Hudson Honors 9/11 Victims

by Doug Robinson

Police Sergeant Charles Dyac singing the national anthem

They stood in mass with solemn reverence, solitude in thought, respectfully remembering those who lost their lives seven years ago during the 9/11 attacks.  The green grass of Library Park was sprinkled with those who came to remember, and came to stand in unison, as the Town of Hudson paid respect to the approximately 3,000 people who lost their lives on that horrific Tuesday.

Hudson, like thousands of other communities across America, stopped their day-to-day activities and came together to honor those who had fallen during the attacks of 9/11.  “We have stopped and prayed for the families.  We will never forget,” spoke Reverend Howe.

While Hudson Police Sergeant Charles Dyac sang our National Anthem, veterans saluted, residents crossed their hearts with their hands, caps were removed from every head, and little children stood motionless as they imitated and mimicked their parents.  Children, too, saluted, crossed their hearts, and stared in awe at Old Glory, resting half mast on the flag pole.

21 gun salute

All eyes were upon the American Flag.  She was lying patiently, quietly upon the pole, due to the lack of wind.  Two of Hudson’s civil soldiers, Officer Patrick Broderick and Fire Prevention Officer Steve Dube, worked as seamless soldiers together, raising Old Glory to full mast.  Having achieved Old Glory’s greatness at the top of the mast pole, they then paused, reflected, and then very slowly lowered our National Symbol, arm over arm, to its resting place of half mast.  The voice of Library Park had been silenced.  Reverence, respect and remembrance filled the heavy hearts of those in attendance.

Off in the distance, the word “fire” was heard.  In unison, the seven-member drill team from the Hudson American Legion pulled the trigger on their fire arms.  “Fire,” and again, the seven-member drill team from the Hudson American Legion pulled the trigger on their fire arms.  “Fire,” was spoken a third time, and the twenty-one gun salute for our fallen heroes was completed.

Police Chief Richard Gendron and Fire Chief Sean Murray laid a ceremonial wreath at the base of the white flag pole.  With heads bowed, they paused, reflected, and respected the memories of those who lost their lives on 9/11.

Ben Nadeau, Chairman, Town of Hudson Board of Selectman, stated, “Seven years have passed since the tragic events of September 11, 2001, which shook our nation and the world.  During the years, America has shown its true colors of strength, generosity and solidarity.  As we recognize the anniversary of this sad day, we honor those who lost lives and support those whose lives were forever changed by the loss of a loved one.  Hundreds of police officers, firefighters and emergency medical workers lost their lives as a result of the terrorist attack on our nation.  They made the ultimate sacrifice in trying to save the lives of others.  On this day, and every day, let’s not forget the important role emergency personnel play in helping and protecting our communities.  Although September 11 will be forever marked by tragedy, it provides an opportunity to reflect on the values which we hold dear in the United States of America — among them, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all people.  Please join me in standing proud to live in such a great country and know that America stands tall.”

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2009 Meets 2020

When someone says 2020 to you, please don’t think of the Sunday night television show.  We know that first graders in Hudson School System won’t, after a visit from members of the Alvirne Class of 2009 on Monday.  They will know that it is the year that they will be graduating from high school.  Alvirne High School Principal Bryan Lane and 14 members of this year’s senior class went on a road trip to deliver maroon and gold shirts to each first-grader.  The Hudson~Litchfield News was lucky to be invited to the first stop on the trip at Nottingham West Elementary School.  The Bronco seniors introduced themselves to the six-year-olds and mentioned some of the different thing they did at the high school.  Andrew Conrad mentioned that while he was a captain of the football team he was a student athlete and how important learning and grades were; Gina Lupoli spoke about being part of the culinary program and played on the tennis team.  Each of the 14 seniors had brought with them something that the first-graders could see.  Tim Buxton, a member of the forestry team, had a protective helmet and a bow saw.  It was difficult to know which group was the most apprehensive.  But everyone was more relaxed after the 2020 shirts were passed out and put on and Lane had all doing the “Go Broncos” cheer.

From left, back row, Gina Lupoli, Jennifer Hall, Chris Connelly, Courtney Carter and Codi Clark.  Front row, Quinn Silva, Cameron Jones, Andrew Conrad, Abigail Dubois and Jillian Desmond

From left, front,  Jason Hilliard and Anthony Beauleau; middle, Autum Hamming and Abigail Dubois.  Back, Brett McKinnley and Adam Schard 

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Litchfield Needs Additional Management

by Lynne Ober

Litchfield selectmen had a lengthy discussion with their attorney, Jay Hodes, about the differences between a town administrator and a town manager.  This discussion began because the last two chairmen of the board of selectmen, Frank Byron, current chairman; and Raymond Peeples, preceding chairman, found they were devoting four to five hours every day to town business.  With the growth of the town, theres a need for additional, full time management.  As selectmen George Lambert pointed out, the board is filled with volunteers who have other obligations.

The MRI report suggested that additional staff be hired.  That report was written by a former town manager and, as a result, it was not surprising that the first recommendation was for a town manager and the second was to hire a town administrator if the town did not decide to hire a town manager.  There are similarities and differences between the two positions.  The biggest difference is that with a town administrator, selectmen and town administrator continue to be actively involved and theres a checks and balances situation over financial affairs.

Hudson, Pelham and Windham have town administrators and boards of selectmen.  Windham does not have a budget committee while Hudson and Pelham do.  Hodes urged selectmen to talk to their counterparts in other towns before making a decision.  He also noted that Bedford had a town manager.

A major difference between the two is that a town manager requires a town vote to change the form of government.  If a town votes to have a town manager as opposed to a town administrator, voters are putting the right to negotiate and sign contracts and construct budgets into the hands of only one person, Hodes explained, adding that state law governs what a town manager does.

Hodes explained that selectmen, under the town manager concept, give all control for functions to a town manager per state law.  The selectmen become like the board of directors of a corporation and merely set policy. 

In Hodes opinion, the road agent and fire chief could not be elected if a town manager was hired because the town manager should have control of hiring and all department heads should report directly to the town manager.

However, if a town votes to hire a town administrator, selectmen still retain oversight on contract negotiations, hiring, firing, and share responsibility for salary increases, performance reviews and budgeting.  The town administrator can assume as many details and responsibilities as selectmen choose to give him or her.  In many towns, department heads report to the town administrator daily. 

Lambert asked if a town administrator was halfway between a town manager and what Litchfield currently has.  Hodes agreed and noted that a town administrator still brought professional day-to-day management to town hall and worked hand in hand with selectmen, but did not assume total control over financial affairs.

Towns such as Hudson and Pelham who use a town administrator find that the board of selectmen and town administrator work together on all personnel and budget matters.  While the town administrator has day-to-day responsibilities, selectmen also retain some of the responsibilities.

Hodes noted that there are no laws regarding the responsibilities of a town administrator, but there are set laws regarding the responsibilities of a town manager.  With a town manager more responsibility is placed in one set of hands rather than the checks and balances that is found with the combination of selectmen and town administrator.

Should a town vote to hire a town manager, then the town can only get rid of that form of government by voting.  However, if a town hires a town administrator, it does not take a town vote to abolish the position.

Given the recent arrest of our treasurer, Id prefer to see a checks and balance system and a town administrator, but dont quote me, said one resident. 

Selectmen will discuss with their counterparts before taking the next step.  During the discussion selectmen agreed that either position would need to be on the ballot.  If Litchfield selectmen want to pursue a change of government by hiring a town manager rather than a town administrator, they will need to help residents understand the differences.

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Equitable Litchfield Fire Hydrant Expenses Requested

by Lynne Ober

Residents jammed the selectmen’s meeting room to discuss hydrant fees. 

It was standing room only at the Litchfield selectmens meeting, which caused Chairman Frank Bryon before the meeting began to order people to stay out of the room because it was filled to capacity and people were lining the walls.  The remaining people, including Fire Chief Thomas Schofield, stood around the doorway.

At issue is the ever-increasing hydrant fee paid by 1,707 Litchfield Pennichuck water users.  The fees are charged in two areas.  One, for hydrant maintenance, is $12.59 per month.  The other, a new hydrant fee, is $2.05 per month for a total of $14.64 per month or $175.68 per year. 

These residents pay a total of $298,831.68 per year or $1,423.01 per hydrant.  The fees are supposed to cover maintenance and snow shoveling for the hydrants.

Jean White spoke on behalf of the senior condo association that incorporates all 55-plus developments in Litchfield.  She reminded selectmen that she had brought complete information packets to town hall a week prior for their review.

White said residents were not contesting the fees despite their rapid increase over the past 2 1/2 years, but were questioning why all residents did not pay for the hydrants since all residents had some benefit from the 210 fire hydrants that Selectman Al Raccio said were installed in Litchfield.

In packets of information, White reminded selectmen they had recommended changes.  The preferred recommendation, based on support from those in attendance, was for the town to bill every household an equal share.  We arent debating the fees that we are paying, but we know that everyone benefits from the hydrants and we are asking for a more equitable way of paying for the maintenance.  White said she wanted Pennichuck to keep control of the hydrants, but the town to cut one check for the maintenance and ensure that every taxpayer paid a fair share.

Whites underlying premise was that during a fire, the fire department used the hydrants as a water supply and did not ask if the resident paid for the hydrant or not.  She also pointed out that there was supposed to be an $800 fee if a non-subscriber had a fire and benefited from the hydrant during the fire and she wondered what happened to that money.

White and Board of Selectmen Chairman Frank Byron were not on the same page.  Byron did not address the town collecting and paying the maintenance fees with Pennichuck maintaining control.  Instead he talked about the things that Litchfield would have to consider if they took over the hydrants – he addressed his concerns about maintaining them and about shoveling them during snowstorms.

White discussed a better way to collect and pay the maintenance fees, but did not address Litchfield taking over the hydrants.  We feel everyone in town should be absorbing fees.  It is not fair that only a portion of people pay for hydrants that not everyone uses. 

After she expressed her thought that the town could collect via property taxes and pay Pennichuck directly with one large check, Selectman George Lambert suggested that she petition a warrant article to see if the voters would agree.

Byron did address the $800 fee.  He pointed out that the fire department does not know who is and who is not a Pennichuck subscriber.  In case of a fire, the department sends the address to Pennichuck and it is up to Pennichuck to bill, but Byron did not think this had been done.

Byron said Pennichuck told him that 1,800 Litchfield residents were subscribers (or 93 more than White discussed) and that Pennichuck told him the costs would be $272,000 for the town to collect and pay Pennichuck the fees. 

The hydrant amount ($272,000) Byron got from Pennichuck and quoted is $26,831.68 less than what the 1,707 residents are paying.  But to make it more confusing, if there are 1,800 subscribers as Byron was told, they are paying a whopping $316,224.00 in yearly hydrant fees.

If Litchfield could negotiate the fee for Byrons reported $272,000, there would be a $44,224 savings in overall fees.

After an hours discussion selectmen established a committee that would include a selectmens liaison, planning board member, budget committee member and seven citizen members.  Those in the audience were urged to pick up and submit volunteer applications to be on this committee.

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Raise Approved for Litchfield Planning Board Assistant

by Lynne Ober

Steve Perry, chairman of Litchfield’s planning board, met with selectmen to discuss a raise for the planning board sssistant.  Perry had been asked to gather additional background on his request and he came prepared with backup data.

“You are hard to get in to see,” Perry smiled as he began his presentation.  “I have submitted my budget per the schedule, but I want to talk about the salary for the planning board assistant.”  Perry said he had reviewed four towns – Brookline, Rindge, Pelham and Hollis – of similar size as Litchfield with a planning board assistant position.

Planning board assistants worked between 30 and 40 hours a week and were paid an average $20.72 an hour.  Brookline is the closest in size and functionality to Litchfield and its planning board assistant, who has one year’s experience, is being paid $20.87.

The job description was approved by selectmen in 1995.  There was discussion about whether this position was an real employee position or a contracted position.  Since then a newer job description has been added to the percentage of time spent on each task.

Joan McKibbon is the incumbent.  Perry said she’d gotten a couple of raises throug the years, but was not being treated the same as other employees and he wanted to get her onto the town pay schedule. 

Selectman Andrew Santom said, “It doesn’t make sense that she’s not on the town step schedule.”

Perry pointed out that there is a set work schedule and that the planning board assistant is getting benefits.  A contracted position would not be given benefits.

Santom moved and Selectmen George Lambert seconded to make the position a grade 9, step 6 at an hourly wage of $20.88 beginning after next year’s vote.

Perry said he would make the correction to the budget and re-submit it.

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