Bob Haggerty, Firefighter and Friend
There are some people who naturally have others best interests at heart. They are willing to put others first and themselves second without thought or effort.
Bob Haggerty is one of those people.
Bob Haggerty has lived in Hudson since 1990 with his wife Linda of 31 years and his four daughters, Mary, Rebecca, Lisa and Katie. He grew up in Cairnbrook, PA, and while attending Delta State University worked as an EMT for the town of Cleveland, MS.
Bob has always been proactive about the welfare of others but he was profoundly inspired by the events of September 11, 2001. His extended family lives about thirty miles from the site of the Somerset, PA plane crash. Shortly after 9/11 Bob joined the Hudson Fire Department as a call firefighter and has been a faithful public servant ever since.
This past Christmas Bob gathered with his family in Adams, MA located in western Massachusetts in the Berkshire Mountains. On the evening of December 26, 2008, amidst the family celebration, Bob learned that a serious fire was raging in town. Without hesitation, Bob drove to the location and immediately assisted in connecting one of the engines to a hydrant. Bob then asked the Adams Fire Chief, Stephen Brown, if he could assist in any way, citing his extensive experience as a call firefighter. The chief was delighted, as manpower was limited. Quickly, Bob donned his protective gear, which he keeps in his vehicle at all times.
The scope of this fire was massive. The structure was a very large two-and-a-half story, one-hundred-foot-long by fifty-foot-wide 1920s-style apartment building. Six alarms were struck bringing approximately one hundred fire fighters from four surrounding towns to the scene. It took an hour and a half just to get the fire under control enough to approach on foot and begin ventilating the building. As the fire continued to engulf the building and threatened adjacent structures, crews were rotated from the scene and once rested returned to battle the flames. Bob went through several iterations of this during the harrowing seven-hour ordeal.
With the fire out and everyone safe (remarkably there were no injuries) the Adams fire crew brought Bob back to their station and presented him with a department shirt and hat, as well as and invitation to be their Special Guest at their upcoming Firefighters Ball.
Bob was not on call on December 26, 2008. He was celebrating Christmas with his family but when he discovered he was needed, indeed called on to risk his life, he did not think twice. He came to the rescue of both the victims and his brothers, the Adams firefighters. In these unfortunate times of complacency and self-promotion Bob is truly an inspiration and a role-model.
Adams fire photos courtesy of Gillian Jones, New England Newspapers
Aftermath of Adams, MA
Greenmeadow Announces Development of The Sagamore Crossing Golf Resort & Convention Center
Today, the Friel family, owners of the Greenmeadow Golf Course, announced their plans to develop The Sagamore Crossing Golf Resort & Convention Center. The 375-acre property nestled along the Merrimack River in Hudson, will feature a 300 room luxury hotel and spa, 18 hole championship golf course and 50,000 square feet of convention and meeting space. The plans include a riverfront park with trails and other recreational activities.
Jay Leonard, Vice Pres. at Greenmeadow Golf Club confirmed that they are also investigating the possibility of having gaming as an amenity at the site. Mr. Leonard stated that the NH Legislature is currently considering several proposals for expanded gaming in the state. He explained that video lottery machines are proposed for the NH horse and dog tracks and might adversely affect the Sagamore Crossing plans.
The Friels hired Clyde Barrow, PHD and public policy expert from the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouthto study the feasibility of gaming at the Sagamore Crossing resort. The study concluded that an upscale resort with gaming would complement other facilities proposed for the site. Leonard confirmed that, if the state allows expanded gaming, Sagamore Crossing will also include 135,000 square feet of gaming space that will include video lottery terminals, table games, restaurants, retail shopping and entertainment.
As proposed, the Sagamore Crossing Golf Resort and Convention Center will generate significant economic benefits to the state and the region by providing more than $50 Million dollars in licensing fees and approximately $200 Million dollars in annual revenues to the state and to Hudson and Nashua. The Sagamore Crossing will create almost 2000 construction jobs and more than 5000 good paying permanent jobs with an average salary of $38,000. plus benefits. Under the proposed bill, Sagamore Crossing will also generate approximately $4 Million dollars per year designated for operational funding of commuter rail from Lowell to Nashua.
“We believe this is just the type of destination resort that our region needs for economic development. Economic studies show that The Sagamore Crossing will be a boon to tourism with more than 80% of visitors coming from outside of New Hampshire. This is good news for our local and regional economy and will help to grow new businesses and new jobs,” said Jay Leonard, Vice President of Greenmeadow.
Hudson Deliberative Session Yields Few Changes
by Gina M. Votour
Posting of the colors at February 7 deliberative session
On Saturday, February 7, Hudson’s town deliberative session offered registered voters the opportunity to gain better knowledge of the proposed operating budget along with its upcoming warrant articles. The session also provided the chance for article amendments or adjustments prior to next month’s election.
Held at the Community Center, the meeting commenced at 9 a.m. with the posting of the colors by the Police Honor Guard. Detective Sergeant Charles Dyac sang a powerful rendition of the National Anthem, followed by Selectmen Chairman Ben Nadeau’s leading of the gathered group in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Town Moderator Paul Inderbitzen explained that the zoning amendments of Hudson’s town warrant were previously finalized by the Planning Board and that this session would therefore focus primarily on the selectmen articles.
Articles 9, 10, and 11 all involve 3 percent wage and benefit increases for various town employees.
Article 9 shows an increase for non-union personnel, totaling $25,192, and was recommended by the selectmen (5-0) and by the Budget Committee (6-2). Planning Board alternate Stuart Schneiderman and Zoning Board member Maryellen Davis both rose in support of this article.
Article 10 shows an increase amount of $1,835 for the town clerk/tax collector and was recommended by the selectmen (5-0) and by the Budget Committee (7-2). In presenting this article, selectman Shawn Jasper stated that the selectmen “feel this is a reasonable increase.”
Article 11 involves an increase total of $11,958 for full-time library employees and was recommended by the selectmen (5-0) and by the Budget Committee (7-2). “They are certainly deserving and in need of this increase,” said Jasper.
The largest item on the table, Article 12, proposes an operating budget of $26,935,059, approved by the selectmen (5-0) and by the Budget Committee (8-3). Budget Committee clerk Bob Haefner additionally explained that the town portion of the tax rate would be $4.84, a 3.8 percent increase from FY09, and that the default budget amount is set at $26,886,556.
“If we do not pass this budget, it will end up costing us more in the end because the way you have the budget set up we’re not spending it all but we have enough reserve to keep us looking A-plus,” commented Schneiderman.
There were no further comments so the discussion proceeded to Article 13, which would create the position of a part-time senior services director who would be responsible for planning, managing, and coordinating the activities of Hudson seniors along with the additional task of grant writing. The warrant was recommended unanimously by both the selectmen and the Budget Committee and, overall, would cost $23,391 per year.
Council on Aging member Andy Renzullo emphasized that the work of the seniors together with the selectmen produced this article whose passing “will put history in its place and give us the chance to have a new chapter in the relationship between Hudson’s government and Hudson’s seniors.” Council on Aging chairman Jim Stafford-Rogers added that the position was “well needed” especially with regards to its ability for grant writing.
Jasper then presented Article 14, recommended unanimously by both the selectmen and the Budget Committee, to permit the purchase of a replacement ambulance for roughly $155,000, using the Ambulance Capital Reserve Fund. Jasper explained that one of the town’s three ambulances is replaced every three years and that after nine years an ambulance is usually well in need of replacement.
No public comment resulted from this article so the session proceeded to Article 15, which would replace the Highway Department’s 14-year-old VacCon (drain suction) truck. The article involves a 5-year lease for a total amount of $240,000, $120,000 of which would be drawn from the VacCon Capital Reserve Fund. The article, which was recommended by both the selectmen (5-0) and the Budget Committee (7-3), also calls for $25,000 for the first year of the lease.
Road agent Kevin Burns answered questions on this article, revealing the fact that $9,700 was spent in truck repair costs last year.
One of the most anticipated articles was Article 16, also unanimously approved by the selectmen and the Budget Committee, which would establish a capital reserve fund for a future senior center, initially placing $50,000 into this account.
“This particular warrant article allows the town to make a commitment to our senior population. [It] will add two cents on the thousand to the tax rate and the cost to the average homeowner would be about six dollars,” stated selectman Roger Coutu in his presentation of the article.
State representatives Andy Renzullo and John Knowles both stepped forward in strong support of the article, with Knowles calling it a “big step in the right direction.”
The only amendment of the day was made when Hudson resident Ted Trost observed that the word ‘purchasing’ was not included within the article. After a unanimous vote, this article portion now reads “for the purposes of purchasing, building, leasing or renting a facility…”
Jasper next presented Article 17, termed the “most controversial warrant article” since it involves the expenditure of $25,000 for a land study on potential placement sites for a new central fire station. This article was recommended by the selectmen (4-1) and by the Budget Committee (6-4).
Since an expansion and upgrade to the Leonard Smith Fire Station would not be feasible, the town is considering two potential locations within the 102 corridor, previously identified as the best location in which to serve the community. A land study would help determine the better location option.
Tension arose when Zoning Board alternate Marilyn McGrath stepped forward. Although McGrath agreed on the need for a new fire station location, her main concern was the lack of a future plan for the current fire station building. Jasper responded that it was a “bit premature” to make this determination.
“The Board of Selectmen has numerous discussions and wastes a lot of time over nonsense. The selectmen should have had that discussion,” countered McGrath, who herself will run for the Board next month.
After explaining that it would not be right to bind a future Board with long range plans, Jasper responded directly to McGrath.
“You believe we’re dealing with a lot of nonsense so you’re running for the Board and perhaps you’ll be successful in getting rid of the nonsense and I applaud you for that,” he stated.
The final discussion item was petitioned Article 18, unanimously opposed by the selectmen, which requests a cap on “any increase of [the] annual budget to any projected increase in revenue above the last annual budget and in no case to increase the annual budget more than the rate of inflation….”
“While I understand the intent of the petitioners, I do rise in opposition to this article,” said Jasper, explaining that the deliberative session itself offers voters control over the proposed budget and that an arbitrary figure does not give any specific directive. Schneiderman agreed, after being unable to obtain an answer to his question regarding the components of the national CPI.
Since all articles had been put on the table, the session adjourned soon after this point.
Official voting for both the town and school warrants will take place during the town meeting on Tuesday, March 10 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m at the Community Center.
“I would urge everyone to come out and vote. We look forward to seeing you there,” concluded Inderbitzen.
Town Manager Warrant Article Generates Discussion
by Lynne Ober
With fewer than 60 Litchfield residents in attendance at last Saturday’s town deliberative session, discussion was quite lively when the Town Manager Warrant Article was presented. This warrant was recommended with only a slim margin of 3 – 2 as selectmen were not in agreement with the proposal.
Discussion surrounded three topics:
One: Can this person be terminated if he/she is not a ‘good fit’ as the selectmen’s assistant was?
No. A town manager has the same legal protection as police and fire chiefs and can only be terminated for cause. David Lefvre (town counsel) said that a town administrator could be terminated for cause under state law.
Two: Why pay $85,000?
Selectman Pat Jewett noted that the total cost with benefits was $115,000. The warrant article that selectmen presented said the pay would be $85,000. After discussion, an amendment was given from the floor to modify that to “up to” $85,000. That amendment passed.
Three: Why a town manager and not a town administrator?
Selectmen Frank Byron and Andrew Santom both explained that a town manager and a town administrator could perform the same functionality. With a town administrator, selectmen determine which tasks the town administrator should be responsible for and delegate the authority, but a town manager is given set tasks by state statute.
Bill Spencer spoke in favor of a town administrator and urged selectmen to consider that if the person hired was not a ‘good fit’ that person could be terminated and Litchfield would not endure a lengthy series of lawsuits as it is currently experiencing with another employee.
“I just think if we go this way, the town administrator is a better fit for us and is a more prudent move.”
Jewett tried to amend the article from the floor to ensure that the person hired would have a minimum of two years experience. Although she was not clearly in favor of the article, she noted that she wanted the person to have experience in the job and be able to immediately work effectively. During her comments, Jewett pointed out that she had done some research but felt that more research was needed before bringing to voters. Jewett also pointed out that Hudson, which is more than double the size of Litchfield, uses a town administrator. After town counsel said this amendment would be advisory only, the amendment failed.
Phil Reed spoke in favor, and noted that with town growth there was too much work for selectmen.
Questions were asked about the selectmen’s assistant position. Byron explained that position would remain and this would be a new position.
The other warrant article that generated animated discussion was Warrant Article 7 which proposes to repair the culvert on Winter Circle. The end result of this warrant article is that zero tax dollars will be used because grant money from the state and from FEMA will cover the costs. Residents who live on Winter Circle feared that the warrant article would be voted down because it asked to “raise and appropriate the amount of $253,378.” They felt that people would read that and just vote “no” and that people would not understand that grant money would cover the entire costs and no tax dollars would be spent.
With both road agent Gerry DeCosta and selectmen speaking in favor, it was clear the warrant had support and would benefit Litchfield. The issues revolved around whether voters would understand or not. Selectman George Lambert explained that selectmen have already accepted half of the FEMA grants and the Highway Block Grants. According to Lambert, if this project was not approved, the FEMA grant would be lost and the money would need to be returned to FEMA. The warrant article was amended to show a table of funding with zero tax dollars being used.
Selectmen presented a two-year police contract that would include a third year’s retroactive pay. Santom explained that the COLA raise was 3 percent and those also eligible for a step raise would get another 3 percent for a total of 6 percent. According to Santom, eight officers are eligible for the 6 percent raise and eight officers are eligible for the 3 percent COLA. In addition, a midnight shift differential pay will be offered to officers working the midnight shift and a training differential has been added. Police Chief Joey O’Brion said the training differential would be paid when an officer is asked to train another officer. The death insurance was raised and call-in pay was defined in a different manner, but details of that were not given by either Santom or O’Brion.
Because the majority of road projects are found on two separate warrant articles, the operating budget will be $4,203,796 after an amendment offered by Selectman Al Raccio for more snow removal dollars was approved. Both the operating budget and the default budget have dollars for one new cruiser. In addition, the operating budget has dollars for a contracted police prosecutor, 3 percent COLA for non-union employees, and an adjustment for vehicle fuel.
Selectmen are again asking for an additional police officer. If passed, this would allow Litchfield to have two officers on each shift. Currently one shift a week has only one officer. Rick Charbonneau spoke in favor and talked about responding to alarms at the golf course with only one officer and back-up coming from another town. Charbonneau urged voters to vote “yes.”
Fire Chief Thomas Schofield made such an excellent presentation on the need for Warrant Article 10, Paramedic Training, that Jason Guerette said, “Chief, if you made all the budget presentations, our tax bill would be much higher.” Schofield concentrated on what additional services would be available to residents of Litchfield if this warrant article is passed. “Having a paramedic available immediately may make a significant difference to the medical outcome of a patient.”
Both of the petitioned warrant articles were turned into study committees by floor amendments. While selectmen do not disagree that an appointed road agent is a good idea, Byron explained that a one-year appointment was not satisfactory in terms of good road maintenance and noted that the warrant article specifically called for a one-year appointment.
After selectmen did not agree to support a warrant article allowing a farm tax under RSA79:F, George Lambert led a petitioned drive and spoke to the warrant. Lambert had pulled tax cards and found only 18 properties that might possibly be eligible for this farm tax credit. He said, “I believe the voters should have an opportunity to vote on this issue.”
Should either or both of these warrants pass, selectmen will present findings to the voters next year.
Voters will have an opportunity to express their opinions in March. Anyone wishing to see the warrants may access them at www.litchfield-nh.gov/2009/election.htm.
Litchfield Zoning Articles
by Lynne Ober
Litchfield residents will be asked to vote on two zoning changes in March, and surprisingly both of the articles generated discussion at Saturday’s Deliberative Session.
Warrant Article 2 would repeal Litchfield’s Housing for Older Persons ordinance. Included in the repealed sections would be Zoning Ordinances’ sections 1025 through 1030. Planning Board Chairman Steve Perry explained that the town had granted permits for the construction of 338 units that fall under this ordinance, but that only 170 units have been built. According to Perry, the Planning Board wants to cease authorizing any new permits until the current developments have been built out. Perry noted that some of the builders had gone bankrupt before completing the developments, leaving residents without promised amenities.
Although Bill Spencer questioned why and why now, Perry said it would be best for Litchfield residents to have developments finished before additional developments were started. He pointed out how many permits had already been authorized that hadn’t been built and noted that this would protect current residents as well as ensure that developments were not left incomplete.
Warrant Article 3 will redefine the term Abutter. However, this warrant article was not met with favor because Perry could not provide a definition of abutter. According to Perry, he did not bring the new definition with him.
Both Claudette Durocher and Phil Reed spoke against voting for a warrant article with incomplete information. Durocher felt the warrant article was defective without the definition. Reed pointed out that no one ever understands the zoning articles and said that he was not “questioning the good will” or the good efforts of the Planning Board, but did say that he felt the residents should have access to the definition and have access to complete information before asking to vote on a warrant article.
Both warrant articles have been sent to the March ballot, unchanged.