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Mentoring and technology top Effingham warrant


February 17, 2011
EFFINGHAM — Teen mentoring and bringing technology to the townspeople topped the budget discussion held last week in Effingham.

Life Bridge, Inc. Lakes Region area director and Effingham resident Andy Johnson spoke about the value of that program and its positive impact on Effingham youth.

Many might be familiar with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program found in the southern part of the state and across the country. Life Bridge, said Johnson, is similar and is the only program of its kind in the state north of Concord. Currently, 29 Effingham kids in the middle and high school are receiving mentoring services from the program. Program volunteers mentor the kids one-on-one and also coordinate large fun group events for teens. Kids get involved with the mentoring program for a variety of reasons said Johnson. Some may be at-risk because they come from single parent homes, surround themselves with other teens who engage in risky behavior, could have a learning disability, but in some way they are struggling or hurting and just want a caring adult in their life. While others, he said, may just have parents that have to work a lot and they need another supportive adult in their life.

Up until now the program has relied on funding from businesses, individual donors and grants. The organization has existed since 2004, when it formed in Wolfeboro, but this is the first year they have gone town-to-town seeking donations. A petition was submitted and voters will be asked to give $5,000 to the organization this year. The budget committee and selectmen do not support the request, due mostly to the amount of money being requested. Voters at town meeting can choose to give the program $5,000 at town meeting or a different amount.

Technology

A technology committee has been formed with the goal of evaluating the current access to high speed internet by residents here, pursuing the expansion to underserved areas, and updating the town's Web site. Selectmen and the budget committee support the group's request for $2,500 to help them accomplish their mission. Committee member Theresa Swanick said the committee was formed after the master plan survey revealed that 90 percent of respondents think broadband expansion is a priority. Swanick also said that if and when grant money becomes available or other assistance, the more ready and organized a town is the more likely they will get help with increasing the high speed internet system in their town.

The rest of the budget

The small group that gathered at the town's budget hearing last week asked few questions as chairman Paul Bartoswicz read through the nine-page warrant. The $1.27 million operating budget and accompanying 16 money articles will be decided by voters March 12 beginning at 9 a.m. at Effingham Elementary School. Election Day is March 8 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the municipal office building on School Street. There are several contested races this year with three people vying for a selectman's seat, four running for two library trustee seats, four candidates running for two planning board seats, and three candidates running for two zoning board seats.

Meet the Candidates is being held Saturday, Feb. 19 at 11 a.m. at the municipal office building. It is a question and answer period to allow voters to get to know the candidates before going to the polls next month.

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