Ossipee selectmen will now meet every other week


August 18, 2011
OSSIPEE— With little weekly business or public input to attend to, selectmen here have decided to meet every other Monday afternoon instead of weekly. The board made the decision at their Aug. 15 meeting which means their next board meeting will be Aug. 29 at 4:15 p.m. and every other Monday thereafter.

The board held 25 Monday meetings this year as of Aug. 1 and those meetings average 43 minutes in length to approve the minutes of the previous week's meeting, review the mail folder, discuss any pending business matters and accept public comment on a variety of topics. The longest meeting during that period was 90 minutes and their shortest 15 minutes.

Chairman Morton Leavitt said in addition to the low public turnout at meetings Ossipee's town government has "very competent" employees who handle most of the work leaving the board with the main responsibility of reviewing what's presented to them and making decisions.

Main Street Director

Ossipee Main Street Program board member Pat Jones announced to selectmen that Beth Phelps, the recently-appointed program director, has resigned and the board has offered the job to Joanne Bickford of Tamworth. Jones said the board is very sorry to see Phelps, described as dynamic, very nice, and energetic leave the part-time job but she has accepted a full-time job with benefits elsewhere. Bickford, according to Jones, has been working part-time at Ossipee Concerned Citizens, "knows everybody in town," and will attend the selectmen's Aug. 29 meeting to meet the board.

Precinct meeting minutes

Selectmen voted to keep the fire precinct meeting minutes publicly available on the town's Web site at www.ossipee.org until Jan. 1, 2012. At that time, said Selectman Harry Merrow, it is anticipated that the three fire precincts will have their own Web site with a link connecting it to the town's site. The vote stems from an incident earlier this month when non-public minutes were mistakenly posted on the West Ossipee Fire Department section of the town's Web site.

Public boards are allowed to meet in non-public sessions and keep the minutes of those sessions private but only for certain circumstances. Those include the hiring, firing, discipline, or compensation of employees, pending litigation, real estate transaction consideration; and the broadest reason, "Matters which, if discussed in public, likely would adversely affect the reputation of any person, other than a member of the body or agency itself, unless such person requests an open meeting," according to NH state law, RSA 91-A.

West Ossipee Precinct Commissioners had voted to seal the non-public minutes of their July 5 session. The sealed minutes were mistakenly sent to the town's Web site manager instead of the public minutes of their July 5 meeting. The non-public minutes were published on the town's Web site on Aug. 2 and remained there until the error was realized and they were removed the next afternoon.

The Town of Ossipee pays a nominal fee to the Web site manager, a subcontractor, who is in charge of updating events, adding minutes for all of the town boards, and posting special announcements on the Web site. Boards, precincts, and community organizations are responsible to send the information they wish to have posted on the Web site to her. The three fire precincts have never been charged a fee to have their minutes posted on the Web site. Making the minutes easily accessible was done as a courtesy to the precinct taxpayers.

In addition to the non-public session minutes that were sent to the webmaster in error and then posted, all of that precinct's meeting minutes, dating back a few years were removed as the webmaster awaited direction from selectmen on whether fire precinct minutes should be included on the Web site at all.

West Ossipee's minutes have been regularly posted on the town's Web site for a couple of years now and Center Ossipee and Ossipee Corner minutes began being posted this year at the urging of taxpayers in both of those precincts.

Maloney running for commission seat

Selectman Kathleen Maloney, currently serving her second term as selectman, confirmed a rumor that she is planning to run for a county commissioner's seat in the next election. Maloney said that after five years as a selectman she is "ready to move up to the next level."

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