Litchfield Firefighters Go Fowl

Firefighter Jeff Newell hands off a bird

Litchfield Fire Chief Thomas Schofield reports that moderate smoke could be seen upon arrival at 9 Pilgrim Drive on February 23.  A chicken coop, the source of the smoke, is located approximately 250 feet behind the house.  Firefighters were slightly hindered by frozen snow banks.  The coop contained over 50 chickens and several ducks.  Litchfield firefighters responded with three trucks and ten men and utilized oxygen and a non-rebreather mask to revive some of the chickens.  The probable cause was a heat lamp too close to combustible materials.

First-responder Tom Rafuse helps resuscitate chickens

Larry Rumrill and owner Jeannie Lopez-Carrasco suppling oxygen

HFD Captains Achieve 25 Year Milestones

by Gina M. Votour

Captain Todd Hansen recieves award from Selectman Ben Nadeau

Captain Todd Hansen and Captain David Morin of the Hudson Fire Department were both honored with 25 year Certificates of Appreciation by the Board of Selectmen during their February 24 meeting. 

Both Captains are certified Level 3 firefighters/EMTs, firefighter officers 1 and 2 Haz-Mat operations, and firefighter instructors with training in incident command. 

Hansen was hired in 1984, promoted to Lieutenant in 1986 and became a Captain in 2004.  Based out of the Burns Hill Fire Station, Hansen lives in Hudson with his wife and two children.

Morin, who is currently based out of the Leonard Smith Central Fire Station, was hired in 1984, promoted to Lieutenant in 1997 and, in 2007, was promoted to his current position of Captain.  Morin also resides in Hudson with his wife and two children.

Each Captain received applause after Selectmen Chairman Ben Nadeau presented their certificates, which officially recognize their years of dedicated public service. 

Captain Dave Morin recieves award from Selectman Ben Nadeau

Governor’s Budget to Cut Litchfield’s Revenue

by Lynne Ober

Litchfield selectmen are very concerned about Governor John Lynch’s recent budget address and by his proposed budget.  Lynch announced during his budget presentation that he was going to raise taxes as well as reduce revenue sharing to towns.

“We will have no choice except to cut services or to raise taxes,” said Board of Selectmen Chairman Frank Byron.

Although New Hampshire continues to rank second from the bottom as far as total tax burden paid by its residents, Lynch’s proposals will move additional burden onto the backs of towns.

The state provides the majority of its aid to local communities through education funding grants, revenue sharing, rooms and meals distributions and by paying a portion of local community retirement costs.  While Lynch did not discuss cutting education aid, everything else was on the table as he proposed both cuts and tax increases.

Proposing to raise an additional $126 million in taxes, Lynch also vowed to cut spending.  Lynch’s first proposal is to raise an additional $32 million in revenue through a $10 increase in the fee to register a vehicle.  This comes sharply on the heels of last year’s vehicle registration hikes.

Additionally Lynch has proposed to cut the state’s share of municipal employee’s pensions from 35 percent to 30 percent.  The additional amount will have to be paid by towns.

State aid for new water and sewer projects has been eliminated and state revenue sharing will also be eliminated, including the disbursement of $116 million in Rooms and Meals Tax money.

According to Byron, Litchfield had received $352,141 from the Rooms and Meals Tax revenue sharing.  He characterized this as a big bite out of the town revenues.  Altogether, Byron told the board that Litchfield will lose $424,183 in state monies and will have to raise taxes or cut services.

When Lynch originally announced the loss of revenue sharing, he also announced that he expected stimulus dollars to make up the difference, but Litchfield has examined those options and has found that Litchfield is not currently eligible for any stimulus dollars.

Lynch is also proposing a 35-cent per pack of cigarettes tax and a number of other tobacco tax increases have been proposed.

Additionally Byron told the board about SB 99, a bill that would take a significant amount of revenue out of Litchfield and put that revenue into other towns.  This legislation, proposed by Manchester and Derry legislators, would allow new and used vehicle dealers to act as agents of the division of motor vehicles in the issuance of vehicle titles and registrations.  The revenues would then go to the towns where the dealers are located and could significantly impact Litchfield’s revenue stream.  Byron said that Town Tax Collector Theresa Briand had alerted him to this bill.

Selectmen discussed the negative impacts of Lynch’s budget and agreed to send a strongly worded letter to the senate committee hearing SB 99.  Selectman George Lambert offered to attend the public hearing, speak on behalf of the town and to present selectmen’s letter.  “I think it makes a stronger impression if we show up and testify,” Lambert said.

Lambert will also represent Litchfield at a meeting to be held at the Local Government Center on the proposed budget.

Stimulus Disenchantment

by Lynne Ober

A murmur of disenchantment with the promised stimulus package is being heard around the state.  Governor John Lynch has announced that he will accept no dollars with strings attached and he considers money that requires the state to spend additional dollars to be strings.  In Litchfield selectmen and residents are looking for opportunities to gain stimulus dollars, but those opportunities do not appear to exist.

In response to resident questions, Board of Selectman Chairman Frank Byron read a letter to residents that he said was posted on the town Website.  The letter was developed about selectmen became aware that residents were wondering what piece of the stimulus pie they might receive.  According to Byron, there are no pieces of the stimulus pie for Litchfield.

“Selectmen have been in communication with Mr. Orville “Bud” Fitch of the NH Attorney General’s Office who has been appointed by Governor Lynch as coordinator for the State’s efforts for grant monies,” read Byron.  “Bud informed the Selectmen that at present, there is no mechanism for submitting grant requests and it is not known how much or what types of projects would be covered under the stimulus package.  The state is not collecting grant information at present and is only referring towns to various governmental agencies for discussions.  Mr. Fitch recommended that Litchfield speak with Mr. Janelle of the Department of Transportation (DOT), Mr. Stewart of the Department of Environmental Services (DES) as well as the Federal Department of Agriculture, Rural Development office.”

According to Byron, selectmen did contact NH DOT’s Janelle to discuss the road projects that were presented to the voters under the warrant articles.  “Mr. Janelle stated that there are, in general three types of projects that are being considered but that there is no funding information yet available.  The first is for bridges, which must be greater than 20 feet in span of which Litchfield has none, the second project type is for Highways of a certain class, which Mr. Janelle stated Litchfield has none, and the third type of project is for Transportation enhancement projects such as the bike path.  The bike path project in Litchfield is already on the state listing of projects and hence is already known.  Per Mr. Janelle, nothing further is needed.  In closing, Mr. Janelle stated that once more details are know, there may be grants but there are so many projects currently on the state’s books it is doubtful that projects would be brought down to the road level similar to Litchfield’s needs.  When asked if there were avenues that the town could pursue of which he may be aware, Mr. Janelle stated that the most likely chance would be through the schools.”

With that avenue closed selectmen next spoke to NH DES and discovered that there are four types of projects that may be available for stimulus money.  “First is for Waste Water systems (sewers and associated plants), second is for Drinking water, third are programs for storm water and lastly for brownfield sites (ground contaminated sites).  Litchfield has no sewer systems so there is no funding available,” said Byron.  “For drinking water, Mr. Stewart stated that these projects are for work that can commence in 80 to 180 days.  It was his feeling that there was no project in Litchfield that would be suitable under this tight timeline.  When asked about the establishment of a new well would require significant time in planning and locating, etc.  Litchfield’s water system is owned by a private company while the wells are owned by Hudson.  Hence, DES funding would not work in our case,” explained Byron.

Nor will there be money for a town hall expansion or a new fire station.  Litchfield does not meet eligibility criteria for projects such as these.  Bryon concluded by telling the board that Litchfield would currently not qualify for any stimulus dollars, but said that selectmen would continue to explore any and all opportunities that might arise.

Proposed Ordinance Restricts Motorized Vehicle Use

by Gina M. Votour

A proposed ordinance, which would prohibit the use of motorized vehicles on all town property within Hudson, was originally discussed by the Board of Selectmen during an early February workshop meeting.  After some revisions, the ordinance was once again brought before the board by Assistant Town Administrator Mark Pearson at their February 24 meeting.

The most current version of the ordinance prohibits the use of wheeled, motor driven vehicles and snowmobiles on “any and all lands owned by the Town of Hudson, including but not limited to, recreational areas, conservation areas, and sports fields.” 

During the February 24 meeting, the selectmen agreed to a future addendum, which will further outline the ordinance’s exclusion of town-accepted streets.

More specifically, the ordinance defines ‘Wheeled Motor Driven Vehicle’ to refer to “any and all liquid petroleum, gasoline, propane, or electrically powered motor vehicles which travel on one or more wheels, including ‘trail bikes.’  Furthermore, the ordinance identifies ‘snowmobiles’ as “any vehicle propelled by mechanical power that is designed to travel over ice or snow support in part by ski tracks, or cleats ... no more than 54 inches in width and no more than 1200 pounds in weight ... ”

Exemptions to this rule would be handicapped wheeled devices, equipment used by the town, such as lawnmowers or maintenance vehicles operated by the Highway Department, and local or state emergency vehicles.

The enactment’s main purposes would be to prevent physical injuries and to limit the town’s financial liability in such cases while also, in recreational areas, facilitating wildlife habitation.  The ordinance would additionally serve to prevent land damage, and soil erosion and to reduce fire risk and unnecessary noise and dust.

To provide for damage repairs, first time violators would receive a $100 fine with a second violation drawing a fine increased to $250.  The maximum fine of $1,000 would be assessed to those violating the ordinance three times.

The ordinance additionally specifies that its enforcement will occur regardless of whether there is snow on the ground during the time of the violation. 

Before this ordinance can become effective, it is necessary for two public hearings to take place.  Those wishing to express their opinions on this proposal are welcome to do so during the Board of Selectmen meetings at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 14, and Tuesday, April 28, at Town Hall.  A final vote is planned for May 12. 

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