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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, April 30, 2009

Atkinson field construction on hold

From the Eagle Tribune;

Atkinson field construction on hold
By Eric Parry

ATKINSON — Two new athletic fields on East Road may not be constructed this year as planned.

The town doesn't know if it can use money from a $40,000 warrant article approved at the 2008 Town Meeting to build the fields because of the wording. A $45,000 warrant article was approved at this year's meeting for a total of $45,000.

Construction of the fields was supposed to start this month. The town is now consulting with its attorney to see if there is any way to start the project before next year.

"So far, we're just waiting to hear from the lawyer," Recreation Director Noriko Yoshida-Travers said.

The town had planned to build half the project this spring with $85,000 and put another warrant article before voters next year. That money would go for a multipurpose field and a lacrosse field.

Voters turned down a second warrant article at this year's Town Meeting worth $25,000 that would have been used to build a 50-car parking lot and a walking path around the two fields.

If the town is only able to use the $45,000 from this year's article, it's unlikely that any construction will take place this year, according to Selectman Bill Bennett.

The fields have to sit for a year before they can used, so teams in town would have to wait until the 2011 season if no work is done this year.

Patti Mangini, chairman of the Recreation Commission, said previously that the athletic leagues and Recreation Commission would fundraise before next March to help ease the burden on taxpayers.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Atkinson Residents concerned their wells will run dry

From the Eagle Tribune;

Residents concerned their wells will run dry Water company says pumping will have little impact
By Eric Parry

ATKINSON — Some residents last night expressed fear their private water wells will go dry if the Hampstead Area Water Co. gets permission from the state to operate pumps at two new well sites.

But an engineer said tests indicated there would be little impact on the residential wells.

The water company submitted its final report to the state in March that calls for a 46 percent drop in usage from its initial proposal submitted last year. The first proposal was for 648,000 gallons per day, but this latest proposal is for 348,800 gallons a day.

One reason for the drop is that the latest proposal only has two well sites instead of three. There are two pumps at each well site.

The water company, represented by the geohydrological firm Emery & Garrett Groundwater Inc., presented its plans to about 30 residents at a public hearing last night.

It was the second hearing in the permitting process. The first hearing was last May before any test pumping was done.

Hampstead Area Water Co. President Harold Morse said the new wells would improve the company's water system in Atkinson that serves between 30 percent and 40 percent of the community.

He said it also would allow for more customers to hook up to the system if they wanted.

Engineer John Brooks said the two well sites, Fieldstone and Settlers Ridge, were tested for eight days at levels well above the levels that would be pumped if the plans were approved.

During the testing, Hampstead Area Water Co. also monitored some of its existing wells and residential wells in the area, Brooks said.

Only two residential wells close to the Fieldstone site showed minor effects from the pumping, Brooks said.

But residents said they were still concerned their wells would run dry.

If the new wells affect the private wells, the resident and the company will have to work out a solution, said Derek Bennett, manager of the water conservation division. That solution could mean the company would pay for a new well or a hookup to the water system. The resident would then have to pay for the water.

In the past, new large groundwater withdrawals permitted by the state have had little effect on private wells, Bennett said.

If the permit is accepted, the water company would have to adhere to a water conservation plan, which it currently does not have.

Only four residents spoke during the public comment section of the meeting, with three of them saying they were skeptical of the plans.

Resident John Wolters said he didn't understand why the company needed to withdraw so much water when only 40 new customers have hooked up to the system in the last five years.

Last night's hearing wasn't the last opportunity for the public to comment.

Residents have until June 15 to send DES comments. They will then publish a letter with the comments and the decision will come some time after that.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

More bad feelings between selectmen and library trustees

From the Eagle Tribune;

More bad feelings between selectmen and library trustees
By Eric Parry

ATKINSON - The Board of Selectman cut Nina Gray from her alternate position on the Kimball Library trustees last night because she failed to fill out the application.

But the trustees say the application was just supposed to be a formality and should not disqualify someone who has volunteered time at the library.

Last night's move was just the latest to anger the trustees.

Last week, selectman appointed four members as alternates to the board even though there were only three openings. Eleanor Feuer, Joanne Tsai and John Mack were also appointed to alternate positions.

The trustees' anger with the selectman began when Tsai was not selected to the vacant one-year position on the board last Monday.

The trustees had made a recommendation to the selectman to fill the vacant position with Tsai but instead they chose Greg Spero, who has no previous experience on the board.

The trustees chose Tsai because she was third-highest vote-getter in March for two three-year positions in the March election. Wendy Doughty and Julie Hammond were both elected. The vacancy arose after someone left the board.

Usually, trustees are elected, but selectmen have the authority to appoint members when there are vacancies.

Trustee Chairman Kay Galloway said it's been past practice that the trustees' recommendation is always chosen.

"I feel it unbelievable that you would interfere," Doughty said.

Selectman Bill Bennett said the three selectmen didn't know any of the candidates and had to make their decision based on the applications. The appointments weren't meant to disrespect the trustees but were to get new people to serve on town boards, Bennett said.

But the selectman's decision last night led to two other alternates saying they wanted to step down from the board last night.

Tsai and Feuer said they would step down as alternates so that Gray could be a member of the board.

"I don't want to deprive her of that opportunity," Tsai said.

Bennett asked both of them to wait until next Monday before officially resigning.

Monday, April 27, 2009

DES holds hearing on Atkinson water withdrawal plan

From the Eagle Tribune;

DES holds hearing on Atkinson water withdrawal plan
By Eric Parry

ATKINSON, N.H. — The town is expecting a packed house Tuesday night for a public hearing for residents to comment on the Hampstead Area Water Company's large groundwater withdrawal proposal.

This will be the second hearing Atkinson selectman have requested from the state Department of Environmental Services, the agency that will ultimately decide the fate of the proposal.

But the final report submitted to DES calls for a 46 percent drop in the amount of water the company would withdraw every day. The first proposal was for 648,000 gallons per day; the latest proposal is for just 348,480 gallons a day, according to Christine Bowman, a hydrogeologist with the department's Drinking Water and Groundwater Bureau.In the initial proposal, the water company requested withdrawing water from three locations in Atkinson — Settlers Ridge, Midpoint and Fieldstone. But the latest proposal doesn't include the Midpoint location, Bowman said.

"It's uncertain how the water system is going to proceed with the Midpoint well field," Bowman said.

One of the most important concerns is whether the withdrawals will affect residents' wells, Selectman Bill Bennett said.

To end that fear, Bennett said, DES needs to explain Tuesday night that they understand the hydrogeology well enough that residents' wells won't run dry.

"The townspeople have gotten hoarse explaining what they think of the whole situation," Bennett said.

Even though Atkinson residents approved a local ordinance aimed at protecting the community's water, it won't have any effect on whether DES approves the water company's groundwater proposal. The state attorney general's office submitted an opinion to selectmen in a letter Dec. 9 that said Atkinson's local ordinance cannot interfere with the state's ability to regulate large groundwater withdrawal applications.

"The law is pretty clear and the attorney general has issued an opinion that the town law doesn't apply," Bennett said.

After the hearing Tuesday, residents have 45 days to submit written comments to DES. They will then publish a letter with the comments and make a decision some time after that. Bowman couldn't say how long it would take for DES to make its decision.

"It really depends on how complete the final report is," she said.

A copy of the water company's final report is available at Town Hall and Kimball Library for residents to view. The hearing is at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Atkinson Community Center.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

School officials limited when teachers are investigated

From the Eagle Tribune;

School officials limited when teachers are investigated Until charges are filed superintendents say they have few options
By James A. Kimble

When Timberlane School Superintendent Richard La Salle learned one of his longtime teachers was being investigated for child pornography, he was placed in an untenable position, according to area school administrators and lawmakers.

"I'm not familiar with the specific details of the case. But I don't know what I would have done in the same situation," Salem Superintendent Michael Delahanty said. "I might have made the same decision."

La Salle allowed Scott Buatti, 43, of Newton to maintain his job as a middle school teacher and coach until he was indicted by a grand jury a week ago on 10 counts of possession of child pornography.

The decision to keep Buatti on staff for more than a year until he was formally charged drew the ire of many parents.

But area school administrators and state officials say that at times — such as in the Buatti case — there's little that can be done to an employee when school administrators have little to no hard proof that any wrongdoing has been committed.

Federal agents investigating Buatti in February 2008 told La Salle and assistant superintendent Winfried Feneberg that Buatti was under investigation for having child pornography on his home computer. But a forensic exam of Buatti's school computers done by an investigator for the state Department of Education turned up nothing.

Londonderry Superintendent Nathan Greenberg said in those kinds of situations school administrators are dealing with a number of competing issues while they investigate a teacher or staff person's alleged behavior.

"As a superintendent, you can only operate with the facts and issues you have, and you have to respect everyone's rights," Greenberg said. "If you've done an internal investigation and you don't have any evidence to show any wrongdoing, there isn't much you can do. And law enforcement isn't especially going to share the information they have."

Current and former superintendents interviewed said unequivocally that children always come first in their final decisions on whether they remove someone from their job. And even if police don't share information they have while an investigation is underway, they will warn administrators whether they believe someone poses a danger, administrators said.

In New Hampshire, superintendents rely heavily on the school district's lawyer for guidance on what kind of action they can take — whether it's possibly criminal in nature or not, according to Judith Fillion, a director in the state Department of Education, which oversees teacher conduct.

"They generally take the advice of their counsel," she said. "If they call us, we are able to provide general guidance on how to proceed."

Superintendents are legally required to notify the Department of Education when they get a complaint about a teacher's conduct. That triggers a separate internal investigation by the DOE to determine if there is any wrongdoing that merits a teacher losing state certification.

But school administrators are on their own when it comes to making a final decision to place someone on administrative leave. School boards vote whether to fire someone, but the recommendation comes from the superintendent.

It's a superintendent's worst nightmare

Henry LaBranche, the state's longest serving superintendent who retired from Salem in 2004, said nobody is more horrified about allegations of misconduct than superintendents.

"They are the worst days of your career when one of these come to your attention," LaBranche said. "You think, 'My God, what was this individual thinking about when we've entrusted them with these young people and they start making these kinds of choices in their lifestyle.'"

When LaBranche first became a superintendent in 1975, investigating claims of improper conduct were left to the superintendent, without help even from the police.

"When you had one referring to alleged inappropriate sexual contact, you would take your own investigation in-house, then make a referral to the police department," he said. "Over the years, most of us messed that up pretty badly. That's not what we were trained to do."

That eventually prompted both police and the DOE to take a more active role in the process, LaBranche said.

"Now the law has changed, so as soon as you suspect something, you make that call," he said. "You call police, then the state Department of Education and, third, your board of education. Immediately, you have to have those procedures pretty well locked in place. Children are first and your employee is second. If you're going to err, then you're going to err on the side of the children, and take your lumps with the employee."

New Hampshire has a single law on the books that allows school administrators to remove an employee for cause. But just an allegation, regardless of who it comes from, is generally not enough to act, according to school administrators.

Rep. David Welch, R-Kingston, represents the district where Buatti teaches.

"If I were a parent, I would be greatly upset," Welch said. "I'm not sure the school administrators do have the tools they need. It's (generally) not a matter of statute. An indictment is not a finding of guilty. ... We run afoul of this innocent until proven guilty. I'm sure the administration kept an eye on the situation, but that probably doesn't satisfy a lot of people."

Administrators do have latitude

Delahanty, the Salem superintendent, said he believes the law gives school administrators enough latitude to act when they have reliable evidence of wrongdoing. He said a couple of years ago, he put an employee on administrative leave who had been accused of using a MySpace account to post inappropriate pictures and possibly tried to solicit students.

In that case, the employee was ultimately fired, Delahanty said. But the law that allowed him to put the employee on administrative leave was enough to remove him from the school and finish the investigation, he said.

"It's really giving (administrators) the authority to take away a person who might be posing a threat of some kind," he said. "But you better have a very good reason for doing that ... and I've almost always waited some advice of counsel."

Delahanty said administrators are sensitive to the fact they are very likely ending someone's career once they are placed on leave, whether it becomes public or not. Delahanty said he had great respect for La Salle as an administrator and wouldn't second guess his decision.

Greenberg said the law does its best to balance both sides of a case once an allegation comes to light.

"It's just like the regular jurisprudence system," he said. "It tries to balance the rights of the state and accused."

Buatti, who is now on administrative leave, was a teacher, soccer, basketball and track coach for 19 years. He is scheduled to be arraigned in Rockingham County Superior Court later this month.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Atkinson continues dealing with debris from December storm

From the Eagle Tribune;

Atkinson continues dealing with debris from December storm
By Eric Parry

ATKINSON, N.H. — There are more than 200 broken tree limbs hanging over roads in Atkinson.

Last week, Road Agent Ted Stewart marked the trees with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the town is now collecting bids to get rid of the hanging limbs.

It's just another project left to complete after the December ice storm, Stewart said.

Quotes for the work are due by May 4, but Stewart said he's estimated the work to cost $16,000. That would chew up the $6,000 the town has budgeted for tree work. Town officials hope the rest will come from FEMA, he said.

"I really hope that's all it's going to cost," Stewart said.

The town also is dealing with brush from the storm that residents drop off at the recycling center.

Since the recycling center opened earlier this spring, 1,300 yards of brush have been cleared away.

"That would be like four years worth of brush," Stewart said.

Luckily, the town has had Pro Bark Inc. chipping the brush and hauling it away to their Plaistow lot for free.

That's been a huge cost-savings to the town because it usually pays $300 for every 50 yards taken out of the recycling center, Stewart said.

Burning the brush is another option, but that comes at a cost, too, Stewart said.

But there are no signs of the brush stopping and Stewart said he expects it to continue at least through the end of May.

"The recycling center has really been swamped," he said.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Timberlane students hear story of one panel from AIDS quilt Quilt helps students understand how at risk they can be

From the Eagle Tribune;

Timberlane students hear story of one panel from AIDS quilt Quilt helps students understand how at risk they can be
By Margo Sullivan

PLAISTOW — Students at Timberlane Regional High School heard a firsthand story of the risks of the AIDS pandemic yesterday. During morning and afternoon assemblies, they looked at 12 panels from the AIDS memorial quilt, which bears the names of 47,000 victims, while they listened to the cold, hard facts from an author with roots in Plaistow.

Nancy Draper, who used to work in the district schools as a substitute teacher, said AIDS presents a growing public health threat, especially for young people. Half of all new HIV infections strike those in the 15 to 25-year-old age range. That means "all you in the bleachers," she told the students.

"To some extent, AIDS has fallen off the radar screen in America," Draper said. "We can't let that happen."

She told the students how her mother, Irene Hamel of Merrimac, Mass., became ill from blood infected with the deadly virus that she received while undergoing heart-bypass surgery. She was 61 years old and made a decision not to tell anyone about her illness. Before she died at age 66, she made Draper promise to tell the story after her death.

"Nancy," she said, "I want you to write about this disease, so other people don't have to suffer in silence like we did."

Draper said she honored her mother's wishes and wrote a book, "A Burden of Silence." She also made a panel for the AIDS quilt in her mother's memory.

Draper said the entire quilt, which includes the names of 47,000 people who have died from AIDS, weighs 54 tons and would reach from Plaistow to Boston.

The AIDS quilt travels to the school every two years, according to Megan Truche, 16, a junior from Sandown. Truche, who is active with the school's Peer Outreach Group, said the memorial has become "kind of a tradition."

Truche said she hopes the quilt will remind students that AIDS still poses a major public health threat, but added it was too soon to gauge the impact.

"Usually, the day after the assembly, we'll have discussions," she said.

Kimberly Andrade of Plaistow, also 16 and a junior, helped display the quilt. She also belongs to the Peer Outreach Group. When she found out the quilt was coming to Timberlane, she said she wanted to be involved.

The Gay Student Alliance and the SoRock Coalition for Healthy Youth also organized the display.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Atkinson library trustees miffed at selectmen

From the Eagle Tribune;

Atkinson library trustees miffed at selectmen
By Eric Parry

ATKINSON — The Kimball Library trustees are still wondering why the Board of Selectmen didn't follow their recommendation for filling vacant positions on their board.

Trustee Chairman Kay Galloway said trustees made a recommendation to selectmen to fill the one vacant position with Joanne Tsai, but selectmen instead appointed Greg Spero to the one-year post.

The trustees chose Tsai because she was third-highest vote-getter in March for two three-year positions in the March election. Wendy Doughty and Julie Hammond were both elected. The vacancy arose after someone left the board.

Usually, trustees are elected, but selectman have the authority to appoint members when there are vacant positions.

On Monday, Galloway pleaded with the selectmen to change their position, but so far nothing has changed.

"It is past practice that the recommendation of the library trustees are chosen," Galloway said.

But Selectmen's Chairman Frank Childs said the appointment was not meant to disrespect the trustees or Tsai.

"We just thought we'd have some new blood on there," Childs said.

Childs and Selectman Bill Bennett said they chose Spero because he had relevant experience that could help the trustees.

But Galloway said the board is almost all new people. Galloway is the only trustee who has previously served on the board.

Selectmen also appointed four people to alternate positions, but there are only three of those positions vacant. Tsai was appointed as an alternate, along with Eleanor Feuer, John Mack and Nina Gray.

Childs said his board may amend their appointments at their next meeting on Monday.

Timberlane struggles to collect school lunch debt

From the Eagle Tribune;

Timberlane struggles to collect school lunch debt Timberlane has 'thousands of dollars' of lunch debt
By Margo Sullivan

PLAISTOW — More children are turning up in the school lunch line with empty pockets, as well as empty stomachs, said Kathleen Smith, assistant business manager for the Timberlane Regional School District.

High school Principal Donald Woodworth said about 15 families have run up debts of $200 or more, accounting for the high school's portion of the uncollected debt.

Smith did not immediately return a phone call asking for an estimate of the uncollected lunch money. Woodworth said yesterday the sum is in the "significant thousands of dollars."

Woodworth said the recession has cost jobs and some families, who used to rely on two incomes, have not trimmed their expenses to fit one salary.

"Some households used to be earning $170,000 and now one person's out of work," he said. "They're down to $65,000 or $70,000 a year, but they still have the expenses from their old lifestyle."

The parents still earn too much money to qualify for free and reduced lunch programs, Smith said.

Now the question is what the schools should do to collect the money, while at the same time, making sure needy students do not go hungry.

Elementary and middle-school students are still being fed, regardless of their debt, Smith said. But the district decided to take tougher measures with high-school students. Their parents are receiving collection letters if the students owe $20 or more.

But Jeremy Wilson, 18, a Timberlane senior, said school officials should treat the cafeteria debts on a case-by-case basis.

"I don't think it's right to just cut someone off," he said. "But if someone isn't paying because they don't want to, they should be sought-after."

Woodworth said that's how the high school's staff is trying to handle the situation.

The issue of uncollected lunch money came up after an audit, Smith said.

Woodworth said food services at all the district schools, including Atkinson, Danville, Plaistow and Sandown, are audited annually to make sure the companies are running efficiently.

"We want to make sure we're not making a mistake going with a food service company," he said.

The red ink started flowing last year from cafeterias in the Timberlane Regional School District, Woodworth said. This year, as the recession has deepened, the food service has continued to lose money, largely because the schools are having trouble with debt collection.

He sees a report every two weeks with the names of students in arrears. He and the staff contact the families and try to assess the situation.

Most parents do pay the bill when the school makes a demand, he said. If they don't have the money, the school offers a payment plan. Meanwhile, to help the youngsters, the staff tries to connect them with Mealey's Meals, a yearlong program designed to help feed the needy.

"We try to do that pretty quietly," he said.

Timberlane Regional Middle School's Principal Michael Hogan said his students are trying to put on some fundraisers to help needy families.

"I'm not sure how much fundraising we'll do," he said.

The students are planning a Hat Day at lunch as one effort to raise money.

Smith said similar problems with school lunch collections are occurring nationwide.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Timberlane School Board Antics

gypped from the Plaistow Town Crier, Thank you Mr. Herrick;

osted by Dennis Herrick on April 18, 2009 at 22:04:27:

Atkinson Residents, It's Baldwin At His Finest.

Just click the link below, scroll to Timberlane School Board Meeting 4/16/09, at bottom of article click play.

* Timberlane School Board Antics

Follow Ups:

* Re: Timberlane School Board Antics (url) (pic) - Len Mullen 07:19:55 04/19/09 (0)

Maybe Mr. Baldwin, this is why people don't want to put their names to criticisms.

Atkinson may have to start administrator search — again...again...again...again...

From the Eagle Tribune;

Atkinson may have to start administrator search — again
Eric Parry

ATKINSON — It appears Atkinson may have to wait a little longer for a town administrator.

The candidate who was offered the job last week told the Board of Selectmen yesterday that he might not leave his current employer after all.

The candidate's employer matched the salary Atkinson had offered, the selectmen said last night.

"We're going to have to start the process all over again," selectmen's Chairman Fred Childs said.

Selectmen said they have not decided whether they will hire the Local Government Center to conduct a search for new candidates.

The candidate who was offered the job last week was a candidate from the search when Steven Angelo was hired last fall.

That search cost the town $5,000. Childs said they will begin advertising for the position again soon.

But it's not clear whether the unnamed candidate has rejected the town's offer.

Selectman Bill Friel said the town has a signed deal with the candidate and a background check was in the process. Friel said the board hasn't had a chance to discuss the latest developments.

When the selectmen do find a new administrator, it will be the fourth one in just over a year.

The job has been vacant since Angelo left abruptly in late January after only a couple of months on the job. Before Angelo came on board in the fall, the post was held by Craig Kleman as an interim administrator. Kleman was hired last April, but left last summer to take a similar job in Plaistow. He has since left Plaistow. The previous administrator, Russ McCallister, left in February 2008 to work as a government adviser in Iraq.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Atkinson residents say street number confusion can be scary

From the Eagle Tribune;

Atkinson residents say street number confusion can be scary
By Eric Parry

ATKINSON — Whenever Dave Hammond tries to get a FedEx package or a pizza delivered to his Atkinson home, it almost always ends up at his neighbor's door.

That's because Hammond's home, 20A Coventry Road, is the only home on the street with a letter. The home before his is 20 Coventry Road and the home after is 22, he said.

To solve the problem, Hammond has requested a hearing tomorrow night with the Board of Selectmen to renumber the homes on his street.

But the inconvenience of package deliveries isn't the real issue.

"What's going to happen when we have to call an ambulance?" Hammond said. That's already been a problem for other residents, and it can be a scary thing to watch, said Kerry Gulezian of 2 Washington Road.

About six months ago, her 1-year-old son Adam was choking on a piece of cellophane and his face had started to turn blue. She called 911 right away, but when she heard the sirens on her street they turned before they got to her house.

"I could hear the ambulance going up the wrong driveway," Gulezian said.

That was the second time an ambulance incorrectly showed up at her neighbor's house. By the third time, Gulezian said, she told the 911 operator about the numbering issue so that an ambulance would go to the right address.

The problem is that there are two homes, 2A and 2B Washington Road, that were built after the other five homes on the street. Instead of renumbering the street, the town just added letters to the addresses.

But the problem isn't just these two streets.

Fire Chief Mike Murphy said he's aware of the address confusion on these two streets and a "handful" of others in town. He said he's not even sure how many there are.

"You're normally not looking for this oddity when responding in an emergency," Murphy said.

He acknowledged ambulances sometimes have responded to the wrong house and said he supports Hammond's request to change numbering on these two streets.

When the development was built on Coventry Road, Murphy said he pleaded with selectmen to renumber the homes, but he lost that battle.

When someone calls 911, they should be more concerned with explaining the problem and not worrying whether an ambulance will find them, Murphy said.

"It just adds to the anxiety of the situation," he said.

The meeting is at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow at Town Hall.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Kimball Library program matches new readers with more experienced ones

From the Eagle Tribune;

Kimball Library program matches new readers with more experienced ones Library Buddies matches new readers with older children
By Eric Parry

ATKINSON — Ciara Abel was at Kimball Library one afternoon when she found a younger child looking for a partner to read with.

Since that day a couple of weeks ago, Ciara, 12, has become one of 13 teenagers who help other children, ages 5 to 7, learn to read and pick out books in the children's room.

"I like how you get to read books with other people," said Ciara, who is a frequent reader on her own.

Now in its third year, Library Buddies is one of the most popular programs at the town's public library. The program runs for six weeks. Every Wednesday afternoon, children from kindergarten through third grade get a chance to read with their older partners.

The program wraps up Wednesday, but children's librarian Carolyn Birr said they've already planned to run the same program next spring.

"It's very hard with teenagers to get them to clear their schedule," Birr said.

Ciara last week shared the afternoon with 6-year-old Ilan Levine, who was reading books about monkeys baby-sitting and teachers living secret lives at an elementary school.

"I never thought a teacher would live at a school," Ilan said while decorating a paper bag for an Earth Day celebration.

Across the room, Adam Torris, 7, hunted for a well-hidden Waldo who was hiding on a pirate ship while Meg Miller, 12, read a short introduction of how the famous traveler got lost.

"They're hard, but they're fun to do," Adam said of the "Where's Waldo?" books.

Like Ciara, Meg said she likes reading and wanted to help younger children to become better readers.

"I love reading and kids, too," Meg said.

Hannah Cosio, 12, said she visits Kimball Library at least twice a week, so it was just natural for her to become part of the program.

Reading to Brendan Moody, 5, was fun because the book series he chose about the adventures of a pigeon was filled with laughs, Hannah said.

"It's almost like you're talking to the pigeons," Hannah said.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Atkinson Zoning Board rejects trucking plan

Article Submission:

Atkinson Zoning Board rejects trucking plan

By Eric Parry

ATKINSON SEmD The Zoning Board ruled a trucking company is not allowed to locate on Industrial Way at a meeting that didn't end until early this morning.

Board members concluded the company, P.J. Murphy Transportation Inc., was not a permitted use in the commercial industrial zone, an area that lies along the Salem town line.

The 3-2 vote represented a major victory for neighbors, who appealed the Planning Board's decision last month to approve the project.

Attorney John Ratigan represented a group of about 10 abutters who appealed the Planning Board ruling, claiming the 24-hour trucking facility should not be allowed in their neighborhood.

"This plan has regional implication," said resident Keith Wolters.

The trucking facility would have operated 24 hours per day and only been closed Sunday mornings. There would be seven trucks and 14 trailers parked on the property, which would also house a small office and maintenance garage, according to Paul Murphy, who was looking to relocate his business from Dracut, Mass. The firm transports petroleum products and water.

Residents, who waited in the audience at Town Hall for more than three hours before the board heard the appeal after 10 p.m., said they were mostly concerned the business would create loud noise in the middle of the night.

Murphy argued that his business included a parking lot, office building and garage - all permitted uses under town zoning - but residents said it was the combination of all these that created the problem.

"The concentration of trucks and traffic are unique to a transportation terminal," said resident Ed Tomasi.

Murphy said he was disappointed with the board's decision, which came shortly after midnight, but planned to file another appeal. He noted the case could eventually end up in Rockingham County Superior Court.

"It's been a tough struggle," Murphy said after the board's decision.

The proposed plans had been discussed by the Planning Board since November but were just approved in March. Members of that board wrestled with the noise issue for months and even had a sound study conducted at Murphy's expense.

Atkinson's zoning regulations specifically identify what is allowed in the commercial and industrial zone, and the trucking facility didn't fit the requirements despite similar businesses being located in the same area, according to some board members.

"Just because something was happening doesn't mean it was permitted," Susan Miner said of other businesses in the zone. Sam Zannini and Sandy Carter cast the dissenting votes.

Planning Board Vice Chairman Paul DiMaggio told the Zoning Board he voted against the plan because he didn't think it was right for that zone. DiMaggio, who was on the Planning Board when the commercial industrial zone was created in the 1980s, said it was intended for home businesses that outgrew residential neighborhoods.

"We are a bedroom community, not an industrial community," he said.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Atkinson offers top job to unnamed candidate

From the Eagle Tribune;

Atkinson offers top job to unnamed candidate
By Eric Parry

ATKINSON — Selectmen have offered someone the town administrator's job and expect to know soon whether he will accept the post.

Selectman Bill Friel said yesterday afternoon they were still negotiating a deal. Friel declined to identify the candidate or the specifics of the deal.

Selectmen's Chairman Fred Childs said an announcement could be made as early as next week.

Selectmen voted Monday night to make an offer to the only candidate they interviewed in the latest round. The interview was conducted last week.

If an agreement is reached, Atkinson will welcome its fourth town administrator in just over a year.

The last town administrator, Steven Angelo, left abruptly in late January after only a couple of months on the job. Before Angelo came onboard in the fall, the post was held by Craig Kleman as an interim administrator. Kleman was hired last April, but left last summer to take a similar job in Plaistow. He has since left Plaistow. The previous administrator, Russ McCallister, left in February 2008 to work as a government adviser in Iraq.

Selectmen said the salary range for the position depends on the person, but Angelo was making $75,000 per year when he left in January. McCallister made $63,000, plus benefits. Angelo did not receive any health or retirement benefits with his salary, according to selectmen.

Selectmen said previously that hiring a town administrator is their top priority.

While the selectmen were searching for a town administrator, they apparently mislaid or forgot to pay a $19 bill for the town's Web site domain name and allowed the site,, to expire.

Selectmen said yesterday the bill was sent to a former town employee who hadn't worked at Town Hall for about 10 years. The bill has now been paid and the Web site was back online yesterday morning.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Timberlane teacher indicted on child pornography charges Police find pornography featuring underage girls

From the Eagle Tribune;

Timberlane teacher indicted on child pornography charges Police find pornography featuring underage girls
By James A. Kimble

BRENTWOOD — A Timberlane Middle School gym teacher was placed on paid leave yesterday after school administrators learned he had been indicted on charges of possession of child pornography.

Scott Buatti, who has been with the school district for 19 years as a teacher and coach, had both photographs and video files of underage girls on his computer, according to the indictments.

Police found eight movie files "showing a lewd exhibition of the genitalia of a female child," according to the indictments. Two photos depicted a female child performing oral sex, the indictments said.

Buatti, 43, of 4 Wilders Grove Road in Newton, faces 10 felony charges, each punishable by three and a half to seven years in state prison.

Timberlane Superintendent Richard La Salle said yesterday that none of the allegations involve Buatti's conduct with students.

Buatti has coached girls basketball and soccer. This semester, he was coaching the middle school boys team. Recently, he had coached girls basketball and soccer teams at Timberlane, according to La Salle. Buatti also coached a girls AAU basketball team outside of school.

Federal investigators first discovered Buatti had the child pornography in February 2008, according to County Attorney James Reams.

After concluding their investigation, they passed on information about Buatti to the state's Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force about three months ago, Reams said.

Reams said investigators executed a search warrant on Buatti's home and computer.

Investigators can track the custody of photos and videos using software to monitor peer-to-peer computer networks, often used to illegally download music and movies, Reams said.

The indictments mark the second time a Timberlane teacher has faced sex-related charges. In July, Kevin Goddu, 46, a former high-school teacher, received a suspended 12-month jail sentence for having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old student. He struck a plea deal after he went to trial on felony charges, which resulted in a hung jury.

Timberlane School Board member William Baldwin, who works as an Atkinson police lieutenant, said yesterday he remains concerned about students' safety in light of the allegations against Buatti.

"I'm always concerned about student safety," he said. "But it's more disturbing when someone who has the trust of the public and children violates that trust — if, in fact, he has done that. As a law enforcement officer and parent, it disgusts me."

La Salle said he was notified by authorities yesterday morning about Buatti's indictment.

Buatti was working at the school when the news came to light yesterday morning. By early afternoon, La Salle released a statement saying Buatti had been placed on paid administrative leave.

The superintendent said the school is responding to the indictments by calling upon a crisis team made up of school counselors and psychologists in case students need to speak with someone. The crisis team is typically used when students have to deal with a death or other difficult news.

La Salle said he could not comment further on the case.

Timberlane eliminates February vacation

From the Eagle Tribune;

Timberlane eliminates February vacation
By Margo Sullivan

PLAISTOW — Next year's school calendar will shorten the February break for Timberlane Regional School District students — and some parents aren't happy about it.

In fact, the weeklong vacation at the end of February is gone, thanks to a vote by the School Board April 2.

Laurie Herchenrode of Plaistow, a mother of three schoolchildren, said students, teachers and parents all need a break at the end of February. She watched the televised School Board meeting and saw the decision as an "overreaction to the ice storm," which caused schools to close for six days in December.

February vacation has long been a target of some educators. They view the midwinter week as a disruption because it comes too soon after the long holiday break in December and January.

But Herchenrode said the half-days, which are still on the new calendar, are more disruptive than the weeklong vacation.

Another parent, Tammy Valhouli of Plaistow, said the argument about continuity doesn't make sense.

"If that's the case, why would they then put in two makeup days in the middle of February and a professional development day?" she said. "There's still a continuity issue."

Valhouli also said she's most upset by the fact the district asked parents to take a survey about potential changes to the calendar. According to the meeting broadcast, the survey results showed the majority of respondents opposed any change. But the School Board then apparently ignored the survey and voted to change the calendar anyway.

Assistant School Superintendent Winfried Feneberg said the ice storm definitely triggered the change. He said he didn't have the survey results and referred questions to Charles Coker, director of secondary education. Coker was unavailable yesterday.

"The educational reason was really for consistency of instruction," Feneberg said. "But it had a lot to do with the ice storm in that the amount of snow days to be tacked on at the end of the school calendar really meant shifting instructional days to the end of the year."

Feneberg said that could mean the first semester would end up being shorter than the second semester, so the School Board asked the administration for different options.

Under the new calendar, Feb. 11, and Feb. 16, are designated as snow makeup days, meaning they could end up as vacation days, if the schools don't need to compensate for time lost to bad weather. Feb. 11 is a Thursday. Feb. 15 is a Monday, Presidents Day, so it's possible students could get a four-day weekend if Feb. 16 isn't needed as a snow makeup day.

The calendar also calls for a professional development day on Feb. 12, meaning the students will not be in school that day either.

In a worst-case scenario, the students might only enjoy a long holiday weekend over Presidents Day.

School Superintendent Richard La Salle said the School Board could defer the change for another year, if it saw the departure from tradition as too drastic.

Students are "taken aback" by the change, according to Joseph Delfino, the School Board's student representative. He urged the School Board to postpone the new calendar, at least until the 2010-2011 school year. Delfino said he thought students needed a break at the end of the winter and cited illness as one issue.

But School Board member William Baldwin said he heard students preferred to get out of school earlier in June.

Ultimately, the School Board voted, 5-4, to eliminate the week off at the end of February and move the April vacation to the week of April 5. This year, April vacation falls the last week of the month.

Over the past years, several districts have considered the change. But no other local districts have made the move. Sanborn Regional School District, Derry, Hampstead, Londonderry, Salem, Pelham and Windham have all approved 2009-2010 calendars with the traditional February and April vacations.

First two comments on Eagle Trib, Blog!
PeterB 55 minutes ago
Since Timberlane is the only local school district opting for this schedule, does this mean that our kids who attend Voc Tech classes at Salem High will have no spring vacation at all? I failed to hear a discussion of this at the April 2 Board meeting. If so, this does not seem to be very even-handed across the student base.

And why is the only option to postpone the change one year? Why can't the board just reconsider and change to some other schedule, or leave the present "good enough" schedule alone?!?! All too often people fall into the trap of thinking they have to "do something" to fix a one-time issue, and it seems our board fell into the trap this time. Often times no-change is the best change.

BTW: The parents were against this change according to the survey, what about the teachers?? They were polled as well I understand, and were against this change 60% to 40% or more?!?!
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bookworm6 Today 06:27 AM
Another example of the School Board blindly following LaSalle. He has his own agenda. Obviously the school board doesn't care what the parents think because they disregarded the survey. The school board is a position driven by power and not intelligence.

Atkinson's Web site is down until $19 bill paid

From the Eagle Tribune;

Atkinson's Web site is down until $19 bill paid Town's Web site is down until bill is paid
By Eric Parry

ATKINSON — Residents looking for Planning Board meetings, town office hours or dog license fees won't find that information on the town's Web site.

The town allowed its domain name,, to expire. The generic Web page in its place said the registration expired April 5, and is pending renewal or deletion.

As of yesterday, no one appeared to know when the Web site would be available again, Selectman Bill Bennett said.

"Someone forgot to pay the domain registration bill," Bennett said.

Selectman Fred Childs said the bill was only $19, but nobody at Town Hall could find the bill yesterday.

Selectmen sign checks to pay bills from different departments on a weekly basis, but, at this point, they don't even know to whom that particular bill would have been addressed.

"Nobody could find a bill anywhere," Childs said yesterday afternoon.

The town offices are working with a bare-bones staff this week. The town has been without a town administrator since late January, when former administrator Steven Angelo abruptly left town, the third in a year to do so.

Selectmen interviewed at least one candidate for the administrator job last week and have previously said they would like to hire someone as soon as possible.

A temporary employee had been working in the selectmen's office since January, but her last day was Friday. Administrative assistant Barbara Snicer is on vacation this week.

Selectmen are dealing with other Web site-related issues from Town Meeting. Last month, voters approved a warrant article directing the town to put tax card information on the Web site. But no money was attached to the warrant article and posting the information is going to carry some expense.

Bennett said selectmen would like to follow through with voters' wishes, but at this point have no timetable when that information will become available.SClBDeputy Secretary of State Dave Scanlan said without any money attached to the warrant article, it was most likely advisory at this point. Selectmen have "pretty broad discretion" as to how they want to move ahead, he said.

In the long term, Bennett said he would like to see the town's Web site improved to have more information available and updated more frequently.

Next year, Bennett said he plans to set aside money for that job, but needs to research how much it would cost this summer.

Public hearing on HAWC Large Groundwater withdrawal

Moderator - Could you please post this as an article or announcement? Thanks.

The DES will be holding a Public Hearing on HAWC's Large Groundwater Withdrawal Request on
Tuesday, April 28, 2009, at 7PM, Atkinson Community Center.

Current plans are to record the Hearing for later rebroadcast on ACTV Ch. 20, but not to broadcast live due to the expense of doing so from the Community Center.

April 13, 2009 5:19 PM

Monday, April 13, 2009

What is not going on with the Town Website?

Has anyone noticed that there have been no minutes of selectmen's meetings posted since October 20, 2008?

Or that we are missing a WHOLE YEAR of budget committee minutes?

Or how about the general lack of information available on the town website?

There are many town's like Danville, whose town website has genuine information on it. In Atkinson, the Atkinson Taxpayers Website has more information then the town website.

And before this is conveniently blamed on the webmaster, it is not his fault! nobody is sending him minutes to post!

Ask your selectmen, and budget committee why?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

What is the Right to Know law and what does it mean to you?

Partial Article Submission;

Anonymous said...

Mx. Moderator please create at topic to review the root of RTK.
The NH Constitution provides this root foundation:

[Art.] 8. [Accountability of Magistrates and Officers; Public’s Right to Know.] All power residing originally in, and being derived from, the people, all the magistrates and officers of government are their substitutes and agents, and at all times accountable to them. Government, therefore, should be open, accessible, accountable and responsive. To that end, the public’s right of access to governmental proceedings and records shall not be unreasonably restricted.

Art. 8 provides the “jumping off point” and all Statutory law and court law must follow the constitution.

This is a current and ongoing topic and will likely have contemporary import.

NH's Right to Know law, RSA91-A, is so ingrained and important to the people in our state, that NH, has more RTK case law per capita than any other state in the union. It is so important that the Attorney General's office has an entire section dedicated to this set of laws. And she has published a legal memorandum on her site for all to see.

According to the Attorney General;

1.) Who is subject to the RTK law?

The Right-to-Know Law applies to all boards, commissions, agencies, or authorities, committees, subcommittees, subordinate bodies or advisory committees of all political subdivisions of the State, including, but not limited to counties, towns, municipal corporations, village districts, school districts, school administrative units, and charter schools. RSA 91-A:l-a, I(d); see Selkowe v. Bean, 109 N.H. 247 (1968) (pertaining to meetings of the Keene Municipal Finance Committee).


1. A public body holds a meeting under the Right-to-Know Law when two criteria are met:

a. A quorum of the membership of the public body is convened; and

b. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss or act upon a matter or matters over which the public body has supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power. RSA 91-A:2. See Herron v. Northwood, 111 N.H. 324, 326-27, 282 (1971) (town budget committee's function of preparing and submitting a budget is subject to public Right-to-Know Law and must be held in a manner open to the public).

The attendance by a quorum of a municipal board of selectmen or planning board at public informational meetings of the Department of Transportation for the purpose of advising the Department concerning a highway project can constitute a "meeting" under RSA 91-A:2, I requiring appropriate notice. Attorney General's Opinion 93-01.

A majority of agency members constitutes a quorum absent some other controlling law. See RSA 21:15 (authorizing a majority of agency members to take agency action).

3.) Notice of Meetings;


Assuming the governmental body is subject to the Right-to-Know Law and intends to convene a meeting within the meaning of the Right-to-Know Law, notice must be given as follows:


a. Either of the two following forms of notice is proper under the Right-to-Know Law:

(1) Notice of the time and place of any meeting (including non-public sessions) shall be posted in two appropriate places 24 hours prior to the meeting, excluding Sundays and legal holidays. RSA 91-A:2, II. Notices should be posted where people are likely to see them, such as on the government body's website, the location where the checklist or town warrant is posted, or the agency's office lobby or front door and the State House or Town Hall bulletin board; or

(2) Notice of the time and place of the meeting shall be printed in a newspaper of general circulation in the city or town at least 24 hours prior to the meeting, excluding Sundays and legal holidays

b. If the body decides to go into non-public session during an open meeting, the notice for the open meeting will suffice. If both public and non-public sessions are planned in advance, the notice should so state and generally identify the topics to be addressed in each session, including a brief outline of the agenda for each session.

4.) Recording meetings;

Any person may record, film, or videotape an open meeting. See WMUR v. N.H. Dept. of Fish and Game, No 2005-787, slip. op. (N.H. August 3, 2006) (prohibiting television cameras at hearing on issuance of a hunting and fishing license because the presence of cameras would impair the applicants ability to present his case violated the Right-to-Know Law where the applicant had not established that he had a due process right to a hearing without cameras present). 2

d. Minutes must be recorded and must include:

(1) The names of the members present

(2) The names of persons appearing before the body

(3) A brief description of each subject discussed

(4) A description of all final decisions made, including all decisions to meet in non-public session. "Final decisions" include actions on all motions made, even if the motion fails. A clear description of the motion, the person making the motion and the person seconding the motion should also be included

5.)Non public meetings;

Unless a specific statute authorizes a body to deliberate in non-public session on a particular question, public bodies must deliberate in public. 7

c. The reason for going into non-public sessions should be articulated with a specific reference to an appropriate section in RSA 91-A:3, II. If the body is relying on other law, a reference to that law should be included in the minutes. See generally Cioffi v. Sanbornton, No. 2001-E-022, Belknap County Superior Court (2001).

d. A public body may take final action in a non-public session on matters which may properly be considered in non-public sessions.

e. Minutes of non-public sessions:

(1) The decision to hold a non-public session must be included in the minutes of the open meeting

(2) Minutes of non-public sessions are required. These minutes (including any decisions reached by the body) must be disclosed within 72 hours


Every citizen during the regular or business hours of all such bodies or agencies, and on the regular business premises of such bodies or agencies, has the right to inspect all public records, including minutes of meetings of the bodies or agencies, and to make memoranda, abstracts, and photographic or photostatic copies of the records or minutes so inspected, except as otherwise prohibited by statute or RSA 91-A:5. RSA 91-A:4, I.

Case law indicates that the term "public record" refers to specific pre-existing files, documents or data in an agency's files, and not to information which might be gathered or compiled from numerous sources. Brent v. Paquette, 132 N.H. 415, 426 (1989). Documents or data which are covered by statutory or common law privileges or exclusions are excluded from the definition of "public records." See RSA 91-A:4, I (referring to statutory exclusions). Some, but not all, of these privileged and excluded records are included among the exemptions specified in RSA 91-A:5, e.g., medical treatment records. If you question whether a document is a public record, you should consult your legal counsel. 8


1. Individual salaries and employment contracts of local school teachers. Mans v. Lebanon School Board, 112 N.H. 160 (1972).

2. Names and addresses of substitute teachers hired during a strike. Timberlane Regional Education Assn. v. Crompton, 114 N.H. 315 (1974).

3. Certain law enforcement investigative records. Lodge v. Knowlton, 118 N.H. 574 (1978). (This is discussed in more detail below.)

4. A computerized tape of field record cards concerning property tax information. Menge v. City of Manchester, 113 N.H. 533 (1973).

5. State agency budget requests and income estimates submitted pursuant to RSA 9:4, 5 to the Commissioner of Administrative Services. Chambers v. Gregg, 135 N.H. 478 (1992).

6. Records of any payment in addition to regular salary and accrued vacation, sick, and other leave, made to an employee of any public agency or body listed in RSA 91-A:1a, I-IV, or to an employee's agent or designee, upon the employee's resignation, discharge, or retirement. RSA 91-A:4, I-a.


Public documents stored in computers shall be available in the same manner as records stored in public files if access to such records would not reveal work papers,9 personnel data or other confidential information. RSA 91-A:4, V. The New Hampshire Supreme Court has held that a record does not lose its status as public because it is stored in a computer system. Hawkins v. N.H. DHHS, 147 N.H. 376 (2001). The Right-To-Know Law does not require an agency to compile data in the format requested by a member of the public or to create a new document. In dicta, the Court states that RSA 91-A does require that public records be maintained in a manner that makes them available to the public. Hawkins, 147 N.H. at 379.


Every agreement to settle a lawsuit against a governmental unit, threatened lawsuit, or other claim entered into by any political subdivision or its insurer, shall be kept on file at the municipal clerk's office and made available for public inspection for a period of no less than 10 years. RSA 91-A:4, VI.

Production of Law Enforcement investigative files;


Relevant portions of the Federal Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(7), have been adopted as the standard for the disclosure or non-disclosure of law enforcement investigative records. Lodge v. Knowlton, 118 N.H. 574 (1978).

If the records requested are (1) investigative records and (2) compiled for law enforcement purposes, they may be withheld if the law enforcement agency can prove that disclosure would either:

a. Interfere with enforcement proceedings; or

b. Deprive a person of a right to a fair trial or an impartial adjudication; or

c. Constitute an unwarranted invasion of privacy13 (NOTE: The statutory exemption for invasion of privacy will be strictly construed. Mans v. Lebanon School Board, 112 N.H. 160 (1972)); or

d. Reveal the identity of a confidential source, and in the case of a record compiled by a law enforcement authority in the course of a criminal investigation or by any agency conducting a lawful national security investigation, confidential information furnished only by a confidential source; or

e. Reveal investigative techniques and procedures; or

f. Endanger the life or physical safety of law enforcement personnel.

The burden of proof is on the law enforcement agency to show that the record is exempt. It is not the responsibility of the person requesting the record to show that no exemption applies.14 If a law enforcement entity denies a request for investigative files, the response to the request should include an explanation of the basis for non-disclosure. In Hopwood v. Pickett, 145 N.H. 207 (2000), the court held that investigatory records may only be withheld if the State objects to their release. 15


Requests for the production of investigative records should be considered in light of all the relevant facts and circumstances. There is no test to apply in every instance to determine which documents may be withheld and which must be disclosed. However, in order to provide law enforcement with some assistance in resolving such requests, additional guidance follows:

a. Interference With Law Enforcement Proceedings

The proceedings do not have to be pending, but there should be a reasonable likelihood of adjudicatory proceedings at some point in the future. This would include an unresolved crime where some effort continues to be expended to solve it.

This exemption would not justify, for instance, withholding investigative records concerning an unquestioned suicide, although other exceptions might apply; for example, the report may include facts whose disclosure would constitute an invasion of privacy.

b. Accused's Right To Fair Trial

This exemption probably would apply in all pretrial situations. Information which might prejudice an accused's right to a fair trial includes records relating to the following:

(1) The guilt or innocence of a defendant

(2) The character or reputation of a suspect

(3) Examinations or tests which the defendant may have taken or have refused to take

(4) Gratuitous references to a defendant; for example, reference to the defendant as "a dope peddler"

(5) The existence of a confession, admission or statement by an accused person, or the absence of such

(6) The possibility of a plea of guilty to the offense charged or a lesser offense

(7) The identity, credibility or testimony of prospective witnesses

(8) Any information of a purely speculative nature

(9) Any opinion as to the merits of the case or the evidence in the case

c. Unwarranted Invasion of Privacy

In determining whether disclosure of documents will constitute an unwarranted invasion of privacy, the court will balance the public and/or private interest in the information sought against the severity of the invasion of privacy. If the public body asserts this exemption in good faith, the individual requesting the information will have to provide a reason or need for the information, contrary to most Right-to-Know Law situations. Although the federal courts are in some disagreement, there is substantial authority to support the nondisclosure of the types of information listed below on the grounds that their disclosure constitutes an unwarranted invasion of privacy, which is another way of saying an invasion of privacy without justification or adequate reason. Remember that these are not blanket exceptions. The facts and circumstances of each situation must be carefully examined to determine whether the privacy exception will apply. Information regarding the following matters may be exempt under this section:

(1) Marital status 16

(2) Legitimacy of children

(3) Medical conditions

(4) Welfare payments

(5) Alcohol consumption

(6) Family fights

(7) Names of witnesses who cooperated by providing information to authorities and the information provided by them 17

(8) Names of subjects of investigation

d. Confidential Source

This relates to the informant situation and will probably cover express or implied assurances of confidentiality.

e. Investigative Techniques And Procedures

This exclusion should not be interpreted to include routine techniques and procedures already well known to the public, but should cover techniques and procedures not commonly known.

f. Endangering Life Or Physical Safety Of Law Enforcement Personnel

This exclusion has not been widely construed, but appears to be fairly straightforward.

Any investigative record, whether open, closed, active, or inactive may fall within the exemptions. For instance, the disclosure of an open or active file could interfere with enforcement proceedings in many ways: apprehending a suspect, disclosing trial strategy, etc. Disclosure of a closed file would not be likely to interfere with enforcement proceedings but might constitute an unwarranted invasion of privacy or make public the name of a confidential informant. If only a portion of the record is exempt, the remaining portion must be disclosed if it is reasonably segregable from the non-exempt portions.

Many of the exemptions for law enforcement investigative records have yet to be interpreted by the New Hampshire courts. The above guidance is based on federal case law, which a New Hampshire court may reject. Nevertheless, the needs, demands, and results of good law enforcement are complex and long lasting, and the federal case law will not be lightly disregarded. It is important, therefore, that these exemptions be applied thoughtfully and carefully. The mere assertion of an exclusion without adequate reason or justification will not be sufficient to sustain a law enforcement agency's denial of a request for information under the Right-to-Know Law.

In a 2006 decision, the Supreme Court clarified the law enforcement investigative records exception (A), interference with law enforcement proceedings. Murray v. New Hampshire Division of State Police, No 2006-113, Slip Op. (N.H. Dec. 20, 2006). To justify the withholding of records, an agency should categorize for the court the investigatory records and each category must be defined precisely. The description should not reveal the contents of withheld documents, but should provide enough information to allow a court to determine if the documents must be disclosed.

Affidavits, testimony, or other evidence should be provided to the court that explains how the disclosure of the information within the categories could interfere with any investigation or enforcement. The law enforcement agency may also be required to explain why there is no reasonably segregable portion of the withheld materials within the category that is suitable for release. Murray v. New Hampshire Division of State Police, No 2006-113, Slip Op. (N.H. Dec. 20, 2006).


In all cases, the public body bears the burden of proving that a record is not subject to public release.

Comment are welcome.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Salem, Atkinson abutters protest truck plan

From the Eagle Tribune;

Salem, Atkinson abutters protest truck plan
By Eric Parry

ATKINSON — The Planning Board approved plans for a trucking facility on Industrial Way last month, but the proposal will go before the Zoning Board of Adjustment next week after an abutter filed an appeal.

Keith Wolters, who lives nearby in Salem, filed the appeal, saying the proposed 24-hour facility shouldn't be allowed in that part of town, which is zoned for industrial and commercial use. Zoning regulations specifically identify what is allowed in the area and a trucking facility doesn't meet those requirements, according to Wolters.

When the Planning Board approved the facility, more than 30 residents attended the meeting. Wolters said he expects another large turnout at the ZBA because neighbors are angry the facility will bring lots of noise to the area during early morning hours.

"There's not much planning taking place at the Planning Board," Wolters said.

The approved plans include an 8-foot berm and a 5-foot fence around the property to protect neighbors from noise. But some residents don't think that will do much to silence the trucks.

"We just don't want our home values impacted," Wolters said. "We don't want our lifestyles impacted."

Wolters and a group of about 15 other residents have hired an attorney to represent them at the meeting and have paid for a sound study to help their cause.

Some members of the Planning Board agreed the proposed facility doesn't fit the town's zoning regulations.

"We have nothing that says you can have a transportation terminal in that zone," said Planning Board member Paul DiMaggio, who voted against the project.

The meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Atkinson Town Hall.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Atkinson Academy's water tested for lead

From the Eagle Tribune;

Atkinson Academy's water tested for lead

ATKINSON — School officials are monitoring the water at Atkinson Academy after a test in January showed a high level of lead in the water.

A letter was sent home to parents Friday, alerting them that the test in January showed 20 ppb, which is 5 ppb over the limit allowed by the state.

Another test in February showed the lead level in the safe range, according to business administrator George Stokinger.

School officials will conduct monthly tests to make sure the lead level remains in the safe range, Stokinger said.

Students will be allowed to bring water bottles to school.

Keep your lawn green without chemicals

ATKINSON — Felicia Motherway and Justin Spurr from Nature's Way Lawncare and Javier Gil of J-Gil Organic Landscaping will present an organic lawn care workshop today from 6:30 to 8 p.m., at Kimball Library.

Learn how to maintain a healthy lawn without using toxic pesticides or fertilizers.

Bring questions for the open forum segment of the program.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

NH police eye stimulus funds to add officers Departments hoping to add to their ranks using federal funds

From the Eagle Tribune;

NH police eye stimulus funds to add officers Departments hoping to add to their ranks using federal funds
By James A. Kimble

Police departments across Southern New Hampshire are hoping to increase or replenish their ranks by applying for a new round of federal stimulus money.

The funding is coming from $1 billion recently appropriated for the COPS Hiring Recovery Program, which was part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Local towns first got this kind of federal backing when the COPS grants were established by former President Bill Clinton in the early 1990s. For those who were hired by those grants, the economic circumstances and dire job market seem remarkably similar to those today.

Pelham police Chief Joseph Roark was one of those new hires.

"I had graduated college in the early '90s and the job market was very poor," he said. "When the COPS grants started ... it opened a lot of police jobs that were previously not available. It's had a lasting impact on towns who wanted to buy into the community-based policing."

The grants helped efforts such as school resource officers, bike patrols and specialized beats, Roark said. He now wants to increase his 19-member department by one so he can add a school resource officer.

The town has tried to add a school resource officer for four years, but voters have rejected the proposal. Just last month, voters rejected spending $54,100 to "hire and equip" a school resource officer, 1,348-1,449.

The departments that win the latest round of grants get full funding for three years. But towns must commit to keeping the officer a fourth year. That's prompted towns like Salem and Plaistow to get selectmen's approval before applying.

Salem police Capt. Shawn Patten, the first Salem officer hired under a COPS grant, said he remembered being one of 300 people applying for two to three new spots on the force.

"There were hundreds and hundreds of people attending the police test when I was there," he said. "After that, we were lucky to get 50 to 60 (applicants) to show."

Salem might apply for two more positions if selectmen approve the application. Plaistow is hoping to apply for one officer.

Many town officials have been loathe to spend much outside of the bare necessities in order to keep tax rates down.

In Windham, selectmen panned the idea of applying for the grants because they were uncertain when the economy could turn around, police Chief Gerald Lewis said.

"You can always use more help," Lewis said. "But, as I explained to them, we are holding our own."

Sandown police Chief Joseph Gordon likewise decided not to apply for a new position after attending a meeting in Concord detailing federal stimulus money.

Salem and Plaistow selectmen are due to make their decisions tomorrow.

Salem Town Manager Jonathan Sistare described the grants as a good deal, one of the best since Clinton first established the program.

"In this case, it seems very favorable," he said. "You're getting a three-for-one deal. The other thing we would look at is when we get beyond the grant, we have to ask whether it would be something burdensome for the town."

Sistare said he doesn't think a poor economy would play a role in the decision, given that people are hoping for an economic turnaround by the time the four-year contracts expire.

But the current state of municipal budgets is expected to make the application process very competitive.

"I imagine there are a lot of people who are going to be applying, especially with layoffs (at departments)," Newton police Chief Larry Streeter said.

He hopes to increase his department from five to six. Voters have turned down a request to fund a full-time officer for the last two years, while he said Newton has grown in nearly every area by about 20 percent.

Newton hasn't added a police officer to its ranks since 1996. The five-person department essentially has three full-time people and one part-time person who can investigate nearly 460 cases a year, he said.

A similar story has played out in Hampstead, where voters panned a plan to add two officers for two years running.

Hampstead police Lt. John Frasier said the department would like to add officers to the overnight shift. The town, with a population of 10,000, only has one officer on duty during that time.

"And they keep building," Frasier said of development in recent years. "We have five banks in town now and more strip malls coming in with one cop at night. That's not much protection."

Hampstead last hired an officer about five years ago, when voters agreed to add a full-time detective to the force.

But not everyone is looking to swell their ranks.

In Kingston, where selectmen instituted a hiring freeze, police Chief Donald Briggs is hoping to maintain the nine-member force he has after losing a full-time officer to the Eliot, Maine, Police Department. Briggs added three officers to the department under the COPS program in the 1990s, one dedicated to schools and two others for the street.

"For a small community, it's very helpful to get the seed money," Briggs said. "It was essential to reducing crime and answering an increase in the number of calls we have."

The deadline for applications is April 15. Roark said departments may find out within 90 days whether they receive the funding.

This blog's question is;

Will Atkinson be getting any of that money?

It appears every town in Southern NH has already applied EXCEPT US, WHY?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Attorney Sapia counsels selectmen on Blog Sign illegality!

What a joke!

Remember last year, when Jack claimed town counsel told him that the signs were illegal and to remove them, and Paul Sullivan pointed out that he was lying, saying that HE had contacted Sumner, and was told that Sumner advised no such thing, in fact town counsel told Jack to "leave them alone"! See Video "Jack Busted" at right----->

Well, here we are again, a new year and Jack is trying to get the current board of selectmen to ratify his improper actions of last year. He steadfastly maintains that the signs are illegal. That they are neither political or temporary, even when selectmen Friel tells him that they appear to be temporary to him. Jack launched into a lengthy dissertation on why they violated the sign ordinance.

Our advice; Contact whatever school you obtained your law degree from, Jack, and get your money back! Here is the video from you tube of this incident.

Here is the sign ordinance that Jack was intentionally misquoting;

470:7 Temporary Signs. Temporary signs identifying an upcoming event are permitted to be
displayed not more than four (4) weeks before the event and shall be remove within ten
(10) days following the event. Temporary signs include but are not limited to flags,
banners, portable signs, for rent, sale and yard sale signs. National, state and municipal flags are allowed.

Here is the definition of a temporary sign;

T1 Temporary Sign Any sign that is used only for a limited time, and is not permanently mounted.

That is quite a bit different from the lengthy description put forth by Jack, about timing, and qualifications, and the like.

So here is the question for the selectmen;

Why do you listen to someone who is obviously trying to get you to ratify a decision of his that the Town is currently being sued for?

Why are Fred and Jack so concerned about these signs?

What make these signs so onerous, yet the open house signs, and the political signs, and the signs on telephone poles for the country club are all ok?

Why does Jack and Fred FEAR the freedom of speech which this blog represents so much?

DES holds public hearing on dumping chemicals into Big Island Pond!

From the Eagle Tribune;

Lake group tackles invasive milfoil Big Island Pond group battles invasive milfoil
By Eric Parry

HAMPSTEAD — Residents around Big Island Pond believe a 30-foot pontoon boat — complete with a pump, hoses and a perforated deck — in Skip Lanouette's front yard is their best hope of fighting an invasive weed that has spread across the lake for the past decade.

Lanouette and a group of residents from around the lake are converting the boat into a harvester that will help scuba divers remove milfoil from the pond.

There have been attempts to rid the lake of the milfoil in the past, but pulling the weeds by hand and stuffing them into bags was a tedious process that didn't accomplish much.

But with this new tool, Bob Patterson, who is leading a team of 15 divers, said a lot more of the lake should be free of the weed that spreads quickly and can choke natural vegetation.

"What took us a whole month by hand last year can take us a day with the harvester," Patterson said.

While two divers are in the water pulling weeds, a 4-inch-wide hose attached to one of the divers will suck the weed into large holding tanks on the deck of the boat. The holding tanks and deck have been fitted with a tight mesh that will collect the weed in bags, but will allow the water to drain back into the pond.

Just like dandelions, the problem with milfoil is that it grows back if the whole plant isn't removed.

At most, divers will only have to go down 12 feet because the weed doesn't grow any deeper than that in the lake, Patterson said.

To make sure they collect it all, volunteers armed with pool skimmers will circle the boat in kayaks to trap any small pieces of the weed that float to the top.

"A little 2-inch piece can float away and start a new colony somewhere else," Patterson said.

After the milfoil is bagged and tagged, volunteers will then send a complete report back to the state Department of Environmental Services. The report will include how much of the weed was collected, where it was growing, water temperature and air temperature.

About 60 volunteers are involved with the project, helping to retrofit the boat with benches for the divers, hooking up the hoses and spending weekends navigating the boat around the lake. So far, 135 dives have been scheduled starting at the end of the month and continuing every weekend through the summer.

"The volunteerism on the lake is incredible," said Paul LaRochelle, who was one of the neighbors who helped Lanouette install the pump last weekend.

The boat was purchased earlier this year with the help of the lake association, donations from residents and the New Hampshire Lakes Association.

But even with this new tool, the state DES is suggesting a chemical, 2-4-D, be used to assist in the cleanup.

Amy Smagula, a DES limnologist, said the combination of the hand pulling and herbicide treatment will eliminate the weed faster than either technique alone.

"Fifty acres is a little daunting when you're trying to physically remove it," Smagula said.

Still, residents know the lake will never be completely rid of the weed.

What the reporter failed to mention here is that Neither DES, nor the Towns notified the lake residents about this plan to dump poisons into the lake! Nor did they tell the residents that after this was done at the end of June there would be NO SWIMMING IN THE LAKE FOR 2 WEEKS TO A MONTH! This over the July 4th weekend!

Consider the impact to not just residents, but business owners such as David and Suzanne Reynolds, owners of Sanborn Shore Acres Campground, in Hampstead, NH. until Monday night they were totally unaware that the state intended to kill their business at the start of their season! Consider all of the snowbirds that would have returned from Florida, opened up their summer homes and swam in the lake, not knowing about the State's perfidity.

Our selectmen were notified about this public hearing at their meeting on Monday night, and vowed, on camera, to be there to represent the interests of the town, evidently they couldn't make it! No officials from Atkinson were there, only a handful of lake residents who managed to find out on their own.