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Meet the candidates

Ossipee among towns to host candidates nights

March 04, 2010
OSSIPEE — The town hosted its annual candidates night Monday at town hall.

Approximately three dozen residents turned out to meet the candidates in the only contested race, a three-year seat for select board between incumbent Kathleen Maloney and challenger Rick Morgan, the town's former police chief. Candidates for uncontested race for planning board were not immune to scrutiny, however. Roger ter Kuile and Condict Billings are running for the two, three-year slots, and C.J. "Ski" Kwiatkowski is running unopposed for one, one-year seat opened with former chair Bruce Parsons' recent resignation.

Select board member Harry Merrow served as the event's moderator and fielded questions. At one point, the questions focused on aspects of the recent MRI report on the feasibility of unifying the town's three separate fire precincts. Maloney and Morgan both spoke on the issues, but Merrow reminded the group that a public forum on the report would be held at some point after next week's town meeting. A snowstorm postponed a forum on the feasibility study that had been scheduled for Feb. 24.

Select board candidates

The candidates were questioned about why the recently appointed reverse-911 committee did not include any police and fire officials.

Maloney replied that the town's emergency management director was on the previously established committee, but there had been no movement and that the select board wanted to get the committee "up and running."

Morgan explained for the public's benefit that the reverse 911 system is a significant public safety tool in that it allows officials to break the town into zones and notify residents by phone in the event of an emergency. "It's a tremendous communication tool," he said, adding that the problem in rural areas is how to get the information to the people (with problems in street numbering, and logistical considerations.) He said he believed that police and fire personnel should be involved on the committee.

Center Ossipee Fire Commissioner Jim Dolan also asked why MRI was restricted from considering the town's ambulance contract during its review, when 60 percent of the calls to the fire departments are medical related. He said the restriction prevented MRI from "making a fair evaluation to taxpayers," since the ambulance service is a revenue generator.

Maloney replied that the ambulance contract is its own separate contract [the town separated ambulance service from the fire department a while back.] Morgan added that the initial transition did involve the fire chiefs and that they participated in writing the town's ambulance service contract, but that he would welcome first responders' input into the process.

Maloney was asked to respond to criticism that a potential consolidation of the fire precincts, as recommended by the MRI report, was a done deal. She said absolutely not, and that decision would be in the hands of the precincts. "I believe in government by and for the people," she said.

Morgan said in order to have one entity, all three precincts would have to vote to dissolve each precinct or that the process can circumvent voters by having legislators pass enabling legislation. Merrow replied that wasn't totally correct and a lot of good information will come out at the upcoming, as yet unscheduled, public hearing on the MRI study.

"Nothing has been cast in stone," Merrow added.

In other topics, both candidates supported working with the cable company to extend cable and high speed Internet to parts of town such as Water Village. However, Merrow clarified that the current contract stipulates that expansion is tied into density. He added that if the town thought about getting a different cable provider, the problem is that the current cable company owns the lines.

"I don't have cable and I'm as frustrated as you are," he told resident Kevin Houle.

Morgan said, "I believe very nook and cranny should have cable. When the cable was first put in, that's when we had the best opportunity to say 'if you want to come here then you have to provide cable to everybody.' I believe it ought to have been made available," said Morgan.

Houle also asked about the $37,000 check Morgan received at his retirement, and Morgan replied that money came from eight weeks of vacation time on the books and the 720 hours of unused sick time that he was entitled to under contract.

In another query regarding expanding the recreation department program for two weeks to accommodate a change in length of the current school year, Maloney said she and the select board voted against the extension because parents could figure out other arrangements and that extending the program would create a deficit. Merrow added that the recreation department already had funds in their budget from carryover. Budget Committee member Jean Simpson added that the committee did not recommend adding funds for this purpose because the recreation director explained he was returning funds to the state. "If he didn't know where to use it we felt he shouldn't be asking us for another $5,000," she said.

In response to a query from Dave Babson, both select board candidates supported RSA 79A, regarding placing land in "Current Use" for preservation and for public recreational use. Both candidates also agreed that scholarship for funds in a trust established by Mr. Lord should be used for Ossipee or Tamworth students and that there must be a great need for this assistance.

Bruce Parsons asked planning board candidates whether they would attend classes offered by the state regarding land use and planning. Billings said that would depend on the class but that he already knew about land use. "I know most of the laws already," he said.

Candidate ter Kuile replied that there was no regulatory requirement to attend but that he would and Kwiatkowski said he would be very willing to go to classes and learn.

Attendees also heard brief statements for other uncontested races, including those from: Rachel Ward, library trustee; June Loud, water commissioner, Kellie Skehan, town clerk/tax collector; town moderator Katy Meserve and Janice Tuly, supervisor of the checklist.

No one signed up to run for one open seat on the zoning board of adjustment; write-ins are welcome.

Voting day is next Tuesday, March 9, with the Ossipee Town Meeting the next night, Wednesday at 6:30.

Martin Lord Osman
Littleton Chmber
Varney Smith
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