions. We are fortunate that we have a great part-time resource pool at this time. The part-timers who currently fill shifts for us are our own call members who live in town and are employed by other departments or agencies for their full-time jobs.

On our typical schedule with four full-time employees, we fill only 24 hours per week of part-time staffing. With the reduction of a full-time position we would be looking to staff a total of 72 hours per week of part-time staffing. At the present time this works, as our part-time staff is stepping up and filling shifts to help out with the anticipation of filling the vacant full-time position. This is not a long-term solution. Consistent staffing of 72 hours per week may prove difficult going forward, as our current labor pool is limited. The part-time slots are filled at their convenience. Their first priority is to their own full-time job.

Reducing a full-time position, to two part-time positions offers its own unique challenges. Hiring part-time employees from out of town will prove to be problematic. Part-time employees need to be trained and equipped. Each part-time employee must be supplied with personal protective equipment at the cost of nearly $3,000 per person. Part-time employees are far more transient than permanent employees. They may come and go as fast as a full-time opportunity avails itself. We would be faced with hiring and equipping on a 2/1 ratio if we move to a part-time schedule, as 24 hours is the cap on time allowed for a part-time employee.

In order to consistently support a 72-hour per week schedule, a large pool of qualified candidates would need to be developed, supplied with training and gear.

Mr. Guarino states that the board spent months trying to convince me to have EMT-I serve on Sundays. In fact, a review of 2013 scheduling shows 45 weeks of EMT-I coverage and seven weeks of EMT-B coverage. The seven weeks with an EMT–B was simply a result of not having the part-time resources to fill these shifts. Sundays have always been filled with certified and licensed personnel. I have followed every directive I have received from the Board of Selectman, and I will continue to do so.
Our department continues to provide the very best in care to our community. There has been no instance, that I have been made aware of, that our community is unhappy with the current staffing pattern and service we provide. I have provided countless data supporting our current staffing pattern. This continues to fall on deaf ears. I see absolutely no rationale or merit in changing our current schedule, and I have expressed my concerns to the board. Article 30 supports a level-funded budget with no increases.

My job as your fire chief is to have your best interest in mind. I have been hired to make decisions relative to your safety. I have been hired to develop the best service we can provide within the constraints of the town budget to provide. I have been a member of the Gilmanton Fire Department for over 35 years. I'm very proud to be associated with the men and woman that currently serve our department as well as those that have served before us, and laid the very foundation on which we operate. Their desire and ours remain the same, and that is to provide the best in emergency service to our town.

Please Vote "yes" on Article 30. Thank you for your continued support.

Chief Paul J. Hempel III

Gilmanton

Last Updated on Friday, 07 March 2014 11:46

Hits: 270

Vote 'yes' on Community Bill of Rights initiatives in Alexandria, Hebron & Danbury

AleTo The Daily Sun,

Without a Community Bill of Rights, or Rights Based Ordinance (RBO), corporate industrial wind developers have more rights to destroy the communities we live than we do to protect the communities we live in. We have the power to change that by applying the rights available to us through the New Hampshire Constitution's Bill of Rights.

Our state Constitution is an amazing document that states in Article 1. (Equality of Men; Origin and Object of Government) that, "All men are born equally free and independent; therefore, all government of right originates from the people, is founded in consent, and instituted for the general good." Also, in Article 8, (Accountability of Magistrates and Officers; Public's Right to Know) the New Hampshire Constitution says, "All power residing originally in, and being derived from, the people, all the magistrates and officers of government are their substitutes and agents, and at all times accountable to them. Government, therefore, should be open, accessible, accountable and responsive. To that end, the public's right of access to governmental proceedings and records shall not be unreasonably restricted."

Follow that up with Article 10.(Right of Revolution) which reads, "Government being instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security of the whole community, and not for the private interest or emolument of any one man, family, or class of men; therefore, whenever the ends of government are perverted, and public liberty manifestly endangered, and all other means of redress are ineffectual, the people may, and of right ought to reform the old, or establish a new government. The doctrine of non-resistance against arbitrary power, and oppression, is absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind."

How do we change the old government, or establish a new one? We do so with Article 32.(Rights of Assembly, Instruction, and Petition) that instructs, "The people have a right, in an orderly and peaceable manner, to assemble and consult upon the common good, give instructions to their representatives, and to request of the legislative body, by way of petition or remonstrance, redress(make right) of the wrongs done them, and of the grievances they suffer."

A Community Bill of Rights, or Rights Based Ordinance (RBO) is an application of the articles written above. Alexandria, Danbury, and Hebron have applied Article 32 to petition our towns to adopt a new ordinance that would allow "we the people" to make decisions about what kinds of industrial energy systems that benefit corporations are sited in our towns. We the people, would have a right to protect our ecosystems from the destruction and pollution caused by state and federal energy policies, a right to preserve the aesthetic values of our towns, and no longer acknowledge corporations as "persons" possessing legal rights and protections that would violate the rights proclaimed within the Rights Based Ordinance.

Vote "yes" on Article 16 in Alexandria, "yes" on Article 9 in Danbury, and "yes" on Article 4 in Hebron on Tuesday, March 11.

Michelle Sanborn
CARE Group
Alexandria

Last Updated on Monday, 10 March 2014 08:45

Hits: 375

Hey Niel, I've had Joe Kenney sign in my front snow bank since before the GOP primary

To The Daily Sun,

In response to my recent letter as to Niel Young not being on board with the mainstream GOP for forging strategies to win elections, I found that Niel responded to my remarks in his column in the March 6 issue of The Weirs Times. Niel ended his remarks in that column by validating my outlook when he suggested I was disappointed in the outcome of the recent Republican primary for the vacant executive counselor position.

Niel, I have had the Joe Kenney sign on my front snow bank since before the primary election. I not only supported him with my vote in this last primary, but if you ask around you may also find me on Joe's list of cash contributing backers.

Niel proving himself just half right, half the time.

Tim Sullivan

Gilford

Last Updated on Friday, 07 March 2014 11:34

Hits: 169

Residents of Alton are better served by onsite Tax Assessor and Town Planner

To The Daily Sun,

This letter is in response to the two warrant articles in Alton, one of which is to eliminate the position of Town Planner and the second is to eliminate the position of the Tax Assessor. The comments of this letter are not intended to refer to the particular person who is currently holding those positions, but rather to comment upon the two positions and what I feel is their importance to the Town of Alton. As an attorney in the Town of Alton whose office has been the only law office in the town for the past 15 years, I have had many occasions to utilize the services of both the Town Planner and the Tax Assessor.

With respect to the Town Planner I have found that the Town Planner expedites the process when seeking approvals for building, developing land, and encouraging business to locate in Alton. The Town Planner has, since I have been in Alton, been available to address relevant issues and thereby expedite the process by which land use issues are presented to either the Zoning Board or the Planning Board. A full time Town Planner makes that process more efficient. The benefit to the public is enormous, as the process is expedited and matters are addressed faster than otherwise would be the case. Further, the process is more thorough as the result of having the opportunity to work with the Town Planner prior to submitting land-use issues to the Zoning Board and the Planning Board thereby saving valuable time.

The benefit to the public having a Town Planner is, in my judgement, very significant. From the studies that I have read and from the information I have from other communities, an outside planner on a contract basis is not always available when needed, and the cost and expense has been found in many cases to be more than what the Town Planner position currently pays.

I have had a similar experience with the office of the Tax Assessor. The Tax Assessor's position has been very beneficial to me, my clients, and to the public in general. In my opinion, a full time Tax Assessor eliminates, in many occasions, abatement actions which are costly to the Town as well as to the tax payer. As with the position of the Town Planner, it has been my experience that outside contract assessors are not always available and that the ultimate cost of a contract assessor is frequently more than what that position pays in the Town of Alton.

Although on a number of occasions the relief I was seeking for a client has been denied or not approved, the process has always been fair and congenial. My clients and I have been dealt with professionally and courteously and attribute that, in many respects, to the ability to talk and work with the Town Planner and the Tax Assessor before the issues involved become out of hand and no easy solution remains.

When voting on these two warrant articles, I am hoping that the good citizens of Alton (many of whom I have had the please of representing) will do their homework and will inquire as to the cost of using outside contract services and how that compares to what is currently being paid to the Tax Assessor and the Town Planner. I also hope the voters in Alton recognize that with an onsite Tax Assessor and Town Planner the public is better served. Things move faster with more efficiency which benefits the public and also reduces the cost which the property owner might not otherwise incur if not for the availability to work with the Town Planer and the Tax Collector.

Arthur W. Hoover

Alton

Last Updated on Friday, 07 March 2014 11:31

Hits: 271

Without town planner, no one would work on long-range projects

To The Daily Sun,

A petitioned Warrant Article has been submitted for ballot vote to eliminate the Alton Town Planner position. The Alton Planning Board strongly urges citizens to not support petitioned Warrant Article 43 and to vote "no" to eliminate the Alton Town Planner position. The Alton Planning Board strongly supports retaining the Town Planner position for the following reasons:
• The Town Planner does considerable work on applications submitted for Planning Board review in advance of and after the Planning Board meetings. This provides for an improved process for all parties involved. This effort and organization in advance of the meetings by the Town Planner saves a huge amount of time at the meetings for the Planning Board members, the abutters, and the applicants.
a. With no Town Planner to provide staff guidance, Planning Board meetings would be disorganized and applications would take much longer for applicants, abutters, and board members. Additional meetings for applications would be likely in numerous cases. Planning Board members would not be able to focus on their role as decision makers.
• Land use law in New Hampshire is complicated. It is very difficult for citizen volunteer Planning Board members to become and remain educated on New Hampshire's ever-changing land use laws. The Town Planner keeps abreast of the land use laws and annual changes by attending planning conferences and law lectures and thereby is able to provide the Planning Board with advice and guidance.
a. Without a Town Planner a staff person knowledgeable of the state and local planning laws would not be available to advise the Planning Board. The Planning Board would more likely be subject to defending expensive lawsuits.
• The Town Planner assists the Planning Board with long-range planning activities such as rewriting Site Plan Review Regulations and Subdivision Regulations, and updating the Town Master Plan. The Town Planner does the initial work to provide a starting point for the Planning Board to review and revise. The Town Planner is responsible for changes throughout the review process.
a. Without a Town Planner there would be no one to work on long-range planning projects for the Planning Board, resulting in little or no progress being made on those projects.
• The Town Planner is the staff person responsible for drafting amendments annually to the Zoning Ordinance and shepherding them through the review process with the Zoning Amendment Committee and then the Planning Board.
a. With no Town Planner the Town would lack a staff person to work on annual amendments to the Zoning Ordinance resulting in a stagnant and outdated Zoning Ordinance.
• The Town Planner is the key Town staff person guiding the Senior Citizens Building Committee in their effort to expand and do fund-raising for the Senior & Community Center.
a. There would be no staff person to provide guidance for the Senior Citizens Building Committee in their effort to expand and do fundraising for the Senior & Community Center without the Town Planner.
• Replacing the Town Planner with an outside planning consultant would cost the Town about two times as much money for the same number of hours of service. The 2014 hourly rate including fringe benefits for the Town Planner is $42.71. Typical hourly rates for a private planning consultant would be on the order of $85-$90 per hour for a planner with comparable years of experience.

The Town Planner position is critical to the Alton Planning Board's efforts to conduct our business and carry out our responsibilities as outlined in the state statutes. The Alton Planning Board urges the citizens of Alton to vote "no" on petitioned Warrant Article 43 to eliminate the Town Planner position.

Alton Planning Board

 

Last Updated on Friday, 07 March 2014 11:04

Hits: 172

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