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Friends of Abenaki gets board approval for ski lodge naming rights

by Thomas Beeler
Editor of The Granite State News
July 24, 2014
WOLFEBORO — Chip Maxfield and Bill Swaffield of the Friends of Abenaki came before the Wolfeboro Board of Selectmen at their July 16 meeting to present the group's fundraising plans and get approval of offering naming rights.

The Friends are in the process of raising funds to replace the 1930s-era ski shack at Abenaki with a real ski lodge that will expand the capacity at the town's ski area and improve amenities for both skiers and staff. Last year 7,000 skiers used the ski area.

Maxfield, who is heading up the fundraising effort for the new lodge, said the group's goal is to raise $350,000 of the projected total cost of $600,000 for the new lodge. Voters will be asked to appropriate $250,000 as the town's share of the replacement cost. Like everything else at the town-owned ski area, the lodge will become a town building.

In the past the Friends raised $350,000 to bring snow making and other improvements to Abenaki at no cost to the town. So far $100,000 has been raised toward the $350,000 goal.

The Friends are already planning a donor board with levels of giving named for skiing trails, with the most difficult at the top. But Maxfield said that some potential donors have asked if specific areas of the new lodge could be named for a sufficiently large donation. Both Maxfield and Swaffied stressed that they are not soliciting for naming rights, but have been approached on the subject. Areas available include the great room, the deck, the fireplace, the warming room and the ski patrol room.

While Selectmen Chair Linda Murray noted that no naming was used in raising funds for the Town Hall renovation, Selectman Brad Harriman thought it was a good idea for the lodge. Selectman Sarah Silk, who described herself as "a big supporter who doesn't ski," thought it was a great way to recognize major donors.

The board gave unanimous approval to the use of naming in fundraising.

Budget report

Finance Director Peter Chamberlin reviewed his monthly report on expenditures and revenues against budget through June. At the halfway point in the year expenditures overall are at 48.4 percent of budget.

Among the areas of concern to Chamberlin are the highway budget, which is over due to higher snow plowing expenses, the electric department, economic development expenses and the impact on the sewer budget of the lawsuit. Department heads have assured him that all but the sewer expenses will come in line by year end.

On the positive side, revenues are doing well and the town has been informed that it will receive $50,000 for lower workers compensation costs which could be refunded in 2014 or used as a credit against 2015 billings. A health insurance holiday is also expected by the end of the year.

Town Hall report

Town Manager Dave Owen gave the board an update on preparations for the move of town offices to temporary quarters at Huggins Hospital the week of July 28 and the renovation work itself, which will begin on Monday, Aug. 4.

The drop box for after hours payments has been received and will be installed the week of July 21 and a key card system for employees is already in place.

A planning meeting with the architects and construction manager raised an issue about insulating the outside walls that will have to be addressed and the location of the elevator in the Annex had to be moved, resulting in the need to reconfigure the conference room there.

Complete information on the move and location of the temporary offices can be found on the town website, www.wolfeboronh.us, including an aerial view and the layout of offices within the former hospital wing. Both are also included in the current issue of this newspaper.

"People should expect dramatic changes to the Town Hall building" beginning Aug. 4, Owen said. Fencing will go up, front windows will be removed and work will begin on rebuilding the roof dormer. The Clerk of the Works has promised work-in-progress photos and both Wolfeboro Community Television and this newspaper will also document the project.

Other business

Selectmen were given a detailed review of the 2013 Audit Report by partner Tim Greene of auditor Roberts & Greene PLLC of Concord. A report on the unqualified audit will follow next week.

Town Treasurer John Burt presented and the board approved the town's investment policy for this year, which is largely unchanged except for the method used to make payments from funds.

In response to a question from Selectman Silk, Owen stated that building inspection and code enforcement will be done two days a week, on Tuesday and Thursday, by the Alton officer until a replacement is hired. The position has been advertised as a 40-hour-a-week job and three applications have been received so far.

Murray announced that milfoil will be pulled in Back Bay from Aug. 11 to 15 using the Diver Assisted Suction Harvester.

Owen reported that the 2003 DPW pickup truck was totaled last week when hit by a car. The insurance settlement was $9,500. Since the vehicle was not a front line truck it was replaced by a 2004 Chevy truck with lower mileage for $11,000.

Seven applications were received for the Josiah Brown scholarships. Owen will review them and bring his recommendations to the next meeting.

There were also seven contractors at a prebid meeting for the work on Middleton Road that day, a good sign, Owen reported.

Forest Road drainage work has been completed. It will be paved on Aug. 7, followed by Libby Street and Birch Road. Beach Pond Road will also be sand sealed in the section north of North Line Road.

Owen also reported he will start negotiating with the Wolfeboro Area Chamber of Commerce in August on their railroad station lease, which runs out Dec. 31.

During committee reports Selectman Dave Bowers reported that the library trustees are coming up with a completely revised plan for library renovation that will expand the existing building rather than constructing a new building. Details will follow.

Wolfeboro selectmen will not meet the first Wednesday in August due to the disruption caused by the town office move. The next meeting of the board will be on Wednesday, Aug. 20, at 6:30 p.m. in the Wolfeboro Public Library meeting room.

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