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

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

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

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Atkinson officials question air-quality woes at station

From the eagle Tribune;

December 24, 2011
Atkinson officials question air-quality woes at station
By Cara Hogan

ATKINSON — Selectmen are questioning whether there are any air quality problems at the police station, after months of delay on the planned project to clean out air ducts.

Earlier this month, the state Department of Labor did a safety audit and found the air quality in the police station was "poor." The state gave selectmen until Jan. 13 to come up with a solution to the air quality problem.

But now selectmen are fighting back against the state mandate, saying there is no problem. Selectman Craig Schuster said the state has not seen some of the testing data.

"There's some data out there stating the air quality was satisfactory," he said. "That hasn't been verified yet. Until I actually see the data and the testing we've done, I question it."

Police Chief Philip Consentino said he can't believe selectmen are now doubting the poor air quality, which wasn't contested before.

"They've had two or three people the town paid to come in and do air quality tests," he said. "Why did the town put out a request for bids if there is no problem?"

The air quality issued was addressed in the independent Municipal Resources Inc. report from September, which analyzed every aspect of the police department. The report said there were three types of mold and fiberglass particles in the air at the police station, caused by water damage from the leaky roof. Selectmen said the air ducts would be replaced over the summer, but the project stalled.

Earlier this month, Selectman Fred Childs said the delay was caused by two bids from contractors that were much higher than the town estimated — almost $45,000.

But Schuster said the issue isn't the price, rather it's the existence of any problem.

"You hear reports from the police department saying they're having issues and people are sick, but we did testing and didn't find anything," he said. "We need to take a step back and find out the real information, then attack the issue."

Consentino said selectmen already have done some work to improve the air quality. They had the air return over the dispatcher's desk replaced and had all the ceiling tiles taped up to prevent particles from circulating.

"The tiles had stains on them from the rain and were turning moldy," he said. "How can they say it's fine? We've had expert upon expert brought in and right now I've washed my hands of it."

Schuster said the town put out initial RFPs with a plan to go up into the attic of the building, clean the ducts and explore what was going on in the ceiling of the station.

"Part of the RFP was looking into what we could find," he said. "But nobody wants to do it. If there is a problem, we will fix it. The timeframe will depend on how big the issue is."

Schuster said selectmen plan to hold a workshop to verify the data and find out what the real issues are at the department, before starting work.

Consentino said he's just waiting to see what the board will do.

"The Board of Selectmen is in charge and, hopefully, they'll realize something has to be done," he said.

Until then, Consentino said, he bought an air purifier for the dispatch office on Tuesday, to keep his employees happy.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Budgetary Attrocities

Our Selectmen have requested $100,000 in the "other professional services-Legal line item, in the Town's operating budget. The line was funded at $10,000 last year, and was promptly overspent by $70,000 by our spendthrift BOS.

A little history is in order here.

This line was added to the budget by the budget committee last year at the request of the selectmen, because Primex had dropped the town's insurance coverage over the ongoing lawsuits, and the selectmen knew that a new insurer would not accept liability for the ongoing case, which was being wrapped up at that time. They asked for $10,000 to wrap up the Artus case. Now, that case is long over, we have a new insurer, and the selectmen want this line INCREASED to $100,000, WHY?

Fred claims it is for "the lawsuits coming down the pike", but THAT feeble excuse doesn't hold water, because any new lawsuits would be covered by our new insurer. In addition to the insurance, we pay Town Counsel $42,000 per year to defend the town. SURELY between the insurance, and our town counsel we can handle all these future mythical cases coming down the pike?

And what ARE these mythical cases, Fred cites? In the last five years the Town has been in court constantly, ALL over Phil Consentino's abuses of authority. There was the ethics case brought by Mark Acciard in 2005, which resulted in the Court ordering Phil to recuse himself form any selectmen's meetings that were delaing with police, elderly affairs, or town employee issues. Phil ignored the Court's Order, as we are sure every good law abiding chief law enforcement officer would do, right? and the Court then found him in Contempt of Court, and ordered him to now LEAVE the ROOM when those issues were being discussed, since he failed to follow their order the first time. Phil Ignored this order as well, preferring to spend MORe of the taxpayers money to appeal to the Nh Supreme Court. They dismissed. Then there was the Grant case, You all remember THAT one, Phil fresh off his Court Order to leave the room when police, elderly, or town employee matters were being discussed, sat in his selectmen's chair, when Carol Grant, came in to read a short statement about Phil's verbal abuse towards her in the lobby of the Town hall, Thus violating the Court's Order once again. he slammed his hand down on the table ROARING to the officer's he had directed Russ to call, to "GET HER OUT OF HERE". The officers dutifully evicted Carol, Her husband, and her wheelchair bound son out into the cold winter night, without even allowing them to stop and put coats on. This resulted in the Grant case, which after two years was settled with the payment of $30,000 to the Grants. Then there was the Acciard civil rights case, which dealth with phil's diatribes in publis official town business meetings, his letters to Acciard on official stationary threatening action, verbal threats in public, following him and his family through town, and other abusive actions, 3 years, and over $100,000 in legal fees later this case was merged into the Artus case. This new one over Phil calling elderly people that signed petition warrant articles and screaming at them "why did you sign this shit?"

So it is fair to say that if they want to cut legal costs they need to get phil to retire. It would save the town hundreds of thousands in legal fees and settlements.

And true to form, the budget committee, did not question the validity of the line, but began haggling over the amount! THE LINE SHOULD NOT EXIST! IT'S PURPOSE HAS BEEN FULFILLED! The question needs to be asked WHY DO YOU REALLY WANT $100,000?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Atkinson man indicted for road rage incident

from the Eagle Tribune;

December 20, 2011
Atkinson man indicted for road rage incident
By Doug Ireland

BRENTWOOD — An Atkinson man has been indicted in an alleged road rage incident in which a local fitness expert claims he was targeted.

Dean Bidgood, 21, was recently indicted on a criminal mischief charge by a Rockingham Superior Court grand jury. If convicted, he faces three and a half to seven years in state prison.

Bidgood was arrested by Salem police following an incident July 29 on Lawrence Road.

Scott Herman, a Salem High School graduate who appeared on the MTV reality show "The Real World — Brooklyn" two years ago, told police he was driving in his car about 2 a.m. when three men in a pickup truck gestured at him.

He told police he thought he knew the men and pulled his car over.

Herman, who drives a distinctive Toyota Scion that features advertising for his fitness company, said at the time he had no doubt the men knew who they were targeting.

Four years ago, Herman was recognized by Men's Health magazine for having the best abdominal muscles on the East Coast. He also works with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community to combat bullying, but said he is straight.

Herman told police that two of the men, including Bidgood, jumped out of the truck, and kicked and pounded on his car. They tried to pull him out of his car and kick him, Herman said. He called 911 and the men fled in the truck. Herman followed them and the truck pulled over on Town Farm Road.

When Herman also stopped, one man jumped out of the truck, ripped off his shirt and charged the Scion. Herman put his car in reverse to escape. That's when police pulled up and found Bidgood standing outside the truck. The other man fled and the third person remained in the truck.

Bidgood was arrested on several charges, but only indicted on the criminal mischief charge. He was also charged with driving while intoxicated (subsequent offense), criminal threatening, possession of a controlled drug (Valium), transportation of a controlled drug, misuse of plates and simple assault.

He has been free on $5,000 personal recognizance and $1,000 cash bail.

Police also arrested Michael Leavitt, 21, of Atkinson and Michael Smith, 21, of Salem. Leavitt was charged with criminal mischief, simple assault and resisting arrest. He was released on $1,000 cash bail.

Smith remained in the truck throughout the attack, but was charged with possession of marijuana. He was released on $1,000 personal recognizance.

Friday, December 16, 2011

FINALLY, a Trained Police Force! Now if we only had a trained Chief.

From the Eagle Tribune;

December 16, 2011
Atkinson rebuilds police department
By Cara Hogan

ATKINSON — The police department is slowly rebuilding, but much of the recent hiring has come at the expense of neighboring Plaistow.

Selectmen agreed Monday night to hire Officer Stephen Lundquist at $22 an hour, bringing the department up to four full-time officers.

Lundquist is the fourth officer Atkinson has hired away from Plaistow.

In October, the town hired three veteran officers from Plaistow, Sgt. Patrick Caggiano, Officer Nicholas Fiset and Sgt. Scott Anderson.

Lundquist will start his new job on Jan. 10 and fill a much-needed position, according to Caggiano.

"The department is currently running at 60 percent of the workforce," he said.

"We have three full-time officers and we would normally have five officers. We're looking to fill that gap."

There has also been a high turnover rate in the Atkinson department, too, creating the openings.

Officer Christopher VanHirtum left the department in October and Detective Sgt. Philip Farrar retired in September.

Earlier in the year, Lt. William Baldwin and Officer Justin Paquette left the department.

Baldwin actually joined the Plaistow department.

In order to hire Lundquist, the town had to buy out his contract with Plaistow, adding $2,500 to his salary.

"Plaistow has made an investment in training him and, if he leaves, they lose it," Caggiano said.

"They spent about $33,000 on the cost of his training. Atkinson would only have to pay the rest of his contract until April."

Selectmen voted, 2-1, to hire Lundquist. Selectman Fred Childs voted against it because of the employment contract.

"It's like buying an officer," he said.

"I have a problem with buying people."

Childs also said he was worried about setting a precedent for future hires.

"We opened up a can of worms," he said.

"If the next officer comes and is asking us for the same thing, are we going to say no? I want to be consistent."

Caggiano said Lundquist is worth the investment.

"To get someone who has already proven himself, we're getting a considerable cost benefit," he said. "I'm comfortable putting (Lundquist) in a cruiser in three or four weeks. If I have another officer, I made have to put that off to the industry standard 12 weeks of training."

Lundquist has worked as a full-time officer in Plaistow for the past three years, including serving for a short time under Caggiano.

"I had the opportunity to work with Steve and I know the caliber of officer he is," Caggiano said.

"Within two years of becoming a police officer, he showed his ability to do detective work."

Plaistow police Chief Stephen Savage would not comment on the loss to his department, saying it's a personnel matter.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Atkinson: Selectmen surprise with announcement of new town administrator

From the Eagle Tribune;

December 13, 2011
Atkinson: Selectmen surprise with announcement of new town administrator
By Cara Hogan

ATKINSON — Selectmen have decided to hire William Innes as the new town administrator, filling the position that has been vacant for four months.

Innes, 63, agreed to take the job yesterday for a salary of $68,000 a year and will start full-time on Jan. 3. He is the chairman of the Recreation Committee and secretary of the technology committee, but has no other municipal experience.

"I've been to deliberative session and learned about how many things work in town, but I still have a lot to learn," he said. "I'm hoping over the next couple of weeks to come up to speed on a number of issues, take a look at what the previous town administrator was working on and start to put together a sense of what the job is going to be like."

Selectmen made the announcement quickly at the end of last night's meeting. Innes was absent, and said he could not attend.

"There was no public vote on it yet, but he we got him the contract today and he has accepted," Selectman Fred Childs said. "We'll have a public vote next week, but we've all decided on him."

Childs said the board felt Innes was the most qualified for the position.

"We interviewed 10 people altogether and he was the one we chose," he said. "I'm not worried about his lack of experience. He'll catch on pretty quick. He has a lot of experience dealing with people as a manager so I think he can handle it."

And Childs said Administrative Assistant Barbara Snicer will help teach Innes anything he needs to know to do the job.

Innes has a background in the computer industry, with degrees in electronic engineering and business management. He worked for 39 years as an engineer and manager at various computer companies like HP before being laid off. He currently works part-time with children who have learning disabilities at Hampstead Middle School, but will quit when he starts as town administrator.

"I can't continue that job," he said. "It's really almost a full-time commitment and I'm committing myself to the town at this point."

Atkinson has gone through a number short-term administrators in the past few years. The last town administrator, Philip Smith, left in August after less than two years on the job. Before Smith was hired in September 2009, the town went seven months without an administrator, after Steven Angelo quit after just five months. Before him was interim administrator Craig Kleman who worked on the job for about four months. Russell McCallister lasted the longest, working for about three and a half years before quitting in January 2008.

But Innes said he hopes to stay with the town for five to seven years before retiring again.

"I'm 63 and I would hope to work until I'm 68 or 69," he said. "I'm looking at this as a third career. I'm hoping to do the job well enough that they'll keep me around."

Innes has lived in town for 35 years with his wife of 43 years, Lorraine. They have two daughters and two grandchildren.

Monday, December 12, 2011

CART offering free bus service- Possibly to Atkinson?

From the Eagle Tribune;

December 12, 2011
CART offering free bus service
By Doug Ireland

A long-awaited free shuttle bus service is coming this week to Derry and Londonderry, with plans in the works to expand to Salem, Windham and possibly other towns.

The Cooperative Alliance for Regional Transportation (CART) plans to begin the service along Route 102 on Thursday, according to executive director Lee Maloney.

CART hopes to offer the other free routes by next year, she said. Those include a route that begins at Whispering Winds off Mammoth Road in Windham and continues to shopping venues in Salem, including The Mall at Rockingham Park, Maloney said.

Another route along Salem's busy business corridor is still being planned, she said.

"Everybody is looking forward to them," Maloney said. "It's going to be like a real transportation system."

The Route 102 service — with roughly eight stops along the busy corridor — was expected to begin three months ago but was delayed because of computer software problems, Maloney said. The software is used for tracking buses.

Cart's "Sun Bus" will run five days a week from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., allowing residents — especially senior citizens — to visit shopping centers in Derry and Londonderry.

The bus will stop at local housing complexes, Hood Common in Derry and Market Basket in Londonderry.

The route, established in conjunction with Easter Seals and Rockingham Nutrition, also includes stops at the Meals on Wheels sites at the Marion Gerrish Community Center in Derry and the Londonderry Senior Center.

Rockingham Nutrition was able to obtain $24,000 in federal funding to help pay for the route, executive director Debra Perou said.

"We're very excited to get it underway," she said. "There is a huge potential there. I'm really hoping it becomes a real link."

While the Derry-Londonderry service has been in the works for a while, the two routes planned for Salem are relatively new.

Expanded service in Salem would benefit senior citizens, said Lynda Drouin, an employee at Salemhaven nursing and rehabilitation center.

"It would be extremely helpful," she said.

Drouin said she knows a woman who enjoys using the current service because it is so convenient.

CART has proposed a three-day shuttle service, possibly for free, connecting Hampstead and Londonderry.

A pay-your-way route running daily from Derry to Salem is also being planned. CART has received a three-year $600,000 grant from the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement program to fund the route in conjunction with the Interstate 93 widening project, Maloney said.

But a $100,000 match is required, she said.

It's hoped riders will donate money to help fund the free shuttles. CART began running advertising on some of its buses this summer to help defray costs.

The free shuttle service is a big change for CART, which has offered a ride request service since it began in October 2006. Anyone needing a ride in its six service towns could call up and ask for one at a cost of between $3 and $5 each way.

That service would continue for the approximately 1,700 people who use it.

CART serves Chester, Derry, Hampstead, Londonderry, Salem and Windham, with contributions received from the participating towns. These contributions are then matched with federal transportation funding.

Maloney met with residents Thursday in Atkinson, where there is interest in establishing a CART route.

CART has provided approximately 65,000 rides to local residents over the last five years. They are especially used by senior citizens going to medical appointments and grocery stores.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Jewelry stolen in Atkinson break-in

From the Eagle Tribune;

December 10, 2011
Jewelry stolen in Atkinson break-in
By Cara Hogan

ATKINSON — A Marilyn Drive home was broken into and jewelry stolen while the homeowners were away, police said.

Police responded to the home at 2:15 p.m. Thursday after a neighbor watching the home reported it was burglarized.

Officer Nicholas Fiset discovered the home had been entered by breaking a basement window, Sgt. Patrick Caggiano said.

"A check of the inside of the residence revealed a jewelry box on the floor inside the master bedroom," he said. "There was some jewelry still inside, but it is safe to assume that items had been taken."

The owners were not home, so police still do not have a complete inventory of what was stolen. Caggiano said two flat-screen televisions inside the home were not taken, despite their value.

"Atkinson has seen a significant number of burglaries over the past several months," Caggiano said.

"Atkinson is a prime target for would-be thieves as a majority of residents work during the day," he added. "We are asking all members of the community to keep a watchful eye on their neighbors homes and report any suspicious activity."

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Atkinson Marine assists Thai flood victims

From the Eagle Tribune;

December 8, 2011
Atkinson Marine assists Thai flood victims
By Cara Hogan

ATKINSON — Christopher Brown is only 20, but what he's seen is more than anyone would want to witness in an entire lifetime.

The Atkinson resident and 2009 Timberlane Regional High School graduate is serving overseas with the Marines. Last week, the lance corporal returned to his base in Okinawa, Japan, from Thailand, where he helped with flood-relief efforts for two weeks.

His mission was to clean up mud and debris in the flood-ravaged country.

"Myself and fellow Marines got to go assist the royal Thai army and clean temples, a school and a medical center," Brown said in an email.

Thailand experienced the worst flooding in more than 50 years from late July through November. More than 600 people died and floodwaters swamped entire towns. More than two-thirds of the country's provinces were affected.

Brown said he saw devastation wherever his unit, the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force Flood Relief Command Element, traveled.

"I saw flooded airports, people taking shelter on the highways and living in tents on higher ground," he said. "(I saw) houses half-submerged in practically sewage water, eroded roads, and mothers wading through water carrying their children. People were riding their scooters and driving their cars through water almost 2 feet deep."

In Bangkok, the Marines helped clear out sandbags that had been stacked throughout the city in anticipation of the floodwaters that never reached them.

Brown, who joined the Marines only a few months after graduating from Timberlane, worked with the Thai army to hand out supplies. Members of the Marines, Army, Navy and Air Force worked alongside the Thai people, including monks, to clean flood-ravaged buildings.

"It was the most rewarding experience of my life and fulfilled my goal when I joined to help people," Brown said. "It was a great feeling when the locals shook your hand and hugged you, saying, 'Thank you so much, we're so glad you're here.'"

His mother, Patricia Brown, said she's very proud of her son.

"He's only 20 years old, but he's seen more of the world than I probably ever will see," she said. "I know he'd say he's just doing his job, but he's done great work."

She said his absence has been hard for the family, communicating only by Skype during odd hours because of the time difference.

"This will be our third holidays with him not here," she said.

Brown will come home in July, but he could be called up again, according to his father, Jim Brown.

"He's probably going to Afghanistan toward the end of the summer," he said. "I'm worried about him, but I'm proud of what he's been doing."

Christopher Brown, now back at his base in Japan, said he felt like he really made a difference in Thailand. He said the Thai military thanked his unit when they left and the two groups made strong connections.

"We proved to our allies that we have their back if they need our help and it really strengthened relations with both countries," he said. "It proved that the Marines are not just fighters; we help people too."

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Atkinson home heavily damaged in blaze

From the Eagle Tribune;

December 6, 2011
Atkinson home heavily damaged in blaze
By Cara Hogan

ATKINSON — Firefighters responded twice to the same home yesterday after a fire rekindled hours after being put out.

Fire Chief Michael Murphy said the first call came in at 8:10 a.m. for a two-alarm fire in the bedroom of a home at 8 Rose Lane.

"There was heavy fire and smoke from the second floor," Murphy said. "Atkinson Engine 2 and Hampstead Engine 1 did an aggressive fire attack and quickly extinguished it."

Firefighters left at 9:38 a.m., but were called back at 12:49 p.m. for a report of smoke coming from the roof of the home.

"The fire rekindled, though it was smaller the second time," Murphy said. "Again, we quickly knocked the fire down. We're not sure how it rekindled."

He said the department did everything by the book before leaving the house.

"We investigated before we left, using thermal imaging," he said. "There was nothing there."

He said this type of rekindled fire is uncommon since firefighters now use thermal imaging to look for small burns, but it does happen occasionally.

"It's one of those things that happen in a tiny space," he said. "It continued to burn until it got oxygen. Then it spread."

No one was injured in the blaze. Murphy said he believes the cause was an electrical malfunction in the house.

The house is owned by Joseph and Rose Faro, who live in Windham and rent out the property.

A woman who is living at the residence was distraught yesterday afternoon and wouldn't give her name.

"I have no idea what the damage is," Faro said yesterday as he left the property,

Murphy said the damage to the house was extensive and mainly caused by the initial fire.

"There is damage to a second-floor bedroom, the attic and the roof," he said. "There is also heavy smoke and heat damage throughout the house. There is definitely structural damage."

The four-bedroom house, built in 1984, is assessed at $399,900, according to town records.

The Atkinson Fire Department is continuing to investigate. Firefighters from Hampstead, Plaistow and Danville also responded to the scene.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Phil's Legal cost to the town

This story begins roughly a year after he was appointed chief. In 1981, there was a selectman named Wayne Peak. Peak found that there was a misappropriation of funds in the police dept. It appeared that the little fees charged for reports and such were not being deposited to the town bookkeeper as they should have been but were being given to the Atkinson Patrolmen's association. The amount in question was $286.00. Peak brought this out in a selectmen meeting, and Phil ROARED that NO ONE was going to sully his good name, blah, blah, blah, you can imagine the rest. Peak asked the other two selectmen to take action, they refused, in true Atkinson selectmen fashion. Peak resigned in protest, and filed suit against Phil and the town. Phil retaliated by filing suit against Peak for.... YOU GUESSED IT! Slander, defamation, diminution of earnings capacity, and compensation for severe physical and emotional stress. These competing suit wound their way through the courts for 6 years, FINALLy reaching settlement in 1988.

BUT not before Phil fingered Peak, or agents of Peak for taking shots at the police station, and planting an explosive device at Phil's home. Peak was investigated by the FBI to no avail.

Not before an anonymous tip informed Mass Dept of Revenue of fictitious accounting irregularities at Peak's business in Lowell. DOR shut his business down for two weeks while they combed through his books. No impropriety found.

Not before Phil followed Peak through town arresting him for Reckless driving of his Cadillac, except that Peak was driving his Rolls that week, Caddy was unavailable. Case reversed.

The case file reads like an adventure novel. The final entry is an offer to settle for $500,000, declined. Case was settled 1 month later, under non disclosure agreement. Peak held a party at the KofC in Lawrence the week after the settlement to show off his two new caddy's bought with the settlement money, he claimed. Phil claimed in a selectmen meeting in 1988, that the case was settled for $15,000. "he didn't even cover his costs, he got nothing" This was apparently just another false statement.

In 1991, Lt. Rick Daniels left the dept. citing personal differences with the chief. Phil claimed in a selectmen's meeting that Daniel's on his way out had destroyed 12 years of police database. Only problem , the police dept. did not have computers in 1979.

In late 90's we had the infamous spitting incident in town hall between Fred Childs and Phil. Fred was running for selectman, and Phil was showing around the case files from Fred's Lawrence Pd days. Yes, this is illegal. Dale Childs filed a complaint with NHPSTC about the number of hours Phil worked, it was the second investigation of him in 5 years. NHPSTC admonished him to not exceed his legal limit of his training at 1,300 hours/ year. Phil retaliated by having Bill Anderson go to the Child's home and take pictures of the Hampstead animal control vehicle in her driveway. She raised hell, Phil whined in a selectmen meeting that he was "acting as Phil Consentino, Resident, NOT Phil Consentino, Chief" ONly problem is the he used his police officers to take the pictures, and wrote the letter on police chief stationary.

The following year, Officer Micheal Rivera sought to get a union into Atkinson to "get work rules down on paper that the chief would have to follow". he claimed that there was favoritism in work assignments, hours, benefits, and advancement. Phil retaliated by writing him up for not writing enough tickets on his shift, midnight to eight am. He followed this performance up by sending his officers the infamous "loyalty letter" which even Sgt. Baldwin testified was an intimidation tactic. Rivera filed suit with NHPELRB. They ordered the town and it's agent(Phil) to cease and desist from bullying, harassing, and intimidating his officers. Phil responded in the next selectmen meeting by saying he had never harassed or intimidated anyone, and his door was always open, any of his officers could come to him like a man and complain to his face. So much for not intimidating.

The following year, Officer Lorden filed an NHPELRB action claiming abuse of authority. Another settlement. There was another settlement around this time with another officer over hours violations.

Then we had the Town that hates Halloween, controversy when Phil spouted off in another selectmen meeting that, as they had done for 10 years, his boys would be out(halloween) to turn cars with Mass. plates around at the border. This was reported NATIONWIDE, and Phil was not smart enough to know this practice was illegal!

Then we had the conflict of interest complaints that next year. Phil voting, as selectmen, to approve his request, as police chief, to withdraw $2,500 from the police donation account. Followed by his approving for himself and extra $1,300.00 "union benefit". ONly problem was that as chief he is specifically excluded from the union contract. He later admitted that he knew there was nothing in the contract or the employee handbook authorizing him to receive this benefit.

In 2005, Rockingham Superior Court Ordered him to recuse himself from any police dept., elderly affairs dept. or town employee matters. Phil announced in a selectmen meeting that nothing would change, just that elderly and police matters would have to take place at the station or his house. He blamed Acciard for making it this inconvenient for the people. In August the Court found him in contempt of Court for ignoring the previous order. He responded by saying this judge had no idea how small towns work, and he would appeal(on the taxpayers dime, of course) to the NH Supreme Court. The Court dismissed on briefs citing lack of standing. Sumner spent hundreds of hours on Phil's legal issues in 2005, never billing the town for these extraordinary expenses. However, in October of 2005, Selectman Consentino negotiated a new contract for Town Attorney Kalman that ALMOST TRIPLED his retainer, claiming that he had not had a raise in 20 years and had so much more work to do lately. This $25,000 or so bump in retainer is a permanent quid pro quo for defending Phil for a year. And it will cost the town an EXTRA $250,000 over ten years.

In 2007, Carol Grant came to a selectmen meeting to read a short statement about the chief's abuse of authority in screaming at her in the town hall because her vehicle was running outside while she was updating the veterans board. She got 2 paragraphs into her statement before Phil Jumped up, Slammed his hand down on the desk, screaming at the camera operators to turn off the cameras! "I don't have to sit here and listen to this". The meeting adjourned to non-public, with Officer Baldwin and Fardella appearing together to stand in the two doorways. 4 minutes into this meeting Phil stands abruptly and Roars "GET HER OUT OF HEAR NOW!" Officer Fardella, ushered Mrs. Grant, her husband, and her wheelchair bound son out into the cold winter night, not allowing them to stop and put on coats. The Grants filed suit. Remember Phil was still under Court Order NOT TO BE IN THE ROOM when these matters were discussed. This case was settled a year later at a cost of $30,000 in settlement, PLUS as one of the attornies claimed they had over $50,000 in legal costs already.

Next came the Acciard case for abuse of office, harassment, following him through town, using the police dept. to investigate his company. This case lasted 2 years before being pulled into Federal Court. The Attornies for Primex claimed that they had "well over $50,000 in legal expenses" at the time of the Federal Removal.

Next came the Artus, Brownfield, Lewis Case. This case was the straw that broke the camels back. Winding it way through the courts for 2 years before Primex finally pulled the plug on insuring the Town of Atkinson. AFTER Primex dropped coverage for the town, the selectmen added another professional services- legal line to the budget, funding it with $10,000. 3 months later this line was $29,900 OVER SPENT! According to the attornies between March and July 2011 they spent $68,000 in legal expenses defending Phil's atrocities.

So to recap; We have 6 1/2 years of legal expenses in the Peak case. As it is under non- disclosure we can only surmise what the cost was, but the average insurance company attorney at that time was about $180/hr.x 100 hrs./yr. x 6.5 years = $117,000.

Plus the settlement of $500,000+

Plus the NHPELRB cases; $200/hr. x 25 hrs. $5,000

Plus selectman consultation for all of Phils foibles(halloween, Rivera, Lorden, Buco, Daniels, Acciard, COI, Abuse of Authority, harassment, illegal SUV purchase, illegal creation of Ft Lt. position, Shut down of scenic byway, water issues, Winslow drive harassment, etc. $200/hr. x 40 hours = $8,000

COI case, 1.5 years, 2 depositions, two hearings $200/hr x 80 hours = $16,000

Contempt of Court defense $200/hr x 12 hrs. = $2,400

NH Supreme Court Appeal $250/hr. x 12 hrs. = $5,500

Grant case: $50,000 claimed legal expenses + $30,000 settlement

Acciard case: WELL OVER $50,000 legal expenses + 1 year more in Federal Court. Total $110,000

Artus case: $68,000 in four months AFTER town loses insurance, PLUS two years insurance attornies..... $168,000

Phil's legal cost to the town and it's insurance companies, approximately $1,011,900.00 by best estimates, and extrapolations.

Isn't it time to end this debacle?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Atkinson opts out of prison trustee program for free labor

From the Eagle Tribune;

December 1, 2011
Atkinson opts out of prison trustee program for free labor
By Cara Hogan

ATKINSON — For the past nine years, a Rockingham County jail inmate cleaned the police station three days every week — at almost no cost to the town

But selectmen thought otherwise, voting to end the program and citing the cost of transporting the inmate from Brentwood to Atkinson and back.

The board voted Monday not to reapprove the police trustee program, which employed a minimum security prisoner for landscaping and cleaning.

Selectman Craig Schuster said the cost of the program seemed to outweigh the benefits.

"It was $10 a day for this person, which included a meal," he said. "But the chief did not understand the full cost. We were using a town officer to drive the trustee back and forth to jail, paying them $24 an hour. The real cost was well over $60 a day, compared to our current cleaning service which is $45."

The town employs a cleaning company for all other town buildings, Schuster said. The cost of adding the police station to that list would be $45 a day, he said.

But police Chief Philip Consentino said he worked out a plan to have Plaistow officers pick up two trustees in the morning and have an Atkinson officer bring them both back at night.

"They're saying it's too expensive and there were too many hidden costs," Consentino said. "But there would be no overtime involved."

Armed with information, Schuster said, he decided the program could be worth the money.

"I made a motion to approve it, but I did not get a second," he said.

Selectman William Friel was not present at the meeting and Selectman Fred Childs did not support the motion, so it didn't pass.

Now, Consentino said he will have to hire someone to do the work the trustee did three days a week.

"He cleans the station from one end to the other, empties the trash, cleans all the cruisers, rakes leaves, cuts grass and whatever we need," he said. "With one trustee, I got three rooms in the police department painted and all it cost me was a gallon of paint for each room."

There is a reason so many other towns also use the trustee program, the chief said.

Ask Kingston police Chief Donald Briggs.

Briggs said he has a trustee on staff full time. Sometimes, Briggs said, the trustee works on special projects on weekends.

"They have rebuilt the whole upstairs of the fire station, the town bandstand, painted the entire inside of the library," Briggs said. "The program saves thousands and thousands of dollars every year."

Jail superintendant Stephen Church said 10 local communities use the program, including Atkinson, Kingston, Plaistow, Sandown and Hampstead.

"It saves the municipalities an awful lot of money," Church said. "It's a very popular program."

Only a small number of prisoners, those without a record of sex offenses or violent crimes, participate.

"The benefit for the prisoners is they get to be away from the jail and interact with people other than fellow prisoners," Church said. "They generally get fed better which is a big deal. It's a highly sought after job and only very few are selected."

Hampstead police Lt. John Frazier said he was surprised Atkinson would cut the program.

"Not cost effective?" he said. "It's free labor."

A part-time, retired Hampstead officer supervises the trustee, who comes in on Tuesday and Thursdays to clean the fleet of police cars. It has worked out well, Frazier said.

Plaistow Deputy police Chief Kathleen Jones said her department also uses a trustee three days a week to maintain cars and clean up.

"It does take an officer a little time to pick them up, but I think the benefits outweigh the drawbacks," she said. "It's just about a 20-minute drive to the prison."

Consentino said he's upset the program was cut, but can't change what happened.

"It's a shame the program went down, but I will live with the board's decision and move on," he said.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Cops upset they don't get raises in addition to contract!

From the Eagle Tribune;

November 30, 2011
Atkinson gives raises to most town workers
By Cara Hogan

ATKINSON — Selectmen voted to give a 2 percent raise to all town employees — except the police department and library staff.

And some police union members aren't too happy.

Selectman Craig Schuster said town employees haven't had a raise since 2009 and because of the increased cost of living, selectmen decided almost everyone needed a raise.

"We did have it budgeted this year to give a 2 percent retroactive increase to town employees, beginning last March," he said. "During the discussion, we decided a 1.5 percent raise in 2012 will be executed, too."

The increase will cost the town about $8,000 more per year, Schuster said.

Library employees didn't get a raise because library trustees already gave staff members raises for this year.

But some police department employees are angry about being passed over, according to Patrol Officer Kevin Donnelly, union president for the department.

"I went down to Town Hall and asked, 'Why don't we get a raise?'" he said. "They said because we have unions and a union contract, we don't. I understand that, but I didn't understand why, with a swipe of a pen, selectmen could give a raise to the rest of town employees."

Schuster said it's just the way the system works.

"The police department (is) under the collective bargaining agreement and we are currently negotiating with them for their increase next year," he said. "This was no personal attack on the police department. We will give them an increase when the contract is completed."

Once the department and selectmen agree on a contract, voters must then approve any raises in March. The police department hasn't had a contract since 2009, when voters rejected the proposed contract.

Of all the town employees, the police department could end up the only ones without a raise, Donnelly said.

"I would hope (the contract) wouldn't be voted down again, but times aren't great," he said. "When people go to vote and have a choice to give somebody a raise, taxes are so bad, that's an easy one to say no to."

He said it seems unfair for only some town departments to need voter approval for raises.

"I don't see why with a swipe of a pen selectmen could give a raise to the rest of town employees," Donnelly said. "We have five or six people at the police department that aren't in the union. What about the chief? The chief's wife?"

Police Chief Philip Consentino said he wishes his officers could get more money.

"I feel bad for the officers," he said. "They've gone since 2009 without a raise. That's why we lost so many officers, because they were able to go other places and get more money than what they did here."

The department lost three officers to other local departments in the past year.

"It's probably just a dollar raise for some, so it's not about the money," Donnelly said. "It's just the overall treatment I didn't appreciate by the selectmen."

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Selectmen don't trust Chief's word.

At a confrontational selectmen meeting last week, the Selectmen had some issues to discuss with the chief of police. First, they mentioned that they had sent him three CERTIFIED letter on various subjects, with no response from him. Phil, as is his usual custom didn't want to discuss the actual letters, but chose instead to whine about the effrontery of the board sending them "certified", demanding to know why they couldn't just tell him about them? He received his answer from Fred, who said; We didn't want you to be able to say you didn't get them!

The CONTENT of the letter was even more interesting. Letter #1 demanded that the chief STOP bringing in Jail trustees to clean the station because of the cost. Chief claimed they were free. When presented with the numbers, time and a half for the officer picking up and dropping off, lunch, car expenses, etc, which far out weigh the chief's claimed 446/week savings, he retreated to claiming they were "SEMI-FREE"! Selectman Shuster exclaimed in exasperation, WHAT IS SEMI-FREE? It either costs or it doesn't! Very true. Mr. Shuster, Semi-free was Phil's attempt to spin his previous lie.

Letter #2 was about Det. Farrar, who is apparently RETIRED BUT STILL WORKING IN THE SAME JOB FOR THE CHIEF! HOW is it possible to collect retirement, while still remaining in the very same job you are retiring from? THAT is FRAUD! SOMEONE declared him retired and eligible to collect his retirement, while allowing him to keep working. FURTHER, the chief admitted to paying him $25/hr. Supposedly part time, later claiming he was paying him for 6-8 hours per day, PLUS time and a half to get, and drop off the trustee! This reminds us of the impropriety of Phil revealing that he paid Billy his sick time to go on his summer camp, thus allowing him to get paid by BOTH the town and the military simultaneously, while violating the Town's sick time policy, and then announcing that he did this for SIX YEARS!

Letter #3 dealt with Phil hiring someone to do the detective's job, while keeping the detective on doing the same job! The selectmen told Phil that Farrar was not allowed back into the police dept., and he had to abide by their policies. Phil stated that he was not an employee! MEMO TO PHIL... You get paid by the town, that MAKES you an employee!

It is high time for the lies, deception, political posturing, and improprieties to stop. Phil it is time for you to retire.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

It is Time for the Selectmen to ACT!

With fresh allegations of electioneering, and his outrageous defiance of his employer's wishes, it is high time for the selectmen to take action with regards to the police chief. Gross insubordination can not be allowed to exist in any organization, and it has run rampant in the Town of Atkinson for far too long.

For those who wonder how we got to this point, the following Article was published on this blog in July 2008;

TUESDAY, JULY 22, 2008

The evolution of a costly problem.
Anonymous said...

Atkinson Reporter2 please accept this as an article submission;

The evolution of a costly problem.

Although I grew up in Atkinson, I left to go to college, and now live out of state, but as I have family in town I try to keep up on events in town. I LOVED reading the Atkinson Reporter, and the Atkinson Taxpayers website, and now I love reading this site.

Background now out of the way, I have spent much time reading the website. I remember a lot of these incidents, but seeing it all together in one place is overwhelming. I decided to write about what I felt about reading all of this.

I think we can all agree, even though the police chief evidently does good work with the elderly, he is a costly problem to the town, what with all the lawsuits, resident complaints, shouting at meetings, Gestapo tactics with his enemies, etc. I wanted to examine how this could be allowed to happen in my home town.

As far as I can tell chief Consentino was appointed on a probationary basis in 1978 to the position of chief of police. At that time, as near as I can tell, he had been a part- time police officer for 8 years or so, with little or no formal training, or experience. It was in 1980 apparently that the first problem appeared;( all of this is available in the court documents section of

A Selectman, Wayne Peak, apparently found that minor fees that the police charged for reports and such, were not being deposited to the town, but given to the patrolmens association(a private organization). As this was money charged by the town for services, Peak determined that it belonged to the town, and characterized the misappropriation of these monies as misuse of funds, or some type of theft. Peak brought his information to the board of selectmen and asked them to punish the police chief, but they refused. Peak went to court, filing a Writ of Mandamus, demanding that the Court order the selectmen to do their duty. He also resigned in protest.

I have to say that the court documents read like an adventure novel, allegations of police harassment, false charges of reckless driving later dismissed, formal accusations of witness tampering, employing agents to fire shots at the police station, complaints to the Mass Dept. of Revenue, untimely audits yielding no results, at one point chief Consentino even sued Mr. Peak, claiming, Libel, Slander, Defamation of Character, reduced earnings capacity, and stress related illness’. These competing claims wound their way through the Court system for 7 years, until being settled for an undisclosed amount. Mr. Peak then threw a party in N.Andover the weekend after the settlement to show off the TWO new Cadillac Eldorado’s he purportedly bought with the settlement.

This case was finally settled in 1988. In 1990 or 1991 there came another issue, then Lt. Rick Daniels resigned suddenly over disputes with chief Consentino. Chief Consentino claimed in the Eagle-Tribune that Daniels “wiped out 12 years of computer database information before he left”. Daniels claimed this never happened, and was heard to state that Atkinson didn’t even have a database in 1979.

In 1996 or so their was some issue apparently with police standards and training, resulting in their visit to town.

In 1997 and 1998 there were endless shouting matches between selectman Fred Childs questions about budget and expenditures in the police dept. and chief Consentino’s refusal to provide clarification to this selectmen, his boss. All of this is detailed in the Eagle Tribune, and on the site.

In 1999, the officers got so frustrated that they decided to form a union. There were “intimidation letters” from chief Consentino to the organizers, resulting in a labor board case, in which the NH Public Employees Labor Relations Board, ordered the “town and its Agent(Consentino) to cease and desist from any bullying, harassment, and intimidation of officers”.

Around this same time Mrs. Childs, then a part time officer herself, in Atkinson, evidently filed a complaint with police standards and training about chief Consentino’s hours, that he worked too many to be part time, and that he lacked the training and education to be full time. Chief Consentino responded by asking one of his officers to visit her house and take pictures of her Hampstead animal control cruiser, he followed this up with a letter to the Hampstead selectmen accusing Mrs. Childs of misusing her cruiser for personal business. When Mrs. Childs found out about this intimidation, and rightly blew up about it, Consentino claimed “I was acting as Phil Consentino resident, not Phil Consentnio, chief” Like every “resident” has access to police officers and police dept. stationary!

In 2003, there was another flap that ended up before the labor board involving officer Lorden, case was settled with officer Lorden receiving payment. There was another labor board case involving Officer Buco, another settlement, another payment. 2003, also saw the infamous “Town that hates Halloween” story, reported on CNN, Boston Globe, Union Leader, AP, Howard Stern, Michael Graham, Howie Carr, etc. Nice Job!

In 2004 saw the first conflict of interest allegations from Brian Boyle, then from Mark Acciard. Acciard, then a budget committee member, filed a code of ethics complaint, which they ignored. He then filed with the Court asking for an injunction to keep the POLICE CHIEF from DECIDING POLICE MATTERS AS A SELECTMAN!!! Should be a no brainer, right? Wrong! Chief Consentino refused to step aside, even after the Court ordered him to, and the Court found this 30 year chief in CONTEMPT OF COURT! He didn’t like that and tried to appeal it to the NH Supreme Court, and they dismissed his case!

In 2006 He was the subject of a Federal Civil Rights Suit against the Town, recently settled! Another settlement another payment!

And Now the Town is currently facing a $3,000,000.00 lawsuit alleging misconduct AGAIN on the part of Atkinson’s police chief! When does it end?

The selectmen could, at any time, during all of this done their duty, and enforced town policy, and reprimanded, suspended, or even fired the chief, but they have done nothing, and the allegations, legal costs, increased insurance premiums, all continue to march on.

Since that time there has been another lawsuit, with legal expenses so extraordinary to attempt to craft a defense for Phil's actions, that Primex, the Town's long time insurer, DROPPED THE TOWN COVERAGE! this forced the town to pay the rest of the expenses to settle that case out of pocket.

this is a chief law enforcement officer who began his tenure with allegations of misappropriation of funds, was Ordered by the NHPELRB to stop bullying and harassing his officers, Who has been responsible for AT LEAST TWO Settlements on Unfair labor practices charges, and AT LEAST TWO out of court settlements to lay to rest abuse of authority, harassment, etc. cases, has been the subject of NO LESS than EIGHT LEGAL actions during his tenure, incurring hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal expenses and settlements, was ORDERED by the Court to recuse himself from meetings, only to VIOLATE that order, and be found IN CONTEMPT OF COURT. He then wasted MORE taxpayer money to appeal that decision to the NH Supreme Court who dismissed for LACK OF STANDING! He has a documented history of threatening his opponents, following them through town, defaming them and making false statements at meetings, Lying to the People of Atkinson, and his routine arrogance, and general disregard for the demands of his employers. In ANY OTHER TOWN an employee who committed a FRACTION of this behavior would have been fired.

It is time for the selectmen to follow the DEMANDS of the AG's office in 2008, and the recommendations of the MRI report, and PHYSICALLY SEPARATE Police and Elderly Affairs. Move EA to the Community center, merge it with all of the other senior programs into one all encompassing full service dept. Dispatch the cars from there. Offer Phil a CHOICE; he can choose to remain as police chief, or as Elderly Affairs Director, BUT NOT BOTH!

It is time to put the good of the Town above the wishes of one of it's EMPLOYEES.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Phil Electioneering AGAIN? Follow up

Yes THIS is the letter Phil and his uniformed minions handed out at the annual Senior citizens Luncheon at the Community Center. Phil and his drivers handed this letter out to every senior who walked in the door. When everyone was seated, Phil then made a speech, asking for everyone "to support him against the selectmen". He noted that the recent MRI report recommended the separation of the two depts. but lied when telling the assembled seniors that "the reason was not clear".

This from the MRI Report; "receiving this recommendation direct from the police chief raises the potential for conflict of interest concerns. Using the name of the atkinson police to get a discount on services, may not be in the best interest of the dept. or the town. This service would be best handled by an elderly affairs dept. not directly connected to the police dept."

The MRI report echoed the Attorney Generals comments four year ago when they called the operation of the donation account illegal, and demanded transparency, and accountability for the chief. They demanded that he keep a time card, stating that one should be able to clearly see where his police duties end, and his elderly duties begin.

The outrage of this, once again, is the juvenile antics of an overgrown child needing to get his way. ALL legal authorities who have looked at this situation have asked for it to be separated. The police chief continues in his dishonest demagoguery of this issue, claiming that separating the two depts. will drive up the cost of elderly affairs. That is simply not true. We do not need a full time dispatch center to handle elderly affairs calls. That is over $40,000/yr. wasted.

It is time for this official harassment to stop.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Grant funds iPads for Timberlane officials

From the Eagle Tribune;

November 16, 2011
Grant funds iPads for Timberlane officials
By Cara Hogan

PLAISTOW — Timberlane school administrators are on the cutting edge — they all have iPads.

The Timberlane Regional School District bought 29 iPads this year for administrators, funded entirely by a state grant. Each 32-gigabyte iPad 2 costs about $599.

Scott Strainge, director of secondary education, said the district received $20,000 from a Title II state education grant for professional development and school improvement. Timberlane is one of few districts in New Hampshire to obtain iPads through the grant.

"The grant paid 100 percent for the iPads and the training for all of the administrators," he said. "We're working directly with the state and they approved the purchase. All principals, curriculum coordinators and directors got iPads, including myself."

This month, Strainge hopes to use the iPads to create a database for analyzing the district's curriculum and teaching style, which can be used later as a guide for teacher training. Strainge said the iPads are a good investment because they will save the district money in the long run.

"Previously, we were paying an outside agency about $20,000 a year to help us with data collection in classroom observation," he said. "We can now reallocate those funds. The iPads have allowed us to create our own infrastructure. It's been a great success so far."

Michael Hogan, principal of Timberlane Regional Middle School, said he and other principals use the iPads during "walk-throughs" to observe teaching in the classroom.

"I'm able to take a snapshot of what kinds of instructional strategies are being used," he said. "I evaluate the learning and input it into the iPad as I walk around. Then, we can send it back to the teacher as immediate feedback to show how kids are learning."

Hogan said he was trained Monday on how to use the iPad to input the data. He hopes to have a full, working database by Thanksgiving.

"We just got this set up," he said. "We can also track data across the whole school. We can say as a school, on Monday, we saw 12 percent of the school using technology, for example. It will really help us track how we're teaching."

John Holland, the district's director of technology, said the iPads are a big improvement over the outdated personal digital assistants, or PDAs, administrators were using before.

"The PDAs made it very difficult to do the observations," he said. "You had to go back and sync it to the computer and a lot of times, it wasn't working well. The iPad eliminates these issues completely because we use the wireless Internet."

Strainge said other local school districts have been asking how Timberlane has been using the iPads and are also thinking of applying for a grant. Students are also using the iPads for a few projects, Hogan said.

"The students and myself can capture and film to make short movies and productions with it that way," he said.

The next step for the district is to get iPads into classrooms for teachers and students to use every day.

"What's happening now, as I walk around with my iPad, the kids are like, 'Whoa, can we use it?"' Strainge said. "They'll show me how to do things. And teachers are asking to borrow the iPad and try things. We're thinking we might run some pilots with some classrooms with some type of tablet. It's very exciting."

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

SCOOP: Consentino Electioneering AGAIN?

Fall is upon us once again, and in Atkinson that signals the beginning of the political season. The annual battle of the budget, along with other pet political issues come to the fore.

THIS year NH's most Notorious police chief is up to his old tricks. Who could forget his past transgressions, such mind bogglers as;

Calling signer of petition warrant articles asking them "why did you sign this shit?"

Or, Standing on the grounds of the post office holding signs and waiving to cars while wearing his Atkinson Police Senior Transport division jacket?

Which brings us to todays latest attempt at what some will call electioneering. Consentino, while wearing his "Atkinson Elderly Affairs Dept.- Director" shirt, made the rounds at the Annual Senior Brunch asking for "support against the selectmen"

Apprently at least according to Phil, the selectmen have finally strapped a set on, and decided to follow the recommendations of the NH Attorney General's office 4 years ago, and the Recommendation of the MRI report that it is a CONFLICT OF INTEREST for Elderly and Police to be intertwined. OF COURSE, ALL the LEGAL authorities have recommended that the depts. be separated. And Phil made a big show of spending $5,000 to "separate the depts" 4 years ago, in reality, as MRI found out, they are still enmeshed.

Phil was taking advantage of the town funded Senior Brunch while in his Elderly affairs uniform to solicit signatures for petition warrant articles to prevent the selectmen from separating the two depts. In any other town this apparent violation of law, consistently repeated would be grounds for dismissal of the town's chief law enforcement office, BUT probably not in Atkinson!

Phil's arguments; If it ain't broke don't fix it. It works where it is, he claims to the captive seniors dependent upon him for their transportation. As we have heard from seniors denied transportation at town meetings, it does not pay to piss off Phil. But to any RATIONAL person, this too, would be ample reason to separate the two depts.

Elderly Affairs is a TAXPAYER FUNDED DEPT. It should be available to ANY who want it, EVEN IF they piss Phil off.

Atkinson, it is high time to stop letting this bully with a badge intimidate people into giving him his way. Separate the depts. as the AG demanded, as MRI recommended. As citizens put in a petition warrant article two years ago that Phil and jack Sapia destroyed. Separating the two depts. will make them both more efficient, more transparent, more accountable, AND MORE HONEST.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Parents want to see video from bus incident- laSalle Stonewalls

From the Eagle Tribune;

November 13, 2011
Parents want to see video from bus incident
By Cara Hogan

An Atkinson family may file a civil lawsuit against the Timberlane Regional School District after a school bus driver allegedly berated their 11-year-old son.

Two weeks ago, Eric Roux said, his son got off the bus and immediately broke down crying.

"My son said the bus driver yelled at him continuously for 30 minutes," Roux said. "He got yelled at for not having his backpack in his lap and said something fresh. The bus driver immediately stopped and screamed at him, close enough where he got spit on his face. He called him stupid idiot for the next 10 stops."

Timberlane contracts with First Student for bus transportation.

Every school bus is equipped with a small video camera, so the incident with driver Al Lamonica was recorded.

Roux told school district officials he wanted to see the video, but his request was rejected.

District Superintendent Richard La Salle said there are rules governing when these tapes can be made public.

"There's limitations in terms of how the videos can be released to protect the privacy of students," La Salle said. "If we are severely disciplining a student, then a parent can view those tapes. In talking with our attorney, the determination was made that, under these circumstances, we could not release the tape."

La Salle said the bus driver's behavior was "not appropriate," but it was not grounds to fire him. Instead, La Salle said, he asked the bus company to assign the driver to another route.

"I will say the bus driver did speak harshly to the student, but he was not profane in any way," La Salle said. "We communicated our concerns to the bus company and the bus company took action."

Timothy Stokes, spokesman for First Student, said because of the complaint, the driver is no longer driving children from home to school.

"This driver is operating charter service only," he said. "It's field trips, sporting events, things of that nature."

Stokes said the company worked with the school district to make the decision. They address issues like this on a case-by-case basis, he said.

"(Lamonica) has been working with the school district for 12 years and the driver had no previous complaints," Stokes said.

Roux reported the incident to Plaistow police. He said an officer reviewed the video, but since the bus driver never physically touched his son, police said it is not a criminal issue. Now, Roux plans to sue the school in civil court in order to see the video.

"I'm not looking for any money," Roux said. "Every parent is amazed that we don't have the right to see the video. It's our son and we pay taxes for that bus. It's about a right to know stuff that happens to your kid on a bus or anywhere on school property."

Michelle Roux said she just wants to see what happened to her son.

"It's devastating to us," she said. "We feel like this bus driver bullied our son and got away with it. It just kills me that he's still driving a bus."

After the incident on the bus, the boy was bullied by older students at school, according to his parents. La Salle said the school followed the proper procedure for everything.

"There was some fallout from the incident and it was handled," La Salle said. "We feel that throughout this whole process, we have worked in the best interests of the child and the family. Obviously, we are saddened when these things happen. I think we've done a fairly good job with it."

Monday, October 31, 2011

New town Website; Pretty, but no more info. then the last one

From the Eagle Tribune;

October 31, 2011
Town's new website brings everyone together
By Cara Hogan

ATKINSON — The town's new website went live Tuesday, creating a central site for the entire town. Previously, several departments had their own websites.

The site has many new features and offers more information, including recent meeting minutes and agendas.

Todd Barbera, chairman of the Technology Committee, said the new website was recommended by the IT assessment the town did in 2009.

"The old website was created with Front Page, which is obsolete software," he said. "There were also multiple websites for the town. If you go to recreation or conservation or the police department, each has their own website with a different look and feel. We wanted to bring it all under one umbrella and make it easier for residents to use."

All the work on the website was done by Technology Committee member Wendy Barker over the past 18 months — at no cost to the town.

"Wendy saved the town thousands of dollars on this project," Barbera said. "Residents should be really grateful to her."

Barker explained the changes from the old to the new website.

"This website includes such improvements as Google calendars for both government and community events, a search field, and an FAQ page," she said. "It has been designed for ease of navigation and to be viewed easily on any mobile device."

Barbera said the committee still plans more improvements to the website in the future.

"We want to take every meeting that is broadcast on TV — Conservation, Board of Selectmen, Budget Committee — and have those be available online," he said. "Not permanently, but so you would have the opportunity to watch the most recent meetings. It will be a convenience for residents who were unable to watch a meeting live."

Barker said they're also working on integrating social media.

"Future improvements will include such things as Twitter feeds and online submission of web forms," she said. "This has become an ongoing project and every effort will be made to keep its look, feel and functionality up to date."

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

TOWER TIME for Phil Again!

From the Eagle Tribune;

October 26, 2011
Atkinson seeks answers to communications problems
By Cara Hogan

An Atkinson police officer called for backup, but no one heard him.

"Two people turned on him and had him pinned on the ground," police Chief Philip Consentino said. "He kept pushing his radio for help and no one heard him. There are so many radio dead spots all over town, it's not safe."

Backup arrived from Salem in time to help that officer, but Consentino said there have been many similar incidents over the years.

Weak radio signals are a serious safety issue in Atkinson, but there are solutions. While other local departments have already installed equipment that strengthens radio signals and eliminates some of the danger of spotty communication, Atkinson residents have been unwilling to pay for the solutions put forth by the town.

Residents rejected a plan in 2008 to build a $600,000, 120-foot communications tower in the center of town. On Sept. 26, the Atkinson Emergency Communications Committee gave the town new recommendations for improving radio signals.

Robert Dahlquist was appointed to the committee two years ago. He said the report shows how the radio signal from Plaistow to western Atkinson is obstructed by Bragg Hill and Providence Hill. Dahlquist said an 80-foot, $100,000 radio tower would improve radio signals somewhat, but not enough. The best overall option is to purchase mobile repeaters.

"One or two cruisers can be equipped with a mobile repeater," he said, "They take a signal from the walkie-talkie and repeat it on the dispatch frequency. The officer has to set his walkie to that specific channel."

Opinions vary on solutions

But Consentino said he disagrees with the report's recommendations .

"We looked into mobile repeaters years ago and that's not a good thing because you have to keep changing frequencies all the time," he said. "The best route was to put in a tower, but now that will never happen."

The repeaters would cost about $4,000 per unit. The total cost would depend on the number of vehicles that need to be equipped. But there are grants available to pay for the technology.

"Several other local police department are using repeaters successfully," Dahlquist said.

In Danville, police Chief Wade Parsons said they used to have a few areas of radio blackout.

"We had several locations that we ran into communication problems with our portable radios," he said.

"We didn't have sufficient power to reach Rockingham dispatch. We could hear them, but we weren't reaching them back. No one was ever hurt, but sometimes Rockingham would dispatch a car to check on us because we were unable to communicate, as a precaution."

The Danville police installed repeaters in July 2009, according to Parsons.

Danville's repeaters were paid for by a federal grant and Parsons said since they installed them, the department hasn't had any problems.

"Things have been great," he said.

"We don't have any lost communication any longer. We have four repeaters installed in all of our cruisers. It's not complicated at all to use; it's just a throw of a switch. I would absolutely recommend this to other departments."

Repeaters worked in Kingston

Kingston recently put repeaters in their cruisers, too, after receiving a grant in March.

"Kingston is notorious for many bad areas to communication, usually in the southern tier of the community," police Chief Donald Briggs said. "The equipment was just installed and it allows us to communicate via radios to Rockingham dispatch. It's much better now."

Briggs said the Rockingham Sheriff's Department is also working on a grant now to install remote receivers around town to improve communications more.

Plaistow Deputy police Chief Kathleen Jones said in every town, even more developed towns like Plaistow, there are certain areas that have radio blackouts.

"In Plaistow, one of the main problems was the high school," she said. "We wanted to be able to communicate in there."

Jones said Plaistow's solution was to use grant money to install antenna canopies, which are similar to repeaters. Now, the high school resource officer can easily communicate with dispatch.

"It's not perfect, but it has improved the service," she said.

"The more things that get built in this area, the worse reception is. If one tower has a direct line of sight to another tower, communication is perfect. When you build things in between, that interrupts service."

Jones said the town bought the equipment from Two Way Communications in Newington.

A company spokesman said they have sold equipment to dozens of towns across Southern New Hampshire.

In Atkinson, selectmen are still discussing the results of the report on emergency communications.

"I don't know when the town will make a decision about this," Dahlquist said.

"Our job was to research and determine what the problems were — and make a recommendation. Beyond that, it's up to the townspeople, the Board of Selectmen and the Police Department if they want to proceed with one of them."

Consentino said the change can't come soon enough.

"If it's 2 or 3 a.m. and you're out of a back road and you see a suspicious car with three guys in it, you might hesitate," he said.

"You know you don't have radio contact and if a confrontation starts, you're (in trouble). It's a very touchy situation and we need to fix it."

Monday, October 24, 2011

Timberlane to focus on science improvement, after bombing NECAP

From the Eagle Tribune;

October 24, 2011
Timberlane to focus on science improvement
By Cara Hogan

PLAISTOW — Science is not a strong subject for the Timberlane Regional School District.

The New England Common Assessment Program science scores for 2011 are low at the high school, middle school and all but one of the district's elementary schools.

"In all of the schools, except for Atkinson (Academy), we get lower overall scores this year," Kerri Killen, director of elementary education, told the School Board Thursday. "We're going to be taking a closer look at our science curriculum, from preschool all the way up through grade 12."

Timberlane Regional High School students scored the worst, with just 17 percent of students scoring a proficient level of 3 or 4. At the Timberlane Regional Middle School, just 30 percent of students were proficient, down from 39 percent last year. That compares to a state average of 55 percent proficiency.

"High school numbers are certainly low," said Scott Strainge, director of secondary education. "We talked to middle school kids after taking the test and they said there was some stuff on there they've never even touched."

In the elementary schools, Pollard Elementary scored the worst with 37 percent of students scoring a proficient level of 3 or 4. Danville Elementary students scored 47 percent proficient. Sandown Elementary scored 61 percent proficient, down from 78 percent last year. Atkinson Academy rose from 67 percent last year to 80 percent this year.

Superintendant Richard La Salle said he wants to make sure the scores are accurate.

"We need to understand these scores," he said. "Why does one or two questions different make such a difference on where you fall in proficiency?"

The School Board asked for solutions.

"These scores are discouraging," member Robert Collins said. "At the elementary schools, the disparity is huge. We go from 37 to 80 percent. What's your plan to improve this?"

Strainge said the district brought in Dr. Ed Henry, a state science consultant, last year.

"We brought him in to work district-wide with the science committee," he said. "He had some good ideas. We changed the standards so we don't have a kid who gets to biology in his sophomore year of high school and hasn't seen biology in three years."

Unfortunately, Henry's job has been eliminated in the state budget this year, so the school is on its own to try to raise the NECAP scores.

Pollard School principal Michelle Gaydos said they have a renewed focus on science because of these scores.

"We're a school in need of improvement and focused so much on reading, writing and math, that the kids didn't have the science inquiry they needed," she said. "This year, we made it a priority. I think we'll be in a better place soon."

Strainge said officials will be analyzing the curriculum and doing everything they can to raise the scores.

"We're just looking for continuous growth," he said. "With the NECAP scores, it's like turning around an aircraft carrier in the ocean. You can't do it on a dime."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Timberlane officials silent on cutting short cheerleading season

From the Eagle Tribune;

October 20, 2011
Timberlane officials silent on cutting short cheerleading season
By Cara Hogan

PLAISTOW — The fall cheerleading squad's season has been cut short at Timberlane Regional High School, but no one will say why.

Administrators and parents have been closemouthed since the decision was announced on Friday. Principal Donald Woodworth would not explain his decision to cancel the rest of the team's season.

"We don't want to single out individual students, coaches or team issues," he said.

"We did have to end the season, but there will be no disciplinary action against the cheerleaders."

Woodworth would not specify exactly what happened to prompt punishment of the entire squad.

"We had some internal issues we couldn't square away," he said yesterday.

"There were a variety of issues, not just one we can solve. I can't comment further."

Woodworth would not name the school's cheerleading coach, who was new this year, nor say if she has been fired.

"We ended the season, so I don't have a coach right now," he said.

Students leaving school yesterday either didn't know about the situation or didn't want to comment.

Diane Ripley's daughter was on the team. She said yesterday the school ending the season was not the end of the problem.

"It's still going on and there's no final resolution," she said.

"It's kind of a fire storm right now. I would be shocked if anyone talked about it. It's a bad situation."

Ripley also wouldn't say what had happened to end the season in order to protect her daughter.

School Board member Peter Bealo said he didn't know the reason for the secrecy.

"All I know is the letter that went out to the parents of people on the cheerleading squad," he said.

"Hopefully, we'll learn more at the School Board meeting this week."

School Board vice chairman Lisa Withee said the decision was made by the high school principal, not the board, so they had nothing to do with it.

Woodworth said the issue with the fall squad will not affect future cheerleading seasons.

"We do intend to run a winter cheerleading program and to work toward a successful fall season next year," he said.

Atkinson loses another officer, but hiring has begun

From the Eagle Tribune;
October 20, 2011
Atkinson loses another officer, but hiring has begun
By Cara Hogan

ATKINSON — Officer Christopher VanHirtum is the third officer to leave the police department in the past six months.

Yesterday was VanHirtum's last at the department, after three years on the job. Chief Philip Consentino said VanHirtum's new job will be with the Windham Police Department, just a few miles away.

"Windham is more money, closer to home and I believe he has more opportunities for advancement up there than he does here," Consentino said.

Before coming to Atkinson, VanHirtum worked at the Newton Police Department from 2005 to 2008. He was initially hired in Atkinson to replace the late Cpl. John Lapham, who died of acute leukemia.

There has been a lot of turnover at the Atkinson Police Department, but Consentino said he hopes that will stop now. Lt. William Baldwin and Officer Justin Paquette both left for other police jobs. Detective Sgt. Philip Farrar officially retired last month, but has stayed on part-time to help the department.

The department was down to just two full-time officers at one point, but the Board of Selectmen authorized Consentino to hire a few new officers last month.

"I've got Officer Nicholas Fiset, who started last Tuesday," Consentino said.

"Selectmen wanted the background investigation done on the two individuals I brought in last week. Hopefully, Monday night, they'll make it official and appoint those two."

The two officers are Detective Sgt. Patrick Caggiano, who will work full time, and Sgt. Scott Anderson, who will work part-time. Consentino said Caggiano will make a big difference, since he will fill Fararr's position as an administrator, handling the day-to-day operations of the police department.

"I still need two more full-time officers," Consentino said. "We're going through applications we received and seeing if we can fill those two positions."

But he's said happy to see some progress.

"The department is in much better shape than it was a month ago," he said. "The selectmen have helped me out considerably by putting Fiset on."

The department threw VanHirtum a small going-away party yesterday after he made his last arrest as an Atkinson officer

Friday, October 14, 2011


Timberlane Athletic Director Angelo Fantasia announced to the girls today, that he was cancelling the cheerleading program, at least for the rest of the season, and possibly for the rest of the year. Mr. Fantasia refused to announce a reason citing "legal reasons", but families of cheerleaders in the program have long had issues with this troubled program. Tales of Senior girls bullying freshman girls. Disengaged, inexperienced coaches, and a general lack of discipline on the team has now come full circle.

Speaking to coaches from surrounding schools they were stunned to hear the news. They stated that they "couldn't imagine that happening at their schools".

The Atkinson Reporter has to wonder what could possibly have caused such a drastic response. Bad coaches can be fired. Bullies on the team can be kicked off, but what can be so bad that the program must be scrapped.

Only time, and parent outrage will tell...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Atkinson police station still source of air quality woes

From the Eagle Tribune

October 11, 2011
Atkinson police station still source of air quality woes
By Cara Hogan

ATKINSON — Dispatcher Lynne Cunningham said she's had breathing problems since she starting working at the police station.

"I'm worried about my health," she said. "I have chest pains, trouble breathing, sinus problems. I get light-headed. It's all because of the air quality in here."

Cunningham said some of her coworkers have experienced similar problems. The department's air quality issues were addressed in the recently released Municipal Resources report, an independent analysis of the department.

"Members of the police department feel the town does not care about their health," the report said. "Employees who have read reports on the air quality issue state there are three types of mold above the false ceiling and that fiberglass is being blown through the ventilation systems."

The cause of the problems is water damage from a roof leaking over the years, according to the report.

Selectmen said they are committed to fixing the problem. The town planned to tear out and replace the duct work over the summer, but delayed the project because of police Chief Philip Consentino's health problems.

Selectman Fred Childs said the project was delayed again because Selectman William Bennett had been out for health reasons. Now, Bennett has resigned and Craig Schuster was chosen to fill the position.

"Now that we've got another selectman, it should be done quickly," Childs said Friday. "This will be one of the first things on the agenda for the new board. We also have to talk about fixing the fire station roof. Both of those will be done by winter; we have the money for it."

The project will take at least three days, Childs said, so the department has to vacate the building. The board is still trying to work out a schedule with the contractor.

"We want it done right," he said.

Cunningham said selectmen have been making promises for months, but haven't made any progress.

"You can see water spots on the ceiling above my head," Cunningham said. "At this point, do we need to get a lawyer to make the town fix this? They said they were going to do it four or five months ago. Enough is enough."

But Childs denied there has been any health impact on the employees at the department.

"We have done all kinds of tests and there is no risk for the people working there," he said. "That's why we weren't rushing into anything."

Friday, October 7, 2011

Atkinson residents warned to lock doors after two break-ins

From the Eagle Tribune;

October 7, 2011
Atkinson residents warned after two break-ins
By Cara Hogan

ATKINSON — Police say the same suspects could be behind two break-ins that occurred within 24 hours.

Police Chief Philip Consentino said there were two break-ins on Tuesday.

"There was an attempted break-in on Stone Pound Lane," he said. "Perpetrators cut the screen and opened the window, and were working their way inside. But the homeowner was home. She screamed at them and they ran off into the woods."

Police searched the area, but were not able to find the suspects.

Later the same day, there was a successful break-in at a home on Conley Road, just three miles away.

"They made entry into the house by a door that was left ajar," Consentino said. "They stole approximately $1,000 worth of jewelry. Nothing else was taken."

He said the two incidents could be related.

"We haven't had a break-in in a long time," he said. "Residents should be aware and keep their doors locked."

Police are continuing to investigate both crimes.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Atkinson chooses new selectman

From the Eagle Tribune;

October 6, 2011
Atkinson chooses new selectman
By Cara Hogan

ATKINSON — The town's new selectman is businessman Craig Schuster.

Selectmen appointed Schuster as the board's third selectman at a special meeting yesterday morning. Schuster will fill the remainder of the term of William Bennett, who resigned last week for health reasons. The term expires in March.

Selectman's Chairman William Friel said the decision was guided by input from residents who called, emailed and recommended Schuster.

"It was a tough choice," Friel said. "All five gentleman were great candidates and bring a lot to the table. Mr. Schuster is an outsider with no real political ties. He has management experience, capital improvement experience and budget experience."

Selectman Fred Childs agreed.

"He's a new face with new ideas," he said. "He comes here willing to learn."

None of the candidates were present for the announcement yesterday, after coming to Town Hall on Monday for their televised interviews with selectmen. Schuster beat two former selectmen and two Budget Committee members for the position.

Schuster has been living in Atkinson since 1999.

His wife, Robyn Schuster, works for the Salem School District. Schuster graduated from Western New England College in 1994 with a degree in business.

He now works full time as a manufacturing manager at Lubrizol, a chemical manufacturing company.

"I oversee 60 employees and I've developed systems to help my business grow over 100 percent," he said in his interview with selectmen. "Many manufacturing sites are downgrading or moving out of the country, but we've increased. All these skills will help me be a great selectman."

Schuster also is an Eagle Scout and very involved in the Boy Scouts in Atkinson. Although he works full time, he said he is willing to put in the long hours necessary as selectman.

"I do have a younger family, with one kid at Atkinson Academy and one in middle school," he said. "I will put in the extra time to create a great town for them to grow up in."

Schuster will sign paperwork and be sworn in before the next selectmen's meeting on Tuesday.

"It was a hard choice, but we're looking forward to getting into budget season," Friel said.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Atkinson hires three Plaistow officers

From the Eagle Tribune;

October 5, 2011
Atkinson hires three Plaistow officers
By Cara Hogan

ATKINSON — Plaistow's loss is Atkinson's gain.

The town has hired three new police officers, all veterans of the Plaistow Police Department.

Selectmen Monday approved police Chief Philip Consentino's request to hire Officer Nicholas Fiset, Detective Sgt. Patrick Caggiano and Sgt. Scott Anderson.

"I can't wait to get them on board," Consentino said. "They're going to start work as soon as I get the background investigations done. Fiset should be here in two weeks."

The department is down to only two full-time officers since Officer Justin Paquette and Lt. William Baldwin left for other jobs and Detective Sgt. Philip Farrar retired.

Last week, selectmen authorized Consentino to hire four new police officers — two full-time and two part-time — to fill the gaps.

All three new hires have years of police experience. Fiset worked for Plaistow for the past 10 years and will be a patrol officer in Atkinson. Anderson worked in Plaistow for 22 years and plans to retire in November, working in Atkinson as a part-time patrol officer.

"Since Sgt. Farrar has left, Detective Sgt. Caggiano will take over for him as the department's executive officer," Consentino said. "He is a 22-year veteran of the Plaistow Police Department with an extensive training background."

Plaistow Deputy police Chief Kathleen Jones said it's not a coincidence that three officers left Plaistow for Atkinson.

"I think they see an opportunity over there," she said. "You hate to lose people, especially people you've worked with for many years. But we always support them if they feel they can find a position that's a little better for their families or an advancement in their careers."

She said the officers won't all be leaving at once, so it won't put a strain on her department. Fiset has given official notice; his last day in Plaistow is Oct. 17. Anderson had planned to retire in November and Caggiano hasn't yet put in his notice.

"We will definitely be replacing the officers that are leaving as soon as possible," Jones said. "It will mean a bit of upward mobility here, too, and create some opportunities in our department. Change isn't always a bad thing."

Farrar officially retired from the Atkinson force last week after postponing his retirement to help while Consentino recovered from open heart surgery this summer. But he hasn't really left the department.

"Farrar has agreed to stay on part-time to help me get things squared away in the next few weeks," Consentino said.

The chief will not be filling the lieutenant's position left vacant by Baldwin, but said he hopes to hire at least one more officer.

"It will make my job much easier," Consentino said. "Once I get these guys on board and trained, maybe I can take a day off."

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

New Atkinson selectman to be selected

From the Eagle Tribune;

October 4, 2011
New Atkinson selectman to be selected
By Cara Hogan

ATKINSON — Only a week after Selectman William Bennett resigned, his replacement will be named tomorrow.

The five candidates vying for Bennett's seat were interviewed by the two remaining board members last night. New Chairman William Friel and Fred Childs will choose the new selectman at 10 a.m.

The candidates include two former selectmen, Paul Sullivan and Raymond Fournier. Sullivan decided not to run for re-election two years ago while Fourner hasn't been on the board for more than 30 years.

The other candidates are businessman Craig Schuster and Budget Committee members Todd Barbera and Dave Paquette.

The replacement for Bennett, who stepped down because of health problems, will serve the remainder of his three-year term. A new selectman will be elected in March.

Whoever is chosen tomorrow must be ready to work, Friel said.

"It's budget season and we're looking for someone to jump right in with us," he said. "It's a big time commitment."

After Bennett resigned, the search for his replacement started immediately.

The five men turned in their resumes by Friday. Last night, each candidate had two minutes to explain why he should be appointed for the next five months.

Sullivan was a selectman from 2006 to 2009, and wants another shot at the job. He was an emergency medical technician and firefighter in Atkinson for 17 years, and served on the Budget Committee for three years.

"When I was an Atkinson selectman with you gentlemen, we all worked well together," he said. "We were fiscally responsible and managed the ice storm. I have firsthand experience and I'm here to step up to the plate."

Fournier said he has the experience needed for the job since he was a selectman more than 30 years ago.

"I worked in engineering for more than 30 years," he said. "I was working full time and I couldn't dedicate the time to being a selectman. Now, I'm retired and I have the time. I will definitely voice my opinion."

Todd Barbera, chairman of the Technology and Budget committees, said he is very qualified and knows state law.

"Leadership skills are key to being a selectman and I am chair of two committees," he said. "I have no political agenda. I serve because I truly enjoy being involved and I plan to run for selectman in March."

Dave Paquette has served on the Budget Committee for nine years. Paquette said he was the only candidate not interested in running for the position in March.

"I think I can really help with the budget," he said. "I'm well-versed in the process. I have no hidden agendas since I'm not interested in running beyond the five months."

Craig Schuster said he has never served the town, but runs a chemical manufacturing company and has lived in Atkinson for more than 10 years.

"I'm an outsider, many people don't know my name," he said. "I'm here to help. I bring a different set of eyes, from the manufacturing and business side. I stand up for what I believe in."

Selectmen asked all five candidates questions, including some emailed by residents. All five candidates said they were willing to work long hours while selectmen compile next year's proposed budget.

Friel also asked the candidates how they would feel about being unpopular and all five said they were up to the challenge.

Friel asks residents who would like to comment on the candidates to email the Board of Selectmen at

That input is to be considered when choosing a new selectman.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

SCOOP: The REDACTED version of the MRI report is out!

Yes it is posted on the town website, evidently posted without fanfare very recently it is available for public perusal.

It contains largely expected criticisms, including the following;

"Chief stated no(citizen's complaint) file exists. The citizens of Atkinson have not made any complaints"

As Laughable as THAT is, This exchange demonstrates that critics allegations over the last 5 years were well founded, and the chief's vehement denials were no better than falsehoods, and probably much worse;

"While this consultant was interviewing the chief, he received a call from an elderly person about finding a plumber, the chief pulled out a notebook, and said there are 4 plumbers approved by the police dept. he read off two of the names and told the caller to tell them they were recommended by the Atkinson Police Dept. to get their 10% discount. While it could be said that the chief was wearing the hat of elderly affairs director during this exchange(at his desk, within the police station, during his police working hours)receiving a recommendation from the chief of police raises CONFLICT OF INTEREST issues, using the name of the Atkinson Police Dept. to receive a discount on services may not be in the best interests of the dept. or the town. This service would be better by an ELDERLY AFFAIRS DEPT. NOT DIRECTLY CONNECTED TO THE POLICE DEPT."

"The chief feels there is no need to separate the elderly transportation program form the police dept. he feels it is not broken and is not in need of any modification"

Then the Report moves on to the chief's personal slush fund.... um.... charity.

"MRI had difficulty with this fund as currently constructed. The use of the Name Atkinson Police leads people to believe it is a public, not private endeavor. The books of a public funds would be open to inspection by the public or donors. Second, is a donation being used for the senior citizens program, or to acquire equipment for the police dept?Who decides how donated funds are allocated and to whom are they responsible?"

MRI Also recommends getting RID OF THE LT. AND DETECTIVE POSITIONS! Replacing them with two patrol sergeants with the flexibility during slow periods to return to the station to perform administrative paperwork.

MRI reports that the police dept. is OVERFUNDED to the tune of AT LEAST $40-50,000/ yr. Describing the usual balance left in the budget at the end of the year. Chief responded that he is frugal and only budgets what he needs, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.

MRI also found that the police dept. operates without a current policy and procedures manual. Some procedures date back to the '80's, while officers claim they do not know if their policies are still active or not.

The report also shows the crime statistics reported by the chief to the attornies general's office for the last 7 years. 417 incidents in 7 years. THAT's right 59.5 incidents reported per yr. on average, 5 per month!

It also make a number of recommendations ranging from;
complying with the State records law to using ZERO BASED BUDGETING so that every line item can be verified as necessary, to weekly and monthly reports to the Board of Selectmen ROFLMAO!!!

They also suggest;
Atkinson should trade some of it's untrained, unsworn part time officers for one new full time officer. They also recommend doing away with having Atkinson dispatch 40 hours per week, and have Plaistow do it full time, instead of the 128 hours per week they do it now. The town should review the vehicle fleet, and develop a fleet plan based on demonstrated need! The Chief's Mercury should go, and he should assign himself one of the other existing vehicles in the fleet!

Separate the slush fund into TWO slush funds, one for elderly purposes, and one for police purposes.
"In order to avoid any conflicts of interest the vetting and recommending of contractors for the elderly should not be conducted by the police dept."
The police dept, should track normal statistics, such as mutual aid calls.

In short, this report verifies the criticisms made over the last five years by the likes of Mr. Acciard, Mrs. Grant, Mrs. LaFrance, Mr. Artus, Ms. Goodrich, Mr. Kaye, et al.

It is a fun read, go take a look