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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.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Our Elderly Affairs is a great service, but....

it has been mismanaged, managed illegally, and corruptly, and used as a political backstop for too many years. In these tough economic times, we MUST DEMAND better!

Finally, this year someone complained about the town donation accounts, which for years, have amounted to little more than the chief of police's own personal slush funds, which he has been happy to use to supplement his budgets as he saw fit, and to help out elderly residents in town.

The problem is that these funds have been managed illegally by the town for years. For example;

1.) The Town is REQUIRED, by law, to accept donations in public, but they never have.

2.) The Town is REQUIRED, by the warrant article establishing the accounts, to ONLY withdraw funds after a properly posted public hearing. They have spent money without public disclosure.

3.) The Town is REQUIRED, by law, to post the public hearing in 2 public places, for 7 days prior to the hearing. They have NEVER done this. In some cases they have failed to post the meeting 24 hours in advance, as required by law.

4.) The Town was required, legally, to place all donated funds under the management of the Trustees of the Trust Funds. They didn't until this month after a resident complaint, and the AGO telling them to.

5.) The chief of police has spent money out of those accounts payable to himself!

6.) The chief of police has refused to tell us how many people use the service, until recently, or how many rides they actually give, preferring instead to state some random number that he can not demonstrate.

It is for these reasons, that the selectmen should be using this investigation by the AGO, to get some accountability on this dept.

It should be totally separated from the police dept.,

It should be run for the betterment of the seniors.

No one should be refused the use of this service.

It should never be used as a fall back to excuse the chief's other bad behaviors.

But, as usual in Atkinson, the right, the honorable, the obvious thing to do is the hardest, politically, not because of the people, but because of the chief's ability to misinform, obfuscate, manipulate, and prevaricate, to, the people of Atkinson, particularly the elderly.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Atkinson chief still head of elderly affairs program Brand new name, new uniform, same leader

From the eagle tribune;

Atkinson chief still head of elderly affairs program Brand new name, new uniform, same leader
By Meghan Carey

ATKINSON — The town's three elderly affairs cruisers are getting new decals. Their four drivers are getting new uniforms. But the program isn't getting a new home or director — at least for now.

The elderly affairs program is still going to provide senior citizens with hundreds of rides to doctors appointments, assistance with paying utility bills, birthday cards and other services. But it will soon do so as a town department, not a division of the Police Department.

The shift was six months in the making. In April, the state Attorney General's Charitable Trust Unit fielded complaints from residents about the program's donation accounts and police Chief Philip Consentino's control as its volunteer director.

Charitable Trust Unit Director Terry Knowles spent three months "inquiring" about the senior citizen service program and Consentino's practices. Her recommendations were to separate police and elderly affairs, and she's worked with selectmen over the last month to do that legally.

Selectman Bill Friel has put together a separation plan packet, which Knowles approved. It was on the selectmen's agenda Monday night to discuss and vote on the plan, but Chairman Paul Sullivan said he hadn't gone through the packet yet and asked to wait a week.

Some details of the plan were discussed, however, as Consentino read his proposed 2009 Elderly Affairs Department budget. Consentino arrived at the meeting in his police uniform, which he rarely wears. In case selectmen pushed for him to keep his duties separate, he said yesterday, he had also brought an elderly affairs jacket that he could have put on to hide his uniform.

The separation will cost $5,250. That includes money to take the "Atkinson Police Community Service" writing off the cruisers and replace it with "Town of Atkinson Elderly Affairs Department." There's also money to buy the part-time elderly transport drivers new uniforms since they currently wear police uniforms.

The Elderly Affairs Department likely will get a bigger budget in 2009 — $37,668, up from $24,149. That will include the one-time cost of separating its name from the Police Department. On Knowles' recommendation, the budget includes line items for car maintenance, postage and payroll.

Prescriptions, fuel assistance and other items Consentino usually purchases with donations will still be funded the same way. The money can come either from previously donated money, now controlled by the Trustees of the Trust Fund, or from new donations to the charitable trust Consentino set up — the Atkinson Police Charitable Trust.

Selectmen voted Monday to transfer the balance of the previous police donation account — $11,412 — to the Trustees of the Trust Fund. Consentino will have to go to the trustees with specific expenditure requests to tap into that money.

There are written instructions for receiving and spending donations in the plan selectmen will likely adopt.

Consentino said he could donate money from his charitable trust to the town to cover some of the elderly affairs budget.

"Some people don't understand we take in $10,000 to $12,000 a year in revenue to offset what it takes to take care of seniors' needs," he said.

But Consentino said he is thrilled that much of the program, which he started, will remain the same. The senior citizen transports will still be coordinated inside the police station and he is still in charge.

For now, Consentino will have to document his time spent as the paid police chief and his time as volunteer elderly affairs director. In the future, Selectman Fred Childs said, the idea will be to have the departments run by two different people.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Elderly Affairs to cost over $40,000.00 after separation of budget!

This blog would have to guess that the critics of the chief's shady accounting practices were correct!

Estimates by people in the know, last year, such as Brian Boyle, Mark Acciard, and Jane Cole, estimated the total cost of the elderly affairs dept. at about $35,000.00 or so, and it looks like they were right, but low.

So for all of you asking how elderly could have provided 1644 rides for $19,000, the answer is they couldn't. The other $20,000 or so was being spent out of the police dept., this is why separation was so important.

Did anyone notice how chief Consentino also said that the budget was going to increase because monies that used to come from the donation account would not be available anymore?


Are you NOT going to use the money donated to your private slush fund for the same purposes that you used to?

But that cant be, in his letter to everyone, he said; " The police dept. equipment fund/ senior donation acct. now operate under a new name, the Atkinson Police Charitable Fund"

If it is just operating under a new name, then the money should go to the same places.

Timberlane schools and grounds in need of repair Schools, grounds need work

From the Eagle Tribune;

Timberlane schools and grounds in need of repair Schools, grounds need work
By Meghan Carey

There's a hole in Atkinson Academy.

"We did some hedge trimming and made an interesting discovery," facilities manager Jim Hughes said. "The siding is sliding."

Moisture from the hedges that line the front of the historic part of the school has rotted a portion of the clapboards. But because the 1802 building has a thick sill and foundation, it's just the exterior of the building that has been damaged, Hughes said.

Repair work there is just one of many projects that will need to be done next year to keep the Timberlane Regional School District buildings in working order. Hughes made his first budget presentation to school officials late last week, and he's asking for an additional $43,360 just for building repairs.

That would bring the building repair line of the budget up to $734,360.

The request comes on the heels of a New England School Development Council's recommendation to either renovate and add on to the middle and high schools, or to build one new school and renovate the other. Those buildings are 35 and 42 years old.

There's a list of 43 building projects and six site projects throughout the district that the facilities committee will prioritize tomorrow morning, business manager George Stokinger said. The site project estimate is $58,400.

At Pollard Elementary School, there's a 3-inch drop in the handicap ramp outside the main office and many of the sidewalks around it are crumbling and cracked, Hughes said. Roadwork also needs to be done at Sandown North, where a misplaced catch basin has caused part of the driveway to wash out, he said.

The costly repairs are necessary, given the age of many of the district's schools, School Board member Michael Mascola said. Voters may think school officials constantly throw money at projects, but he said it's necessary to maintain $88 million worth of property.

Superintendent Richard La Salle said the district also is considering putting forward a warrant article for a second phase of renovations in the high school woodshop area. The first phase, which created a physics and chemistry lab and cost $500,000, was funded through the operating budget.

It's up to voters to decide on the budget and any potential warrant articles, but La Salle said it is officials responsibility to put forward the logical projects that are safety issues.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Atkinson intervenes over water company plan

From the Eagle-Tribune;

Atkinson intervenes over water company plan
By Meghan Carey

ATKINSON — Town officials have asked the state Public Utilities Commission to deny Hampstead Area Water Co.'s application to borrow money from the state.

The motion was submitted by town attorney Sumner Kalman last week. But Selectman Bill Friel said this week they need to follow up with more detailed objections as to why an interconnection between Atkinson and Hampstead would not be in the best interest of the public.

Today was the original deadline to file as an intervener with the Public Utilities Commission, but the commission has now extended that cutoff to the end of the month. Two residents — Carol Grant and John Wolters — have also filed to intervene, according to the commission.

The water company applied for a $1.1 million loan to connect Atkinson's water system with Hampstead's over the summer. If the loan is awarded, 15,000 feet of pipe would be laid between the two towns. First, the Public Utilities Commission has to allow the water company to take the loan and increase its rates.

But now Atkinson officials are saying that can't happen. A 1,185-acre increase in the Hampstead Area Water Co. franchise area would hurt a valuable water resource in Atkinson, which the town has a duty to protect, the motion said.

Selectmen's Chairman Paul Sullivan said the selectmen have a list of questions they wanted to ask Harold Morse, the water company president, before submitting the rest of their intervener motion to the state.

Morse had asked to be on the selectmen's agenda Monday night, but canceled just prior to the meeting's start.

"He decided he wasn't coming," Sullivan said. "I certainly wanted to give him an opportunity to talk."

Selectmen are checking with Kalman as to the appropriate way to respond to the Public Utilities Commission.

Morse has not returned phone calls from The Eagle-Tribune.

One of Atkinson's favorite Sons, just left this base!

From CBS 60 Minutes;

For those who do not keep up with where our town residents are fighting overseas, one of Atkinson's favorite sons, commanded this FOB until just recently. He was responsible for developing the base into what it is in this broadcast.

Watch CBS Videos Online

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

And the Corruption continues.....

Did everybody get the letter announcing the chief's new private slush fund?

Well it appears there are a few problems with it, surprise, surprise!

First and foremost, the arrogant egoist, signed it Phil Consentino, police Chief, Director Elderly Affairs! hey Phil, guess what? this is no longer a town fund! You wanted a private slush fund that you and you alone controlled, well, pal, you got it! That means you HAVE TO SEPARATE YOUR OFFICIAL POSITION FROM YOUR SLUSH FUND RAISING!!

You can not sign it police chief, that is not separation! Why is it always up to the people to explain the law to the police chief?

Next, the "police dept. equipment/senior fund" is NOT operating under a new name! That is a lie! It is STILL operating under the Trustees of the Trust funds, open and accountable to the people, the town, and the state!

Phil's fund is private, for his eyes only, and unaccountable to anyone!

Why would anyone donate to a fund that one man controls with no oversight, and can do anything he wants with it? Especially when you can easily donate to the Town's fund, and the money will be spent for the same purposes, in public, with accountability to everyone?

Hey, Phil, if your "fund" can not withstand the light of public scrutiny, it must be bad! This is what got you into trouble over the last fund, dont you ever learn?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Does Atkinson do enough for it's Elderly?

Oh yes, we have Phil's taxi service, and as good as that is, he has very little information on State and Federal programs available to our Fixed income elderly citizens.

Imagine, if you will, a TRUE ONE STOP SHOP for ALL Elderly services in town. One where our rides program can go from being a political favor swap for a megamaniacal, self aggrandizing bully. To a True enhanced service for elderly people. ALL Elderly in Atkinson, without excluding those who have pissed people off.

One where, if you need heating oil assistance, the director can help you with the Federal and State HEAP programs, and after that can help you with Town sponsored programs. One where Senior bus trips seamlessly interface with senior games nights, and bingo, and book and discussion clubs.

Here is the beauty of this plan.... The Taxpayers of Atkinson are already paying for this, they are just not getting it efficiently. This TAXPAYER FUNDED PROGRAM can be run without having to listen to anyone constantly craving public adoration for doing their job. Without having to listen to anyone constantly shouting, Hey, Look what I've done!!!

People of Atkinson are good people! Elderly do not allow your kind feeling to be used to thwart accountability. The good people of Atkinson have constantly voted to help our Elderly, and have constantly voted to increase the funding! NEVER have the voters of Atkinson voted to reduce or eliminate this program, in spite of what you have been told.

When the selectmen finally decide to hold a public meeting to discuss separating Elderly Affairs from it's incestuous relationship with the police dept. and move it to the community center, Tell them you want it moved and improved!

Let Elderly Affairs be all it can be!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Fuel stolen from Atkinson mail trucks

From the Eagle Tribune;

Fuel stolen from Atkinson mail trucks
By Meghan Carey

ATKINSON — The mail trucks were stuck in the lot Monday morning, without any fuel for deliveries.

Three mail trucks had diesel fuel siphoned from them over the weekend, police Chief Philip Consentino said. He said he was contacted late Monday by the postmaster, who reported gas had been stolen for the second time this year.

At least three cars owned by the U.S. Postal Service had gas siphoned from them in late June. One of those cars was damaged. Another half a tank of gas was taken from the postmaster's Ford Explorer.

This time, Consentino said, the diesel trucks were hit.

"They're easier because it's a straight opening," he said. "Just open up the caps and it goes right into the tank."

Gas prices have gone down in the last two weeks, but diesel prices have not seen the same drop. The average price of gas in the state was $3.12 per gallon yesterday, compared with $3.78 for diesel, according to AAA.

The tanks were between half and three-quarters full when postal employees parked them last weekend. Consentino said trucks are usually parked in front of the building, but because the parking lot was being paved, the trucks were put in the side lot.

That lot, which is visible from Route 121, but better hidden by the building, is where the cars were parked when tanks were siphoned over the summer.

Consentino had few details about the latest theft. Whoever took the gas left less evidence than the last time, when the nozzle to a red gas can was left behind and the metal spout on a Mercury Sable was broken.

Police did not make an arrest in the June siphoning, and will add this weekend's crime to their investigation.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Timberlane schools take new approach to counseling

From the Eagle-Tribune;

Timberlane schools take new approach to counseling
By Meghan Carey

PLAISTOW — The student assistance programs at Timberlane Regional middle and high schools are getting a slight makeover this month to focus more on at-risk students.

Counselors Kelley Binette and Tim Lena just finished training in Project Success, a model prevention program for teenage drug and alcohol abuse. Lena, who was trained in Project Success 20 years ago, secured a grant from the state Department of Education Safe and Drug-free Schools to get the program's founder, Ellen Morehouse, to come to New Hampshire at the end of September.

Lena and Binette are now working to target programs, from support groups to referrals for outside help, to a narrower population in the schools, Binette said. In the past, she was running mood management and divorce groups, as well as other wide-ranging, decision-making programs.

"That's not your role," Binette said she learned. "It's your role to intervene with kids living at a home where parents are using or are using themselves."

She's working with health teachers to see if she can do a handful of lessons with seventh-graders, and use it as an opportunity to identify some students to bring in for later assessment, Binette said. She also is talking with teachers about identifying and referring at-risk students.

At the high school, Lena said he also will "pare back" some programs to focus more on at-risk students.

"We're still going with a broad brush approach," he said. "We're not the substance abuse counselors."

Project Success includes a number of universal preventions, including social norming and counseling. Lena said he will continue checking in with students to see what worries them and to share where they can get help as part of his intervention process.

To do more social norming, he plans to have a "reality wall" exercise at the end of the month. Students will be encouraged to anonymously share stories they or friends have experienced while doing drugs or drinking that had harmful consequences.

"So often they believe it won't happen to them," Lena said. "But the chances aren't too remote."

Monday, October 13, 2008

Fat Of Head And Flat Of Foot

Article submission:

From NH Insider, posted by Ed Naile.

Fat Of Head And Flat Of Foot

Let’s do some quick math – municipal style.

The Atkinson Town Budget has a line item appropriation of $19,000 for Elderly Affairs.

This money pays for the jazzed up cruiser Police Chief Consentino uses to shuttle little old ladies to doctors appointments. This project helps this incompetent, thick-headed, bully in uniform buy grateful votes for Atkinson Town Meetings. Call it a taxpayer funded get-out-the-vote scam.

Up until this year Consentino was getting donations from some of the little old ladies and putting them in the Elderly Affairs account where he had control of the money. Then, along comes the NH AG’s Office and points out to Atkinson the fact that under state law the Trustees of the Trust Fund control these types of donations.

What does Consentino do? He creates his own non-profit 501c-3 to collect gifts. Now nobody is going to tell the bully what to do! He has his own personal slush fund.

But does he?

Last year, Chief Consentino claimed to have made 1,644 trips with his Town Elderly Affairs money. This is the $19,000 voters raise each year as part of the police budget.

Now is when we ask, how is that financially possible?

It isn’t.

The Chief is obviously using much more Atkinson Police Department money to accomplish his goal of dominating Atkinson politics with his legion of Elderly Affairs beneficiaries. This means fewer patrols by police on duty because the appropriation for that town function is being tapped for sleazy politics.

What about maintenance of vehicles? How can anyone make 1,644 trips anywhere with a cruiser for $19,000? Remember, earlier this year I caught Consentino and a little old lady leaving Manchester in the Elderly Affairs cruiser on Rt. 93 going over 80 miles per hour. Someone has to buy, maintain, insure, fuel, and fix this rig when something goes wrong.

Before Chief Consentino created his PERSONAL 501c3 non-profit Elderly Affairs donations went to the Town of Atkinson to offset expenses, now they go to the bully’s private account.

Consentino has even had the gall to ask people who made past donations to the Town account to request those funds back and re-donate them to his stash - $6,500 has been re-donated so far.

I know two of the Atkinson Selectmen want to comply with the AG’s office and get the Town portion of this scam straightened out but there is the nagging problem of the town resources being used for private gain.

It is not good for any community to have a bully or a weasel in the position of Police Chief. In the end it costs much more than the short term pain of dealing with him.

CNHT is going to ask, through RSA 91-A, for all the records of the Atkinson Elderly Affairs appropriation and publish them on line if the Atkinson Selectmen do not take action themselves soon. Being an Atkinson Selectman and having answers about this shady account would probably make the phone calls from reporters much easier to deal with.

(For a look at some of the many lawsuits Consentino has caused over the years in Atkinson see )

The NEW place for discussion of National Politics

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Three Selectmen and not a ball among them...

It has now been two and one half MONTHS since the Attorney General of the State of New Hampshire, demanded openness, transparency, and accountability from our Elderly Affairs program, and our donation accounts.

And what has our board of selectmen done?.... NOTHING!

Well, that's not quite true, after many letters back and forth to clarify, and many letter from the chief stating his case(as if it were his money) they rolled over $6,500 to the chief's new slush fund, and placed the rest with the trustees of the trust funds, but they have done nothing about separating the depts. and making everything open and accountable.

Now you are probably saying that the chief has claimed for years that everything about elderly affairs was "an open book", but surely now you can see that is not true, when even the AGO says it needs to be open and accountable.

So, why is this so hard? Why is anything that involves the chief hard for the selectmen to do?

Is it because he got two out of three of them elected? Is it because he is a bully, and they fear reprisal? Who knows, This blog believes it is because they lack the testicular fortitude to settle this and do the right thing.

One could understand if this were the first such issue, but there was the falsification of time cards for over six years that the chief admitted to falsifying, and the BOS did nothing! There are the endless complaints from residents, and they have done nothing! There are the endless legal fees this Bozo has coat the town and they do nothing! There are the false budget submissions for years, where he purposely understates the cost of elderly affairs, while siphoning that extra money from police, and they do nothing!

When will Atkinson's board of selectmen start doing the job we hired them to do, and start making tough decisions, and supervising their employees?

Remember, While This BLog thinks elderly affairs is a great program, and should continue, it MUST be moved out of the PD! It is a taxpayer funded program, and the taxpayers are entitled to know where our money goes, and how it is spent.

That is all we have ever asked, and now we are demanding it! Listen well selectmen, or we will have to vote you out!

Thursday, October 9, 2008


From a new Contributor;

Article Submission:


Many people can't be a the workshop due to schedule conflicts or perhaps don't want to confront PC. Why not create a written petition that demands exactly what us taxpayers want, within the next 30 days:

1) A detailed financial explanation from the Selectmen and Director of Elderly Affairs explaining how, in 2007, the town paid for 1,644 senior transports on a budget of $19,000, showing all budget expenditures for community officers labor, training and uniforms, vehicles, maintenance, gas, etc etc.

2) Demand the selectman follow the direction from the Attorney General's office separating the Dept of Elderly Affairs from the police dept, both physically and administratively and any other form.

3) Going forward, a detailed accounting shall be maintained for selectman to know: WHO gets rides, when, where, mileage, labor costs, vehicle costs, all other costs. This shall be a monthly report provided to the Selectmen.

4) A complete inventory of assets that are considered "owned" by the dept of Elderly Affairs.

5) A concerted and proactive effort through multiple forms of media asking the town for volunteers to staff and run the EA and run it out of the community center. Proposals from residents on how this can be done should be solicited as part of it.

Present this at the workshop to the selectman and don't forget to make copies! Only one person has to go and get on the agenda to read it. And I would cc the Attorney General's office.

If written correctly, you should be able to go door to door and get any taxpayer to sign off on this request because it is something we ALL HAVE A RIGHT TO KNOW.

So what if PC shows up with a 100 people. All we need is signatures. Wouldn't that rain on his big show? He thinks if he can show up with a lot of voters at a workshop, that means the whole town wants it. This can be neutralized with one petition. It's not like deliberative session where you have to be present.

We also have to build on the momentum from the AG's investigation and now is the time to strike.

Where do I sign?

The Mystery is Solved: Why Hampstead Water REALLY Drilled Those New Wells

From a Contributor;

Anonymous said...

Please accept this submission as a new article:

The Mystery is Solved: Why Hampstead Water REALLY Drilled Those New Wells

Posted at Atkinson Town Hall:

Atkinson Farm Inc. (Lewis Builders) submission of an Application for Formal Consideration and Approval for Site Plan for proposed 9 HOLE EXECUTIVE PAR 3 GOLD COURSE adjacent to Clubhouse Drive, Atkinson Resort & Country Club

Yep, here it is folks! You thought that sneaky old Harold Morse (of the SAME Atkinson planning board) was sneaky when they revealed the day AFTER the vote on the water ordinances that they were applying for a $1 MILLION dollar loan from the state (you own money!) to connect up to Hampstead and possibly run our water our of town? That was NOTHING!!!

It turns out that two town golf courses we already have just aren't enough to pump the water out from our wells; Lewis Builders/Hampstead Water/East Coast Lumber isn't rich enough yet, so they want to build ANOTHER golf course!

Did Harold Morse know the whole time this was what he was drilling extra wells for? Sure he did! Was he honest with the townspeople as to his motives? No he wasn't!

There looks to be 50-100 abutters to this project; a golf course if preferrable to a sewage treatment plant (which, by the way, Sue Killiam proposed for Atkinson when discussing possible grant projects, and she proposed it for a section of conservation land right on Big Island Pond!), but Atkinson has enough water issues as it is, and a project like this needs to be carefully considered. Can they even propose this without knowing they will recieve the new water permits, or is the "fix" already in?

Now, usually, a town might be protected by its Planning Board; unfortunately, our planning board is loaded up with fellow and former developers (Sue Killiam, Paul Dimaggio, etc.), those that derive their income from construction companies (Teddy Stewart, the town engineer), and those that were likely "approved" by the powers that be to be appointed to the board. Our board doesn't so much adovcate for the town as much as they advocate for their pocket books; Atkinson is "for sale" to big business, and has been for a long time. So long rural character, so long farms, hello development!!!

You couldn't make this stuff up folks; are you supporting Hampstead Water and Lewis' Builders attempts to take over the town by spending your money at East Coast Lumber, when a Home Depot is right down the road (and cheaper)?

Timberlane schools may need replacing or renovation Enrollment dropping, but more space needed

From the Eagle- Tribune;

Timberlane schools may need replacing or renovation Enrollment dropping, but more space needed
By Meghan Carey

PLAISTOW — Enrollment at Timberlane Regional middle and high schools will decrease by at least 20 percent in the next 10 years. But taxpayers will still need to replace or renovate both schools.

Cramped quarters and outdated technology resulted in the New England School Development Council's recommendation to either renovate and add on to both schools, or to rebuild one and remodel the other. The high school was built 42 years ago, the middle school 35 years ago.

Both schools have been renovated three times, most recently in 2000, but neither is up to modern standards, according to the council.

The report suggests the district seek land to buy for athletic fields and a second access road to the Greenough Road complex in the near future. The building project could be a more long-term plan.

There are no cost estimates for the three options put forth by the $22,000 study, which was conducted last month. Superintendent Richard La Salle could not be reached yesterday to discuss the report.

School Board Chairman William Baldwin did not return phone calls and other board members either could not be reached or deferred comment to him.

There are 1,111 students enrolled in the middle school this year, according to the report. By the 2017-2018 school year, that figure could be down to 823, based on trends in birth rates, home sales and building permits in the district's four towns — Atkinson, Danville, Plaistow and Sandown. At the high school, enrollment could drop from 1,567 to 1,238 students over the same period, according to the report.

Middle school Principal Mike Hogan said yesterday he doesn't think enrollments will drop that dramatically. But either way, his school is too small for the number of students it serves.

"Here's the difficulty: Many of our hallways are very narrow and passing 1,100 kids from class to class and around the building is difficult," Hogan said. "And we have to use every available space, like I said. The changing nature of education just makes it more challenging."

To keep up with 21st century educational programs, the report calls for both schools to expand and update libraries and create labs for science and other new programs.

The high school has two new science labs, which were built over the summer for $500,000. The labs are one of a few issues the council had with the schools that the district had already tried to address.

All doors were equipped with locks in the summer of 2007, and a new traffic pattern and dismissal times were implemented this year. But the report still calls for less congestion and more security.

The district still is waiting for results of an architectural study of the buildings, which La Salle previously said should tell whether the buildings can be renovated or need to be rebuilt, when, and some cost estimates.

Both studies will be used for strategic planning this fall, and to begin budgeting for the future.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Atkinson in holding pattern with elderly affairs

From the Eagle-Tribune;

Atkinson in holding pattern with elderly affairs
By Meghan Carey

ATKINSON — The state attorney general's charitable trust unit did not answer the selectmen's questions about the elderly affairs program.

The unit, directed by Terry Knowles, conducted a three-month inquiry into the program and associated donation accounts. She recommended in July that the donation money be moved, and the selectmen re-examine the senior citizen program.

Knowles said in letters to the town that the program should be clearly separated from the Police Department, both of which are run by Chief Philip Consentino.

The story changed a bit on Sept. 26, when the selectmen met with Knowles in Concord. Both parties said afterward the chief just had to keep logs of the time he works as a town employee and as a volunteer. Selectmen rescheduled last week's workshop in order to wait for direction, in writing, from Knowles.

But her letter, which arrived Monday, didn't address those issues. Selectman Bill Friel said it advises the selectmen to move the remaining donation funds to the control of the Trustees of the Trust Fund. Selectmen already voted to move $6,500 of the approximately $19,000 in donated money to the Atkinson Police Charitable Fund because they had permission from donors who had given that amount.

Selectmen drafted a document detailing the next transfer, and will vote on it at their next meeting, Friel said. But they won't discuss elderly affairs until they receive more information from Knowles, who is on vacation until Oct. 20.

"We want to wait for the state to get all of the answers in front of us before we're ready to schedule the workshop," he said.

This is the second time the selectmen have rescheduled the meeting, much to the frustration of Consentino. He had organized to have many elderly affairs program supporters at the workshops that were scheduled for Sept. 30 and then Oct. 15.

"We had over 100 seniors lined up," he said. "It's a shame. You've got all this ready to go and Terry Knowles hasn't given them the answers."

Friel said the town administrator will work to find a larger venue for the workshop to accommodate all senior citizens who wish to attend.

So, This blog's question is why go to all of this trouble to mobilize the ederly faithful, to fight moving Elderly Affairs to the Community Center, and making it more open, honest, and accountable?

Why is that so bad, unless this is not about the elderly but about the Chief's control, and getting his way?

No one has proposed reducing the program or any of it's services!

No one had even said the Chief can not continue as Elderly Affairs director!

The only thing that has been asked for, is to separate it from the police dept. to make it open, honest, and accountable, and this is what he chooses to fight?

As Jerry Williams used to say; "It doesn't pass the smell test!"

Monday, October 6, 2008

Residents now have TWO ways to donate to police and the Elderly!

Yes that is right, now that the police chief has founded his new non-profit(slush fund), which he happily states will not have to answer to anyone!, and he is right!

A private non-profit, under NH law, only has minimal annual filings, and no accountability to the people for the expenditures of it's money, nor who donated it.

Here's some irony for you;

People complain because the right to know laws are not being followed by the chief, with the donation account, I know, unbelievable, right? and the chief's response is to remove the operation totally from public oversight!


If everything is open and above board and honest as chief Consentino has told us many times, then why hide it? Why didn't you just turn the operation of the account over to the trustees of the trust fund, then the account would be LEGAL, BUT NO...

You choose to start your own private slush fund, where there will now be no accountability at all. And here is the best part, his board of directors, ALL WORK FOR HIM!!! That's right, the board of directors are his elderly affairs drivers, so much for Diversity of interests and experience in staffing the board of directors, it is obvious that CONTROL IS MORE IMPORTANT TO OUR CHIEF!

But, if you do want to know where your money goes, you can donate it to the Town of Atkinson, which is a charitable organization, whcih must, by law, account for the money through the trustees, and which has State agencies making sure that it operates correctly.

Now who do you want to give your money to;

a Town, which MUST spend it for those purposes, and has the trustees, and the state looking over their shoulders to make certain that they do.

or a megamaniacal control freak who has removed your donation from all oversight or accountability, once you donate to this "private non-profit" you will have no idea, where your money goes, or how much is spent, and on what.

Do you want to donate to the Town Trust funds, which have a 50 year track record of being operated soundly, with public audits, and state accountability.

Or do you want to give your money to a newly formed PRIVATE Charity, where you will never know for certain where it goes or what it does.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Atkinson, Newton want more control over water withdrawals State says withdrawal rules are adequate

From the Eagle-Tribune;

Atkinson, Newton want more control over water withdrawals State says withdrawal rules are adequate
By Jarret Bencks

State and local officials are trying to figure out what they can — and should — do to control and monitor groundwater withdrawals.

Town officials in Atkinson warned voters that recently adopted water ordinances could bring the town into a long and costly litigation process. The Newton Planning Board recently adopted new rules requiring large water withdrawals applications be reviewed by the board before submission to the state.

Legislators are reviewing state laws that restrict towns from regulating water withdrawals, trying to determine what kind of control towns have over their water supply.

State law allows towns to enact local ordinances or regulations affecting groundwater, but they cannot regulate large groundwater withdrawals, according to Associate Attorney General Richard Head. Large groundwater withdrawals are classified as more than 57,600 gallons a day.

Members of the New Hampshire House's commission to study issues relative to groundwater withdrawals met last week to discuss what kind of control towns have over groundwater withdrawals that are not classified as "large," according to Head.

Members of the commission did not come to a conclusion, but may end up writing legislation to address it in the future. Rep. Mary Allen, who wrote the rules for the Newton Planning Board, said she thinks groundwater should be in town control.

"When a development or an individual wants to expand, then I think they should come before the town and get permission from the municipality prior to going to the state," she said.

Allen has not attended the commission's meetings, but said she was considering going to future meetings.

The state has not taken any legal action against either town, but officials from both Atkinson and Newton are ready if it does. Local officials have expressed their willingness to fight for their towns' rules and ordinances.

Before the special Town Meeting last month, selectmen in Atkinson told voters the new rules could bring the town into long and costly litigation, but they would support the ordinances if they were approved.

Newton Planning Board member Jim Doggett said he thought the new rules were within the town's rights, but should they come into legal contention, the town would be ready to fight for them.

"If you read our set of rules, they're very simple in language," Doggett said. "They are in our regulations, and I think the Planning Board is willing to defend them."

Newton's rules state "the quantity of water to be drawn must be approved by the Planning Board and listed on the recorded plan sheets." Atkinson's ordinance says "no corporation or syndicate shall engage in water withdrawals in the Town of Atkinson."

Carol Grant, an Atkinson resident and member of the committee that wrote the new ordinances, said the rules are necessary to protect the town water supply because the state Department of Environmental Services doesn't work in residents' best interest.

"When towns have public hearings and residents show up to express their disapproval, (DES officials) don't give a damn," she said. "They go right ahead and ignore the wishes of the people and give the water company whatever they want."

Brandon Kernen, of the DES groundwater withdrawal bureau, said water companies are tightly regulated and the state already prevents groundwater withdrawals from drying out water supplies.

"It just isn't allowed under the law," Kernen said. "We've been very successful in protecting private water supplies with permits we've issued."

In the past, large water withdrawals in Stratham resulted in some private wells needing to be redrilled because they were too shallow, and the state paid for those wells to be redrilled, Kernen said.

"There have been issues, and we've dealt with them successfully," he said.

But many local residents are still concerned about their water supplies. The new ordinances in Atkinson were approved overwhelmingly, and Newton residents filled a local gym during a hearing in June on a water franchise request from Hampstead Area Water Company.

Some Newton residents have said they are already experiencing water pressure problems. Patty Stephan said she needed to have a new well drilled at her home on Kenwood Drive within the last year because the water pressure was too low to use the shower.

"There already are water problems," she said, "and it's only going to get worse with more development."

For both towns, the main worry is that water will be trucked or piped to be used elsewhere. The Hampstead Area Water Company applied for a $1.1 million loan in June to connect Atkinson's water system with the company's Hampstead system, If awarded, 15,000 feet of pipe would be laid between the two towns along Route 121 next summer.

Kernen said sometimes interconnecting water supplies is necessary, but DES regulation would prevent any water withdrawal projects from leaving a town dry.

"Any new well is subject to large withdrawal permitting," Kernen said. "When you displace that much, you have to show there is sufficient water for existing wells and environmental resources."

While towns are concerned with large water withdrawals, Kernen said a series of private wells can have a much worse affect on a town's water supply than a large water withdrawal. The state surveys large water withdrawal areas and regulates them, while private wells can be built without going through the process.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Plaistow may lose its bus service

From the Eagle-Tribune;

Plaistow may lose its bus service
By Meghan Carey

PLAISTOW — Soon, the bus might not stop in Plaistow.

That's because selectmen don't think it's worth $82.50 a ride. The board hasn't paid its $1,650 bill for April through June, when 20 Plaistow residents accepted rides from the Community Alliance for Regional Transportation. That works out to some pretty expensive transportation, according to selectmen.

But CART Director Lee Maloney said Plaistow is the only community in the nine-town alliance that's not paying its fair share.

Selectmen decided not to take action on the latest bill from CART this week because they wanted to see an increase in the number of residents using the transport system, but instead that number dropped.

"We wanted to see a proper level of participation," Chairman John Sherman said. "If we didn't see that, we weren't going to pay the bill. ... Unless the earlier discussion was an empty threat, if you want to call it that, we shouldn't release the money."

It's the second payment selectmen have denied to the service this year, and Maloney said it's just not acceptable. She plans to go to her board later this month and implement a surcharge or make Plaistow an out-of-region destination.

"They are the only town," Maloney said. "Every other town pays regardless of their ridership. It's just not fair."

Plaistow was billed $6,700 in January for last year's services, but only paid $500. In 2007, 16 residents used CART to take 156 rides, which the selectmen calculated to be 1.2 percent of CART's ridership.

The bill reflected 6.1 percent of CART's 2007 costs, which are distributed among the nine towns the alliance serves. Plaistow officials sent the check with a request for timely quarterly reports in 2008 — reports that were tardy last year.

The first bill of this year came late again, and asked for one-third of the annual payment. Ridership had increased to between 39 and 42 rides each month. Selectmen decided to pay, but only the quarterly payment amount.

Selectmen want to see more people use CART and don't want it taken away.

"Save a place in the budget," Selectman Dan Poliquin said this week. "I don't want to lose our seat, so to say."

Maloney said all the other towns that make up a small percentage of ridership, including Sandown and Danville, have seen an increase. Overall, CART ridership is up 38 percent over the same period last year.

CART added out-of-state rides to Caritas Holy Family Hospital in Methuen, Merrimack Valley Hospital in Haverhill and Lawrence General Hospital this year, at the selectmen's suggestion.

Maloney said 46 percent of Plaistow rides this year have been for medical appointments, but those riders may need to find another ride by the end of the month.

"It's really unfortunate for the folks who live over there and use us, especially for medical purposes," Maloney said.

The program's board is scheduled to meet Oct. 21 and make a decision.