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Ossipee voters approve playground funding, sell fish hatchery to tenants

March 21, 2019
OSSIPEE — Community spirit abounded at Ossipee's Annual Town Meeting this year, as about 150 people, from young children to senior citizens, packed into the gym and spent nearly four hours approving the $7.15 million budget.

There were many normal town operation expenses, such as salaries, utilities, insurances, road projects and setting aside funds in various savings accounts. But it was the community projects that brought the most people to the microphone. The meeting had worn on two and half hours and yet to be discussed were three articles many had come to support. With 9 p.m. on the clock, Selectman Richard Morgan made a motion to move up the vote on two playgrounds and selling the Sumner Brook Fish Hatchery ahead of other articles in view of the fact that the next day was a school day, and the kids had to get home.

Young Isaac Gagnon spoke in favor of having a playground in Center Ossipee Village where he could play with his friends. Many others spoke in favor of the playground as well, as a way to promote socialization, a community gathering space, and as an important component of economic development. Votes to approve $60,000 for a playground in the village and $32,000 for a playground at Constitution Park easily passed. Rachel Ward did have one request for the Center Ossipee park – please keep the horseshoe pits in the village playground plan.

Voters unanimously approved selling the Sumner Brook Fish Hatchery to current longtime tenants Justin Prunier and Jessica Cole. The sale will include, at fair market value and less the improvements the couple have already made to the property, nearly five acres and all structures. The surrounding property will remain in conservation and under ownership of the town. Prunier asked voters to approve the article, saying he grew up on a fish farm and wants to continue to give his children that same life.

While it is true, there is plenty of room for dogs to roam in Ossipee, voters approved petitioned warrant article to spend $9,250 for a dog park at Constitution Park. At least one dog owner spoke about how it would be nice for folks to have a place to gather so both the canines and their humans can socialize.

Burdened by decreasing availability of grants to help fund the 16-year-old program, Schools Out received overwhelming support for their budget increase from $25,000 to $45,000. Voters also approved restoring $5,000 to the Main Street program that the budget committee did not recommend as well as adding funding to the sidewalk trust fund for phase two of the Center Ossipee Village sidewalks. Ossipee Garden Club brought in a new request of $400 to help offset the cost of five community flower gardens they have maintained for many years at no cost to the town. They are located at the two Welcome to Ossipee signs, at the end of Main Street, the end of Folsom Road and in Courthouse Square.

By the end of the meeting, voters had restored $128,000 in cuts proposed by the budget committee. The only cut they agreed with was $5,000 for Carroll County Transit.

Those elected to office March 12 were sworn in following the selectmen's meeting May 18. Sue Simpson joins the board of selectmen after winning a three-way race against Bob Freeman and Roy Barron. Ossipee now has a select board comprised of three women, reportedly the first in Carroll County history and perhaps only the second ever in the state.

Sam Martin will serve as the chairwoman and announced a few changes March 18 in the meeting agenda. Department heads including the police chief, public works director and recreation director will attend the weekly selectmen's meeting to make reports and their activity logs will now be posted on the town Web site at www.ossipee.com.

Martin Lord Osman
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