Atkinson Town Hall

Atkinson Town Hall
The Norman Rockwellian picture of Atkinson

There is a NEW POLL at Right--------------------->

Don't forget to VOTE!
Make your voice heard!

Welcome Message and Mission Statement

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

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

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

Friday, August 28, 2009

Why does trash collection cost Hampstead only $234,000, while it costs Atkinson over $550,000?

from the Eagle Tribune;

Hampstead may opt for pay-as-you-throw trash system
By Margo Sullivan

HAMPSTEAD — Faced with rising costs, Hampstead is considering charging residents by the bag to get rid of their trash.

About 45 New Hampshire cities and towns — Concord being the most recent — have adopted the system, which is designed to cut down on the amount of trash and encourage recycling, according to Donald Maurer, solid waste technical assistance supervisor with the state Department of Environmental Services.

Hampstead's Solid Waste Committee has been studying pay-as-you-throw as a possible solution to the town's long-term trash problem, Selectman Priscilla Lindquist said. Hampstead pays Waste Management for curbside pickup and to cart trash to the Rochester transfer station.

Trash collection costs Hampstead $78.20 a ton, according to Tina Harrington in the selectmen's office. The town disposes of roughly 3,000 tons of trash every year, bringing the annual cost to around $234,600.

At the same time, Hampstead's recycling rate is between 17 percent and 20 percent, she said, so the selectmen want to find a way to boost recycling.

The recycling average for New Hampshire municipalities is 20 percent to 21 percent, Maurer said. That's poor, he added.

Improving the recycling rate by just 1 percent can save a community a significant amount of money, he said.

Trash hauling is big business. New Hampshire spends $250 million to $300 million a year on trash collection. The industry employs 5,000 people, but because it is fragmented, people may not realize how much money is being spent on garbage, Maurer said.

"One of the best ways to encourage recycling is to give people an understanding of the costs," he said.

Pay-as-you-throw is one of the proven ways to improve the recycling rate, he said. But it has been a tough sell in some communities because people see the bag charge as a new tax, Maurer said.

"It isn't," he said, "if done properly."

Hampstead would be the first local community to adopt pay-as-you-throw, if the selectmen settle on that option.

Londonderry recently went to a new trash collection system which gives residents one 65-gallon trash barrel free, but charges for additional barrels. Doris Beatty of the Londonderry Solid Waste Department, said she calls the new system "limited waste."

The change went into effect two weeks ago and Beatty said she has already seen a reduction in the amount of trash curbside.

Derry considered pay-as-you-throw some 10 years ago, according to Mike Fowler, public works director. But people hated the idea and ultimately solved the problem by recycling more, he said. Ten years ago, the Derry transfer station processed about 14,000 tons of trash, which had to be carted away. Now, with better recycling, the trash is down to 9,500 tons. Derry's recycling rate is around 35 percent, Fowler said.

Pelham also considered charging for garbage bags, but the idea never gained traction with town officials, according to Town Administrator Thomas Gaydos.

"Pay-as-you-throw was not recommended by the Recycling Committee over a year ago," he said.

Pelham residents bring their trash to the transfer station, where recycling is mandatory.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Atkinson traffic will be detoured for a month

From the Eagle Tribune;

Atkinson traffic will be detoured for a month
By Eric Parry

ATKINSON — Starting today, motorists traveling on Main Street through Atkinson will be met with a detour into Hampstead that will last for the next month.

Traffic traveling northbound on Main Street will be sent down Academy Avenue, left on East Road and onto Route 111 in Hampstead, according to Atkinson police Lt. William Baldwin.

The southbound lane on Main Street will remain open, according to Baldwin.

A police officer will be on the scene directing traffic while the detour is in effect on weekdays from 7 a.m. to about 6:30 p.m., Baldwin said.

The detour is part of construction of new water lines conducted by the Hampstead Area Water Company, according to Baldwin.

Part of the construction will involve blasting over the next few weeks, according to Baldwin.

Baldwin said he didn't think the detour would cause any problems, but cautioned motorists to drive safely through the detour.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Does Atkinson NEED a Full time Deputy Chief? or a Full Time Chief?

It is being said around the town hall that there are those who are discussing the possibility of a full time deputy chief of police. The Reporter's question is;

Is this really necessary?

Atkinson currently has 5 full time officers. One is a FT Lt./Lt. Commander/ Executive Officer, one is a FT Det. Sgt., we have one Sgt. position, and one Corporal position, Plus we have another PT Sgt. position in dispatch. One question immediately comes to mind...

Who are all of these supervisors supervising?

It would appear that we have a force of all chiefs, and few indians. In recent years we have seen two petitioned warrant articles for a full time chief of police. Those article were obliterated on town floor. The most fervent opposition coming from the chief of police himself, who was quoted as saying that Atkinson did not need a full time chief, and that the Town had the best value possible in a part time chief. In fact it was the fact that we have a part time chief that made the full time Lt. position make sense, although the voters had no say in the creation of that position either.

So let's look at the numbers, remember our chief of police said last year during the debate about a full time chief that it was unnecessary and too expensive. HE said that we would have to pay a full time chief $80,000- $100,000/yr. We currently have a full time Lt. who is the highest paid town employee. His compensation package costs the town over $85,000/yr. So based on that a full time deputy chief would HAVE to cost more right? So just for the sake of argument let's say his compensation package costs us $100,000/yr. FOR WHAT? What value do WE get for this extra $100,000?

Remember that last yr. the police dept. functioned all yr, long for $130,000 less than it is costing us this yr. No one has been able to offer an explanation for this. Not the budget committee, not the chief, no one.

So, Do we NEED a full time deputy chief? Do we need a full time chief? We certainly do not need a full time chief position, and a full time Lt. position. And that means we certainly do not need a full time chief and a full time deputy chief, AND a full time Lt. position. According to the police logs(before they stopped publishing them) we averaged 7 dispatches a WEEK! one a day! This is from the Atkinson police web. Ao what do all of these supervisors do, and why do we NEED another one?

Atkinson officer's widow avoids foreclosure — for now

From the Eagle Tribune;

Atkinson officer's widow avoids foreclosure — for now
By Eric Parry

CHESTER — The threat of losing her home is still possible, but Amy Lapham avoided the foreclosure auction scheduled for yesterday.

Lapham, the wife of former Atkinson police Officer John Lapham, and mother of three, said yesterday her mortgage company, Select Portfolio Services, canceled the foreclosure auction and they are negotiating her monthly payment.

"I have to be realistic and I know what I can afford," Lapham said.

She and her husband built the family's four-bedroom house on Fremont Road in 2004, but after John died last summer from leukemia, Amy struggled to make the monthly mortgage payments.

She attempted to refinance her mortgage, but the mortgage company wouldn't budge.

She took a gamble and stopped paying the mortgage in February because the life insurance from her husband would have run out in just a year, she said.

On July 1, she received a foreclosure notice and a foreclosure auction was scheduled for yesterday.

Lapham said she owes a lot more than the house is worth, although she declined to reveal the balance of the mortgage. Town assessing records list the home at $432,900.

Lapham said she would have sold the house and moved in with her parents across the street, but she didn't want her two sons, Matt, 7, and Justin, 5, to lose their father and their home in the same year.

Recently, the house has become less important, she said.

When a 7-year-old boy was killed over the weekend while walking down Route 102 in Chester, Lapham said it made her thankful to just have her family.

"The smiles on my kids' faces are a whole lot more important," she said.

If she is able to stay in the house, Lapham said she will be able to finish a two-bedroom apartment on the left side of the house to generate income.

The apartment is almost finished, but she said she doesn't want to finish the job until she knows whether she will be able to stay in the house.

"I'm very hopeful," she said yesterday.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Feds: School told of porn, teacher's role

From the Union Leader;

Feds: School told of porn, teacher's role

Union Leader Correspondent
Thursday, Aug. 20, 2009

BRENTWOOD – Hours after admitting to federal agents he had child pornography on his home computer, Scott Bautti went to work at Timberlane Middle School, just as he had for the last 19 years.

For the next 14 months -- from February 2008 until being indicted by a grand jury in April -- Buatti continued teaching physical education and coaching both girls' and boys' sports teams after school. All along, school district officials knew of the investigation but took no action against Buatti, newly released court records show.

Buatti, 43, was netted alongside 5,000 other paying subscribers nationwide who bought access to 18 separate child pornography Web sites over a two-year period, court records show. An investigation conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement linked his credit card and e-mail address to a commercial child pornography Web site known as the "Home Collection,"prosecutors allege.

ICE Senior Special Agents Thomas Pugliese and Philip Bleezarde confronted Buatti with the evidence at his Newton home on Feb. 25, 2008. Agents alleged Buatti had been buying child porn since at least Dec. 2, 2006, when he paid $79.95 for access, court records show.

It was then he admitted to having about a dozen images and videos stored on his home computer depicting children as young as 8 or 9, according to court records. He told investigators how he used two e-mail addresses to access both free and paid child porn sites, though he did not recall the names of any specific sites.

At the time of his questioning, Buatti said he had viewed the images within the last week and had bought access within the last month. But, problems with viruses had been preventing him from downloading new pornography for the last three weeks, he told authorities, court records show.

Bleezarde asked to see the images, but Buatti balked at the request.

"(Buatti) stated he was afraid we would find something that he had downloaded by mistake that would get him into trouble,"Bleezarde wrote.

The next morning, local police sought a judge's permission to seize records and various computer storage devices from the home where Buatti lived alone.

Detectives from the Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce, based at Portsmouth Police Department, investigated the case throughout the early part of this year and presented to a Rockingham County grand jury in April.

Bleezarde's report was made public after defense attorney Mark Sisti asked a judge to ban all evidence from the search, claiming it was done illegally. Superior Court Justice Tina L. Nadeau denied the motion.

Buatti was indicted on a total of 10 Class B felonies, each with a maximum penalty of 3 1/2 to seven years in state prison. Indictments alleged he had eight video files of naked girls and two digital photographs of children engaged in sexual acts.

He waived a formal reading of the charges in Superior Court and was released on $10,000 personal recognizance bail.

On the day his indictments were unsealed, Buatti was still teaching inside the middle school's gym. In an April interview, Timberlane Regional School District Superintendent Richard A. La Salle said he called Buatti into the office immediately after becoming aware of the charges and placed him on administrative leave.

La Salle, in multiple interviews with the media after Buatti's indictment, told some reporters he first heard of the charges from police, while he told others he first heard from reporters.

In their report, federal authorities contradict his version of events. They allege the school district was made aware of the investigation at the very start, court records show.

La Salle and Buatti did not return phone or e-mail messages seeking comment yesterday.

County Attorney James M. Reams said it does not appear any local children were involved, though an investigation is ongoing.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Letter: Thanks for supporting police charitable fund

Article Submission:

from the Eagle Tribune 8-21-2009

Letter: Thanks for supporting police charitable fund

To the editor:

I would like to personally thank all of the residents of Atkinson who were so kind as to make a donation to the Atkinson Police Charitable Fund. This year's donation drive was a great success.

We do not employ the services of an out-of-town company to raise funds for us, so each and every dollar donated to our fund stays right here in town.

We will now be able to continue to provide all of the services that the seniors in town have received in the past. We will have funds available to help with winter heating fuel, prescriptions and other utilities that they may need short-term assistance with. This fund also allows us to provide funds for programs at the Academy School and to also purchase special police related items or equipment for our department.

Our main goal is be able to help our seniors in any way we can. We provide many more services over and above transportation to the doctors or to spend an afternoon shopping at the mall. We have medical appliances such as wheelchairs, shower chairs and walkers available right at the police station.

We have scheduled our Senior Citizen Flu Shot Clinic for Thursday, Oct. 29 at the Community Center from 9 a.m. until about 2 p.m. Please call the police station at 603-362-4001 to schedule a ride.

Again, to the residents of Atkinson, thank you for your continued support through your donations to our fund and to the support you have shown us over the years.

Philip V. Consentino


Atkinson Police Charitable Trust Fund

Atkinson, N.H.

August 21, 2009 12:32 PM

Atkinson without town administrator for 7 months

From the Eagle Tribune;

Atkinson without town administrator for 7 months
By Eric Parry

ATKINSON — Selectmen have made progress in hiring a town administrator, but still haven't made an offer to any candidate.

The three selectmen said they interviewed a couple of candidates last week and are still working to narrow down the field.

They plan to interview three candidates again, according to Selectmen's Chairman Fred Childs.

Selectman Bill Friel said the town can't hire someone for the job fast enough.

"I wish I had one six months ago," he said.

Friel said the board isn't sure when they will have someone hired for the job, but are hopeful it will happen soon.

The town advertised for the position in late May and received more than 30 applications. Over the last month, the three selectmen met with six former selectmen to review applications and discuss who might be a good fit for the town. Friel said they are taking their time to make sure the new town administrator will be a long-term solution.

Atkinson has been without a town administrator since late January, when Steven Angelo quit after only a few months on the job.

A candidate, whose name was not released, was offered the job in April. When that person gave notice to his or her employer, Atkinson's offer was matched. That candidate had remained from the search conducted when Angelo was hired. No salary range was specifically stated in the job advertisement.

Before Angelo, Atkinson went through two town administrators in a year.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Atkinson Garden Club recoqnize outstanding garden

From the Eagle Tribune;

Atkinson Garden Club recoqnize outstanding garden

ATKINSON — Donna and Jim Dewhirst of Sleepy Hollow Road are the recipients of the most recent Garden of the Month award from the Atkinson Garden Club.

When the Dewhirsts moved from Massachusetts several years ago, they were delighted their yard was not landscaped and they could plan and create their own gardens.

Visitors are greeted at the driveway entrance by a lush outpouring of purple clematis adorning the mailbox. From there, long winding paths of various hosta varieties and low-growing shrubs lead the eye to the garden's "pride of place."

There's a water feature on the side of the house. Water rushes over stone, emptying into a pond rippling with koi, busily darting through the water lilies and grasses. The croaking of the resident frogs gives away their positions, some hiding beneath the wooden bridge leading to the pond, some secreted among the giant hosta bordering their aquatic home. There is a lighthouse, a large heron keeping watch over the koi and a dolphin fountain. As night approaches, the lighting shines from within the pond and is strategically placed throughout the property.

Beyond the pond, there is a wishing well, adorned with baskets of pink and purple annuals, a gazing ball and a huge wagon wheel as a backdrop to a small side garden, a memorial for the family's pets.

Members of the Atkinson Garden Club are always looking for outstanding gardens for the Garden of the Month Award. If you happen upon a garden that strikes your fancy in some way, contact AGC committee member Sheri Turell at 362-5683 or any club member.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Atkinson selectmen set another hearing on cell tower plan

From the Eagle Tribune;

Atkinson selectmen set another hearing on cell tower plan
By Eric Parry

ATKINSON — Selectmen are hoping a hearing Monday on a proposal to add three new antennas to the Hog Hill Tower will give them all the answers they need to make a decision.

SBA Tower II owns the 160-foot tower and has wanted to add three antennas since 2006.

A public hearing was scheduled for last month, but company representatives weren't prepared to reveal all the details of the plan. Selectmen have said they won't make a decision until all of the details are explained in a public forum so residents can comment.

"I expect to hear a lot from the applicant and the public," Selectman Bill Friel said.

The current proposal is almost identical to the one denied a special exception by the town's Zoning Board of Adjustment in March 2007. After that decision, SBA Tower II filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court. A federal judge ruled in September 2008 it was up to the selectmen to decide the case. At the time of the ZBA decision, the tower was owned by Marine Tower.

Selectmen and some nearby residents said part of the problem with the new proposal is that there have been changes made over the years that were never approved by the town. Previous owners failed to get required annual inspections from the town and landscape the property as expected.

But at a meeting last month with selectmen, SBA Tower's attorney, Steven Grill, said things will be different this time. Grill said the company is committed to complying with the town's rules and notifying them of changes.

Some residents can't wait for the antennas to help improve cell phone coverage.

Selectmen's Chairman Fred Childs said approving the proposal could pave the way for other telecommunications companies putting antennas on the tower.

"Once they get the permit, they can't refuse another company," Childs said.

The current proposal is for T-Mobile customers.

Selectmen said they will made a decision on the proposal at a later date.

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

Friday, August 14, 2009

Report says TRMS teacher admitted to child porn use

From the Eagle Tribune;

Report says teacher admitted to child porn use
By James A. Kimble

BRENTWOOD — A Timberlane Regional Middle School teacher indicted on charges of possessing child pornography admitted to federal agents he subscribed to Web sites that carried child and adult pornography, according to a report by a federal agent.

New details in the case against Scott Buatti, 43, of Newton became public yesterday, days after a judge ruled against a request by his defense lawyer to find the search of his home computer was illegal.

Attorney Mark Sisti declined to comment yesterday on the decision or any aspect of the case. He indicated the case is still headed to trial in February.

Buatti, who was put on paid administrative leave in April, is facing 10 felony counts of possession of child pornography. Before a grand jury indicted him, he was best known as a middle school physical education teacher and athletic coach in Timberlane for 19 years.

School Superintendent Richard La Salle and Athletic Director Angelo Fantasia could not be reached for comment yesterday on whether Buatti's job status has changed. He is still listed in the staff directory on the school's Web site.

What led federal agents to Buatti's doorstep in February 2008 was part of a two-year probe by U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. Federal agents were investigating a criminal organization that operated a commercial child pornography Web site known as the "Home Collection," Philip Bleezarde, an ICE senior special agent, wrote in his report.

Buatti was allegedly among 5,000 domestic subscribers to child pornography sites that ICE agents tracked down throughout the country. He was first pinpointed as a subscriber through his e-mail account and computer IP address, which is registered under his name and home address of 4 Wilders Road in Newton, according to Bleezarde's report.

"Buatti was identified as having paid $79.95 for access to one of the 'Home Collection' Web sites on Dec. 2, 2006," Bleezarde wrote.

On Feb. 25, 2008, Bleezarde and ICE Senior Special Agent Thomas Pugliese went to Buatti's Newton home to tell him they were aware a Web site containing child pornography had been accessed from his home computer.

Buatti invited the agents into his home, according to Bleezarde.

He told the agents that, "since purchasing this computer, approximately two years ago, he has used it to access both free and pay Web sites containing pornographic images of adults and of children, and he has saved still images and videos, including some depicting children, to the hard drive of his computer," Bleezarde wrote.

Buatti allegedly told the agents he could not remember the names of the Web sites he accessed to get the pornography, but gave them details about what they would find saved on his computer.

"Mr. Buatti estimates that his computer contains about a dozen images which might be considered child pornography, and that the youngest children depicted in these images are 8 or 9 years old," Bleezarde wrote.

Buatti ultimately declined a request by the agents to hand over his computer.

"(Buatti) stated he was afraid we would find something that he had downloaded by mistake that would get him into trouble," Bleezarde wrote.

That prompted police, who eventually took over the investigation, to seek a search warrant. After reviewing search warrants and affidavits by federal agents and local police, Superior Court Judge Tina Nadeau found law enforcement had valid reasons for wanting to search Buatti's home computer. The defense argued the warrants only gave the results of the investigation, not the process by which Buatti was tracked down. Assistant County Attorney Jerome Blanchard argued in court papers that the warrants and reports clearly outline events that led them to Buatti.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Atkinson police officer's widow faces foreclosure

Article Submission:

Atkinson police officer's widow faces foreclosure

By Eric Parry

CHESTER, N.H. — When Amy Lapham was a child, her favorite place was a field across the street from her parents' home on Fremont Road.

The area was still special to her in 2004, so she built a four-bedroom home with her husband, John, a former Atkinson police officer.

Now, Lapham, a mother of two boys, is being kicked out of her home, a year after her husband died from leukemia.

"I haven't even had a chance to grieve," Lapham said yesterday in the backyard of her home, which sits on six acres with a horse stable.

On July 1, Lapham received a letter from her mortgage company, Select Portfolio Services, saying it was going to foreclose on the house. It gave her 30 days to respond and then an auction would be scheduled.

She said she wrote back, pleading to refinance the mortgage, but instead the company responded with an auction date, Aug. 25.

"There was just no negotiating," she said.

Lapham's financial troubles haven't come as a surprise.

When they built the house, she said, the couple knew they were getting into an expensive mortgage, but didn't see any other options.

They had credit card debt and planned to refinance in a year or two.

Even before John died, they were falling behind on the mortgage, Amy said. But, she added, they were committed to staying in their home. John worked the midnight shift, but would regularly pick up detail jobs during the day to make extra money, she said.

After he died, she continued to pay the mortgage every month using John's life insurance money. But she took a gamble in February and stopped paying the mortgage. It was a gamble that didn't pay off.

The company she had been paying didn't own the mortgage, she said, and she couldn't think of any other way of finding the owner and trying to refinance.

"It was a 50/50 shot," said her mother, Noni Towle.

If she continued paying the mortgage, Amy said, the money from the life insurance would have run out within a year.

She also owes a lot more than the house is worth. Amy declined to reveal the balance of the mortgage, but the town's assessing records list the home at $432,900.

After John died in June 2008, Amy said she thought about selling the house, but it held too many memories for their two sons, Matt, 7, and Justin, 5.

The couple had planned on raising their two children at the home and she doesn't want them to feel the pain of losing a father and their home in the same year.

"Without the boys, I don't think I'd be fighting so hard," she said.

She thought she might have been able to generate some rental income, so she renovated the left side of her home into a two-bedroom apartment. But that has been put on hold and is still empty.

"If I could get a lower mortgage payment, I could get the house to pay for itself," she said.

All she needs is a little time, Amy said — she said she can make everything work.

She's been saving every penny and plans to go back to work, but not until she knows the fate of her house.

The couple had always planned that she would go back and finish her education degree once the boys were older, she said. But now she's not sure teaching will earn enough income.

Amy hopes to avoid the auction in 13 days, but she's not sure how that can happen. Even though she knows the family bought into a house they can't afford now, she still places some of the blame on the company who sold them the mortgage.

"The mortgage companies have to know these people can't afford these homes," Towle said.

If she does lose the home, Amy said, she will be forced to move across the street into her parents' home and be haunted by the sight of her old house every day.

"Whichever way it goes, I'm tired," she said.
August 13, 2009 8:56 AM
Anonymous said...

The house is worth $432K and she owes more than it's worth.

She has a mortgage over $432K?
August 13, 2009 9:01 AM
Anonymous said...

Amy hopes to avoid the auction in 13 days, but she's not sure how that can happen. Even though she knows the family bought into a house they can't afford now, she still places some of the blame on the company who sold them the mortgage.

"The mortgage companies have to know these people can't afford these homes," Towle said.

And the buyers didn't?? I feel bad about Officer Lapham but don't have any sympathy for people tat bit off more than the can chew!
August 13, 2009 9:22 AM
Anonymous said...

"When they built the house, she said, the couple knew they were getting into an expensive mortgage, but didn't see any other options."

I guess they had to buy it, no choice.

"she said she can make everything work.

plans to go back to work, but not until she knows the fate of her house.

But now she's not sure teaching will earn enough income."

Any income is better than no income. I saw this on tv last week too. They just need a good plan (not like the last one) and income from a job to survive. It's sad to see someone so helpless when everyone is in the same boat but the rest of us manage.
August 13, 2009 9:56 AM

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

NH DOT may consider light at fatal crash scene

From the Eagle Tribune;

NH DOT may consider light at fatal crash scene
By Eric Parry

ATKINSON — A fatal motorcycle accident Monday on Route 111 may lead state transportation officials to put a traffic light at the scene of the crash.

Department of Transportation engineer Craig Green said yesterday morning that officials may take a look at the intersection of Hall Farm Road and Route 111 to determine if a traffic light is needed.

"We may want to take a closer look at that," Green said.

The DOT is considering putting a traffic light about a half mile away from Hall Farm Road at the intersection of West Road, Island Pond Road and Route 111, Green said.

Richard Beaulieu, 47, of Derry was killed Monday afternoon while driving east on Route 111. A box truck driven by Ryan McGonagle, 24, of Manchester pulled in front of Beaulieu. McGonagle was turning left on to Hall Farm Road and didn't see Beaulieu's motorcycle, according to Atkinson police Lt. William Baldwin.

Beaulieu wasn't wearing a helmet at the time.

Baldwin said Monday that he has been pleading with state DOT officials to put a traffic light at Hall Farm Road, but nothing has been done.

Traffic on Route 111 is heavy during the day, especially during commuting hours, and it can be dangerous attempting a turn on the road, Baldwin said.

He said yesterday he wasn't convinced a traffic light at the intersection of West Road and Route 111 would have much effect on safety at Hall Farm Road.

"I still think you're going to be taking a risk," Baldwin said.

State officials identified the Route 111 and West Road intersection as an area with a high number of traffic accidents last year. DOT officials recently met with town officials from Hampstead and Atkinson and are considering a traffic light as one option to make that area safer, Green said.

A public hearing will be held once the DOT designs a plan for the intersection, Green said. But no improvements are likely this construction season.

Green said yesterday that the DOT has not done any studies on whether a traffic light at the Route 111 and West Road intersection would have any effect on safety in that area.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Timberlane launches 'integrated' preschool

From the Eagle Tribune;

Timberlane launches 'integrated' preschool
By Margo Sullivan

ATKINSON — In a milestone for the Timberlane Regional School District, Atkinson Academy will open a new "integrated" preschool, blending special and regular education children — in roughly equal numbers — in the same classroom.

"We want to show parents this is a wonderful setting for their children as they move toward kindergarten," said Edwina Lovett, district director of pupil personnel services.

In a blended classroom, parents should expect special education children to improve communication skills, while regular education children develop tolerance and acceptance, Lovett said.

Although the benefits of including special education children with regular education students have long been known, federal stimulus money is now providing the opportunity to put the theory into practice, she said.

Timberlane is receiving $987,016 in stimulus money for special education, Superintendent Richard La Salle announced last spring. The money can be spent over three years and is to be paid in two installments. In addition, the district also is receiving $35,860, in two installments, for preschool.

Lovett said the stimulus money will pay for a special education teacher, an aide and curriculum materials (such as books, toys and manipulatives) for two years. After that, the goal is to make the program self-sustaining by charging regular education students tuition.

The new preschool, which is for 4-year-old children, starts Sept. 1 with about 26 students, Principal Kathy Dayotis said. Thirteen youngsters will attend the morning session, and 13 have enrolled in the afternoon preschool. Each session has a regular education teacher and a special education teacher, as well as a special education aide.

Stimulus money will not be used to hire the regular education teacher, Lovett said, because the money must go to special education.

Only children from Atkinson have been accepted. So far, there is no plan to start integrated preschools at the other district elementary schools, Lovett said.

However, Timberlane parents have long been able to send their 3- and 4-year-old children to the district's first preschool at Pollard Elementary in Plaistow, and that program will continue, Pollard School Principal Michelle Auger said.

Auger said the Pollard preschool has three classes and although disabled and non-disabled children can attend, historically the preschool has enrolled far more special education than regular education students. Auger estimates only 10 percent of the Pollard preschool youngsters have been regular education students, and the result has not been "true inclusion," she said.

The new preschool, which is a pilot program for the Timberlane Regional School District, will bring the district close to a state target for preschool education, Lovett said. The state target is a 50/50 mix of regular and special education students. The Atkinson preschool is expected to have 60 percent special education children and 40 percent regular education, she said.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Atkinson firefighter helps battle blazes in Alaska

From the eagle tribune

Atkinson firefighter helps battle blazes in Alaska
By Eric Parry

ATKINSON — A longtime local firefighter is among 10 from New Hampshire who are headed to Alaska to fight wildfires.

Jeff Murphy has been a member of New Hampshire's wildland fire team for at least 20 years and has traveled all over the Midwest and western states fighting wildfires, according to his brother and Atkinson fire Chief Mike Murphy.

"He's well-respected throughout the state," Mike Murphy said.

The latest trip to Alaska will take Jeff Murphy to an area outside Fairbanks where thousands of acres have burned this summer due to hot, dry weather.

Jeff's son, Shane, also has fought wildfires over the last several years as far away as Canada, Georgia and Idaho.

"It's a cool way to see different parts of the country and not just the cities," said the younger Murphy, who is a full-time firefighter in Salem.

While battling wildfires, the crews regularly check the humidity and have lookouts to make sure nothing catches them by surprise, Shane Murphy said.

"They're pretty conscious of all the safety stuff," he said.

Shane Murphy would have loved to join his father, but to be a member of the wildfire team, the 24-year-old said you have to be ready to go at a moment's notice. That has been difficult for him to schedule over the last few years, he said.

New Hampshire's firefighters are joining crews from Massachusetts, New York and the Green Mountain and Finger Lakes National Forests.

The crew flew out of Manchester-Boston Regional Airport on Tuesday and is expected to stay about two weeks.

Mike Murphy said the crews are often sent to remote areas where it can be difficult to speak with family members by telephone.

"It's tough to know when he's going to come back," he said.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Kindergarten numbers drop in Atkinson, But don't worry Pre-K is coming!

From the Eagle Tribune;

Kindergarten numbers drop in Atkinson
By Eric Parry

ATKINSON — Only half as many children are enrolled in kindergarten this fall at Atkinson Academy than last year.

A year ago, the school had 60 kindergartners in four classes with two teachers. This year, the school will only have two classes and one teacher, according to Kelli Killen, director of elementary education for the Timberlane Regional School District.

Although the drop in Atkinson is the most significant, overall kindergarten enrollment is down in the four-town district, Killen said.

Danville Elementary School has eight fewer students and Pollard School and Sandown North have about the same number as last year, Killen said.

In Danville, there were four sessions with two teachers last year. This year, there are only three and one of the teachers will only work a half-day, Killen said.

The reason for the drop in enrollment in Atkinson isn't really clear, but Killen said fewer children are being born and fewer families with young children moving to town contributes to the situation.

The families that are moving to Atkinson mostly have children in middle school and high school, Killen said.

"They just can't afford the home prices," she said of young families.

The decrease didn't really take the district by surprise, either, according to Atkinson Academy Principal Kathie Dayotis.

School staff called all area preschool programs last year and learned early on that they would have a lot fewer children this year, she said.

"It doesn't look like there were as many babies born in the last few years," Dayotis said.

But even though there is a drop in kindergartners, there is a large population of children ready for a pilot prekindergarten program at Atkinson Academy.

That program and three new teachers will be funded through the federal stimulus program.

Dayotis said they have hired two new teachers and an assistant specifically for the prekindergarten program. There are 26 children enrolled and there is still room for a few more. Most of the children are from Atkinson and six are special education students, Dayotis said.

The prekindergarten program will occupy one of the two classrooms built at Atkinson Academy last year specifically for kindergarten.

"All the furniture and books are designed for early childhood education," Killen said.

But next year, the district expects kindergarten enrollment numbers at Atkinson Academy will rise.

"The following year we will be back up to the 50s and maybe into the 60s," Killen said.