2020 Chester Board of Selectmen Meetings

Chester Selectmen Decide to Follow Construction Management System for Stevens Hall Project
By Penny Williams   12-18-20

The Chester Board of Selectmen met Thursday evening, December 17, and after hearing the recommendation of Gary Goudreau, Goudreau Architects, regarding how to handle the work on Stevens Hall, voted to use a Construction Management system

Goudreau, a Chester resident, has been doing the architectural design for the repair and renovation of Stevens Hall. He has been consulting with Selectman Step Landau on what needs to be done and how to do it. This effort is being driven by the 300th Anniversary celebration in Chester that kicks off in September of 2021.

Goudreau outlined two options the  Town could use for overseeing and managing the project.  One would be 'design build' and the other 'construction management.'

Goudreau noted he has been in touch with a general contractor who would be interested if the Town went with the construction management method.  However, he indicated that if the Town chooses this path, an RFP/RFQ would need to be sent out and ultimately the board or a committee would select the Construction Manager.

The board discussed this and voted to go with the Construction Management but expressed concern over the RFP process. Goudreau said that isn't a problem because he has a template that he can use to address this.  He will send it out after it is approved by the board, saying he is a Chester resident and interested in helping as much as he can. Once the responses are received, he will reduce the candidates to a final few and the board, along with him,  will interview and decide on the best candidate for the project.

Along with the foregoing conversation a question regarding possible lead paint issues at Stevens Hall arose. The board thought this issue had been addressed the last time the building was painted. Town Manager Debra Doda said she would check and verify this.

The board then discussed Town Meeting. The board went over the possible times when it could be held. The townspeople voted to move the Town Meeting from May to March but since the COVID-19 pandemic this hasn't happened. Last May the town held a successful drive-up town meeting.

The selectmen, after a discussion, favored repeating this May drive-up meeting again this coming spring. Selectman Steve D'Angelo suggested setting a date in May and after the discussion the board settled on May 15, for the Town Meeting with voting to taking place on March 13.

Doda pointed out that the Town Moderator, Michael Scott, is the only one who has the authority to change the Town Meeting date. She said she would get in touch with him and advise him of the board's recommendation. D'Angelo suggested that Scott attend a board meeting in January to go over this with the board.

There was a discussion about the Warrant Article concerning discontinuing Carkin Street.  The Article is based on the Town Attorney's recommendation.

After a general discussion the selectmen favored the article. However, the board  felt it was important to have Planning Board input and asked Doda to arrange for the Planning Board to be at a January meeting to discuss this further.

There was a long discussion on the CIP Warrant Article. The selectmen want to start Capital Reserve Funds for the fire trucks the Chester Fire Department have on the CIP.

The board discussed using money from the Unassigned Fund Balance to start these CRFs or to purchase one or both of the trucks. Bottom line the board felt there needed to be a discussion about how to best use the Unassigned Fund Balance and whether to lower the percentage maintained by the Town, thus providing information on how much they could use to kick off the CRFs.

In the end the discussion was tabled until the January 7, meeting when it was hoped all five selectmen would be there to continue the discussion.  Doda was asked to make sure the Fire Department was at the meeting for the discussion.

The board decided not to schedule any meetings between this meeting and the next scheduled meeting January 7.


Chester Board of Selectmen Decide to put Carkin Street on the Ballot
By Penny Williams   12-11-20

The issue of discontinuing the Carkin Street cul-de-sac was discussed by the Board of Selectmen at their Thursday night meeting, December 10.

This cul-de-sac is a paper street which has never been built. The owner of one of the two properties that abut the planned cul-de-sac has asked to discontinue the street and purchase some of the property.

The Planning Board back in July didn't have any issue with discontinuing the street.  Road Agent Michael Oleson indicated then and Thursday night again, that plowing Carkin is difficult at best. He suggested if Carkin is discontinued the two property owners take responsibility for plowing the area from their driveways out to Donna. The second condition he suggested was that the town be compensated for the town-owned land held for the cul-de-sac that would then belong to the two property owners.

Town Manager Debra Doda said the Town Attorney indicated the Selectmen have two options for dealing with this issue. The board can vote to release the dedication of the paper street or they can put an Article on the Warrant  that petitions the discontinuance of the street and allow the residents to make the decision. There would need to be a price attached to the land because it is town owned.

The board after a discussion decided to bring the issue to the people through a Warrant Article on the ballott. They noted that there would need to be an appraisal of the land done so an appropriate price could be part of the petition for discontinuance. Doda said she would work with the Town Attorney to get the Article written.

The board spent time discussing with Fire Chief Greg Bolduc the need for a new Records Management Software and Support contract for the Fire Department. The company that provides the current software and support has been bought out by another company hence the need for a new contract.

Bolduc said he has contacted two companies about their product, Alpine, which, is used by Derry and appeared to him to make the most sense. However, he had other companies he wanted to talk to about  prices and support. He said he needs to get the cost into the budget because the initial purchase will be a big hit, around $25,000 or more although the companies he has spoken with were amenable to allowing the department to make payments over a  three years period. However, there is an annual fee on top of that and that will more expensive than what the department is currently paying.

The board asked him to move ahead and get the additional information and then put together a proposal with the costs and bring it to the board. The board indicated that going with Alpine since Derry uses it makes sense but before making a final decision they needed the information on costs. Selectman Steve D'Angelo was pleased that the new software, regardless of company, would be Cloud Based.           

The board voted to approve the requested increase for attorney fees for Wadleigh Starr & Peters, one of the firms the Town uses for Land Use issues. The request was made to increase the rate from $175 to $195 for the principal attorney and similar increases for assistants and paralegals. The firm has not had an increase in fees for 11 years.

The board again discussed the issue of considering moving to a Department of Public Works. It was decided that because the board has no plan at this time the issue should be put off for a year and the Department of Public Works Director Article should be taken off the Warrant. However, it was decided that mention of the board looking into this should be made at Town Meeting so people could start thinking about it.

Selectman Steph Landau said the issue brought up by the Planning Board about the alarm for the highway shed in the CIP is being looked into and he will have an answer. He indicated that both Road Agent Michael Oleson and Maintenance Supervisor Paul Cavanaugh are getting the information needed.

The board agreed to close Town Hall for Christmas and New Year's Eve.

D'Angelo brought up the danger of people not wearing masks in town buildings and was told masks are required in all town buildings. However, there are issues with those who must use the Town Clerk/Tax Collectors Office.

A discussion ensued over building some sort of small covered box up against the Town Clerk/Tax Collectors Office window to allow transactions so that people would  not have to actually enter the building.

The board decided this was a good solution and asked Doda to work on the final solution with Maintenance and gave her a budget of up to $1,000 to create something that would work.

In Other Business:

* The Health Trust Surplus Check has arrived and eligible employees will receive their share of $4,000 of it.

* The board decided to ask that eligible Chester Public Safety employees be considered eligible for being out for two weeks with pay if they have COVID-19 and that this time not be taken from their sick/vacation time.

* Recreation Director Corinna Reishus announced that there will be a Winter Scavenger Hunt held at Wason Pond. She will post details closer to when the event will take place.

Chester  Selectmen Decide to Identify Work Needed on Stevens Hall
By Penny Williams   12-4-20

After a lengthy discussion with Gary Goudreau, Cowan-Goudreau Architects, Concord, on Thursday evening, December 3, the Chester Board of Selectmen decided to move forward with determining exactly what needs to be done to Stevens Hall and how much it will cost.

The board approved Selectman Steph Landau's motion to engage a lift for an indeterminate amount of time (to be determined by when general contractors would be available to use the lift to inspect the exterior of the building more closely). The board also wanted the information, pictures and findings that were provided to the board earlier by Road Agent Michael Oleson and Maintenance Supervisor Paul Cavanaugh after they examined the building, to be forwarded to Goudreau to assist him in determining what is needed.

Goudreau went over the list of things he has already determined should be considered as the basic things that have to be done to the building. Among the things listed was prepping and repainting the building, removing and replacing the copper down spouts and gutters, removing and replacing the trim at edges of the roofs and the soffits and fascia as needed.

In addition, he told the board they should fund the project sufficiently to allow for the removal and replacement of the lower slats, removal and replacement of the copper roofing on the tower and the two dormers.

He further suggested that it would be wise for the board to have a contingency amount added to cover the discovery of any other things that need removal and replacement. He indicated that such items might be windows, for example.

Once he has completed his study and developed his plan he will present it to the board. In the meantime he has been in touch with at least one general contractor and he plans to go with him to more closely inspect the exterior of the building and roofs.

What he is using to determine needs right now was developed from a volunteer with a drone that took pictures of the building. He indicated that he would have the volunteer with the drone return and take more pictures but having the lift would be very important and allow much better decisions to be determined because they would actually be able to touch and poke the exterior boards to see what damage exists.

Goudreau told the board he would either oversee the final project or they could have a general contractor do it or the Town Maintenance Supervisor could do it. Cavanaugh said that would be beyond his pay grade and the board indicated that decision could be made after it was found out who might be interested in bidding on the general contractor job. However, Landau and Cavanaugh both indicated they wanted to be closely involved in all that goes on with respect to the project.

Selectman Joe Hagan asked what Goudreau thought the project would cost and he declined to make a guestimate. However, Cavanaugh spoke up and said the town was looking at somewhere in the neighborhood of $250,000 or more.

The board discussed where the money for this would come from and other than from the taxpayers the only suggestion was to dip into the Unassigned Fund Balance.

The board members discussed the items on the CIP and concluded the board and the town needs to do something different as they look down the road toward big ticket items from the fire department in terms of equipment and the many roads needing work. The board agreed there needs to be a new approach to the CIP.

One thing that came up was the warrant article that seeks a Department of Public Works Director. The board discussed the issue of moving to a Department of Public Works (DPW) and it was clear that much more information is needed.

Hagan suggested the town get the DPW Director and have him develop a plan to move the town from the current Road Agent approach to a DPW approach. Finding out what other towns are doing that have DPWs and how they arrived at that should be looked into as well. No action was taken on this or the CIP Table 10.

Selectman Steve D'Angelo brought up an issue with an unnamed resident who has been making demands on the Town Office officials that are not reasonable, taking up hours of town official's time to no purpose. 

The business of wearing a mask when in the building with this individual came up also and the board is concerned about the safety of the town employees. No action was taken but it was noted if things continue they may need to involve the police. It was also noted that if it continues and employee time wasted the individual may be charged for the time.

People have been wandering around town hall and the board recognized the only solution would be to erect more new doors that could be locked. The cost for doing this would be in the thousands of dollars but may be necessary if it continues. Hagan suggested that anyone in the building without a mask should be arrested.

Selectman Chuck Myette asked residents for patience with respect to the Transfer Station. Some of the regular employees are out due to COVID-19 so they are shorthanded but trying to make it work. He asked residents if they are sick not to come to the Transfer Station.


Chester Selectmen Discuss Need for Maintenance Department Vehicle
Penny Williams   11-20-20

The Chester Board of Selectmen met on Thursday evening, November 19, and the majority of the meeting was spent discussing how best to get a pick-up truck for the Maintenance Department.

There is a new truck in the CIP three years out for the Police Department. Their current vehicle is six years old truck with 30,000 miles on it. Police Chief Aaron Berube said he ordered it specifically outfitted for his department's use but  added other things such as a plow kit and sander so that it would be adequate for use by other departments when it was passed along.

Selectman Steph Landau suggested buying the Police Department a new vehicle this coming year and the current police truck be passed on to the Maintenance Department.

The Maintenance Department has a SUV type vehicle and has used a 550 truck loaned to them by the Highway Department. However, they need a pick-up to be able to haul the trailer loaded with Maintenance equipment. The 550 truck is too high for the equipment to be put in it to carry and further, there is only one person qualified to drive that truck and the cost to run it is very high.

Town Planner Andrew Hadik noted there had been a pick-up truck in the CIP for the coming year but it had been removed and the replacement vehicle for the Police Department was out a couple years.

After a long discussion the board decided to see if the Planning Board would put a truck back into the coming year of the CIP. There was some confusion over whether it would be for the Maintenance or the Police Department but since the police want a cruiser it was thought putting the truck for in for Maintenance would be better. If the Planning Board is willing to put the truck back into the 2021 CIP the Board of Selectmen can then decide where the truck will go.

Assuming the truck is in the Maintenance CIP after it is available in Chester it would be given to the Police Department and the Police Department would turn their current vehicle over to maintenance. The board voted to send this to the Planning Board to return the truck to the 2021 CIP. There were several estimates of cost running between $41,000 and $52,000.

The board voted to accept a piece of property on the Exeter River that is owned by Candace Schofield who expressed a wish to donate it to the town for Conservation purposes.

The board learned that the Spring Hill Advisory Committee had proposed going forward with the design study by Cowan Goudreau Architects, Concord, for making the Spring Hill Farm house ADA compliant. The cost of the design study is $2,850. The design will provide the committee and the selectmen with information on what will be necessary to bring the building into ADA compliance and an estimated cost of doing so.

The Chester Historical Society asked the board for permission to redo the Historical Museum floors in Stevens Hall.

Selectman Steve D'Angelo suggested if that was going to be done all the floors should be done given the approaching 300 Anniversary.

 It turned out there are price quotes for doing just that and the board asked Town Administrator Debra Doda to find those quotes and have a potential cost estimate for doing all the floors for them at the next meeting. The Historical Society had said they pay for the Museum floors.

Hadik told the selectmen if they want to add the commercial refrigerator for the town's Commercial Kitchen to the CIP they will need a specific costs estimate. He suggested that in addition to the refrigerator they might want to add in other improvements and upgrades for the kitchen to that project.

Selectman Joe Hagan urged residents to commit to adhering to the Governor's mask mandate. "Wear your mask," he said.

Chester Selectmen Discuss 2021 Preliminary Town Budget
By Penny Williams   11-14-20

The Chester Board of Selectmen met on Thursday, November 12, and did some minor tweaking to the budget.

The preliminary Town Operating Budget amount of $5,135,117 was arrived at by the board approving adding an increased rate of pay for the Supervisor of the Checklist  of $15 and an additional 150 hours for a voter roll purge.

Still hanging out there after the Thursday night budget discussion is a possible stipend increase for the members of the Board of Selectmen. There hasn't been an increase in 30 years and that might add another $10,000. However, at the conclusion of the discussion and the arrival at the $5,135,117 amount, Town Manager Debra Doda said this constitutes a 2.73 percent increase over last year and she would like to see the increase kept under 3 percent.

Next the preliminary budget will go to the Budget Committee where they will discuss the components and make suggestions for reductions or increases. The goal is to be able to present a united front between the Selectmen and the Budget Committee and be able to propose one budget proposal for the Chester Operational Budget at the Town Meeting.

The board engaged in a discussion regarding the CIP that revolved around the need of the Maintenance Department for a pick-up truck. Selectman Steph Landau suggested taking the current Police Department pick-up for this purpose and buying a new truck appropriate for Police Department use might be one way to go. Another suggestion was to purchase a used vehicle for the Maintenance Department..

Selectman Chuck Myette suggested that the board could authorize use of unassigned balance fund money to purchase a used pick-up for the Maintenance Department. 

Selectman Steve D'Angelo reminded the board that what happens with the CIP remains in the hands of the selectmen and that he thought the Planning Coordinator Andrew Hadik, should meet with the Selectmen to discuss where this tuck purchase should fall, adding the possibility of using impact fees for the purchase.

Doda was asked by the board to set up a meeting with the board and Hadik, Maintenance Supervisor Paul Cavanaugh and Police Chief Aaron Berube  to continue this discussion at the next meeting.

Tax bills will be sent out by or before November 20, according to Town Clerk/Tax Collector Liz Lufkin.  This will mean the bills will be due December 21. The board signed off on the tax bill  document and Lufkin will move forward with getting the bills into the mail.

The board entered into a lengthy discussion regarding the Unassigned Fund Balance. The Town's is at 19.54 percent when the Department of Revenue Administration recommends between 5 and 17 percent.

Board members discussed several things they thought could be done with the unassigned fund balance dollars but were reminded that there were limitations for its use.

Among the things discussed that might be able to be addressed with these funds were the salt shed that is needed; the fire trucks needed by the Fire Department; for work on a historical building in town; and other suggestions.

The members decided to look into the suggestions, see what they would actually cost and their impact on the unassigned fund balance. The board agreed they should have more information on this before making a decision but they needed to remember that the town is debt free now.

The board approved moving the $5,700.82 in the Capital Reserve Fund for North Pond Road and Route 102 Intersection to the General Fund so other things related to North Pond Road could be addressed with the funds. The Fund would then be closed at Town Meeting.

There still was no final bid and information for the Wason Pond Community Center ramp. There was difficulty communicating with the bidder and D'Angelo suggested if that is the case is this really a vendor the town wants to work with. Doda said she is in touch with the vendor and will have information for the selectmen at the next meeting.

Doda agreed to look into whether continuing with the various departments using and paying for their own Zoom would be in the best interests of the Town or whether the town should have the Zoom license. She suggested that moving to TEAMS might be less expensive than ZOOM and said she would see how the systems compare in terms of resource provisions and cost and get back to the board.

The board asks that employees who travel out of state over the holidays or take part in any large gatherings notify Doda. Selectman Joe Hagan said people need to stay home, wear masks, social distance and listen to the Governor and follow his guidelines. He said quarantining would be necessary if travel is undertaken, especially if public transportation is involved.

Myette said the Conservation Commission is hosting a Zoom presentation of Creatures of the Night on November 28, at 5 p.m. Information for connecting will be posted on the Commission web page and the town web page.


Chester Board of Selectmen Set 2021 Tax Rate
By Penny Williams   11-9-20

The Chester Board of Selectmen at their Thursday night, November 5 meeting after discussion, set the Town's Tax Rate that will be reviewed for final approval by the Department of Revenue Administration (DRA).

The tax rate discussion began with Town Administrator Debra Doda informing the board the DRA recommended an overlay of $500,000 that resulted in a $21.15 tax rate, an increase of $0.35 over last year's tax rate.

The board members concurred that it felt this amount of overlay is more than the Town needs and they spent some time looking at what impact various reductions to this amount would have on the tax rate.

After a long discussion the board voted to approve reducing the overlay amount to $50,000 that resulted in a tax rate of $20.53, $ 0.23 less than last year's rate of $20.80. The proposed tax rate breakdown follows:

* Municipal   -  $7.02

* County   - $0.29

* Local Education   -  $10.72

* State Education  -  $1.90

* Total  $20.53

The board reviewed the Trustees of the Trust Fund budget and the board decided that the fluctuation in the amount year to year still needs more information. They decided to leave the amount as is for now and get additional information after the first of the year.

The board decided to get the preliminary proposed budget to the Budget Committee as of the following week's meeting. Right now the budget sits with a 2.66 percent increase over last year's budget.

During the board's discussion on the Warrant Articles, a discussion ensued over support for the repairs to the historic Chester Baptist Church's Tower Project. Last year the town contributed $25,000 for matching funding to the project because the Town owns the clock housed in the tower. Selectman Joe Hagan proposed increasing that amount to $50,000 since the Tower bell is also owned by the Town. No final decisions were made relative to Warrant Articles.

The board doesn't believe this is a year for a bond for highway/road repair and maintenance. However, they want to discuss with the Road Agent Michael Oleson whether he thinks significant progress can be accomplished without a bond.

There was a discussion about the town's Commercial Kitchen and it was suggested the board might want to consider raising the rent for the kitchen.

The board learned that the Wason Pond Committee recommends accepting bid number 3 for replacing the Wason Pond Community Center ramp. This bid was for replacing the ramp with one made of aluminum. The board noted it needs to confirm that the aluminum would be anodized aluminum and also wants to know if it can be painted. The decision on the bid was tabled to the next meeting until answers to the questions can be received.

The board discussed getting a container for the storage items now in the front room of the annex so that room can be cleared and made ready for meetings by groups such as Cub Scouts etc.  The cost of the container, Selectman Step Landau said, would be $2,500. The container would be put down at the Transfer Station.

Selectman Steve D'Angelo was ok with it so long as the container was placed at the Transfer Station and he asked where funding would come from. After a brief discussion he made a motion to take money from the General Buildings major projects for the container purchase subject to Maintenance Supervisor Paul  Cavanaugh's approval. The board approved his motion.

The board was informed about the annual Food Drive. Due to current COVID-19 circumstances, the Boy Scouts will not be having their annual “Scouting for Food” event where they typically would go from house to house collecting residents' generous donations for the Chester Food Pantry. Instead, a trailer will be set up at the Transfer Station on the first three Saturdays in November – the 7th, 14th, and 21st – and staffed from 7 a.m, to 2 p.m.  A trailer will also be set up at Town Hall on Saturday, November 14th, and staffed from 8 a.m.  to 1p.m. should you prefer to bring your donations there rather than to the Transfer Station. Participants were asked to bring donations of canned goods or any other non-perishable food items there and it was noted that all donations will be very much appreciated.

There was a discussion about hunting at Wason Pond. If the town is to post that hunting is prohibited they must properly place signage to that effect every so many feet throughout the borders of the park because not to post results is potential liability issues and makes enforcement impossible. The Wason Pond Committee doesn't want hunting but doesn't want to see all the required signs either. It was decided that Doda would check with Primex and see what liability issues actually would exist.

Jack Helf, Boy Scout Troop 163,  came before the board asking  the board to sign off on his Eagle Project that involved clearing and improving the area behind the Town Hall. The board thanked him and praised the completion of the project and signed off on his project so he can move forward for his Eagle designation.

Chester Selectmen Hear Election Update by Town Moderator Scott
By Penny Williams  10-30-20

On Thursday evening, October 29, the Chester Board of Selectmen met and heard from the Town Moderator, Michael Scott, about the upcoming Presidential Election plans.

Scott confirmed there will be two voting rooms; one for those wearing masks; and, a second for those who can't or won't wear a mask. Unlike the Primary, however, both rooms will use an  ballot machine as well as the main voting room.

There were some complaints and questions about the use of the ballot box for ballots rather than an electronic ballot machine in the room dedicated to those without masks for the Primary Election. Scott said these has been addressed for the upcoming election and should either machine have an issue the vendor is prepared to deliver a back-up machine immediately.

He asked the selectmen to be at the polls as much as they could but asked that they refer people with questions and concerns to him for answers. He indicated he doesn't anticipate any issues but Police Chief Aaron Berube will have two officers present at the polling place throughout the day and evening. He reminded the selectmen he is counting on them all to be present and prepared to assist in ballot counting once the polls close.

Because of the disproportionate number of absentee ballots, Scott said he and the election inspectors will start counting ballots at 8 a.m. on Tuesday morning, November 3. He said from everything he has heard the Primary voting went well and he expects the Presidential Election to go well also.

Planning Coordinator Andrew Hadik asked the board for their support for the grant he is seeking from the NH Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) for the Town's Source Water Protection Plan.

He indicated that Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission is actually doing the work for the town to get the grant but that letters of support and approval from boards is key to getting the award. The board agreed to support the effort and Town Administrator Debra Doda said she would write the letter and get the board members' signatures. It was noted that Victor Chouinard, Chair of the Conservation Commission, would be asked for his commission's support and for him to provide Hadik with a letter as well. Doda said she would help him with that. He was present and agreed.

The NHDES grant would be used to protect Chester's water source as the town doesn't have any surface water sources. Chester isn't expected to tie into the new water line that will be developed bringing water from Lake Massabesic down through Derry and Windham to Salem and on over to Plaistow with ties being available the Hampstead Area Water Company lines servicing Hampstead and other neighboring towns. The grant award will assist the town in developing and putting in place well head protections and bolster protections already in place. Hadik pointed out there will need to be some zoning amendments and lots of public education and he hopes Chester Academy can be a partner in that aspect. Protections against contaminants will also be developed. It was noted that at least 3 wells are known to have gone dry in Chester already during the drought.

The board met Brian Fogg who wants to get the Chester contract for Utilities Assessing. He was formerly an associate of George Sansoucy who was the Utilities Assessor for the town.

Selectman Steve D'Angelo had a number of questions and made no bones about the fact he has some trepidation about Fogg because of his association with Sansoucy, feeling that Sansoucy's methodology was what got Chester and other communities into costly litigation with utility service companies. He asked if Fogg's methodology was different and would protect the town from further litigation. Fogg said his methodology is somewhat different and does address controversial aspects of the previous methodology.

Fogg  said his methodology is based on Market Value and his plan is to work with only 11 or 12 towns so that he can provide the necessary customer service the town's deserve.

The board thanked him from coming in to introduce himself to the board.

The board reviewed the following budgets.

* Conservation - $1,200 - flat

* Agriculture - $5 - Cindy Leblanc is trying to get this committee reactivated

* Wason Pond Commission - $256 - basically flat

* Wason Pond Bath House - $ 1,090

* Wason Pond Cottage - $ 280

* Spring Hill Farm - $4,850

* Budget Committee $1,223 - basically flat

* Transfer Station - $192,354 - this was back because it was adjusted for salary information - this budget is down significantly -

The Trustees of the Trust Fund budget was moved to the next meeting because D'Angelo and Selectman Steph Landau wanted additional information on why this budget swings so dramatically year to year.       

The board discussed the bids for the ramp for the Wason Pond Community Center. One bid was for a cement ramp at $18,068.93. The second and third bids from the same bidder were $12,125 for a pressure  treated ramp and $7,744 for an aluminum ramp and rail. They will vote on this at the next meeting but want input from the Wason Pond Commission before making a final decision.

The board approved working with Cowan-Goudreau Architects at a cost of $4,500 and for using a drone to determine the repair needs at Stevens Hall.

The board discussed the drone with Chief Berube who said the one suggested by D'Angelo was probably a little old and that spending a little more than the $800 would get the town a drone that has a built in monitor which is a step ahead. One like that he said would run around $1,200. The purchase of the drone would be a plus for the town not only to determine repair needs on buildings in a safe and easy manner but could be used also by Police and Fire as needed in emergency situations.


Chester Selectmen Forward Seven More Budget Items to Budget Committee
By Penny Williams  10-23-20

The Chester Board of Selectmen met Thursday night, October 22, and spent almost all of the meeting on reviewing budgets.

The budgets reviewed and forwarded to the Budget Committee included:

* Senior Citizens - flat funded - $15, 000

* Supervisors of the Check List - $9,754

* Great Hills Cemetery - $1,960

* Treasurer - $13,987

* Village Cemetery - $25,906

* Patriotic Purposes - flat funded - $1,000

* Insurance - $106,475

* Street Lighting - flat funded - $4,300

The PACT budget was not discussed.

The Supervisors of the Checklist said they need another fireproof file cabinet and Town Administrator Deb Doda said she would take care of attending to this.

Great Hills Cemetery grub issue was discussed and treatment will continue this year.

Selectman Steph Landau questioned where Primex got its insurance figures from and asked Doda to seek clarification on this.

Treasurer Rhonda Lamphere discussed adding compensation for the Deputy Treasurer position and noted the current Deputy Treasurer wishes to be replaced. She put $1,200 into the budget for the position and it was left in there.

Doda noted the insurance rates didn't rise as much as expected, going up only 1.78 percent.

The board learned that only one bid came in for the Wason Pond Community Center work and that one was actually after the deadline. However, Doda indicated there were inquiries from other vendors so suggested they hold accepting bids open for another week. The board approved that.

There was a general discussion but no decisions regarding the architect's information and recommendation for work at Stevens Hall and the Spring Hill Farm building. They received two bids, however, this issue was postponed until the next meeting for review of the bids and discussion.

Town Clerk/Tax Collector Liz Lufkin said they plan to use the back-up ballot machine in the room where those wishing to vote without wearing a mask on November 3, will be filing their ballots. The vendor has additional machines available should one be needed and is prepared to deliver it if needed. Lufkin said close to 600 absentee ballots have already been applied for.

In Other Business:

* The Transfer Station will be switching to its 'Winter Hours' as of Wednesday, October 28th, 2020.  They will be open on Wednesday nights from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. rather than 6 to 8 p.m. in order that residents may conduct their business when it is somewhat lighter.  Saturday hours will remain 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

* Chester Conservation Commission is having a wildlife photo contest!
Entries can include mammals, birds, insects, amphibians and reptiles. This is an amateur contest and will be judged on many different factors, with possible categories for the winners. To enter you must be a resident of Chester N.H. and the photo must have been taken in Chester. When you enter a photo you are consenting and agreeing to allow us to post the photo on our social media and perhaps use the photo in a calendar. In addition, winner photos may be printed and posted in town buildings for a period of time. Each photo posted will be referenced with the name of the entrant. If uncomfortable with full name, first name and last initial will be used. Under 18 year old names with entries will be posted at the discretion of parent or guardian. Small prizes will be awarded to the winners. If there are any Chester businesses willing to donate to a prize, we welcome the help and your donation will be appreciated and noted. Deadline for entry is midnight November 15th. Please send your entry either via private messaging our FB page or send to conservationcommission@chesternh.org.

* There will be a scavenger hunt on the Wason Pond Trails this weekend and next weekend available to families from dawn to dusk.

Chester Board of Selectmen Review More 2021 Budget Items
By Penny Williams  10-12-20

The Chester Board of Selectmen met Thursday evening, October 8, and reviewed more proposed budgets but in at least two instances decided to return for a second look before moving the budgets forward.

The review of the Insurance budget wasn't satisfactory because this year's insurance numbers haven't been received yet so the budget was an estimate only. The board decided to review this budget again when the final numbers have been properly applied.

The board had some questions Town Administrator Debra Doda couldn't answer regarding the IT budget since Finance Director Joanne Smith wasn't able to be present so the board decided to seek more information before formally forwarding this budget. Selectman Steve D'Angelo was pushing for a change to Cloud Based internet rather than using servers.

The board discussed the Police budget with Chief Aaron Berube with most of the discussion focusing on perhaps increasing his line for training which D'Angelo felt was possibly too low. However the board forwarded the budget amount of $803,223, a slight increase, on to the Budget Committee.

Berube also spoke on the Animal Control budget of $250 saying his department was ok with this unless the board wanted to move on appointing someone to the Animal Control position. D'Angelo questioned Berube at length about the skunk incident worried that the officer's uniforms had sustained permanent damage. However, Berube said the uniforms had been immediately washed and were fine. The budget was forwarded to the Budget Committee.

The Recreation Budget of $77,606 presented by Recreation Director Corinna Reishus, has no particular increases. D'Angelo questioned if she had enough for the upcoming year if things return to normal and she said yes.

She went on to present the Wason Pond budget explaining that it is up because of the decision to include the Wason Pond Ranger in this budget rather than in the Police budget. The board forwarded this budget.

Reishus said the budget for  Fire Works is the same this year and she hopes the Town Fair will be held this coming year. The board forwarded the $7,000 Fire Works budget.

Doda presented the Finance Department budget of $143,775 and answered some of the boards questions but she said some answers she would need to get from Smith. However, the budget was forwarded.

She went on to present the $107,725 Insurance budget but indicated the actual numbers haven't been received as yet. The board decided this budget should be on a future agenda for another review when the insurance numbers are available.

Doda also presented the Ad and Regional Associations budget of $8,651 and this was forwarded to the Budget Committee.

She indicated that the Legal budget was flat at, $65,000 and D'Angelo noted it might be less this year since the utilities lawsuit will have ended.

The debt service and interest budget of $1,664 was forwarded and the board was happy that the final debt payment has been made.

The Benefits budget of $926,186 was forwarded after Doda and Selectman Joe Hagan explained the State Retirement costs continue to rise for municipalities.

Doda couldn't provide all the answers on the IT budget of $128,362 so this will be reviewed again. The board questioned the use of a separate line for faxes when most machines can handle this.

The last budget, Zoning Board of Adjustment presented by Jack Cannon was flat in the amount of $19,233 and was forwarded to the Budget Committee.

The board discussed signing the Utilities Assessing contract with Brian Fogg. Doda said the Town Attorney had said a five year contract was acceptable so long as it included an escape clause, which would not be needed if it is just a one year contract. D'Angelo pushed for a single year contract since Fogg would be someone new dealing with the Town although he had worked with the Town's former vendor George Sansoucey.

The board approved the Right to Know policy for the Town prepared by Doda and adopted it. D'Angelo wanted her to develop a policy for the Town which would make responses to outsider inquires be responded to by only her as the Town Administrator.

Chester Selectmen Start to Look at Budgets for 2021
By Penny Williams   10-5-2020

The Chester Board of Selectmen met Thursday evening, October 1st and started the Budget Process, looking at ten preliminary proposed department budgets.

The board reviewed the following budgets, asking questions and in some cases making some minor changes.

* Assessing Department - 2020 budget $80,227 and proposed 2021 budget of $81,475
The board wanted the Utility Assessing amount checked and a legal opinion on whether a five year contract would be legal

* Building Inspection - 2020 budget $101,205 and proposed 2021 amount $110,574. Selectman Steve D'Angelo asked that an explanatory note for the Budget Committee be added explaining the increase

* Government Buildings - 2020 budget of $308,523 and proposed 2021 budget of $302,932

* Stevens Hall - budget remained flat $11,902 in 2020 and proposed for 2021

* Executive Office - 2020 budget of $51,179 and proposed budget of $49,304

* Administration - 2020 budget of $150,272 with a proposed 2021 budget of 139,950 D'Angelo asked that a clarification note be added explaining the reduction that is due to less Town Administrator training and no further Town Administrator Consultant services

* Welfare General Assistance - 2020 budget of $12,450 remained flat for 2021

*  Welfare Intergovernmental -2020 budget $4,512 remained flat for 2021

* Welfare Health Agencies - 2020 budget $22,750 and 2021 proposed budget of $21,752

* Planning Department - 2020 budget of $82,551 and proposed $81,620  -  the board discussed changes to this but ended up back at the original proposed 2021 budget amount

* Tax Collector - 2020 budget  $61,249  -  the 2021 budget proposal is for a combined Town Clerk/Tax Collector position in the amount  of $139,718.   Town Clerk/Tax Collector Liz Lufkin said there is an immediate need for a part time person to handle the Motor Vehicle System. The board discussed this and decided to look into meeting this need immediately.
The board heard from Beth Sautter and Cindy LaBranc regarding the Spring Hill Farm house. The Spring Hill Farm Advisory Committee wants to find out what is needed and the cost of bringing the house's first floor into ADA compliance so it can be used for events such as the Fall Festival and for meetings. The discussion revolved around who should be contacted to make these determinations.

It was finally decided the Town's Engineering Firm, DuBois and King should be contacted and asked to do this. Selectman Steph Landau said he and Maintenance Director Paul Cavanaugh take care of this.

Road Agent Michael Oleson reported that the work on North Road had been completed for the year and the road reopened. The binder is down and the last trees that need to be taken down will happen in the spring. He said the work had been completed in 8 weeks as he predicted. The board noted the road looks very good.

Recreation Director Corinna Reishus said the decision was made to continue keeping Stevens Hall and the Community Center building at Wason Pond closed. A room in the Annex will be used by the various scout troops.

The board decided to continue with their current vendor, Irving Oil, for their gas, oil, and propane.

In Other Business:
* Chester Police Chief, Aaron Berube  reported a serious accident in Chester on September 27, at approximately 8:10 p.m. in the evening Corporal. Kerkman and Officer  Gardner were dispatched to the area of Chester Street and Candia Road for a head on motor vehicle collision. Dispatch advised that a 911 caller had been following one of the involved vehicles and reported it as a possible impaired driver.  
Once on scene the officers began to investigate the collision and determined it involved two vehicles and three subjects had sustained potentially serious bodily injuries. All three subjects were transported to Elliott Hospital. 
The suspect vehicle had veered into the opposite lane of travel and impacted the other in a head on fashion. 
Officer Gardner responded to Elliott Hospital to continue his investigation. He determined that based on the information collected probable cause was established and arrest was made.  
The subject arrested was: Nicole Leclair, 26 year old, Chester who was charged with Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated (felony level), Driving While Intoxicated (misdemeanor level). 
Berube said he wanted to thank the Auburn Police Department. for assisting his department.

Chester Selectmen Grant Eversource Permission for Structure Replacement
By Penny Williams   9-28-20

The Chester Board of Selectmen met Thursday evening, September 24, and had a discussion with Eversource representatives about being granted access to the 373 power lines off Bridal Path and through the FAA radar gate entrance.

Elizabeth LaRocca and Matt Flanders described why they need this access. Flanders indicated Eversource has two structures that they intend to replace as well as some communication wires. The shortest way to those structures is through the Bridal Path access.

LaRocca also told the board that Eversource is complying with the Town's requests to work on  disguising the various access areas to the power lines.  The reason the company has been asked to gate and add rocks and plantings and gravel to several access points within Chester is to try and stop ATVs from accessing the power lines areas where they are destroying and/or damaging private property when riding along the power line lane. The only enforcement is by Fish and Game and they have limited resources.  Eversource has agreed to do as much as they can to block the various access points with gates, boulders and to disguise as many as possible with gravel and plantings. LaRocca told the board they are working on this and on signage as well.

Flanders said the company wants to replace just two structures on the 373 line and going through the FAA gate provides the shortest distance to reach those structures. Once the structures are replaced he said the communication wires at the top of the structures will be replaced to upgrade communications. He said every effort would be made to keep that gate shut while the work is being done.

The board had a few questions but  in the end approved the Eversource request.

The board went over the two bids for snow plowing at the Transfer Station. Bid number 1 was for $6,700 with coverage between now and May 15. Bid number 2 was for $6,500 and ran from December 1 through March 31. The board discussed this briefly and Selectman Joe Hagan made a motion to accept Bid number 1 since is covered so much more time. The board voted to approve awarding the contract to bidder number 1.

After discussing the four bids for Propane and Fuel Oil, the board decided they couldn't make a decision on the proposed bids without having data on the past five years. The reason for this is last winter was very mild and they wanted to look at what the town's usage was for both during colder and longer winters before they made a decision. Town Administrator Debra Doda said she would gather the required data for the next meeting and put this back on that agenda.

Selectman Chuck Myette said the Spring Hill Farm Advisory is looking to have the building assessed to find out what it would cost to bring it up to being ADA compliant. Once they  know what the cost for what is needed they can decide whether to go for a Warrant Article, a grant, or look for donations.

Myette said that Julia Webb had been making masks ever since the COVID-19 shut down accepting donations only. She donated $2,445 to the Spring Hill Farm Trustees for renovation of the barn. He said with that and the money from haying and the Fall Festival there is $5,700 in the account and the Trustees are hoping to have it renovated and cleaned up before the 300 Anniversary.

Board Chair Jeremy Owens reiterated the board's decision to not provide the usual Halloween support for trick or treating on Chester Street. He pointed out CDC has recently released new guidelines for celebrating this holiday. These guidelines are broken down into lower risk activities, moderate risk activities, and higher risk activities. The guidelines are posted on the Town's web site.

The Town of Chester in no way wishes to prevent residents from celebrating Halloween in any manner they choose on their own property.  However, we cannot provide the support of Town resources for those activities that the CDC has deemed high risk. The Chester Street Halloween event that occurs every year on Halloween incorporates at least 3 of the 7 high-risk activities from the CDC's list. Consequently, the Town will not be providing its usual support for Halloween on Chester Street – including police and fire details, traffic cones, bathrooms, etc. While trick-or-treating is not prohibited on Chester Street this year, we want to emphasize the following items to be aware of:

* Participation from residents on Chester Street will be much lower than normal

* There will be no traffic control from the Police Department so traffic will be moving at normal speeds in excess of 30 MPH

* There is virtually no lighting on Chester Street making those not wearing reflective clothing and carrying lights difficult to see

Based on the last 2 safety concerns, we would encourage those that still plan to trick-or-treat to do this within your own communities that are not located on busy state roads. Furthermore, we would encourage you to look at the list of lower risk activities as an option during this pandemic Halloween. 

In Other Business:

* The Chester ZBA met September 15 and there were two public hearings; One for Jacob Hemond who sought a Variance for adding a 6 foot by 19 foot deck that would be situated only 28 feet from the front property line where 40 feet are required. The board approved this because there were safety issues that adding the deck resolved. The second hearing was for Keith and Erin Gokey who sought a Variance for constructing a shed no larger than 10 by 12 feet inside the common land setback approximately 5 feet from the rear property line where 25 feet are required. The applicants were not present so this was continued to the next meeting.


Chester Board of Selectmen Shared Which Town Buildings are Open  
By Penny Williams   9-18-20

Thursday evening, September 19, the Chester Board of Selectmen discussed what is open in town and what is not.

Recreation Director Corinna Reishus said Wason Pond is now open except for the Community Center and the bubbler. She indicated the playground is now fully open. She said she has received requests for use of Stevens Hall and other places but Stevens Hall remains closed, although exceptions have been made for individual or two person use of a single room in the building.

Town Hall is open but wearing of masks is required as is the Annex and the Multi Purpose Room (MPR) is open to small groups/events that follow the state guidelines. Reishus said there is a specific check list form that has to be filled out for use. She indicated that the board should revisit opening other buildings in October. But, she pointed out, the Boy Scouts have been generous in allowing others to use their tent.

The Friends of the Library have asked to use the MPR for their breakfast with Santa event in December. They would use a book by appointment approach so numbers could be controlled and there is a good possibility that can happen by then. There is a process people have to go through to use Town property which is on the Web site but Town Manager Debra Doda said it would be possible to make this more visible and she would attend to it.

Another request is for the American Legion to hold its Craft Fair in the MPR. The board and Reishus weren't inclined to think this would be practical since it wouldn't be possible to control the numbers but the Legion has its own building. The board will look at these issues and buildings being open again at the October 1, meeting.

The board discussed who would represent Chester at the New Hampshire Municipal Association's  Legislative Policy Conference on Friday, October 2,  that  will be held as an "in-person" event at the Holiday Inn in Concord. None of the selectmen were inclined to go and the Town Manager was asked if she would represent the town. Doda agreed.

The board discussed the disability ramp for the Community Center at Wason Pond. It was decided at the Wason Pond Commission meeting that it should be concrete. Selectman Steph Landau was concerned this might not be a good idea because if the disability regulations changed it would be difficult to meet those changes. However, the concrete ramp with galvanized steel railings and non-slip surface is being considered.

Landau also encouraged the board to appeal to the Department of Revenue Administration to reverse their declination of funding for the repairs for Stevens Hall. He said the $50,000 the Town has will not be enough and the hope is to have it repaired and ready for the 300 Anniversary.


Chester Selectmen Learn of Veterans and First Responder Suicide Awareness Event and Cancel Chester Street Halloween
By Penny Williams   9-11-20

The Chester Board of Selectmen met Thursday evening, September 10, and heard from Bill Rohr about an awareness event regarding veterans and first responder suicide.

Rohr said on Sunday, September 20, at 3 p.m. the plan is to plant 660 flags around the main flag pole on the Busche Academy front lawn. This is to bring awareness of the fact that 22 veterans die daily from suicide.

Rohr said there will be resource information made available for veterans and first responders who are seeking help. He said this event is taking place during Suicide Awareness Month. Each September of every year, the United States recognizes National Suicide Prevention Month and Suicide Prevention Week. On the 10, suicide is recognized internationally as World Suicide Prevention Day. With the best efforts, prevention is possible. This month is dedicated to raising awareness and putting an end to the stigmatized topic.

Rohr said he has informed the police and fire departments of the event and will be getting the information out on social media and in the press.

 This is an urgent issue and he hopes there will be ample support for the event. Even more importantly, he said if this effort saves one veteran's life it will have been worthwhile. Selectman Chuck Myette said he hadn't been aware that this was such a major issue and thanked Rohr for planning this event.

The board discussed whether to hold the usual Chester Street Halloween event this year. After a brief discussion it was decided that this can't be done safely under current conditions. Chair Jeremy Owens said that it appears many Chester Street residents don't want to do it this year. As a result, the board approved the decision not to hold the usual Chester Street Halloween event this year.

The board appointed Maria Oakley to the Spring Hill Farm Advisory Board as a full member. She has been representing the Recreation side on the board and has been a valuable member. She is excited to become a full time member of this committee.

The board approved extending the Spring Hill Farm Lease for Nick and Christy Ortins. Town Counsel advised extending the current contract from its present expiration date through December of 2021.

The board approved releasing Quadrant D impact fees of $44,562,  recommended by the Planning Board and requested by Road Agent Michael Oleson for culvert work on Halls Village Road.

The project has been in the CIP and Oleson is working with the Town Engineer, DuBois and King to do the engineering on the culvert work hoping to use 48-inch culverts with headwalls rather than using box culverts, which would be a big savings.

Selectman Steph Landau suggested that given the shorter daylight hours it would be worth looking into getting some sort of light source into the Swap Shop at the Transfer Station.

He also suggested that it would be beneficial for the board to start considering the upcoming Town Meeting that has been moved to March. He indicated he feels it should probably be moved to May or June and handled as it was this past year since he doesn't have any sense COVID-19 will be gone. In addition, he wants to issue a petition from the board to require that the School District Meeting be held within the same day period that the Town Meeting is held. This would provide residents with a better handle on the tax issues.

Selectman Steve D'Angelo questioned why there was a special place for people without masks to vote. He complained that this allowed people into the building when this had been prevented up until then.

Town Clerk Tax Collector Liz Lufkin said the provision was made based on the guidelines from the Attorney General's Office. Myette said the entire election process had been well managed and  she thanked him, saying everyone had worked really hard and he was the only one who had bothered to thank the workers who are paid so little compared to similar workers in Derry, for example.

D'Angelo raised concerns about why Chester police officers were being called to a residence to capture skunks. In the process they got sprayed, which made it an expensive call and one he felt shouldn't be in their domain. Rather, Fish and Game should handle similar calls. He said he is concerned about the safety of the town's officers - what if the skunks had been rabid and an officer got bitten.


Chester Selectmen Agree Provisionally to Extend Spring Hill Farm Contract
By Penny Williams     8-28-20

The Chester Board of Selectmen met Thursday evening, August 27, and discussed at length how best to meet the request of Christy and Nick Ortins to extend their contract to use the Spring Hill Farm High Tunnel and field for growing their crops.

The request was to approve providing the Ortins a new or extended contract from March 2020 through March 2022. They were looking for approval of the extension of their present contract that ends in March 2021 so that crops they plant this winter and would harvest in the spring would fall under their contract.

The board went back and forth and finally approved checking with Town Counsel as Selectman Steve D'Angelo recommended before deciding which way to extend the Ortins' contract. They approved either extending the current contract through March 2022 or ending the present contract on September 31  and creating a new one to run from October 1, 2020 through October 1, 2021 with a provision for an annual extension.

The Ortins also said they have received approvals from the Spring Hill Farm Advisory Committee and been to TRC and the Building Inspector regarding having their food truck at the Spring Hill Farm but they need a letter of approval from the board for their final approval. They believe it would be a benefit to them and the town for people to be able to come and purchase food cooked there at the farm where the food is grown. The board said they support this but said they need to go to the Planning Board first but approved providing a letter.

Road Agent Michael Olsen told the board he wants to send out letters to his plow truck drivers and asked the board's approval to keep everything the same except for adding a 2 percent increase across the board. After a discussion the board approved this.

Oleson said the work on Fremont Road and Harantis Lake  Road are done. He said he used the encumbered money to do the culvert and reclamation work. He also said he used impact fees which the board approved after noting the request for releases of these fees from the Planning Board. He told the board work on North Pond Road is coming along well and that the binder coat work should begin the week of September 8.

The board approved the Spring Hill Farm insurance with Farm Family Casualty to cover the farm equipment, property and liability. The cost is $564 and Selectman Chuck Myette said the Town has been added as a beneficiary on the coverage.

The board approved Town Administrator Debra Doda signing the application for the CARES Act grant to cover the increased cost of absentee ballots for the upcoming elections.

Selectman Steph Landau said the two trees identified have been taken down at the French Lot and a third tree there trimmed. He told the board the Town has elm trees at the Keene Elm Tree Farm that could be gotten to replace them. He also said elm trees could be purchased by interested parties. He wasn't sure about the cost or the size of the trees but said he would get the information and have it for the board in two weeks so they can decide whether they want to see if other people are interested in getting trees.

The board reminded viewers and themselves that the Town Meeting is in March this year so work on budgets should already be underway.

There will be no Thursday night Board of Selectmen meeting this coming week.


Chester Selectmen Decide to Continue with Liaisons on Other Boards
By Penny Williams  8-21-20

The Chester Board of Selectmen met Thursday evening, August 20, and discussed whether now that the Town has a Town Administrator, selectmen liaisons to the other main boards and committees remains, liaisons are necessary. In the end it was a definite yes, liaisons have a substantial and significant role to play.

Selectman Steve D'Angelo stated that he feels strongly that Department Heads should deal first and foremost directly with Debra Doda, the Town Administrator. If they can't arrive at a solution then they should bring whatever the issue is to the board.

Selectman Steph Landau said he feels liaisons are important but he agreed Department Heads should in most instances work first with the Town Administrator. Selectman Chuck Myette agreed but added everyone has a role to play and a responsibility and everybody needs to stay on track. He indicated the liaison is a big piece in keeping and/or arriving at good communications.

After a brief discussion the board opted to continue with the liaison positions. Everyone indicated they were comfortable with the boards or committees they were liaison to except for D'Angelo who said he did not want to work with the Fire Department any longer.

The board discussed the auditor's request to encumber $3,000 for work with the Fire Department Emergency Exit roadway. The work on the roadway is finished but between the old and new septic systems sand/loam was packed in but it has been eroding and washing down the hill.

 Road Agent Michael Oleson said it would not be difficult or expensive to scrape up the loam and replace it with gravel and that would resolve the issue. There was money left over from the job to cover the cost of this. The board approved the $3,000 encumbrance money to be used for the project.  

Landau said the new lawn mower has arrived and he asked that a new 3/4 ton truck with a plow be put on the CIP. The used truck the highway department thought they would get isn't available and there is a need for a truck with a plow to do the plowing around the town buildings. He indicated he has talked with Maintenance and the Town Administrator about this.

As an aside, he noted that some people living on North Pond Road during this construction should be on the lookout for flooded basements since a portion of the roadway will be raised significantly.

Landau and D'Angelo got into an extensive discussion over the trees Landau had suggested should be removed, several on the French Lot which fall under the Cemetery Trustees auspices and several other trees located outside cemetery walls at the Sanborne and North Chester Road cemeteries. These trees are not under the auspices of the cemetery but rather would fall under Maintenance or the Highway Department.

Landau got an estimate for the French Lot tree removal of $4,300 and the arborist said two of the four identified trees need to come down and a third might be saved although some trimming was needed. He said he got a separate estimate for the trees that are outside cemetery walls that need to be addressed. D'Angelo wanted the two projects to be handled as a single unit and to have an arborist make sure all the trees actually need to be taken down. Landau had a separate estimate for this work that was around $3,700.

After a long discussion the board approved moving forward with removing the trees on the French Lot but it was decided that Maintenance and the Town Administrator would seek two more bids for the removal of the trees outside the cemetery walls and a decision will be made at a future meeting regarding them.

The board thought D'Angelo's suggestion that there should be work down to have information on law suits and other outstanding issues on hand to be given to new members of the Board of Selectmen so they could be more aware of what is going on. Doda was asked to prepare such information.

Myette said insurance covering property, equipment and liability at Spring Hill Farm would run about $564. The board was ready to vote on it but D'Angelo wanted an opportunity to see and review the policy before voting so it was tabled until the next meeting.

The selectmen decided since the September 3, meeting falls on the edge of the Labor Day weekend and several selectmen thought they would be out of town for the weekend, it was decided there would be no meeting on September 3. Doda said she would post this the next day.


Chester Selectmen Undecided on Cutting Cemetery Trees
By Penny Williams  8-14-20

The Chester Board of Selectmen met Thursday night, August 13, with a single item on the agenda but were unable to reach a decision on it.

Selectman Steph Landau discussed the single agenda item, a request from the Cemetery Trustees to be allowed to remove some trees at the Village Cemetery and a few other cemetery trees.

Landau said the trees the Trustees were most concerned about  were 4 trees on the French Lot. However, he added they were concerned about a tree outside the cemetery wall along the road on North Chester Road and 2 more trees outside the cemetery wall on Fremont Road. Landau said the concern is the trees are dead and therefore need to be taken down but he had no idea what the cost might be.

Selectman Chuck Myette asked if the stumps would be removed and whether there would be any damage to the walls as the trees are taken down. Selectman Steve D'Angelo said he thought the board should have a price for the action before the board could approve or disapprove the request and he further recommended an arborist be brought in to make a determination regarding the state of the trees in question.

Landau said he could get the answers to these specific questions regarding the requested tree removals. He told the board he would provide them with the information by or before the next scheduled meeting. 

There was nothing new to report regarding the Emergency COVID-19 situation according to Emergency Management Director Phil Gladu.

 The board approved signing the Nobis contract for services at the old dump site after verifying it was the same company the Town has been doing business with on this for years. 

With nothing else on the agenda the board went into non-public to discuss several reputation items.


Chester Board of Selectmen Approve New Transfer Station Leadership
By Penny Williams 8-7-20

The Chester Board of Selectmen met Thursday evening, August 6, and announced the Transfer Station Foreman has resigned and proposed appointing two current Transfer Station personnel to be approved as leadership for the facility.

Selectman Chuck Myette said Russ Burdick, a longtime employee was interested in taking over the supervision of the Transfer Station but wasn't comfortable with the paper work aspect of the job. Myette said Emma Ragnarsson, another longtime employee, was interested in that aspect of the leadership and Myette suggested the board approve the two of them as the supervisory team for the Transfer Station.

The board discussed this and decided the two employees would serve the Transfer Station supervision needs very well. Looking forward decisions will need to be made regarding the Swap Shop and possibly other changes to upgrade the management and running of the Transfer Station. Selectman Step Landau has been helping out at the Swap Shop and there was a discussion about possibly seeking a volunteer or perhaps another employee to deal with the Swap Shop issues down the road. For now the board approved of Burdick and Ragnarsson taking charge of the Transfer Station leadership.

Tow Manager Debra Doda brought up the suggestion and the board approved of getting uniform shits and sweatshirts for the Transfer Station employees. The shirts and sweatshirts would have Transfer Station and logo written on them.

Road Agent Michael Oleson said the work on North Pond Road is progressing and the road remains closed to through traffic. He said the tree removal work is about completed and the culvert work is in process. He said it will take another 5 to 6 weeks to complete the work on North Pond Road.  A new fire hydrant will be installed on North Pond Road per request of the Fire department.

Oleson said work will  begin next week on Harantis Lake Road with culvert replacement and reclamation of the upper portion of the road. After that there will be culvert work done on Fremont Road and reclamation work and paving done on the section between Route 102 and Towle Road. He said this work on Harantis and Fremont roads is covered by the encumbrance money. He noted that he will be using some offsite money which he said he is encouraged to use by the Planning Board and the board will be asked to release that money at a future meeting.

The stop signs were stolen off of East Derry Road. Oleson asked for the board to authorize him to replace them and he said he would install them in concrete this time. The board after a brief discussion authorized him to move forward with replacing the signs as quickly as possible and he said he would.

Selectman Steve D'Angelo asked Police Chief Aaron Berube about enforcement of speeding on East Derry Road and Berube said there have been 26 stops since July 1 and 21 of those were for speeding. He indicated 7 summons were handed out and those were mainly for speeding that was 15 or more miles over the posted speed limit.

Berube also asked that impact fees be released and approved for the department to make the fourth payment of $1,677.70 on the department's Tazer 60 project. There is $14,260 in that fund and the board approved releasing the money for the payment.

There was a discussion about the request from the 300th Anniversary Committee for a credit card with a $1,000 limit. It would be in Rhonda Lamphere's name. While the board cautioned that credit cards for committees should not be approved except under special circumstances they did recognize the 300th Anniversary Committee was in need of the credit card as it prepares for the upcoming celebration so approved the request.

In Other Business:

* Fire Chief Greg Bolduc introduced new call fireman Loren Sheley, a local youth who has been an Explorer and who has recently graduated from high school.

* D'Angelo encouraged the sending out of a letter to residents regarding how and when residents can obtain absentee ballots.

* The plan is to hold the Primary Election in the Multi-Purpose-Room but the board questioned whether a tent could be used instead and they decided the Moderator and Election Supervisors needed to contacted about the possibility.

* The Wason Pond Community Center and Stevens Hall remain closed but Town Hall is open by appointment with masks required.

* Recreation Director Corinna Reishus said the Clothes Closet is purging its contents and will open at the end of the month basically by appointment. Reishus also noted the Wason Pond Playground remains closed but that a porta potty has been installed at Wason Pond due to need. It will be cleaned twice weekly which increases the cost substantially.

* Yoga, a Recreation program, began using the Boy Scout tent and was successful Reishus said.


Chester Selectmen Appoint New Recreation Commission Members
By Penny Williams    7-31-20

At the Chester Selectmen meeting Thursday night, July 30, Recreation Director Corinna Reishus introduced three volunteer members for appointment as the newly reconfigured Recreation Commission but ran into opposition from Selectman Steve D'Angelo who said he had no information regarding the move.

D'Angelo pointed out to the board that according to the RSA that governs the Recreation Commission, once appointed and up and running, the selectmen have little or no control over who is a member or what they do. He read the basics of the RSA supporting his concern and added without more information on what this newly reconstituted commission's plan is the selectmen would have no say and he wanted to postpone the appointment.

After a lengthy discussion among the selectmen and introductory remarks from the three candidates, D'Angelo basically withdrew his objection. Selectmen Steph Landau and Doc Hagan indicated they were essentially in favor of appointing the three, Marie Davies, David Webster, and Kathy Dircks, while selectman Chuck Myette suggested delaying appointment until a proposed plan could be presented might be appropriate.

However, after the three volunteers spoke the board chair Jeremy Owens asked again what the board wanted to do and Hagan made a motion to appoint the three and the appointment by the Board of Selectmen was unanimous.

Reishus noted that Davies would be dealing with events as her background and experience is in that area; Webster will be dealing with conservation and Wason Pond - parks and land - as this is his area of interest; and, Dircks will be working on programming which is her area of interest and experience. Dircks with a two year membership term is the Recreation Commission chair and Webster, with a three year term is the vice chair. Davies has a one year term.

The board discussed the possibility of having a Solid Waste Committee again, suggested by Landau based on being asked about it by others. The board and Jack Cannon, Transfer Station Foreman, discussed the possibility of an Advisory Solid Waste Committee with Cannon ok with it so long as it didn't mean six more people giving him directions.

Myette suggested an Ad Hoc Committee might be a better way to look at what needs to be changed in terms of recycling and the Swap Shop at the Transfer Station. The board members leaned toward asking for volunteers interested in getting together to discuss ideas and possible changes and improvements regarding the Transfer Station, recycling, solid waste and the Swap Shop.

After discussing this the board decided that a short term committee should be developed. They thought advertizing for volunteers to be on a working group would be a good way to go and Hagan insisted the committee be in full support of Cannon. The working group would look at the Swap Shop and its needs but look at recycling changes that need to be made to address the changes that have occurred over time.

Town Administrator Debra Doda told the board the town's financial year has closed and there was almost $355,000 left which would address the board's previously approved prioritized list of encumbrances that totaled $354,000. She said the money for roads Mike Oleson said would cover doing some needed work on Harantis Lake and Fremont Road. The town's Unassigned Fund Balance is 10.95 percent putting it right in the middle of the state suggested range.

Reishus said the water at Wason Pond has been tested and is tested monthly. June was fine and they've not received the July results as yet.

In Other Business:

* The Chester Planning Board met on July 23, and held a public hearing to review the Site Plan Application of Elizabeth Buchanan and Gene Blanchard regarding their proposed 6,500 square foot riding arena at 43 Hart Roberts  Road. The board discussed the site plan and decided to consider it an enclosed riding arena since the plan is to enclose it within a few months. The hearing was continued to August 5, so the enclosed design could be added and a clean letter obtained from the Town Engineers, DuBois and King.

* Chester Academy Superintendent Darrell Lockwood provided parents, staff and teachers with a review of what the administration and School Board are considering with regard to reopening of school. A final report will be provided the School Board for their approval on August 5. The administration has been working on three options all of which are guided by and adhere to the state DOE and Governor's Commission, HHH, NH Nurses Association, and CDC and Federal guidelines. the three options include: Adapted in Person; Hybrid Remote; and, Full Remote. The School year would start on September 8 and be shortened to 170 days providing staff and teachers an extra 10 days for preparation. The Chester Academy Plan is S.A.F.E. - Secure, Accountable, Flexible, and Effective and would encompass social distancing, mask wearing, and cleanliness. The entire video is available on the Chester Academy website.


Chester Selectmen Discuss Transfer Station Swap Shop Issues
By Penny Williams   7-24-20

The Chester Board of Selectmen met Thursday evening, July 23, and spent considerable time discussing issues at the  Chester Transfer Station Swap Shop raised by Transfer Station Foreman, Jack Cannon.

Cannon said there are several pressure points at the Transfer Station but he said he had spent time over the last week looking at the Swap Shop in particular. He said there is much more time spent with people dropping things off than there is spent with people ultimately taking something away. The reason for that, he said, is most of what is being dropped off is unusable.

The issue of poor quality items being left at the Swap Shop is something that has been getting worse over the last few years but is being exacerbated by the pandemic that has kept people at home where they've been clearing out attics and cellars and garages. People then take the things and get rid of them by taking them to the Swap Shop. Cannon said he checked the Swap Shop and the shelves are full and the floor completely covered with boxes filled with unusable items.

Cannon noted the current state of the Swap Shop is a safety issue. On the one hand the floor being filled with boxes and the lack of light in there make it dangerous, especially for seniors to try and go in and to look for anything. But the pandemic has made the collections of unusable items, especially those associated with eating such as bowls, plates and such things as a Brita container  even more dangerous.

Given the status of the Swap Shop, Cannon said while he doesn't recommend shutting it down completely, he does recommend reducing the hours it can be accessed and posting a sign asking people not to bring their unusable items to the Swap Shop. He recommended and the board after a discussion approved having the Swap Shop open only from 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays and from 10:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. on Saturdays going forward.

Selectman Steph Landau agreed with Cannon and offered for a limited time to cover the Swap Shop during those reduced hours and police the items people bring. He offered to do it because the Transfer Station employees are already too busy and because he felt being younger guys most would not be willing to say no to people bringing unwanted items. He didn't want these younger employees to be in a position where they would get aggressive responses from some residents.

Selectman Doc Hagan suggested it might be a good idea to close the Transfer Station one weekend a month. Cannon said that would make the Wednesday before even busier. He and Selectman Chuck Myette discussed this and suggested rather closing for a weekend,  looking into adding more part time employees so there could be employee rotation allowing for weekends off for some employees each weekend. This was tabled as something that has merit and would need further discussion.

The board then discussed the three bids for the Air Conditioning issue in the Selectmen's Office, the Town Administrator's Office, and the Financial Director's Office in Town Hall. The bids ranged from $14,700 to $6,200. The lowest bidder does Air Conditioning only. The town has used the high bidder previously. After a discussion the board voted to award the job to the low bidder who's references were excellent and Town Administrator Debra Doda will notify the low bidder of the award and get it scheduled for the earliest possible time. She will also acknowledge and notify the other bidders that they were not chosen.

Spring Hill Farm was discussed and the selectmen accepted with thanks and regret the resignation of the Spring Hill Farm Advisory Committee Chair, Emily Kunelius. Recreation Director Corrina Reishus asked to be appointed to the Spring Hill Farm Advisory Committee as the Recreation Commission member. She was appointed by the Selectmen to fill the remained of Maria Oakley's two year term  since the entire Recreation Commission resigned previously. The Trail Ride that was scheduled to take Place at Spring Hill Farm has apparently been cancelled. Janis Jailbert, Selectmen's Administrative Assistant, received an email to that effect although Reishus said she has not been notified of the cancelation but would check on it at the Monday night Spring Hill Farm Advisory Committee meeting.

In Other Business:

* The Selectmen approved allowing, one or two at the most, Historical Society members into Stevens Hall and said the wearing of mask and social distancing would be required. If they need the key since the locks are being changed they need to contact Reishus.

* It was reiterated that Town Hall offices are open by appointment only except for the Town Clerk/Tax Collector's Office which has been open since June 22.

* The board denied a request of a private citizen to put up signs at Town Hall encouraging absentee ballots noting private signs are not allowed.

* The board announced that North Pond Road intersection with Route 102 would be closed Friday, July 24, from 8 a.m. to noon.

* Selectman Landau acknowledged the passing of two long time Chester residents, Midge Gould and Lenny Stein. He said Stein's pastor commented that the Chester cemetery people did an awesome job.

Chester Selectmen Continue Discussing Unregistered Dogs
 By Penny Williams   7-17-20

The Chester Board of Selectmen continued discussing the unregistered dogs issue at their Thursday night, July 16, meeting.

NH law regarding the registration of dogs requires dogs to be licensed within 30 days after the age of 4 months. Dogs must have received a rabies vaccination. New residents are required to license their dog(s) within 30 days after moving to NH. All dog licenses are renewed each year by the 30th of April, and must be current with their rabies vaccination. According to RSA 466:13, any owner or keeper of a dog who fails to license the dog pursuant to RSA 466:1 shall forfeit $25.00 (civil forfeiture) to the city clerk of the municipality in which the dog is kept. Failure to license your dog is a violation of State law. In addition to the annual license fee you will be charged a late fee of $1.00 per month, per dog for each month (or part of month) after June 1st. A civil forfeiture fee will also be assessed in the amount of $25.00, which is payable within fifteen (15) days of receipt of the notice of failure to register your dog(s). If the forfeiture fee is not paid within that time, a summons to appear in court shall be issued in accordance with State law requirements.

 The continued discussion of what to do regarding the large number of unregistered dogs irritated one Selectman, Steph Landau, who said the board had previously decided what to do about the issue and that should have been sufficient. He also reiterated that this is not a money issue but a safety issue regarding having the dogs getting their rabies vaccinations. He also noted if there are people who can't afford the vaccination/registration there is a fund to cover that. The decision made the previous week was to send out a letter to those with unregistered dogs and to try and call as many as possible.

Thursday evening, the board has a list of the unregistered dogs supplied by Town Clerk/Tax Collector Liz Lufkin. She needed a Warrant signed by the board so she could send out certified letters for the fines for those dogs still unregistered as of August 1. She told the board the number of unregistered dogs has been reduced to 123 as a result of her phone calls.

Resident Ken Biel spoke up and said there should be another rabies clinic offered by the town and Jack Cannon spoke up saying he wondered if the board knew how many of the unregistered dog owners were repeat offenders.

The board unanimously authorized the Warrant for Civil Forfeiture to be issued and the certified letters to be sent out.

The board discussed the proposed Trail Ride at Spring Hill Farm (SHF) to be held September 5. Selectman Steve D'Angelo suggested having a police patrol for the event but Selectman Chuck Myette said there would be probably no more than 25 participants so police would likely not be needed. However, it was pointed out that North Pond Road would still be closed for construction so there might be increased traffic issues on Lane Road as participants left the event. Town Administrator Debra Doda said she would discuss this with Police Chief Aaron Berube. The board will revisit this at an August meeting.

The board then discussed whether to go forward with running electricity from the barn to the shed on the SHF property. Landau suggested that since the shed has no historical significance perhaps it would make more sense to build an appropriate building that SHF Advisory Committee members could use as a Garden Center and a workshop. Building Inspector Myrick Bunker had informed SHF that before they could bring the electric to the shed the old electric wiring had to be removed and brought up to code.

Myette said the SHF Advisory Committee is meeting Monday night, July 20, and he would bring up this issue and Landau's suggestion and see where that committee and the SHF Trustees want to go.  In the meantime Doda was asked to get a quote for the electrical work needed and discussed. It was also noted that the summer Recreation employees have done some painting and cleaning up over at SHF and things are looking much better.

Landau brought up and acknowledged the passing of Lenny Stein, a long time PACT committee member and resident of Chester for 40 years.


Chester Selectmen Informed That 150 Dogs Still Unregistered and Buildings Other Than Town Hall Will Remain Closed
By Penny Williams 7-10-20

Thursday evening, July 9, the Chester Board of Selectmen and Recreation Director Corrina Reishus decided that other than Town Hall, other town buildings, Stevens Hall and the Community Center at Wason Pond, would remain closed at least until August.

The board discussed this and made the decision based on state guidelines regarding COVID-19 and particularly because users of both buildings generally fall in the older age group, which is more susceptible to the illness. In addition, there is   the difficulty with deep cleaning following use.  The Annex will also remain closed so the Clothes Closet will have to wait until August.

It was suggested that a tent could be used by seniors if they wish to meet outside and Selectman Steph Landau said his scouts would gladly erect a 30 by 30 foot tent for such use for them if they want it. It was also thought that if one or two individuals connected with the Historical Museum needed to be in Stevens Hall that could work.

Selectman Steven D'Angelo emphasized that if groups want to use either building for a meeting they would need to fill out forms and be prepared to wear masks. But the board felt that the buildings by and large basically should remain closed until August.

There was a long discussion with Town Clerk Tax Collector Liz Lufkin regarding the 150 unregistered dogs at this time of Civil Forfeiture based on the State RSA. Last year there were only 50 unregistered dogs. A rabies clinic was held earlier but only about 10 people used it. Letters and calls have been distributed to the dog owners but given the COVID-19 issues, money concerns, and difficulty getting appointments for vaccinating dogs, a large number remain unregistered.

Noting that some dogs may have died, some families moved, the board ultimately decided not to enforce things at this time. However, both D'Angelo and Selectman Chuck Myette felt it was a safety issue for getting dogs vaccinated.

Lufkin was asked to find out when the town would be in trouble with the state for lack of enforcement of the RSA and whether the Ark clinic would provide another rabies clinic. She was asked to continue making calls and sending letters that should highlight the safety issue. Lufkin will get back to the board with the requested information at a future meeting.

Myette informed the board about what the Planning Board discussed relating to the issue of discontinuing Carkin Street. He explained the cul-de-sac is a paper street never constructed and the two properties on the paper street reach Carkin and Donna by their own driveways.

He explained that the Planning Board felt that if the cul-de-sac was discontinued, the two properties would gain land that the town actually owns and a decision regarding selling that land to them would need to be made. It was noted that such a decision would need to be a Warrant Article for a Town Meeting decision so there is no rush deciding this.

The board decided they needed to look into this issue more thoroughly. It was decided to table it for now and revisit the issue later on after more information has been gathered and discussions with the property owners have taken place.

Road Agent Michael Oleson and D'Angelo exchanged words over the request for the board to approve using off site improvement and impact fees for work done on Mulberry Road to the tune of $13,831.  D'Angelo told Oleson he could not by pass the board in doing things and using money not approved yet by the board. Oleson said the board had earlier approved getting this work done which Landau affirmed. Oleson said this is the system of doing things that is in place. The board voted to approve releasing the $13,831 from the two accounts but D'Angelo refused to vote.

Oleson said the work on North Pond Road will begin next week and will take 8 or more weeks to complete. There will be no through traffic on the section between Route 102 and the second Orcutt Drive intersection and that section will be closed.

The board accepted the resignations of  the Recreation Commission Leslie
Hammond, Kendra Kearney, Kevin Kistler, Maria Oakley, and Michelle Trask.
 Reishus is working hard recruiting new members. Selectman Chair Jeremy
Owens didn't provide any information for the resignations other than burn-out.


Chester Selectmen Approve Proposed Encumbrances
By Penny Williams 6-30-20

The Board of Selectmen, meeting Monday night June 29, made the final decisions regarding the proposed encumbrances.

They had the list prepared by Town Administrator Debra Doda that they had reviewed initially at the previous meeting.
 The final list included:

* Fire Department 2019 WA # 12 PPE- $14,144.40 from CIP Fund

* PACT 2019 WA #19 Replace Converter Unit - $5,000 from PACT Fund

* Historic Building Fund - 2020 WA #27 - $50,000 General Fund

* Wason Pond Community Center Ramp - $19,894 General Fund

* Winter Road Maintenance Fund -  excess amount $9,152.76  General Fund

* Fire Department - Garage Door Openers - $12,000 General Fund

* Transfer Station - Pest Control - $3,140 General Fund

* Wason Pond - Pest Control - $1,098 General Fund

* Planning Department - Impact Fee Contract with SNHPC - $8,560 General Fund

* Police Department - Hiring Bonus - Kehoe and Kerkman - $5,000 General Fund

* Village Cemetery Trustees - Gate Rebuilding - $2,000 General Fund

* Finance Department - Actuarial Services - $3,000 General Fund

* Fire Department - Duct Cleaning - $2,795 General Fund

* Highway Roadwork - Whatever is left -

The board removed the Finance Department  Working Counter to replace desk and Shelf item that had received an estimate of $11,000 and decided to take it out of the budget and see about getting it done immediately.

Financial Director Joann Smith reported that she believes there will be a surplus of $268,000 but at a minimum it would be around $240,000. Doda reminded the board they won't really have that final figure until mid-July. Whatever is left after the specific encumbrances approved will go to Road Agent Michael Oleson and the hope is that will be between $100,000 and $150,00.

After a brief discussion, the board approved the encumbrances and Oleson said he would notify Busby Construction that he would have some money to do work but not sure exactly how much.

The board discussed what funds they would be reimbursed by FEMA and GOEFRR and Selectman Steph Landau wanted Doda to check with legal counsel on exactly what the reimbursement funds can be used for.

Landau also asked the board to approve moving ahead with getting bids for the work needed at Stevens Hall. Selectman Chuck Myette suggested getting an engineer in to inspect Stevens Hall and provide a list with estimated costs for what needs to be done and Landau thought that a good idea. He wants to get going on this so the building will be ready for the 300 Anniversary and a list of what needs to be done is needed so an RFP can be developed and sent out and the work done.

The board approved and welcomed new Chester Fire Department hire Keegan Ricker as a full time Chester Fire Department member.

The board decided that this would be the last Monday night meeting. They have been meeting both Monday and Thursday evenings during the COVID-19 emergency period but Emergency Management Director Phil Gladu indicated this was no longer necessary. The board will not meet again until a week from this coming Thursday, on July, 9 and that will signal the resumption of their Thursday night meetings. Landau did make the comment that he wanted the board to be able to return to Monday meetings in addition to the Thursday night meetings if the need should arise and the board agreed.

Chester Selectmen Consider Encumbrances
 By Penny Williams  6-26-20

The Chester Board of Selectmen discussed a number of issues at their Thursday evening meeting, June 25, including encumbrances but decided to put off any decisions on this issue to a future discussion when they have a clearer picture of their un-spent budget amount.

Selectman Steve D'Angelo wants the Town Financial Director Joanne Smith to provide the board with a less conservative estimate for a decision at the upcoming Monday night meeting, June 29. But Town Administrator Debra Doda noted that the hard number really won't be available until mid-July.

However, the board considered the list of requests for encumbrances they currently have before them. Doda had prioritized them for the boards consideration. She noted that prioritization is and should be based on safety and health considerations.

During the meeting, the selectmen discussed encumbering money for rodent control at the Transfer Station and at Wason Pond in the old store and small cottage buildings. They also considered shelving for the Finance Department but noted they don't have a final figure there yet. They also discussed Road Agent Michael Oleson's request for encumbering money to do road work. He has a contract which he said is flexible and he indicated he would take whatever the board could provide him with and do the most with what he is given.

Doda's list of encumbrances is as follows:

* Fire Department - Garage Door Openers - $12,000

* Transfer Station - Pest Control - $3,140

* Wason Pond - Pest Control - $1,098

* Planning Department - Impact Fee Contract with SNHPC - $8,560

* Police Department - Hiring Bonus - Kehoe and Kerkman - $5,000

* Village Cemetery Trustees - Gate Rebuilding - $2,000

* Finance Department - Actuarial Services - $3,000

* Fire Department - Duct Cleaning - $2,795

* Finance Department - Working Counter to replace desk and Shelf  No quote yet

* The foregoing would amount to $107,487 when you add in Warrant Articles 12,
Fire Department PPE - 14,144.40 - In CIP; PACT - Article 19 - Replace Converter unit to be able to stream meetings - $5,000; Wason Pond Article 27, Historic Building Fund for Stevens Hall- $50,000(in budget no need to encumber), and Community Center Ramp at Wason Pond - $19,894 . All these costs from General Fund.

* Highway Roadwork $299,210 - or as much as is available pushing the total to $406,697.

The board discussed at length Jack Cannon's request for money to be encumbered to deal with the rodent issues at the Transfer Station. It was also noted that Recreation has requested an encumbrance of money for rodent control at Wason Pond at the old store building and the cottage. Cannon said he had made arrangements for rodent control at both locations with General Environmental Services for a total of $4,238.

The board discussed the request to discontinue Carkin Road, going over the previous meeting's information they had discussed and covered. Doda said that to discontinue the road according to Town Counsel it would have to be brought to Town Meeting but to Releases the Dedication of the roadway, that could be done by a public hearing and vote of the board.

Selectman Chuck Myette said he would get further information on this entire issue from Planning Board Coordinator Andrew Hadik and the board could revisit this at their next meeting.

Road Agent Michael Oleson asked the board to get him as much money as they could and encumber it so he could at least do some of the roadwork he had hoped to do with the bond he withdrew.  He indicated that there were a couple of areas on roads he wanted to do and he would take whatever money the board got for him and do as much as it would allow him to do. To do what he would like to do would run about $299,210 but he would take whatever they could give him and figure out what he would be able to accomplish.

He also told the board he has started work on North Pond Road and they will start taking down trees this coming Wednesday. Letters would be sent to all people who will be within the impact are but the road would be closed to through traffic. The work is planned for the area of North Pond that goes from Route 102 to Orcutt Drive second intersection. He said this work would take two to two and a half months to complete.

The board approved completing the electrical work that will bring power to the Spring Hill Farm shed area, The total cost, which D'Angelo had requested, would be $2,000, with the electrical component costing $1,600 and digging the ditch and material another $400. This can be done using this year's money. The board said to move forward with this.

The board continued its discussion of returning the tax deeded property to the owner who has asked to repurchase his property. D'Angelo has held out for the final figure the Town needs to collect and  Town Clerk/Tax Collector Liz Lufkin gave the board an estimated $13,045 as being as close as she could get. She indicated the final legal and registry bills will be figured in at the closing.
The board signed the documents so the process could proceed.

 In Other Business:

* The board clarified that soccer has not been approved for the Town Fields.

* The board approved of continuing to cover the cost of having Police Officer's
uniforms cleaned though D'Angelo wants to know the monthly cost of this.

* The board agreed to allow the Boy Scouts to erect and use a tent behind the Multi-Purpose Room Building so long as they follow all the COVID-19 guidelines and sign a new agreement with the town.

* The board thanked the Lion's Club for their upcoming food drive for the Food Pantry. The drive will be held at the Transfer Station from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 27.      

Chester Board of Selectmen Sets Reopening Dates
 By Penny Williams  6-19-20
  The Chester Board of Selectmen met Thursday night, June 18, and
went over when things in Chester would officially re-open.

After discussing things with the Chair of the Wason Pond Commission Chris Hadik and then with Recreation Director Corinna Reishus, the board approved opening Wason Pond on Friday, June 19, with some restrictions:

*  The beach can only have 50 people

*  The playground remains closed

*  There is no water to drink available at the park

*  There are no port potties

*  Fields are open for individual enjoyment

* Recreation will allow team sports on Town fields

*  The Wason Pond parking is open except for the parking area by the playground.

Selectman Steph Landau asked that the no parking signs along Route 102 be removed and Emergency Management Director Phil Gladu said he would take care of it. The board approved Reishus request to re-open the Town fields as of Friday, June 19 and the Wason Pond Committee approved the Wason Pond re-opening dates and conditions.   

The board discussed the reopening of Town Hall and Town Clerk Tax Collector  Liz Lufkin added her thoughts, concerns and wishes. Landau expressed concern that the hallway to the Meeting room has not been cut off and a door installed yet and he also wanted to make sure that the Administrative Secretary's office is not opened until it has a door and a specific Plexiglas screening installed. Selectman Steve D'Angelo pushed for opening up the Meeting room.

After extensive discussion the board finally approved opening the Town Clerk/Tax Collector's Office on Monday, June 22. The Meeting rooms will be opened on Tuesday June 23rd.  Both have external doors so only one person would need to start inside the building and could let the rest of the participants in any meeting through the external exit doorway. The rest of Town Hal will remain closed through July 2nd and then the board will re-address things at that night's meeting.  Hopefully the door and the wall will be up and the security construction work completed in Town Hall by then.  Maintenance reports that the material to complete this work is on its way and as soon as it arrives the work can be done in a day or two.

Meanwhile town employees can work in their offices if they choose to and can arrange to meet with residents seeking help by making an appointment. D'Angelo wants employees to wear masks and to encourage any residents coming into the building to do so as well. Employees will have to fill out a health form and while it would be best if temperatures are taken the board did not make this a demand. For right now, it is phase one and only the Town Clerk/Tax Collectors office will be open. When phase two begins employees will escort a resident in to their office at an appointed time and guidelines will be expected to be followed.

Reishus asked the board to approve Recreation opening up the fields for organized baseball and softball, each league has one team. The board approved her  request.

Conservation Commission Chair Victor Chouinard asked the board to approve releasing money from the Conservation Land Fund for the purchase of 48 acres from the Goldman Family Trust of California. The cost of the purchase is $105,000.

D'Angelo asked if the price had been appraised and a survey of the land done and was told "no" to both but that the price was based on the property tax records and the land is known. Selectman Chuck Myette added this purchase has been under discussion for many years.

D'Angelo asked why more information on town owned conservation land isn't made public so that residents could enjoy and benefit from purchases such as this. He was told there are maps being developed that identify all the properties the town owns that people can enjoy for walking, fishing and/or hunting. D'Angelo asked if the fund had sufficient funds for this purchase and was told the fund has probably five times the amount of the purchase. The board voted to approve releasing the funds for the purchase of the land.

Jack Helf presented a power point of his proposed Eagle Scout project. He proposes to improve the courtyard area out behind the Multi-Purpose Room by adding brick walkways, a flagpole, two benches, plantings, and generally cleaning the area up. The total cost of the project will be $1,088.12 and he gave the board information on fundraising plans. He also hopes the stores will provide discounts for the materials he will need. He also has a back-up plan should the Eagle Scout committee refuse to approve his plan and that would be to clean up and refurbish the Town Pound. The board thanked him and after telling him they were pleased with his proposal approved it so he can go to the Eagle Scout Committee with the proposed project.

D'Angelo wanted to discuss the upcoming Town Meeting and the Budget Committee had been asked to attend the meeting which most of its members did. The main discussion was about which Warrant Articles might be tabled for this year. It appears that while none have actually been  tabled as of yet since that is a process that requires a motion, second, and a vote, several department heads have indicated they are leaning toward doing so.

This would include:

*  Mike Oleson, Road Agent, who  plans to ask to table Warrant Article #9, the three million dollar road bond; Warrant Article #23, the $50,000 tree removal fund; and, Warrant Article #2, the $105,000  winter maintenance fund replenishment (because he didn't dip into that fund this year).

* Fire Chief Greg Bolduc has said he plans to ask to table Warrant Article #10, the $192,491 article for two new firefighters.

* Bob Grimm, PACT Chair said he may ask to table Warrant Article #13, the $45,453  PACT Revolving Fund Warrant Article; and, Warrant Article  #14, Rescinding PACT Special Revenue Fund and wait until next year.

* Town Clerk/Tax Collector Lufkin indicated she plans to ask to table Warrant Article #28, that seeks an extra $5 fee on registrations for a transportation fund.

Budget Committee member and Town Treasurer Rhonda Lamphere suggested the board should cull through all the Warrant Articles and table all that could wait for the next year given the current situation.

In Other Business:

* Landau said the four golf carts will be on hand for the Town Meeting and the Town will be keeping two. D'Angelo continued to beg for people who drive the carts to be professional drivers.

* It was noted that the Governor or the Attorney General's Office may be making a statement on Friday, June 19 that could impact the Town Operating Budget that Town Meeting will be voting on  Saturday, June 20.

* D'Angelo refused to vote on approving digging a ditch so  rewiring for the shed at Spring Hill Farm can be done since there wasn't a firm figure although Town Administrator Debra Doda said she estimated it would cost less than $500. This was put off until the June 25, Board of Selectmen's meeting.

* The board put off until the next meeting approving a property repurchase again because D'Angelo refused to vote without an exact figure on what the family would need to pay to repurchase their property. This was discussed last meeting. He had asked for a legal opinion on whether the Town has to sell the property back to the owners and the answer was they absolutely do.

Wason Pond Issues Dominate Chester Selectmen's Meeting
By Penny Williams 6-15-20

Issues related to Wason Pond dominated the Chester Board of Selectmen's meeting held Thursday evening, June 11.

   Leslie Hammond, member of both the Wason Pond Commission and the Recreation Commission set the stage in public comment saying she wanted to discuss two Wason Pond issues: opening of the fields for use and the tree that had been cut down at Wason Pond.

   The field usage at Wason Pond was discussed at length. Wason Pond Commission Chair Chris Hadek said he had no problem with opening the Wason Pond fields if the Governor's guidelines allowed them to open and if that happens he will call an emergency meeting of the committee to discuss it. The point was made that there needs to be a consistent policy regarding field use in Chester that includes Wason Pond fields and Town owned fields. The board was concerned about how enforcement of guidelines will be enforced if the fields open and whether the town has a potential liability in allowing them to be open.

   Board members felt there was no way guidelines for the numbers of people using the fields can be enforced by the town and several questioned whether it was  the responsibility of the town to do so. Several felt field use is at the choice of the residents themselves and several residents commented to this effect. It was left that any decisions would need to wait until the Governor provided updates on guidelines.

   Then the Wason Pond  tree issue came up. The tree had a rope from it used by people to swing out over and jump into the pond. It was taken down when trees that were deemed unhealthy or unsafe or both lining the trails were taken down by a decision of the Selectmen. The removal of this particular tree created a backlash on Face Book.

   Selectman Chuck Myette said the tree had been taken down because it was deemed a dead tree and a danger. Selectman Steph Landau reminded the board and listeners of the controversial history of the tree. A Sandown youth broke his neck swinging from the tree and the Town of Chester was sued and it went all the way to the Supreme Court and cost tax payers probably $100,000 he stated.

   The discussion about the tree lead to Hammond stating that there are too many boards and committees in Chester and she was resigning from the Wason Pond Commission but would retain membership on the Recreation Commission.

   Hadek said when asked that his committee had not been consulted about the removal of the tree. If it was removed because it is a nuisance I would not have agreed but if it was a safety issue I would have approved.

   The board heard from Town Clerk, Tax Collector Liz Lufkin that the Town Clerk Tax Collector's Office hours for the summer would be as follows:

* Monday and Wednesday will be open 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
* Tuesdays it will be open from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.
* Thursdays it will be open from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m.
* Fridays the office will be closed.

   The board and Lufkin discussed the request of a property owner to repurchase a Tax-Deeded Property at 287 Haverhill Road. Lufkin explained that she is working with Financial Director Joanne Smith to determine all the taxes, interest and fines owed. The owner has submitted the letter of request to Town Administrator Debra Doda and once Lufkin has determined the total owed and submitted that and the property owner pays the full amount within the given period of time legally allowed the town must allow the repurchase.

In Other Business:

* The board confirmed that the Town Meeting will be held on Saturday, June 20, in the Chester Academy parking lot, drive-in movie style. Landau suggested purchasing and renting golf carts to enhance the election supervisors with moving around the field of parked cars. The board went into non-public regarding this issue.

* Sandy Wright, wife of Park Ranger John Wright, was approved as a member of the Wason Pond Commission.


Chester Board of Selectmen Hear Public Comments from Residents
By Penny Williams    6-9-2020

  The Chester Board of Selectmen met on Thursday, June 4 and again on Monday, June 8.  At the June 4, meeting the only agenda item was the acceptance of Ruth Ray Road located On Rte. 121, between Jenkins Farm Road and the Hampstead town line.

Thursday evening Ruth Ray Road acceptance as a town road was recommended by Andrew Hadik, Planning Board Coordinator. Hadik told the selectmen that the road meets all the requirements and everything had been reviewed by both legal counsel and the planning board itself. The board voted unanimously to accept Ruth Ray Road as a town road.

The Memorial/Protest that was organized by Sky Eno was held at the Congregational Church at 4 Chester Street on Monday between 1 and 2 p.m. Eno posted on social media the following: The community is invited to come together to peacefully remember the life of George Floyd and demonstrate support for the black community. It will be held at the Chester Congregational Church (4 Chester Street).

There are limitations to this demonstration. This is for the safety of everybody:
- Keep signs stickless
- No littering
- Remain 6 feet apart
- Wear masks and bring hand sanitizer (yes it's required)
- Bring water and sunscreen
Violence and destruction of property will not be tolerated.

Anyone with intentions other than to stand peacefully and deliver our message is not welcome. 
  The only comment on this came from Selectman Steve D'Angelo who complained Police Officers were seen not wearing masks. Greg Bobish in public comment noted it had taken place and it was good to see people out enjoying the fresh air. Bobish wanted Wason Pond beach and playground opened but was told by Emergency Management Director Phil Gladu that fresh water beaches are still closed.

Joe Rollins in public comment asked when the non-public minutes whose closure dates have expired would be available. Town Clerk/Tax Collector Liz Lufkin said they have been organized and once the board is able to meet together (not electronically) these will be taken up.
 Ken Biel in public comment wanted to know why the Town Hall is still closed and was told that the renovations haven't been completed to the Town Clerk's Office and to the entrance to town hall and the selectmen's meeting room but material has been ordered and it will be taken care of within the next week or so. but things should open up after the Governor makes his announcements next week.

D'Angelo wanted the town office meeting room opened up and used since employees are already working in their offices but they would need to wear gloves and masks. Chair Jeremy Owens said the town hall will open and the town hall meeting room will be opened when the Governor lifts the restrictions. D'Angelo pushed for making decisions on a Town Meeting but it was not discussed.

   In Other Business:

* At the Thursday evening Meeting in Public Comment Lisa Dimambro brought the board's attention to a comment on Facebook made by Wason Pond Commission member Leslie Hammond about trees being cut down at Wason Pond.  Selectman Doc Hagan responded that he took exception to some of the comments that were made, the post should be removed and people need to learn to live with other grown-ups.


Chester Board of Selectmen Hears About Potential Solar Farm
By Penny Williams    6-2-20

The Chester Board of Selectmen met on Thursday, May 28 and again on Monday, June 1. There was only one issue discussed Monday night and that was the presentation by Ned Reynolds, ReVision Energy, about the possibility of leasing the Dennis Standell property off Class 6 Cunningham Road.

ReVision would like to develop a 5 or 6 acre solar farm on the property. Reynolds was looking for reaction to the idea from the Selectmen but they listened to his presentation and Selectman Steve D'Angelo said the proposal needs to go before the Technical Review Committee before much more is discussed. The only part of the proposal that raised any questions was that the tax on the land would change if it came out of current use. Selectman Doc Hagen noted this and Reynolds acknowledged that ReVision would try and negotiate a payment contribution in lieu of taxes. The only other question was raised by Selectman Chuck Myette regarding whether the interconnection to the electric grid would be above ground or buried. Reynolds said all options were still on the table.

It was decided on Thursday that the Town Hall Renovations will be done by Maintenance under the supervision of Maintenance Supervisor Paul Cavanaugh. Selectman Steph Landau said on Monday evening the material needed and associated cost wasn't set yet. However, when the material is available the work could be done during the week and it would only take about three days. The board on Thursday evening approved a budget not to exceed $10,000 to get the work done.

It was determined on Thursday evening that Town buildings would remain closed until June 18, based upon the Governor's announcement but some employees would be allowed in to their offices to work.

The board also discussed a committee to be formed to work with Town Moderator to prepare for the upcoming Town Meeting.  Also the committee will look at approving or disapproving the budget and the CIP. Anyone interested in being on the committee was asked to contact Town Administrator Debra Doda.

In Other Business:

* The board will meet Thursday evening, June 4, for a public hearing regarding the  acceptance of  Ruth Ray Road.

* The board approved the contract for Spring Hill Farm haying with Bob Pepper who agreed to do field maintenance as well. Pepper will take the hay. There was a discussion about insurance but it was decided that if Pepper signed the Town's volunteer form he would not need additional insurance coverage.

* At the May 18, meeting, Michael Weider was reappointed to the Planning Board; Beth Sautter was reappointed to the Spring Hill Farm advisory Committee;

* The board approved Sherry Baker's request to allow the Lion's Club Food Drive June 27 from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Transfer Station to benefit the local food pantry. Non-perishable goods and monetary donations may be dropped off at the Chester General Store.

* The board approved Doda signing the Cares Act Motion on behalf of the board and the Town.

* Police Chief Aaron Berube reported that there were 31 incidents police responded to over the weekend at Wason Pond. He indicated 4 people were arrested.

* The Conservation Commission contest with the New Hampshire Pollinator Pathways awarded Kristina Snyder from the Conservation Commission gave me the winners' names as Melissa Folini, first; Shannon Paltinavich, second; and, Heather Dion, third. 


Chester Selectmen Decide Town Hall Renovations to be Done In House
By Penny Williams 5-22-20

The Chester Board of Selectmen met Thursday evening, May 21, and made the decision to move ahead with the renovations to Town Hall and to have the work done in-house.   

It was noted that there had been no responses to the RFP for Town Hall renovation and security upgrade work. Selectman Steph Landau said the Town has a Maintenance Department and they would be able to handle the planned work. He added if they hit something they need help with they have the authority to engage a local contractor. The board discussed this and decided they didn't need to vote on it but decided not to approve Building Inspector Myrick Bunker's request to extend the RFP time period for further RFP responses and to have the Chester Maintenance Department move forward and do the work.

Chris Hadik, Chair of the Wason Pond Commission, said that all the things discussed at the previous meeting had been accomplished at Wason Pond and as such requested the board re-open the parking. He also noted that a few more signs would be needed but basically it was ready to go. Emergency Management Director and Fireman Phil Gladu said the electronic sign would be in place in the morning and would run sunup to sundown and he would take care of the daily battery replacement.

Police Chief Aaron Berube said Ranger John Wright was working at the park and there had been a couple of calls already for police support. He added that one of Corinna Reishus college summer employees had applied to be a Park Ranger and he planned to interview him, check his background and if all were ok he would provide training to the student. Reishus said she has 4 possibly 5 other college age summer employees she is working with to determine which will work as maintenance for Wason Pond and which will do other Recreation jobs.

 Gladu updated the board on emergency management issues and the Governor's guidelines. He said that there will be an emergency order addressing town meetings coming in the near future. He indicated the board should approve the Governor's Office for Emergency Relief and Recovery (GOFERR) grant and the Town Clerk Liz Lufkin would forward the list and documents along with the board's approval in order to meet the June 1, submission date deadline. He indicated FEMA grants for COVID-19 expenses would be addressed later. The board members indicated they were all in support of processing the grant and that Town Manager Debra Doda was the designated signee and the board voted to approve applying for the grant.

The meeting opened with a critical quote from resident Ken Biel which Selectman Doc Hagen responded to in closing saying that the Selectmen are honest, hardworking people who do their upmost to serve the best interests of the residents.

Selectman Co Chair Chuck Myette adjourned the meeting after noting that would be no Monday night, May 25, meeting and the next meeting of the board would be next Thursday, May 28.


Chester Selectmen Approve the Wason Pond Commission Recommendations
By Penny Williams  5-19-20

At the Chester Selectmen's meeting, Monday night, May 18, the board approved implementing the recommendations of the Wason Pond Commission for dealing with the parking issue at Wason Pond.

         Wason Pond Commission Chair Chris Hadik recommended the following:

- Parking limited to lot adjacent to ball field immediately to the left of entrance.

- Parking lines to be striped by maintenance.

- Parking to be monitored by John Wright and a “lot full” or similar sign to be placed in entrance when at capacity. He suggest a sign saying “park full” to hint that it might be best to come back at a less busy time.

- Additional signs with current information regarding distancing, face coverings when unable to distance, no groups larger than 10, etc.

- Playground, ball field and beaches to remain closed until further assessment.

- Effective May 22, assuming these recommendations can be implemented by then.

- No date set for Phase 2 opening up of the park pending governmental updates and until this phase has been monitored.

- The No Parking signs be installed on 102.

- Use of one of the Town’s portable signs to indicate “Beach Closed” and whatever additional info will fit or the funds to rent such a sign.

- Hiring additional part time people to provide eyes on the situation at Wason Pond, preferably counselors from the Recreation Summer Program.

They discussed using the smaller parking area next to the field and noted cars could enter and exit there. The beach area would closed off with stakes and tape and the smaller dog beach area would allow launching of kayaks and people can fish at the pond. Signage would be put up with the COVID-19 information, parking regulations, and closures as well as no parking signs on Route 102 and the electronic sigh with the Beach Closed on it that would be placed on the field so it is seen from the roadway and is the first thing seen when a car enters the driveway to park.

There was a long discussion about how to provide adequate resources to maintain order and control the parking but it was decided that between 3 and 6 young people employed by Recreation would, for this period, be employed by Maintenance to do odd jobs at the park and help with encouraging people to maintain social distancing. One college age employee will work with the Police Department as he expressed an interest in helping the Ranger.

Police Chief Aaron Berube noted that the State has expressed a concern about cars exiting from that entrance to the parking area by the ball field because of sightline issues turning left toward Raymond.  However, this was still felt to be the best solution and no parking signs along Route 102 should be placed on the Raymond side of the exit so cars aren't parked there making sightlines worse.

Hadik hoped the Wason Pond parking could be opened up again by May 22, but the board's approval of the recommendations included opening the parking up only after all the issues such as signage, closing off the beach and so forth have been executed.  The board actually voted on Selectman Joe Hagen's motion to approve re-opening the Wason Pond parking based on the Wason Pond Commission recommendations when all that needs to be done has been completed, hopefully by May 22, but not until everything is ready. The board also approved having the Recreation young people, six of them, be assigned to Wason Pond to work under Maintenance including the one who would be under the Police Department and that they would all be paid by the Town.

The board discussed the reopening of the Town Buildings and decided to revisit this at their Thursday night meeting, May 28, as the Governor has extended the stay at home restriction until May 31. The board will make a decision at their May 28, meeting regarding whether to open Town Buildings to the public.

Selectman Steve D'Angelo was concerned about how people could register to vote or change their party and Town Clerk/Tax Collector Liz Lufkin said there is a form on the Web site to change parties that people can fill out have someone witness their signature and it would then be dropped in the box at Town Hall. She added the election and voting information will be on the web site and town signs.

In Other Business:

* The board re-appointed Jean Methot, Rhonda Lamphere, Jack Cannon, Chris Hadik, and Ed Stuart to the 300th Anniversary Committee.

* Selectman Steph Landau asked the board to approve spending $2,000 to repair and repaint the gate to the cemetery across from the common and the board did so.

* Landau also told the board the cemetery trustees are looking for a used trailer to buy to save money instead of renting one every year. He also said he had told the Trustees to do the needed minimal rocker panel repair so their aging vehicle could be registered at a cost of $400 or $500.

* Selectman Chuck Myette suggested the board should be considering how it plans to handle the Town Meeting and suggested an outdoor meeting such as Tupelo had using the Chester Academy parking lot.

* Myette also asked what was planned for Memorial Day and since nothing has been suggested they need to do something either a virtual ceremony or a few people to go to the common. Chair Jeremy Owen said he would get in touch with the Legion.

*There will be a Herb & Plant Sale Saturday, June 6, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon by the Rockingham Herb Society at the American Legion Post 108 , 57 Raymond Road. This is an outdoor event and herbs and plants are priced from $2 to $15.


Chester Selectmen Postpone Town Meeting Again
 By Penny Williams  5-15-20

The Chester Board of Selectmen met on Thursday evening, May 14, and after a lot of discussion about options, they decided to postpone the Chester Town Meeting again, this time to June 20.

Town Moderator Michael Scott  agreed and the Board approved the decision that due to the ongoing Covid-19 situation, the 2020 Town Meeting should once again be postponed. The Town Meeting has now been rescheduled for Saturday, June 20th, at 9 a.m.

   The discussion followed Senator Jon Morgan telling the board and Scott that there were options the town could chose from regarding their Town Meeting and their decision regarding their operational budget.

  Scott expressed the fear that continually postponing the meeting would reduce the actual participation in the Town Meeting when it eventually is held. He wanted to suspend it indefinitely but he was informed by Town Administrator Debra Doda that he couldn't do that legally. What he could  do is postpone it to a later date.

  The board discussed it and Morgan indicated there would be a clearer picture about what the state and elections and town meetings would look like by mid June. The Governor might change the law and allow a town meeting to be suspended and the legislature will reconvene in June and things may change.

 The board felt that since they didn't have to make any final budget decision that night that their best option was to postpone the Chester Town Meeting to Saturday, June 20, and then look it again  before that date.

   Morgan said he would advocate for the things the board had expressed. He was asked to see if the  selectmen could authorize  and approve using the same budget as the previous year without holding a town meeting and whether the Chester Town Meeting could be postponed without a specific date. He is also going to ask for guidance on setting the tax rate.  That doesn't happen until October or November, though.  Chair Jeremy Owens said the consensus of board was to wait and get  more information and decisions from the Governor before making any decision regarding the budget issue.

In other business:

 *   The Wason Pond Commission told the board it is working on some potential solutions to the Wason Pond parking issue. The commission will come before the Selectmen on Monday night, May 18, but they indicated they are thinking about getting an electronic sign for Route 102 by the park that would say the 'beach is closed'. They also indicated they want the no parking signs installed along Route 102.

      Police Chief Aaron Berube noted that no additional responsibilities should be asked of John Wright, the Ranger, and that the Chester Police Department does not have the resources to enforce behavior and parking at the park on a full time basis. The Selectmen reminded Hadik that funds are at a premium but he said what the commission would be seeking wouldn't be that much.

* The board approved Doda sending out the RFP ad for the Transfer Station Foreman and the Transfer Station attendants' positions.

* After a discussion the board voted to approve the Property Tax Interest Abatement program for Chester by a vote of 3 to 2 with Selectmen Steph Landau and Steve D'Angelo voting against it.

* The board also approved Chester participating in the First Responder Stipend Program.


Chester Selectmen Continue Wason Pond Discussion and East Derry Road Closure
By Penny Williams    5-12-20

The Chester Board of Selectmen met on Monday evening, May 11 and continued discussions about Wason Pond from the Thursday, May 7, meeting.

On Thursday evening the board discussed the Wason Pond parking issue. The Wason Pond Commission is not in favor of a parking permit system and are not happy about the parking being shut down. Selectman Chuck  Myette said he asked  Eric Feldbaum, NH Parks & Recreation to come in to talk to the board about what other  parks and recreation areas are doing and regarding the issues the Town is facing at Wason Pond.
   Monday night Chris Hadik, speaking for the Wason Pond Commission, indicated the commission was disturbed about being left out of the decision by the board to close the parking in the first place, which was affirmed by Wason Pond Commission member Kathy Ragsdale. Hadik indicated that the suggestion made by Jack Cannon to have a manned kiosk at the park rather than a pavilion so residents could be allowed in to park, but people from out of town being charged a fee  might be a good compromise.

Feldbaum stated that under the Wason Pond easement and the law, non-residents have to be offered and allowed whatever residents are offered or allowed regarding the use of the park. He said a parking fee could be charged non-residents if is not more than 50 percent more than what residents get charged and is reasonable and in line with what other parks in the area charge. He also noted that during this pandemic limiting parking to cut down on use of parks is allowed.

It was suggested that limited parking be allowed by the senior center,  which would only be 12 cars parking there, for the Ranger to control. Resident speakers expressed concern that the board had made the decision to close the parking taking advantage of the pandemic to promote their agenda of controlling behavior at the park. The selectmen denied this saying the decision was made because of the risks connected to the pandemic and the parking issue has been under discussion for several years.

Selectman Steph Landau explained again that he had made the motion to close the parking down to give the board an opportunity to come  up with a solution to the issues at Wason Pond and it was date specific lasting only until June 15.

There was a discussion about closing the pond to swimming. This action might well restrict use and parking but  in the end Chair Jeremy Owen wanted to have the input from the Wason Pond Commission before the board made any final decision regarding whether to restrict the area of parking at the park or to close it entirely or open it up entirely.

To be able to do that Hadik polled the members of the commission who were participating in the Zoom meeting to see if they could meet Wednesday evening, May13, at 6 p.m. Those listening in were able to signify they could do that and were willing to meet and have their recommendation and input for the Board of Selectmen's Thursday night, May 14, meeting.

In other business:

•  Thursday night the board  heard from Road Agent Michael Oleson regarding
the paving of East Derry Road slated for this week. Oleson told the board  it is weather dependent, but  the plan is for the wearing course to be laid down on East Derry Road on Tuesday, Wednesday, and/or Thursday, May 12th, 13th and 14th.

He went on to discuss the East Derry Road residents' complaints about speeding on the roadway. He said he will be putting the stop signs back on the road at the three way intersection that he had been forced to remove earlier noting that they did work to some degree. If he continues to get complaints he will put up an electronic flashing speed sign and if that doesn't do it he will install the speed platforms. He was asked about rumble stripes and he explained they tend to cause cracking of roadways because they retain water which freezes.  

Police Chief Aaron Berube said his department would do all it could with respect to enforcement but people need to understand the department has limited resources and many roads to cover and East Derry Road is an exit road out of Chester so will get a lot of non-resident use.

•  Berube took that occasion Thursday night, to introduce Michael Kehoe, a full time police officer he wanted to hire. Berube asked the board to approve him hiring Kehoe, which the board did, expressing their pleasure at having him. He is ready to start almost immediately.

•  The issue of property tax interest abatements was discussed on Thursday night. Town Clerk/Tax Collector Liz Lufkin said that if the board decides to do it at this time under these circumstances they can but that it would be for everybody, not on a case by case basis. Selectmen Steve D'Angelo and Joe Hagan disagreed on this with D'Angelo not wishing to give a blanket abatement and Hagan feeling this was something the town coud do for people being hard hit by the current state of emergency. D'Angelo wanted legal counsel to weigh in and Myette agreed with that and the board tabled this until the next meeting when they would have input from legal counsel. It did not come on Monday evening.

•  Town Administrator Debra Doda told the board there are no asbestos or lead issues involved in the proposed security improvements for the Town Hall entrance. Lufkin said there is a short window of time in which the funding for this project could fall under the emergency situation reimbursement system. The RFP was modified slightly and the board approved it Monday night.

• Thursday evening, Berube said he could provide police coverage for the tree cutting at Wason Pond.  During the week of Monday, May 11th, Dick Lewis from Chester Forest Products will be felling some dead trees on the Wason Pond property. D'Angelo wanted police coverage but Landau objected to the cost saying that maintenance workers and or the Ranger could provide sufficient assistance with protecting park trail users.

•  Monday night D'Angelo raised the suggestion of the board doing something to recognize Chester students who will be graduating. No decision on how this could be accomplished was made but the board thought it was a good idea to try and figure out something.


Chester Selectmen Decide to Keep Town Buildings Closed
By Penny Williams   5-4-20

The Chester Board of Selectmen met Monday night, May 4, and made the decision to continue keeping Town owned buildings closed at least until May 18, when they would review the situation.

The board's decision was based to a large extent on  Governor Chris Sununu's announcement that he is extending the stay-at-home order until May 31. The board felt and Emergency Management Director Phil Gladu agreed, that given this information it was best to leave things as they are at least until May 18, two weeks down the road.

After discussing this, Chair Jeremy Owens said on May 18, their decision would be reviewed and reassessed. Given that decision Town employees  will continue to work remotely.

It was noted that Chester is not free of the coronavirus, having had three patients who have recovered and there are three currently active patients, but the board felt the best decision to protect both town employees and town residents was to continue with keeping town owned buildings closed for the next two weeks at least.

In addition, Town Clerk/Tax Collector Liz Lufkin noted the glass security improvements for her office won't be completed until May 15, if all goes as scheduled. As such she agreed the best approach would be to keep all town owned buildings closed until May 18.

The board took up the Wason Pond Ordinance developed to control the parking situation at the park. It was pointed out that this ordinance was drawn up a year ago but nothing further had happened with it.

Selectman Chuck Myette was concerned that the ordinance and what it governed couldn't really be discussed until the parking permit system, whatever that might turn out to be, was put in place. The board discussed the Wason Pond parking issue and agreed the ordinance is to enforce whatever the permit parking system turns out to be.

The selectmen didn't have any substantial changes except Myette wanted the wording 'daily permit fee' changed. He wanted the word daily removed since charging a fee daily hadn't been established and would limit what they might do. The board approved removing the word daily and asked that the approval of the ordinance be put on the Thursday Selectmen's meeting agenda, allowing time for input from other boards and people.

Myette brought the discussion and questions raised at the Chester Planning Board meeting regarding the road in front of the Chester General Store to the board's attention. The issue, he said, is that the proposed site for the Raymond Jones Financial Services plan identifies parking spaces on town owned property and this can't be done.

Selectman Steph Landau brought up the fact that the roadway and the buildings on the town owned roadway pre-date the Town's Zoning Regulations.

The board discussed this issue and finally concluded that the site plan proposed for the new Raymond Jones Financial Services use of the building at 4 Haverhill Road could not include identifying specific parking spaces on town owned property so those specifically identified and marked spaces must come off the site plan and not be striped on the roadway. Myette would get that board decision back to the Planning Board.

In other business:

* The board decided the RFP for the work on the Town Hall to improve security needs a plan added to the information put out in the RFP for bids. The board decided to add the plan Building Inspector Myrick Bunker has and review this and decide whether to move forward with it at the next meeting.

* The board requested that the advertising for the RFP for open positions at the Transfer Station be tightened up with specific information on whether the positions are part time or full time. It was noted that the Supervisor position should be full time as that individual would be managing the Transfer Station as well as taking over the duties and operations that Andrew Hadik has been doing.  Town Administrator Debra Doda agreed to rework the RFP with added information as requested by the board.

* Landau said the police cruiser to be retained by the town would be used by Bunker and the old vehicle he now uses would go to Maintenance.

* The board approved having a police officer present when Dick Lewis takes the Wason Pond trail trees down.

* Police Chief Aaron Berube said the department' refrigerator died and when they went to Lowes to get a new one Lowes donated a $973 stainless steel double door refrigerator to the Chester Police Department. The board voted to accept the donation with many thanks.

* There has been additional activity at the Pomp Road area and Fish and Game was there taking what action they could. The board approved the Highway Department checking out the gates at the Spring Hill Farm that might well be used to shut off this access along with some boulders and for Road Agent Michael Oleson to move forward with this solution.

* Chief Berube said he is pursuing a possible grant or donation from Eversource for a gator vehicle to assist with enforcement of areas opened up to four-wheel use by the Eversource pole replacement and repair work. The board approved Doda sending a letter to Eversource relative to this.

*There will be a Supervisors of the Checklist registration session on Tuesday, May 5th, from 7 to 8 p.m. at the Town Clerk's Office exterior access window. This is the last day to register to vote before the Town Meeting which is currently scheduled for Saturday, May 16th, at 9 a.m. in the MultiPurposeRoom. You will need: Photo ID showing Chester Address (if you have recently moved to town please bring 2 proofs of residency); Passport, Birth Certificate, or citizenship papers to prove you are a US citizen.

If you need assistance and are unable to walk up to the temporary access window at the Town Clerk's office, please call 887-3636 ext. 2 and someone will come out to you at your vehicle. You may also change your party during this session if you choose to do so. June 2nd, is the last day to change your party prior to the September Primary Election.  There will be another session on Tuesday, June 2nd from 7 to 8 p.m.   You can change your party by writing a letter to the Supervisors' of the Checklist at 84 Chester St, Chester, NH, 03036. Be sure to include your name, address, phone number, date of birth, party that you are currently registered as, and indicate the party you would like to change to and sign it. Please call Dianna Charron at 887-2172 or email  diannacharron@comcast.net with any questions.


Chester Selectmen Wason Pond Parking Closure Decision Draws a Crowd
By Penny Williams   5-1-20

The Chester Board of Selectmen meeting Thursday evening, April 30, drew almost 40 people to participate electronically. The main meeting topic was the closure of the parking at Wason Pond.

  The board, at their previous meeting, Monday, April 27, had approved closing the parking at Wason Pond between that night and June 15, to give the board time to approve an ordinance regarding parking at the property and to come up with a permit process covering parking. The goal is to allow free parking with a permit for residents but non residents would have to pay for parking.

  The reason for this decision on the Wason Pond parking issue, which has been under discussion by the board for more than two years, is that because there was federal money accepted by the Town regarding the purchase of the property there cannot be any measures of discrimination relative to property users. However, during the summer months, there are increased parking problems and behavior issues that the board wants to address so residents can feel comfortable using the property and are able to find parking.

   Chair Jeremy Owens opened the meeting to public comments and Suzanne Chappell, Debbie Sullivan and Ken Briel expressed disappointment with the board's decision to block the entrance and exit to Wason Pond therefore closing down parking.  Greg Poppish questioned whether the board had the authority to take such action. Michael Romick asked if the town could restrict parking where they couldn't restrict use. During the course of the meeting several other participants using the message component of the electronic meeting made comments some of which had little or nothing to do with the core discussion.

   Selectman Steph Landau explained why he had made the motion for the closure of parking at the previous meeting. He said the board wanted time to approve an ordinance that has been under discussion by the selectmen for at least three years that would allow control of the use, parking and behavior of users at Wason Pond. The board has the authority to do so since it is town owned property. However, he pointed out that Wason Pond was not closed, it was the parking that was closed. The fields and playground were already closed due to the pandemic but the trails were open for use. The board is looking for a way to manage the parking. Selectman Chuck Myette  pointed out that there are other trails and properties in Chester where people can walk and maps of these can be found on the town website.

   Myette added that the action had been taken by the board at this time because of the failure of Wason Pond users to follow the state social distancing guidelines and their illegal use of the closed  fields and the pond itself that were documented by pictures taken Selectmen Steve D'Angelo.  

    D'Angelo said that when Road Agent Michael Oleson went to block the entrance and exit at Wason Pond on Tuesday morning, April 28, at 10:30 a.m. there were three cars parked there with Massachusetts license plates. He said that during the busy summer months residents can't find parking spaces so that was what drove the decision to shut the parking down to give the board time to  develop a way to address the parking issue.

     Selectman Joe (Doc) Hagan said during this time of COVID-19 when everyone is facing such a drastic safety issue people denying the use of safety measures such as social distancing that was seen at Wason Pond can't be tolerated and thus the decision to close down the parking was made with a view to figuring out how to limit non-resident people parking at Wason Pond through some type of parking payment system which would enforceable by the selectmen's ordinance.

     The board members were given the proposed draft ordinance and while there was agreement that it would address the issue there were several selectmen who had questions they wanted to ask regarding the document. It was decided to do that at their Monday night meeting on May 4, after they had time to review it.

    The board then heard from Anne (no last name given) indicating that she had gathered survey responses from residents 14 people on East Derry Road regarding the installation of speed platforms and that all of the  responses from them were in favor of installing the speed platforms.

    Owens explained that the board would consider possibly taking action to slow traffic on East Derry Road beyond their decision to reduce the miles per hour  but added there is a financial cost for the speed platforms and that all East Derry Road residents would have to be contacted and allowed to share their input on the issue.
   D'Angelo encouraged Anne to have other residents of the road get involved advocating for the speed platforms if that was what they wanted. Owens noted that the board will need to bring Oleson back in to continue this discussion.

   Police Chief Aaron Berube said that the speed platforms would absolutely slow traffic and if a car traveling at a high rate of speed hit one they would likely end up on someone's porch. Motorcycles would be impacted by speed platforms as well. The  platforms are generally 8 inches or more high but painted and notices about them being in the roadway always are posted.

In other business:

* Barbara Cannon was reappointed as Assistant Town Clerk and Deputy Tax Collector.

* Chief Berube said the new cruiser was due in and the 2015 cruiser it replaces has a $5,000 trade-in value. Landau suggested that the town retain the 2015 cruiser and it could be used by Maintenance or by the Building Inspector or as others suggested, parked on East Derry Road to slow traffic down. The board approved retaining the 2015 cruiser for town use instead of using it as a trade-in.

* D'Angelo brought up the fact that he is still waiting to receive his auto registration that he filled out and filed online and he is concerned that this is taking too long. Town Clerk/Tax Collector Liz Lufkin said if he doesn't receive it in 30 days the State Motor Vehicle Division will send him a duplicate without cost assuming the registration was lost in the mail.  


Chester Selectmen Close Wason Pond and Discuss Permits for Residents Use
By Penny Williams 4-28-20

The Chester Board of Selectmen discussed the issues of too many people using Wason Pond even though the fields and playground are closed and how to go about restricting its use, particularly by non-residents, at both their Thursday night, April 23 and Monday night April 27, meetings.
     Selectman Steve D'Angelo brought up Wason Pond at the Thursday night meeting and said as the days get warmer it is going to become a real problem and he reiterated it Monday night. He said people from Fremont were kayaking Thursday on the Pond  and on Monday he said there were boat races taking place on the pond. In addition, there was organized ball training taking place on the field even though the fields are closed. He suggested the town may want to shut Wason Pond down completely. The board and Police Chief Aaron Berube discussed this possibility at length.
      No decision was made Thursday since Governor Chris Sununu was expected to make an announcement about lifting stay at home restrictions before their Monday meeting, which didn't happen. So on Monday the board looked at both short term and long term solutions for the Wason Pond issue.
      Short term the board, after much discussion, approved closing Wason Pond to all parking and traffic by using saw horses or some such device at both entrances. Chief Berube would make sure that the temporary placement of no parking signs along Route 102 in the area of the pond would be legal.  The board approved keeping Wason Pond closed in this fashion from Monday night, April 27, through Monday, June 15.

     Road Agent Michael Oleson said he would take care of  blocking all entrances for parking at Wason Pond Tuesday morning.  Chief Berube said he would get the signs for Oleson to temporarily erect along Route 102 in the vicinity of the Pond.

      Long term it was decided that Town Administrator Debra Doda and Town Clerk/Tax Collector Liz Lufkin would proceed with developing a permit process for residents to be able to park at Wason Pond once it is opened up again. There has to be an ordinance approved by the selectmen in place for police enforcement and the board wants this developed going forward. Selectman Chuck Myette suggested this down time might be an excellent opportunity to work on this long term solution of the ordinance and how the permits would be handled. Doda noted there is an ordinance already in draft form and she will work on it.

        On Monday evening the board discussed and decided to allow several Recreation college student employees to be employed at Wason Pond for its improvement, helping with mowing and light duty repairs and painting. The object is to not lose these young employees. There was a discussion about which budget would cover this but the board approved using the recreation employees in this fashion and decided to figure out the budget issue later.

     The board also approved $4,850 for Dick Lewis to take care of some hundred trees near the Wason Pond Trails that are either dead or diseased and the chips from chipping them to be used on the trails.

       Monday evening Emergency Management Director Phil Gladu and Lufkin announced that the Rabies Clinic would take place on Saturday, May 2, but would be by invitation only and only for residents whose dogs require a rabies shot that has been pre-paid and pre-registered by the resident by Friday May 1, with Ark Animal Homecare, NH Mobile Veterinarians. Lufkin has contacted many residents already and said she would continue to issue the invitations. Those wishing to get the needed rabies shot at the Chester Academy parking lot from ARK at the Rabies Clinic need to call ARK by Friday, May1,  and pay over the phone to be able to receive the service. ARK will give those people a time to show up and anyone coming without prior registration and payment will be turned away.
         Thursday evening the board made a decision not to sell School House #5, owned by the North Chester Ladies Aid Society on Candia Road to Candia that had offered to buy it. Selectman Steph Landau gave the history of the building going back to when the North Chester Ladies Aid Society used it as their headquarters for making quilts and blankets for WWI. Candia's old school house is now on exhibit at Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts which is why they wanted to buy the Chester School House. The board asked Town Administrator Deb Doda to write a polite letter declining the offer to buy the building.
In other business:

* The board approved the Chester Informational Bulletin that will be sent out to all residences with the addition of the Rabies Clinic information. The bulletin covers important local information relative to various departments such as Building Department, Town Clerk/Tax Collector, Police and Recreation and covers the Transfer Station information as well as Emergency Management updates.

* The board approved Landau getting an assessment of the costs for doing the needed exterior repairs to Stevens Hall.

* Myette said the Hart Robert's Road issue came up at the Planning Board and the town needs to make a determination whether it is a road or a driveway and whether the town owns it or not.

* Rick Sibley was appointed a full member of the Conservation Commission with his term to expire in 2023. He will be taking the position left open by Baron Richardson.

* An East Derry Road resident at the Thursday meeting spoke to the board asking that the road platforms be added to slow traffic. She was asked to get information from other East Derry residents on whether they want speed platforms or not but had not followed up on that. Oleson said again on Monday he thinks measures to slow traffic with the reduced speed limit and possibly the use of electronic speed signs should be tried first because once the speed platforms go in they are permanent and cost roughly $5,000 each.

* Jack Cannon spoke Thursday night asking the board not throw the baby out with the bathwater regarding Wason Pond. He said things can be controlled if the police are notified and come and take action when something wrong is taking place there but having the trails for people to use is important.

Chester Selectmen Discuss Hart Roberts Road and Transfer Station Procedures
By Penny Williams    4-21-20

At the Thursday, April 16, meeting of the Chester Board of Selectmen, the issue of Hart Roberts Road was brought to the board by Road Agent Michael Oleson. It was determined at the Monday, April 20, meeting that nothing could be done until the next year's Town Meeting so the board put off further discussion on the matter.

The issue revolves around the fact Hart Roberts Road is basically a driveway and not a road but because the town for some reason started plowing it more than 20 years ago it is considered a town road and not a private road.

Hart Roberts road is only 12-feet wide, very steep and raises safety concerns for Town emergency vehicles. In winter it is extremely slippery and emergency vehicles have slid off the road and had to be rescued. In the recent past one of the two dwelling owners cut trees along one side making it even more dangerous for emergency vehicles because now there is nothing there to stop their fall.

Now there is a plan to build a 6,500 square foot outdoor riding arena that went to the ZBA and was approved but has not been before the TRC. The riding ring is expected to be enclosed at a future date and supposedly is now just for the owners use and her friends. Nevertheless, the access using Hart Roberts Road is an issue. It was also noted that there are some 40 acres further out behind the present dwellings which could be developed.

  Selectman Steph Landau remembered that at one Town Meeting the board tried to discontinue the road but that got tabled and nothing ever was done. The town does plow it but there is no evidence that the town ever adopted the road as a town road.

Town Counsel was contacted and Monday night, it was determined that the board could not do anything about the situation until it was brought before Town Meeting and that would be a year down the road. The board felt, however, that if the road were to be adopted by the Town it would have to be brought up to current road standards. It was decided the board would deal with this later.

The board concluded the house at Spring Hill Farm (SHF) is not appropriate for pandemic patient use but the Spring Hill Advisory Committee Chair Emily Kunelius did feel that her board and the SHF Trustees are interested in using at least the downstairs portion of the house for classes, seminars, and other similar type meetings. As such the bathroom would need to be fixed. The board indicated it would need a list of what needs to be done to the first floor to bring it up to code so it could be used and the cost of accomplishing that.

Landau suggested that a new building on the property, with grants that are available, would probably be less expensive to build for the purposes the SHF people want. It was decided that since the house won't work short term for the pandemic, information on long term use should gathered and in the meantime the well feeding the high tunnel should be tested.

Thursday the selectmen made the decision to make sure that the Edwards Dam bill for the overage that occurred when work was done over a year ago and which the board has previously approved paying would get taken care of.

Thursday night Oleson said that East Derry Road would be closed for the day, April 22,  in order to repair the culvert. Monday night he reported that residents on East Derry Road  have complained about cars speeding and he recommended to the Selectmen lowering the speed limit that is presently 30 miles per hour to 25 miles per hour to see if that had the hoped for effect of slowing drivers. He wanted to try this before going to the expense of building speed platforms at a cost of $5,000 each which would become permanent part of the road.

Police Chief Aaron Berube was in agreement with Oleson's recommendation and felt the lower MPH would allow his officers to better control speed. Selectman Steve D'Angelo was dubious that reducing the speed by 5 MPH would have any impact but the board voted 4 to 1 to approve Oleson putting up signs posting the lower speed.

In other business:

• There was a long discussion Monday evening regarding the Earth Day Town Wide pick-up suggestion from Recreation Director Corinna Reishus.  In the end it was decided to go ahead with the plan that will take place from Wednesday through Sunday, April 22 to April 26. Bags for the pick-up will be available at the Wason Pond Community Center, Town Hall and the Snack Stand at the town fields or people can use their own bags.

 It was decided that people would do neighborhood pick-ups and leave the bags along the roadside, preferably at intersections and Andrew Balch, ABI Waste Removal and the town dump truck would pick the bags up and ABI would get them to the landfill.

• The board approved the plan and Police Chief Berube added the caution that people seeing anything like a needle or suspicious and possibly hazardous things  should call the Police or Fire departments to come and pick those items up.

• The board approved moving forward with the $2,800 cost for the implementation of the glass security work in the Town Clerk's Office.

• It was reported that there has been continued activity at the Wason Pond fields and the board recommended that the Police, when such activity is reported to them, go and check it out and remind people that the fields are closed.

•  Friday night Transfer Station use will be eliminated and the typical Wednesday and Saturday times and uses will be back although there will be restrictions on the recycling.

• The town has made some specific decisions with the reopening of the Transfer Station summer days and hours. As the bulk of the recyclables have apparently been reduced to a workable level, they will start to recycle in the barn on  a limited basis and reverting to our Wednesday 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. schedule.

If everyone follows Standard Operating Procedures  of (a) separating your recyclables and (b) loading your car in the reverse order that you will be taking your recyclables out, then your time in the barn will be kept to an absolute minimum.  This will drastically reduce the possibility of interaction with the staff and other residents thereby creating a safer environment.  

- Please wear your mask! This will be the procedure for the next phase of operation.

- Please form one line.  Vehicles will be allowed in the barn through the overhead doors with the guidance of an attendant.

-  All of the trailers and roll-offs will be open, except for the cardboard trailer.

- Please wait at the sign by the opening until the resident in front of you exits before you enter in order to enforce social distancing.

The cardboard trailer itself will be closed as it is difficult to enforce social distancing while ensuring that the cardboard is stacked neatly.  There will be staging to the right outside of the cardboard trailer for you to place your cardboard on.

The mixed paper trailer will be open, and one person at a time will be allowed inside.  Please wait at the sign by the doorway until the person before you exits.

The tin can roll-off will be open.  Please wait at the sign by the doorway until the person before you exit.

The glass roll-off will both be open and attended.  Please wait at the sign by the doorway until the previous customer exits and the attendant calls you in.

The plastic compactor will be open.  Please wait at the sign by the doorway until the previous customer exits.

Aluminum cans will be deposited into the aluminum can trailer located outside of the barn.  

If you have no recyclables, you may bypass the barn and deposit your trash in the trash compactor.

Freon-containing items are not being accepted as the company that recycles the Freon is based in Massachusetts and not crossing the border. Small amounts of metal are possible, but nothing large until the metal recycler comes.  

The Swap Shop, Library, etc., need to remain closed for the time being.


Chester Selectmen Address Emergency Management and Transfer Station Issues
By Penny Williams 4-14-20

The Chester Board of Selectmen met on Thursday April 9,  and again on Monday, April 13. During those meetings they updated the  Emergency Management and the Transfer Station issues as well as taking care of other business.

Town Clerk/Tax Collector Elizabeth Lufkin reported having daily phone conferences were with Emergency Management personnel, legal with the Attorney General and NH Municipal Association, and with the Department of  Public Health, State Fire Marshall, and Homeland Security.  Lufkin indicated she is working to compile estimates for reimbursement with FEMA by getting information from Department Heads relative to costs incurred by responding to the pandemic. Vice-Chair Chuck Myette asked Lufkin to report on what estimates had been put together so far.  

She further explained that  FEMA Category B expenses that will be considered for reimbursement are those that relate to the protection of the health  and welfare of residents and employees and include such things as supplies, the mailer that  was recently sent to residents, the doorbell with camera that was installed and any time spent by employees/town officials specific to dealing with COVID-19 that are “reasonable and necessary.” FEMA will review all receipts and documents and determine which expenses fall into that category such as the expenses for having the Transfer Station opened an extra day and the cones purchased for traffic flow at the Transfer Station.

She noted she and Town Administrator Debra Doda, working with the Building Inspector Myrick Bunker, to put together an RFP for the planned security measures to be done at the building entrance and in the Town clerk's office.  The card reader mechanisms alone will be very costly and the plan is to install several.    

Lufkin indicated she received an estimate from Traynor Glass for the installation of glass in  her office for $2,800. Maintenance has reached out for a second  estimate from Manchester Auto Glass. The glass would sit on the top shelf and dip into the area where the public has face to face contact with staff and end a couple of inches from the counter so that papers can be slid through. The door at the right will be a little taller to meet the height of the glass. Lufkin will submit the  expense to FEMA.

Selectman Steve D’Angelo asked whether FEMA would reimburse buyouts for employee vacation time. Lufkin indicated they have addressed this issue and will not reimburse wages and  other items that have nothing to do with protecting the public.  

Selectman Steph Landau noted he has taken this up with the Labor Board and NH Municipal Association. The Labor Board instructed the Town to follow its policy and the NHMA has not gotten back to him yet.

Police Chief Aaron Berube reported the Police Department had to remove two separate groups who had set up camp sites at Wason Pond and Recreation Director Corinna Reishus noted another group has been seen  twice playing ball.      
    Myette indicated that he met with the staff at the Transfer Station and the  new plan is underway. A policy sheet was provided and he explained the Transfer Station started  taking glass on Wednesday utilizing the skid. On Friday they had a few cars waiting and it was busy up until 6:30 and after that basically normal. He said there were few back-ups and no traffic issues on Friday or Saturday.

 ABI Waste Removal  provided a compactor truck to take all recyclables ABI to Waste Management in Auburn. Some who came on Friday didn't realize they could bring and dispose of their recyclables and went back home to get them and bring them. Moving forward the Transfer Station will be open on Wednesday for trash only and have the extra day Friday for trash and recyclables and Saturday as usual and they can bring recyclables. The Transfer Station is hoping to have all bays open by April 22nd . Myette noted  there is a cost for the extra hours for staff and for the removal of the recyclables by ABI at $100/ton  which he estimated will run about $400-$500 per week which will be tracked for reimbursement through FEMA and will be eliminated as quickly as possible.  

Doda noted that when Maintenance inspected the bathroom at Spring Hill Farm for use as a possible quarantine site, they discovered that the shower is leaking into the  wall, and the toilet was sitting on the pipe as the floor is rotted. The estimate for plumbing only is about $2,000. Maintenance reached out to Michael Oleson for an estimate on the remaining and after he inspected it he said the entire bathroom needed to be done and he estimated the cost would run around $25,000.  At this point the water is turned off.

 Doda also noted the State would have to designate the facility as a quarantine location in order to qualify for funding. The Wason Pond Community Center is available if  needed.  D’Angelo felt the bathroom should be fixed now before the damage gets worse. But after a brief discussion the board decided there needs to be a decision made regarding what the future of the building's use is going to be and for that the Spring Hill Farm Advisory Committee and the Spring Hill Farm Trustees need to be involved. It was decided to have representatives come to the Thursday night Selectmen's meeting in order to discuss this and make some decisions.

Road Agent Michael Oleson gave an update on the road work to start April 20th  on East Derry Road. He noted that a culvert was discovered to need replacement when a frost heave appeared. Upon inspection it was discovered that it was not coupled properly. The plastic culvert would have a 20-foot section replaced at an estimated cost of $10,000 and the road would be closed for one

Landau reported a fireman who passed away in the line of duty in the 60s, Roland  Morrissette. His passing was commemorated at the National Fireman’s Memorial. Fire Chief Greg Bolduc  reported that there had been a service at the Firefighter’s Memorial. Landau want to do something to commemorate it locally and asked about the walkway to the flagpole and possibly doing it in conjunction with the 300th  Anniversary.  Bolduc will do more research to find out if any other firefighters in Chester lost their lives in  the line of duty. Myette added it would be nice to put a plaque up at the Station and have it dedicated during the 300th anniversary period. Jack Cannon who is on the 300th  Anniversary Committee noted he will bring this up at the next meeting which they are trying to put together soon.

Myette reported Kristy and Nick Ortins have cleaned up the high tunnel at Spring Hill  Farm and have begun planting. They received woodchips from Oleson and the electricity has been switched and put in their name. Myette helped them get the pump going so they are making good progress.

 Chair Jeremy Owens discussed the proposal for a gate at Pomp Road. Myette said the gate should be put at the top of the hill for visibility sake and Landau said a farm gate along with implanting some  4 by 4's on the sides should be sufficient to keep four wheelers from going through but still allow for emergency vehicles if needed. It was noted that Fish and Game stopped about 30 ATVs and collected pot among other things over the weekend so there is a need to get the gate up. The decision was made to move forward with getting costs and getting this taken care of.

Owens raised the issue of personal and sick time accrual for the Town employees which  was brought up as a concern at a recent Department Heads meeting. Sick and personal time is different from their allotted vacation time discussed at the last meeting. Doda explained that personal and sick time is accrued at eight hours per month worked with a maximum of 96 hours per year, so approximately one day is earned for each month worked. Landau did not feel this was the same inconvenience as vacation time and should  not be subject to roll over. Myette noted it could still be used despite the pandemic. D’Angelo agreed and noted too many benefit reimbursements could be financially detrimental to a small Town. Selectman Joe Hagan noted the policy is clear and coherent and if there were exigent circumstances the Board would address those positively. Selectman D’Angelo noted after a lengthy absence the short-term disability would start anyway.

In other business:

* Recreation Director Corinna Reishus presented Leslie Hammond for reappointment to the Recreation Commission. Reishus noted Hammond has served on Recreation since April, 2014. The board approved re-appointing Hammond to the Recreation Commission  for a term to expire May 31, 2023.  

* D’Angelo asked what measures were used for storing electronic signatures with the  concern that documents stored on the Cloud could be altered if not kept in a secure place. Doda noted the documents are printed and filed and the Board of Selectmen's Administrative Assistant Janice Jalbert added that they are stored securely by Eversign as well as on the Town’s server.

* Myette reported he and Dick Lewis had checked the wooly adelgid at Wason Pond and determined that there were only a few trees infested and none of the tree's health was being impacted at this point.  He  has been in touch with Victor Chouinard Conservation Chair about it and it will be monitored going forward.

* D'Angelo raised concern over some dead trees along the Wason Pond Trail saying they should be taken down before they fall and hurt someone. After a brief discussion  Myette and Lewis will check them out and figure out the best way to handle taking care of them.

* Hagan praised the Fire and Police Departments for their Easter Bunny Ride and birthday rides. Chief Greg Bolduc said an anonymous donor was sending the Town a check to cover the fuel costs for the Bunny and Birthday rides. The board voted unanimously to accept the donation.

Chester Transfer Station Open Fridays and Easter Bunny Will Ride the Roads
By Penny Williams     4-7-20

At the Monday night, April 6, Chester Selectmen's meeting conducted electronically, a couple of  important decisions were made.

First Wednesday at the Transfer Station will be from 5 to 8 p.m. but only trash will accepted. New during this period, temporary Friday, residents will be able to bring trash and recycling between 5 and 8 p.m. on both April 10, and April 17, with the single stream recycling being put into ABI Waste Removal truck with compactor except for glass that will be put into a separate container. Saturday will be trash from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. and recycling when the ABI truck is there. The hope is to have the recycling set and the Transfer Station open to both trash and recycling as usual by April 22. Andrew Balch ABI has offered to help Chester by letting the Transfer Station use his truck at no cost for this period of time.

The board made the decision to move forward with putting a gate on Pomp Road between the Class V and Class VI sections to prevent access to the power line for ATVs. Police Chief Aaron Berube said the resident at end of the road is suffering from the ATV traffic and the sounds of gunfire. 90 percent of the  complaints he gets are power line related. ATV use is prohibited but the police don't have the capacity to enforce. The board approved Selectman Step Landau moving ahead with finding a local welder to make a gate and the Highway Department to install it.

The board authorized the Easter Bunny to ride around Chester between 2 and 6 p.m. on Easter Sunday just as Santa did on Christmas Eve. It also authorized  the police and fire departments to continue putting on parades for kids birthdays.

The board is going to look at estimates on at their Thursday meeting that  Building Inspector Myrick  Bunker is going to get to do the work that he has engineering designs for to secure the entrance to Town Hall so it can possibly be opened up for use. It would make changes to allow non-employees only to enter into a lobby until allowed in by someone they are there to work with. There will be an addition to the Town Clerk/Tax Collectors office as well for greater security.



Chester Selectmen Discuss 2019 Notices of Arrearage
By Penny Williams    4-3-20

Vice-Chair Chuck Myette called the meeting of the Chester Board of Selectmen to order on Monday night, March 30, and again on Thursday, April 2, and read the declaration of emergency order covering electronic means.
    Selectmen Steve D’Angelo, Joseph Hagan, Jeremy Owens,  Stephen Landau, and  Myette were  present at both meetings either physically or electronically as was  Emergency Operations Manager Phil Gladu, and  Town Clerk/Tax Collector Liz Lufkin and Town Administrator Deb Doda. Recreation Director Corinna Reishus. Police Chief Aaron Berube and Town Treasurer Rhonda Lamphere were participants.
      Thursday night Town Clerk/Tax Collector Lufkin consulted with the Board concerning notices of arrearage for the 2019 tax year which starts April 1,  and goes through next March 31, 2021.
    The Tax Collectors’ office sends out a notice of  impending liens 30 days before execution. Due to the emergency, letters were halted that would customarily go out in early March. There are approximately 110 invoices, 42 from the first billing and 66 from the second and two for timber tax.
      Once the lien is executed there would be 80 penalties. Myette asked what the consequences were if they are not sent out and Lufkin noted they have until September 30th to respond, so long as it is within 18 months of the beginning of the  tax year.
       Selectman Landau recommended including an explanation of the delay when the letters do go out. Selectman Hagan recommended sending the Notice of Intent out on May 1st due June 1st for execution which will give some people time.
     It was decided that  Lufkin will send another letter out. Selectman D’Angelo recommended sending by certified mail to get the point across better.
      Lufkin indicated deeds which are another deadline are two years and one day from lien execution. Mortgage holders are notified by a service. 2017 were going out this week.  Myette asked if the dates could be the same and Lufkin indicated she would like to schedule a waiver discussion for Thursday’s Board of Selectmen’s meeting on this. There are about 15 to discuss in non-public session. The board agreed to this.

      Lufkin did note during the meeting on Thursday night while waiting for non-public that people with questions who are now calling 911 should be calling 211

      Myette  on Monday night indicated he was meeting with Rich Czarnec Transfer Station Director, and Emergency Operations Manager Phil Gladu at the Transfer Station tomorrow to assess what can be done and what services could be opened up to address the recycling issue. Currently the Transfer Station is only accepting household trash, waste oil and brush/compost and not recyclables.
       Myette recommended talking with Waste Management to see what they will accept and is investigating bringing in the trailer. They will  have an update at Thursday evening’s meeting.  Information is posted for the residents on the webpage, the Transfer Station page, sign, Facebook and the Public Access Station. People are being met  at the gate with a handout containing recommendations for  handling waste at home.
       Landau indicated he had spoken to the maintenance director Paul Cavanaugh and Czarnec who are short of face masks and sanitizer. In the event there is a quarantine of first responders they are considering Spring Hill Farm for that and will go in and sanitize everything there and the Community Center building as well late Thursday.

       Thursday night Myette said a plan has been worked out that hopefully will allow the resumption of recycling. Among things are proposed expanded Transfer Station hours.

There will be only one bay open and only one car at a time allowed to dispense with their recycling and all recycling articles with the exception of metal will hopefully be back up and running. He said there is ample room for the cars to queue up as it goes back all the way to Route 102 but he recommended people bag recycling items separately for disposal to save time.  The plan is still in the process and would not be available for this Saturday and possibly not for next Wednesday either but soon.
     The board discussed a motion by Landau that the proposed extended hours at the Transfer Station from 4 to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays and from 7 a.m.  to 4 p.m., on Saturdays be approved until the end of this emergency period. D'Angelo wanted this tabled until Myette brings a confirmed plan to the board on Monday night, April 6 and the board agreed with that.
    It was noted that ABI Waste Removal, Andrew Balch,  has offered to bring a truck that would be left there on a given opening period for recyclables and then he would drive the loaded truck to the disposal area. Myette said he appreciated that since this may have to be the way things are handled if the plan under consideration doesn't pan out.

At the Monday meeting Landau advised the board the electrical work was completed at Town Hall over the weekend. The building was closed down, the electricity shut off and wiring was isolated that led to the meeting room. That which served no purpose was disconnected. All the circuit breakers were changed.
   Thursday night Myette said a contract for the board's review had been received regarding the re-opening of a gravel pit off North Pond Road. This needs to be cleared through the Conservation Commission before the board takes any action on it.
    There was a discussion Thursday about the use of Wason Pond facilities and trails and open spaces. Reishus said people were using the trails but were respecting social distancing. However she reported she had seen groups playing ball over the weekend and this needs to be addressed.

Berube spoke up and said the Wason Pond Park Ranger would be there on nice days and would discourage this. The board unanimously approved reminding residents that buildings are closed and the Wason Pond playground is closed and no groups should be gathering at Wason Pond or at the school fields. They approved looking into what posting of this would be feasible.

 Gladu reported that everything at this point regarding Emergency Operations is going smoothly. However, he warned that there will be a spike of Coronavirus patients coming. In view of this he reported at this time first responders have adequate personal protection gear but they will continue to tweak protocols and to acquire more gear.
    The board discussed the question of what is being done regarding employee vacations and whether vacations could be moved forward to after this period. Hagan spoke up and said regardless of what is ultimately decided, employees should not be penalized or lose their vacation time. The board asked Doda to find out how many employees have pending vacations coming and that they would discuss this further Monday night.  

The board discussed the probability that this period will lead to a depression if not at least a severe recession. In view of that D'Angelo suggested that the town put all hiring on hold.

Berube asked if that applied to his efforts to replace police patrol officers who have left or retired and that he has replacement options of certified NH officers and putting it off would undoubtedly lose them for Chester. The board told him to continue with his replacement efforts.

The board voted not to do anything with a suggested Building Code Appeal Board in Chester submitted by Building Inspector Myrick Bunker. Hagan pointed out it isn't necessary since there is already a state board and a process in place. 











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