Hudson-Litchfield News

Family Fun Day

by Lynne Ober

On a hazy, hot, humid day families enjoyed the cool breezes at Hudson Fish and Game Club’s picnic area.  Under the tall, shady trees was a refuge from the extreme heat of the sun. 

Family Fun Day open to everyone, was a chance for kids to romp and parents to relax.  Party Chairman, John Weldon, had planned a day of fun events for kids of all ages.

There was a huge, colorful inflated bouncing tent that was in constant use.  A dunking tank gave the “victim” a chance to drop into cool waters while the “protagonists” got to practice their throwing skills.

In a large straw pile, Weldon had hidden lots of candy.  The kids, scrounging through the hay, squealed with delight when they found a prize.  The bigger kids helped the smallest ones. 

Encore Entertainment provided the musical entertainment throughout the day.

Adults got to test their shooting skills in the BB Gun Shoot and the youngsters got to test their skills in the Archery Shoot.

Next to the food tent, a large outdoor fire had been primed.  Racks of chicken and lots of yummy corn on the cob were cooked on the fire.

If you missed this event, the Fish and Game Club will be holding their second annual twin lobster dinner for the National Wild Turkey Federation, and, it too will be open to the public.

Krysta Pelletier, 9, helps her three year old sister, Tara, search for candy in the hay pile.

Senator Bob Clegg Chooses to Take the "High Road"

by Doug Robinson

Recently, Senator Bob Clegg has received a lot of press regarding the happenings at the State Capital. 

The August 13, 2005 Nashua Telegraph, refers to Senator Clegg as having “hacked” into emails, “linking (Senate President) Eaton and top staff plotting to get rid of Clegg.  In reality, Clegg never “hacked” into anyone’s emails in efforts to obtain information about dissention with house leadership.

Evidently, Senator Clegg, went to Senate President Eaton, and said that he “saw some emails that someone had given him about Eaton trying to get rid of Clegg.”  Not realizing Clegg’s bluff, Eaton played right into Clegg’s hand by stating, “How did you find out?”  Through Clegg’s efforts, Eaton began discussing and admitting his efforts to get rid of Clegg.

The Telegraph also reported that Eaton “had denied” any collaboration with Deputy Chief of Staff Jay Flanders and Chief of Staff Amy Ireland Bourgault, his two top staff members, as well as some “unnamed lobbyists” in efforts to “force him out.” 

However, in discussing this issue personally with Senator Clegg, it was learned that both Flanders and Bourgault had received specific marching orders from their boss, Senate President Eaton, to inform the Capital staff to “withhold” information from the Senators.  The capital staff answers to the Senate President and his staff, not to the Senators.  As a result of this action, communication between Senators became difficult if not impossible.

The Citizen Online reports that Senator Clegg resigned his majority leadership position as a matter of “personal reasons.”  Senator Clegg clearly states in the story that “it was personal.  I personally didn’t agree.”  Clegg further comments, “It’s just differences of opinion that are not resolvable.  Later, Clegg is quoted as saying that his reason for resigning is due to “policy differences.”  “My whole theory is the Senate is bigger than anybody.  We should look at the institution first, so I should step aside.” 

Senator Clegg refers to himself as the “13th vote on the education plan, (and)…that wasn’t a good thing for me.  There are certain things you have to do as majority leader…I knew that going in so I can’t complain.”  Clegg also cited the support of the education funding plan in June, which didn’t help his district as an example of how the Senate is bigger than anybody.

It appears that due to the recent Claremont decision regarding education funding, Hudson was to lose $1.9 million dollars in education aid this year.  Last year, Hudson lost about $600,000.  While Hudson managed to keep school growth to a bare minimum, they “could find no way to mitigate the impact of those funding cuts.  (Present legislation)…would only restore $200,000, resulting in a property tax increase of 85 cents/thousand, or $210 for a house valued at $210,000”, reports Shawn Jasper.  Jasper goes so far in his presentation to the Hudson Selectmen to advise all of Senator Clegg’s constitutions to “write or email” Clegg and voice their opinion.

As the debates progressed, a new cigarette tax was presented as a possible solution to the school funding crisis.  Evidently Senator Clegg voted against this tax hike saying the “tax was dead on arrival in the Senate.”  I voted against cigarette tax as it gave no funds to Hudson”, comments Clegg.  “A vote for the cigarette tax would have provided other communities with the additional education dollars, not Hudson.  Thus, as Hudson was not to receive a financial benefit, I voted against the tax.  The tax would not help Hudson.”

As politics goes, a negative vote for one thing is a positive vote for something else.  With this vote, the house stand-off was launched and each side of the aisle became firmly entrenched with their specific beliefs.  Cigarette tax vs. home property tax increase, and Senator Clegg was stuck dead center of this no win debate.

“Politics is politics” states Senator Clegg.  “What is important are my constituents.  Even though I have stepped aside from my responsibility as majority leader, I remain dedicated, committed, and grateful to my district.  I will continue to stay focused and work diligently on their behalf at the State and local levels of government.”

Joint Planning Committee Angers Chairman

by Lynne Ober

What began as an idea at a Hudson School Board meeting in 2001, was shelved because the Board was trying to pass a bond for Hills Garrison School and then implemented in 2002 when the School Board approached Selectmen and Budget Committee about holding a joint committee to look at possible joint projects that would bring efficiencies, and, perhaps, cost savings to Hudson.

The committee was formed with John Knowles and David Alukonis representing the School Board.  Although the committee met a few times, when budget season began, members of all three boards became engrossed in the budget season and the committee faded.  During last year’s (2004) budget season, the School Board was asked to consider starting the committee again and they did.

The committee held its first meeting in August.  At that meeting, Budget Committee member, Ted Luszey, chaired.  “I did try to give the gavel to either a Selectman or a School Board member, but they didn’t want it,” Luszey said.  “We didn’t formally elect officers or write a mission statement, but we did agree to begin work on one [i.e. mission statement].”

After the meeting Luszey e-mailed three separate messages to members of the committee.  The third e-mail was a draft of a Mission and Charter statement for the Joint Planning Committee to the other members.

“Mission Statement:  Develop ideas where both the Town and the School District through collaboration or consolidation of effort has the potential of providing the same or a better value proposition for the Taxpayers of Hudson.”  He asked committee members to add their thoughts to his.

For the charter, Luszey proposed, “To analyze and evaluate the ideas of the Joint Planning Committee and Public where the product is a fully developed proposal, which will be presented to the Board of Selectmen and School Board for consideration.  The proposal will include the potential tax rate impact (savings), approach used to achieve cost reduction, impact to service (both positive and negative) and proposed framework for implementation (organization impact and timeframe to implement).”

Luszey did add to his e-mail, “With the potential of organization change it’s not clear to me if the Board of Selectmen or School Board is fully vested in moving this work ahead.”  Luszey then wondered if a warrant article to create this committee with appropriate authority was the way to go and ended, “Unless we have the full support of both Boards and each are less concerned over “ownership” and more concerned about the Taxpayer, we’ll not move forward.”

Those statements seemed to hit the nail on the head because Board of Selectmen Chairman Ken Massey moved to disengage from the committee shortly after Selectman Kathleen MacLean began her report on the committee.  Selectman Terry Stewart seconded.

Luszey’s first e-mail stated, “I think we got off on a good foot last night and I wish to keep the momentum going.”  That e-mail asked for the following information:

  • A list of functions that are redundant between the two organizations and gave examples such as payroll, purchasing, accounts receivable, technology, including computer and phone systems.
  • A list of opportunities for collaboration between the two Boards with a goal of a reduction in overall spending.

The second e-mail was a list of eleven questions surrounding the use of technology in both the School District and Town.  This e-mail included many of the questions that Luszey, as a Budget Committee member, had asked the School District and Town to provide as part of their budget presentations.  While the School District had included information that answered many of the questions in last year’s budget books as backup, the Town did not.

“I really just want to figure out where we could have some synergism,” said Luszey.  “I know that the School District runs its own e-mail server that could probably handle the Town e-mail too and the Town pays an outside vendor for this service.  If we brought that in-house, we’d have some tax savings.  That’s all I want to look at.”

The Town, for example, does out-source its e-mail and when the Trustees of the Trust Fund recently asked for an e-mail box because one of their investment sources wanted to e-mail monthly trust fund updates, the Trustees were told that no additional e-mail boxes were available.

“This Joint Planning Committee could develop a proposal in this area, for example, and present it to both Boards for their consideration,” stated Luszey.

But that won’t happen because shortly after Massey received these e-mails he told department heads not to provide any information.

Massey was circumspect about the contents of the e-mails and did not name the author.  Luszey, who did not speak at the Selectmen’s meeting, said he felt the e-mails were public and would share them with anyone who asked and stated that he had e-mailed them to all of the Selectmen in response to an e-mail request from Selectman Stewart that came after the Selectmen’s meeting.

“That was a unilateral decision on his part,” said Luszey.  “I don’t understand this because Ken and I had previously spoken about the technology area being one area where things could be shared.”

When Massey revealed his decision to selectmen about no information to be given out, MacLean was surprised and spoke against that action.  “Don’t you want to save the taxpayers some money?” she asked.

Massey told her that she could move to overrule his decision and she did with Selectman Rick Maddox seconding for discussion.

Maddox pointed out that it was difficult to vote when he hadn’t seen the two e-mails [no one mentioned the e-mail about the mission and charter statement].  “There are great possibilities of looking down from above.  Perhaps only enthusiasm led the individual to be too aggressive.”

Massey said that the e-mail should have begun with an objective and then the questions.  “Typically, if someone said, my objective is x and I need this, then I wouldn’t have a problem.”

The vote on the motion to overturn the Chairman’s unilateral decision to allow no information be given to the committee failed 1 – 3 with MacLean voting to overturn and Maddox noting that he might change his vote after he’d seen the e-mails.

However, Massey’s motion to disengage also failed on a 2 – 2 vote with Massey and Stewart voting to disengage.

Massey wanted the “school department” and “Board of Selectmen to sit down together.”

MacLean pointed out that there were three boards involved – the School Board, the Budget Committee and the Board of Selectmen.

Maddox asked if the Library should be included and noted that they are autonomous.  Luszey later said that he thought he’d included the Library as part of the Town and definitely agreed that they should be included.

“Where did we fall off the track here?  It’s such a great service to the tax payer.  I can’t believe you’d want to pull out of it,” MacLean told Massey.  MacLean also noted that she thought having the three boards sit down together and identify certain areas where cost savings could be realized would be a great idea.  “The taxpayer loses if we pull out.”

Stewart, noting that she and Massey had previously talked about his motion, supported disengaging.

Maddox continued to caution against disengaging because someone may have been too enthusiastic, but Massey disagreed and stated that the “direction the committee is heading down is far removed from the original scope.  We need to take a deep breath and step back.”

Massey said that he’d already left three phone messages for School Board Chairman David Alukonis, but hadn’t heard back.  He promised to continue trying to reach Alukonis and set up a joint meeting between the two boards.  In the meantime, the Town will provide no information to the Joint Planning Committee.

Officer Paul Balukonis Visits Weber Academy

by Lisa Weber

Hudson Police Officer Paul Balukonis visited “Weber Academy,” a summer growing experience, last Friday, August 12, to discuss “Stranger Danger.”   The group ranged in age from 4 – 15 along with a few parents.  Officer Paul, as he is known at Nottingham West Elementary School, discussed a “stranger danger” incident that happened recently here in Hudson, as well as taking chances.  He noted that strangers are not all bad people just people we don’t know or know well.  It is unfortunate that there are some strangers who do want to hurt children.

He asked several questions of the group and received great answers.  When asked if a stranger asks you a question, like where you live?  Should you tell them?  Future academy student Cameron said “No, I would trick them.”  What if the stranger asks for your last name?  Should you tell them?  Academy student Lauren answered “No, because they could find your name in the phone book.”  What should you do if a stranger asks you to go somewhere?  Should you?  Future academy student Brianna stated a strong “no!”  Officer Paul stressed, “If someone tries to take you somewhere or do something to you, tell your parents.”

The older children get, the more responsibility they inevitably have, and sometimes they take chances.  “Taking chances is doing something when we’re not sure of the outcome,” said Officer Paul.  He then discussed different scenarios about taking chances and the outcomes with the group.

He mentioned parents and children should have a plan in place when parents are out of the house and a child is home alone or with siblings.  Discuss what to do if someone knocks on your door or if the phone rings.  Should they answer with a rehearsed statement or not answer at all.  Make sure your children know your cell phone number too.  He told of a funny yet true story about himself being home alone and what he did.

Before he left, Officer Paul closed the assembly with a great statement “Always keep yourself safe.”

Weber Academy would like to thank Officer Balukonis and the Hudson Police for this community service.  Contact the Hudson Police Department if you would like a police officer to visit your neighborhood to discuss “Stranger Danger.”

O’Brion Sues Over Dismissal

by Lynne Ober

A year ago Litchfield Selectmen promoted Master Patrolman Joe O’Brion to the position of Police Chief.  They did not do this in a vacuum.  They had asked for and received help interviewing and analyzing the applicants from a qualified outside source.  O’Brion was one of the top two finalists

That promotion jumped O’Brion over two Police Department Lieutenants, one of whom felt that he should have been the next Police Chief. 

Now Selectmen have voted 4 – 1 to remove O’Brion from his position, but according to his contract he could go back to his former position within the Litchfield Police Department.

In a petition filed in Hillsborough County Superior Court by O’Brion’s attorney, Andru Volinsky, O’Brion is asking to be reinstated.  According to the petition there are reasons, other than performance, for his dismissal and that those reasons are arbitrary and politically motivated.

There is also an allegation that Selectman Jack Pinciaro, who is Selectman liaison to the Police Department, talked to O’Brion about hiring his wife as a bail commissioner, but that O’Brion had someone else in mind.

O’Brion has hired an outside consultant to investigate the off-duty actions and alleged lewd behavior of a member of the police department’s upper echelon and Selectmen have seen a copy of this investigation.  It is alleged that Pinciaro tried to stop this disciplinary action, and when O’Brion refused to stop, the situation deteriorated.

When Selectman Ray Peeples was asked about the investigation he said that Selectmen had already taken care of it and that he didn’t see it as a big deal.

When Selectman chose someone to fill in for O’Brion, they looked to Lieutenant Gerard Millette.

Supporters of O’Brion have announced that they will come to the next Selectmen’s meeting to discuss the situation with them.

Litchfield to Undergo Revaluation

by Doug Robinson

Avitar Associates of New England, Inc. has been contracted with the town of Litchfield for the purpose of revaluating properties and to establish the correct tax structure for those who live in the town of Litchfield.  Avitar will begin the reassessment in September 2005, and intends on completing the project in September 2006.

Avitar Associates of New England, Inc. was established in 1986 by CEO, Gary J. Roberge.  Since then, their goal has always been to provide New Hampshire municipalities with professional and cost-effective assessing and tax billing services, along with the right software to do the job easily and affordably. 

For more than 19 years, Avitar has been providing a wide range of assessing services to municipalities throughout the State of New Hampshire.  Avitar currently provides assessing services and/or software to almost one hundred towns throughout New Hampshire. 

Avitar's assessing staff consists of nearly 20 assessors and data collectors.  Most of their assessors draw on at least fifteen years of personal experience working in the State of New Hampshire.  As such, they are able to provide a wide array of services based on the specific needs of your municipality.  At this time, Avatar has not made a commitment to the number of staff members who will be assessing the town.

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