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New Durham town report named one of state's best

THE TEAM BEHIND New Durham’s award-winning 2009 town report (left to right, Town Clerk Carole Ingham, Assessing Clerk Vickie Blackden, and Deputy Town Clerk Stephanie MacKenzie, with Town Administrator April Whittaker seated in front) proudly displays the plaque from the Local Government Center naming the report as one of the state’s best. Missing from the group is Barbara Hunter, who supplied the cover photo for this year’s report. Brendan Berube. (click for larger version)
December 01, 2009
NEW DURHAM — Town officials in New Durham were given a unique honor to mark the Thanksgiving holiday, as the Local Government Center (LGC) announced that it had selected the town's 2009 Annual Report as one of the best in the state.

Each year, the LGC (an organization that provides supportive programs and services aimed at strengthening the ability of town and city officials throughout the state to effectively serve the public) reviews annual reports from every town and city in New Hampshire, and recognizes the top three finishers in each of its population categories with Excellence in Annual Reports awards during its annual conference.

A total of 18 towns and three cities were recognized during this year's awards luncheon, held on Nov. 19 at the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center in Manchester and attended by 445 local officials from municipalities throughout the state.

The Excellence in Annual Report Awards were designed as a way to provide recognition for municipalities which have produced exceptional reports that communicate important financial and statistical information in a clear and understandable way.

"We are pleased to recognize these towns and cities for their outstanding accomplishments," Maura Carroll, the LGC's Interim Executive Director, said in a press release issued on Nov. 19.

"These award-winning publications are examples of how to effectively and creatively communicate important budget and community-related information to citizens," she added.

"These documents all serve as models for other municipalities to follow."

Reports are separated into six population categories for judging -- less than 750 residents; 751 to 1,500; 1,501 to 3,000; 3,001 to 5,000; 5,001 to 7,500; and 7,501 and higher.

The initial round of judging is based on the presentation of basic information and statistics, such as inclusion of minutes from the previous year's town meeting, financial reports, and birth, death, and marriage statistics. The top 10 finalists in each population category move forward to the second round of judging, which ranks reports according to creativity and reader appeal.

New Durham claimed Second Place in the 1,501 to 3,000 category for the second straight year.

While the presentation of vital statistics goes a long way toward making a good town report, Town Administrator April Whittaker explained that the key is "how you lay it out."

"If you go the extra mile … that's what they're looking for," she said, adding that LGC's panel of judges also takes the ease with which a person can work their way through a report into account.

Although she and other town employees aren't necessarily beating their chests over the news, Whittaker said it is encouraging to have a panel of experienced public officials look at the town's annual report and say "'You've got a good product here.'"

Having the plaque on the wall and the announcement in print, she added, also helps to call residents' attention to the fact that their report is one of the most "well laid-out" and thorough in the state.

The First Place honor in New Durham's population category went to the town of Sutton, while Lyndeborough placed third.

For a complete list of the 2009 award recipients, visit www.nhlgc.org.

Brendan Berube can be reached at 569-3126 or bberube@salmonpress.com

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