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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.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tower company sues Atkinson over cell phone antennas

From the Eagle Tribune;

Tower company sues Atkinson over cell phone antennas
By Jarret Bencks

ATKINSON — A company seeking to install three cell phone antennas on a tower is suing the town for stalling the proposal and then denying the project all together.

The lawsuit, filed by SBA Towers II in U.S. District Court, alleges selectmen created rules as they went along during their review of the plans, attempted to impose an illegal fee during the permitting process, and are preventing phone service from being provided to local customers.

It is the second time the tower installation company has taken a town board to court in its attempt to install three wireless phone antennas on the 160-foot tower near High Hill Road. The tower would provide service to T-Mobile customers.

In 2007, the town's Zoning Board of Adjustment rejected the proposed antennas. That decision was appealed to U.S District Court in Concord on the grounds it violated the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which was designed to lighten regulations for telecommunications providers.

Judge James Muirhead overturned the board's decision in September 2008, but required SBA Towers to seek approval for the project from selectmen.

For more than a year after that decision, a back-and-forth ensued between the town and SBA. Numerous public hearings were canceled and then rescheduled. Selectmen raised new questions about the tower, and demanded additional requirements for the project, according to court documents.

At one point, the town building inspector told SBA officials that selectmen demanded a $2,500 fee for the engineering analysis, the lawsuit alleges. It is illegal to impose fees of that kind in connection with a building permit application.

Selectmen voted unanimously to deny the application Nov. 23, citing the impact the project would have on abutting properties.

The lawsuit in U.S. District Court, filed Dec. 23 by SBA attorney Steven Grill, accuses selectmen of taking too long to review the project and making up rules as they went along.

"The selectmen challenged or ignored the evidence submitted by SBA and invented a variety of ad hoc submission requirements and procedures, imposing one obstacle after another to what should have been an easy and straightforward application," the lawsuit states.

The suit also claims selectmen's actions are prohibiting wireless service to be provided in Atkinson and accuses the board of violating the state's constitution.

"The Selectmen violated the constitution and laws of New Hampshire by acting in an arbitrary and unreasonable manner throughout the course of this matter."

SBA Towers asks the court to overturn the selectmen's decision and seeks unspecified monetary damages. The lawsuit requests a trial by jury.

Selectman Bill Friel said his board had not been informed of the lawsuit as of yesterday. Friel said he wouldn't comment on the matter until he had a chance to read the lawsuit. Town attorney Sumner Kalman also said he had not yet seen the suit.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Budgetary Education

MAcciard said...


A Budgetary Education

As we approach town meeting I would like to educate my fellow townspeople on the budgetary process, and where their tax dollars go.

First, RSA Chapter 32, is the State Law controlling the budget. Budget committees are SOLELY responsible for preparing the budget. Governing bodies(selectmen and school boards) ONLY have authority over the budget AFTER it is passed by the voters and enters the spending phase.

RSA 32:5 states that it is the duty of all governing bodies and dept. heads to provide the budget committee with any and all information the committee feels it needs to prepare the budget.

It is the job of the budget committee to research, and verify all numbers furnished by the dept heads, and decide if those amounts are appropriate. For example; The Town of Salem, 4 years ago, decided to hire their 61st police officer. The budget committee decided that he either wasn't needed or couldn't be afforded, and refused to fund the position. The budget committee does not attempt to "run" a dept. they merely decide if they are going to fund the dept head's wishlist.

There is a marked difference between how the town budget committee works, and how the school board budget committee works. The town budcom follows State law. The SB budcom does not.

The school board allows the superintendent to prepare their budget drafts and they pass them. SB budcom members have even been heard to say, in the past, that it was their job to "sell" the school boards budget to the people! It is not! It is their job to tell the school board how much they get to spend. Further the RSA's also provide a formula for figuring out the default budget. The Superintendent does not follow that formula either. He includes cost items that he and the SB feels are important, but are not enumerated in RSA 40:13.

In short we as taxpayers should pay ultimate attention to these two budget committees as they are solely responsible for how much our tax burden is.

It appears that our school budget(which makes up about 80% of our tax burden) will be up about 3% this year. I find this amazing as enrollment is down, infrastructure costs are down, as well as fuel costs, and the teachers raises will be in a contract warrant article this year, so why the increase? How about this; The school district budget this year will be about $64,000,000. There are 4400 kids in the district. This means you are paying $14,545.46/ kid! Yes I know that the "official" figure is $9,600.00 or so, and that follows the state formula, but what they don't tell you is that formula omits some costs that you are paying for. The $9,600 is supposed to represent the educational costs. If that is so, how do YOU feel about paying a 51% premium for the quality of education your children receive.

I prefer to be blunt, transparent, and honest rather than obfuscating the true figures.

Let the discussion commence.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Water company wells OK'd in Atkinson

From the Eagle Tribune;

Water company wells OK'd in Atkinson
By Eric Parry

ATKINSON — The state approved two sites for the Hampstead Area Water Co. wells after more than a year of testing, public hearings and analysis.

Each site has two wells and will be allowed to draw a combined maximum of 300,000 gallons of water per day.

One site is about 400 feet west of Fieldstone Lane while the other is about 1,000 feet east of the Old Village Road pump house.

Stephen Roy, a state hydrogeologist, said one of the four wells is a backup source and would be only used if another failed.

The state has been considering the water company's request for more wells since it submitted an initial application in 2007.

That application was denied but the company hired a new consultant and submitted an application with new data in 2008, Roy said.

The company had requested approval for 348,800 gallons per day.

Ever since the water company's initial request, Atkinson residents have been concerned their wells would run dry.

But Roy said testing at the well sites determined that would not be the case.

"We do not expect indelible impact to anyone's well," he said.

Roy said each comment at the hearings and written comments submitted by residents had to be addressed before approving the request.

Selectman Bill Bennett, who has been closely monitoring the matter since before he was elected in March, said he's happy with the approval.

"They've mandated some protections and it's more than we probably would have gotten if we didn't make any noise," Bennett said.

As part of the approval, the water company will have to monitor how much is drawn from each well and report that information to the state.

Each year, the state would review the data and determine if the permit needs to be modified, Roy said.

A water conservation plan for the company was also mandated by the state Department of Environmental Services.

Company President Harold Morse said the wells would improve water service in Atkinson and allow for more customers to hook up to the system if they wanted.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas to ALL!

Although Mr. Acciard did not ask for this to be an article submission, the Atkinson Reporter thought it appropriate.

MAcciard said...

I would like to wish ALL the residents of Atkinson a Very Merry Christmas!

We have spent the last year or two bickering, and debating issues of import to us on this blog, and I believe that this blog has served a valuable purpose as a bulletin board where people could speak their mind about town issues, who may be reticent to do so in the public forum, either due to fear of reprisal(something that should never temper free speech) or due to inconvenience. Although this board has occasionally wandered from town issues into partisan bickering, overall I feel it has filled a niche.

This is a time when most people are reflective not only of the year that is winding down, but the path that they are following. It is a magical time when the sheer excitement on children's faces far outweighs a troubling economy, or the balance on our credit cards. Tonight kids all over town will be logging onto NORAD's Santa monitor site to see where Santa is before they go to bed. They will fall asleep dreaming of food, and presents in the morning.

At the same time there are children from broken homes, children whose parents are not as fortunate as some of us may be, children whose Christmas wish is for a coat, or gloves, or a blanket. As heart wrenching as this may be, please take a moment out of your day tomorrow to say a silent prayer for these children. If you wish to donate to these children, please feel free to contact me @ 781-424-8863, I will bring your donations to the YWCA- Lawrence children's services.

Thank you, and Merry Christmas to all.

Yes Virginia, there IS a Santa Claus.

This was posted in the Eagle Tribune, but has appeared in print every year this century.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus

Editor's note: The following editorial, among the most famous ever written, appeared in The New York Sun in 1897 and remains appropriate for this holiday season 112 years later.

Is there a Santa Claus?

We take pleasure in answering at once and thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:

Dear Editor! I am 8 years old.

Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.

Papa says, "If you see it in The Sun it's so." Please tell me the truth: Is there a Santa Claus?

Virginia O'Hanlon.

115 West Ninety-Fifth Street

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias.

There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal life with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernatural beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Atkinson officials order couple to vacate home


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Article from the ET

Atkinson officials order couple to vacate home
Atkinson officials say there's no occupancy permit

By Eric Parry

ATKINSON — Police delivered a letter from the selectmen to Daniel and Margaret Osborn on Monday night, ordering them to vacate their 8 Valcat Lane home.

All three selectmen signed the letter, which directs the Osborns to leave their house within five days because they do not have a certificate of occupancy.

But Margaret Osborn said yesterday they only received the letter because they are being harassed by town officials. She said they are in full compliance with all building and fire codes.

"We don't even know why we don't have an occupancy permit," Osborn said.

Town Administrator Philip Smith and the three selectmen have been told by their attorney, Sumner Kalman, not to comment on the letter. Kalman did not return a phone call for comment yesterday afternoon.

Osborn wouldn't say whether she is living at the home, nor if they are, whether they plan to leave as instructed.

"I can't let people know our whereabouts," she said.

The letter is the latest in a complicated controversy between the Osborns and town officials.

In October, the selectmen sent the Osborns a cease-and-desist order because they were building a driveway without a permit. Also, the state has been investigating alleged shoreland protection violations at the property. No information related to that investigation was available yesterday.

The letter delivered from the town Monday does not indicate whether the Osborns would be subject to any penalty if they do not obey the directive.

But according to the town's zoning ordinance, any violation of building codes is punishable by a fine of $100 for each day after written notice is given to the offender.

The letter from the town cites an affidavit signed by Daniel Osborn that states he has been living at 8 Valcat Lane for a month.

The document is part of Osborn's file at Plaistow District Court. Daniel Osborn was arrested on a misdemeanor criminal threatening charge for allegedly swinging an umbrella at Leon Artus' car on Oct. 13, according to court documents. Artus also was arrested on the same date on a misdemeanor reckless conduct charge involving a motor vehicle.

Two weeks before the arrests were made, Artus complained to the selectmen that the Osborns had destroyed Valcat Lane when they built a driveway to their home.

Margaret Osborn claims her home has been vandalized and she has been harassed by residents.

Osborn listed Valcat Lane as his current address on a pretrial release questionnaire. According to the document, he said he had lived there for a month. The questionnaire is not dated.

The questionnaire also lists Osborn's employer, his previous criminal history and previous address. The telephone number listed on the document is out of service.

As part of Daniel Osborn's bail conditions, he's not allowed to be within 100 yards of Artus.

But Margaret Osborn said yesterday she denies any information on the document apparently signed by her husband.

She said they have used 8 Valcat Lane as their address since they moved from their previous home in Atkinson two years ago.

She denied that her husband filled out the document, even though it carries the signature of the defendant. The signature is not legible, but Daniel Osborn is the defendant in the case.

"We're being singled out and harassed, and will now have to deal with our legal counsel on what we should do," she said.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Deadline looms for owner of illegal addition

From the Eagle Tribune;

Deadline looms for owner of illegal addition
By Jarret Bencks

BRENTWOOD — An Atkinson man who has refused to remove an addition built onto his home has until Dec. 31 to respond to a lawsuit filed against him by the town.

The town has asked Rockingham County Superior Court to grant a permanent injunction, ordering John Mason of 4 Rocky Point Lane to remove a 10-foot-by-25-foot addition he built on his waterfront property without a building permit from the town.

Atkinson has been trying to get Mason to remove the addition for years, according town officials.

On Sept. 5, 2007, Mason applied for a permit to "rebuild existing structure," which was rejected because it did not meet wetland zoning regulations.

It also needed approval from the state Department of Environmental Services and a variance from the town zoning board, the court documents said. The addition already had been built at that point.

Mason has been contacted by the town and the DES on numerous occasions since September 2007 but no progress has been made, court documents said.

On Oct. 22, the town resorted to filing the lawsuit in Superior Court. Town Attorney Sumner Kalman filed a petition for an injunction that asks Mason be required to remove the addition and pay the town fines and penalties.

The petition does not specify the total damages the town is seeking.

Mason's property was last appraised in 2006 at $373,100.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

N.H. sees increase in shoreland violations

From the Eagle Tribune;

N.H. sees increase in shoreland violations
By Eric Parry

ATKINSON — Maggie Osborn has had state inspectors at her Valcat Lane home three times since she started construction last year.

The Department of Environmental Services has come to make sure she didn't violate shoreland protection laws by cutting down too many trees and letting silt wash into Big Island Pond during construction.

"We've been targeted for everything," she said.

Osborn said she doesn't know who filed the complaints and so far she hasn't heard she's broken any laws.

But Osborn is in the minority.

Linda Magoon, supervisor of the Wetlands Bureau at DES, said the majority of the 300 to 400 complaints they receive each year result in a violation.

That number has remained consistent for at least the last five years, despite strengthened shoreland protection laws that went into effect in July 2008.

"It may have resulted in an increase in violations," Magoon said.

She said her office is driven by the number of complaints they receive from residents and municipal governments.

"We rely on the public to submit complaint forms if they see a violation," Magoon said.

With 859 shoreland permits issued in the last year and a half, and more than 2,000 wetland permits issued annually, Magoon said, it's impossible to get to every site.

Starting in July 2008, any construction and excavation work done within 250 feet of the shore needs a permit.

If DES receives a complaint, the department sends a letter to the responsible party. One of eight DES inspectors will follow up with a visit to the site of the alleged violation.

Severe violations that have long-term environmental effects, including those that would affect the water quality of a lake, are visited within days. Lesser violations can take a bit longer to clear up.

A complaint that someone moved a dock or resurfaced a retaining wall two years ago might not get a visit for a few weeks, Magoon said.

In October, a Salem man agreed to pay a $25,000 fine for structures built on his Arlington Pond property that violated shoreland protection laws.

Michael Pantaleo of 20 Glen Road was cited after an inspection of the property in October 2006, when DES officials found a retaining wall, dock, large stone patio, fire pit, stairway and other structures all within the zone protected by the act and built without authorization, according to court documents.

Penalties for violations vary. In serious cases, the state Attorney General's Office will take the homeowner to court. There, they might receive a fine of $10,000 per day per violation.

But it's more common that DES would work with the homeowner to correct the problem and send them notice of an administrative fine, Magoon said.

That's what happened to Atkinson homeowner John Mason, who built a deck on his home that violated state wetland protection laws. The town has been battling Mason in court, and DES sent him an administrative order in September demanding he tear the deck down.

Mason filed a letter last week indicating he would appear in court in response to the town's lawsuit against him.

DES is allowed under state law to administer a $2,000 fine for wetlands violations and $5,000 for shoreland violations.

Magoon said DES allows homeowners to negotiate fines with them based on the severity of the violation, how cooperative they are and the economic benefit the homeowner gains from the violation.

"The penalty and what our enforcement is depends on a variety of factors," Magoon said.

But it can take a while to get to the point of any fine or penalty.

Shoreland cases often involve a lot of background research and can take time to resolve. Calls to the town to review building plans, site visits, and interviews with witnesses and neighbors can take months to determine whether the violator should be punished.

Two inspectors are dedicated to shoreland protection violations and six dedicated to wetlands permitting violations. But all inspectors are trained to spot all types of violations.

The second shoreland protection inspector is a new position this year and Magoon said it was a desperately needed addition to her team.

The caseload for all investigators is between 800 and 1,000 violations, according to Magoon.

"Obviously, he wasn't getting to everything," Magoon said.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Timberlane officials quiet on controversial issues Administration quiet on past, present controversies

From the Eagle Tribune;

Timberlane officials quiet on controversial issues Administration quiet on past, present controversies
By Eric Parry

PLAISTOW — Timberlane Regional School District officials had little to say last week when news of an online book critical of many members of the high school's senior class became public.

The online book, allegedly written by senior class President Joshua Tubbs, circulated at the high school and offers often scathing opinions of the 350 members of the senior class.

After news of the book became public, Superintendent Richard La Salle released a four-sentence statement saying the district was investigating claims of potential student harassment. He declined to comment on any punishment the author of the book could face.

Principal Don Woodworth declined to comment further and School Board Chairwoman Elizabeth Kosta referred all questions to school administration. The response by school officials is consistent with other controversial events that have rattled the district in recent years.

Over the last two years, the district's administration has been mum on several issues, from the firing of two popular ski coaches to a former teacher who is awaiting trial on child pornography charges.

Woodworth sent a letter home to parents Friday afternoon that stated the school district was investigating the latest incident. The letter also invites parents to contact school administrators to share their thoughts or information on the incident.

Calls to La Salle seeking comment on the district's release of information to the public were not returned yesterday. But the superintendent did supply a 12-page document that outlines the district's policy on releasing student information and records.

In most cases, records and information are only supplied to students and their legal guardians. If a student or parent gives permission, the district will distribute information to the public, according to the policy. But the policy doesn't address what information the district can release in regard to a staff member.

This summer, parents with children on Timberlane Regional High School's ski team became angry when La Salle refused to allow them to be put on the School Board's agenda to discuss the firing of Peter and Marybeth Torosian.

The couple coached the team for 12 years and were named Coaches of the Year by The Eagle-Tribune three times, but their one-year contract was not renewed this summer by Athletic Director Angelo Fantasia.

La Salle and Fantasia declined to comment on why the contracts were not renewed.

In recent years, the school district also has been faced with two teachers arrested on criminal charges.

In August, a former Timberlane Regional Middle School teacher, Scott Buatti, was indicted on charges of possessing child pornography. Buatti is scheduled to go to trial in February.

Federal investigators told Timberlane administrators in March 2008 that Buatti was under investigation for alleged possession of child pornography, but he continued to teach and coach until April 2009.

In April, La Salle refused to comment on the March 2008 meeting with federal investigators. He insisted the district's first priority is the safety of students and said he acted appropriately in keeping Buatti on staff while he was under criminal investigation.

Kevin Goddu, a former teacher at the high school, received a 12-month suspended jail sentence in July 2008 for having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old student. Goddu reached a plea agreement after he went to trial on felony charges, resulting in a hung jury.

When Goddu was arrested on April 6, 2007, former Superintendent Douglas McDonald refused to comment on the arrest since Goddu had resigned from the district a day earlier.

Goddu had been on paid administrative leave since March 22 for allegations of inappropriate conduct.

Monday, December 7, 2009

If Only Atkinson Were New Castle.

From the Plaistow Town Crier; Thank you Mr. Herrick

If Only Atkinson Were New Castle.

Posted by Dennis Herrick on December 05, 2009 at 08:44:18:


New Castle was at risk under ex-Chief James Murphy

Before theft charges, Murphy was said to have hoarded pay details, and had officers carrying guns without proper training

Police Chief James Murphy of the New Castle Police Department.

Rich Beauchesne photo By Elizabeth Dinan

December 05, 2009 2:00 AMNEW CASTLE — Four months before former Police Chief James Murphy was arrested on a felony charge alleging he stole charity money, a pair of consultants published a "confidential report" saying Murphy's subordinate officers were carrying weapons they weren't trained to use, that Murphycollected private detail pay while on salary and that he spent too much time training for a regional SWAT team the town didn't use.

Murphy resigned on Oct. 1 following his arrest on the felony alleging he stole $8,675 from the Coast Guard/New Castle Police Food Drive between November 2002 and December 2004. The state attorney general's office is prosecuting and alleges Murphy confessed and said he took the money for his wife, who is not charged with a crime. He was indicted by a Rockingham County grand jury and a trial has not yet been scheduled.

The report was prepared by Central Intelligence of Kennebunk, Maine, which was hired to "conduct an abbreviated management and operations assessment" of the Police Department and make recommendations. The company was hired by the town's contract attorney, Daniel Schwarz, and published on May 26.

Central Intelligence President Michael Pardue is a private investigator who formerly served as police chief and town administrator in Ogunquit, Maine, as well as interim police chief in Kensington. He was assisted by Thomas Howard, who serves as city marshal — a position comparable to police chief — in Newburyport, Mass.

The report notes that, while Murphy was New Castle's police chief, his officers were transporting Colt AR-15 tactical rifles in their cruisers but were not instructed on how to use them by a trained firearms instructor.

"This is greatly concerning and places the officers and the town at great risk, both from the perspective of safety and liability exposure," the consultants found. It was recommended that the chief "immediately remove" the rifles from the cruisers and "secure them in a manner where they are not accessible to untrained personnel."

Further, a new officer was found by the consultants to have been working in uniform and carrying an unloaded pistol because he "had not yet been trained and certified on the use of said weapon."

It was recommended that training be provided and documented.

The consultants also learned that Murphy took all paid detail opportunities at the Wentworth by the Sea hotel and if he couldn't personally work the event, he allowed the detail to go "unfilled," rather than assign it to another officer. The consultants found many in the town were concerned about the former chief also working road details while collecting his $60,000-a-year salary.

The behavior was viewed by some as "double dipping," or collecting pay for two jobs while performing one, according to the report.

Some interviewed by the consultants reported "the chief's participation in the Seacoast Emergency Response Team" training "involved far too much of his time." Further, the consultants were told, "the town derives no benefit."

Recommendations included having the chief provide the Board of Selectmen with a detailed training schedule and itemized accountings for all related costs, including for backfilling in his absence during the training.

The consultants found the former chief's "poor and/or ineffective leadership" included written policies that were 11 years old and appeared to have been taken from Raymond (where Murphy previously worked), with the names of the towns changed. It included a policy for responding to bank alarms in New Castle, where there are no banks, and allowed for up to eight cruiser accidents a year, when the town has only two cruisers patrolling one square mile.

"The list of policies that reflect 'items' not found in New Castle could go on for some time," according to the consultants.

The investigators also found the Police Department had no organizational structure and no mission, while "each officer appeared to simply be doing whatever they wanted with a complete lack of administrative direction." Further, they reported, there were no job descr1ptions, disproportional workloads and "responsibilities not being addressed."

A lack of trust within and outside the department was noted, as was a recommendation that the former police chief engage with the public on a daily basis by walking around the community, interacting with citizens, visiting schools and spending time with his employees.

The town's consultants also found inadequacies with police headquarters, including an evidence area where a pistol and ammunition magazine were found stored in an area "easily reachable from outside the 'gate.'"

The infrastructure inadequacies have since been rectified by construction of a new public safety building.

While touring the police station, the consultants noted the absence of found property and reported "one would expect to see items such as cell phones, cameras, video cameras, jewelry, wallets, purses, bicycles, clothing, etc."

When asked about it, Murphy said little property was ever found, and if it was, was returned to the owner, but there was "no formal process" for dealing with found items, according to the report. Other employees reported found items were taken to the public works building and placed in a bucket. Public works reported that items of value were taken to Town Hall.

The consultants stressed they were not calling into question the honesty of personnel handling found property, but noted "the lackadaisical approach" could open the town up to others doing so.

The report also noted that when the town was looking to hire a new officer, Murphy failed to advertise for candidates who already graduated from a police academy, leading to the town paying for 14-week academy training. Hiring academy graduates in the future would save New Castle "significant funds," the consultants found.

In conclusion, the investigators reported, "it appears that Chief James Murphy is not currently exhibiting the fundamental skills, knowledge, abilities, judgment and management capabilities needed to effectively direct and manage the affairs of the New Castle Police Department."

If Murphy was to continue as chief, according to the report, he should be "provided with external management oversight."

No one from the town's Board of Selectmen was available for comment Friday, according to the board's secretary. Don White Jr. has since been named the town's new police chief.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Timberlane community buzzing over scathing, online book Timberlane Class of '10 trashed; officials mum

From the Eagle Tribune;

Timberlane community buzzing over scathing, online book Timberlane Class of '10 trashed; officials mum
By Eric Parry

PLAISTOW — An online book, written under the name of the senior class president at Timberlane Regional High School, has the school community buzzing — and administrators mum.

"SEN10RS The Good, the Bad and the Really Really Bad," which was posted as being written by Joshua Peter Tubbs, was available through an online search yesterday. The online book categorizes the 350-plus members of the Class of 2010, and offers often scathing opinions of them.

Timberlane seniors interviewed yesterday expressed outrage and disgust with the book, particularly what the author had to say about classmates with special needs.

"There were some things said about people that can't really defend themselves that hurt us more," senior Cira Esposito said.

Tubbs could not be reached for comment; repeated calls were made to his home phone number, which rang busy all day long.

Students said school administrators called a senior assembly Thursday morning to address the matter. Although they did not name Tubbs specifically, administrators mentioned the book and said the matter was being investigated, according to the students. "They wanted to calm the situation down," senior Cara Hatfield said.

Hatfield said she was in the school's chapter of the National Honor Society with Tubbs. In addition to being elected class president, Tubbs also was chosen as Mr. Timberlane this fall. Students said yesterday he had been stripped of his title and the parking spot that came with it.

Superintendent Richard La Salle would not comment on the situation yesterday. He released a written statement saying the administration would investigate claims of potential student harassment.

La Salle refused to comment on any consequences the student might face.

Principal Don Woodworth also declined to comment.

"We're looking out for the safety of the students at the school and conducting a thorough investigation," Woodworth said.

In the book's introduction, the author describes himself as "a straight-A student" who has "never ever gotten a single detention or similar punishment."

"I am rather cocky in my intelligence, and I am definitely an intellectual elitist so if the stupider children would like to leave, that would be fine by me," the author wrote.

The first 10 or more pages of the book are devoted to Joshua Tubbs' background, goals — including teaching elementary school — and writing samples. He then lists the 28 categories he assigns to his classmates, ranging from "fake girls" and "druggie" to "gangstah" and "special education."

What follows are more than 70 pages of individual assessments, in alphabetical order, of 349 students. When he gets to Joshua Tubbs, he writes, "No explanation needed, I am just the best thing since canned bread."

The author concludes with the hope the project enlightened people. "I hope that these people realize their faults and build on their strengths, or make some if there is an absence," he wrote.

Some students said they were surprised how they were described in the book, saying they had never spoken with Tubbs.

Caleigh Ouellette said she only had a class with Tubbs for a few days before dropping it for another class. Still, Tubbs described her as frequently acting "stupid" in his book.

"Most of the things he said were opinions and were really stupid," Hatfield said.

Students said Tubbs was not in school yesterday and left at midday on Thursday. Administrators would not confirm whether Tubbs was present in school yesterday.

The book was written after a teacher mentioned last month that November was National Novel Writing Month. To qualify as a novel, the teacher said, a book would have to be at least 50,000 words long, according to students.

In the introduction to the book, the author mentioned the easiest way to write 50,000 words would be to write about his senior class.

"That seems like a good way to get a LOT of words with little work done," he wrote.

While the book may have the school community boiling, it has not risen to the level of a criminal matter.

Plaistow Deputy police Chief Kathleen Jones said she was familiar with the incident, but it had not been referred to them and was not a criminal matter.

Other school administrators either did not return phone calls or referred questions to Woodworth and La Salle. Six members of the Timberlane Regional School Board did not return phone calls for comment.

School Board Chairwoman Elizabeth Kosta referred all questions to school administrators.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Consentino will be paid $100 a year to lead elderly affairs

From the Eagle Tribune;

Consentino will be paid $100 a year to lead elderly affairs
By Eric Parry

ATKINSON — Philip Consentino soon will receive his first paycheck as the town's director of elderly affairs.

The police chief has volunteered for the position for 16 years, but the selectmen decided Monday night to pay him $100 a year for doing the job.

As the director, Consentino brings elderly residents to medical appointments and social events. He also sends birthday cards, holds an annual flu clinic, and is planning a Christmas party next Tuesday, where he will hand out hundreds of dollars worth of gas cards, restaurant gift certificates and other gifts.

Selectman Bill Bennett said it was time to designate the job as that of being a town employee since Consentino was putting himself at risk driving town vehicles with elderly residents to medical appointments from Boston to Manchester.

"The issue is a liability for the town and for Phil," Bennett said.

At Town Meeting in March, residents will vote on a warrant article to make the position official with the $100 salary.

"They never officially created the position," Consentino said.

The position will remain appointed and Consentino will have to be reappointed if voters approve the article at Town Meeting.

That's the final step in clarifying Consentino's roles as elderly affairs director and police chief.

Last year, the state attorney general's office received complaints about the way Consentino operated elderly affairs as a division of the Police Department. The two departments were separated last year, but Consentino still heads both departments.

Over the last seven months, selectmen have been asking Consentino to sign a document outlining his responsibilities as volunteer director of the department. But Consentino said he had refused to sign, saying he was being singled out and the only volunteer being asked to do so.

Before Monday's meeting, Consentino said he would be forced to resign from the Elderly Affairs Department if the selectmen continued to pressure him to sign the document.

Bennett said he's not concerned about the article being approved by voters.

Voters will face another warrant article asking them to approve the purchase of a fourth vehicle for the Elderly Affairs Department.

Consentino said there are five drivers and sometimes it can be difficult to arrange rides for seniors when they are getting five to seven requests per day. Last year, the department provided 1,644 rides.

"They've been using their own cars at times," Consentino said of the other four drivers.

The warrant article calls for buying a 2010 Subaru Forester from Singer Subaru in Plaistow. It would cost taxpayers $12,000.

An anonymous donor has given $7,000 toward the new car, lowering the price tag for taxpayers from the $19,500 the dealer is charging, Consentino said.

"I think the people should be happy to vote for that," Bennett said.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Where is the information?

A quick read of the town website show absolutely NOTHING!

For over TWO YEARS the budget committee has not posted minutes of their meetings. TWO YEARS! We remember selectman Sapia railing about former Budcom chief Acciard not posting minutes, but he was the first person to get the committee's minutes on the town website, and updated them each week.

Our illustrious board of selectmen, with their new $76,000 Town Administrator has not posted minutes since APRIL!

By the way, this is not something that is difficult to do, they attach the already approved minutes to an email to Don Roberts, and he posts them. VIOLA!

But that is probably ok, since there is little other information on the town website either. No demographical info about the Town. No historical info about the town. No videos of meetings. No recent minutes of meetings. NO INFORMATION!

But that i in keeping with our town officials traditions, of restricting access to public information as much as possible. If not, outright restrictions on access, then setting a price on the information too steep for most to meet.

Our current board of selectmen has been better than the last in supplying public info to the public, but, then again, they could hardly be worse than the Sapia/Consentino/Childs board. THAT board set the unlowerable standard for refusal to answer anything.

Timberlane changes focus of adult education classes

From the Eagle Tribune;

Timberlane changes focus of adult education classes
By Eric Parry

PLAISTOW — Aromatherapy classes don't have the same draw as they used to.

Instead, people are looking to take adult education classes that can help prepare them for a new career.

Next month, Timberlane Regional High School will offer a free job search seminar series for residents to learn resume writing, interviewing skills and how to search for a job.

Enrollment in the adult education program has dropped 30 percent from last year, which Assistant Principal Robert Dawson said can be attributed to the economy.

"I'm just seeing fewer people right now who are looking to spend money," Dawson said.

The hardest hit programs have been aromatherapy, Reiki and oil painting. Last year, those classes had about 20 students each, but this year, Dawson said, some classes have been canceled because of a severe drop in enrollment. An average class costs between $20 and $30.

But what has remained consistent is the demand for computer classes and other skill-oriented programs that people can put on their resume when looking for a job.

Next semester, Dawson said, the school plans to offer its first Microsoft Office class.

"It's the number one thing people ask for when they call," he said.

A similar class at a community college costs more than $1,000, but Dawson said he knows the school can offer it for a fraction of the price.

A job search seminar series, which will be held on Dec. 7, 9, 14 and 16, from 6:30 to 8:30 each evening, is exactly the type of class people are looking for, Dawson said.

The class will be led by Susan Henry, who has more than 30 years' experience in the corporate world and a master's degree in career counseling.

Residents of Atkinson, Danville, Plaistow and Sandown can register for one of the 20 spots for free until Dec. 4. After that date, residents from other communities will be accepted until Dec. 10 for an optional $10 donation.

If all goes well, Dawson said, this is the type of class residents can expect regularly.

"I want to be oversold, so I can do it again," he said.