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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.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Atkinson's Year in retrospect

As 2008 winds down the Reporter would like to take a look back at the Town's biggest stories, and scandals of 2008.

1/8/08- The year began with ANOTHER Lawsuit alleging misbehavior on the part of the Chief. 4th in 3 years. And the beat goes on...

1/8/08- Elderly Affairs car clocked at 84mph on highway while driving Mrs. Daisy.

1/9/08- Resident requests $10,000 from donation account to help fallen officer and family, chief says that is not what money is for, but writing desk for pd bathroom is better use of money.

1/29/08- Town Administrator resigns. Happy Days are here again.

2/8/08- Groups try for re- evalution.

2/22/08-Selectman Sapia Screams at Town Clerk in her own office. Thank God and the Voters he is gone.

2/24/08- TRHS and TRMS Academically substandard according to state, noone cares.

3/9/08- Elderly Affairs claims 1644 transports on $19,000 budget. Questions raised as to how this is possible. As usual no answers are provided, messengers attacked.

3/14/08- Temporary signs advertising blog are torn down and stolen by order of selectman Sapia. Signs disappear. Noone investigates.

3/19/08- Chief announces on camera major federal crime of putting fliers on mailboxes! He explains his painstaking investigation of the culprits.

3/27/08- School Board seals minutes for 99 years! and you thought the selectmen were bad.

4/4/08- NHPSTC issues police chief letter of reprimand! If only the selectmen had the stones to do that.

4/19/08- Large Groundwater withdrawals still an issue.

4/25/08- Atkinson grieves the loss of two beloved officers.

5/13/08- Police Chief admits taxpayers bought him two "pleasure vehicles" not suitable for police work. Nothing Done.

5/16/08- Police chief admits falsifying sick time vouchers, in violation of town policy. Nothing done.

5/25/08- Town offers settlement in Federal Civil Rights suit, alleging impropriety by chief of police.

5/31/08- Pete Lewis Passes away

6/25/08- Selectmen continue to attempt to intimidate town bloggers with veiled threats of legal action.

7/25/08- We find out about ongoing NH Attorney Generals Office investigation into the management of the donation accounts.

8/14/08- AGO lays down law to Town and Chief.

8/15/08- HAWC seeks $1.1M to connect Atkinson and Hampstead.

8/16/08- Critic of Chief has car vandalized in his driveway, "Move" and "leave chief alone" scratched into car. Chief says it is not who victim thinks.

8/29/08- Selectmen continue to do nothing about any of the open and still simmering scandals; time card, sick time, cars, donation accounts, etc.

10/01/08- The Town FINALLY has a new library!

10/14/08- Chief starts private slush fund, way around AGO's suggestion.

10/27/08- Selectmen to separate police and elderly affairs... NOT!

11/12/08- Elderly Affairs to cost over $40,000 after separation of budget! Critics were right!

12/14/08- The ICE STORM and power outage from hell!

Whoever said this was a sleepy little town? Weather aside, our police chief never fails to liven up the towns debate, as well as the towns budget.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Residents receive power again just before Christmas Power restored nearly two weeks since storm

From the Eagle Tribune;

Residents receive power again just before Christmas Power restored nearly two weeks since storm
By Margo Sullivan

ATKINSON — Twelve days after the ice storm hit, Donna Cloutier's house remained dark.

"Today has just taken a toll on me," she said yesterday, and not just because she faced another day without heat and electricity. Her Christmas Eve tradition was in jeopardy.

The Atkinson log cabin, which she owns with Barbara Fiore, had been dressed for the holiday with a big tree, a snowman and bundles of presents arranged with a decorator's eye. In 24 hours, she had planned to bring her mother down from Maine for the annual get-together with Fiore's family. Everything was ready — except the lights.

"Today, I had enough," she said. "I was on a mission." She planted a sign in the snow in front of her house.

"Day 12, without power," it said. Then she called the town administrator's office.

At 2:32 p.m., as she was telling her story to a reporter, a knock sounded at the door. A crew from Unitil had finally arrived. "I'm a cynical person," she said. "This is because I made all those calls."

But she eagerly ran down the front steps and moved her Toyota out of the crew's way. Cloutier wasn't angry with the linesmen, she assured them. She was fed up with the lack of communication from the company.

"Every time I got in touch with Unitil," Cloutier said she heard the same story.

"The work's done," the customer service representative would say.

"Right," Cloutier would reply. Of course, the work wasn't done.

"Well, we have to fix a circuit."

Finally, Cloutier blew her own fuse.

"There's no flipping circuit," she said. "Everyone's back. All I need is a line to the pole."

The morning after the storm, which left more than 400,000 New Hampshire households without power, the pole at the corner of her house snapped and sent power lines cascading down 400 feet of her driveway.

"We reported it within 15 minutes of its dropping," she said. Unitil warned her to stay away from the wires, but the company didn't send a truck to repair the damage. It was days before she learned she had to hire her own contractor.

Cloutier had tried everything to get a crew over to her house, at one point even flagging down a utility truck. Extra effort didn't help. The crew told her to move along.

The toughest part about the 12 days in the dark was not sleeping at night. She worried about the generator keeping the neighbors awake. She worried about someone stealing it. She worried the power company forgot about her. It was a familiar story for the thousands who remained without power days after their neighbors had their electricity restored.

As day after day passed without electricity, the anxiety mounted for Adria Durkin of Atkinson. Everyone else on her street had power back — except her. She wondered if the power company had forgotten about her house.

Calls three times a day to Unitil brought the same result. She had to tell her story all over again about how the pole went down in her yard Dec. 11, how her electrician came and fixed it Dec. 14, and how the whole rest of the street had lights Dec. 16, and how she was still in the dark.

Unitil said it would be fixed any day now — "hopefully, tomorrow."

But nothing happened.

"I couldn't focus on anything else," she said. "I was so panicky. I thought, I can't go on one more day. But you do."

On Friday, after eight days in the dark, she started e-mailing from work. She contacted newspapers, the governor's office and the U.S. Senate. The governor's office advised her to call the state Public Utilities Commission. The commission called Unitil directly, and the electric company called her back.

"Hopefully, tomorrow," they said. That was the same answer she had received for days.

"I knew I wasn't the only one without power," Durkin said. But even though she reached the governor's office, Sen. Judd Gregg's office and the PUC, she couldn't get a straight answer from her own electric company.

On they way to pick up her son from school, she flagged down a Unitil truck.

"That is the truck that actually showed up," she said. Her power came back Monday between 7:30 and 8 p.m.

"Was it was my persistence with that commission or that I just happened to find a truck?" Durkin said.

At the height of the ice storm, almost the entire town of Atkinson — 2,900 households — was left in darkness. For Pat Goodridge, who lives in Hemlock Heights, the breaking point came Dec. 13.

"I was distraught," she said. "I hadn't eaten for two days, and I was running out of firewood." Goodridge had never in her life gone to a shelter. But that Saturday, she went to the shelter at Hampstead Middle School.

"I was very well taken care of," she said. "But it was stressful."

She kept a diary about her experiences and penned a thank-you letter to Sandra Ouellet and her class.

"I will always remember Hampstead took me in and allowed me to take refuge in Room 202. I slept there," she said. "I was apprehensive. This is a very scary thing. You know, it's not easy living in a shelter when 500 children are going to arrive," but she thought a letter would be important.

Goodridge took some of the teacher's paper, pens and sticky notes for her letter.

The teacher read Goodridge's letter to the class, and pointed out the metaphors and other figures of speech. She told Goodridge that the students usually grumble about writing. But they liked her letter so much, they could not wait to scribble down their own stories about the storm.

Goodridge stayed in the Hampstead shelter until it closed. Then she moved to the Sanborn Regional High School shelter in Kingston. When that shut down Sunday, Goodridge, 70, drove home in white-out conditions. It was that or drive to Londonderry or the Haverhill, Mass., shelter. A neighbor met her at the bottom of the hill near her house. He told her if her car didn't make it, he would push her the rest of the way. Her electricity is back. One zone of her house has heat. Her dogs are still staying at Carol's Grooming.

"I feel guilty," she said.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Nine-hole course planned at Atkinson country club

from the eagle tribune;

Nine-hole course planned at Atkinson country club
By John Basilesco

ATKINSON — Beginning golfers and others could soon have a new 9-hole golf course to tee off from at Atkinson Resort & Country Club.

The club's owners are planning a par-3 course that would be in addition to the current 18-hole course for more experienced golfers, said Peter Doherty, the head golf professional at the country club.

Plans for the course will be up for review at the Planning Board's meeting Jan. 7. The meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. at Town Hall.

"We're trying to create a family-friendly golf course that would be enjoyable for anybody — for players at any level," Doherty said. "I'm exceptionally excited about this. I think it's a grand slam for us."

Like all the facilities at the resort, the new golf course would be open to the public, Doherty said.

In conjunction with the 18-hole course and a new learning center for golfers, set to open Jan. 1, the additional course will make it possible to accommodate a wide range of golfers, from beginners to experienced golfers, Doherty said.

Work to build the new course would begin next year, Doherty said.

It would share the same pro shop that serves golfers who use the 18-hole course.

The new course would be within walking distance of the club's main building. Atkinson Resort & Country Club is on Country Club Drive.

Other 9-hole golf courses in the area include one at Brookstone Park off Route 111 in Derry, which opened several years ago.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Atkinson man charged with theft of 5 boats

From the Eagle Tribune;

Atkinson man charged with theft of 5 boats
By Terry Date

WINDHAM — A grand jury has indicted an Atkinson man for stealing boats and scrap metal from yards on Cross Street and West Shore Road.

Paul Getchell, 48, of 62 Meditation Lane, was indicted this month by a Rockingham County Superior Court jury on two felony counts of theft.

One count alleges Getchell stole a boat, motor, staging, a ladder and scrap metal from 21 West Shore Road in April.

Windham police arrested Getchell in May, charging him with stealing $15,000 worth of items from the West Shore Road yard.

He was employed by the home- owner at the time of the theft, police said.

Getchell was released on personal recognizance bail after his arrest.

The other indictment alleges he stole four boats from 9 Cross St. on or between Nov. 1, 2007, and Feb. 12, 2008.

Getchell's case will be scheduled for arraignment and trial in Superior Court.

Each of the felony counts is punishable by a maximum prison sentence of 71/2 to 15 years.


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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Car windows smashed, items stolen

Car windows smashed, items stolen

By John Basilesco

ATKINSON — Police are investigating the thefts of laptop computers and a briefcase from four cars parked outside Atkinson Resort & Country Club on Country Club Lane Thursday night during the ice storm.

Thefts are an ongoing problem at the country club, which is an "easy hunting ground," police Chief Philip Consentino said.

Consentino urges everyone parking their cars there to put all valuables inside their trunks. The four cars were locked; the thief or thieves broke windows to gain access, Consentino said.

Anyone with information is asked to call police at 362-5536.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Sunlight must shine on public's business

Although the following story is about the Haverhill School Committee it could easily have been written about Atkinson. The name could just as easily have been changed to Atkinson Board of Selectmen and Acciard, Grant, Kaye,

From the Eagle Tribune;

Our view: Sunlight must shine on public's business

At least one member of the Haverhill School Committee — Joseph Bevilacqua — has it right: The committee does too much of its business in secret.

"We're talking about public education and the public's money," he told reporter Paul Tennant.

That ought to be obvious to everyone on the committee. But too often in Haverhill, as is the case in other communities, officials look for every excuse possible to do the public's business out of the public eye.

The most recent example Bevilacqua cites is the delinquent Haverhill High School electric bill of nearly $300,000. He said he didn't find out about the overdue bill until an executive session, and called for a discussion of secret meetings at last night's committee meeting.

School Committee President Kerry Fitzgerald contends that this is more about Bevilacqua having a personality conflict with her, and wanting meetings to be public so he can get more face time on local television. She says all of the committee's executive sessions are legal, because they fall under the provisions of the state Open Meeting Law. The meeting about the electric bill, she said, was private because the committee was discussing ways to negotiate payment with the power company.

There are two problems with that. First and most important, there is nothing in the Open Meeting Law that allows an executive session to discuss negotiating the payment of a bill. It is permitted to discuss collective bargaining strategy or litigation, neither of which applied in this case.

But even if the negotiation strategy was covered, as Fitzgerald claims, she fails to address the fact that Superintendent Raleigh Buchanan knew about the bill for more than a year before the public did.

It would have been a simple matter for Fitzgerald to state publicly that the high school had been notified that it had a $300,000 overdue bill, and that the committee would be holding an executive session to discuss negotiations with the power company.

The public is going to have to pay the bill. It deserves to know about it.

In general, public officials should err on the side of openness rather than privacy. They claim to want the public trust. Going behind closed doors so frequently is not the way to gain, or hold, that trust.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

State workers refuse to give up raises

From the Eagle Tribune;

State workers refuse to give up raises

CONCORD (AP) — State workers are balking at giving up promised raises scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.

Gov. John Lynch wants state workers to defer a 5.5 percent pay increase to help close a $75 million to $90 million shortfall in this year's budget. He estimates the raise will save about $7 million.

Lynch and lawmakers have taken a series of steps to deal with a decline in revenues, but need the permission of about 15,000 rank-and-file workers covered by collective bargaining agreements to defer their raises. They don't need permission from about 5,000 non-union workers.

House Speaker Terie Norelli and Senate President Sylvia Larsen had held next Wednesday open for lawmakers to meet and pass the necessary law to defer the raises, but they announced there's no deal with the unions so there will be no session.

Lynch said he favors deferring all pay increases, but if that isn't possible would like to defer the nonunion raises. Legislative leaders don't want to act unless it affects everyone equally.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Civics Class: Give me an "F"!


Americans are about to get a civics lesson -- and not a moment too soon.

Next month hordes of visitors will flood the National Mall to watch the swearing in of President-elect Barack Obama. Millions more will watch on television. But a study by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute shows that few Americans will really understand what they’re witnessing.

ISI gave more than 2,500 people a 33-question quiz about basic historical and constitutional principles. The average score: 49 percent. By any measure, that’s a flunking grade.

Seven out of 10 Americans who took ISI’s test failed it. And a look inside the numbers is even more sobering.

* Fewer than half can name all three branches of government (legislative, executive and judicial).

* Only 53 percent realize Congress has the power to declare war (even though lawmakers have voted twice in the last eight years to approve foreign wars).

* Just 55 percent know that Congress shares authority over foreign policy with the president. Roughly 25 percent mistakenly believe that Congress shares its foreign policy authority with the United Nations.

And it’s not just the general public that lacks basic civic knowledge. Too many of our leaders fall short as well.

In ISI’s sample, 164 of the 2,508 respondents said they had been elected to government office at least once. There’s no way of knowing if this meant federal, state or local government. But it’s sobering to note that those who say they’ve held office earned an average score of 44 percent on the civic literacy test -- lower than the public they were elected to serve.

Among these officeholders, almost half (43 percent) don’t know what the Electoral College does. One in five guessed it “trains those aspiring for higher political office” or “was established to supervise the first televised presidential debates” instead of identifying its actual role: selecting the president of the United States.

This sort of historical illiteracy jumped out at me when I visited the new Capitol Visitor Center. This $621 million structure (vastly over budget, but who’s counting?) would have been a perfect way to teach visitors about our constitutional republic. Instead it misleads.

An honest Center would have explained that the Constitution laid out certain limited powers for each branch of government. Instead the center focuses on “aspirations,” making it seem as if Congress is empowered to do anything under the sun to make Americans happy. You’d think lawmakers had a blank check to do almost anything.

It’s also deeply troubling to see how the Center omits key references to our religious heritage. “Separation of church and state is vital to our liberty,” writes David Waters on The Washington Post/Newsweek blog On Faith. “But trying to scrub from American history or public life every reference to God or faith isn't just silly. It's inaccurate and misleading.”

If there’s one positive finding in ISI’s report, it’s that most Americans agree we need more civics lessons. Almost three-quarters of those who took ISI’s test said that colleges should prepare students by teaching them about American history.

This isn’t happening, though. The average score on ISI’s test for those holding bachelor’s degrees was only 57 percent. Even those with advanced degrees scored just 65 percent. Both are failing grades. That could change if universities and even high schools rededicated themselves to teaching what students need to know.

Civic literacy, in fact, is something we all need. After all, millions of inaugural viewers are about to get a valuable glimpse into our system of government. They should understand what they’re seeing.

Glimpses, however, aren’t enough. We can -- and must -- do better.

Timberlane parents worried about paying for college

From the Eagle Tribune;

Timberlane parents worried about paying for college UNH financial aid expert gives advice on how to get money
By Margo Sullivan

PLAISTOW — With the credit crunch tightening, parents of college-bound seniors hit the books last night to find out how they can pay for their children's higher education.

More than 120 anxious parents packed a classroom at Timberlane Regional High School to pick up tips from Jennifer Smith, associate director of financial aid at the University of New Hampshire.

Many parents said they are unsure how they will swing college tuition without taking out a bank loan.

"That's the worry," Don Olmstead of Sandown said. His son, Patrick, 17, is relying on his parents to pay for college.

"We plan to pay a portion in cash and finance the rest," Olmstead said, so it will be a problem if credit is frozen.

John Sullivan of Sandown said he did not know of any other way to pay for college than student loans. His daughter is applying to Salem State College and Merrimack College.

The federal government will continue to provide students loans, Smith said. Over the past 18 to 24 months, the frozen credit problems have caused UNH to direct federal Stafford Loan recipients to the government's direct lending programs, rather than commercial lenders.

A Stafford Loan will provide up to $5,500 a year for a college freshman. The average cost of attending UNH for a year comes to $24,100 for an in-state student who lives on campus, she said.

Other student loans are available through colleges, she said, so parents should make sure they do not miss the schools' financial aid deadlines.

In her 90-minute presentation, Smith said the student and the family bear the main responsibility of paying for college. In most cases, financial aid will not cover the whole cost of attending school, and students and parents must come up with the rest.

She could not estimate how many high school seniors will have to defer college due to the commercial credit crisis.

"I cannot speak to that at this point," she said. "It's a volatile market. Obviously, lenders have increased (credit) scores."

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Longtime Atkinson volunteer dies Flags flown at half-staff to honor DeRosa

From the Eagle Tribune;

Longtime Atkinson volunteer dies Flags flown at half-staff to honor DeRosa
By John Basilesco

ATKINSON — Flags few at half-staff yesterday in memory of Joseph DeRosa, who died over the weekend and is being remembered as a dedicated volunteer for a town he loved very much.

DeRosa, 67, died Saturday night at the Lahey Clinic in Burlington, Mass.

He moved to Atkinson from Dedham, Mass., 33 years ago and served on the Board of Selectmen from 1988 to 2003. DeRosa also served on several other town boards, including the Planning Board, Zoning Board of Adjustment, Budget Committee and the board of trustees for the town's library.

He was also a member of the town's call Fire Department for 22 years, and a member of the Atkinson Lions Club.

Fire Chief Mike Murphy, who served with DeRosa on the Fire Department, said he will be missed.

"He really did care about the community and the townspeople," Murphy said. "He was always willing to help in a number of ways, including as a member of the Fire Department, the Atkinson Lions Club and many different town boards. He was a good friend of mine. He was always very supportive of the Fire Department and the town as a whole."

Selectmen Chairman Paul Sullivan, who served with DeRosa on the Fire Department for about 10 years, said flags were flown at half-staff at town buildings yesterday in honor of DeRosa's dedication to Atkinson.

"He really enjoyed the town of Atkinson," Sullivan said. "

DeRosa owned DeRosa of Boston, Jewelers, which he established in Boston in 1968 and moved to Plaistow in 1980 before selling the business when he retired a few years ago.

He is survived by his wife, Ellen (Moy) DeRosa of Atkinson; two sons, Gregory J. DeRosa of Merrimack and Jonathan J. DeRosa of Atkinson; and a daughter, Christina M. Hayes of Derry.

Calling hours are Wednesday from 5 to 9 p.m. at Brookside Chapel & Funeral Home, 116 Main St., Plaistow.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Middle school students serve up tea for area seniors Middle school students serve up tea for area seniors

From the Eagle- Tribune;

Middle school students serve up tea for area seniors Middle school students serve up tea for area seniors
By James A. Kimble

PLAISTOW — Barbara Ippolito had to make a snap decision over which poinsettia she would take home.

"This one," she said to the student who came to her table.

Ippolito spent yesterday morning sitting between her grandchildren, Jennifer and Raymond Lipfert, as she enjoyed the music played by nearly 100 students who had been practicing holiday songs for weeks.

"I am really impressed with the work they do with the students here," said Ippolito, of Andover, Mass.

The Senior Citizens Tea is an annual event at the Timberlane Middle School that's been going on for about 30 years.

More than 150 local seniors came to the event to be waited on by middle school students who served tea and baked goods and presented small holiday tokens such as Christmas ornaments.

"It's just a nice way to bring the community together and kick off the Christmas season," school Principal Michael Hogan said. "The grandparents really seem to enjoy the bringing together of two generations."

It's not just grandparents who come every December. Neighbors and friends of the children are invited as well. And many come year after year with their succession of grandchildren making their way through middle school.

"We've had some elderly guests who have been coming here as long as I have been doing this," said Ann Day, a teacher at the middle school and a representative to the Parent-Teacher-Student Association, which hosts the event.

The food and gifts are donated. And students volunteer their time preparing for and working the event.

Hogan said one of the main themes at the school throughout the year is community service, and the senior tea is just one example of this.

Students also recently organized a canned-food drive which brought in 4,500 canned goods for the needy. Another drive is collecting coats, hats and mittens during the winter months.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Grieving family's Santa Fund fund-raiser event marred by fire

From the Eagle Tribune;

Grieving family's Santa Fund fund-raiser event marred by fire
By Mike LaBella

ATKINSON, N.H. - Nicole Bailey was in the midst of helping to plan a benefit fund-raiser in memory of her brother, John "Jay" Bourdelais, 23, who was killed in an auto accident just a few weeks before Christmas last year.

Her family's plans to raise money for The Eagle-Tribune Santa Fund were interrupted last Tuesday when another tragedy befell them.

An electrical fire destroyed John's old bedroom and caused smoke damage throughout the Atkinson house where he lived with his parents Robin and John Bourdelais. The family is staying in temporary housing on their property until the damage is repaired.

"All my memories of John were destroyed," said Robin Bourdelais.

Also ruined were several baskets that were going to be raffled at the fund-raiser. Friends who had donated the baskets made new ones, she said. Paper goods and party decorations Robin Bourdelais had collected for the fund-raiser were also ruined.

"My mom wasn't going to let a fire put a stop to this event," said Bailey, 25, of Haverhill, Mass. "We're just coming up on the one-year anniversary. The fire was a downer for the holidays, but my mom is coping by working on this event."

When news of the fire spread, John's friends, family members as well as individuals and local businesses responded with a deluge of new raffle items. One New Hampshire business even donated a canoe for the event, something Bailey said her brother would have appreciated.

"John loved to fish," Bailey said.

The benefit intended to raise money for the Santa Fund will go on as planned and takes place tomorrow evening at the AmVets on Primrose Street in Haverhill. Bailey said all 200 tickets to this sold-out event were purchased by friends, family members and those who knew John. She hopes the event will raise $2,000 or more for the Santa Fund.

"My brother's friends really helped out, especially the Shields family of Raymond, N.H.," Bailey said. "They helped my mom and replaced a lot of the decorations and paper goods that were burned. Some of my brothers' friends replaced the baskets that were burned. My brother had great friends and he'd do the same for them."

Bailey said her sisters, Meagan Bourdelais, 22, of Atkinson, and Lori Lopez, 26, of Deerfield, N.H., helped in planning the fund-raiser as well.

She said her brother would have appreciated his family's efforts to help local families and children this holiday season.

"He really had a way with kids," Bailey said.

This family's efforts to help the Santa Fund began last year following the death of John Bourdelais. Because his burial in Atkinson was delayed due to the cold weather, his family had asked that in lieu of flowers, donations in his name be made to the Santa Fund.

"We wanted to do it again this year and we hope to do this every year," Bailey said. "If John knew we were doing this, it would make him so happy."

Those attending tomorrow's fund-raiser were asked to bring along canned goods to be distributed among local food pantries.

"We just wanted to make as many families happy as possible," Robin Bourdelais said.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Weak economy means no raises for Atkinson town employees

From the Eagle Tribune;

Weak economy means no raises for Atkinson town employees
By John Basilesco

ATKINSON — The slumping economy will mean no raises for 121 town workers next year.

For the first time in 21 years, selectmen voted against cost-of-living raises for them, citing the sagging economy. It affects every town worker, except members of the police union, who are currently negotiating a new contract.

Of the 121 town employees who won't get raises, 113 are part time and a dozen are full-time workers.

"Selectmen weren't pleased about it," Town Administrator Steve Angelo said about the board's decision. "They had to tell town employees there would be no increase. But they had to balance the horrible economy and the ability of taxpayers to afford their government."

The board voted 3-0 against granting raises next year. Paul Sullivan, the board's chairman, and Selectmen William Friel and Fred Childs voted against the raises.

Friel said the board's decision was part of an effort to cut back because of the downturn.

"We're trying to be fiscally responsible," he said. "Our town employees do a great job and we support them, but we also have 6,600 residents we represent. Given the (weak) economy, we couldn't justify the cost of living raises. Unfortunately, it doesn't make the Board of Selectmen popular with the town employees."

Friel said this was the first time in 21 years that the town decided against granting raises. The last time was also during an economic slowdown, which started in the late 1980s and continued into the early 1990s, Friel said.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Property Tax time, but are you overpaying?

Webmaster, Please consider this as an article submission

Subject: Your Atkinson Property Taxes

Good Afternoon All Atkinson Taxpayers for Fair Evaluations Committee Mailing List People

It's that time of year again. Your property tax bills must be paid by December 8th and most likely you were over assessed by a minimum of twelve percent in assessed value. If the average value is $358,801.93, that would mean one would be over assessed by $43,056.23 and over paying by $639.82 . Tax Rate this year is: $14.86

Please remember that each dollar you over pay, someone else is not paying his fair share. In other words, you are subsidizing them. In this poor economy, can we really afford to do this?

Have you inspected you property tax card this year for errors? (You should do this every year regardless if you filed an abatement last year.)

If not, we would like to suggest:

1. Go to the Selectmen's office at Town Hall and make copies of everything that is in your property tax folder. (Copy everything front and back) You will be charged fifty cents a sheet by the selectmen. They will also try to convince you that everything is fine and you are wasting your time. (Last year we got back over $130,000.00 for taxpayers and the figure is growing.)

2. Print out your latest Property Tax Card from the CAMA System and compare it to prior years.

3. Check all information on your card for accuracy. (Most cards we have checked have many errors that cost you money.)

4. Keep these copies in a safe place in your home. (Things get lost at Town Hall)

5. If you find errors, you must file an abatement between January 1st but no later than March 1, 2009 to get your money back and lower your assessment.

You can download and printout the abatement form at:

6. If you need help understanding the codes or filing an effective abatement, please contact
us. We have experience and you do not have to do this alone. We are even willing to visit your home to look for factors/conditions that the assessor did not give you credit for. Conditions that will lower your assessment.

7. If you need help, you can contact us through

Please note that your committee helped two plaintiffs in two BTLA hearing cases against the Town of Atkinson this year. These filings will be on our web site shortly and we will notify you of the court decisions when they are available.

Please do not allow Atkinson's Assessors to assess you for property you do not own.

Sincere regards,
Atkinson Taxpayer for Fair Evaluations Committee