First Launch of the day.
The Boy Scouts of America Website states that Cub Scouts means “doing.” Everything in Cub Scouting is designed to have the boys doing things. Sunday afternoon saw “doing” in action as Cubs joined Troop 21 Scout Master Ben Dibble in assembling bottle rockets made out of plastic bottles and cardboard fins. Parents helped with the manufacturing process, which also included the use of that magic product, Duck® Tape and the thing that can help you on a hot sundry “water.”
Scout Master Dibble was assisted by his 82 year old father who pointed out that scouting is a family event and the more involvement by parents, the more the child will get out of scouting.
Scout William Horgan with Dad, Jerry adjusts the fins on his rocket.
Nine-year-old Dakota Rieck launched his rocket on Sunday.
Tyler Stanley performs a magic trick.
Fifteen-year-old Tyler Stanley, who performs his magical tricks under the moniker of The Terrific Tyler, enchanted a large audience at the George H. and Ella M. Rodgers Memorial Library.
While the early morning was rainy and gloomy, the sky began to clear in time for The Terrific Tyler to perform his magic on the lawn at the library. The audience began to gather and watch as the young magician set up his stage.
Tyler performs at a very high level that is very mature for his age. He’s been a practicing magician for five years, has video on You Tube, and offers a very stylish show with lots of humor laced throughout his tricks.
Within two minutes the audience was giggling and laughing at his antics. He appeared to spear a sword through a helper’s neck and to cut his arm, and yet no blood and no permanent damage ensued — just lots of laughter as he made fun of himself as he worked through his tricks.
Tyler brought his silver dancing head, but the head was too nervous to dance with many people watching, so Tyler covered him with a nice black bandana and then the dancing head took over and wanted to run through the audience with Tyler being dragged along by two corners of the bandana. After much negotiation, the dancing head decided to behave and watch the rest of the show.
Tyler decided to teach his young audience a magic trick and picked the ‘Magic Trick of the Month’, which he claimed had just arrived in a kit. The instruction CD said to dump the contents of the box onto the table as step one, and then to grasp the yellow bandana and fold it in half. Unfortunately, Tyler’s box had a yellow banana, and folding it in half met with a predictable mess. The audience howled with laughter as Tyler tried to follow the rest of the instructions coming from the speakers and then gasped in amazement as the banana that should have been a bandana just vanished into thin air, never to be seen again.
At the end of his hour-long show, Tyler did two amazing escape tricks. The first one was a Houdini trick, and Tyler enlisted adult help from the audience to ensure that he was completely tied up and chained before being stuffed into a large canvas mailbag. An audience member timed him with a stopwatch, and less than two minutes later Tyler had escaped. Then with the help of an athletic male audience member, Tyler was strapped into a straightjacket. In front of the audience, he managed to escape. The applause was long and loud. Everyone who attended the show had a wonderful time.
For the past few years, the Litchfield Budget Committee has strongly expressed the belief that Litchfield roads should be better maintained and have supported that with approval for funding. One year the Budget Committee actually added money into the budget because the road agent at that time had not been able to finalize a maintenance plan. The Budget Committee, knowing the budget deadline was nearing, wanted to ensure that money was in the operational budget when the plan was finalized.
“I have always been a strong proponent of incremental spending on infrastructure as it has been proven time and time again that to neglect a town’s physical assets is pound foolish because in time, repairs and maintenance have to be undertaken,” said Budget Committee Chairman Brent Lemire.
That road maintenance message has been heard by Litchfield’s Board of Selectmen who recently met with the Budget Committee to discuss the highway block grant money that comes from the state. The discussion surrounded how best to handle and use these funds.
Before selectmen met with the Budget Committee, Byron told his board that he had spent quite a bit of time going over the highway block grant money trying to get a good handle on where the town was.
Highway Block Grant monies have a very specific use under state law. According to RSA 235:10-:21, highway block grants are provided for the purpose of constructing or reconstructing sections of Class I, II, and III highways. This work could include improvements to unimproved sections of State secondary, Class II highways and Class III highways or to advance the priority of construction for special types of work such as improving drainage, riding surface, or elimination of sharp curves on Class I highways or improved sections of Class II highways. One issue selectmen need to monitor is the appropriate expenditure of such funds.
Although highway block grant monies are not intended to cover any expenses other than the road maintenance specified in state statutes, state statues do allow towns to accumulate the monies for projects. It is the town responsibility to carefully monitor and preserve these dollars to ensure that they are used appropriately.
Selectmen discussed how and where to deposit the money. The main options discussed by selectmen were: 1. Continue to set aside the highway block grant money as is currently done. This money would be put into a special fund that would be spent as needed. The advantage to the town would be to use that money for projects and to defray the costs as time goes on that selectman can appropriate the money as we needed to do projects. 2. Put the highway block grant money directly into the budget year after year. This money would be added to the Highway Department budget. The question would be one of ensuring how to keep the highway block grant monies separate so that they were not used as part of town surplus, which would be illegal per state law.
Chairman Frank Byron was concerned about the impact on the Highway Budget if option 2 was used. He noted that if the money is put into the Highway Department, there are only two budget lines it can go against. Additionally this would make the Highway Budget increase and he worried that this would impact taxes as well.
Selectman Steve Perry saw a downfall in continuing to handle the highway block money as it is currently being handled and pointed out that selectmen have to keep transferring money out of the unreserved fund balance and asked if eventually that fund could be totally consumed by highway block grant.
Byron concurred that this was the downside and said, “I think we need to do a better job in spending that money. My belief is that we have to start a program in getting the roads fixed. Historically the Town has been using that highway block grant money as part of its fund balance.”
Those words agreed with the message that the Budget Committee has been giving selectmen for the last few years.
Byron also stated that he believes the Fund Balance is too low. While the highway block grant monies cannot be used to boost this fund, the low balance has to be considered for town financial fiscal health.
Selectman George Lambert agreed there needs to be more money in the Fund Balance in the event of an emergency.
Byron then recapped items that have impacted Litchfield in the recent past. He began by talking about flooded culverts that washed out. The Brick Yard Drive culvert that cost $260,000 and because the paperwork was incorrectly done, only $60,000 was actually reimbursed by FEMA.
Byron also said that the money taken by former Town Treasurer Horace Seymour amounted to $135,000 and while Litchfield is to be compensated from the insurance, that reimbursement will go into the General Fund.
According to the Treasurer, at the end of the June there was $300,000 in the kitty, which means that is a small amount of money for Litchfield “to last on,” Byron continued.
Without a doubt re-building the Brickyard Culvert and the Albuquerque culvert after the spring floods was a very appropriate use of highway block grant funds, but covering stolen monies or other town expenses not related to road maintenance with highway block grants would not be legal under state law.
Highway Block Grant Aid Funds (RSA 235:23 & :25) come from a portion of the total road toll and motor vehicle registration fees collected by the State and given to municipalities for the purpose of constructing, reconstructing, or maintaining Class IV and V highways. Highway block grant payments are made as follows: 30 percent in July, 30 percent in October, 20 percent in January, and 20 percent in April. Unused balances may be carried over to the following municipal fiscal year, but they must still be used for road maintenance and cannot be used for other expenses.
Selectmen’s Assistant Linda Langille put together an analysis as to the income for Litchfield and according to Byron, she said Litchfield is ahead of last year’s revenue collection by $18,000 but it includes a receipt of $70,000 from FEMA and the insurance in the amount of $50,000 for the theft.
Selectmen discussed the financial situation.
Byron said, “Each year people see a number put into the Town Report which is unreserved Fund Balance. People need to understand that the unreserved fund balance is simply the amount of money that the Town has against the liabilities and it also includes taxes uncollected. There are also revenues that the Town will not be getting from the State in the amount of $64,000.”
Langille elaborated that the revenue sharing was cut in Governor Lynch’s budget, which has a negative impact on Litchfield. “You are down about $14,000 because of the money received from FEMA and the other funds you received. Next year you will have to make up that full $64,000 [from the loss of revenue sharing].”
“Doing it sooner than later and incrementally is sound fiscal management. Waiting until they [roads] are desperately needed costs more and legislative bodies run the risk of having requests for larger amounts of money voted down, as we have seen all too often,” concluded Lemire.
Selectmen have made no decisions at this time.
A detailed discussion recently ensued among Hudson’s Board of Selectmen, stemming from one board member’s wish to more closely examine the scope of work planned for the Elephant Barn on the Benson’s property.
Back on June 29, the board awarded a contract to Shadan Construction of Pelham for roof repairs to the Elephant Barn. For $43,004, Shadan Construction proposed to:
Shadan would not be responsible for windows, doors, or siding on the building, however.
During this same time, eleven companies placed roof bids on several other buildings within the property per the town’s request. However, six chose not to bid on the Elephant Barn, generally feeling that this building was not fixable. KSL Contracting, who was awarded roofing contracts for four buildings on the site, was among the companies who chose not to bid on the Elephant Barn.
Of those who placed bids on this structure, estimates ranged widely, running from Shadan’s low of $43,004 to the highest bidder who came in at $231,000.
The selectmen awarded the contract to Shadan Construction through a motion which passed 3-2. Selectmen Vice Chairman Ken Massey and Selectman Richard Maddox were both against the motion.
In order to understand the scope of work involved in this project more clearly, Maddox therefore requested that the board entertain an additional discussion. “I just want to know … before they start construction, what we are going to get,” stated Maddox during the July 28 Board of Selectmen meeting.
Upon the discussion’s commencement, Selectmen Chairman Roger Coutu proclaimed that Shadan Construction, which has been in business for 28 years, has a great reputation, even among competitors in its field.
Richard J. Shadan of Shadan Construction, who was present for this meeting, pointed out that the Elephant Barn is well built overall with a sound foundation and no evidence of termite or ant infestation.
Shadan enthusiastically assured the board that, other than the collapsed portion, the roof itself is actually in good condition. “What happened was, when they put the roofs on years ago … they compromised the roof by doing it, let’s say half done, and the water got behind all the rubber roofing and rotted out the structure … other than that, wherever the rubber is intact, the roofs are good,” explained Shadan.
“We’re going to support everything, the dormer that’s there, jack it all up, cut away all the rotted, broken timbers, and rebuild it the way it was, better than new, and re-roof the whole building,” Shadan outlined. He promised that once repairs are complete, the roof will be weather-tight.
According to Shadan, this entire realm of work can be performed for the agreed upon price without any surprise add-on costs. Furthermore, per Articles 4 and 5 of Shadan Construction’s contract with the town, a 50 percent up front payment of $21,504 will be made with payment of the balance contingent upon the town’s satisfaction with the finished product.
Massey, who along with Maddox still expressed some misgivings regarding this building, suggested that a structural inspection be conducted prior to the start of Shadan’s work. However, the overall decision by the board was that an inspection should occur once the work is done.
A debate then took place relating to whether an independent structural engineer or a town employee, such as the Building Inspector, would make this satisfaction determination. A consensus was eventually reached that an individual who is not employed by the town but who is familiar with barn construction would be the best choice for this task. Following this inspection, final payment will be made to Shadan Construction within 15 days.
In summary, Maddox stated, “I just want to make sure that … we end up with a building that can be used from that point on. One contractor said it was unsafe to go in. Half of them didn’t bid it. It raises concerns. As long as the board understands what cliff it’s driving over, so be it … We at least now know that this gentleman [Shadan] understands that he’s going to be expected to put the roof to structural, it will be inspected, he’s confident that he can do it for that price. I guess that’s where we’re going to head.”
Since asbestos in the building is unrelated to the roofing, asbestos removal is not included in the contract with Shadan Construction and will be dealt with by the town at a later date.
As was previously reported, funds to cover roof repairs to buildings on the Benson’s property are being drawn from a $140,000 grant. Repairs to the Elephant Barn will begin as soon as possible.
The Hudson Recreation Department has received a $1,000 donation from the Southern New Hampshire Radio Control Club, Inc. (SNHRCC).
SNHRCC is a non-profit group organized in the mid 1960s by a group of modeling devotees for the purpose of building and flying radio controlled model aircraft. The group is chartered by the Academy of Model Aeronautics (A.M.A.) and provides free training in safe model flying to those interested in joining.
SNHRCC, which currently contains 85 members, runs Wagner Field, a flying area at the old landfill site off of Hudson’s West Road.
Back in September 2008, SNHRCC made a $1,000 donation to the Rec Department as an expression of gratitude to the Town of Hudson for being allowed to use Wagner Field. This latest donation was made as a sign of SNHRCC’s continuing appreciation for the town’s ongoing support.
“Our club SNHRCC makes an annual donation to the Town of Hudson for the use of the Recreation Department in thanks for the use of the Old Landfill Site as our flying field,” wrote SNHRCC President George McCallan in a letter to the town.
The Board of Selectmen accepted this latest donation “with grateful appreciation and thanks” during their regular meeting on July 28. The funds will be placed into the Rec Department’s Recreation Donation Account.
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