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Welcome Message and Mission Statement

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

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

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

Friday, October 30, 2009

Atkinson clinic runs out of flu vaccine after an hour

From the Eagle Tribune;

Atkinson clinic runs out of flu vaccine after an hour
By Eric Parry

ATKINSON — Fred Kinsella thought he would finally get his flu shot yesterday at the Atkinson Community Center. But the Derry resident arrived just minutes after a sign was posted on the front door saying they were already out of vaccinations, about an hour into the four-hour clinic.

"We're going to have to search for another clinic," Kinsella said.

And he has been searching. Kinsella said he had tried at least four other places before heading to Atkinson yesterday. He said he usually gets his vaccination at work, the Social Security Administration, but this year it ran out of seasonal flu vaccine before he could get his.

"They had so many people, they ran out two weeks before all the appointments would have been filled," Kinsella said.

Atkinson's seasonal flu clinic, sponsored by the Police Department, is one of the largest in the area, according to Cathy Garrett of the Rockingham VNA and Hospice. Last year, about 400 vaccinations were given at the Atkinson clinic, but this year they had just 270.

"The H1N1 has made people aware of the vaccines you should get," Garrett said.

Vaccine wasn't always hard to find.

Two years ago, Garrett said, they had to throw away 1,000 doses because nobody wanted them.

Several people waiting for their shots yesterday said it was the first place they were able to find the vaccine.

Atkinson resident Ivan Grotenhuis said he tried to get a seasonal flu vaccination from his doctor about a week ago, but was turned away when they ran out.

"Doctors haven't really had any either," said Grotenhuis' wife, Gwen, while waiting with hundreds of other people to get their vaccinations.

Atkinson resident Kelly Doherty said she arrived at the clinic right at 10 a.m. because she feared it would run out. Doherty said she works at an early education center, so getting a flu vaccination is important.

But she's even more concerned about her 2-year-old daughter. She hasn't been able to find a place to get an H1N1 vaccination for her, including the family pediatrician.

"That's my highest priority, more so than for me," Doherty said.

According to state health officials 40,000 doses of the H1N1 vaccine are on their way next week, but are destined for the highest risk patients — pregnant women, children with health problems and health care workers.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Heard around the Town Hall: Selectmen Lift Cease and Desist Order

Yes Selectmen met Thursday to sign a new decree apparently drafted by Town Counsel. The new decree lifts the cease and desist order, while retaining authority over all the previously agreed to provisions signed by both the Osborns and the Town.

The Order apparently advises the Osborns that while the town will not intervene in their construction problems, they may continue at their own risk. The letter takes note of the ongoing civil litigation between the Osborns and Mrs. Davis and notes that the Town will await the outcome.

Apparently the Town wants to retain all of it's authority while exercising none of it. They notify the Osborns that all of the provisions that they agreed to are still in force and that they may suffer penalties for violating those provisions, while patently ignoring the violations already committed, preferring to wait until the resident has spent her own time and money to achieve what the Town should have the moral integrity to do on it's own.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Atkinson board seeks legal advice on road issue

From the Eagle Tribune;

Atkinson board seeks legal advice on road issue
By Eric Parry

ATKINSON — Selectmen plan to meet with their attorney to discuss whether a Big Island Pond homeowner should be allowed to construct a driveway.

Maggie and Daniel Osborn asked the selectmen Monday night to withdraw the cease and desist order they received from the town earlier this month.

In recent weeks the Osborns' home on Valcat Lane has been at the center of controversy.

Selectmen sent the couple a cease and desist order on Oct. 9 because they violated an agreement with the town. They had said they wouldn't do any work without the town's permission.

But Maggie Osborn said previously that all work done at their house had been done with the town's permission. She could not be reached yesterday for comment.

Osborn said last week that her home has been vandalized and her family harassed by other residents.

Selectman Bill Bennett said the three-member board plans to meet with their attorney, Sumner Kalman, to discuss whether Valcat Lane is public or private, and whether to allow the Osborns to continue building their driveway.

"We have to decide what our options are," Bennett said.

Earlier this month, residents complained to the selectmen that the Osborns had destroyed Valcat Lane when constructing the driveway. Some residents have argued Valcat Lane is a public road, but the selectmen have yet to come to a decision.

The Valcat Lane home also is the site of several alleged shoreland protection violations.

Jim Martin, spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Services, confirmed there were recent complaints against the Osborns, but they have not yet been investigated.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Heard around the Town...Selectmen plan to lift Cease & Desist Order!!


Selectmen are going to lift the cease and desist order!

We are hearing that the selectmen plan to lift the cease and desist order against the Osborns. The reasons apparently have to do with our Town Counsel again.

So far the story is that because they have not completed the work on their house within the year prescribed by the "waiver of liability agreement" signed by the town and the Osborn's, the town is taking the position that their violation of that provision of the agreement negates the entire agreement.

How ignorant is this reasoning? The Town had the Osborn's agree to certain conditions in order to obtain their building permit. They have violated every one of those conditions and now the town's position is going to be that they can't do anything because the Osborn's violations had the effect of negating the agreement?

So why do we have building and zoning codes if the town is going to selectively enforce them? Why should anyone go through the permitting process if the town is impotent to enforce those codes?

In this situation there is a house built on the lake that has violated building codes, is being lived in without an occupancy certificate, has been built BIGGER than was permitted, has a driveway that is laid across someone else's property, and has involved unpermitted excavation, AND the town STILL does not have accurate plans that the house has been built from, nor does it have engineered plans for this new driveway construction!

But the Town isn't going to enforce ANY of these regulations! And they wonder why we think this town's government is corrupt?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fireworks at Monday Nights Meeting!

Monday Night's selectmen meeting had some drama for those who attended or watched. For those who are in the know, The Osborns were on the agenda for the purpose of getting the Town's cease and desist order lifted, and get their occupancy permit approved.

Maggie and Daniel Osborn attended the meeting with their Attorney. And the segment began with the Lawyer doing most of the talking. The Attorney was evidently unaware of the pending legal action between the Osborns and Mrs. Davis, as he maintained numerous times that there was "no civil action" in this matter. "No dispute" in this matter.

Even the lawyer got caught flat footed when selectman Friel asked if he was claiming that the Osborns had the right to dig up Valcat because they owned an easement across Valcat. Mr. Friel was relentless in his cross examination of the lawyer regarding their right to cut through Valcat, to the point that the lawyer could not offer any permission that was obtained to cut through Valcat.

The essence of the early part of the presentation was that the Osborns feel that their "driveway permit" allows them to construct the entire driveway from Chase Island rd. up the hill across Mrs. Davis land and cutting into Valcat ln. to access their driveway. Neglecting the representation by Mrs. Osborn of herself as "owner/applicant" of the underlying land.

The next claim was that Valcat ln. ended at the Osborn's property. but all the tax maps show Valcat continuing beyond the Osborn property, onto the Vaillancourt property and doglegging down to the lake.

Next at bat was the Road Agent who explained right from the driveway prmit that it only is concerned with the "curb cut" and work within the Chase Island rd. ROW. He explained that the driveway/fire rd. would have had to be approved PRIOR TO CONSTRUCTION by both the Fire Chief and Road Agent based upon detailed plans submitted before construction.

Carol Davis was the next to speak, and pointed out that the ROW that the Osborns and their contractors have been using Valcat as a ROW to access the property for a year, why the need for a new Access across her property. She also stated that she has never been notified by either the Osborns or the Town as an abutter about any of these plans, laying a driveway/fire rd. across her property!

A Mr. Dobrov spoke about Mrs. Osborn's attempts to charge him $6,000.00 for "his share" of her new driveway. She then claimed that she tried to get her neighbors to share in the cost as it would be a "life safety" issue to have that access. (we remember this line being used extensively by Mr. Sapia during his tenure as selectman)

The Fire Chief was next up, and explained how Mrs. Osborn initially agreed to sprinkle her house. The building permit was issued even though the town was still awaiting plans, a couple of months later she spoke to him about options to sprinkling. She apparently spoke to Murphy about putting in a cistern and fire access road in lieu of sprinkling the house. Chief is still awaiting detailed plans, for both the house and fire road system. The house is apparently over built, and the "fire road" has a 13% grade which exceeds what a fire truck can handle. Chief Murphy has denied all permits until he has detailed plans, and a grade that is achievable.

The segment ended with Mrs. Osborn claiming in essence that even though she chose not to sprinkle, and to do everything they have done up there, they did it as a life safety decision for her family, and it should be approved. She claimed that she had the Fire Chief's permission to build the fire road instead of sprinkling. Chief Murphy then read from a letter that he sent in February 2009 denying her request for a fire road in lieu of sprinkling because he hasn't received detailed plans. She claims that he told her she had options in Oct. 2008, he states that was based upon her promise to install a cistern and fire road, and submit detailed plans to that event. Chief Murphy states that he STILL hasn't received detailed plans of the road, fire suppression system, cistern, or anything else.

Resident designs new system to fight milfoil Man devises new system to combat milfoil

From the Eagle Tribbune;

Resident designs new system to fight milfoil Man devises new system to combat milfoil
By Eric Parry

ATKINSON — Scuba divers are starting to put a serious dent in the number of invasive plants in Big Island Pond. But Bob Patterson, who managed the eight divers this summer, has a new plan to attack the almost 100 acres that have been infested with milfoil.

Patterson wants to arm local volunteers and people across the state with snorkeling gear to pull the weeds from the bottom of the state's lakes and ponds.

Milfoil doesn't grow any deeper than 20 feet in Big Island Pond and with the small supplied-air system Patterson built, anyone could spend all day skin diving to collect the nuisance plants.

Certifications for scuba diving and equipment can cost between $2,000 and $3,000, but a supplied-air system is much cheaper and can run all day on a gallon of gas.

"Now, I can have a diver in the water for $150 instead of thousands of dollars," Patterson said.

Volunteers can become certified skin divers in a weekend. They would only have to take a $100 course to learn to use the air system and complete a state-certified, weed-pulling class to learn how to identify milfoil and pull it, Patterson said.

The new system consists of a generator and a pump that pushes air through a tank and into a hose that connects to the diver's respirator.

The hose on the system Patterson built is about 50 feet long and is connected to a hose that sucks up the milfoil into a net on top of a harvester.

The new program is much easier on the diver, too.

A scuba tank weighs close to 40 pounds and can fatigue a diver within a few hours. But with the new system, the diver only needs a respirator and can dive all day without a problem.

Last weekend was the first time Patterson tried out the new system and he said he was able to stay underwater for 18 hours, something he never would have been able to do carrying a scuba tank.

"It's going to greatly increase the number of divers," he said.

The program has caught the attention of the New Hampshire Lakes Association.

Jared Teutsch, president of the association, said skin diving is the future of milfoil treatment, but first the state Department of Environmental Services needs to approve the treatment.

DES controls the treatment options in the state and has yet to allow skin diving. Chemical treatment and scuba diving are the only approved options to manage milfoil, Teutsch said.

Teutsch said his association would work with Patterson and the DES over the winter to allow the treatment.

Amy Smagula, exotic species coordinator at the DES, was not available yesterday for comment.

The lakes association has received funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association to fund alternative methods of weed control and would like to establish a grant program so lakes across the state can start their own skin diving programs.

"I don't know that we'll be able to put it together for next summer, but that would be ideal," Teutsch said.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Man who sued Atkinson officials arrested Thursday

From the Eagle Tribune;

Man who sued Atkinson officials arrested Thursday
By Eric Parry

ATKINSON, N.H. — An Atkinson man who sued town officials for First Amendment violations and recently told the selectmen another resident was destroying public roads was arrested Thursday afternoon on a charge of reckless conduct.

But police yesterday would offer few details about the arrest or any events leading up to it.

Leon Artus of Maple Avenue, no age given, has been charged with misdemeanor reckless conduct for a motor vehicle-related incident, Detective Sgt. Phil Farrar said.

Farrar declined to elaborate on what led to the reckless conduct charge.

Police Chief Philip Consentino said a resident had filed a complaint against Artus, but he declined to name the resident.

Artus did not respond to a request for comment yesterday.

He and two other residents filed a lawsuit in federal court in February against several town officials, including Consentino, alleging First Amendment violations.

The lawsuit alleged Consentino prevented them from placing warrant articles on the 2009 Town Meeting ballot.

Earlier this week, a judge dismissed the lawsuit.

At a selectmen's meeting two weeks ago, Artus told the board a Big Island Pond homeowner had damaged Valcat Lane when she built a driveway.

Artus claimed the road Maggie and Daniel Osborn had damaged was a public road and residents in the area couldn't access their properties as a result of their actions.

Maggie Osborn said earlier this week that her family has been harassed by other residents and her home was recently vandalized.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Atkinson residents' lawsuit dismissed


Atkinson residents' lawsuit dismissed

By Eric Parry

CONCORD — A federal court judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by three Atkinson residents against town officials alleging First Amendment violations.

Residents Leon Artus, Gary Brownfield and Steven Lewis filed the lawsuit in February, alleging several town officials prevented them from placing warrant articles on the 2009 Town Meeting ballot.

Artus and Brownfield alleged that after collecting signatures for a petitioned article to make the police chief a full-time position, Chief Philip Consentino called several people and threatened them into taking their names off the petition. Consentino is a part-time chief and would not qualify for the full-time position as described in the petitioned article.

The lawsuit alleged Consentino also intimidated residents regarding another article that would have changed oversight of the town's elderly affairs services, a program headed by Consentino.

Judge Paul Barbadoro wrote in his decision Wednesday that Consentino didn't break any laws, even if he did call people asking them why they signed the petition.

"The complaint does not allege Consentino told any elderly citizens he would stop providing them with certain benefits if they signed the petition," Barbadoro wrote.

Brownfield also alleged his rights were violated when Town Moderator Frank Polito did not allow him to take photographs during the 2009 deliberative session.

Brownfield's claims against Polito are not valid because state law allows him to run an orderly deliberative session, Barbadoro wrote.

The town of Atkinson, two current selectmen and two former selectmen also were named in the lawsuit for not reprimanding Consentino.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Atkinson couple fights town, neighbors Accused of violating zoning, shoreland rules

From the Eagle Tribune;

Atkinson couple fights town, neighbors Accused of violating zoning, shoreland rules
By Eric Parry

ATKINSON — A couple ordered to stop construction at their Valcat Lane home for violating an agreement with the town has asked the zoning board to delay action on a request to save their bunkhouse.

Margaret and Daniel Osborn, whose Big Island Pond home has been at the center of controversy, requested late yesterday afternoon that the Zoning Board of Adjustment waits until its November meeting to hear their case. No reason was given.

The board had been scheduled to review the matter last night but it was postponed until next month. The couple, who said their home has been vandalized and they were harassed by other residents, was ordered to stop work because they broke an agreement with the selectmen.

The state Department of Environmental Services also has been asked to investigate possible shoreland protection violations on the property.

Selectman Bill Friel said the Osborns told his board they wouldn't do any work without permission from the town.

"They just didn't do it," Friel said.

Last year, the zoning board ruled that the bunkhouse was in violation and needed to be torn down.

Two weeks ago, resident Leon Artus told the selectmen at their meeting that the quality of life on Valcat Lane had been destroyed by the Osborns and residents couldn't access their own property.

Yesterday, Maggie Osborn said in an interview that her family had been harassed by other town residents and the home was recently vandalized.

She did not indicate they would ask to delay the case.

After receiving a cease-and-desist order late last week, Osborn denied they constructed anything without the town's permission. Osborn said she was even given a driveway permit by Road Agent Ted Stewart.

"I feel totally let down by the selectmen's office," said Osborn, a former member of the zoning board.

The state Department of Environmental Services has confirmed it received complaints of alleged shoreland protection violations on the Osborns' property.

DES spokesman Jim Martin said the complaints were recent and he wasn't aware of the specific violations but his department would investigate them.

Tim Dziechowski, chairman of the town's Conservation Commission, has said the alleged violations include removal of too many trees, lack of erosion control during construction, and having docks without a valid permit.

Dziechowski said every time it rains, dirt will wash into Big Island Pond and wetlands that abut the property because there is no fencing or hay bales to prevent erosion.

Former Timberlane teacher indicted on more pornography charges

From the Eagle Tribune;

Former Timberlane teacher indicted on more pornography charges Child pornography allegedly found on his home computer
By Jarret Bencks

BRENTWOOD — A middle-school gym teacher has been indicted on 10 new charges stemming from 10 computer files containing child pornography allegedly found on his home computer.

Scott Buatti, 43, of Newton was indicted on 10 counts of attempted possession of child pornography last week, according to court documents released this week.

Prosecutors allege Buatti possessed eight video files and two photo files of child pornography on his personal computer in January and February 2008. He was a Timberlane Regional Middle School gym teacher at the time the files were allegedly found.

Buatti was previously indicted on 10 counts of possession of child pornography pertaining to the same files. The new charges could serve as an insurance plan for the prosecution if the original charges don't stick.

Buatti's lawyer, Mark Sisti, attempted to have the original charges thrown out last week, arguing that the indictments do not allege the photographs and movies were of children.

Sisti wrote that the indictments did not describe the lewd acts the children are engaged in, and that authorities did not allow the defense to cross-examine the children in the photos.

Superior Court Judge Tina Nadeau ruled there was enough evidence for a jury to decide.

The new charges do not require prosecutors to prove that the photos are of children, only that Buatti was attempting to possess pornographic images of children. Possession of child pornography and attempted possession of child pornography are both class B felonies.

The new indictments say the eight video files and two photo files included lewd photos of child female genitalia and children performing oral sex.

Buatti was first approached by federal agents on Feb. 25, 2008, as part of a two-year probe by U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. 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 a report from ICE.

Buatti had been a gym teacher at Timberlane Regional Middle School for 19 years, and also coached a girls AAU basketball team. He was put on administrative leave shortly after he was first indicted.

It is not clear whether Buatti is still on the district's payroll. Superintendent Richard LaSalle couldn't be reached yesterday afternoon. A call to middle-school Principal Michael Hogan was referred to LaSalle. Buatti is no longer listed as a teacher on the school Web site's roster of teachers.

His trial is scheduled to begin in February.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Atkinson's new administrator plans to stick around

From the Eagle Tribune;

Atkinson's new administrator plans to stick around
By Eric Parry

ATKINSON — After a few years of constant turnover, Atkinson may have found its long-term solution for town administrator.

Philip Smith Jr., who was hired for the job last month, said he has no plans to leave town anytime soon.

"Everything you can want in a job is here," Smith said.

After 25 years as a police officer, Smith, 45, said he's still learning the ropes after less than a month in the post.

Prior to being hired in Atkinson, Smith was the police chief in Alton, another small New Hampshire community in the Lakes Region.

Every day's schedule is different, Smith said, and, at the end of the day, he's guaranteed to fall asleep faster than he ever expected.

As a police chief, Smith managed about 15 officers. Atkinson employs 140 people, but only 13 of them have full-time jobs.

"It's a small town. Why is there so much to do?" Smith said.

Part of the reason Smith has a full schedule every day is because the town was without an administrator for eight months before he was hired.

Prior to hiring Smith, Atkinson went through two administrators in a year. The last long-term administrator was Russ McAllister, who worked for the town from 2004 to 2008.

While the town conducted yet another search for an administrator, administrative assistant Barbara Snicer took over many of the administrator's responsibilities. To reward her, the selectmen unanimously agreed to give her a $5,000 bonus last week.

"I can't imagine how she did it all herself," Smith said.

Snicer represents all the people Smith has met in town so far, he said, hardworking and always willing to help him learn his way around town.

"Everyone tries to make this town better," he said.

His desk is right next to the door to the selectmen's office, where any resident can pop their head in to say hello or voice a concern.

That's been one of the best things about the job so far, Smith said, who believes one of his strengths is working with people.

No matter what the problem, Smith said, he will listen and find an answer as best he can.

"They're going to get a pretty good response," he said.

He also said he's not afraid former administrators were forced out of town. One key to working in a small town is working with a competent Board of Selectmen, Smith said.

"I get along very well with all of them," he said of the three-man board.

After two years of driving more than an hour to work — longer during snowstorms, Smith said he's happy his new job is only four miles from his Salem home.

The extra time allows him to spend more time with his family and to attend his children's sporting events and activities.

"It's time to take care of team one," he said.

Atkinson event targeted cancer

From the Eagle Tribune;

Atkinson event targeted cancer

ATKINSON — On Oct. 3, Vanessa Underwood of Underwood's Sports and Fitness held the third annual Livestrong event at the Community Center.

This day is the Lance Armstrong Foundation's global initiative to make cancer a national priority. The day was a big success, according to Underwood.

It was a day to advocate, educate and celebrate. Everyone from age 9 to 90 warmed up with a zumba dance. Fundraising raffles were available and everyone enjoyed the luncheon.

There also was an optional Boot Camp circuit to "boot cancer."

Guests were able to write heartfelt messages or honor family and friends touched by cancer on fabric squares which will become the 2010 Livestrong quilt.

Many people volunteered to share their personal stories of how cancer has in some way touched their lives on camera. These stories will be part of a future video. This was a time for sharing one's journey, offering hope, advice, support and wisdom to all those affected by cancer.

Reiki therapy and blood pressure screenings were available.

The event ended with a circle of blessings.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Atkinson BOS consider a re-write of the Osborn deed covenant

From the Eagle Tribune;

Atkinson officials study private/public road issue
By Eric Parry

ATKINSON — Selectmen plan to consult with their attorney to determine whether they own a road that has been torn up so a resident could build a driveway for a Big Island Pond home.

Resident Leon Artus complained to the selectmen Monday night that Daniel and Margaret Osborn have destroyed Valcat Lane by building a driveway to their lakeside property.

Artus wants the selectmen to order the Osborns to stop working and repair the road so area residents can access their property.

"I'm just asking them to take control of Valcat," Artus said.

But whether Valcat Lane is actually a Class 6 and whether the selectmen have the authority to shut down the construction is not clear.

Under state law, Class 6 roads are public roads, but are not maintained by municipalities. Private citizens have to be given permission to maintain the roads and to build homes on them.

Conservation Commission Chairman Tim Dziechowski told selectmen he believes the road is private and not under their control.

Artus argued that the Osborns' deed, which is signed by two selectmen, states the road is a Class 6 public road.

The deed also states the Osborns are responsible for maintenance of the road and the town has no responsibilities when it comes to snow removal or maintenance.

But Dziechowski said the deed's language is irrelevant when classifying the road.

The road has never been on any official map, nor accepted by voters at a Town Meeting, Dziechowski said.

"It has never been deeded to the town," he said.

The roadwork is just the start to the problems on Valcat Lane.

Dziechowski said there are a number of shoreland protection violations, including the removal of too many trees, lack of erosion control and having docks without a valid permit.

Jim Martin, spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Services, said the state received complaints of alleged shoreland protection violations, but he was not able to elaborate on the status of any investigation yesterday.

Dziechowski said every time it rains, dirt will wash into Big Island Pond and wetlands that abut the property because there is no silt fencing or hay bales.

"We were sold a bill of goods on how environmentally friendly this was going to be and it wasn't built that way," he said.

Dziechowski said the town agent gave the Osborns a permit to build a driveway because they told the town the property was their land when, in fact, it wasn't.

"It was the wrong thing to do, to allow the driveway," he said.

Selectman Bill Bennett said after being presented both sides of the issue Monday night, the board plans to consult with its attorney, Sumner Kalman, to determine who owns the road.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Will the Selectmen act to preserve Town Assets?

Although the selectmen's meeting last night began at 7:00pm, it was not televised until 7:45pm.

What happened is that the selectmen asked conservation commission chair Tim Dzerchowski(tim, we hope we spelled that right?) to come in to speak to the legality of Valcat ln. as a town rd. This blog can think of no reason that the conservation commission would be asked an opinion on roads, but that is another issue. Tim gave a great discussion about the Shoreline Protection Act, and how Mrs. Osborn's construction on the lake has apparently violated it. He discussed the apparent violations of various EPA and NHDES regulations regarding storm water runoff, and proximity of construction to wetlands.

After Tim left, the meeting began to be televised, and Mr. Artus came in to make a presentation about the situation on Valcat ln. While Mr. Bennet maintained that he had spoken with town counsel that day until 4:30pm and that town counsel was still convinced that Valcat ln. was a private way, Mr. Artus showed him and the board a Deed Covenant signed by the board of selectmen and the Osborns last year which was made as a condition of issuing a building permit to the Osborns, which stated clearly that the Town recognized it's responsibility in maintaining Valcat ln. as a public right of way, and that the Osborn's would be liable for a damage to it, and prohibited form any restriction of the public's right to access those lots further along Valcat. This convenant was drafted BY TOWN COUNSEL IN MAY 2008! Yet he obviously couldn't remember it yesterday.

The conservation commission was having their meeting simultaneously in which the chairman reportedly informed the commission of his intent to file a complaint with NHDES for the environmental violations on that project.

Mr. Friel was visibly upset when Mr. Artus' production of that covenant, signed by him and Mr. Sullivan, pursuant to a unanimous vote of the board on May 19, 2008 to do so, apparently jogged his memory on the subject. The covenant required the Osorn's to obtain all permits necessary to their construction, they have apparently missed a few; to not damage valcat, or restrict the public right to pass, they clearly have violated that one. Not to mention the unpermitted constructions and modifications of the shoreline.

The selectmen agreed to review Mr. Artus packet of information, which included a memo from the NH Bar Association, with all the relevant RSA's noted about the dedication and acceptance of roads, the deed covenant, the deeds in question, and the relevant case law. Mrs. Killam of the Planning Board, stepped up to explain that she had done some research on this matter as well, and researched the deeds and law back to 1917, and was basically in concurance with Mr. Artus about the town's responsibilities towards valcat ln. as a class VI road in Atkinson. She pleaded with the board to consider carefully their course of action, as the planning board has for years tried to establish rules and procedures for dealing with class VI roads in town, and to turn a blind eye to the current mess would negate years of work in this same field all over town. And what of the other residents in town who have played by the rules, built homes, followed the rules for permitting, sprinklered their homes, to allow this house to be built and occupied waiving all of those policies, means that those policies can not exist for anyone else either.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Atkinson selectmen hope to cut spending further

From the Eagle Tribune;

Atkinson selectmen hope to cut spending further
By Eric Parry

ATKINSON — Selectmen are looking to trim spending by 5 percent for the remainder of the fiscal year to help ease next year's budget.

Selectmen called for a 2 percent spending cut in the town's $4.1 million operating budget two weeks ago. No department heads complained, so the board decided to go a bit further Tuesday night, according to Selectman Bill Friel.

Over the next two weeks, Friel said, the selectmen will meet with department heads to see how much they can save.

If each department saved 5 percent, it would amount to about $205,000.

Selectman Bill Bennett said it's tough to predict revenue for the end of the year, but he knows some areas will likely come in lower than expected.

Car registrations is one area with revenue coming in at less than expected because people are registering more used vehicles than new ones.

The town is still collecting property taxes without a problem, but Bennett said he knows there are some people in town who are hurting financially this year.

"I know there are some foreclosures and some people who have lost their jobs," he said.

The money saved over the next three months will go to lower next year's tax rate, which the selectmen said would likely increase.

This year's tax rate is $14.86 per $1,000 of valuation. The town's portion is $2.15.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Atkinson officials work to clean up paper trail...

Article submission

Atkinson officials work to clean up paper trail
Donors gave $150,000 for new library

By Eric Parry

ATKINSON — Kimball Library opened a year ago, but the selectmen recently asked the library trustees to reveal all construction costs that were paid by a group of anonymous donors.

Residents approved spending $2.7 million to build the new library and tear down the old one, but that would only cover the bare necessities. To make up for extra items on the trustees' wish list, some 300 people donated about $150,000 through the Friends of the Atkinson Library to help pay for energy-efficient lights and carpet upgrades.

The problem is the extras were paid for by residents directly to the contractors, according to Selectman Bill Friel.

"None of the paperwork went through the town," Friel said.

The town needs to know exactly how much donors spent on the construction project and what improvements they paid for.

Selectmen also need to see all warranties, contracts and other documents associated with work paid for by the donors.

"The whole paper trail is missing," Friel said.

Until March, only the selectmen were given the authority to accept gifts and they couldn't do so without documentation, Friel said. At Town Meeting in March, residents approved a warrant article that gave library trustees the authority to accept gifts.

Once they have all the requested information, Friel said, the board won't have a problem accepting the donations retroactively.

But library trustees said at a meeting Tuesday night that they had already provided the selectmen with the information they requested.

"Their difficulty is they have a wretched retrieval system," trustee Chairwoman Kay Galloway said.

Ron Lamarre, the architect for the library, said the lowest bid came in about $200,000 more than what the town had approved, so that's why the donations were needed.

A ceremonial shovel, stained-glass window and an exterior clock all were donated to enhance the library, Lamarre said.

"I think there are many people who were happy to be part of the legacy fund," Galloway said.

Miscommunication between the trustees and the selectmen is nothing new.

Galloway said the selectmen were invited to all trustee meetings starting in 2006 during the planning for the new library until after it was opened in October 2008.

"One of the difficulties we've had is a selectmen's liaison that has been absent more often than present," Galloway said.

To resolve the issue, trustees said they plan to hold a meeting to make sure selectmen have all the information they need.

Friel said a meeting would be scheduled soon.