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Welcome Message and Mission Statement

Welcome to the NEW Atkinson Reporter! Under new management, with new resolve.

The purpose of this Blog is to pick up where the Atkinson Reporter has left off. "The King is dead, Long live the King!" This Blog is a forum for the discussion of predominantly Atkinson; Officials, People, Ideas, and Events. You may give opinion, fact, or evaluation, but ad hominem personal attacks will not be tolerated, or published. The conversation begun on the Atkinson Reporter MUST be continued!

This Blog will not fall to outside hacks from anyone, especially insecure public officials afraid of their constituents criticism.

Friday, August 29, 2008

How the Hell did Atkinson do 1644 transports in 365 days?

Article submission please:

WOW! Elderly Affairs did 1644 transports in 2007! HOW?

And how did we do it on a TOTAL BUDGET INCLUDING GAS of only $19,000?

This blog's guess is somebody lied! Either we didn't do 1644 transports, or we spent a hell of a lot more than $19,000

As reported in the Town Report now available on the Town Website, chief is quoted as claiming the elderly affairs program did 1,644 transports in 2007! How is this possible? As usual when the chief L...... um...... embellishes(thats a PC word, this blog has no desire to be sued as other town residents have for pointing out the chiefs misstatements), the math doesn't add up. According to the chief in 2004 elderly affairs did 560 transports ALL YEAR! In 2005, he claimed 730 transports ALL YEAR!, In 2006 he just said he didnt have the figures, but that it was around 1,049 FOR THE YEAR! Does he just make these figures up as he goes along? Despite repeated requests from the budget committee over the years he has steadfastly refused to provide any verification of these numbers.


So here is the math;

Trip from PD to Parkland Med. ctr. in Derry ..12miles..24 minutes best time
Trip from PD to Exeter Hospital, Exeter ..19 miles..36 minutes best time
Trip from PD to Merrimack Valley Hosp. in Haverhill ..9 miles..18 minutes best time
Trip from PD to Lahey Clinic in Burlington, MA ..35 miles..47 minutes best time

Lets be as generous as possible to the chiefs numbers (elsewhere in the article he does mention the transport rate at 3-5/day)

Time from officer clocking in to get in his cruiser and negotiate his way out of the hazardously overpopulated PD parking lot and onto the road..........5 minutes

Lets say that he only has to drive to lower maple ave to pick up the elderly customer..... 5 minutes

Lets say that the customer is ready to go, waiting for the ride, and can walk out to the car unassisted, 10 minutes

And lets say that ALL the transports are to Parkland, the nearest hospital( because the chief cited in the article transports to area med. ctrs.)............................................. 24 minutes each way

And let's say that he says goodbye as he drops her off and waits for her to get inside(gentlemanly thing to do) 10 minutes

We now have an average man hours per transport of 78 minutes with no waiting, but he would have to wait to bring the customer home, right? or he would have to go back and get her.

Waiting for 1 hour for wait AND appointment.................................. total 2hrs. 18 minutes

Return to pick up 2 hrs. 36 minutes

So we now have an average man hour per transport of 2. 25 hours(we will round down to be fair)

Elderly manpower budget for 2007....................... $15, 300(based on 1275 hrs.@ $12.00/hr. average)

How is it possible to do 1644 transports, with only 1275 man hours?

And how about that Gas?

$1,350 will buy only 385 gallons of gas!

How is it possible to do 1644 transports, with only 385 gals. of gas?

Those cruisers only average 15-17 mpg. that means, at BEST, they could travel 6,115 miles in a year. So the average transport was only 3.7 miles? They went from the PD to middle school and back?

As usual the Chief embellishes, misleads, exagerates, however you want to call it, it is misinforming the people to polish his own apple, and it is wrong!

Oh, in case anyone missed it, there was an article in the Eagle Tribune last year about the elderly affairs program that closed with the chief saying that the reason this program worked so well is that Atkinson "has little crime, so we can use the dispatch center" Proving once again that Janine Sawyer- Standley, Jane Cole, Mark Acciard, Brian Boyle, MariAnne Princiotta, and many others on the budget committee over the years WERE RIGHT! Police money is used to cover the costs of elderly affairs, there is duplication of costs, and yes, virginia, there is LITTLE CRIME IN ATKINSON!

Oh and on another note, you present a budget to the voters and they approve it, that is what you get to spend, if you need more, you have to ask the selectmen, in public, and they have to vote to move money into your budget, in public.

The selectmen have NEVER VOTED to transfer money form police to elderly! There is no accountability, and no one asking these questions!

Can you say misappropriation of funds?

TRHS welcomes 20 New Teachers!

From the Eagle Tribune

New teachers flocking to Granite State
By Meghan Carey

PLAISTOW, N.H. — Lisa Spaneous is familiar with life at Timberlane Regional High School.

Four years ago, she sat at the desks, answered the questions and took the tests. But her return to Timberlane this year is a bit different - she's the one at the front of the room, asking the questions and giving the grades.

Spaneous replaced her favorite teacher in the family and consumer science department, and is working alongside many of her former instructors during her first year out of college.

"I actually like being able to talk to the teachers as a colleague, not as a student," she said, laughing.

But that doesn't mean she isn't nervous. Spaneous said she had her entire family helping her this week to decorate her classroom and set up furniture in a way she thought would best engage students in her lessons.

Spaneous isn't the only new teacher in the area. More than 250 teachers were hired by Southern New Hampshire school districts to replace the record number of educators who retired in June because the state threatened to freeze health care coverage for retirees. The freeze was delayed a year, but it still prompted a cycle of new teachers.

That's especially true at Timberlane, where 20 of the district's 42 new teachers are at the high school. The new crew, paired with 15 teachers hired last year, make for a young staff. The school has just over 100 teachers.

"Change is good," Assistant Principal Sean Kiley said. "I know they're overwhelmed. We keep giving them books and handouts and mandates, but they just want to get going."

The Timberlane administration is using a couple of techniques to help train and retain its new staff.

The new teachers were paired with more seasoned faculty members at a summer mentoring program to help with the transition, Kiley said. They will stay in touch with their mentors for three years.

New teachers are also invited to "solutions committee" meetings each month at which they can address classroom concerns and receive helpful hints for solving whatever issues arise, Kiley said.

Not all of the new teachers are inexperienced.

Although new hire Alian Purba taught math for seven years in Nashua, he said he, too, still has some jitters on the first day of school. Purbu started cleaning his classroom early yesterday and said he would be at the school until 9 p.m., preparing and meeting freshmen during orientation.

"You're never a veteran when it comes to teaching," he said.

The key to transitioning new staff is hiring a mixture of experienced and inexperienced teachers, according to Londonderry human resources director Suzie Swenson. She recruited some of her new hires at college fairs, but also hired six teachers with more than 10 years of experience.

"That's what you need," Swenson said. "You've got to still maintain the balance."

Other school officials prefer new teachers.

Superintendent Frank Bass was enthused with Pelham and Windham's first-year teachers after seeing them in action on the first day of school this week.

"I'm very excited with our new teacher core," he said. "They come in so bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and it seems to spill over to the kids."

Thursday, August 28, 2008

New charitable organization to provide Transparency? and Accountability?

Yeah! Right!

So we are all familiar with the AG's office letter to Phil and the Town, claiming that the operation of the donation acct. has been illegal. We also know that the AGO made two recommended courses of action to clean it up.

1.) Turn the operation of te acct. over to the trustees of the trust funds. That would be the honorable course of action for someone like our chief, who is always whining about his good name, but can he stand to give up control of the acct.? The trustee of the trust funds, Dale Childs, takes her responsibilities very seriously in this realm, and is unlikely to put up with any of Phil's shenanigans. But the answer is no, he did not take the open, accountable course of action.

Course 2, was to establish a non-profit, charitable organization similar to the fireman's assoc. to take control of the funds.

This is the course of action Phil chose, but true to form for him, he found a way to do this, with even less openness and less accountability than the prior situation that the AGO complained about! Only in Atkinson! And only Phil!

He has set up a non profit corporation, registered with the Secretary of States office, and the Charitable Trust division of the AGO. He obtained the EIN from the IRS. By the way, all of this takes about 30 minutes to accomplish. He has not yet filed with the IRS for charitable Organization status, But wants the town to give him the $17,000 left in the donation acct.

You gotta love this guy, he makes Bill Clinton look forthright.

You can view the documents here;

There is only one little problem with phil's diabolical plan.....

THE LAW!, but, in our observation, he rarely lets that get in his way, The law prohibits the town from donating money except to a local charity from which the town gets something in return.

This little scheme isn't a charity yet, not until the IRS says so.

And the town isn't getting $17,000 worht of anything for that money.

And we forgot to mention the best part;


The REST of the board of directors is made up of his FOUR ELDERLY DRIVERS!!

Talk about a conflict of interest!, Yeah, we know, He has proven he doesn't understand the meaning of that word, but the IRS does!

I wonder if they will approve charitable org. status for an org. where the entire board of directors works and is paid by the president?

We'll see....

Timberlane Welcomes, and Atkinson PD to honor fallen officers

From the Eagle Tribune;

Timberlane welcomes freshmen, parents

PLAISTOW, N.H. SEmD Timberlane Regional High School freshmen and their parents are encouraged to attend an orientation today from 6 to 9 p.m.

Staff members will be on hand to answer questions and address concerns. Students will receive and follow their schedules to see classrooms and meet teachers.

They will be given a student planner, high school folder and other information.

Atkinson police honor two of their own

ATKINSON, N.H. SEmD Two parts of the Atkinson police station will be dedicated to the two officers who died earlier this year.

The squad room will be named for Sgt. Diane Kinney, who served the department for 35 years. The new driveway off Academy Avenue will be named Cpl. John Lapham Way, for the DARE officer who died from leukemia in June.

Dedication ceremonies will be planned for the fall.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Timberlane should be reaccredited soon!

From the Eagle Tribune;
takes recommendations to heart and moves forward
By Meghan Carey
Staff writer

PLAISTOW — Timberlane Regional High School should be reaccredited in the next couple of months, according to Principal Don Woodworth.

The results of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges' spring visit to the school are in, and Woodworth said the report's recommendations are on track with what the district and state have for future expectations. The NEASC team spent four days at Timberlane to see if the school is matching up with its mission statement and to identify what areas need improvement.

The report outlined 45 recommendations to be implemented over the next 10 years, as well as 30 areas where the school has shown improvement since its last accreditation. High on NEASC's list are ensuring all students are challenged, using the same evaluation process across the curriculum and personalizing lessons to better engage students.

The biggest element is to make sure students of all levels have the same opportunities, Woodworth said. Some students are separated at Timberlane, including the special needs program, which is based in portable classrooms behind the school.

The portable classroom had the proper facilities for special needs students before, but now those students need to be brought back into the school, he said.

"(NEASC is) going to push to see we aren't creating a lesser product or expectations for the average student," Woodworth said. "That's a criticism that I'm glad to be reading. That's where we want to go, too."

Some of the other recommendations are already in progress, such as the use of "rubrics" for evaluating schoolwork.

Timberlane developed the evaluation system and took three years to train teachers to use it for writing assignments, Woodworth said. Now, similar evaluations must be written and used schoolwide.

Teachers often get caught up in the day's lessons and individual students, he said. The standardized evaluations will help each staff member see how everything has to connect to the school's overall mission.

"We've developed rubrics, but we're still not comfortable with them," he said. "We have to measure and then use the result for continuous improvement."

This year's focus will be on instruction, making sure Timberlane's young teachers engage students and personalize lessons, Woodworth said. The school has 20 new teachers starting this fall, he said.

The NEASC report calls for fewer "paper and pen" assessments and more portfolio-style projects.

A steering committee will meet once school starts to determine the priorities of each recommendation, as well as how and who will make sure it's carried out, Woodworth said.

To measure whether Timberlane is addressing the association's recommendations, he said, administrators will prepare two- and five-year reports to send to NEASC.

"There is a push for us to make progress on all of these things," Woodworth said. "Some things are already done."

That includes making the school's mission a part of the community. Posters are hung in every classroom and hallway encouraging Owl pride and outlining the mission for all students and staff to read, Woodworth said.

The Owl is Timberlane's school mascot.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Atkinson donation accounts controversy reaches boiling point

From the Eagle Tribune;

Atkinson donation accounts controversy reaches boiling point

By Meghan Carey

ATKINSON — The battle over police Chief Philip Consentino's handling of the town's elderly affairs program and donation accounts continued before selectmen last night, with the chairman threatening to suspend him for talking out of order.

"I'll find you in violation," Chairman Paul Sullivan told the chief, refusing to let him participate in the board's discussion. "I'll censure you. I'll put you on 30 days (notice)."

It was selectmen's first regular meeting since receiving an Aug. 5 letter from the state attorney general's office. That letter, the result of a three-month inquiry prompted by residents' complaints, asked selectmen to re-examine the program along with its director position and donation accounts.

The three accounts — the Atkinson Police Department's Donation/Equipment Fund, the DARE Fund and the Special Senior Fund — would have to be set up as a nonprofit or handled by the Trustees of the Trust Fund. Although there was little discussion last night about any action the board would take, that didn't stop the meeting from becoming heated.

At one point, Sullivan even asked Consentino to leave the room because he was talking to someone in the audience.

"If you want me to resign from elderly affairs, why don't you come out and say it," Consentino said.

During the meeting, Sullivan read excerpts of the letter from the state's Charitable Trust Unit, including a portion asking the board to re-examine the director of elderly affairs position held by Consentino and to establish a clear separation between that post and the job of police chief.

"I think this is truly a gray area," Sullivan said. "I think we need a separate department."

He recommended having the elderly affairs program operate in a different location than the police station. Sullivan also said the program does good work for the town, but questioned the accuracy of its budget.

The other selectmen weren't as quick to say what changes needed to be made to the program, just that the legal deficiencies need to be addressed.

Selectman Fred Childs said the director's position would be hard to fill if it were taken away from the chief, who performs his elderly affairs duties for free.

"If he doesn't do it, I don't know who will do it for the money," Childs said. Later in the meeting, Consentino asked selectmen to open a public hearing so that he could withdraw $33.63 from the DARE account and $30.14 from the senior account, bringing both balances to zero.

The third account he set up as a nonprofit with the state last week. Sullivan would not open the hearing.

Consentino said he had done his part. "The money's in there," he said. "You can do what you want. As far as I'm concerned, they're closed." The town recently received a second letter, but selectmen said they hadn't gotten a chance to read it and were not prepared to discuss the issue further.

Bill Anderson, who helps run the elderly affairs program, asked to discuss the second letter with them at the end of the meeting. He said it would make the board's decision easier, but was asked to wait.

Selectmen decided to schedule a workshop to discuss the elderly affairs program, but they did not schedule that meeting. They plan to pick a day at their next meeting, which isn't scheduled for another two weeks.

Selectmen spent two hours in nonpublic session prior to the regular meeting. Sullivan said the session was to discuss hiring personnel and that the board was talking to potential town administrators.

Atkinson has been without a town administrator since February and without an interim administrator since mid-July. No decision was made last night on hiring anyone, Sullivan said.

How old is the Chief?

Last nights selectmen's meeting was another eye-opener.

The meeting began, late, with a discussion of separating, TOTALLY, Elderly Affairs Dept. from the Police Dept.! Isn't this what Jane Cole began on the budget committee 6 years ago? The budget committee succeeded in partially separating the budgets, but nothing more, and since both Jane and Mark Acciard have left the budget committee, there have been no serious questions about the overlap between these two depts.

For example, as has been asked here, How do you provide 1600 rides for only $19,000.00?

The simple answer is that you cant! so where does the rest of the money come from?

But the budget committee stopped asking question two years ago. You would think with the recent AGO letter, they would be looking to clean up our own house, but they have been silent.

Selectman Sullivan did a bang up job last night, while the chief sat there and growled like a petulant child. At numerous points selectman Sullivan rapped his gavel and demanded that chief stop interrupting the meeting, when he refused to stop being childish and rude, selectman Sullivan told him one more outburst and I will ask you to leave.

But the antics continued towards the end of the meeting the chief had the stones to ask the board to transfer the $19,000 in the existing donation acct. to the organization he set up, with him as the executive director, and all the other directors are people who work for him, proving that even after all these controversies, Court Orders, citizen complaints, our police chief STILL does not understand the meaning of the phrase "conflict of interest"!

When he asked for this money, obviously not caring that money can not be spent out of this acct. except in a public hearing, and selectman Sullivan said not tonight, Phil reacted in true three year old fashion; "the money is yours"I dont want it then)

This sounded remarkably like a three years old screaming that if he cant have his way he will pick up his marbles and go home.

This blog's response, chief, is have a nice retirement.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Atkinson police chief weathers another storm

From the Eagle Tribune

Atkinson police chief weathers another storm
By Jo-Anne MacKenzie

ATKINSON, N.H. — Police Chief Philip Consentino may be a little bruised, but he has survived the latest in a round of attacks, this one focused on his handling of various police donation accounts.

A 40-year veteran of the Atkinson Police Department, a former three-term selectman and the director of elderly affairs for the town, Consentino has long drawn criticism for a perceived free-wheeling approach to governance and has been accused of using his authority to stifle detractors.

But he has his supporters, too, chief among them senior citizens who have benefited from his single-minded goal of taking care of older residents who are struggling with finances or health care issues.

In his role as elderly affairs director, Consentino has seen to it that someone who needs a wheelchair ramp gets one. Seniors who need a ride to a doctor's appointment in Boston only need call Consentino and they will get there. An older resident intimidated or embarrassed by the thought of applying for welfare can call the chief and get the money necessary to keep the lights on or the furnace running.

And Consentino says he provides that help willingly — and legally.

Detractors claim Consentino has had too much control over too many accounts for too long. Some residents filed complaints with the Charitable Trusts Unit of the attorney general's office. That office conducted a three-month "inquiry" into the questions raised and summarized its findings in a letter Aug. 5 to selectmen and Consentino.

The letter outlined three primary "challenges" the state found with regard to Consentino's dual role as police chief and elderly affairs director and the oversight of police donation accounts: "governance, transparency and accountability."

While acknowledging the benefits older residents have reaped over the 14 years the town has had a director of elderly affairs, the state said, "It is our opinion the current method of administering these funds is not in compliance with New Hampshire law and must therefore be brought into compliance."

Those findings sparked a fire storm of criticism against Consentino on an Atkinson blog and in the comment section on The Eagle-Tribune's Web site. Many of those who posted comments called for Consentino's removal and applauded those critics who question his tactics and demeanor.

But those critics are, and have been, mostly anonymous. In fact, the anonymity of those residents who registered complaints with the attorney general's office is protected under the state's Whistleblowers' Protection Act.

While Consentino has said the whole brouhaha is the work of one individual, the state, in its letter, spoke of "numerous inquiries from individuals and the press."

Terry Knowles of the Charitable Trusts Unit addressed five accounts: the Atkinson Police Department Equipment Fund, the Senior Donation Fund, the Life Is Not Done Group, the DARE Fund and the Police Fund.

But Consentino countered there were just three accounts: the Atkinson Police Department's Donation/Equipment Fund, the DARE Fund and the Special Senior Fund.

He said in a letter of response to the state and in an interview last week that the DARE Fund had a balance of $33, the Special Senior Fund just $30 and the donation/equipment fund $19,700. He said Life Is Not Done is an individual benefactor who calls him and asks where there's an unmet need and fills it. The Police Fund does not exist, according to Consentino.

He said Knowles agreed Life Is Not Done is not subject to state law. Several requests to Knowles for verification of that were not answered.

Tomorrow night, Consentino said, he will appear before selectmen and ask them to authorize closing the DARE Fund and the Senior Fund. He also will ask them to authorize transferring the $19,700 in the donation/equipment fund to a new nonprofit organization formed last week, the Atkinson Police Charitable Fund.

Knowles acknowledged Thursday that Consentino and others traveled to her office in Concord on Wednesday and registered that new group there and with the secretary of state's office as a nonprofit charitable organization.

That was one of two solutions Knowles suggested: Put control of the funds under the Trustees of the Trust Funds or form a nonprofit organization. Consentino opted for the latter.

"That resolved all questions regarding these accounts," Consentino said Thursday. "We have complied with everything she has requested."

There's a heavy police presence on the new group's board of directors: Consentino and police Officers William Anderson, Roger Culliford, Richard Magoon and Robert Neill.

The bulk of the money is raised through an annual solicitation letter, previously written on police letterhead. Consentino said that letter will now be sent out by the new nonprofit group. He estimated annual donations total between $9,000 and $14,000, expenditures between $6,000 and $7,000.

The expenditures go for a variety of things, ranging from an estimated 1,300 birthday cards to specialized wheelchairs, walkers and flower arrangements for funerals. Consentino said elderly affairs budgets about $24,000 a year for senior transport. But, he is quick to point out, repairs to cruisers, GPS units and the like are paid for through the donation account.

Since being appointed elderly affairs director some 14 years ago, Consentino said, he has never been paid a penny for his work. He estimated he donates 15 to 20 hours a week to that program.

He is a part-time chief, limited to 25 hours a week in that role. He said he is the lowest-paid member of the Police Department, with an annual salary of approximately $21,000. He said he refused a raise this year and has turned down longevity pay as well.

"There is nobody more aboveboard than I am," he said.

Consentino is a big man, and he casts a big shadow over this bedroom community of some 6,600 residents. And there are those residents who believe that shadow is too large, his control too great.

The state, too, expressed concern over Consentino's dual roles as police chief and elderly affairs director. In her letter Knowles wrote, "It is difficult to ascertain where the office of police chief begins and the officer of director of elderly affairs ends and vice versa."

She recommended selectmen study the elderly affairs position and, if they choose to retain it, draft guidelines for appointment to the job and its responsibilities, and make clear the separation between that job and that of police chief.

Several inquiries to Knowles, asking whether she would be comfortable with Consentino remaining in both positions, were not answered.

However, Consentino said Thursday that once Knowles learned he was not paid as director of elderly affairs, she had no problem with his dual roles.

"As long as there are separate budgets, she seems perfectly happy with that," he said. "All agencies seem to be happy."

The question remains whether Consentino's critics will be happy with the resolution to the latest dispute.

"It's terrible people think we're hiding money all over the place with all these special accounts. Hopefully, we can put it behind us and move forward," he said. "It's a shame it had to come to this, but that's life."

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Anonymous said...

Article Submission:


I want the facts on how Atkinson paid for 1600 rides for seniors on the Elderly Affairs budget of about $19,000 - see Atkinson annual report for 2007. That is not much money to run a commercial taxi service using fuel inefficient police cars.

I believe a full audit is needed given the recent findings by the NH Attorney General's office about the illegal handling of funds by our town officials. As a taxpayer I want someone to check and verify that our tax dollars are being used appropriately and have a thorough audit of the police budget. We'll get to the others, next.

Here is my opinion: I do not believe the numbers add up based on what is commonly known: Cars are expensive to buy, insure, fuel, and maintain. Add in the cost of paying drivers to give people rides. 1600 Rides for $19,000? Really? Show me the money.

A driver, getting minimum wage, and assuming each "ride" is really 2 trips, pickup and return, say about an hour each. That is about $7 per hour for labor times 3200 (1600 trips at an hour each way) = that comes out to $22,400 and we haven't discussed the costs of the vehicle and gas.

I realize this implies that tax dollars in the PD budget are not being used for what they were budgeted. It also implies the town/selectmen/taxpayers would have to approve any changes in spending.

Or maybe the PD donation accounts provide substantial cash infusions to pay for costs? Well then there should be a full accounting trail on all of it, right?

I also am troubled by these donation requests from a man with a gun and a badge. As someone else said, for a police officer to make soliciations to vulnerable citizens that have become dependent on the PD, that can be considered extortion. Our Police Dept should not be allowed to make financial solicitations to people that rely on PD services, rides, free fuel assistance or whatever. No, I don't believe this is right. And shame on me/us for not having done more to protect our neighbors and friends from these predatory practices.

If people need assistance, there are numerous state and local support services that should be explored FIRST. Friends, neighbors or relatives, perhaps? But no, we should not call our Police Dept at the first sign of need. They should be doing Police work, first and foremost.

Have you seen the ads in the Eagle Tribune? "Call the Atkinson PD.....for a ride to visit friends." Sorry, but this is not what I signed up for. Do you see any other towns doing this?

I want to know how those 1600 rides were paid for. I want to know every vehicle cost including gasoline, repairs, insurance, labor, etc. How much have we SPENT on all this? I want to know the exact amount.

The AG already found the donation accounts that Consentino controls has not been handled legally for the past 14 years. So if one were to look further, and think about what it costs to run your vehicle and pay for gas, repairs, insurance, registration, etc, and we are talking about low mileage vehicles, here, and they are taking a lot of trips that are outside of town, not just down the street.

As a taxpayer it is my right to get these questions answered.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Results are in! You Voted, Will the BOS Listen?

One month ago, when this blog stated we put up a poll concerning one of the pressing issues of that time.

Just to refresh the memory, In the May 12, 2008 selectmen's meeting the Chief revealed that he has been approving Lt. Baldwins time sheets requesting sick days so he could go on his National Guard Summer camp each year for six years, despite the fact that the Town has a written policy forbidding the use of sick days if you are not sick.

Much debate ensued, on town blogs, and around town, and we posted the poll at right, so the people could voice their opinions, and you did.

Ironically we got the same number of votes(315 ) as the Chief got in his last bid for selectman! Omen? Maybe.

An overwhelming 80% of you feel that the Chief should be fired over this.

10% felt he should be suspended

and a paltry 6% felt that nothing should be done.

For the Lt.;

39% felt he should be fired for filing false time sheets

16% felt he should be suspended

and 5% felt nothing should be done.

The issue here is not one of supporting our troops as the chief likes to say, but of an employee, two employees following town law and town policy. Chief might be able to make that argument if it were someone going to war, but it is summer camp, nothing more. He is going to earn a paycheck form another employer, while we are paying him for the same time.

It is wrong. but then again, the selectmen are refusing to enforce town policy, once again. Why is it they are always quick to enforce, or even make up new town policy when it comes to the road agent, but the police chief, and Lt. can do whatever they want?

New AD takes over, but former stays on as consultant

From the Eagle-Tribune;

New AD takes over, but former stays on as consultant
By Meghan Carey

PLAISTOW, N.H. — Fall sports programs at Timberlane Regional High School began this week under the leadership of new athletic director Angelo Fantasia. But his predecessor, Dennis "Bucky" Tardif, was right there, too.

Tardif, a Haverhill, Mass., resident, retired on June 30 from the athletic director position after 23 years on the job. On July 1, he began working as a district administrative consultant at the rate of $30 an hour.

Last month, school officials said they could not remember when the decision was made to hire Tardif as a consultant. Superintendent Richard La Salle also said Tardif was a "short-term" consultant without a contract, but couldn't define short term. The decision to hire him in that capacity isn't reflected in any of the School Board minutes.

Tardif said in a phone interview this week he is working for the school district for a year. He's limited to 20 hours per week and 800 hours for the year. He said he is already working extra hours but not billing the district for it.

"I'll probably put 1,500 hours in," Tardif said. "Already this summer, I don't know how many hours I've put in. I just bill the district for 20 (a week)."

Tardif has spent his time serving on committees, helping Fantasia and overseeing the facilities, he said.

The district's decision to have Tardif stay on had little to do with his replacement, he said.

"To help with the transition, that was least on the totem pole," Tardif said. "We got a very good man in Angelo."

Fantasia, of Salem, came from the Nashua School District where he said he oversaw two sets of varsity teams and three middle-school athletic programs. Timberlane has just one set of high and middle school teams, he said.

Fantasia already has implemented some of his techniques from Nashua at Timberlane.

He held a barbecue for coaches earlier this summer and went over their coaches' packets with them while they ate, he said. Fantasia plans to take a similar approach with the parents and student-athletes at an "awareness" night Tuesday. At that session, the school's athletic policies, rules and expectations will be reviewed, he said. Afterward, each team will meet with its coaches to discuss the individual team's rules and expectations.

"That's something that I'm used to doing," Fantasia said. "It sends the right message to start out that way."

Even though Fantasia is running things his way, he said he has appreciated the guidance he's gotten at Timberlane this summer.

"I've been around long enough to know to take help whenever I can and use the resources available to me," Fantasia said.

Six months ago, Tardif said, he sat down with administrators to develop a job description for his replacement. The athletic director's position grew over the years Tardif was at Timberlane. He said he ended up doing many tasks that are uncommon for an athletic director.

Tops on that list was overseeing facility rentals, he said. He also served on most district committees because he was the administrator with the highest seniority, he said.

"Finally, Richard (La Salle) said, 'How about sticking around for a bit?'" Tardif said. "There was no, 'Oh, let's give Bucky Tardif a soft, cushy job.'"

La Salle could not be reached for comment.

Tardif said he only retired because of the statewide retirement panic and planned to get a part-time job anyway. He said he has turned down other opportunities that would have paid better to stay at Timberlane.

"I've literally hired every coach, served on every committee, my son and daughter went there," he said. "It's become a very, very important part of my life. I want to finish jobs that I don't think have been finished yet."

La Salle went to the School Board with a job description for the consultant's position in late May or early June, Tardif said, and board members concurred he could stay.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Our view: Atkinson funds need proper management

From the Eagle-Tribune;

Our view: Atkinson funds need proper management

For years, Atkinson, N.H., police Chief Philip Consentino has argued there was nothing wrong with the way he collected and spent donations of money for the Police Department and assistance to the elderly.

Now, the New Hampshire attorney general disagrees.

The attorney general's office said in a letter to town officials that five donation accounts under Consentino's control are being managed illegally. The office's charitable trust unit wrote that the violations were likely due to ignorance of the law and said that the management of the accounts must be brought into compliance with the law.

Consentino has been a focal point for public criticism due to his multiple roles in town affairs and his handling of the accounts. In addition to police chief, Consentino serves as director of elderly affairs. He once also served as a selectman and was reprimanded by a Superior Court judge for presiding over meetings in which police or elderly affairs matters were discussed.

But Consentino is also popular, particularly among the senior citizens he serves as elderly affairs director.

Consentino conducts a donation drive each year, sending out solicitations on police letterhead, wrote Terry Knowles, assistant director of the charitable trust unit. The money collected is distributed among five funds — the senior donation fund, "Life is Not Done Group," Police Department equipment, DARE and police funds.

The money is spent at the chief's discretion, with the approval of the selectmen. Consentino will make withdrawals from the fund for anything from flowers to fuel assistance for a senior.

There are several problems with this, according to Knowles. First, the chief has sole discretion in selecting who gets money. Knowles recommended that the jobs of police chief and elderly affairs director be separate and distinct and that a system be established for determining who receives money.

Also, Knowles wrote that the accounts need to be placed under the control of the Trustees of the Trust Fund, who would then control who may make authorized disbursements. The trustees would also issue annual, public reports on account balances and activity.

Consentino's methods may have worked well when Atkinson was a sleepy farming town. But it is now an increasingly prosperous residential community, among the fastest-growing in the state. Atkinson officials must act on this report and bring their charitable fund management into the 21st century.

Tired of the political use of Elderly Affairs.

Anonymous said...
Article for Submission:

I am tired of the political use of Elderly Affairs.

Yes, I understand a lot of people have been helped. That is a good thing. However, the help is provided in a narcissistic manner and laws are not being followed as stated by the NH Attorney General.

Step one: Get obligated to the PD and get dependent on the seniors' services.
Step two: vote for Phil's candidates and/or give the PD donations or you get cut off from those services because you are no longer of use to him.

Think about how many calls for votes you have received from the Atkinson PD. I've never received even ONE. Why is that? Because I am not on the list. I don't use elderly affairs services.

A person with a gun and a badge directly seeking donations from people dependent on him/her is, in my opinion, extortion.

I've spoken to a number of people in this town on the blacklist. (they say)He refuses to provide them services because they see the manipulation of people that is designed to serve political interests, under the guise of helping vulnerable citizens. And if you speak against Consentino or even question his budget in the least, then you must be anti-American, anti-Elderly or you have a vendetta and you are the enemy. This mode of operation is getting so tired.

What other town on this planet has a police department, of all departments, offering and providing all of these services to a specific demographic group? What other police dept advertises in the local newspaper for seniors to call the Atkinson Police Dept. for a ride to visit your friends? Not Plaistow or Sandown or Danville - in fact, please find me one other town that does this. This is my tax dollars being LEGALLY used? I don't think so.

In my view, these are political machinations and are a complete abuse of tax dollars that are budgeted for the PD but spent to give people rides for votes. How does this town pay for 1600 rides on an $19,000 budget? (see 2007 annual report) Someone, please explan this to me. I challenge any citizen in this town to show how our tax dollars are being used appropriately by our PD and Dept of Elderly Affairs. Dollar by dollar, ain't no way you can provide this level of services - even with all the donations. The cost of fuel alone would burn your budget especially with a fleet of low mileage cars they use. And I haven't mentioned labor, vehicle maintenance, insurance, etc.

So my tax dollars are used to fund political activities so that Consentino stays in power. And THAT is the only reason he is still in his role. People become obligated and are used for votes. And if you refuse to consider the reality, then you will never consider the facts of laws being broken consistently as indicated by the Attorney General (finally) and all the complaints and lawsuits filed over the years.

Unless, over the years, apparently dozens of people have been wrong and Consentino stands alone, innocent while everyone had a vendetta against him? The police union and officers were wrong, too?

For a person who's job is to "be the law", and to violate laws regarding donation funded charity accounts, is a direct violation of their job and responsibility to all citizens and taxpayers as far as I'm concerned. To say "the selectment have allowed this to occur for 14 years" does not make it legal or justify it in any way. As a former selectman and as police chief, he is supposed to KNOW the law, ya think? Maybe this one slipped through cracks? How many more excuses are you going to come up with?

See the documents yourself at:

Read and educate yourself. If after you've read all the Facts and documents on that website you still defend Consentino, even in the face of the NH Attorney General's recent exposure of Atkinson PD wrongdoing, then I can't help you. But if you don't do the right thing to fix this problem, you are complicit with his scheme and good luck ever convincing me to support Elderly Affairs in the future. The $19K budget has nothing to do with it because that is a drop in the bucket and our town spends a lot more on less important priorities. I am against it because it is misused for political reasons and vulnerable citizens are being taken advantage of.

If you feel afraid of losing services by saying anything against the staus quo, then what I am saying must be true, right?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Politics get personal Town critic's car vandalized

From the Eagle Tribune

Anonymous said...

Article submission:

Politics get personal Town critic's car vandalized over the weekend

By Meghan Carey

ATKINSON, N.H. — An outspoken critic of selectmen and the Police Department reached a breaking point over the weekend when his car was vandalized.

"My focus now is just fixing up my house and getting out of town," Mark Acciard said yesterday.

Acciard said he awoke Sunday morning to find every panel of his 2006 Chrysler 300 keyed with messages about his $3 million civil lawsuit against the town and three officials, as well as references to his continuing feud with police Chief Philip Consentino. The vandalism took place during the night.

"No $" and "3m no way" are scratched into the trunk, Acciard said. "Leave the chief alone" runs down the roof and onto the hood of the car, he said. "Move" is keyed into the hood and the driver's door, he said.

The key marks are scratched deeper than the paint, leaving messages in white on the black sedan, he said.

Acciard, a former Budget Committee member, has long tangled with Consentino, trading accusations and lawsuits as far back as 2004.

In January, Acciard filed a $3 million lawsuit against the town, Consentino, Moderator Frank Polito and former Selectman Jack Sapia for incidents he said occurred at selectmen's meetings over a three-year period. Acciard claims he was defamed during some of those meetings. A trial has been scheduled for June.

The town often is divided between Consentino supporters and detractors, with Acciard among the more vocal opponents of the longtime chief. The two often have clashed publicly. Acciard has made numerous conflict-of-interest complaints against both selectmen and the police chief.

But the vandalism to Acciard's car is the first physical evidence that points to the high degree of animosity between the two factions in town.

Consentino appeared to be surprised to hear references to him were scratched into Acciard's car.

"I haven't heard any of that," Consentino said yesterday. "The officer out there said he could see 'no way' and 'no money.' I haven't seen the car."

Officer Vincent Scarvaglieri responded to Acciard's home at 6 Christine Drive on Sunday morning and took photos of the car, Consentino said. Because of glare from the sun, the pictures didn't come out clearly, he said.

Consentino did say Scarvaglieri wrote in his report that every panel of the car, including the roof, was damaged. But Scarvaglieri wrote that the language wasn't clear and he could only make out two phrases, "no way" and "no money," Consentino said.

Acciard said he does not believe Consentino was involved in the damage to his car, but he would like New Hampshire State Police to handle the investigation because references to the chief were part of the vandalism. Acciard said he told Scarvaglieri he wanted state police called in.

But Consentino said yesterday his department will handle the case.

"If he wants to go to state police and have them come down, it's his prerogative," Consentino said.

Acciard said he asked selectmen last week for some extra police patrols in his neighborhood because his house was getting egged every couple of months, including recently.

Consentino said officers already check Acciard's house once or twice a shift for vandalism because of the complaint. The extra patrols started just over a week ago, he said, and during that time there has been lots of egging on Christine Drive, Walker Road and Meditation Lane.

Consentino said his department has put in extra effort and Acciard was getting more attention than others in town. But he did agree the vandalism to Acciard's car was much worse than the egging.

"I'd say that someone has a personal vendetta against him," Consentino said. "He probably has a couple ideas of who it could be, but I can tell you it's not any of those people."

As of yesterday, Acciard hadn't called state police. He had made several phone calls to his insurance company to see if it would pay for the damage.
August 19, 2008 8:25 AM

Monday, August 18, 2008

Latest denial by the Chief to the AGO

Anonymous said...
Article Submission:
Latest denial by the Chief to the AGO

Terry M. Knowles August 6, 2008
Assistant Director-Charitable Funds
Dept. of Attorney General
33 Capital Street
Concord, N.H. 03301

Dear Terry Knowles:

I have received your letter dated August 5, 2008. There are several issues that need to be clarified and I hope I can provide you with the needed information to clarify those issues.

At the present time there are only three (3) accounts that I am involved in, they are the Police Departments Donation/Equipment Fund, the Special Senior Fund and the D.A.R.E. Fund. The Special Senior fund has a total of $30.14 in this account and the D.A.R.E. account has a balance of $33.69. Both of these accounts will be closed out by Tuesday August 12, 2008. The other two (2) accounts that you made mention to do nor exist. The Police Fund and the Life is Not Done Group do not exist.

The Life Is Not Done Group is an organization in town that has donated funds to our Donation/Equipment Fund from time to time and those funds have been deposited into our Donation/Equipment Fund that the town’s bookkeeper has control of. I am not associated or belong to that organization, again the Police Fund you mentioned is unknown to me.

In our conversations you presented me with several ways to properly handle the funds that the residents of Atkinson have so generously provide us with over the past years. One is the one you mention in your recent letter and the other is to put in place an association similar to the ones the Fire Department and the Friends of the Library have. We have opted to go with the formation of an association.

We are in the process of completing the association’s by-laws. When we have completed this task we will be taking advantage of your offer to come to your location so you can review our by-laws and our articles of agreement. Hopefully we will have those documents put together by Monday August 18, 2008. Once we have completed that task I will call your office to set up an appointment to go over our application.

I wish to thank you for your continued support in providing us with the needed information and assistance in helping up set up our new association.


Philip V. Consentino
Police Chief Proudly celebrating my 40th year of service
Director of Elderly Affairs

Cc: Atkinson Board of Selectmen
: Files

Charitable Trust

Water company seeks $1.1 million to connect systems

Anonymous said...
Article submission:

Water company seeks $1.1 million to connect systems

By Meghan Carey

ATKINSON, N.H. — The Hampstead Area Water Co. plans to connect its major systems and will increase its rates in order to do so.

The water company applied for a $1.1 million loan in June to connect Atkinson's water system with the company's Hampstead system, according to general manager Harold Morse. If the loan is awarded, 15,000 feet of pipe would be laid between the two towns along Route 121 next summer, he said.

The low-rate interest loan, 3.49 percent, would come from the State Revolving Loan Fund for drinking water, which is governed by the state Department of Environmental Services. It's the water company's second active application with that department.

The other is a large groundwater withdrawal application to take an additional 100,800 gallons a day from Atkinson. That application led residents to enact a water withdrawal ordinance in September 2007. A second Special Town Meeting, scheduled for Sept. 9, has issues related to water withdrawal on the ballot.

The deliberative session for next month's Special Town Meeting was held the day before the water company notified residents of the loan application.

The water company just drilled five new wells to accommodate the proposed groundwater withdrawal increase. Residents at a public hearing with DES in May expressed concern their own wells could go dry over the 15 years the water company proposes increasing its pumping.

State officials told those people they would have to work out a solution with the company, whether it be for Hampstead Area Water Co. to pay to drill homeowners new wells or to install hookups to the community water system. In that case, residents would have to start paying for water.

Morse said yesterday the interconnection of the two major systems has nothing to do with the application for large groundwater withdrawal. The interconnection is a safety feature for the company's current customers, he said.

The company will take out the 20-year loan to pay for 75 percent of the project, and a state grant will pay for the other 25 percent, Morse said.

"There's a grant out there encouraging these connections," he said. "We couldn't afford to do it on our own, so the state will pay 25 percent. That's how important they think it is."

Morse said all customers will see a 3.48 percent raise — 32 cents per 100 cubic feet — in their bills after the work is completed. Based on annual consumption rates, that's an average increase of $7.04 a quarter, he said.

The loan application must be considered by Gov. John Lynch before the money can be awarded, DES spokesman Jim Martin said.

The state Public Utilities Commission also has to approve the funding, according to Mark Naylor, director of the Gas and Water Division. A prehearing conference has been scheduled for 11 a.m. Sept. 3 in Concord. The public is allowed to attend.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Police Department donation accounts are being run illegally, according to the AGO!

From the Eagle-Tribune, Thank you Meaghan.

State takes Atkinson to task for donation accounts, chief's dual roles
By Meghan Carey
Staff writer

ATKINSON — The Police Department and elderly affairs donation accounts are being run illegally, according to the state attorney general's charitable trust unit.

The attorney general's office sent a letter to police Chief Philip Consentino and the Board of Selectmen, outlining the exact problems with the five accounts and what needs to be done to bring them into compliance with the law. The office sent a letter to town officials last month, notifying them of a three-month inquiry, spurred by residents' complaints to the state.

The first letter suggested ignorance on the part of the town for mishandling the accounts, but the second letter takes a firmer tone — both over the accounts and the director of elderly affairs position, also held by Consentino.

"While we recognize the donations made over the past 14 years have improved the lives of many citizens in Atkinson, it is our opinion the current method of administering these funds is not in accordance with New Hampshire law and must therefore be brought into compliance," Terry Knowles, the unit's assistant director, wrote.

The accounts — the senior donation fund, "Life is Not Done Group," Police Department equipment, DARE and police funds — and Consentino's roles in town have long been debated by residents.

Part of that debate has centered on where and how the money is spent. Selectmen often hold public hearings for the chief to withdraw money for anything from flowers to fuel assistance for a senior citizen.

Consentino holds a donation drive each year, sending solicitation letters on police letterhead, seeking donations to the "APD (Atkinson Police Department) Equipment Fund," Knowles wrote. The money is then distributed among all the accounts, and it's at the chief's discretion — with selectmen's approval — how the money is spent.

The attorney general's office identified three "challenges" and possible solutions for selectmen.

Transparency is an issue, according to Knowles' letter.

"For example, we have been unable to determine the criteria used in selecting or rejecting those projects and/or individuals who receive or fail to receive payments from the various funds," she wrote. "Although the Selectmen vote to authorize generally the distribution of money from the five funds, it appears the Police Chief and/or the Director of Elderly Affairs has full discretion in selecting the projects and/or individuals that receive distribution from the funds."

Knowles recommended the board study the director of elderly affairs position and how necessary it is. If the post is deemed necessary, selectmen should adopt a set of criteria for making an appointment to the position, document the duties and responsibilities of the position — including internal controls and a method of reporting fund activity — and decide how project funding would be determined.

She also recommended the town make certain the chief's position and that of the elderly affairs director be distinct.

"Because the function and accountability of the two positions are distinct, the Selectmen must implement a clear separation between the duties of the Police Department and the duties of the Director of Elderly Affairs, no matter who holds the position of Chief or Director," Knowles wrote.

As for the issue of who holds the donated money, Knowles said a purpose and balance of each fund must be recorded, then each fund must be put into the custody of the Trustees of the Trust Fund. The trustees would be instructed as to how, when and who can make authorized disbursements, she wrote.

The trustees are required by law to write a report of activity annually, and the donation accounts should be part of that report, according to Knowles. Since the activity of all five questioned accounts will be included, Knowles recommends making the trustees' report available to the public.

Calls to Consentino, selectmen and Trustees of the Trust Fund were not returned.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

AGO lays down the law to Chief and Town!

Anonymous said...

Article Submission.

AGO lays down the law! Read the latest letter to the town regarding the illegal funds AND other tidbits.

August 5, 2008


PO BOX 321

Re: Atkinson Police Department Donated Funds

Dear Board of Selectmen and Chief Consentino:

The Charitable Trusts Unit has received numerous inquiries from individual citizens and the press regarding certain private donations given to the Atkinson Police Department, held by the Town of Atkinson, and expended by Chief/Director Consentino. Our office conducted a three-month inquiry into the questions raised and that process has now been concluded.

The purpose of this letter is to present the Board of Selectmen and Chief Consentino with a report of our findings based on four components: background information, our understanding of the solicitation process and the method of administering the private donations, state law relating to charitable solicitation, and our recommendation for resolving the administrative challenges going forward.


Philip V. Consentino is the Chief of Police for the Town of Atkinson.
Philip V. Consentino is the Director of Elderly Affairs for the Town of
The position of Director of Elderly Affairs was created by the Board of Selectmen in 1994 in response to concerns expressed by Chief Consentino relating to the health and wellbeing of the elderly residents of the town. Chief Consentino was subsequently appointed Director of Elderly Affairs. Although Philip Consentino holds two distinct positions in the Town of Atkinson our findings indicate the office of Chief of Police and the office of Director of Elderly Affairs function as a single unit with no discernable administrative or organizational separation. The dual role situation has caused some confusion and concern among town residents.

Solicitation and Administration of Donations

Each year Chief Consentino conducts a donation drive directed to town residents utilizing Atkinson Police Department letterhead. Donors are instructed to send their checks to the A.P.D. Equipment Fund, c/o Atkinson Police Department, PO Box 321, Atkinson, NH 03811. The solicitation material informs donors their funds may be used for various purposes and programs including but not limited to equipment for the Atkinson Police Department, books for the library, ice cream and candy for students, the D.A.R.E. program, and assistance to the town's elderly citizens. Although the solicitation material asks for checks to be made payable to the A.P.D. Equipment Fund the donations are in fact held by the Atkinson Town Office in several specific funds including the "Senior Donation Fund", the "Life is Not Done Group", the "Police Department Equipment Fund", the "D.A.R.E. Fund", and the "Police Fund". The authorization to expend these funds is granted (or denied) by a vote of the Board of Selectmen upon request of Chief Consentino.

State Laws Pertaining to Charitable Solicitation

The solicitation of donations for public or charitable purposes is a strictly regulated activity in the State of New Hampshire. Organizations recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as exempt under section 501(c)(3)of the Internal Revenue Code, professional fundraisers/telemarketers, and municipalities all have the legal ability to ask members of the public for charitable donations, however, there are specific state and federal requirements that must be followed by the soliciting entity in each case.

The acceptance and administration of private gifts, grants, donations, bequests, and devises by towns and cities in New Hampshire is a bifurcated process under the NH Statutes. While voters may, through an article in the annual town warrant, vote to authorize the Board of Selectmen to accept gifts, grants, donations, etc. in the name of the town the actual administration of these private donations is under the legal authority and control of the duly elected Trustees of Trust Funds and not the Board of Selectmen nor the Town Treasurer. The Trustees of Trust Funds function as fiduciaries and are legally bound to follow the donor's wishes in making distribution from any particular fund. The Trustees of Trust Funds are accountable to the Attorney General, the Department of Revenue Administration, and the citizens of their town for the proper execution of their duties and responsibilities.

Administrative Challenges

There are three challenges in the present situation in Atkinson:
governance, transparency, and accountability. While we recognize the donations made over the past fourteen years have improved the lives of many citizens in Atkinson it is our opinion the current method of administering these funds in not in accordance with New Hampshire law and must therefore be brought into compliance.


Philip V. Consentino holds two public offices in the Town of Atkinson:
Police Chief and Director of Elderly Affairs. Because there appears to be no
separation of administrative or organizational function between the two offices it is difficult to ascertain where the office of Police Chief begins and the office of Director of Elderly Affairs ends and visa versa. We have found no documentation describing of the duties and responsibilities of the Director of Elderly Affairs in either the Statutes or in the Town of Atkinson. While it may be desirable to have one or more individuals responsible for serving the needs and interests of the elderly population in Atkinson, if public or private funds are involved the process must be transparent pursuant to RSA 91-A and the individual(s) appointed to serve accountable to the public for their activities. It is our recommendation the Board of Selectmen reexamine the position of Director of Elderly Affairs and, if the Board decides to retain the position, to then draft guidelines specifying the criteria for appointment to the position of Director, draft and adopt written documentation detailing the duties and responsibilities of the position including internal controls and an annual reporting mechanism, and develop a process for choosing the projects to be funded from the donations received. Because the function and accountability of the two positions are distinct the Selectmen must implement a clear separation between the duties of the Police Department and the duties of the Director of Elderly Affairs no matter who holds the position of Chief or Director.

The five funds presently held in the Atkinson town office, the "Senior Donation Fund", the "Life is Not Done Group", the "Police Department Equipment Fund", the "D.A.R.E. Fund", and the "Police Fund" are not currently being administered in accordance with the law, however, the situation may be corrected as follows: The purpose and total dollar amount in each fund must be identified and committed to writing. Once the purpose and amount of each fund has been documented it will be necessary to transfer custody the funds and the documentation to the Trustees of Trust Funds for the Town of Atkinson for administration. The supporting documentation should contain specific instructions on how, when, and by whom disbursements from each fund will be authorized.


The situation as it presently exists may lack the transparency required of all
public officials appointed or elected to a municipal position in New Hampshire. For example, we have been unable to determine the criteria used in selecting or rejecting those projects and/or individuals who receive or fail to receive payments from the various funds. Although the Selectmen vote to authorize generally the distribution of money from the five funds it appears the Police Chief and/or the Director of Elderly Affairs has full discretion in selecting the projects and/or individuals that receive distribution from the funds. We recommend the current system be reviewed by the Board of Selectmen with the aim of creating a process that provides greater public disclosure and transparency.


The Trustees of Trust Funds are required to file an annual report of their activities with the Attorney General, the Department of Revenue Administration, and their town or city. In order to promote greater transparency and accountability we recommend an annual report detailing the financial activity of each of the five funds referred to earlier in this letter be prepared and distributed by the Police Chief/Director of Elderly Affairs to the Board of Selectmen and the general public. This report should contain information pertaining to the amount of income received by each of the funds, the name, amount and purpose of the payments made to each project and/or individual from each fund, any administrative expenses charged, and the balance remaining in each fund at the end of the year. The Selectmen may decide whether or not to include this report in the annual town report.

This letter is not designed to diminish in any way the generosity of the citizens of the Town of Atkinson nor the good works this program has accomplished over the past fourteen years (former Attorney General Philip McLaughlin complimented the project and its benefit to the elderly of the town in an April 8, 1999 letter to all Police Chiefs) but the program does have a number of significant legal deficiencies that must be addressed going forward. By this letter we are asking the Chief of Police and the Board of Selectmen to review our recommendations and to take the actions necessary to bring the current situation into compliance with New Hampshire law.

I will look forward to hearing from you.

Very truly yours,

Terry M. Knowles
Assistant Director - Charitable Trusts Unit
Dept. of Attorney General
33 Capitol Street
Concord, New Hampshire 03301
603-271-3591 (phone)
603-223-6221 (fax)

Few States Set World-Class Standards for educational testing.

From Education Next, by the Hoover Institute.

Few States Set World-Class Standards

By Paul E. Peterson and Frederick M. Hess

In fact, most render the notion of proficiency meaningless

As the debate over the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) makes its murky way through the political swamp, one thing has become crystal clear: Though NCLB requires that virtually all children become proficient by the year 2014, states disagree on the level of accomplishment in math and reading a proficient child should possess. A few states have been setting world-class standards, but most are well off that mark—in some cases to a laughable degree.
In this report, we use 2007 test-score information to evaluate the rigor of each state’s proficiency standards against the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), an achievement measure that is recognized nationally and has international credibility as well. The analysis extends previous work (see “Johnny Can Some States,” features, Summer 2005, and “Keeping an Eye on State Standards,” features, Summer 2006) that used 2003 and 2005 test-score data and finds in the new data a noticeable decline, especially at the 8th-grade level. In Figure 1, we rank the rigor of state proficiency standards using the same A to F scale teachers use to grade students. Those that receive an A have the toughest definitions of student proficiency, while those with an F have the least rigorous.

Measuring Standards

That states vary widely in their definitions of student proficiency seems little short of bizarre. Agreement on what constitutes “proficiency” would seem the essential starting point: if students are to know what is expected of them, teachers are to know what to teach, and parents are to have a measuring stick for their schools. In the absence of such agreement, it is impossible to determine how student achievement stacks up across states and countries.

One national metric for performance does exist, the National Assessment of Educational Progress. The NAEP is a series of tests administered under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. Known as the Nation’s Report Card, the NAEP tests measure proficiency in reading and math among 4th and 8th graders nationwide as well as in every state. The NAEP sets its proficiency standard through a well-established, if complex, technical process. Basically, it asks informed experts to judge the difficulty of each of the items in its test bank. The experts’ handiwork received a pat on the back recently when the American Institutes for Research (AIR) showed that NAEP’s definition of “proficiency” was very similar to the standard used by designers of international tests of student achievement. Proficiency has acquired roughly the same meaning in Europe and Asia, and in the United States—as long as the NAEP standard is employed.

This is not to say students are proficient either in this country or elsewhere. According to NAEP standards, only 31 percent of 8th graders in the United States are proficient in mathematics. Using that same standard, just 73 percent of 8th graders are proficient in math in the highest-achieving country, Singapore, according to the AIR study. In other words, bringing virtually all 8th graders in the United States up to a NAEP-like level of proficiency in mathematics constitutes a challenge no country has ever mastered.

Comparing the States

Three states—Massachusetts, South Carolina, and Missouri—have established world-class standards in math and reading as the goal for all students. Every other state has established a lower proficiency standard, and some states (for example, Georgia and Tennessee) declare most students proficient even when their performance is miles short of the NAEP standard. By setting widely varying standards, states render the very notion of proficiency meaningless. If Billy and Sally cannot read in South Carolina, they should not be able to pass muster simply by crossing the state’s western border.

We gauge the differences among states by comparing how students do on state assessments with how they perform on NAEP tests. By comparing the percentage of students deemed proficient on each, it is possible to determine whether states are setting expectations higher, lower, or equal to the NAEP standard. If the percentages are identical (or roughly so), then state proficiency standards can be fairly labeled as “world-class.” If state assessments identify many more students as proficient than the NAEP, then state proficiency figures should be regarded as inflated. In short, comparing state assessment results to NAEP scores can help reveal whether states are giving parents and voters the real scoop about where the state’s children stack up when measured against world-class benchmarks.

In Figure 1, we give Massachusetts, Missouri, and South Carolina an A for establishing rigorous expectations regarding what proficient students must know and be able to do. Note that a grade of A does not indicate students are performing at the highest level. Rather, the high grade indicates that the three states have set a high bar for students to reach if they are to be deemed proficient. So, for example, only 25 percent of 8th graders in South Carolina were deemed proficient on both the state reading test and on the NAEP reading test—an honest, if embarrassing, reckoning of the education situation in the state.

The remaining 47 states (information is not yet available for the District of Columbia) had distinctly lower standards. Three states—Georgia, Oklahoma, and Tennessee—expected so little of students that they received the grade of F. The state of Georgia, for instance, declared 88 percent of 8th graders proficient in reading, even though just 26 percent scored at or above the proficiency level on the NAEP. According to our calculations, Georgia 8th-grade reading standards are 4.0 standard deviations below those in South Carolina, an extraordinarily large difference. Thus, while students in Georgia and South Carolina perform at similar levels on the NAEP, the casual observer would be misled by Georgia’s reporting that its students achieve proficiency at three times the rate that South Carolina’s students do.

Twelve states—Alabama, Alaska, Idaho, Illinois, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia—received Ds because they had pitched their expectations far below other states. Illinois set its proficiency bar for 8th-grade reading at a level that is 1.01 standard deviations below the national average. If you believe those who set the Illinois standards, 82 percent of its 8th graders are proficient in reading, even though the NAEP says only 30 percent are.

In general, the states of the Northeast have the highest standards, while the states of the South and Midwest have the lowest. Western states fall in between.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Mini Revolution in NH?

From the Plaistow Town Crier;

Well the State of New Hampshire has survived two mini-revolution recently. One was started by the Board Of Selectmen over in Newcastle over the state's tax on all the "Property Rich" towns. That's where I first learned about Article 10 of the New Hampshire Constitution, our right to revolt. The next mini-revolution was over the "View Tax". If I remember correctly is was the Board Of Selectmen in Orford that stood up against the state's view assessments, but caved in the end. Let me double check to make sure it was in fact, Orford. Now we have another mini-revolution brewing, this one is over drinking water rights in 4 or 5 towns. Maybe this is the one that will give us "Home Rule". Richard Barnes posted the following article at today. It seems appropriate here. And it fits in perfectly with a comment made on the Atkinson Factor website today.


Is Patrick Henry Dead?

Of course Patrick Henry the man is dead, he died June 6th 1799 but a recent discussion I had off line has me wondering if his spirit died in this country. America was founded by revolution. Men like Patrick Henry stood up to oppression and demanded a better way. They risked their very lives for what they believed in.

Does that same spirit exist today? Are there people willing to put their neck on the line to stand up to corruption?

We've grown complacent as a country, that much is certain. We almost all agree our government sucks and our taxes are way too high but no one does anything about it beyond bitch and complain to neighbors and friends. A small handful may go so far to even complain on a public forum or even write a letter to the editor which others will read and nod in agreement with but where are the people going that one step further? Where are the people going beyond complaining and actually trying to do something about it?

Once in a while you still see people make a stand but they are far and few between and when they do we see time and time again the powers that be attack back. People being so loyal to one party or another find reasons to defend their side when their party attacks those who make a stand often times ignoring blatant hypocrisy of their own parties. A perfect example of such behavior is found right on NHInsider's own forum found here.

The "Change" we need as a nation isn't someone who gives slick speeches while continuing to be embedded in the same political system causing the problems in the first place, no the change we need as a nation are more people willing to stand up for what is right. People willing to tell the government we've given enough and we refuse to allow you to continue raiding our pockets for empty promises. Those who benefit at our expense will always be there supporting those who will give them the contents of our pockets. Those who live off the government will continue to support the system they benefit from. The rest of us however need to stand up and say enough.

We need Patrick Henry!


Now from the Atkinson Factor. Sounds like Patrick Henery is alive and well in Atkinson, NH. Over in Plaistow, all we're getting are these pablum stories about a train station. Wouldn't mind having a station, but we've had one before and it's no big deal. Please, driving all the way to Haverill isn't that big a burden. And remember Commuter Rail isn't the same as the Downeaster. The cars are often hot in the summer, cold in the winter, the bench seats are about as uncomfortable as pews and the trains sometime break down or run late. So get real. All this amounts to is a flash in the pan, followed by a new maintenance and insurance burden dumped on the poor Plaistow taxpayer. And about the layover location. Why keep it a secret? It's going to come out sooner or later. At first Plaistow officials were worried about the diesel fumes and early morning noise that come with a layover facility, now they seem completely oblivious.


Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Springer,

Now how can I get my percentage of the profits from HAWC of the selling of the water under my OWN property that impacts the quality of my well? A Priori...The State of NH is not going to protect the citizens fully, the citizens must protect themselves by acute awareness. Citizens must wake up and smell the greed. If they do then they can vote out selectmen and change planning boards who do not act to protect them. The people can silence the selectmen who are in lock step with this attempt of thievery and establishment of a town utility. It is a failure on the part of the education of the citizens, and notification of citizens of Atkinson that must be addressed. This Blog is doing a tremendous job in raising awareness and enhancing notification. And we all need to do more. I, personally, need to do much more SO LOOK OUT! And my intent is to drive as much evil out of Atkinson town government as possible. It is a good thing you are not in Atkinson, Springer, and I so hope the citizens of Danville wake up and take you on and issue you some "attitude adjustment" as to the protection of the basic rights of citizens to protect their water availability versus greed based NH state tactics. If the people are strong enough, they can retake the entire State of NH government away from those hacks just as the people can take their local town government away from the local entrenched hacks. Mr. Springer, are you getting the message that a REVOLUTION is brewing?

HAWC wants $1.1M loan from State, and want YOU to pay for it!

ONLY ONE DAY(coincidence?, I think not!) after a Deliberative Session to discuss Large Groundwater withdrawals, Most of us were notified by mail that HAWC has filed a case with the PUC to;

1.) Take out a $1.1 Million dollar loan form the State revolving fund, to do what with you may ask?

2.) To EXPAND THIER FRANCHISE AREA!!! You see part of main st. between Atkinson and Hampstead is not currently in their franchise. They want to expand their franchise so that when our wells have been drained dry, we can buy our own water back from them!


So lets see how this works;

They need the loan to hire a company to build infrastructure to link the two water systems together. Lewis Builders will probably get the contract, so The State lends the water co. $1.1M which they pay to Lewis Builders, and charge us to repay!


And what about our Selectmen?? They say it is not their job! They say it would be illegal! They say the State will take carew of us! They say HAWC will never draw down our water table!

Guess what, selectmen.... The State cares about New Hampshire! They don't give a shit about Atkinson, NH. As long as the water is staying within the state they don't care!

And here is another little gem for our do nothing BOS; EVERY TIME a Town has intervened in a case of this kind, with any reasonable arguement, the State has upheld the town!

But our selectmen won't do anything, it is not their job!

If our selectmen were to REALLY reprsent us, they would have Town Counsel file the paperwork to intervene, so that the Town's side of the case could be heard, because if the Town says nothing, the State AUTOMATICALLY GRANTS THE WATER COMPANY'S PROPOSAL!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Atkinson water proposals OK'd for ballot

From the Eagle-Tribune;

Atkinson water proposals OK'd for ballot
By Jarret Bencks
Staff writer

ATKINSON — Residents last night approved three amendments to the water withdrawal ordinance to be placed on the Sept. 9 ballot.

The amendments were adopted by about 50 residents during a deliberative session in the Timberlane Regional High School auditorium, but not without concerns from members of the Board of Selectmen and Planning Board.

"There is a possibility the town may be brought into a long and costly litigation," selectmen Chairman Paul Sullivan said.

The amendments were presented through petition by John Wolters and supported by Atkinson residents concerned about Hampstead Area Water Co.'s interest in pumping an additional 100,800 gallons of water per day from five new wells in town.

The first Special Town Meeting amendment asks that the withdrawal proposal be adopted as a health ordinance to ensure the quality of the town's drinking water.

Doing this would make it more difficult for the ordinance to be appealed, according to Bill Bennett, a supporter of the amendment.

Some residents asked for studies to be done to determine the current state of Atkinson's water supply before approving the amendment, but supporters of the proposal objected to that idea.

"(Conducting a study) would only delay what has to be done," resident Ken Grant said. "And that is take control of the water supply locally."

The second amendment involves several sections aimed at protecting the water supply through local law and enforcement — which would go beyond state law. Although the amendment was approved for the ballot, selectmen and other community members were still concerned.

Planning Board member Jack Sapia said the amendment is illegal because it would "circumvent" state law.

The Board of Selectmen received legal advice on the amendment and were told that much of its language could be subject to legal scrutiny. The town could face a legal battle if the amendment were approved, Selectman Bill Friel said.

Planning Board member Paul DiMaggio expressed frustration with the amendment, saying supporters are taking drastic steps to protect the town's water.

"You people are led down a path so far from reality that it is hard for me to comprehend," DiMaggio said.

The third amendment asks for seven areas in Atkinson to be classified as "prime wetlands," creating an extra layer of protection against water withdrawal.

The polls will be open Sept. 9 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m at the Atkinson Community Center.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Deliberative session on water rules tonight

From the Eagle Tribune;

Deliberative session on water rules tonight
By Meghan Carey
Staff writer

ATKINSON — Voters will have another chance to debate additions to the water-control ordinance at a deliberative session tonight.

The session will be held at the Timberlane Performing Arts Center in Plaistow at 6:30 p.m. It precedes the Special Town Meeting, which has been scheduled to coincide with the Sept. 9 state primary.

Three warrant articles will be up for discussion, each aimed at strengthening the water-control ordinance enacted by voters at a Special Town Meeting in September.

That ordinance prevents businesses from extracting water in town and from buying or selling local water. It also allows selectmen to fine violators $1,000 a day and residents to bring the matter to court if the town does not enforce it.

Voters will be asked to make the ordinance a health ordinance, as well. They will also be asked to approve three amendments to the ordinance, designed to make businesses responsible for damages if they deprive people or ecosystems of clean water.

Residents would also be given the right to take action if they think their right to clean water is violated, if the second question passes.

The last question will ask voters to designate seven of the town's wetlands as prime wetlands. If voters approve the article, the Planning Board will have to hold a public hearing and add the wetlands to the master plan.

The first two questions were submitted as citizens petitions for Town Meeting by resident Carol Grant, but both were amended at February's deliberative session to have little impact.

When the Hampstead Area Water Co. reapplied for a large groundwater withdrawal permit from the state Department of Environmental Services, Grant and resident John Wolters submitted new petitions.

New Kimball Library to open in October

From the Eagle-Tribune;

New Kimball Library to open in October
By Meghan Carey
Staff writer

ATKINSON — The new Kimball Library will be finished by the end of the month, but already the inside is coming together.

The $2.7 million project is expected to open in mid-October with a special evening reception and a ribbon-cutting ceremony the following day. Architect Ron Lamarre, who is overseeing the entire project, said it will take all of September to get the furniture — shelves, tables and chairs — delivered and set up.

In the end, the project should come in under budget, but Lamarre said it's too early to tell how much will be saved.

Jeff Parks, Bauen Construction's general contractor, said most of the lights are installed and the duct work is almost complete. A crew is working to install the ceiling panels this week.

"For the most part, all of the finish work is done," he said.

That includes the children's room, which was designed with lower windows so children could look out and a special "wet" room with a linoleum floor for crafts, library trustees Chairwoman Kay Galloway said.

To get into that room, children must enter through an opening in a wall painted like a traditional red barn.

The barn, which has the original Atkinson Public Library sign on it, is part of a farm motif chosen by trustees, Galloway said. The opposite wall will have murals of farms in each New England season, she said.

The rest of the library is done in more of a "coastal" theme, with blue and green carpets, Galloway said. The walls are a sandy tone, which was chosen because it's both bright and warm, she said.

Galloway said it was too soon to take photographs of the inside of the 11,000-square-foot building, which more than doubles the space of the current 4,800-square-foot library.

The new building also includes a large administrative space, two kitchens — one for staff and a smaller one for functions — and numerous conference and meeting rooms. Thanks to two anonymous $50,000 donations, Galloway said, those rooms will be fitted with large-screen TVs and laptop computers. The donations paid for a variety of other touches, including curtains.

Library trustees will meet tonight and are expected to finalize dates for the transition to the new building. They plan to hire a moving company to move the books, computers, DVDs and CDs from the old building. Staff members then will have to get things in order.

The library will likely be closed for at least a week when the books are being moved and staff members are becoming acclimated and trained on new computer systems, library director Diane Heer said. She wants her staff to be ready for the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

"We expect we'll have a lot of traffic coming through," she said.

While the library is closed, Parks said, he plans to demolish the old building and level the ground.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Here are some Timberlane Facts for you

There are currently 106 sophomores with a GPA lower than 2.1 out of a class of 382.

The other classes are not much better.

So when do we, as parents, get mad, and start to hold the school board, the school district, and the administration accountable to US?

Why are we arguing about $150,000 for special needs classrooms, when there are such bigger fish to fry?

When are we going to demand, a more challenging curriculum, higher expectations, and better teacher and student performance?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Renovations in full swing at Timberlane schools

From the Eagle Tribune;

Renovations in full swing at Timberlane schools
By Meghan Carey
Staff writer

PLAISTOW — Cooking lessons for special needs students at Timberlane Regional Middle School used to involve just a microwave and a hot plate. This fall, they will have their own life skills area complete with a full kitchen and other facilities.

Workers are renovating the old woodworking room into four areas specifically designed to help students with intensive needs to succeed in school, according to Assistant Principal Carol Mrowka.

The special needs department has occupied the space for years, but teachers had to get by with their own "makeshift" setups, she said.

"This has really been a dream of the special needs staff," Mrowka said. "With the rise in autistic children, this is a real need now."

The $144,000 project, approved by taxpayers in March, will include two rooms for occupational, physical and speech therapy, a room for the life skills area, and a room for academic needs.

There will also be a room with swings since a rocking motion calms children with autism, Assistant Principal Marilyn Hutnick said.

About 30 students will likely use the areas each day, Mrowka said.

Earlier this week, workers installed drywall in some rooms and painted others. The walls and rugs will be soothing solid colors, such as a soft shade of blue, to help provide a calm setting for the students, Hutnick said.

Business Administrator George Stokinger said the project is expected to be completed by Aug. 19 and is slightly over budget because of a plumbing problem.

Because that part of the school is at a lower elevation than the rest of the building, wastewater from the newly built bathroom and kitchen did not flow properly through the lines. A special sewage ejector system had to be installed, costing an extra $13,000.

Summer construction at the high school is going more smoothly. The project is on budget and has a completion date of Aug. 15. The $500,000 physics and chemistry lab renovation project is being funded through the district's operating budget.

The floors and walls are finished, and ventilation systems were being installed at each lab station this week. Each station is also equipped with emergency shutoffs, he said.

The hallway outside the labs was filled with boxes of cabinets, which will be installed in the rooms and the central teaching station next week.

Science experiments were previously done in regular classrooms, and teachers had to carry the equipment up and down the hallways, Stokinger said.

Harvey Construction of Bedford is handling the work at both schools, he said.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Have you filed for your abatement yet?

Anonymous said...

Article submission:

Did you file for an abatement?

With house prices dropping, your home in Atkinson is probably overvalued now and you are entitled to a lower assessment. Take a look at your latest tax bill. Do you think you can get the assessed amount if you were to sell? It would be prudent for you to examine your tax card, which contains information about your home that is not reflected in the tax bill. Note any discrepancies in the description and get an assessment from a realtor. Why should you pay more tax than you should? Based on the article, the drop in the median price by $11,500 equates to $162.00 tax decrease, assuming you believe the average house in Atkinson is worth $434,115.


Home sales plummet in N.H.; prices down 8 percent

By Meghan Carey
Staff writer

The number of homes sold in Rockingham County during the first half of 2008 was down almost 17 percent over the first half of last year.

Homes are spending more time on the market, and when they finally sell they're selling for less than they would have last year, according to the New Hampshire Association of Realtors. But the housing market in Rockingham County isn't suffering nearly as much as the rest of the state.

Statewide, home sales were down 22 percent for the first six months of this year in comparison to the same period a year ago. Merrimack County experienced a 29 percent drop in sales while Grafton County saw 31 percent fewer sales.

The median sales price in New Hampshire was $241,000 for the more than 4,500 single-family homes sold — 8 percent lower than a year ago, according to association spokesman Dave Cummings.

But here in the southern part of the state, the median sales price — $295,000 — dropped less than 7 percent, Cummings said. Both in Rockingham County and statewide, homes are staying on the market for about 140 days.

While the news may be frustrating for those trying to sell, Cummings said the fluctuation in home prices is nothing new. The market runs in a 10- to 12-year cycle, and right now it's on the downside.

"In the mid- to late '90s, there was a real buildup of prices. They went up by double digits for five straight years," he said. "Now, it's starting to correct itself. It is literally a drop, but any sort of analysis would show that it's a correction, not a collapse."

With prices decreasing, sales are improving some for Tinkham Realty in Londonderry.

"In the last couple of months, I've seen a few more things go into agreement," said Tinkham real estate agent Deborah Shacht. "But there's still a lot of homes on the market compared to a couple of years ago."

Homes in the Derry and Londonderry area are staying on the market for about six months, Shacht said. Two years ago, houses averaged just 30 days on the market in this area.

The asking prices for homes haven't dropped much on average, she said. Starter homes range from $250,000 to $325,000, while larger homes in the area still average in the high $300,000s to $400,000, Shacht said.

Those prices probably won't drop much lower, according to Jim Lyons, president of the Realtors Association. He isn't sure when the market will pick up but said it probably will not change much until then.

"New Hampshire is performing best in New England," he said. "I think we're going to fare well."

To reflect that, many homeowners are still trying to sell in this buyers market.

Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Plaistow is seeing just a slight drop in listings in Atkinson and Hampstead, the same number of listings in Plaistow, and more listings in Newton, according to Senior Vice President Erminio Grasso.

With a "good amount" of foreclosed homes on the market in those towns, average prices have dropped a bit, he said. But the higher the number of listings, the better chance buyers have to get a good deal in Rockingham County.

"Supply and demand," Grasso said. "More new listings cause prices to go down."

That's happened in Atkinson, where the median sales price has dropped almost $11,500 during the first six months this year compared to the same period last year, Grasso said. The median home price in Atkinson is $434,115, he said.

Newton has seen a more significant drop, with the median sales price about $38,000 less through June compared to last year. The median price in Newton is $218,400, Grasso said.

Plaistow's median sales price dropped about $28,000 to an average of $218,911, he said.

But in Hampstead, the housing market is going against the trend.

The median sales price has appreciated by about $2,000 to $283,089, Grasso said. Coldwell Banker sold 50 houses in Hampstead between January and June compared to 44 homes sold during the same period last year.