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
To The Daily Sun,
Some people may believe that because of the Internet, tablets, and smart phones, libraries are becoming obsolete. It may surprise you to learn that nothing could be further from the truth! Like libraries across the country, the Gilmanton Year-Round Library is getting busier every year. Libraries serve the same function they always have — to ensure that everyone in the community has free access to the resources they need to live smart and fulfilling lives. In fact, what has really changed for libraries is that they have moved way beyond books. Libraries have become community living rooms, and that's certainly true for the Gilmanton Year-Round Library.
Each patron that walks in the door of the Gilmanton Year-Round Library has a different need, each of which the staff strives to meet. Some people come in for the next book written by their favorite author. Others come in to grab a DVD for family movie night. Little ones come in and receive the benefits of story time, and teens enjoy a safe place that respects them. Seniors come for an afternoon out with their friends.
From Internet service, job searching, computer assistance, public programming, after school activities — the GYRL offers a variety of services that allows everyone the same opportunities. In a small town like Gilmanton, we really serve the town in two ways — as a library and as a community center. Whether patrons stop by for a friendly chat with someone from across town, to view an art show, make a craft, receive help on their resume or do a genealogical study — community members have the right to a library that offers those services to them. Our highest goal is to create a space for all members of the community to use and enjoy.
Board of Directors
Gilmanton Year-Round Library
Last Updated on Friday, 07 March 2014 10:56
To The Daily Sun,
A year and a half ago, Ashland Elementary School faculty and administration began a discussion about student learning and effective teaching. Through their efforts and commitment, Ashland is providing an educational program that continues to meet the needs of our students and maximizes the opportunities for student success.
Students at Ashland Elementary School have made tremendous academic progress since the beginning of the school year. Grades 1-5 have shown a 75 percent increase in reading scores and an 86 percent increase in math scores. Grades 6-8 show similar progress with a 65 percent increase in reading scores and a 72 percent increase in math scores.
Ashland's assessment program is based on state and national standards and student competency for each standard. Competency is determined by collecting evidence through performance tasks such as hands-on demonstrations, oral reports, tests and other written assignments. Each piece of evidence is then evaluated according to the student's level of understanding. To be considered proficient, a student must receive 85 percent or better on assessments. Since grades are no longer averaged, the report card has a different look. A student's report is a comprehensive document that indicates which academic standards he or she is working on and the level of competency. Parents can access their child's academic progress online or, if requested, a paper copy will be sent home.
This year Ashland introduced more technology across all school programs. Technology is used as a tool for learning and to report student progress. Students in the primary and intermediate tiers have access to Kindles as well as the computer lab. Middle tier students have access to iPads (purchased or rented) that are used during class instruction, for individual research and for homework assignments.
We believe that the school has done an exemplary job in providing numerous opportunities for students to interact socially. Some examples are as follows: All School Meetings, Annual Halloween Parade, Winter Recreation Program, Winter Carnival, Pajama Day — sponsored by the Student Council, Monthly SAU Dances, Field Day, and I Love to Read Week. Social skills are also addressed in each class as part of the learning process.
As candidates for the Ashland School Board, we ask for your support. We believe that student success requires quality professionals, sound curriculum and assessment, and well-informed educational and budgetary decisions.
Last Updated on Friday, 07 March 2014 10:52
To The Daily Sun,
On Tuesday, March 11, the voters of Gilford will go to the polls to decide how their tax dollars will be appropriated. As a Gilford resident and member of the Genesis Behavioral Health Board of Directors, I ask my fellow community members to vote "yes" on Article 21 to support emergency mental health care for all residents of our town.
Genesis Behavioral Health (GBH) is the community mental health center serving Belknap and southern Grafton counties. A private, non-profit organization founded in 1966 by Dr. George "Pete" Harris, a Gilford pediatrician who recognized the critical need for mental health services in the community, GBH provided behavioral health care to 3,274 Lakes Region children, families, and adults in Fiscal Year 2013.
GBH served 171 Gilford residents in Fiscal Year 2013 and provided $13,986 of uncompensated care – care the organization provided but for which they will not receive reimbursement. Thirty-six Gilford residents used emergency services in FY13.
This critical, safety net organization asks all 24 towns in its catchment area to contribute to the Emergency Services (ES) program, using a formula based upon the town's population to ensure fairness. ES provides any resident of Gilford experiencing a mental health emergency with access to a Master's-level clinician and psychiatrist 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, regardless of their ability to pay. Services are provided through a 24-hour hotline, in person, or via telemedicine to ensure rapid access to care.
We know from the headlines that the mental health crisis in New Hampshire is real. The National Institute on Mental Health reports that one in four adults experience a mental health disorder in a given year. Without proper treatment, mental illness affects one's ability to work, participate in school, contribute to the community and maintain relationships. The economic cost of untreated mental illness is more than $100 billion each year in the United States, causing unnecessary disability, unemployment, substance abuse, homelessness, inappropriate incarceration, suicide and wasted lives. Reduced access to mental health care leads to increased demand on many of the systems in our community, including emergency rooms, law enforcement, first responders, courts, corrections, schools and municipalities. GBH not only helps those in need, but its services also reduce costs for our town and improve the health and safety of our community.
ES is often the gateway into services for people in need of mental health treatment. Access to behavioral health care was identified as a top priority in the Lakes Region Partnership for Public Health's 2013 Community Needs Assessment. Mental health related emergency department visits/observation stays in the Lakes Region are significantly higher than the overall New Hampshire rate (1,541.5 per 100,000 vs. 1,409.9). The need for crisis intervention in our community is evident.
Thank you for supporting GBH for the past four years. Any one of us, at any time, could be in a position to need their services. I am confident that my fellow Gilford residents will choose wisely and continue to appropriate funds to this worthwhile organization.
Dr. Kelley White
Last Updated on Friday, 07 March 2014 10:37
To The Daily Sun,
My name is Peter Fogg and I am running for one of two seats on the Tilton Board of Selectmen. I moved to Tilton in mid-1995, in the house I currently reside. In 1996 I became a member of the Sewer Commission and continue to serve as chairman 18 years later. For the past four years, I have also served on the Parks Commission currently as vice chair, and seven years as a member of the Tilton-Northfield Fire District Budget Committee.
In the past I have served as Cubmaster and Committee Chair of Cub Scout Pack 248 over an eight-year period, as umpire and umpire-in-chief for the Winnisquam Cal Ripken Baseball League for over five years and as coach, manager, umpire, secretary, and co-president of the Tilton-Northfield Little League for over 12 years. I am currently assisting the Friends of Winnisquam Football by maintaining the football field at the Route 132 field where there home games are played.
I am employed as a high school mathematics and AutoCAD drafting teacher at the Winnisquam Regional High School where I have taught for the past 13 years.
I am running for selectman for several reasons. I have been working on budgets for the Fire District for seven years now and about 18 years as a Sewer Commissioner. When spending money raised through either taxation or user fees my philosophy is to prudently spend what is necessary to keep the operations working properly without going overboard. I believe this is evidenced by raising the sewer user fees only twice in the past 18 years. Any new major sewer projects have always come with 50 percent or more grant money, in order to reduce the cost to the taxpayers.
I have worked with the town departments such as land use to create a procedure that assures all applicable boards and commissions would be notified before any new projects coming before the Planning Board for site plan review. This procedure assures boards like the Conservation Commission the ability to provide valuable input on wetland, drainage, and other potential impacts on the environment. Before this procedure was implemented, applicable boards and commissions often found out after the site plan approval was approved when it was too late to offer pertinent advice.
Another reason for running is to create better collaboration and cooperation between our boards, commissions, and departments. We have many experienced people in town, and we should better tap into their expertise. If possible, we should examine whether it is more cost-effective to complete work with our existing employees or look at the possibility of subcontracting this work.
I would like to open a dialogue with the surrounding communities to investigate whether or not sharing costs on services and/or equipment is beneficial to all parties. Sharing costs on items like a recycling truck or working with another community to contract picking up our recyclables might provide greater leverage in discussions with Bestway/Casella. Items like street sweepers, graders, excavators that are either purchased or leased for longer time periods between two or more communities may be cheaper than hiring outside contractors.
My experience has taught me to look for practical approaches to solve problems and to listen to both sides before making a decision. I ask for your vote on March 11.
Last Updated on Friday, 07 March 2014 10:29