Atkinson Town Hall

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Welcome Message and Mission Statement

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

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

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

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Atkinson voters asked to OK land purchase

From the Eagle Tribune;

January 26, 2011
Atkinson voters asked to OK land purchase

By Cara Hogan The Eagle Tribune Wed Jan 26, 2011, 12:13 AM EST

ATKINSON — Voters will be asked to approve the purchase of 0.83 acres of land on Academy Avenue. But the purchase price is in question.

A warrant article calls for $161,000 to buy the parcel, but Selectman Bill Bennett said the price could be amended at the deliberative session Feb. 5.

Selectmen put their support behind the article, but the Budget Committee didn't — because the sale price is above the assessed value, Bennett said.

"That is probably above market value at this time, so we will be negotiating the price with the seller and probably will amend the value at Town Meeting," he said. "The Budget Committee didn't want to put their recommendation on that higher value."

Bennett said the land would expand the town commons area and remain a green space for concerts and other town events, if voters approve it.

The Budget Committee was a little more fiscally conservative than selectmen when it came to backing warrant articles with significant price tags.

"All the departments were made aware that we are still in economic difficulties and they should come in at the bare minimum of what is needed," Town Administrator Philip Smith said. "Some things just have to be done. Some stuff is safety, like generators and fire protection. The voter has to balance and decide what's important to them."

The 34 warrant articles total $883,000.

The Budget Committee did not recommend articles calling for $60,000 to update the fire protection system at Town Hall, $50,000 for a generator for the library, $35,000 for a generator for Town Hall and $9,200 for a part-time clerical position at Town Hall.

Bennett said a new sprinkler system at Town Hall is not a frivolous expense.

"The Town Hall sprinkler system does not offer adequate fire protection," he said. "Though the budget committee took the attitude it's been OK for all these years, I can't, in good conscience, support waiting."

But there was some agreement. Both boards recommended $spending $10,000 for repairs to the Atkinson Community Center.

"The floors of the center need to be resanded and refinished," Smith said. "It's an old building and needs yearly repairs."

Smith said the other big issue is road repairs.

"The roads are really falling apart. People call in to say they can't drive on them," he said.

Bennett agreed and said not keeping up with road repairs would be "penny wise and pound foolish."

Both boards recommended the town spend $132,000 to reconstruct 0.4 miles of Hovey Meadow Road, $12,300 to repair 0.12 miles of Hoyt Circle and $109,000 to reconstruct two parts of Merrill Drive. Those repairs also were recommended unanimously.

The town's deliberative session is at 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 5, at Atkinson Academy.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

TImberlane reports fewer dropouts

From the Eagle Tribune;

January 25, 2011
TImberlane reports fewer dropouts

By Cara Hogan The Eagle Tribune Tue Jan 25, 2011, 12:12 AM EST

PLAISTOW — Fewer Timberlane students are dropping out of high school.

The dropout rate fell from 2.7 percent to 0.7 percent in the past five years, according to Superintendant Richard La Salle.

The data is part of the district's annual report to the School Board, comparing information from the 2005-2006 school year to 2009-2010 school year to track progress.

"The dropout rate is the number we're most proud of," La Salle said at a recent School Board meeting.

He laid out the numbers as an example of the success of new programs at the district's schools.

Assistant Superintendant Winfried Feneberg said the change in the dropout rate can be traced back to programs specifically for kids with lower grades.

"The high school has really worked extremely hard to provide alternatives for children that struggle in school," Feneberg said. "We provide evening divisions and GED options, a lot of alternatives apart from and in addition to the standard diploma."

Feneberg said these options are preventing students from dropping out, but they still can't graduate without the necessary knowledge.

"The standards of the school have not gone down, it's actually increased," he said.

La Salle said the number of college-bound students also increased over those years, going from 74 percent to 86 percent.

"We have more kids going to two-year colleges than four, but that's a good option for some students," La Salle said.

Feneberg said two-year colleges have become a trend in the district.

"The ability to transfer from a two-year college into a four-year college is, in part, an economic decision parents and kids make," he said.

The data on the report also included ups and downs in New England Common Assessments Program scores, with a trend toward the positive.

"It's a whole lot of positive indicators that we feel came with hard work," Feneberg said. "There's certainly more that can be done and will be done. It's our goal to make everyone successful in high school.

Charlie McCarthy to retire!

From the Eagle Tribune;

January 25, 2011
Atkinson celebrates longtime crossing guard

By Cara Hogan The Eagle Tribune Tue Jan 25, 2011, 12:28 AM EST

ATKINSON — Officer Charles McCarthy was brought to tears yesterday morning at Atkinson Academy.

The elementary school students and teachers surprised McCarthy with a special assembly to honor his 31 years of service as the school's crossing guard.

The assembly began when a student found McCarthy at the back of the gym and led him by the hand to a chair at the front of the room.

Students sang and spoke to McCarthy, thanking him in many ways.

"No matter what the weather, you were there to keep students safe," said Ryan Beaulieau, a fifth-grader.

Atkinson police Chief Philip Consentino awarded McCarthy a certificate of appreciation for his years of service and the school gave him a blue ribbon. At the end of the assembly, the students all stood and sang, "For He's A Jolly Good Fellow" and applauded.

After the ceremony, McCarthy said he was overwhelmed by the attention.

"I didn't know about this; it was a surprise," he said. "I worked part time here all these years. I try to stay in the background and then to have everyone do this for me." He shook his head and smiled.

McCarthy's children and grandchildren attended Atkinson Academy. He said he was happy to be involved and do something in the community for so many years.

Another member of the Atkinson Police Department will be assigned to fill his position.

Principal Kathy Dayotis said they tried to keep the assembly a surprise.

"He thought just a few police officers would be here to say goodbye to him," Dayotis said. "We've been very fortunate for the past 31 years. He's been here as long as I have."

She said he has directed every bus and made sure every child crossed the street safely.

"The kids were really excited to do this for him," she said.

Before heading back to class, many students stopped to give McCarthy a hug and say "thank you" before they left.

• • •

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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Timberlane students learn financial realities

From the Eagle Tribune;

January 15, 2011
Timberlane students learn financial realities

By Cara Hogan The Eagle Tribune Sat Jan 15, 2011, 12:09 AM EST

PLAISTOW — Cam Altobelli spun a large, brightly colored wheel passing by a $500 inheritance to stop on a $40 fee for a bounced check.

Cam, an eighth-grader, frowned and wrote the number on a worksheet. The game represented real costs of living, all a part of Timberlane Middle School's second annual Financial Literacy Fair.

Teacher Sharon Skinner said the fair is part of her consumer education curriculum.

"Students choose a career and go to a website that will tell them the education and training needed for the career and expectations of a work environment," she said. "It also gives projected yearly salaries for the career. They take the yearly salary and deduct taxes, Social Security and the kids are left with a monthly budget."

Schools from around the state participate, including Woodbury School in Salem and West Running Brook Middle School in Derry.

At Timberlane yesterday, students lined up at various booths to "buy" a car, an apartment, clothes and food.

"During the fair, they have to budget their lives," Skinner said. "They pick housing and transportation they can afford, based on their monthly estimate. Kids who want to be doctors can pick out the sports car they want. Kids who want to be an artist are looking at taking public transportation because they can't get a car."

Eighth-grader Sarah Cole chose a career as an art director and had $3,976 a month to spend.

"I really like art so I wanted to find a way to make a career of that," she said. "I spun the wheel and lost $250 on car repairs. I think my balance is still OK though."

Cam said he chose a career as a head football coach with a net salary of $2,700 a month, after taxes.

"I want to be a coach and football coaches make the most money," he said. "I have to get a degree in sports management."

He said he's learned a lot from the project.

"This is pretty stressful," Cam said. "I bought a car for $17,000, I'm paying $82 a month for cable and Internet, and $10 a month for a gym membership. I decided to share a house with friends to save money."

Maekalah Macleod and Diana Aresio both chose to be hairdressers and each have $1,500 a month to spend.

"We're going to live together in a small, two-bedroom apartment," Diana said.

At the end of the two-hour program, students meet with a credit counselor to go over their list of expenses.

"If they're in the negative, they have to go back to a booth and get a cheaper car or lose a cell phone," Skinner said. "They can't be in debt at the end of the day. It's a good lesson; some adults should take this, too."

Monday, January 10, 2011

Regionalized Policing. Atkinson is perfect for it.

Anonymous Anonymous said...


Regionalized Policing. Atkinson is perfect for it.

All over the country towns are banding together to realize the cost savings by eliminating redundant overhead costs associated with redundant facilities, insurance, utilities, police cars and computers. Atkinson could outsource its police department and save half of its police budget which if tallied accurately is now close to $1 Million. Instant savings of $500K per year which is $5 Million over 10 years.

How did such a small town grow such a large PD budget with all its unnecessary and redundant assets, cars and don't forget the detective, oh yes how many crimes solved by that unnecessary position, think about it really. Too bad we have no crime stats to base the need for so much expense. The demand simply doesn't exist. We have 12 police cars? Really? WHY? And don't quote me the 1 police officer per x number of residents BS, that formula works for towns like Derry or Salem where they have crime and commercial districts. Our police costs are twice what they were less than 10 years ago. What will they be in another 10 years? And what happens when they push for a new police department. The current PD building is insufficient so taxpayers better get ready for a new $1 Million police facility. Bend over. We have to create a full time chief position cause a nice guy is involved and he'll need a nice new building.

People I have bills to pay and am sorry the current arrangement is driving my taxes up and having a different colored police car driving around would make zero difference.

We could outsource to Plaistow or Salem since we only need 3, 8 hour shifts covered (1 shift 24/7). No more extra salaries or insurances or lawsuits or vehicle maintenance or free gas and cars to the privileged few which happens NOWHERE ELSE. And with all of the workforce administration eliminated we free up the town hall personel to do real work for us taxpayers. No more personnel complaints. No more dealing with payroll and benefits of all the extra unnecessary staff. It would be like a vacation working at Town Hall.

I's the law of supply and demand. We have an oversupply of a police department for small amount of criminal demand. We cut a deal with say Plaistow to keep the current full timers for at least one year, guaranteed and after that the chips fall where they may. We sell all the police dept assets and raise like $400,000 to pay down the tax rate or pay towards the library bond.

WE DON'T NEED THIS BLOATED Dept. Someone please prove to me with facts we need it. PROVE IT I DARE YOU! It is the 21st century. As long as we have 24 hour coverage, that's all we need. I know the notion of not having a PD is foreign to everyone. Do some research for yourself. Regional policing is common practice. Imagine for a moment the reverse was true where we had regional policing today and someone proposed establishing a police dept with a building and cars and computers etc. It would NEVER pass the voters because it would be to costly! You know I'm right.

With the savings, we hire a part time person to run Elderly Affairs and heck we can increase the EA budget.

AND with the $500K per year savings we can pay off the library bond in 3 years and save another few hundred thousand.

The bloated PD is so much overkill its beyond ridiculous. When you have to move line items out of your budget like insurance to hide the bloatedness of your budget, the writing's on the wall.

We live in Mayberry RFD. There's no crime here. Why are we paying like its Haverhill?

Regionalized policing. We save a fortune and have the lowest tax rate in the state. Love the idea. The 21st century is coming soon to Atkinson.

January 10, 2011 5:55 PM

Friday, January 7, 2011

Atkinson man wins New England Book Festival Award

From the Eagle Tribune;

Atkinson man wins New England Book Festival Award

ATKINSON — Photographer Paul Wainwright's new book, "A Space for Faith: The Colonial Meetinghouses of New England," has received the New England Book Festival Award for best photography/art book of the year.

Wainwright works with a wooden large-format camera and sheet film, and develops all his images in his darkroom. He uses traditional processes that force him to slow down and really think about what he wants his images to be.

"A Space for Faith shows a true artist's eye for detail and serves as a wonderful guide to a part of the region that deserves more attention," said Bruce Haring, director of the New England Book Festival.

The New England Book Festival Award will be presented at the Festival's award ceremony at 7 p.m. Jan. 15, at the Omni Parker House Hotel in Boston.

Wainwright's black-and-white photographs paint a composite portrait of these once ubiquitous landmarks of the New England landscape.

"I am extremely honored by this award," he said. "New England's meetinghouses embody a large part of our nation's history, and my work photographing them was aimed at bringing their story to a broad audience."

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Atkinson teen heads to Eastbay Youth All-American Bowl

From the Eagle Tribune;

January 4, 2011
Atkinson teen heads to Eastbay Youth All-American Bowl

By Cara Hogan The Eagle Tribune Tue Jan 04, 2011, 12:19 AM EST

ATKINSON — Michael Balsamo is ready to prove he can run circles around the best football players from Texas, Kansas and Michigan in the Super Bowl for 14-year-olds.

Michael is the first player ever from New Hampshire to compete in the Eastbay Youth All-American Bowl, a national game featuring the very best up-and-coming middle-school football players in the United States and Canada.

The Atkinson native is the captain of the Timberlane Tornadoes and in November led his team to the championship game, but lost. He said this game is another chance to win a championship.

"It was tough to lose and it makes up for it to go to this game," he said yesterday. "I can't wait to test myself against different talent from around the country. I bet I'm going to make a lot of friends."

Michael, who is 6 feet 1 inch tall, is a running back and free safety. Coach Jerry Lovett said Michael's talent is impossible to ignore.

"Someone like Mike could be almost a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us to coach," Lovett said. "We've had some tremendous players, but I don't think any of them had the talent Mike has. He can play any position and he'd excel at it."

Lovett nominated Michael for a Football University summer camp in Boston, reserved for the best players in the area. From there, coaches in Boston nominate two or three of the best kids to attend a "Top Gun" national camp and Michael was invited to go for the past two years.

Those opportunities led to Michael's invitation, one of three players nominated in the Northeast, to the Eastbay Youth All-American Bowl.

"Being the first player ever from New Hampshire to be chosen for this is huge," Lovett said. "Having the opportunity to play with kids from down South and the Midwest, where football is really big, shows the rest of the nation we're not as far behind in terms of football in the Northeast. I think he'll hold his own and he'll impress some of the coaches."

Michael attends Sacred Hearts School in Bradford, and started playing football with teams in Atkinson when he was in fifth grade. He also played other sports — hockey, basketball and baseball — but he said he always felt football was his sport.

"Football is fast-paced and uses a lot of determination, passion and hard work," the teenager said. "I just love it."

He plays a number of positions, but said running back is his favorite.

"I know it's not just about fame and glory, but at running back you get all the touchdowns," he said.

His father, Joe Balsamo, said even though it looks like football comes easy to his son, he works hard for everything.

"This invitation is just a testament to how hard he works and how much he loves the game," Balsamo said. "His passion and love for the game just shows every time he plays. Mike is a very quiet kid, but when he's on the football field, he just leads by example. And the kids rally around him and really look up to him."

His mother, JoeAnn Balsamo, said throughout everything, her son has remained humble.

"He didn't really start telling his friends about anything until recently," she said. "I thought it would be blasted on Facebook, but he really kept it quiet."

Both his parents will accompany him on the trip to the Eastbay Youth All-American Bowl in Texas. But the trip isn't free. The family paid for the flight to Texas, along with the hotel and food for the five days of the event. His parents said they are both thrilled to be there to support their son.

Michael said he tries to keep all the attention from going to his head. He said he couldn't have done it without the support of his teammates, coach and family, especially his brother, Stephen, 18, who is a hockey player and helped him train.

"Hopefully, I can keep my grades up and work hard every summer, and keep doing what I'm doing," Michael said. "My dream is to play college football. I'd love to play for the University of Miami."

Michael will play safety for the eighth-grade USA football team against Canada on Sunday at the Alamodome in San Antonio. The game will be webcast online at

Monday, January 3, 2011

Public Information obviously not a priority for Atkinson

here it is a New Year!

New Hampshire has one of the most comprehensive open meetings and sunshine laws in the country, and yet in Atkinson, our town officials make residents go to great lengths to obtain simple public information. At a time when Sunshine movements across the country are helping town, city, and state governments create transparency websites, with as detailed information as the municipal checkbook available online to the taxpayers, the Town of Atkinson, can not even post meeting minutes.

The town website shows the last selectmen meeting minutes available to be April 6, 2009! Almost two years ago! The budget committee has 2009 season, but no 2008, or 2010. And the 2005 meetings have been deleted.

The last planning board minutes are from January 5, 2010. The last ZBA minutes are from October 14, 2009!

We HAD a technology committee that went through every dept. in town making recommendations for cost savings, and IT upgrades, including the website, but to date, nothing has been done. The website costs the town an outrageous sum per month to host, and the town gets nothing for it, unable to support streaming video of meetings, unable to even get minutes posted in a timely manner. And if you are aggressive enough to take off work, and go to the town hall during business hours, and ask Phil Smith or Barbara Snicer why the minutes aren't on the website, you get told, "we sent them over".

is this any way to run the town?