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Alton selectmen discuss Metrocast franchise agreement

December 06, 2011
ALTON — The Alton Board of Selectmen opened its meeting on Monday, Dec. 5 with a public hearing on a new franchise agreement with Metrocast.

Member Peter Bolster spoke about the franchise agreement, which is set to expire in 2013.

He explained that the consortium of 11 towns allows each town to save money on attorney's fees, which are a part of establishing a franchise agreement for cable service.

Bolster and chair Dave Hussey welcomed members of the public to voice concerns of comments on a franchise agreement.

Bob Longabaugh talked about the amount of money that agreement brings into town.

According to Longabaugh, who received numbers from the finance officer, the town has more than $54,000 in general fund from the franchise agreement and the town has spent more than $13,000 by being a member of LRPA-TV.

He pointed out that the numbers of towns that are part of LRPA-TV is down from 13 to six.

Longabaugh suggested that the major buildings in town should wired for two-way broadcast; the town hall, Alton Central School, Prospect Mountain High School, the Gilman Library and the Gilman Museum.

Bolster also suggested adding the Alton Senior Center as a place that have the two-way wiring.

These buildings could be possible broadcast buildings, where live drops could be broadcasted directly and live to LRPA-TV.

There was a complaint about the closed caption on Metrocast with the new system they recently upgraded to.

Ruth Messier, who has satellite television, wants to see the ability of getting DVD and VHS copies of meetings at the library continue.

Peter King asked about the length of the contract and asked about getting English subtitles on the Spanish channels so that he could learn Spanish.

Bolster also talked about each town receiving its own public access channel.

Several letters were introduced to the board, with a couple complaining about the cost of hooking up Metrocast service.

Bolster explained that on a one-mile stretch of road, if there were 10 houses, there would be no cost, but for every house below 10, 19 percent of the cost would be paid by the homeowner.

For example, if there were 9 houses, 10 percent would be paid by Metrocast and 90 percent would be paid by the homeowners, and if there was one house on a one-mile stretch of road, 90 percent of the cost would be paid by the homeowner and 10 percent would be paid by Metrocast.

Selectman Cydney Johnson asked if the town has looked into other cable companies and what they could offer.

Bolster said that the current franchise agreement with Metrocast isn't exclusive, and other companies could come and provide cable service.

The board agreed to contact other cable companies about establishing a franchise agreement.

Town administrator Russ Bailey encouraged anyone who had input on the franchise agreement to contact him in writing via e-mail at administrator@alton.nh.gov.

The board then convened as the board of health and reviewed a pair of septic waivers.

The first one involved a waiver request on Elm Street in West Alton.

Tom Varney, the engineer on the septic design, explained that waiver was for tank distance from the lake, which required 75 feet.

The actual distance is 62 feet, and the board approved the waiver.

The other case was also on Elm Street. The engineer, Charles Noddin, wasn't in attendance, so John Dever, the code enforcement officer, explained the waiver.

The waiver involved the distance to the seasonal high-water table, and after much discussion of the plans, the board approved the waiver request.

Hussey announced the town offices will be closed on Monday, Dec. 26, and will be closed on Friday, Dec. 23, at noon in celebration of the Christmas holiday.

Bolster reported that Alton Senior Center has received more than 70 donations so far. He reported that the center has raised a total of $28,451, with approximately $15,000 coming from a local fund.

Bolster encouraged people to volunteer and come help finish the interior of the Phase I renovation anytime after Tuesday, Dec. 13.

Anyone interested in volunteering can contact Ken McWilliams at 875-2162.

Hussey reported that the planning board is close to finalizing changes to the site plan regulations, and he also reported that changes to zoning amendments will be coming in forward in March in warrant articles.

Hussey thanked members of the planning, zoning board of adjustment, and site plan and zoning board committees for their efforts on the changes.

King asked the board about the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services opening an office in town.

It was advertised in the newspaper that NH DES is looking for office space, but the board said they hadn't heard anything about it.

Bailey gave the board an update on the Places Mill Bridge. He reported that the project is nearly complete, but the drainage and paving will be completed in the spring.

Bailey also brought forward an updated solid waste agreement with Waste Management.

The updated agreement included added language about additional pickups during the busy months that Scott Simonds had added to the agreement.

The board approved the updated agreement, which is a seven-year agreement, but asked that attorney Jim Sessler review the agreement before final approval.

Bailey also presented the board with a low bid for the highway garage ventilation system of $29,995 by Clean Air Technology, which the board approved.

Bailey gave the board an update on the Reed Road Bridge project, where the temporary bridge has been removed.

Bailey said the contractors are going to attempt to pave, but they may not be able to if the temperatures drop consistently below 40 degrees.

He reported that the temporary bridge was left up for two weeks long than expected, which resulted in a charge of $5,000. The board encouraged Bailey to try and negotiate a drop in the price, as the temporary bridge wasn't used for the entire month.

Bailey went through a rough draft of the warrant articles that will be presented in March.

These articles included: sale of town property, $10,000 for a capital reserve for fuel overage, $45,000 for improvement to the town hall, $50,000 for improvement to the police station, $7,500 for improvements to the personnel and policy manual, $40,000 for monitoring the landfill, $10,000 for improvements to the east side restroom, $20,000 for milfoil removal, money to help finish the renovations to the Alton Senior Center, a capital reserve for a new police vehicle, money for a fire command vehicle, adding to depleted bridge fund, money added to the highway equipment capital reserve fund, $750,000 for reconstruction projects and adding all human services and non-profits into one warrant article totaling $58,596.

Bailey presented the board with an update on the Milfoil grant, which will provide Alton with 50 percent of the cost or $17,000.

Bailey explained that the total cost for the project is $28,000, meaning the town would pay $14,000.

The warrant article for this project calls for $20,000, meaning approximately $6,000 would be left over and could be used for milfoil removal in the future.

The board approved land use items recommended by the town assessor, an application for Castleberry Fairs in July and in September, a snowmobile request on Drew Hill Road and a road race request by the St. Katharine Drexel Church.

During public input, King brought forward a concern about the volleyball program that is run by parks and recreation. King was told that he needed to have insurance to participate in the adult recreation program, and he asked the selectmen why.

King asked if this is a town policy, and the board agreed to look into the issue.

The next scheduled meeting of the Alton Board of Selectmen is on Monday, Dec. 19, at 6 p.m. at the Alton Town Hall.

Tim Croes can be reached at tcroes@salmonpress.com or 569-3126

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