Solemn start to selectmen's meeting in Alton
Board meets with County Commissioners, talks traffic tie-ups
July 19, 2011ALTON — The Alton Board of Selectmen met on Monday, July 18, and Chairman Dave Hussey opened the meeting by reading a letter on behalf of the board expressing condolences to the family of Pat Fuller, who passed away unexpectedly on July 11.
In the letter, Hussey recalled Fuller's start with the town on the Zoning Board of Adjustments and her long-term service with the selectmen, serving as chair, vice-chair and other various committees including the budget committee and the coalition of donor towns.
Hussey said that Fuller was advocate for many causes and that replacing her will be no easy task.
"The board will certainly miss her expertise," Hussey said.
Belknap County Commissioners John Thomas, Edward Philpot, Jr. and Stephen Nedeau came before the board as part of county conversations.
Thomas talked about the county needing to replace the corrections facility.
He reported that 80 percent on inmates in the county program are related to alcohol, drug or mental issues.
Thomas said that Belknap County is looking to follow the model of Strafford County. In Strafford County, an initial proposal of $22 million to build a new facility was rejected, but a $42 million proposal that included a comprehensive program for rehabilitation was passed.
Nedeau reported that that inmates have a cost to the county of $33,000 a year or $90 a day.
Thomas reported that the county has hired a consultant and that a report should be coming back on building a new facility within the next six months.
Thomas also talked about Barnstead and the possibility of Belknap County taking over that town's police services.
If that were to happen, the offices in Barnstead would be converted into a county substation and Barnstead would pay the county for services.
Thomas also talked about dispatch consolidation, something the county is looking into.
Through the different county conservations, the commissioners have been urged to look into having county officials as opposed to town officials in a couple of different roles; health officer, welfare officer and even dog officer.
Selectman Loring Carr asked how a bond to build a new correction facility would be voted on.
Thomas explained that the collective legislative body representing the county would vote on the bond.
Selectman Peter Bolster asked the commissioners about focusing services to be delivered to the towns on the other side of the county, over the ridge.
Philpot reported that radio communications have been improved by placing additional equipment on Belknap Mountain.
A question was raised about the possible building of a hotel on Gunstock.
A hotel would have to be approved by the county commissioners, the Gunstock Area Commission and by the legislative body.
Bolster, who serves on the subcommittee involving Gunstock, pointed out that a hotel would need to be built with moderate accommodations that families could afford.
The county commissioners also passed condolences to the board of selectmen on the loss of Fuller.
Building inspector John Dever came before the board, which convened as the Board of Health to hear a pair of septic waiver requests.
The first one involved Wendy Brown and her property located on 11 Meadow Drive.
Dever explained that Brown is looking to build a community well and is looking for a waiver.
The board approved the request pending no objections from the abutters to the property.
The second waiver was brought forward on behalf of Bonnie Bartholomew of 492 Old Wolfeboro Road.
Three waivers involving the distances between the tank and the well, the leech field and ditch line and leech field and the culvert opening were filed.
The board asked that the owner look into moving the leech field and the issue was tabled.
Hussey reported that he will be meeting members of the planning and zoning board and Town Planner Ken McWilliams along with vice-chair Loring Carr to look into updating the outdated and unnecessary taxation and zoning laws.
Bolster reported that a ribbon cutting ceremony would be held on Aug. 13 at noon to celebrate the new addition to recreational trail located next to the B & M Railroad Park. Free ice cream will served at the end of the walk at the River Run Deli.
Town Administrator Russ Bailey reported that Atlas Fireworks is looking into the issue that they had during the Fourth of July fireworks. The company will be coming back with an offer for compensation due to problems that occurred during the display.
Bailey reported that a request for proposal is being put together for the solid waste center with regards to solid waste disposal.
He also reported that the construction of Places Mill Bridge is on schedule. The bridge is gone, and the road is now closed.
Dorothye Wentworth came before the board and asked about the traffic problems in Alton this past Sunday.
Wenworth reported that traffic was backed up along Route 11 and up Route 140. She questioned the fire department holding a boot drive on a busy day, with a NASCAR race at Loudon.
Hussey agreed that it is something that that board needs to look into. Two police officers were at the traffic circle on Sunday, and that traffic was reported as the worst it has ever been.
Wentworth also asked the board to look into raising the gas vouchers from $12.50 up to $20 or $25, and Hussey said that the board would look into this issue as well.
Steve Parker came before the board and agreed that this past Sunday wasn't the right time to hold a boot drive.
Raymond Howard suggested that the closing of Coffin Brook Road could have had an impact on the traffic, as many people may have wanted to use that to cut across.
He talked about the new traffic circle and thinks that it will continue to be bad on heavily trafficked days.
"That's going to be a nightmare from now in," Howard said.
Carr agreed that the New Hampshire Department of Transportation made a mistake when they changed the flow of the traffic circle.
"They wouldn't listen to the locals," Carr said.
Bailey informed the board that no chemical treatments would be used on the Merrymeeting River milfoil project because the permit was not filed in time.
As a result, all removal of milfoil be completed with the use of divers manually pulling out milfoil.
A bid will be put out for the project, and the divers will have to be certified and qualified to meet Department of Environmental Services standards, with the board having final approval.
Bailey informed that board that they need to set guidelines for the 2012 budget. The board will be meeting with department heads in September and then meeting with the budget committee in October.
The board approved several land use recommendations brought forward by Town Assessor Tom Sargent.
They approved a grant application from the Alton Police Department for a new radar gun to be used by a motorcycle officer. Half the cost of a radar gun, $1,075, will be paid by the grant.
The board approved a special event application for a home show that will be held next to Profile Bank.
Bailey informed that board that bids will be put out on replacing the HVAC systems at the police department and at the senior center. The bids include updating the furnaces, adding central air and adding high efficiency propane to each system.
The board approved a relay race that will be run on Aug. 17. The race starts at Cannon Mountain and finishes at Hampton Beach, with stops at Prospect Mountain High School and Mount Major.
The board approved an MS5 form that came from the town auditor regarding the actual spending from 2010.
The board also approved a pair of bids for new fire gear that is provided through a FEMA grant of up $45,000.
Several sets of fire gear will be purchased along with a washer, extractor and drying cabinet that will help store the gear.
Barbara Howard questioned the board purchasing a new radar gun and was informed that the radar gun would be for a motorcycle officer.
She also questioned the county coming forward and asking that a new correction facility be built when the county just spent $100,000 fixing a building that can't be used and adding a workout room to replace a conference center in the county building.
Howard also suggested that the county look into having a co-pay option when dealing with county insurance.
Raymond Howard came before the board and asked about the cost of living increase that he didn't receive this past year as a cemetery trustee.
Bolster said that board had the right to refuse COLAs and they decided to not give them to all town officials.
The next scheduled Alton Board of Selectmen meeting is on Monday, Aug. 15, at 6 p.m. at the Alton Town Hall.
Tim Croes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 569-3126