Hudson-Litchfield News

Gerry BastienAlvirne Teacher Receives “Unsung Hero” Award From Saint Michael’s College of Vermont

Gerry Bastien, a teacher at Alvirne High School, was named in December an Unsung Hero by Saint Michael’s College of Vermont. Arianne Bedard, a graduate of Alvirne High School and a student now at Saint Michael’s, nominated Bastien for the award, saying, “Mr. Bastien is the current director of bands at Alvirne High School, and actually started the marching band program. He works exceptionally hard to make sure his students have fun and perform well, while also making a special effort to befriend them and even taking time after school to meet with them and practice. He has done wonders for the school’s music program and is the main reason why so many students graduate from Alvirne with memories of a positive high school experience.”

Saint Michael’s selected 76 unsung heroes from high schools throughout New England, based on nominations from Saint Michael’s students. These awards went to “heroic teachers who truly made a difference in students’ lives and inspired them to pursue higher education,” said Jerry Flanagan, Saint Michael’s vice president for admission and enrollment.

Children Enjoy Puppet Show at Hills Memorial Library

Through the years puppets have brought enjoyment, laughter, and wonder to generations of children. Staff in Hills Memorial Library Children’s Room now incorporate a puppet show into their Story Time program and the children are thrilled at the antics of the puppets.

The puppet theater has opened the door to new dimensions in the children’s offerings. When the puppets are on-stage, there are grins and giggles as youngsters and their parents enjoy the amusing antics of the puppets as they act out their parts.

Stop by a Story Time to see the wonderful new puppet theater and enjoy a show.

Hills Memorial Library patrons Aiden and Leah Fenner, along with mom Tina Fenner, enjoy a puppet show in the Children’s Room.
Hills Memorial Library patrons Aiden and Leah Fenner, along with mom Tina Fenner, enjoy a puppet show in the Children’s Room.

Budget Committee Completes Review of Town Budget

If it’s January, the budget review season must almost be over. Budget Committee members must still hold two Public Hearings, one for the school and one for the Town before the Deliberative Sessions and the vote on March 8.

When the review was completed, the Town’s operating budget was $24,016,681. The Town default operating budget is $23,641,918.

A number of cuts, totaling $67,985 were made at the final review by Budget Committee members.

Joyce Goodwin moved to remove $200 from the Fire Explorers and explained that there is no money for the Police Explorers and that these programs are part of the Boy Scouts of America. She pointed out that all groups should be treated the same. Motion passed 6 – 3.

Ted Luszey moved to cut the Fire Department’s software because he had asked about the impact of waiting one year. Luszey noted that many new projects were included and he felt something needed to wait. Selectman’s Representative to the Budget Committee Ken Massey spoke against cutting this and spoke about the critical need of the Fire Department. Motion failed.

Luszey then moved to remove the money for the Fire Department kitchen renovation and explained that he felt that something should be cut. After discussion, the Budget Committee voted 6 – 3 in favor of this $36,790 reduction.

Ben Nadeau moved to reduce the price of the new fire suppression truck by $2,000. This motion passed 7 – 3.

A 3 percent raise had been included for library staff in the operating budget. The Budget Committee feels that items like this should be on a warrant article to keep in line with the Town’s advisory vote to that end.

Increases in FICA, Medicare and Retirement were reduced not only from the Library account, but also from the other accounts where raises had been previously eliminated. With the salaries reduced to their current level, FICA, Medicare and Retirement should reflect the salary amount.

Warrant articles also received a final vote from the Budget Committee.

The operating budget warrant article was unanimously approved.

The revised Water Utility Capital Improvements warrant article in the amount of $2,350,000 was unanimously approved.

The revised Police Replacement warrant article in the amount of $199,000 was unanimously approved.

The contract for the Highway Union, which contained a retroactive raise failed to reach a recommendation by a vote of 3 – 7.

The Fact Finders Report submitted in lieu of a contract with the Firefighters also failed to receive a favorable recommendation after Massey spoke against supporting the report. He pointed out that other unions had coupled a cap on earned time with a 4 percent increase and this report awarded a 4.5 percent increase and no cap. The vote was 0 – 10.

The Part-time Water Utility Clerk warrant article was unanimously supported.

The Associate Planner position, in the amount of $65,577 failed to receive a recommendation by a vote of 2 – 8. Vice Chairman Howard Dilworth pointed out that the duties of this position appeared to be clerical in nature and that was a lot of money for someone who would primarily perform clerical duties.

The revised warrant article in the amount of $350,000 for a new fire truck failed on a 5 – 5 vote with Leo Bernard, John Beike, Ken Massey, Bob Haefner, and Lynne Ober voting in favor.

The Library’s warrant article to put $20,000 from Library surplus into the Capital Reserve Fund passed on a 7 – 3 vote.

The Land Use Change Tax Revenues Surplus warrant article passed with a 8 – 2 vote. This warrant asks to raise and appropriate the sum of Two Hundred Ninety Thousand Eight Hundred Ninety Six dollars from the 2004-2005 unencumbered budget surplus and place into the Capital reserve Fund for the Purchase of Open Space for Conservation purposed.

The warrant article to provide a 3.5 percent raise for the Town Clerk / Tax Collector passed unanimously.

All of these votes took place before the Public Hearing scheduled for Thursday, January 13th but represents the feel of the Budget Committee prior to Public Input.

The Budget Committee will be reviewing four petitioned warrant articles at the Town Public Hearing.

A warrant article for $220,000 for Hills Memorial Library Expansion Expenses was submitted. Library Building Committee Co-Chairman Elaine Brody told Selectmen that the funds would be used for architectural drawings, site preparation and asbestos abatement work.

During discussion, Selectman Richard Maddox questioned whether some of the funds were being requested twice and pointed out that Library Trustees had appeared before the Planning Board and requested funds for asbestos abatement work.

John Knowles, Library Trustee President agreed that the Trustees had previously asked for asbestos abatement money, but had postponed the work until they owned all the property. “We are just now working on the asbestos.” Knowles agreed that the dollar amount in the petitioned warrant article could be lowered.

Selectman Terry Stewart spoke against the article citing health and safety issues. She pointed out that fire engines are literally breaking down on the road and that other health and safety related issues will be coming to the voters. “A library is a luxury.”

A motion to not recommend this warrant article passed 4 – 1 with Selectman Kathleen MacLean voting against it.

Also petitioned was a warrant article that would raise and appropriate the sum of $10,413 needed to change a 32-hour a week part-time position to one 40 hour full-time Adult Service Librarian Position. Selectmen also voted not to recommend this warrant article.

A two million dollar bond for land conservation was petitioned. If appropriated, the money would be used to purchase land and easements for conservation purposes and to authorize the Board of Selectmen to issue bonds or notes in compliance with the Municipal Finance Act. A provision in the warrant article would prohibit the Town from issuing more than one million worth of bonds in any one year.

When Selectmen discussed the lack of a specific plan for spending the money, Conservation Committee Chairman Tim Quinn responded that a plan without money is “hollow” because land sells quickly. Although it was pointed out that Selectmen would have total control over how and when the money was spent, Selectmen failed to recommend the warrant. Maddox said that he’d urge the Conservation Committee to be patient.

Another petitioned warrant article also proposed funding the acquisition of conservation land, conservation easement, development rights and the costs associated with such projects proposed putting fifty percent of revenues from the Land Use Tax into the Conservation Fund received a favorable recommendation from Selectmen.

MacLean noted that the draft Master Plan proposes putting 100 percent of Land Use Tax into the Conservation Fund and said that this was a good start to that project.

Budget Committee will vote on these and other warrant articles at the conclusion of the Public Hearing. Those votes will be forwarded to the Town Deliberative Session.

Early Morning Bus Accident Blocks Musquash Road

On Wednesday, January 12 at around 7:00 in the morning, the Hudson Police and Fire Departments responded to a collision involving a school bus and a 1996 Ford Crown Victoria on Musquash Road. The school bus was stopped to pick up students when the Ford skidded on the snow-slickened roadway and struck the rear of the bus. The front of the Ford was pinned under the rear of the school bus. There were 8 students on the bus at the time of the crash. There were no injuries to students on the bus or the two Alvirne seniors that were the occupants of the Ford. Hudson Memorial School Assistant Principal responded to the scene. The Hudson School District notified all parents. Another school bus responded to the scene and took the students to school. The driver of the Ford, a 17 year old, of Hudson, was charged with unreasonable speed for the existing conditions. Both occupants of the Ford were released to their parents. Musquash Road was blocked for about 20 minutes while the bus was lifted up by D and R Towing of Nashua and the Ford was pulled out from underneath the rear of the bus. The bus was driven away and appeared undamaged.

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