Alvirne High School Jazz Band at Rathaus Platz
The Alvirne High School Jazz Band returned home Sunday following their 12th tour of Germany and Austria. The 26 musicians and director Gerry Bastien entertained and inspired students at four schools to clap and dance to the unique American sound of jazz. Band members also enjoyed marching in the Fasching Parade and playing for the crowds at the Rathaus Platz, the town hall plaza, and in Unterschliessheim, Germany during the town’s celebration of the Fasching holiday.
While in Germany, the students lived with host families, allowing them to absorb some of the German culture and experience life from a different perspective. However, entertaining the German people with jazz music wasn’t the only endeavor that occupied the AHS students. Tours of the area included a visit to the salt mine in Salzburg, the concentration camp in Dachau, cathedrals, a walking tour of Munich, a Scavenger Hunt in Augsburg, and a snowy hike up the mountain to investigate Neuschwanstein Castle.
The band wrapped up their trip at a farewell dinner catered by the host families, playing one last time as their way to thank the German families for their generosity and friendship.
Many memories were made and friendships forged that will not be soon forgotten.
A special thank you goes to all the parent chaperones who accompanied the musicians on the trip.
Ready to go at Tokyo Joe’s!
On Wednesday, February 4, Brownie Troop 10230 took a field trip to Tokyo Joe’s Studios of Self Defense in the Nottingham Square plaza to learn about karate. The girls were treated to a beginner class, where they learned some basic karate moves and were introduced to some of the important principles taught at the studio, such as discipline and respect. It was fun trying out the techniques and playing some of the organized games. Our troop would like to thank Sensei Matt Babine and all of the staff at Tokyo Joe’s who helped us learn so much and made our field trip so enjoyable. We were especially excited to receive our very own white belts to take home as souvenirs! To top off the trip, we enjoyed an excellent pizza dinner at Adamo’s, also in Nottingham Square.
204 kilowatt Magnum Mobile Three Phase Generator
Litchfield Fire Department has two new additions to their special operations equipment.
The first is a 2009 Proline 20-foot trailer with heat and air conditioning. This unit will be used to house the department’s off-road vehicle, keeping it out of the weather. The department’s Relief Association donated $5,000 to complete add-ons to the trailer. A bathroom facility and small office area will be constructed by department members. The trailer will be used by the town’s fire, police, and highway departments during any type of emergency, for interviews, rehab, command, and emergency management functions.
The second unit is a 204 kilowatt Magnum Mobile Three Phase Generator. This mobile unit was purchased after the December ice storm when the town had to request the National Guard to provide a generator to supply power to the high school while it was open as a shelter. This generator has a six-cylinder Cummings Turbo Diesel engine with a 360-gallon fuel tank. With 360 gallons of diesel fuel and the unit being mobile, the unit can also be used as a mobile fueling station. During large power failures the generator can be moved from one area to another to provide power to town buildings and wherever power is needed. The unit will also be available for mutual aid responses.
A third special operation unit in service is a 2003 Ingersal Rand 30-foot light tower. This unit has been in service for some time and is equipped with a 6,000 watt generator and four 1,000 watt flood lights. The motor is diesel-powered and can run for 68 hours on a tank of fuel. This unit also is available for mutual aid calls.
These three units that the department operates will allow the town’s firefighters the resources to provide the residents and area communities with specialized equipment to handle emergencies.
2009 Proline 20-foot trailer with heat and air conditioning
I have had the distinct privilege and honor of serving on the Board of Selectmen for the past year. I was appointed to several committees as Selectman Liaison: the Budget Committee, Sewer Utility Committee, Recreation Committee, Cable Committee, and assigned to work with the Finance Director. I was also appointed on a sub committee to meet with a Seniors Committee to address their needs and concerns and report back to the Selectmen. These assignments and my year of experience have prepared me to move forward with the challenges that lie ahead.
I look forward to addressing the needs of our public service agencies, addressing the Town’s concerns with the potential development of the Green Meadow property, working with a new Seniors Director to address the needs of our older population, and looking forward to introducing the new Access Cable Facility which should be operational by this spring.
I also look forward to getting out volunteering my time in the spirit of community involvement to support the Benson’s committee vision to develop the Benson’s property into a passive recreation facility. This effort will provide a natural open space we will all come to enjoy and be proud of. In addition, I want to address the need for a permanent overnight shelter in the event of a crisis such as we suffered during the most recent ice storm which resulted with the loss of power throughout much of the Town for an expended period of time.
The most significant contribution that I plan to make to the Town of Hudson as a member of the Board of Selectmen is to set the tone for excellence and professional leadership within the Town. I have an extensive business and budgetary background and plan to use this skill set in developing a project plan approach to our most pressing challenges: a new fire station, a new senior center and a development plan for bringing new business into Town. Now is the time to put a medium range plan in place to get these projects underway! In addition, I would like to up-level the personnel performance to ensure excellence in service provided by Town staff. By empowering our department heads to make effective changes, we can increase service levels to better serve the Town without increasing costs.
I believe that my most significant contribution to the board will be my experience and judgment. I have 30 years of experience as a businessman, having started my own business at 20 years of age and I have run the family business since my father’s retirement. While having business experience is important in running a town, I have a wealth of knowledge that comes with being part of state and local government for nearly 30 years. Having a historical perspective on how town government has progressed over the years has been a valuable resource for the members I have served with.
Even after all these years I have maintained my passion for town government, few things that government does affects people more directly than the decisions we make at the local level. It is important that the town consider the impact of how those decisions affect people’s lives not only from a financial aspect, but also how we affect the right of our citizens to enjoy their property, while at the same time understanding that there must be limits on the use of property, so that neighbors are not negatively impacted.
My most significant contribution to the Town of Hudson will be consistent and fair leadership using common sense and high ethical standards to arrive at decisions. How your money is spent will be decided by careful analysis: is it something that we absolutely need, can we obtain it at a lower cost, or is it something that we can obtain by other means -- throwing money at a problem is not always the best solution. Analysis of the current services that are provided and the cost of those services will be accomplished by consultation with department heads, board members, and others to determine the best way to provide those services at a cost that is reasonable and affordable.
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The most critical issue facing us in 2009/2010 is, indisputably, the economy. No one can predict what is in store but we must plan ahead in the event things do get worse.
We must be mindful of every dime we spend and we may have to make the sacrifices necessary in order to assure the level of services we require in our Town. Public safety must be a primary concern in that when times are tough, we all become in danger of becoming a victim of more crime. With home foreclosures still on the rise, vacant homes become targets for fire and vandalism. Internet crime is also on the rise and we can all become victim to any unsuspecting scheme.
I will be vigilant with how we spend the people’s money in order to be prepared to address any additional needs concerning the safety of our community.
There are a lot of issues facing the Town of Hudson today, the most important being that there is no new business growth in Town to subsidize the tax base. Although the economy may currently be in turmoil, new opportunities often present themselves during downturns or ‘lulls’ in the market place. As a Town, we should be pursuing these opportunities by trying to attract businesses to expand or relocate here. It's been said that we perhaps are not as 'business friendly' as we should be. I say, “let's put a plan in place to start a business/economic development initiative in Hudson, monitor our performance to this plan and ensure that we are doing everything possible to attract and retain businesses.” Business development should be a shared vision of our future that every citizen in our Town needs to weigh in on and have a sense of ownership for bringing the vision to reality.
At this moment in time I believe that the potential loss of revenues is the most serious problem facing the town. The loss of revenue from the state could add $0.50 per thousand to the tax rate. We are also seeing other areas where our revenues could be down significantly. Unfortunately too much of our fund balance has already been used to lesson the impact of annual spending to give us much of a cushion. I warned against what was being done at the time, but it was easier to use surplus to pay for projects than to raise taxes and allow people to understand the impact of what they voted for.
While much of what we are looking at is uncertain at the present time, we can begin to prepare for the possibility of a revenue shortfall, without doing any long-term damage to our services. Some of the falling revenues are a result of less activity in the building trades and that gives us the opportunity to look for savings in several areas of town government, some of which we have already done. We made the decision some time ago not to fill the position of Town Engineer; the activity does not warrant a full time person. We also have eliminated a clerical position in the Community Development Department as of July 1st. As of March 2 the building inspector’s position is open, giving us the ability to look at options in that area as well.
There are other examples of what we have already done and we will be looking at more possibilities as the year progresses, the Town of Hudson is being proactive in dealing with an issue, which all levels of government are facing. I believe that we can manage whatever comes our way in a reasonable and thoughtful manner, provided that our taxes remain stable and our property tax collection rate remains high. If our collection rate falls, we may be faced with a reduction in services to meet that challenge, even though that money would still be owed the town.
I believe that the traffic along the Lowell Road corridor, particularly in the Presentation of Mary Academy area, and the Route 102/Derry Road corridor is the most frustrating to deal with and the most costly to solve. The President’s stimulus package that was just passed contained provisions for roadway improvements that we may be able to capitalize on through our Governor’s office. Consultation with our local representatives, Nashua Regional Planning Commission, and the Hudson Planning Board will enable us to identify solutions and the funding mechanisms available to adequately solve the traffic bottlenecks that exist. CAP fees assessed to development can be utilized to offset costs and Grant money may be available to aid in funding improvements. A summer internship with a college student from a local college could provide either a no-cost or low-cost means to aid in researching grants that are available then preparing the grant requests for submittal.
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I will insist that we meet with department heads on a more frequent basis in order to address the financial needs of our Town. We will need to make cuts, when necessary, in order to maintain sufficient funds, as provided by the budget, in order to meet those needs which are identified as most crucial at any given time.
Some projects may need to be placed in a “hold” status in order to make transfers that may become necessary to sufficiently address any emergency that may arise as a result of a poor economy.
I will not hesitate to make those cuts or “hold” status decisions in order to maintain a balanced budget that affords us the opportunity to keep our citizens safe. Sacrifice may be the norm of our existence until such time as there is an economic upturn.
Balancing Town costs equates to how well we will deal with spending less while the needs and demand for services increase. The key is not in the balance, as no budgets or spending can ever be truly 'balanced', but in providing the best services possible with the money you have available. As people struggle with their own finances and providing for their families, this is not the time to be raising taxes. To keep costs in check , we need to identify and quantify what the real 'needs' are from the 'wants' and determine how to provide for the needs, whether through current taxes, grant monies, the federal government stimulus funds, or by perhaps creative leveraging with other town or school department talent. Living within a budget is no different for a town than it is for a household; you identify what must be provided for now, what can wait in the short term and what must wait long term. Once this is determined, managing the expectations is easy.
I reject the premise of the question. The cost of town government has not spiraled, it has gone up like everything else in life, but in the past 5 years the town’s share of the property tax bill has gone up less than 15 percent or about 3 percent per year. A real example is a property (map 122, lot 010) valued at $430,549 in 2003 with a town tax bill of $2,303, that same property is valued at $568,027 today with a town tax bill of $2,664. That increase is not what I would call a tax rate out of control.
I have always been a fiscal conservative; I recognize that we must provide the services that the taxpayers demand. No new positions are added to the budget except by direct approval of the voters through warrant articles. Hudson has far more warrant articles than many communities, precisely because we want the voters to make as many financial decisions as possible. So the reality is that while the Board of Selectman may recommend items, it is the voters who approve new programs, positions, contracts and raises. I would suggest that more people should take the time to vote on the Town and School budgets and warrant articles on March 10.
As a community we need to prioritize what services and what programs are necessary. Is it something that we can’t live without or is it something that we can wait to have? Government’s obligation is to provide essential services such as police, fire and emergency protection. Personal responsibility for all else must be embraced. We must change the notion that we are entitled to have our government pay for everything that we want. There are creative and innovative solutions that exist that we could capitalize on such as creating an inventory of town-owned property that would allow us to identify land and buildings that we could either dispose of or utilize. Instead of buying land for a new fire station perhaps we already own a suitable property or maybe we could do a land swap with someone who possesses the desirable location. Collaborating with the vocational school may provide a way for us to build a senior center that would meet the needs of our seniors at a cost that we could afford yet provide a learning experience for our students. Reviewing town departments such as the Highway Department may identify a new or different service that they could provide. We all, citizens, elected officials and employees, have to realize that we are living in a difficult time and that we are all in this together. We are a community of bright, dedicated, and resourceful people and I believe that with the right leadership our potential is infinite.
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