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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.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Atkinson wants out of regional hazmat group

From the Eagle Tribune;

June 23, 2011
Atkinson wants out of regional hazmat group
By Cara Hogan

ATKINSON — If there's a hazardous waste incident in Atkinson, town officials would like to handle it themselves.

The town is one of 15 in a nearly 20-year-old municipal group that formed to respond regionally to hazmat situations. Two years ago, Atkinson stopped paying its $6,000 annual membership dues.

That brought Hampstead Selectman Richard Hartung, who's also chairman of the Southeastern New Hampshire Hazardous Material Mutual Aid District, to the Atkinson selectmen's meeting Monday night.

Hartung asked selectmen to reconsider their decision to leave the group. But if they wouldn't, Hartung said, they should give official notice of their withdrawal.

"There is an allotment of dues for each town for the year and Atkinson chose not to pay theirs," he said. "We haven't had anything official from the town or board. The simple fact of not paying does not exclude you."

The town opted out when fire Chief Michael Murphy recommended the payments be cut to save the town some money.

"They offer a valuable resource, it's just their resources go way beyond what Atkinson needs," he said. "Our exposure is minimal. There's very little risk in town compared to Salem or Derry, where they have major highways going through their communities and a lot of industry and commercial manufacturing. It's good insurance, but I think I provide a level of protection."

Murphy said the town spent $4,500 for its own equipment.

"Last year, we put in a special hazardous vehicle, equipped with spill containment equipment," he said. "We have the capability of getting out there and handling a first response spill until we call in additional resources, whether private or the state. We didn't leave the town without anything."

But Hartung said it's not possible for Atkinson to have the same kind of coverage the Mutual Aid District offers.

"I don't think it's a thing the town can really do on their own," he said. "I took some umbrage with what was said they have their own capacity, I think it's very limited whatever they have."

Hartung said the Emergency Response Team includes 50 members, drawn from fire departments within the district. Those people are trained to deal with chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear incidents. And, he said, those types of spills do happen in member towns.

"The teams are activated numerous times during the year across the district," he said. "Atkinson has been involved for 20 years, but I'm not sure how many times they've needed our services."

Atkinson Selectmen's Chairman William Bennett said the town may still reconsider its decision, but he needs more information first.

"If the bylaws say because we're members and we owe the past dues, we might just pay," he said. "If it requires a formal vote from the board to end our association, we may do that. It depends on what the bylaws say."

Selectman William Friel said the town just doesn't have the money to pay membership dues.

"We can't pay it," he said. "The line item for this was eliminated by the Budget Committee."

Murphy said he stands behind his decision to leave the organization unless more information comes out. Bennett agreed.

"Chief Murphy feels he's adequately equipped to respond to a hazmat spill and he knows a whole lot more about responding to hazmat threats than I do," he said. "If he tells me he's all set, I'm not going to second guess that decision."

Hartung said he still hopes the town will reconsider.

"I believe it's within their capability to pay this, if they choose to," he said. "It is an issue of public safety and this organization brings an outstanding value."

The other member towns include Windham, Hampstead, Hooksett, Auburn, Candia, Chester, Danville, Derry, Litchfield, Londonderry, Pelham, Plaistow, Salem and Sandown.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Two charged after crashing stolen car

From the Eagle Tribune;

Two charged after crashing stolen car
By Cara Hogan

View All Photos
Posted: 06/22/2011 12:14 AM
ATKINSON — Two Lawrence men, allegedly driving a stolen car, led police on a high-speed chase through town before crashing early yesterday morning.

Detective Sgt. Philip Farrar said Officer Kevin Donnelly was on a routine patrol and tried to pull over a white 1994 Honda Accord for speeding on Sawyer Avenue at 6:30 a.m. yesterday.

"The car didn't stop and there was a short pursuit of about a mile or so," Farrar said. "Donnelly called it off because it got too excessive in speed, up to 70 mph on back roads."

The Honda crashed shortly afterward at the intersection of Sawyer Avenue and Main Street, going straight through the intersection and hitting a stone wall.

Farrar said the two men fled the vehicle. "I apprehended them 30 minutes later on the other side of town on Lewis Lane. They offered no resistance when arrested," he said.

Farrar said the two men had disturbed the neighborhood while they ran from the police, knocking on and trying to open doors.

"They were trying to get help, I guess," Farrar said. "A woman said they told her they had missed the school bus, which we got a chuckle out of."

Jeremiah Torres, 18, and Irvin Diaz, 19, both from Lawrence, allegedly stole the car earlier yesterday morning in Lawrence before driving to Atkinson.

Both were arrested and charged with receiving stolen property, conduct after an accident, operating after revocation, reckless driving and disobeying a police officer.

The two men are both known gang members in Lawrence, according to Farrar.

"Lawrence (police) said they have both been involved in shootings down there," Farrar said. "These guys are bad guys; they're the real deal. It would appear that Atkinson is a throughway to Salem from Lawrence and Haverhill, all the crime from Lawrence heading our way every day."

Torres and Diaz are in custody, Farrar said, held on $25,000 cash bail each. They are scheduled for video arraignment today in Plaistow District Court.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Atkinson rail panel counters bias claims

From the Eagle Tribune;

June 21, 2011
Atkinson rail panel counters bias claims
By Cara Hogan

ATKINSON — The Atkinson Commuter Rail Investigatory Committee defended themselves against charges of bias at last night's selectmen meeting.

The committee wrote an official report on the proposed Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority layover station on the Plaistow and Atkinson line on May 16, outlining the impact it would have on Atkinson. But when Selectmen's chairman William Bennett read the report, he called it "biased" and told the committee to make significant changes before the board would accepted and release it to the public.

Robert Clark, a member of the investigatory committee, responded with documents that he said answered Bennett's questions and comments on the report. He denied any bias and said the committee did its best with limited resources.

"All our committee members agree we reported the facts both positive and negative," he said. "All reports come with a bit of conjecture. The fact is there will be noise and air pollution. We ask the selectmen for their opposition to this layover station, and we ask the report be posted to the town website."

Bennett agreed to post the report, but not without his comments, which critiqued nearly every aspect of the report.

"I found the report biased against the potential benefits of a commuter rail station," he said. "It minimized the benefits and exaggerated the drawbacks."

Joe DeMonaco, another committee member, also defended the work.

"Nowhere in that report do we say we're against the commuter rail," he said. "We're just against the layover station. We should take lessons from places like Bradford and Rockport. They have had so many problems with pollution from their layover stations."

He said the MBTA is not a good neighbor and would not take measures to minimize the noise or air pollution. And Bennett agreed.

"Your point that we can't trust the MBTA further than we can throw one of their locomotives is a good one," Bennett said. "We have to work with the state and make sure the MBTA doesn't thumb their nose at local regulations."

Even with the disagreement over the report, the selectmen and the committee did agree that the town should be involved in the upcoming negotiations between Plaistow, the New Hampshire Department of Transportation and the MBTA.

"We will be sending a letter to the DOT about those potential impacts on Atkinson," Bennett said. "We want to make sure if it does go through, our interests are protected."

Selectman Fred Childs said he agreed with many of Bennett's comments and supported taking official action against the layover station.

"We can't do anything about the station, that's Plaistow's decision," he said. "I want to send a letter to them. We can express our concerns, that is all."

Selectman Friel said he was also against the layover station and specifically angry with Plaistow's actions.

"I am not pleased with the way Plaistow has done this under the cover of darkness," he said. "We are not notified when issues come up and I do not appreciate it."

The board also reinstated the committee members, allowing them to continue to work on the issue, though they have completed the report.

"I think it was a very positive meeting," Clark said afterward. "We're still a committee, and we hope to help the town."

The committee also commended the Board of Selectmen for a recent land purchase of two acres that would provide a small sound buffer between the station and a local neighborhood, Bryant Woods. The public will soon be able to read the report on the town website, with comments and criticisms from the Board of Selectmen included.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Removed Post

As many of you have no doubt noticed the Blog removed an article posted early this morning.

This was removed due to the intensely personal ad hominem attacks being made in response to that article. Usually when discourse degenerates into nasty comments it is sufficient to simply remove the offending comments and allow the adults to continue their conversation. However in this case, it appears that only the kids want to discuss our police dept's refusal to enforce town ordinances. There fore the article has been removed. As stated previously ad hominem personal attacks will not be tolerated.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Another veteran leaves Atkinson police

From Eagle Tribune;

June 1, 2011
Another veteran leaves Atkinson police
By Cara Hogan

ATKINSON — Detective Sgt. Philip Farrar is resigning from the police department, after weeks of conflict between the police chief and the Board of Selectmen.

Police Chief Philip Consentino said yesterday Farrar told him he wanted to quit last week, after selectmen voted to hire an independent company to study the department's management over the next 90 to 100 days.

"More and more people are getting ticked off with the way things are going and Detective Farrar, my second in command, has put in his letter of resignation," Consentino said. "I did everything I could to convince him to stay, but he won't."

Selectmen's Chairman William Bennett said Farrar's departure won't affect the $5,000 study by Municipal Resources Inc., which specializes in management reviews, candidate searches and studies of local municipalities. The police department will remain on a hiring freeze until the study is completed, Bennett said.

"It certainly complicates the staffing issue and we'll have to work that out," he said. "The chief had managed by shifting responsibilities around and Detective Farrar was one of the people dragooned into handling extra duties. Now, if Farrar resigns, it's one less senior head in the department."

Farrar said yesterday he doesn't know what he will do when he leaves his position next month.

"I haven't made up my mind yet, if I'm retiring or getting another job," he said. "Things aren't good here."

Farrar previously worked for 22 years as lieutenant detective with the Rockingham County Sheriff's Department and for 12 years in Atkinson as sergeant detective.

"The man really knows his police work and it's a shame I've got to lose him," Consentino said. "He was the next in command after (Lt. William) Baldwin."

Baldwin left last week for a job with the Plaistow Police Department. Consentino asked selectmen to let him hire a new officer, which spurred the conflict over hiring in town and resulted in the selectmen opting for the MRI study.

Consentino said he's going to have a hard time just covering shifts this summer once Farrar leaves.

"Now this is going to really hurt because I'm going to be down to only three full-time officers," the chief said. "I'm not going to be allowed to hire anyone for another three to four months until the survey is done and it's going to be really tough going through the summer season."

Now, if an officer is out sick or on vacation, Consentino said, he has to bring in a part-time officer to cover the shift.

"If it's during the daytime, I only have one officer and he will only work two days a week," he said. "It puts me in a tough position. I've already spoken to the high sheriff and he said if I'm in a bind, he'll send someone down to cover calls for me. But I hope it doesn't have to go that far. It's ridiculous."

Bennett said he's going to work with Consentino to think of a solution to the staffing problem.

"It's not going to be a catastrophe," Bennett said. "I don't know what the solution is going to be, but we'll work it out."