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Address numbers spark discussion in Barnstead


Officer also speaks in favor of making McDowell permanent police chief


August 05, 2014
BARNSTEAD — During the July 29 meeting of the Barnstead Board of Selectmen, the topic of creating a 9-1-1 ordinance was revisited.

Resident Carol Tiede has requested the board encourage homeowners to have their address numbers posted in a visible way so emergency crews might easier find homes in times of need, but Selectman Ed Tasker is resistant to the idea.

"What are you going to do when I don't put a number on my house…I will fight it tooth and nail," said Tasker.

Vice-Chairman Gordon Preston questioned Tasker as to why he does not want to post a number on his home.

"It must be difficult for people who don't want to get out and become familiar with the community," stated Tasker as he explained how he believes people should know their community and where folks live.

Selectmen's Secretary Karen Montgomery informed the board that resident Dave Murley has previously looked into this type of ordinance and according to town counsel the selectmen do not have the authority to pass an ordinance requiring citizens to post numbers on their homes.

Chairman David Kerr reminded everyone that previously a Gilmanton ambulance was not able to get on Rabbit Lane because the driver was not familiar with the area and their GPS was not a help in finding the home.

Preston stated fining people for not having numbers is questionable if the board can not enforce it.

Tasker moved to table the item indefinitely and Selectman Andy Houle seconded the motion.

Selectman Priscilla Tiede reminded the board that her mother-in-law, Carol Tiede, only requested the board have reminders put in tax bills to encourage residents to post their address numbers.

Carol Tiede stated she thought it could be a good Eagle Scout project and "…if someone lost their life because we couldn't find them, it would be a terrible thing."

Fire-rescue volunteer and resident Paul Doucette commented, "I'm with Mrs. Tiede," he went on to say the decision to put a number on a home was common sense, but is free choice.

The board voted on Tasker's motion 2-3 with only Tasker and Houle voting yea.

Kerr stated all the board could do was publicize the need for numbers at this point.

Preston agreed stating the board should not "waste an inordinate amount of time" on the issue.

Kerr also requested Montgomery continue looking into the issue.

Public input

Police Officer Frank Jones spoke during public input in favor of appointing Sergeant Joe McDowell from acting police chief to permanent chief.

Jones stated he has been approached by many of the town's residents who want to know what is happening with the police chief's position.

Tiede questioned if the residents who have approached Jones seem in support of McDowell becoming chief permanently. Jones stated they were.

Jones also read to the board a letter he composed formally requesting the decision. He also let the board know Sgt. McDowell did not know Jones was coming to the board on his behalf.

Some of the reasons listed by Jones for appointing McDowell were as follows: he has asked non-active policemen to move on, has stayed within budget, has worked closely with the school, Jones (as a 33-year police veteran) is impressed with the way McDowell has had the department follow-up on reports made by citizens even though some are long overdue, the department has much better interaction with the public and are able to assure the public "we care," it has been eight months and Pittsfield was able to replace their chief in two months, McDowell had done all of his police duties and has been able to start his SOPs (strategic operational plan).

Additionally, Jones stated "I know as a former chief you have the ability to make it probationary."

"He has had my backing since the day I came in here. I was voted in to make him chief," responded Houle.

Kerr stated he was comfortable with having McDowell continue as the officer in charge and the board would "see how he is doing."

Preston commented the issue would need to go into a non-public session to discuss personnel.

Tiede said she sees a lot of the community and is told they would like McDowell as police chief.

Evaluations

Kerr brought up the subject of employee evaluations and Tiede agreed it was an important issue.

"We've got to somehow get that implemented," said Tiede.

She also stated how she knew acting fire rescue chief Shawn Mulcahy would in particular have a difficult time getting them all accomplished since he has a lot to do in his department.

However, Tiede, stated if Mulcahy could at least do the full-time and per diem employees it would be a good thing.

Tiede also said she did not think the police and highway departments would have as difficult a time getting through them all.

She suggested the board set a due date such as Oct. 1 and if the department heads had any problems with meeting it they could let the selectmen know.

Houle said he felt Oct. 1 was too soon especially for Mulcahy. He stated since the department heads needed to bring each employee in and meet with them one on one, evaluations should not be due until at least Dec. 1.

Tiede stated she did not have a problem with a Dec. 1 deadline as long as the evaluations were finished before the end of the year.

Montgomery asked if they were tied to raises.

Kerr suggested the fact that they are not is probably "why they are being ignored."

Houle stated he is against the matrix on which pay raises are based.

"You should have said so when we did goals," retorted Tiede.

Houle claimed he was not included in making goals and the other selectmen disagreed with him on that statement.

Tiede became visibly irritated with Houle.

"If you didn't speak up, I can't help that," said Tiede.

"This is what we have now. We can create new ones for next year," said Kerr and Preston agreed with the Dec. 1 deadline.

"I'm all for evaluations, but monetary," replied Houle.

Tasker accused Houle of being "contradictory to his previous statement."

"No, if they work hard, they deserve a raise," said Houle.

Montgomery reminded the board they use the matrix for hiring new employees and current employees get a three percent increase in pay every year if the selectmen vote for it to be so.

She went on to remind the board that while some years the matrix only represented the increase in the cost of living, it is being used, but it needs to be adjusted.

"Some years we froze everything because of the economy," reminded Preston.

"Every department was involved in creating the wage matrix," said Montgomery.

Tasker agreed with Montgomery saying the matrix wasn't created in a week.

"Yeah, it took like a whole year," said Montgomery.

The Barnstead Board of Selectmen meets each Tuesday evening at 5 p.m. in the town hall.

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