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Joyce Endee

Another nonprofit could take over Tri-County CAP's Notre Dame project

December 26, 2012
BERLIN — Tri-County CAP's Housing and Economic Development Director Max Makaitis was scheduled to report on progress made on the Notre Dame low-income elderly housing project in Berlin and the county-sponsored Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) at Wednesday's county commissioners meeting.

Makaitis reported, however, that he would be unable to make any comment on that topic because the nonprofit agency for which he works is under the supervision of Todd Fahey, a court-appointed trustee. Extensive negotiations are ongoing, he said, noting, however, that he could not discuss them because of the legal issues involved.

If special trustee Fahey concludes that some other agency must be found to step in to sponsor the project and its complex financing, then the required public hearing process would have to begin all over again, said Commissioner Paul Grenier who also serves at Berlin's mayor.

One-third of the county's 2012 economic development dollars — $15,000 out of a $45,000 budget — have supported Makaitis' efforts this year because of $5,000 grants made to the City and the towns of Gorham and Shelburne under the county's pilot program.

A Dec. 13 letter from Tri-County CAP's COO Peter Higbee that Makaitis delivered to the commissioners pointed to the hundreds of jobs that have been created in the last year or two in Berlin-Gorham. "The economic development emphasis in 2013 needs to be on other parts of CoŲs County, such as Groveton, Colebrook, and northern CoŲs County where there is a dire need for jobs. Tri-County CAP's economic development efforts will emphasize these needy areas in 2013," Higbee wrote only the day before court-action was taken to remove all authority from the agency's board of directors, including its president, Rep. Bill Hatch of Gorham.

Higbee asked that the same $15,000 be earmarked in the county's 2013 budget so that Makaitis can continue his work.

County treasurer Fred King of Colebrook commented on the court action taken in light of Tri-County CAP's financial difficulties. He was unaware that his son, Probate Judge David King, also of Colebrook, had issued the emergency order on Dec. 14 in a Merrimack County courthouse.

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Martin Lord Osman
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