2021 Chester Board of Selectmen Meetings


Chester Selectmen Appoint Phil Gladu As New Fire Chief
By Penny Williams   12-24-21

The Board of Selectmen met Thursday night, December 23, and made several appointments, the most significant of which was the announcement of the Town's  new Fire Chief.

The Board of Selectmen announced that Philip Gladu has accepted the position as Fire Chief of the Town of Chester Fire Department effective immediately. He has been the acting interim Fire Chief since May.

Gladu joined the Chester Fire Department as a call member upon moving to Chester in 2008.  He was appointed Emergency Management Director in December 2011 and retired from active duty with the US Navy with 21 years of service in 2013. 

Gladu holds his Fire I, Fire II, and EMT certifications, has a BS in Fire Science Administration, and has been employed as a full-time firefighter for the Town since September of 2020.  He stepped up to serve as Acting Fire Chief in May 2021.

Gladu's wife and children took part in putting his chief's pins on. He was then sworn in by Town Clerk/Tax Collector Liz Lufkin. The board members congratulated him and expressed pleasure at his being appointed the chief. A cake was there and he cut pieces and shared it with members of the public who had come for the occasion as well as with the board members and others there for board meeting purposes.

The board appointed Nick Tranquillo as an alternate to the Conservation Commission. Conservation Commission Chair Victor Chouinard said Tranquillo had attended meetings, was very interested in conservation in all aspects and recommend his appointment.

The board heard from Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) Administrative Assistant Nancy Hoijer that the members of the ZBA recommended the Selectmen appoint Jason Walsh as an alternate to the ZBA. The board appointed Walsh and Lufkin swore him in.

The board had opened a public hearing as their meeting opened to consider voting to accept the unanticipated revenue from the Federal Government. The funds are the $521,734.44 ARPA funds and the town has received the first of two payments in the amount of $275,857.22. The second payment is expected in June or July.

At the time of opening the public hearing the board members reviewed what the funds can be used for. Chair Chuck Myette inferred that there has not been a project designated for the funds. However, Road Agent Michael Oleson disputed this after the appointments were finalized.

Oleson angrily said he was upset that Myette had indicated no project has been selected when the board voted at an earlier meeting to use the funds for the Cole Road culvert project. There was some exchange and Town Administrator Debra Doda said that both she and Planning Director Andrew Hadik had been given the information that this project meets all the requirements.

The board members discussed the issue noting that indeed the Cole Road culvert had been approved for the funds but that was not what they were voting on - that was simply to accept the funds. It was also noted that the town doesn't and won't have all the money needed for the project at this point.

Oleson said he was pulling the plug on the preparation he has initiated regarding the project. The board members told him not to do that and asked if he had initiated the engineering study and he said he had. After some further discussion the board told him to move forward with the engineering design at a cost of $150,00 for the culvert project.

The board voted unanimously to accept the ARPA funds.

The board discussed the fact the budget at this point is up 10.5 percent and the feeling is the voters won't buy that much of an increase.

Doda said that the majority of the increase is related to salaries and benefits. Selectman Steve D'Angelo said that he feels the budget increase needs to be reduce to 6 or 6.5 percent. The board will discuss the budget and see where cuts can be made at their January 6, meeting.

The board members discussed the issue of needing cleaning between building uses again. There is an effort to find additional resources to provide more cleaning to be done but for now CDC guidelines will be followed.

 


 Chester Board of Selectmen and Planning Director Discussed Capital Improvement Plan
By Penny Williams    12-17-21

The Chester Board of Selectmen heard from Chester's Planning Director about the CIP on Thursday evening, December 16.

Andrew Hadik, Planning Director, came before the board and explained what had been discussed at the Public Hearing on the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) held the previous night to which no one came. Hadik explained how Table 10 of the CIP is used and indicated it is a great planning tool.

He went on to explain why some items, such as the possible new police station and the highway shed (garage) have been pushed out past the 7 year CIP term because they aren't actually planned at this point in time. When as and if that should change the Board of Selectmen can be put them back into the working portion (7 years) of the CIP Table 10.

Hadik noted that Police and Fire, the town's safety and security departments, are given the highest priority followed by Highway, which in actuality has had the most money spent. General Government Buildings (GGB), Library and Recreation are less of a priority and Library and Recreation can have many of their items funded by impact fees.

Regarding impact fees he pointed out they need to be spent within a six year period and if not they have to be returned. He also noted the GGB need to look at their impact fees and make sure they are used.

The School board, he noted, handles their CIP items and agreed with Hadik and the Planning Board that the school's copier contract doesn't meet the eligibility for being on the CIP so it was dropped.

Hadik talked about the importance of  Capital Reserve Funds. Properly managed these can have large amounts on hand when the time comes to actually purchase the needed CRF item. He suggested that perhaps a CRF should be created for the Police Station building and one for the Highway shed (garage), both of which have been pushed out beyond the 7 year CIP time frame.

The board noted there is $1,368,653 that has not been spent from the CIP this year. The board and Hadik discussed the issues of how best to utilize the CIP as a planning tool and how to provide accurate information on how CIP items would be funded. Hadik indicated to the board the Planning Board had approved the CIP as presented which they had amended during the public hearing discussion.

The board discussed the scheduling of the Town owned buildings. The issue is that the guidelines being followed require a cleaning between each use of a building and this isn't always possible given the resources available. However, after a discussion, the board decided to continue with the current scheduling process.

The board discussed the budget briefly in response to a request from Selectman Steve Couture who wanted information so he can defend the budget when he meets with the Budget Committee.

The operating budget is up 10 percent and salaries and benefits accounts for almost all of the increase. The board decided they didn't want to vote on accepting the budget at the meeting but preferred to put that off until their January 6, 2022 meeting.

There will be a public hearing held on December 23, at the board meeting regarding accepting the ARPA funding. The intention is to accept the funds but it must be done at a public hearing.

Fire Chief Phil Gladu introduced the new department Fire Fighter/Paramedic recruit,  James Fleckenstein, to the board. He is an experienced paramedic and has fire fighter experience as well. The board welcomed him.

In response to the request from a resident for the refund of money he paid for a motorcycle permit that he subsequently sold, the board voted to approve the refund since the state had already refunded their portion.

 


Chester Selectmen Discuss Establishing a Public Works Department
By Penny Williams    12-10-21

The Chester Board of Selectmen met Thursday evening, December 9, and for a good portion of the meeting discussed the possibility of a Public Works Department for Chester.

There is a Warrant Article that is supposedly the driver of the discussion. That Warrant Article reads: Shall the Town rescind the action of the 1924 and 1992 Town Meetings to elect a road agent for a two-year term and authorize the Board of Selectmen to appoint a full-time road agent who will be the Director of Public Works.  The term of the elected road agent will terminate at the 2023 Annual Town election.

The discussion went round and round with board members discussing the need for a plan but before a plan can be developed they decided they needed to look at the financial aspects, comparing what it costs under the present system - an elected Road Agent - and what having a full time appointed Public Works Director would cost. This then led to a discussion of the issue of equipment.

It was noted that there is an evaluation done several years ago by MRI (Municipal Resources, Inc.) and that discussions surrounding a Public Works Director by the board go as far back as 2006.

The board members discussed the various ways the issue of equipment might be handled. Equipment might be bought through bonds or leased. Or, as is the case now, the Public Works Director or Road Agent's company could provide the town with the use of the company's equipment for a price. One board member questioned whether perhaps the town could contract with a company such as Busby Construction.

The board members agreed that a plan on this issue needs to be developed and presented to the voters and allow the voters to decide. The board decided they should focus on what the Warrant Article asks, which system should the town have in place. From there the question of equipment can be dealt with.

The discussion went back to looking at the benefits of the two possibilities. The board members agreed they need to deal with developing a job description but before this can happen they have to decide which way they want to go. Board members did agree that part of the research must be a financial analysis.

The board then discussed putting a committee together to deal with all the elements but time is a factor, they noted. The committee would need to be set up immediately and start meeting the coming week. Town Administrator Debra Doda said they would need to have their plan ready by February 15.

Membership in the committee would be someone from the Board of Selectmen (Chair Chuck Myette volunteered), someone from Financial, someone from the Budget Committee, someone or several from the community and current Road Agent Michael Olesen.

Someone brought up whether a building would be needed if they had equipment which started a whole new discussion. It was noted that the town has already purchased property specifically for a Public Works Department and building.

The board decided that while they want to do this carefully and not rush , the setting up of a committee would be the first step the board needs to take.

The board agreed the decision needs to be made whether they want to continue with the present system or move toward an appointed Public Works Director.

The board decided to move ahead with the committee and the first meeting would take place next week.

The board discussed holding a budget hearing at their January 6, meeting and if they did so it should be at 6 p.m. before their regularly scheduled meeting.

Selectman Steve Couture wanted to start the discussion process sooner and suggested that a pre-discussion, limited to an hour, should take place during the board's December 16, meeting. The board members agreed to this.

The board discussed a reimbursement request from a resident and they had more questions than answers. The Doda contacted Town Clerk/Tax Collector Liz Lufkin who explained that a resident had said they had received a return on their State tax portion for a motorcycle they registered and then sold and they wanted a return of the town portion.

The board was concerned because there is no specific form for a resident to fill out for a request such as this and asked that a form, along with a policy on it, be developed.

The board said they need a letter from the resident explaining what happened and why he wants a refund and what the permit he is asking to have the payment returned from is for.

 Lufkin said she would contact the resident and ask that he send a letter with this information to the board as they have the authority to approve a refund, she doesn't.

The board then turned its attention to the CIP and discussed several of the items on the list.

Selectman Steve D'Angelo brought up the increasing number of COVID cases in the town and across the state and wondered if the board should be issuing some mitigating mandates for the activities coming up, such the Polar Express, and Breakfast with Santa, for example.

Myette asked Fire Chief Phil Gladu if there were any new requirements or mandates from the CDC or the State Health & Human Services and he said no.
The board didn't take any action on this.


Chester Selectmen Learn that Transfer Budget Overspent
By Penny Williams   12-2-21

On Thursday evening, December 2, the Chester Selectmen learned the Transfer Station budget is overspent.

The board has already approved putting a compactor in place to take care of the cardboard which is driving costs. But the board didn't think adding a second compactor for paper was financially reasonable.

Town Administrator Debra Doda suggested increasing the Transfer Station budget to $14,000 since at this point the budget is already $7,700 over spent. During the discussion Selectman Steve D'Angelo posed the possibility of charging users of the Transfer Station. Other selectmen noted that when cost has been attached to things that are brought to the Transfer Station these items begin turning up dumped along the town's roads and in wooded areas so they were not in favor of this suggestion. However, it was something that would be looked at further. The board voted to increase the budget as suggested.

Fire Chief Phil Gladu updated the board on department activities. He said November had actually been a busy month with 41 calls and an especially busy Thanksgiving Day weekend.

Gladu indicated he is working with the Chester Academy personnel on improving their emergency plan with a view to making it more effective.

A new bed has been put on the Forestry vehicle which has been taken out of service for the winter for the maintenance and upgrade.

Plans are in place for the Tree Lighting and the Polar Express events as well as for Santa's Christmas Eve ride through town.

He said the department is looking into possible farm ponds for placement of dry hydrants. The tower in the CIP in not needed now, he said, as Derry's tower covers Chester. In the future the town might need its own but for the present Derry has things adequately covered.

Police Chief Aaron Berube said his department was awarded an ARPA grant for the purchase of the radar and message trailer which will be at no cost to the tax payers. The board voted to accept the grant and Berube said it would take 4 to 6 weeks to get it.

He said he is looking for a detective and has decided that 5 years experience and one year of investigative experience are needed. He said he expects the cost to be around $120,000 for salary and benefits but what the detective does is extremely beneficial and necessary.

The board discussed some of the Warrant Articles. One discussion was on what way the board wants to go regarding the article on a Public Works Department. The selectmen agreed they need to sit down and have a plan fully developed regarding what they want and why so as to be able to present it clearly to voters. A cost analysis needs to be done comparing the cost of the present Road Agent process and that of changing to a Public Works Department.

The board discussed starting a Trust Fund for the 325th or 350th anniversary so that when they arrive it will be basically already funded.

The board also discussed at length how to address the contract for the Solar lease. The board decided after listening to Selectman Steve Couture that they want the entity they lease the solar program from to include the start-up and permit costs rather than having the town pay that money up front. If voters approved the solar article the contract will be developed including start up costs.

The board also decided to word the Winter Road Maintenance Fund "to not exceed $105,000".

The board decided to meet on December 23, if they had things to deal with but to skip their December 30, meeting.

 


Chester Selectmen Discuss Use and Scheduling of Town Owned Buildings
By Penny Williams    11-19-21

The Chester Selectmen discussed whether changes should be made in the scheduling of town owned buildings at their Thursday evening, November 18, meeting.

Selectman Steve Couture suggested he felt that restricting use of town owned buildings for back to back use  because of cleaning requirements between uses was too restrictive in view of the fact that it is no longer felt that COVID is spread by lack of immediate cleanings between groups.

It was noted during the discussion that the town is too short staffed to provide cleaning services if building use is granted to events that are one right after another.

Couture felt that the cleaning requirement limits offering the use of town owned buildings to people who wish to have programs or meetings such as using the Multi-Purpose-Room (MPR).

The board discussed the fact that the town at this point is applying the CDC Guidelines for the protection of the Chester residents. Couture reiterated that he sees cleaning between every use as an unnecessary restriction.

Recreation Director Corinna Reishus said she has limited programs but strictly follows the CDC Guidelines with regard to cleaning. She indicated that outside groups can actually do what they want and the building is cleaned daily if it used.

The board asked Fire Chief and Emergency Director Phil Gladu to chime in with his opinion and he said COVID is here to stay and the time has come to start living with it and so he basically agreed with Couture.

At that point Reishus said there was another issue that has just happened the board needed to be aware of. Stephens Hall has been closed to use because of the inoperable elevator that means there is no way for handicapped people to enter the building.

The board leaned toward following the guidelines that are in place and agreed to continue them until this can be discussed again after Thanksgiving.

However, Reishus said she has made alternate arrangements for those who have been using Stephens Hall until the elevator is fixed. However, the parts needed could take 2 weeks to 2 months to be delivered.. It was noted that the events at the hall connected to the 300 Anniversary are basically outside

The board heard from Paul and Sue Foskitt about their desire to build a house on property they just bought on Pomp Road, a Class VI  road. Foskitt went over the family history that has been associated with Pomp Road property and basically asked if the board could help him get a building permit for the property he had just purchased there.

The board informed him that the board has no authority regarding allowing construction on a Class VI road since the law changed. They advised him to contact a Land Use Attorney to help him see what could possibly be done to help hi,

The board discussed at length the proposed RFP for the Fire Department Assessment. Selectman Steph Landau, who objects to going the RFP route, suggested it would be better and more practical to contract with a third party consultant. He indicated he had contacted one, a Brian Dugan, suggested by MRI and the cost for him to do an assessment could range from $3,000 to $10,000 depending on how in-depth the board wanted the assessment to go.

Gladu was upset saying everything that would be suggested they are already doing at the Fire Department in terms of looking at what their present needs are and how they should be planning for future needs based on the growth of the town.

Several board members suggested that a Strategic Plan for the town was what is needed not an assessment of the Fire and Police Departments. However, after a lengthy discussion, the board voted to do the Fire Department Assessment and to get Dugan's resume and have him come in and discuss the assessment.

The board approved moving forward with getting a compactor for cardboard at the Transfer Station

Landau recommended that the Park Ranger, who is the town's animal Control Officer, should not be under the Recreation budget but rather under Animal Control. The board discussed this and voted to approve moving the Ranger to be under Animal Control not Recreation.

The board discussed the money that will be coming to the state for bridges and highways infrastructure. It was decided that a letter should be submitted to the Department of Transportation immediately detailing the two town bridges that are  red listed and submitting the estimates for engineering and repair costs that were procured earlier noting these are estimates and up to date costs are being sought and will be submitted.

The two bridges, Hansen and Shepherd Home Road were discussed and it was determined that Hansen Road bridge should be prioritized. The board approved taking these steps immediately in order to get in line for some of the funding that will be coming to the state,

Landau su8ggested and the board approved hiring volunteers or a company to come in and clean up after the 2022 Town Fair especially since it appears this coming year the fair will be combined with the 300 Anniversary events.

This year volunteers were helped by the Summer Program kids and these if used should be paid and if the committees feels it better to hire an outside company to do the cleanup that would be fine. The board approved this suggestion.  

The board reviewed and forwarded the following budgets, all of which were basically level funded.

* Budget Committee

*Conservation Commission

* PACT

* Spring Hill Farm

* Trustees of the Trust Funds

* Wason Pond Commission

 


Chester Selectmen Approve Dog Regulations for Wason Pond Conservation and Recreation Area
By Penny Williams  11-5-21

The Chester Board of Selectmen met on Thursday evening, November 4, and accepted a regulation regarding dogs at the Wason Pond Conservation and Recreation areas.

The regulation, approved by the board, was developed by the board and the Wason Pond Commission is to provide regulations for dogs at the Wason Pond Conservation and Recreation areas and to establish their owners responsibilities.

The regulation requires that no one can walk or exercise a dog at these areas unless the dog is leashed. The leash can be no more than 8 feet in length and allows the owner to restrain the dog and keep it under physical control.

There is an exception for a trained service dog or a dog assisting law enforcement and this regulation is enforceable by the Animal Control Officer and or the Chester Police Department.

The penalty for violating the regulation shall be subject to the penalties as provided under NH law including but not limited to a fine not to exceed $1,000. The regulation took effect when the board approved it Thursday evening.

The board heard a presentation of the Solar Panel project proposed for the Landfill given by Dan Weeks, Revisions Vice President. He went over the proposed solar project proposal and explained if the town went with the lease option, a third party investor would own the project. He explained that if the town wanted to own the project there would be considerable upfront costs. He discussed the risks involved in the proposed project as well as the potential benefits.

Weeks explained that to provide the board with the exact costs they would be facing would require finding out what the NH Department of Environmental Services would be requiring for fees for permits as well as surveying the proposed location and estimated construction costs.

Board members were interested but somewhat shocked at the fact this would likely be a $1,000.000 investment. However, Weeks said over the life of the Solar project the town could conservatively probably expect to earn a 4.5 percent return on investment.

If the project is to move forward it would have to go before the legislative body, the voters, at the March Town Meeting so getting all the costs and details together needs to happen as soon as possible.

The board thanked him and Jude Nuru for the information provided and for being willing to try to put numbers to the probable costs so the board can decide if it wants to proceed with the proposed project.

Eagle Scout Alex Brillhart told the board about building the temporary bridge at Wason Pond for his Eagle Scout project. He said he has $2,000 left thanks to the fact that Dick Lewis, who provided much of the wood used in constructing the bridge. The bridge is wide enough for the Fire Department gaiter to cross but horses are not allowed to use the bridge - it is basically a pedestrian bridge.

Brillhart asked for the board to sign a letter relieving him and the Scout troop of any liability. The board did that and told him the $2,000 could go to Wason Pond or whatever area of the town he chose such as Conservation Commission.

The board discussed the possibility of getting one or two compactors for cardboard and paper for the Transfer Station. With the installation of a compactor for the cardboard the town could save $8,000 to $9,000.

The compactor would be leased from Waste Management. It would be a better, safer, and less expensive way to handle the cardboard. The board discussed a second compactor for paper because if they put paper in with the cardboard this would eliminate the cost savings gained by using the compactor.

The board decided they needed more information regarding a second compactor in terms of what that would cost and what it would save. They decided to hold off on any decision until their November 18, meeting.

The board got into a long discussion about whether this was the time to see if the voters would approve moving to a Public Works Director instead of a Road Agent. While the discussion ranged over potential costs and benefits no decision was made other than the board has to decide as soon as possible whether to move forward with a potential Warrant Article for this upcoming Town Meeting.

The board also held a discussion about impact fees and the CIP process.

Town Administrator Debra Doda told the board they needed to approve distribution of a HealthTrust Return of Surplus to employees coming from Medical, Dental and Short Term Disability.

The board approved the proportionate return of these surplus funds to the employees with $34,903,79  from Medical, $2,229.22 from Dental, and $705.45 from Short Term Disability for a total amount of $37,838.47.

The board approved the Chester Senior Citizens budget of $15,000; the $18,000 Election budget, the Great Hill Cemetery budget that was level funded , and the level funded budget for the Village Cemeteries. The board also approve the $1,000 budget for Patriotic Purposes. These were all forwarded to the Budget Committee.

The board discussed Police Chief Aaron Berube's information that the replacement of Detective Ken Richards and making the replacement position a full time position would add $62,234 to his budget increasing it to 10.2 percent increase.

 


Chester Selectmen Continue 2022 Budget Review of 15 More Items
By Penny Williams    10-29-21

On Thursday evening, October 28, the Chester Selectmen continued their department budget review.

The board reviewed the following and sent them forward to the Budget Committee.

*Assessing  -   $87,989 (up 3%)

* IT - $164,747 (up 30%)

* Finance  -  $157,841 (up 6%)

* Legal  - $65,000 (level)

* Benefits  - $1,066,474 (up 12%)

* Insurance - $112,410 (up 5%)

* Ads & Regional Association - $8,762 (up 3%)          

* Town Clerk - Tax  - $151,014 (up 7%)

* Library  - $191,620 (up 13%)

* Executive  - $60,729 (up 5%)

* Town Administrative  - $137,063 (down 2%)

* Street Lighting  - $4,300 (level)

* Other Health  - $21,752 (level)

* General Assistance  - $12,000 (down 4%)

* Intergovernmental - $4,512 (level)

The board approved the tax rate. The tax rate for last year and this year are as follow:

Category                                  Last Year                     This Year
Municipal                                $7.02                             $6.49  down 53 cents
County                                     $0.89                             $0.89  level
Local Education                       $10.72                           $11.52   up 80 cents
State Education                        $ 1,90                            $ 1.94  up 4 cents
Total                                         $20.53                            $20.84   up 31 cents    

The Town’s portion went down 53 cents, the county stayed the same, the local school went up 80 cents, and the state education went up 4 cents.  For a total increase of 31 cents from last year. 

The board discussed whether to use money from the Unassigned Fund Balance to reduce the tax rate. The board was reluctant to use the Unassigned Fund Balance money to reduce the tax rate when they felt the School District should do more to reduce taxes and they wanted to save the Unassigned Fund Balance for other town needs.

The board approved the appointment of Justine Celentano as an assistant clerk in the Town Clerk/Tax Collectors Office. She will be working 15 hours a week but she indicated she could work more hours if needed.

The board made no decisions regarding the solar array for the Land Fill area. The bid is in and Selectman Steve Couture indicated the negotiations regarding a contract are set to begin. But the board was told they have two options. One is for a lease arrangement and the other is for the town to purchase the panels.

It was noted the second option would be a much harder sell to the voting community. The proposed panels would generate enough power to cover all the town's municipal buildings electric use. The board approved Couture moving forward with negotiating an agreement.

Police Chief Aaron Berube reported that Detective Ken Richards is retiring. He informed the board that this is a tremendous loss given all Richards does for the department and the town. He suggested that to replace him the part time position needs to made a full time position. To accomplish this his budget would need to increase by $10,000 to $15,000.

The board discussed whether there are any internal officers who might be eligible for the position. Berube said there are but he has no one specific person in mind and would need to interview them to see if anyone is interested. But he pushed hard for making the position a full time position noting that finding someone qualified would be nearly impossible if it is only a part time position and the other department officers would have to pick up work Richards had handled. The board deferred any decision until next week when Berube may have additional information.

Berube told the board he had received a grant for a portable radar  message board and had also received a  small portable one that can be attached to signs and poles .

He said he has received the license plate from Fish and Game for the department's OHRV. He asked the board to authorize use of the vehicle in the line of duty on all town roads. The board approved providing him with a letter granting that authority. He indicated he has the state's authority to use state roads.

The board approved the purchase of a portable PA system for the Multi Purpose Room at a cost of $375. The purchase of a screen is still under discussion.

 


Chester Board of Selectmen Review More 2022 Budgets
By Penny Williams  10-22-21

The Selectmen met Thursday, October 21, and reviewed more budgets to refer to the Budget Committee.

The following budgets were reviewed and sent forward:

* Zoning - Chair Billie Maloney - the proposed budget is $19,723

* Planning - Planning Director Andrew Hadik - the proposed budget is $93,815 - There was a discussion about Hadik needing an assistant to deal with the work before him. The discussion was whether to go for an assistant like a clerk or someone with some planning training for possibly being trained to  take over when he retires in the next 4 to 6 years. The board asked the Planning Board to look into the costs and availability.

* Building Inspector - Myrick Bunker - via zoom - proposed budget is $117,031 - There was a discussion regarding Caroline Wilson, working on certifications so she can take over for him when he retires in 4 to 6 years.

* Parks and Recreation - Recreation Director Corinna Reishus - for Recreation Budget - $82,170; for Wason Pond Commission Budget - $23,463; for Town Fair Fireworks Budget $7,000. There was some discussion about whether the fireworks should be handled by the 300 Anniversary but there is no firm decision about whether the Town Fair will be part of the 300th or whether it will be held at a different time as a standalone.

The board approved the single bid for the Transfer Station snowplowing which came from the same company currently doing it now and for the same price as last year.

 


Chester Selectmen Approve Conservation Commission’s Purchase of 7 Acre Parcel
By Penny Williams   10-15-21

At the Chester Selectmen's Thursday night, October 14, meeting, the Board approved the Conservation Commission's purchase of a 7 plus acre parcel.

Conservation Commission Chair Victor Chouinard told the board he had negotiated a  purchase and sales agreement with Lloyd Emory for  a 7.15 acre parcel located off Parsonage Lane.  He indicated the price for the parcel was $26,000, a figure much lower than Emory originally wanted for the land when discussions about purchasing it began years back.

The parcel abuts and adds to the 140 acres of town and conservation land in that area and the purpose of the purchase is to preserve open space so development will not take place on this parcel.

Selectman Steph Landau said the town owned conservation parcels in that area need to be surveyed and their boundaries clearly defined.

Speaking of surveys, he said, the town needs to survey the town field so as to legally allow tents to be erected on it.

The board unanimously approve the purchase of the property.

The board then held discussions with the department heads from the Fire Department, Police Department, Maintenance and Government Buildings, and Highway, regarding their budgets. The board asked each where in their budgets were they seeing increases and asked that each increase be explained in detail and why the increases are needed.

The board asked several of the department heads to go into greater detail with regard to their increases and to explain why the increases are in response to the town's growth and to provide reasons why the increases should be approved.

In at least two instances, Police and Highway, Landau raised the question of whether adding additional personnel wouldn't be a better long term answer for issues relating to increases in those budgets.

Fire Chief Phil Gladu explained why his department needs to spend $26,000 for a new software program, The company that provides the Fire Department software is called Alpine Software.  The software itself is “Red NMX Records Management System”. 

 The total cost of the software and modules is $25,695.  The company will let the department pay it off over four years, at $6,423.75 each year.  There is also an annual support/maintenance fee of $2,870 and an annual cloud hosting fee of $900.  That would mean that for the first four years the cost will be  $10,193.75 each year  and after that $3,770, unless support and hosting fees go up. 

Gladu  indicated the department needs this sooner than later and that Auburn and Derry have already added it for their departments. There will further discussion on how to pay for this needed software improvement.

The board will discuss in a couple of weeks the responses to the RFP for the proposed solar panels to be located at the old Landfill. If this 2.5 acre area  were used it would supply all the power for the town's municipal buildings including the school but not provide any residential coverage.

 


Chester Selectmen Discuss Wason Pond Area Leash Ordinance
By Penny Williams  10-8-21

At the Thursday evening meeting on October 7, the Chester Selectmen discussed the request from the Wason Pond Commission for an ordinance regarding leashed dogs at the Wason Pond area.

The board held a public hearing on the matter. Chris Hadik, Chair of the Wason Pond Commission said the reason for the request is that right now requiring dogs to be leashed at the Wason Pond Area is only a rule therefore not enforceable. There have been incidents involving unleashed dogs and the Park Ranger John Wright isn't able to do much about making people comply.

The ordinance would make leashing of dogs at the park enforceable with fines not to exceed $1,000. The ordinance was drawn up by the Town Attorney. This would supplement the existing Town Ordinance on requiring dogs to be leashed.

The board questioned the definition of service dog, which would be an exception to the ordinance requirement. To that end the board  took the proposed ordinance under advisement and  will seek clarification of service dog and change the Wason Pond to Wason Pond Area. They will then have the amended ordinance reviewed and get the approval of the Wason Pond Commission before coming back to the Selectmen at their November 4, meeting for a decision.

The board approved the appointment of Mark Desiderio as a Recreation Commission member and as the Recreation Commission liaison to the Spring Hill Farm Advisory Board. It also approved the appointment of Kathy Dircks as the Recreation Commission liaison to the Wason Pond Commission.

The Town Clerk/Tax Collector Liz Lufkin asked the board to sign and approve her recommendation to work with June Garneau, Mapping and Planning Solutions, for the towns Hazard Mitigation Plan update. The cost is $10,000 but Lufkin has a grant for $7,500 for the work and the $2,500 the town is responsible for will be paid by 'in-kind' work.  The board approved.

The board discussed briefly about signs and a gate that had been installed by someone other than the town on a Class VI roadway.  The board noted the signs will need to be taken down but the gate can stay so long as it is not locked on the Class VI Chester Turnpike roadway.

 


Chester’s 300th Anniversary Committee Seeks Approval for Potential Events
By Penny Williams  10-1-21

On Thursday evening, September 30, the Chester Selectmen were given a walk-through of the potential events being planned by the 300th Anniversary Committee which sought board approval for moving forward.

Most of the 300th Anniversary Committee met with the board but it was member Rhonda Lamphere who made the presentation. The committee provided board members with a listing of events as well as a proposed parking and shuttle design.

The events began with the committee's participation in the Chester Town Fair held on September 11. Information, merchandise and tickets were available at the committee's booth at the Town Fair and Lamphere said they did very well. They also did well at a booth at the Spring Hill Farm ( SHF) Fall Festival held on September 25.

Next up will be the Anniversary Kick-Off Gala held at the Labelle Vinery Event Center, Amherst, on October 23.

This will be followed by Christmas Tree Lighting at Stephens Hall on December 4, and participation with a table at the annual Christmas in the Village event on that day.

There will be a bonfire event on January 1. It was initially thought to be at Wason Pond on January 1, but that is under discussion at this point. The thinking is now to hold the event in February at the Winter Fest event at SHF.

In April Geocache events will start and run through September. These geocache spots will be educational, state and local relating to Chester history.

 On Sunday, May 7, the Formal Proclamation event with honored guests will be held. This will include burying the time capsule at Stephens Hall and there will be Revolutionary, Civil War and Indigenous People re-enactments on the soccer field. The Governor and other dignitaries have been invited. There will entertainment for everyone.

On July 23, there will be a 5K race that will go through the woods so as not to be a traffic issue. The committee is trying to develop a Fire Department Muster for the same day but there has been no favorable responses as yet.

On August 6, with a rain date of August 7, a Car Show is planned. The committee is looking at possibly having a tethered balloon at this event as well.

There was a discussion about the finale. The committee would like to see if the Town Fair, scheduled for September 10, could be combined with the Grand Final which will have a huge parade and, a BBQ and Beer tent, music and fireworks.

The difficulties with combining these events were discussed as well as the positives. More research and investigation and planning has to go into this before a final decision is made.

The committee has worked hard to create a safe parking scheme and a list of private homes that will participate was provided as well as an overall parking and shuttle plan. The final details for this will need to be coordinated with the final decisions on the event dates. But, the committee acknowledged that parking will be difficult so a solid plan will need to be developed.

Lamphere made clear that nothing is finalized as yet. The board indicated they were ok with everything but the possible combination of the Town Fair and the Grand Finale. More work on this is needed.

The board then turned to the two bids for fuel and propane. Listed as bidder 1 and bidder 2, it was noted the town has worked with both and currently is with bidder number 1.Bidder number one bid $54,800.30 while bidder number two bid $49,882.61.

After discussing both bids and companies the board voted to approve bidder number 2, which is Palmer Gas and Oil, Atkinson. To hold their bid price Town Administrator Debra Doda had to notify the company the next day. However, Selectman Steve D'Angelo insisted that before this would actually be locked in he needed to know what additional costs Palmer would charge in terms of any changes to tanks and so forth that the town would have to pay because of switching from the current vendor to Palmer.

There will be two food drives coming up, both to be at the Transfer Station. The first  will be the Lions Club food drive on October 16, which the board approved. Last week  the board approved the Scouts holding food drives the first two weekends in November.

On Drug Take Back Day, October 23, there will be a vaccination set up at the Transfer Station by the South Central Public Health Network open to the public.

 


Chester Selectmen Discuss 2022 Budget Expectations
By Penny Williams   9-23-21

On Thursday evening, September 23, the Chester Board of Selectmen discussed budget expectations.

Selectmen Chair Chuck Myette had developed a list of expectations that he presented. Essentially, he asked department heads to be accurate and to provide back-up for any big ticket items.

While noting that it would be good if there was only a flat line budget or no more than a 3 percent increase he did acknowledge that there would be increases. Some of the expected increases would flow from the salary line but he also acknowledged that some departments would need new equipment. Added personnel was another area he noted where increases might come from.

He started a discussion among board members regarding how to plan long term for big ticket expenditures. While that is one of the functions of the CIP, it was noted by several selectmen that by putting away some money each year leading up to a big ticket purchase made the purchase much less of a tax burden. It was pointed out that last year $400,000 was put into the Capital Reserve Fund for the purchase of a new fire department engine. The expectation is that this will happen again this year. The board discussed this approach and indicated it should be used more effectively.

Michael Oleson, Road Agent, Fire Chief Phil Gladu, and Police Chief Aaron Berube were all in on these discussions since their budgets are among the biggest.

 Oleson was asked about a Public Works Department and he said he was through trying to get anything done with regard to this. He pointed out a big study was provided by MRI a few years ago after which absolutely nothing happened. The board discussed the financial implications of moving in the direction of a Public Works Department. The discussion didn't go anywhere.

Oleson discussed the roadwork that will be done next year pointing out that the highway budget is basically just maintenance while the CIP and Warrant Articles provide the money for actual roadwork.

The board asked Gladu if the pumper truck the department has on the CIP can be pushed out further, thus giving the board more time to get money into the CRF. He thought it could but  no hard timeline was discussed.

There was a discussion about flaggers and whether possibly some in-house employees could be trained and certified.

Selectman Step Landau asked if it might be possible to use call firefighters if they were interested in getting trained and certified. This would work, Gladu pointed out , until a fire call came in and then what would happen - the flaggers would have to leave to fight the fire and that would be a disaster.

Berube indicated that he had already met with the Selectmen regarding the need for increases in his budget relating to court duty and shift requirements. He indicated before he even gets to adding in new personnel or coverage his budget is up 9 percent, all related to salaries.

The board thanked the three department heads for coming in and encouraged them to work on their budgets and to think about future needs.

Selectman Steve Couture told the board a single company, ReVision Energy, came to look at the site he was proposing for a solar panel farm. He said he thinks the company will respond to the RFP. The representative was encouraging.

The board discussed other possible locations for a solar farm. Landau suggested there might enough large barns in Chester if some sort of partnership and agreement with owners could be reached to use them for solar panels. Couture said he expects a bid from ReVision Energy by mid October.

Board announcements included information regarding the Manchester Texas Road House on October 4 providing 10 percent of their profits to the Spring Hill Farm.

Scouts will be collecting food the first and second weekends in November at the Transfer Station.

Halloween Trick or Treat will be held as usual on Chester Street this fall. The Lions will be at Stevens Hall and it will be open and the selectmen agreed to have the Town Hall open. Recreation will handle the candy issues for those who want it.

 


Chester Selectmen Approve Fire Department Roofing and Parking Lot Paving Bids and Deputy Fire Chief Ben Clark Resigns
By Penny Williams   9-18-21

The Chester Board of Selectmen met on Thursday night, September 16, and a lengthy discussion ensued covering a number of Chester Fire Department issues.

The board looked at bids for doing the roof repair /replacement work on the department building and then looked at the bids for the paving lot project at the building.

After a review and discussion of the three bids for the roof work, the board voted to go with bidder 2 even though it was the highest bid. The company is known and this bidder was recommended by Maintenance Supervisor Paul Cavanaugh. There is $45,000 budgeted for this project. The company chosen was NH Grand Roofs.

The board reviewed the bids for the parking lot paving and after a discussion awarded the project to Petra Paving, the company that did the emergency entrance work. There is funding available to cover the paving work cost of $69,218.

The board accepted the resignation of Deputy Fire Chief Ben Clark. It was expected but the board and Fire Chief Phil Gladu indicated they were sorry to see Clark leave.

The discussion regarding the Fire Department Needs Assessment went over the previous meeting's discussion. The questions provided by Gladu and several selectmen were discussed and it was pointed out that many can be answered in house. The basic issue is determining where the department is today and where it needs and wants to be in the future and how to assess that.

It was noted that MRI (Municipal Resources Inc.) had suggested a strategic plan in the past. The board decided to put together a RFP for a company to work with the town to determine the department's assessment needs. The board approved moving forward with developing  the RFP.

The board turned to the upcoming budget and discussed how best to gauge expectations department by department. They would like to hear from departments about any large ticket items they will be putting into their budgets and what the departments are looking at relative to salaries.

The board didn't set any specific expectation but suggested they want to minimize impacts and try to flat line. This led to a discussion of the matrix and whether there should be a merit component. The departments with larger budgets will begin coming in to talk with the board starting next week.

There was a discussion about possible ARPA projects, one of which might be the Cole Road culvert. It was decided to continue to look for projects that would be eligible and provide a benefit to the town.

Developing a leash ordinance was discussed. This is related to incidents at Wason Pond and was brought up by the Wason Pond Committee. Selectman Steve D'Angelo thought this a good thing to do but wants a Public Hearing so that residents will be aware of the issues.

The board approved the appointment of John Dalrymple as the town's Health Officer for a 3 year term.

 


Chester Selectmen Fill Housekeeper Position and Continue Stevens Hall Restoration Discussions
By Penny Williams   9-10-21

The Chester Board of Selectmen met Thursday night, September 9, and covered a number of issues, among them approving a new Housekeeper.

Maintenance Supervisor Paul Cavanaugh presented and recommended appointing Stacy Manfrates for the open position of Housekeeper. The position has been open since May when the previous Housekeeper left.

Manfrates has had experience and said as a new resident to Chester getting a job in the town is important to her as it will provide opportunities for her to meet residents.
Cavanaugh said she would start by taking care of the Town Offices. The plan is for her to work 25 to 30 hours a week.

 Cavanaugh affirmed there is a car if she needs it when she adds doing the Community Center Meeting House, Stephens Hall and the Transfer Station. But she will start with the  Town Hall, the annex and the Police Department. Cavanaugh recommended the board approve her appointment.

The board discussed this briefly and after affirming she would report to Cavanaugh the board approved her appointment. Asked when she planned to start she told the board, "tomorrow."

Selectman Steph Landau reported that he is working on confirming members interest in the Stevens Hall Restoration Working Group. He told the board he views this as a long term effort, not something that will be accomplished this year. Selectman Steve D'Angelo chipped in that he would like to see the group determine what the plan is as quickly as possible and that he doesn't see this as a long term effort initially.

Landau noted that there are a number of issues the group will have to deal with including windows and the issue of the elevator. He indicated that he hopes to start holding meetings with the group in October. However the questions up front that needs to be answered is what is the building used for and what are the building needs. In addition, grants for work on the restoration should be looked for.

Chair Chuck Myette intended to table the discussion of the Fire Department Needs Assessment since neither Selectman Steve Couture nor Fire Chief Phil Gladu could attend the meeting. However, D'Angelo wanted to have the board at least look at the questions he had prepared.

Myette said he also had put together some questions and asked Town Administrator Debra Doda to combine any lists of questions submitted into a single list for the board to go over with Couture and Gladu at the next meeting.

Myette noted that primarily it must be determined where the Fire Department is right now and where it wants to be going forward with a view to improving the process to meet best practices and standards.

Ann MacDonald asked to be heard with her complaints about traffic and speed on East Derry Road. Her issues haven't changed since her previous requests for actions to be taken on the road to slow traffic. In response to her complaints before,  a stop sign was installed and 20 mph speed signs put up after the road was repaved and improved.

It was noted that there have been no complaints received by the Police Department or the Road Agent related to East Derry Road. However, Myette noted the board and those departments would look at her complaints about speed, heavy commercial trucks early morning and late afternoon and suggestions regarding these issues but he pointed out the road is partly in Derry as well so there would be little Chester could do other than continue to monitor traffic as the police have been doing.

Road Agent Michael Oleson said no incidents have been identified and there have been no complaints and as far as he is concerned it is a dead issue.

The board approved buying the paint to be used by volunteers who plan to paint the Clothes Closet two walls. It was felt this was the best way to ensure the quality of paint used and the colors. Volunteers to help with the painting are being sought.

 


Chester Selectmen Discuss Expenses for Fire Department Parking Lot and Roof
By Penny Williams   9-3-21

On Thursday night, September 2, the Chester Selectmen met and among the things discussed were several issues related to the Chester Fire Department - paving the parking lot and bids, and an assessment of the department in terms of what it needs going forward.

Chief Phil Gladu  said he had three quotes for the parking lot paving project - two left from the previous attempt several years ago which he indicated he had checked with those bidders and the amounts remained the same. The third quote was from a company just doing the review of the area and making a bid.

Gladu indicated that bidder number 2 was the one he felt was most comfortable with. He said this bidder is reliable and did the work on the Emergency Exit/Entrance and actually came in under bid.

The board discussed how to cover the cost which is $81,000. There is $40,000 already listed and approved for the project. Town Administrator Debra Doda said there is another $35,796 available from money allocated for CIP projects that was not spent. Legal indicated it could be used for any CIP project such as this paving project.

Selectman Steve D'Angelo was concerned about this and asked that any decision be delayed until the next meeting so more information can be gathered regarding payment and the board agreed.

Gladu said he has received bids for the fire station roof project which is slated to cost $45,000 but is waiting for a final bid to come in. The board will discuss this at their next meeting. Gladu noted that there have been no leaks since the one found in the winter that was thought to be as a result of an ice dam.

Gladu and the board discussed the Fire Department Needs Assessment. Selectman Steve Couture brought the discussion to an end suggesting that the board needs to develop specific questions regarding the assessment they are seeking and have those questions ready for answers before soliciting getting individuals and companies to answer them. This isn't going to happen prior to budget season so there is no need to rush this.

The board discussed filling the open position of Town Hall housekeeper. Until late spring, former housekeeper, Coreen Dube had done the job but she moved away and the position has been vacant since. Several people have pitched in to cover the work but it was felt there needs to be someone dedicated to doing it. 

Cavanaugh advertised the position and interviewed some people plus interviewed a professional cleaning company. The company's cost was slightly more than an individual would cost.

The board asked which way Cavanaugh preferred to go and he said he'd prefer to hire a person rather than the company.  After a brief discussion the board voted to go along with Cavanaugh's recommendation.

The Historical Society wants to redo the sign at Stevens Hall. The frame needs to be repaired and painted before an updated picture is replaced. The board discussed this and noted this hasn't been taken care for 15 years so approved the Town doing the frame repair and paint job. The board also approved allowing the Society to replace the mums at Stevens Hall.

Couture discussed the RFP for solar for Chester. The board discussed several locations that might be used for a solar panel field, one being the super fund site on Fremont Road. It was thought the EPA might be interested in having it used but one drawback is the town doesn't own the site.

The board agreed to look into possible sites and approved issuing the RFP for Solar power to be located at the Transfer Station Landfill area on Dump Road.

The board thanked the volunteers who repaired the Wason Pond Bridge noting the Conservation Commission provided $2,400 for the material needed.

Selectman D'Angelo suggested and the board thought it a good idea to contact departments ahead of the budget season to see where they think they are headed. After a discussion it was decided to invite the departments with budgets of $25,000 and over to come before the board just to give an advisory summary of where they see their budget going. It was discussed and the board was in favor of suggesting that their expectation for budgets going forward is a zero increase.

 


Chester Selectmen Review and Vote to Complete Stevens Hall Repairs
By Penny Williams   8-28-21

The Chester Selectmen met Thursday evening, August 26, and again discussed what to do about the proposed repairs to Stevens Hall.

The board acknowledged there won't be any major repairs done prior to the 300th Anniversary events but the board still debated what to do about the leak in the roof and the gutter issue as well as at least painting where the paint is peeling off.

The discussion noted the temporary repairs - leak in roof, gutter issue and partial painting - could be accomplished for around $30,000.

Town Administrator Debra Doda gave the board the figures she has from quotes: $8,000 to fix the leak in the roof;  $2,000 to fix the copper gutters; and, $22,000 to paint areas where the paint has peeled away.

Selectman Steve D'Angelo expressed the fear that if temporary, short term work is done the major long term repairs that are needed will never be accomplished. The board members discussed whether they felt they should or should not get the temporary short term fixes done.

In the end the board voted to move forward with temporary repairs in an amount not to exceed $33,000. D'Angelo and Selectman Steph Landau abstained.

Fire Chief Phil Gladu updated the Fire Department calls and activities. He said the Chester department has signed on to use the Red Alert System. Derry and Auburn are already using it and it is a communications improvement.

Gladu said the department has appointed two new lieutenants, Alex Hodosi, a full time firefighter in Chester and T.J. Lannan, who is a call firefighter. He also mentioned a possible third lieutenant, Buddy Menard, who was a call lieutenant before having to take time off for medical reasons. He is back and will possibly be the third lieutenant.

The board discussed an Explorer system with Gladu and later with Police Chief Aaron Berube. Gladu said while there isn't a fully fledged Explorer program the department does work with Pinkerton Academy and provides the training for interested young people. He noted that there are a couple of firefighters now with the department that moved through this training to join the department.

Berube bluntly told the board that his overtime budget has continuing issues. He said to stay on budget he has to send officers to court on their day off. He said he adjusts schedules so as to have coverage for the town on holidays and still stay on budget but it means his officers are losing their free time.

Overtime costs from officers having to attend court, for having to participate in mandatory training, work on holidays, already have him in the hole and he hasn't even gotten to figuring in vacation.  This information was provided because he said he will be asking for a significant increase in his budget.

The board suggested adding lines to budget that would address holiday coverage and court time. D'Angelo asked if court time should be time and a half pay. Berube didn't answer directly but said the matrix needs to be upgraded and he recommended some changes that should be considered.

The board discussed the Wason Pond Bridges issues.

The Boy Scout project to replace the footbridge has begun and is expected to be finished by the end of September.

The big bridge, currently closed and barricaded, needs to be replaced and the metal possibility option isn't available so it will be replaced with a timber bridge strong enough to support the gator and golf carts.

 D'Angelo wanted horses barred from use of the bridge when completed.

Conservation money will fund the construction of the replacement bridge and Code Enforcement has signed off on it.

In order for work to start immediately Road Agent Mike Oleson has asked the board to authorize him removing the jersey barriers now closing the bridge. The board approved that request and it was noted the gates would still be used.

A question was raised regarding who would be paying for the extra time the Highway Department had to be involved with placing and removing the jersey barriers. It was suggested that it should go to the Wason Pond Committee.

 


Garabedian Gravel Pit Engineer Continues Controversial Presentation to Chester Selectmen
By Penny Williams    8-13-21

At the Chester Board of Selectmen meeting on Thursday evening, August 12, the engineer presenting for the Garabedian Gravel Properties continued his controversial presentation that initially took place Wednesday night at the Planning Board meeting.

The discussion at the Board of Selectmen's meeting was supposed to be limited to what has been done to Stowe Road but quickly moved past this to a whole discussion of the proposed gravel pit activities.

Doug Maguire, Dubay Group, exchanged heated comments with Selectman Chair Chuck Myette. Selectman Steve Couture tried to calm the situation but before it was over Selectmen Steph Landau and Steve D'Angelo were involved in angry exchanges with  Maguire, Corey Garabedian and Todd Bahan, President of Ground Hog Landscaping, the company doing the logging. It was the logging activity that lead to the work the Garabedian company decided to do on Stowe Road and which was done by Ground Hog, making improvements to Stowe for the heavy truck traffic.

Maguire wanted to discuss the issues he had raised at the previous night's Planning Board and  the selectmen wanted to deal only with the Stowe Road issue which was on the agenda.

Maguire said that the issues raised at the Planning Board asking for mitigation of the Stowe Road issues had been addressed. The issue was that large rock and gravel had been out on Stowe Road so the trucks could access the gravel pit but the stones prevented the usual use of the road by bikers, horses and joggers. In addition there was a blockage of the road bring used for parking.

Maguire said smaller grade gravel had been applied and the roadway smoothed as well as the boulders blocking the road for parking had been removed. Everything the Planning Board had requested relative to Stowe Road would be completed by day's end on Friday.

The board asked who had provided permission for any work to be done on Stowe Road, a Class VI road. Maguire said Road Agent Mike Oleson had asked that stone be applied near the Fremont intersection so no mud would be brought off Stowe Road onto Fremont Road.

Oleson stated that he said that but said he told them he had no authority over Stowe Road so they could do what they wanted. He said he told them to contact the Planning Board and Board of Selectmen. Maguire indicated what Oleson said, do what they wanted,  meant they could go ahead and fix the road for the truck traffic. The selectmen kept pointing out Oleson had stated he had "no authority" over Stowe Road.

The discussion went back and forth with Maguire continuing to claim the pit has been active for 30 years because a permit has been filed and paid annually and that therefore it is grandfathered. The board continued to ask for the documentation that had been laid out by the Planning Board, such as  bills of sale and receipts for product removed and sold, none of which has been provided.  The board brought up the issue of bonds being provided and Bahan said he could and would provide a half million in bonds.

Maguire said the identifications and required federal numbers that Planning Board member Mike Weider claimed he needed but didn't have were wrong. He said the requests made for mitigating Stowe Road have been addressed but the board insisted that documentation and permits are not in place and the appropriate process has not been followed.

Myette put an end to the confrontational discussion saying that the Garabedian Properties LLC and Maguire need to go back and start over again addressing the things and issues the Planning Board had directed them to address.

The Lincoln Lane residents' effort to fix a space in the Cul de Sac for benches to utilize Conservation money ($3,000) stalled.

The board had requested a list of all abutters signing off on the project and that they received. However, Myrick Bunker, Code Enforcement over zoom, raised the issue that the proposed plan to fill in an area with gravel to level it for the benches and put a wall to retain that gravel, could or would have a negative impact on drainage since right in the heart of the Cul de Sac circle area is a culvert.

Oleson has stated and repeated Thursday night that he has no issue with the plan so long as it has no impact on drainage. However, he said he supports Bunker's concern because it is for the protection of the town.

The board approved the proposed plan subject to Bunker and Oleson signing off on the project after they visit the site and go over the drainage issues. Once they do that they will provide Town Manager Debra Doda with their finding and recommendation.

The board heard from Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) Chair Billie Maloney who requested the board approve appointing alternate Rick Snyder a full member. Snyder is a member of the Planning Board as well and has worked on and with both boards for many years. The board approved the request making Snyder a full time ZBA member for one year.

Maloney then asked if the board had made a decision regarding whether D'Angelo could be a voting liaison member of the ZBA. There was a brief discussion and D'Angelo stated since the board has a full complement membership now he is taking his request off the table.

There was a discussion about the Wason Pond Footbridge. Myette said he had a contact who suggested the Army Corp of Engineers be contacted regarding possibly getting a steel bridge to replace the Wason Pond footbridge. It was suggested the Corps might be able to provide this. A wooden bridge built over the current structure was also another possible way to go.

Conservation, Recreation and Wason Pond Committee are all working to find the best and most cost effective short term and long term solutions to replacing the bridge. It was suggested that an engineer should be contracted to do a review of the situation and propose a design but this would be for the long term solution, which probably won't be resolved for months possibly years.

For a short term solution, the thinking is to address the issue with a wooden bridge that would allow the Fire Department gator to cross. This would have is $3,200 cost  for material to do that but the labor would be achieved in house. This was approved.

There was a discussion about the bids for the Spring Hill Farm barn roof. The board voted to select bid #3 at a cost of $10,895.

Martie Samuelson came before the board seeking permission for a fundraising Luminary activity in the Center of Town the night the Christmas tree is lighted. This would be a fund raiser for the Congregational Baptist Church repair and maintenance work. She said the proposal has the approval of the Fire Department.  The board approved her request.

 

 


Chester Selectman D'Angelo Wants Ability to Vote as Liaison to ZBA
By Penny Williams   7-30-21

On Thursday evening, July 29, Selectman Liaison to the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) asked the board for authorization to vote at ZBA meetings.

This discussion came during the Round Table discussion. Selectman Steve D'Angelo complained that he sees no point in going to the ZBA meetings just to come back and report to the Selectmen. He wants the board to authorize him to be a voting member of the ZBA as the board's liaison.

There was an involved discussion. There was a letter from Attorney Steve Bennett that was part of the discussion. However, D'Angelo said the ZBA wasn't opposed to his being a voting member except for longtime ZBA chair Billie Maloney. She was against it, he said, and it was her interpretation of the letter that was the basis for not allowing him the authority to vote.

The selectmen after an in-depth discussion decided that since Bennett is the attorney for the ZBA, they needed to get  a legal opinion from their attorney, either Diane Gorrow or Gordon Graham, who are both with Soule, Leslie, Kidder, Sayward & Loughman, P.L.L.C.

It was pointed out that the RSA does not specify the Selectman Liaison to the ZBA as a voting member as it does for the Liaison to the Planning Board.

The board declined to make a decision until after there is a consultation with their attorney. The issue will come back before the board at their next scheduled meeting, Thursday, August 5.

Fire Chief Phil Gladu gave his department update report to the  board, reviewing the calls the department had responded to. He indicated there had been a total of 30 calls over the last three weeks.

One was the serious accident at the intersection of routes 121 and 102 in the center of town. While there were no serious injuries, he said the vehicle damage of the multi-car collision was one of the worst he had seen. It also happened at the worst possible time - Friday at 5 p.m.

This led to a discussion of the intersection and whether it is on the state 10-year plan for improvements. It is but since there have been no fatalities in accidents at the site it is a low priority. There was a discussion about what can be done to move the discussion for improvements there with the state and it was noted that the police, board, and administrative officials have done everything possible to no avail. A flashing stop sign was obtained and that has been it.

Gladu said he has finished interviewing three applicants for the lieutenant position and would be making a decision soon. Asked how many lieutenants the department usually has he responded up to five.  He said he would have his decision to report after doing some more research and would get back to the board with his decision.

He indicated the department has gotten 10 new Motorola pagers and the department is working on switching all the current pagers to the Motorola pagers which are superior.

He also said they had  gotten some new sections of 4-inch hose, one to replace one  on the tanker and 3 sections for spares. But he was most excited about the new power stretcher the department had gotten that will be much better for the first responders and the patients.

The board discussed the ARPA funds. It has been applied for  and the expectation is the town will receive around $557,000.

Town Manager Debra Doda said there has been some brainstorming done on projects to use the money on such things as water infrastructure, the Wason Pond Foot Bridge, the bridges on the CIP, culverts that need to be replaced or installed, cyber security upgrades, and possibly lost revenue replacement.

Selectman Steve Couture suggested keeping project selection simple so choosing a single project would allow the administration ease of management. It was thought the funds would not be in for around a month and that a final list of potential projects should be submitted for discussion before then.

D'Angelo said he wanted to have a project on the list involving changing the computer system to being cloud based rather than using servers This would include the Police Department, he said.

There was a discussion about reactivating the Police Station Committee again. Selectman Steph Landau said the project that was developed proved too expensive and he would like to see the board go and look at some of the surrounding area town solutions to new police department buildings, particularly the new one in Tilton. He would like to schedule a viewing of that building.

The board discussed that there needs to be further discussion on what the town is looking for and what sites are available for a new building.

The board discussed encumbrances and voted to approve the changes and the encumbrance list as discussed.

The board is still looking for a solution for the Stevens Hall Roof repair or replacement. Landau said the issue is finding a less expensive solution than the one previously proposed. He indicated he is working on talking with a couple of roof contractors about it.

 


Chester Selectmen Approve Lincoln Lane Bridge Conservation Funds To Be Used For Another Project
By Penny Williams    7-23-21

On Thursday evening, July 22, the Chester Selectmen met and after a long discussion decided to allow the Lincoln Lane Bridge issue involving using Conservation money held for a non-existent bridge to be used for a project proposed by Lincoln Lane homeowners.

The Conservation Commission had $3,000 held for maintenance of a bridge in the Lincoln Lane subdivision that never was built. There was a bridge in the area further away located on the Old Town Road, a Class VI road which isn't maintained by anyone. Conservation wanted to release the money they held and legal determined that it could be used for another purpose other than for the non-existent bridge.

Residents proposed using the money to create a meeting place in the Cul de sac area complete with benches. The issue then was the land in the Cul de sac is town owned land. Thus approval for creating a level place and putting in benches there would require the approval of the Board of Selectmen.

Road Agent Michael Oleson indicated he had no issue with the residents' proposed plan so long as it doesn't interfere with plowing or cause any drainage issues. The board discussed whether there would be liability issues the town would incur and it was pointed out that this would be no different from other things on town property used by citizens.

After discussing this it was determined that there needs to be a letter from the Conservation Commission approving this project and approving the use of the money. In addition, the residents who will be abutters to the gathering place need to sign off on the letter providing their approval of the project.  Once this letter is signed it will be brought back to the board for its approval.

Police Chief Aaron Berube brought up some information and issues he felt the board needed to know about. One is that there will be more court days his officers will have to attend. In order to meet his budget officers often have to go to court on their day off and not be compensated. Now there will be even more of these days and he doesn't believe this is fair or right. It also underscores the need for more officers.

Arising out of the discussion Selectman Steve D'Angelo stated that he and the board need to know how many officers Berube needs to keep Chester safe. Too often, Berube had noted, his officers were responding to calls as a single person whereas Fire and other departments always responded to calls with at least two persons.

A strategic plan for what the town needs in terms of personnel should be done but Berube doesn't want it to be an 'Aaron plan.' He suggested getting this done professionally. But, he agreed the board needs to know how many  extra people, full time and part time, the town needs to function effectively and safely and provide the necessary services residents need to be kept safe and secure.

Berube indicated that compensation for his officers is an issue and said the matrix needs to be adjusted annually. This was discussed at length and the board said this was something that should be looked in to.

Chris Hadik, Wason Pond Commission, told the board there has been an issue with unleashed dogs at Wason Pond. John Wright, the Park Ranger, can ask people to leash their dogs but when he leaves they are loose again.

The board discussed whether there is an ordinance for having dogs leashed in Chester. If a fine is to be applied there has to be an ordinance on the issue approved by the town legislative body.

It was noted that as the official Dog Officer Wright does have the authority to issue a fine. The Wason Pond Commission would like to recommend an ordinance be developed and taken to the town meeting to address this issue. There was no decision made on this issue at the meeting but further discussion and information will be considered.

There was a long discussion about the Wason Pond Bridge that the Wason Pond Commission has closed because it is deemed unsafe for vehicle or people traffic. There were several suggestions about how to close it off and the board looked at possible short term and long term solutions to using the bridge.

It was determined that emergency access by the Fire Department gator is available without  using the bridge and if signs are put up showing how to access things by other means this would solve the issue at least in the short term.

The board approved using jersey barriers at each end of the bridge and a chain link fence with signs saying the bridge is unsafe to use. The board felt the Wason Pond Commission needs to make  the final decision on what is to be done with the Wason Pond bridge. The board will discuss with that commission their thoughts for long term and short term solutions and where funding might come from.

There was a discussion of prioritizing encumbrances and in the end the board voted to approve the adjustment to the encumbrances as discussed at the meeting and the not to exceed total of $193,960.95 be set.

The board  approved Kim Rairon joining the Spring Hill Farm Advisory Committee.

 


Chester Selectmen Approve Plow Contracts and Fire Department Lieutenant's Position Still Unfilled
By Penny Williams   7-10-2021

The Chester Board of Selectmen met on Thursday evening, July 8, and Road Agent Michael Oleson presented proposed plow contracts for the board's consideration.

Oleson proposed raising the amount for the big trucks with wings. He said he has three big trucks but would like to attract two more. In order to do this he said he wished to increase the amount from $98 up to $110. The other trucks would get less than a dollar increase. The total increase would be just a little higher than the CPI 3.2 percent. He wanted the drivers to get an hour's stipend for no snow days.  He also wanted to pay drivers every two weeks like the state does. In the end the increase for the big trucks was set at $108.

The board discussed this and Selectman Steve D'Angelo said he didn't want to vote on it without solid figures concerning what this would cost the town for the winter.

Oleson pointed out that providing solid numbers isn't possible because the weather isn't predictable and how many storms and how strong they will be determines the final figures and he hasn't any way of knowing those details at this time.

Town Manager Debra Doda, using current figures and the proposed increase said if there were no snow days the cost at current rates for three trucks would be $66,000 and if the stipend was raised to $110 it would be $29,500 more or $ 95,500. The numbers changed with different factors but the board decided it was looking at $82,000 for no snow days based on last year's money for 5 trucks, which would be $39,000 more using the rate of $108. or $119,000.

Oleson said philosophically, "let's try it for a year and see how it goes." With the increase stipend amount he believes he will be able to get two more big trucks under contract. After discussing this a little more the board voted to approve Oleson's plow contract changes for the coming year.

Interim Fire Chief Phil Gladu went over the fire department update noting recent calls the department had responded to. He indicated the opening for the Lieutenant's position has received two applicants and more are expected. He also said he is thinking about trying to get the State to teach a firefighter class using the Chester fire station.

Gladu said the parking lot paving plan is in place and arrangements made to do it in phases so emergency vehicles will always be able to get out if there is a call. Bids to do the work are in and things are moving ahead with the planning and decisions will be made.

Robert Pellegrino, Green Road, discussed doing some things he wishes to do with Green Road, a Class VI  Road that runs past his house. He has sought permission from the Code Enforcement/Building Inspector but has not received permission.

He complained that someone on Stowe Road was able to do similar things to Stowe Road. The person on Stowe Road is doing logging which is permitted. The board listened but indicated he would have to work it out with the Code Enforcement Officer.

Pelligrino brought up the subject of shelterlogic tents and complained about being told he needs a permit for his. He claimed there are many shelterlogic tents and they don't have permits.

Code Enforcement-Building Inspector Myric Bunker was not present and the board had not been informed he would bring up this issue  so the board couldn't respond to his questions and complaints regarding the shelterlogic tent issue.

Encumbrances came up but since the town doesn't have the final fiscal year numbers further discussion was put off until the board's July 22 meeting. Doda did ask the board members to be thinking about prioritization of encumbrance requests.

 


Chester Selectmen Review Operating Budget and Warrant Article Encumbrances
By Penny Williams   6-26-21

The Selectmen met Thursday evening, June 24, and there was an in-depth review of  proposed encumbrances.

The board settled on the following encumbrances but with the acknowledgement that if the amount of money left at the conclusion of the fiscal year was sufficient, these encumbrances could be met. However, the final amount is not known at this point so which get encumbered depends on what actually remains in the operating budget at the end of the year.

Encumbrances from the Operating Budget as reviewed for a total of $260,150 are as follows:

* Highway - Busby Construction quote for road work    $ 116,250

* Highway - Quote to be gotten from Busby  for additional road work $85,000

* Police - hiring incentive $2,500

* Town Fair Fireworks - $2,000

* Cemetery Shed - $8,879

* Building Inspector and front office access windows Town Hall - $ 3,215

* Maintenance Truck - $27,306

* Spring Hill Farm Barn Roof Repair - $15,000

Encumbrances being carried over again in the amount of $19,889 are as follows:

* Wason Pond Community Center Ramp - $15,609

* Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission Review of Impact Fees - $4,280

 Encumbrances based on Warrant Articles in the amount of $455,337 are as follows:

* Article # 30 for digitization of documents - $11,500

*  Article #12 Fire Department PPE - $14,145

*  Article #18 highway engineering services - $10,000

* Article # 20 - CIP Money for roadwork - $419,692

The board after the review approved these with the provision that they would actually
happen only if there was sufficient money left at the end of the fiscal year.

The board heard a little about the new plans for Busche Academy from Andre Lilly but had more questions than answers. They asked that information be provided regarding the construction changes being contemplated; who has the principle ownership of this new school endeavor; and, the source of the student population and numbers. They said the administration needs to go to the Technical Review Committee (TRC) where they will learn all the processes they will need to meet and follow.

Chief Phil Gladu told the board the review of his department indicated that there had not been any big equipment additions this year. The department is working its way through filling the lieutenant's position and that the department, working with the Police Department, is arranging the fireworks for the Town Fair. Gladu said if the board would add a couple thousand to the $7,000 already budgeted the fireworks display would be similar to that which was held before COVID-19. The board said they would take it up during the encumbrance review. The board did approve the additional $2,000 during the encumbrance discussion.

Gladu noted he is continuing to do research regarding the  cost of replacing Engine 2. He is also evaluating what Engine 2 would be worth in terms of sale or down payment and also looking into possible grant money.

The Community Center ramp came up and it can't be approved as ADA compliant because of the fact it ends in a gravel area. However the gravel area can't be made a paved area. Possibly a slab or pavers can be put there so it can be certified. He indicated it would be looked into and a solution found.

The board asked him if his department has enough help to keep the community safe and he indicated it did and he is working on a strategic plan that he will get to the board by the first meeting in August.

Jean Methot Chair of the 300th Anniversary Committee and Rhonda Lamphere went over some of the preliminary plans that are getting finalized for the 300th Anniversary.

They discussed two - the Christmas Tree in front of Stevens Hall and getting it lighted and the Proclamation event that they said is slated for May 2022.

Road Agent Michael Oleson said he would dig and implement the tubing for the necessary electrical out to the slab where the tree will be placed. There will also be an outlet at the side of the front steps at Stevens Hall so the Manchester Chorus will have a means of connection as needed. The time of the event will be December 4, at 5 p.m. for the tree lighting.

The electric work, that will also supply power for the sign, will be done by an electrician but the 300th will cover that  while Oleson is donating his work.

Methot asked the board to approve the 300th moving forward with these plans and the board approved but said they need to go to TRC as well. The board also approved providing $500 for the electric costs.

There was a discussion about the time capsule to be buried in front of Stevens Hall. The plan is to collect items and have them displayed in the Library. When the capsule is buried a flat rock engraved with the date will be placed over the spot.

Lamphere brought up a question about the money in the operating budget provided to seniors. The $15,000 is a line item but it was decided after a discussion that it is basically a donation.

Lamphere said the seniors had returned $9,480.51 they hadn't used primarily due to COVID restrictions and she asked that the board approve returning that money to the seniors so they could book additional trips. The board asked if the how the money is spent is tracked and reported and Lamphere said it is. The board approved returning the money to the seniors.

Rick Schaefer, Village Cemetery Trustee, asked the board to approve moving the shed that is at the Village Cemetery to the Sanborne Cemetery and building a new, slightly larger  10 by 14 foot shed for the Village Cemetery. The cost would be $8,879. The board told him they would take it up during the encumbrance discussion but they thought it would be approved. And it was.

 


Stevens Hall Project Continues to be an Issue for Chester Selectmen
By Penny Williams  6-18-21

The Board of Selectmen met Thursday evening, June 17, and discussed the Stevens Hall Project at length.

After meeting with  resident William Gregsak, Selectmen Steve D'Angelo and Chuck Myette indicated that there is no contract or estimate in place regarding the proposed repair and restoration of Stevens Hall.  Furthermore, the figures discussed for the project, in the neighborhood of $300,000, they thought is beyond what can be done this year. However, D'Angelo said an alternative product to the roof slate might be less expensive and should be looked into.

Myette said that there is an identified water leak near the tower and two gutter issues that he suggested might be what they could get taken care of this year.

The board decided to have Town Manager Debra Doda and Facilities Director Paul Cavanaugh look into finding a local contractor who would provide the board with a bid for fixing these two issues before next week's meeting. 

The water leak has been identified and the gutter issues are obvious - one piece of gutter is missing and another section is broken. If a local contractor can be found who would be willing to provide the board with a quote to fix these two issues the board thought this was the most that could be handled this year.

D'Angelo felt at this point these two issues should be attended to and then the board should start from scratch on what to do about the rest of the Stevens Hall issues.

He also indicated that the proposed repairs to the roof leak and the gutters could be accomplished if a lift was used thus eliminating the need for anyone to walk on the roof, which might well lead to additional roof damage.

It was decided that Doda, Cavanaugh and Selectman Steph Landau would find a contractor, get a bid on the two repair issues and hopefully be able to get it so the board can discuss and make a decision at next week's meeting.

The board discussed potential encumbrances with Doda. There ended up being five discussed.

The first was Road Agent Michael Oleson asking that the balance of his budget be encumbered so he could do overlay on the road from the Villages of Chester above North Pond Road. He thought he had about $110,000 which would get some of the roadway overlayed.

It was pointed out he needs a contract for the work and he said Busby Construction will do the work. The board will vote on this at next week's meeting. Doda reminded the board that they will need to prioritize the encumbrance requests for the purpose of voting on the priority.

The Police Department had asked for two encumbrances but the one for the radar for the new cruiser was eliminated as Chief Aaron Berube indicated he can get that now from his budget and thus take advantage of a discounted cost.

Berube's second request was for $2,500 for a hiring bonus that won't be applicable until August. The board was alright with retaining that request and will vote on it at the next meeting.

Town Clerk/Tax Collector Liz Lufkin wants to encumber the Warrant Article amount for digitization of records. The Warrant Article was for $11,500 but she indicated she has a contract for the work on the oldest and most fragile for $11,630. She said the pandemic had put things behind time-wise, which is why she wants to encumber the funds. The board agreed to vote on this at their next meeting.

There was a long and involved discussion about encumbering money for the Town Fair fireworks. Recreation Director Corinna Reishus, Berube and Fire Chief Phil Gladu all discussed this but in the end it was decided that the contract for the fireworks needs to be gotten so this can be voted on next week. The amount in question is $7,000.

The last encumbrance discussed was for $8,560 for payment to the Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission for work to be done for the Planning Board. This won't come due until December so the money needs to be encumbered. The board agreed to consider it at the next meeting.

Gladu introduced a new Fire Department member, Brian Fitzgerald, to the board. The selectmen had a few questions but welcomed Fitzgerald as the new department member.

The board swore in Kevin Scott for the Zoning Board of Adjustment. Scott brought up the fact that the grass at the Village Cemetery is almost 2 feet high and said this is  unacceptable. He asked that something be done about it. Myette said Landau was aware of the situation and was going to address it.
 

 


Chester Selectmen Address Unlicensed Dogs Issue in Chester
By Penny Williams  6-12-21

At the Thursday night, June 11, meeting of the Board of Selectmen, Town Clerk/Tax Collector Liz Lufkin submitted the list of Chester's unregistered dogs as required by law and asked the board to approve the required Warrant for Forfeiture.

The number of unlicensed dogs in Chester is significant according to Select Chair Chuck Myette. Lufkin noted that at least 8 of them are unlicensed from last year.  She indicated that all the unlicensed dog owners have been notified by email, by letter and by calls from her office.

According to NH law within 20 days after the Warrant for unlicensed dogs is issued the fine rises to $25 and the law allows these dogs to be taken although this rarely if ever happens. However, some towns send police officers to the homes of unlicensed dogs to collect the fine. The final letter in Chester will be sent out July 1 and the $25 fine plus the registration fee will be collected.

The board was concerned that undue cost goes into this fee collection and made no decision to use police to collect the fines in lieu of taking the unlicensed dog. However, the board did approve the Warrant which puts the forfeiture action in place.

The board discussed and ultimately approved raising the Police Detail Rate from $67 to $70. The board asked that Chief Aaron Berube to look into possibly starting a fund of a small portion of these fees that would be used against future cruiser costs.

Right now the  Detail officer gets $47 which will increase to $50 and the rest is used to pay fees and the Detail Fund.  However, Chester doesn't specify any particular amount for the use of a cruiser as some towns do. It was suggested that going forward possibly the $70 should pay $50 to the officer, $15 to the Detail Fund, and $5 for a replacement vehicle fund.

Berube agreed to do some research on this issue but the board approved the proposed increase. Berube will return with information on how the current fees are allocated and how a replacement vehicle fund might work.

Selectman Steph Landau told the board the 300th Anniversary Committee is asking the town to purchase commemorative license plates for official town owned vehicles. He thinks there are about 45.

The plates cost $20 each. Berube said he would get the authorization needed to allow the use of these plates on town vehicles as their front plates. The board authorized up to $900 for the special plates.

There was a discussion about whether a Christmas Tree (25-feet tall) should be erected in front of Stevens Hall for the anniversary Christmas. It was noted there is always a tree down at the cemetery and historical area annually. The board asked Landau to get more information on the plan from the committee before they made any decision.

Landau also noted the committee is looking for a site for a bonfire for New Year's Eve and that a car show is planned for August 6, 2022 as well as a possible fireman's muster for July. Chief Phil Gladu noted that before the department pushes this they are trying to determine what kind of participation they might expect.

The board started to discuss encumbrances and Selectman Steve D'Angelo said nothing should be done with this until final numbers and decisions are made regarding the Stevens Hall restoration.

Selectman Steve Couture brought up the possibility of a Library patio but this was not considered as important as other issues that might need encumbrance funds.

In the end the discussion was put off and a meeting will be held next Thursday, June 18, to discuss this matter.

The board discussed the summer meeting schedule. D'Angelo felt the board should meet weekly and should not have a schedule but make a decision at the close of each meeting regarding whether they would meet the following week. Other board members including Couture felt a schedule is beneficial. Landau more or less agreed that meetings could be decided upon week by week.

It was decided after some discussion that there would not be a meeting on July 1, and the board would decide at the July 8 meeting what they would do about the July 15 meeting.

There was a discussion about the Emergency restrictions in NH ending Friday night, June 11 so that all future committee and board meetings must be in-person - at least a quorum - at town hall or wherever they used to meet prior to the pandemic. Meetings can be hybrid if so desired if the committee has the necessary equipment and meets the quorum in-person requirement. Town Manager Debra Doda assured the board she has notified all boards and departments regarding this. 

 


Chester Selectmen Decide Opening of Chester Municipal Buildings to Take Place on June 7
By Penny Williams   6-4-21

The Chester Selectmen had just a single issue to deal with Thursday evening, June 3, and their newest member stepped in and made a decision.

Selectman Steve Couture listened to the recommendations of the Fire Chief, Phil Gladu as well as his review of where things stand at this point regarding COVID-19 and the guidelines. He also listened to the comments added by Town Clerk/Tax Collector Liz Lufkin and Recreation Director Corinna Reishus. Then the discussion started to get circular and there was some confusion about what the  information and decisions were that are expected from Concord on June 11.

Couture stepped up and suggested that given where things are now, the way things are trending and the fact that most people are no longer wearing masks that the municipal buildings in Chester should be opened as of Monday, June 7, rather than putting off the decision for another week.

The board approved this and the mask mandate has been lifted indoors and outdoors Chester. It was made clear that people are free to wear masks if they prefer but mask wearing is no longer required in Chester Municipal Buildings or outside on town owned property.

Town Administrator Debra Doda did recommend that cleaning continue and that groups using town facilities be asked to clean up after their use. The town is short one member of the janitorial team and it was suggested that perhaps some of Reishus' college summer staff might be able to help with this.

It was suggested that signs be put in place announcing the end of the mask mandate but noting mask wearing is optional.

The board approved signing the documents for HealthTrust concerning Flexible Spending Accounts. This issue was approved earlier in the year but the documents not signed. The board approved taking care of that and returning the documents to HealthTrust.

 


Chester Selectmen Remove Six Selectman Liaison Assignments
By Penny Williams   5-28-21

The Chester Selectmen met on Thursday evening, May 27, and one of the things they did was go through the liaison list.

The Chair, Chuck Myette, read off each liaison position, who had it the previous year and asked who wanted it going forward. Selectman Steve D'Angelo suggested that several of the liaison positions are not needed.

The liaison positions the board decided to eliminate include: Chester Kitchen, Finance
Department, Historical Society, IT, Supervisors of the Checklist, and, Trustees of the
Trust Funds.

It was pointed out during the discussion that  based on the fact that either the current liaison never had any communication with the person/group or that there were sufficient resources already available including the Town Administrator Debra Doda,  that some of the  Board of Selectmen liaison was overkill.  For example, for Finance Officer, Marianne Duffy, has Joanne Smith, Finance Director, Supervisors of the Checklist have Town Clerk Liz Lufkin and Moderator  Michael Scott,  and the Trustees of the Trust Funds have Smith or Town Treasurer Rhonda Lamphere , and IT has Smith.

The rest of the liaisons were set with the newest member Steve Couture ending up with Budget Committee, Assessing, Library, School Board, and Town Clerk/Tax Collector. Most of the other liaison positions remained with the same selectmen.

The board spent most of the meeting re-appointing board and committee members wishing to be re-appointed or appointed. 

Jeff Dinapoulos was appointed to the 300th Anniversary Committee. Kathie Ragsdale was reappointed to the Conservation Committee and as that committee's representative to the Wason Pond Commission. Marie Davies was reappointed to Recreation. Jack Cannon was reappointed to the PACT and the Zoning Board of Adjustment. Billie Maloney was re-appointed to the ZBA but Kevin Scott wasn't present to be reappointed. Cathy LeBlanc and Chuck Myette were reappointed to the Spring Hill Farm Advisory Committee and Evan Sederquest, Liz Richter and Aaron Hume were reappointed to the Planning Board.

The board had a discussion about the retention of a cruiser to be retired this year.  It was suggested by Police Chief Aaron Berube that instead, the cruiser be retained, If traded in its trade in value would only fall somewhere between $2,000 and $4,000.

The cruiser that is to be retired would serve the town and the department better if it was retained and used to transport officers to meetings, classes and court. In addition, it would be available as a back-up if needed.

Usually, the equipment on a cruiser being retired  is removed and put into a newly  bought cruiser. But, in this case that can't happen as the type of vehicle has changed. The cruiser in question is in good condition and has roughly 125,000  miles on it. Berube noted that if it is retained this year it would be retired the following year when another cruiser will be ready to be retired.

The board discussed this and voted to approve retaining the cruiser the department is prepared to retire. It will provide a Chester Police Department vehicle to transport officers when they have to be in court or are taking a class or going for a training session.

Landau said he has been in contact with the Steven's Hall people regarding the roof repair and he suggested putting the cost for the proposed work on the building in the CIP. However, it was pointed out there is very little money for the CIP.

It was decided that the Charter Brothers, Mike Bean and Architect Gary Goudreau should address the selectmen in July regarding the proposed Steven's Hall restoration and the specific costs associated with the project. Selectman D'Angelo indicated there needs to be a concerted effort to determine where funds can be found to address the Steven's Hall project.

The board affirmed that it would address how meetings will be conducted going forward at their June 3, meeting. D'Angelo is pushing for a return to in-person meetings and the presumption is that will happen but probably with a hybrid approach as of the board's June 10, meeting.

 


Chester Selectmen Reorganize and Welcome New Board Member Steve Couture
By Penny Williams   5-22-21

The Board of Selectmen met Thursday evening, May 20, and first off reorganized and welcomed their new member.

The board nominated and appointed Selectman Chuck Myette as chair and nominated and appointed Jeremy Owens as Vice Chair.

The board then welcomed Steve Couture to the board as the newly elected member and welcomed back Steph Landau who was re-elected.

The Boy Scout Yard Sale, scheduled for June 26,27, ran into some difficulty as Recreation Director Corinna Reishus thought they were postponing it to the fall and there are games scheduled on the field where the yard sale is held.

Reishus told Scout Master Jay Rowden, Scout Troop 163, that she would see what she could do about reassigning fields for the scheduled games and would get back to him. He needs to put up the tents the week ahead of the sale so residents can drop off the items for the yard sale.

After listening to the request for the Yard Sale from Rowden and the issues facing it from Reishus the board approved the Boy Scout Yard Sale going forward subject to arranging the actual time slot that will come from Reishus.

Acting Fire Chief Phil Gladu told the board they have added Abigail Richards who is already an EMT and working on her Advanced status as well planning on Fire 1 and Fire 2. She started with the department but is now back having finished her schooling. Jordan Perry is also returning and she is Advanced in her training. He said that there are two more people in the pipeline waiting to turn in their completed paperwork.

Gladu was pleased to report that Alex Hodosi, Fire 2, and working on adding Paramedic training  was returning and would be working directly with him.

Road Agent Michael Oleson asked the board for approval to move forward with the planned roadwork. He indicated he planned to use Busby Construction, the vendor he has been working with because  they agreed to hold their pricing where it is. This will account for everything except asphalt because those prices aren't established yet.

Couture suggested that it would be financially responsible to go out to bid next year though he understood staying with Busby for the current work.

Oleson said he has $750,000 and he plans to finish up North Pond Road, the four culverts and get it paved, Then with whatever he has left he will head to Rand Drive. He gently chastised the board for removing a quarter of million dollars for roadwork at Town Meeting without consulting with him first.

The board went into a discussion regarding returning to in person meetings which is something Selectman Steve D'Angelo has been pushing for. After to going over the same ground they have reviewed before connected to this proposal it was decided not to make any changes until the June 3, meeting of the board with a view to returning to in person meetings starting with their June 10, meeting.

The board discussed liaison assignments and D'Angelo indicated he didn't think liaisons are necessary and in fact may interfere with the Town Administrator.

Town Administrator Debra Doda said she felt for some of the more active and important boards/committees it was helpful to have a designated liaison person for a department to be able to work with if an issue arises and she is unavailable at that time.

After a lengthy discussion it was decided that the selectmen would review the list of liaisons. Selectmen were asked to  look at where they were assigned last year and decide which if any they thought were important enough to continue with and make those decisions at the next meeting.

There was a discussion regarding the Wage Matrix Update. It was decided to continue to monitor and adjust the matrix and to take it up in more detail at the next meeting and going forward. It was decided also that a job description should accompany each position for the annual review.

A brief discussion regarding Columbus Day and Indigenous People Day was held since the Chester Town Meeting had set the Indigenous People Day as August 9 while nationally it is slated for August 19. It was decided to leave things as they are for now and if the people want to change the date for Indigenous People Day they can put forward a Warrant Article next year.

It was noted that there will be a car wash fund raiser by the Legion held at the Transfer Station on May 29 and it was thought the time would be 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

 


Chester 2021 Town Meeting Results
By Penny Williams   5-16-21

The Chester Town Meeting was held Saturday morning, May 15, at 9 a.m. in the Chester Academy parking lot and ended at 1:15 p.m. Roughly 145 plus residents participated.

The operating budget article, agreed upon by both the Board of Selectmen and the Budget Committee in the amount of $5,156,173 was approved as was the article calling for $400,000 CIP Funding. However, the article for the CIP Projects was amended to remove Painting and Steps  at Stevens Hall that deleted $75,000. The amendment carried with the new total for the CIP Projects of $183,904. The article then passed.

The 300th Anniversary article for $5,000 was approved as was the article calling for $25,000 for steeple Repair at the Chester Congregational Church.

The Historic Building Fund article calling for $400,000 to be taken from the unassigned fund balance was amended to have $150,000 added so it was for $550,000. That amendment passed but then the article failed.

The Fire Department Apparatus Capital Reserve Fund in the amount of $400,000, The Highway CIP Funding in the amount of $750,000, and the Highway CIP Projects in the amount of $750,000 were all approved as presented.

The article for $15,000 for Revaluation, the article for $30,000 for PACT, the article for the Police OHRV for $30,609, and the article to fund Master Plan work for $15,000, were all approved as presented.

The article for the Winter Road Maintenance Fund was tabled while the article for discontinuing the North Pond Road Capital Reserve Fund and the article for the discontinuance of Carkin Street were both approved.

The article calling for voters to rescind Warrant Article 20 of 2013  regarding cemetery revenues and expenditures was tabled. It was then reconsidered and the vote was 77 to 26  to approve so the article was approved. The article calling for the restating of the 2013 Warrant Article 20 was initially tabled then upon reconsideration it too was approved.

The article calling for changing the Town Meeting and election dates failed so next year Town Meeting will revert to March.

The article regarding accepting the Stone Property was tabled but a motion was made to untable it which failed.

The petition article for creating a trust fund for Great Hill Cemetery Maintenance Fund  was approved.

The petition article to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day was amended to continue having Columbus Day but to set a separate date of August 18 for Indigenous People Day. Both actions carried and the article as amended was approved.

The petition article calling for fair  and effective redistricting was approved.

 


2021 Chester Election Results
By Penny Williams  5-12-21

The Chester elections were held at the Multi-Purpose-Room on Tuesday, May 11, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. There are 4,415 registered voters and 568 votes were cast of which 15 were absentee ballots.

The election resulted in all five Planning Board proposed amendments being approved.

The results of the town positions election are as follows:

* Board of Selectmen saw Steven Couture receive 377 votes and Stephen Landau 285 votes for three year terms

* Road Agent Michael Oleson was re-elected unopposed for a two year term with 455 votes

* Trustee of the Trust Funds Richard LeBlanc, Jr. was re-elected unopposed for a three year term with 423 votes

* Budget Committee candidate Paul Murphy was elected for a three year term with 414 votes and two seats remain empty

* School Board member Royal Richardson was re-elected for a three year term receiving 406 votes but write in candidate Jeff Hickman received 82 votes

* Jessie Mansur was a write in candidate for Village Cemetery Trustee for a three year term and received 8 votes

* Great Hill Cemetery Trustee candidate for a five year term Christopher Carolan received 431 votes and John Colman was re-elected for a two year term receiving 451 votes

* Wilcomb Townsend Trustee Jocelyn Grady was re-elected for a five year term with 452 votes

* Beth Swanson with 453 votes and Mary Beth Ditoro with 307 votes were re-elected for three year terms as Library Trustees

 


Chester Selectmen Discuss  Mask Requirements and Zoom Meetings Will Continue 
By Penny Williams   5-7-21

The Chester Board of Selectmen met Thursday night, May 6, and engaged in a lengthy and confusing discussion regarding when and where masks are required in Chester.

The board first discussed whether masks should be required outdoors on the town fields. After a convoluted discussion it was decided that mask wearing outdoors wasn't something that could be enforced and was the subject of confusion and push back since the government has lifted the outdoor wearing of masks. So in Chester, out of doors on town property one is not required to wear a mask. However, wearing a mask out of doors is still recommended to be on the safe side.

Then the board tried to decide what to do about mask wearing in town buildings where masks are still required. After a lot of back and forth the board decided that for the safety of employees and residents they would leave in force the requirement to wear masks and this includes the Transfer Station. This issue will be revisited at the board's June 3, meeting.

Next up was a discussion about whether masks would be required for election day with accommodations made for those who can't or won't wear a mask as was done for the November elections with a separate room and a second ballot machine and a second registration table.

Town Clerk/Tax Collector Liz Lufkin told the board she had met with Moderator Robert Scott and he was on board with the suggestion to use only the Multi Purpose Room by opening all doors and crating a pod of booths exclusively for those who felt it important to wear a mask. Others with or without masks could use other booths for voting and all would cast their ballots in a single ballot machine. Voting booths would be cleaned after each use.

Selectman Chuck Myette said this couldn't happen given the fact the board had just voted to continue requiring masks be worn in town buildings. He couldn't get any of the other selectmen to make a motion to lift that requirement for the one day - election day - so as to make the proposed plan Lufkin suggested and Moderator Scott was on board with work.

Myette finally made the motion himself and Selectman Joe Hagan voted yes while Selectmen Steph Landau and Steve D'Angelo abstained. That meant the motion passed. So for election day in the Multi Purpose Room the requirement to wear a mask is lifted but it is still recommended so people can wear a mask or not based on their own choice when voting. 

The board discussed a new dental plan that would be a little more expensive but would provide orthodontia. It was initially discussed in public but no decision was made. Town Manager Debra Doda indicated if every employee took the new plan it would cost the town roughly $2,000 while increasing employee costs around $2 to $3 for individuals and about $11 for a family plan.

The board decided to discuss this further in non-public and a decision there was made to go forward and use the new plan that includes orthodontia. It is with the same company they now have the dental insurance with.

D'Angelo would like to return to in person meetings in the meeting room at town hall. After a discussion it was decided that the board would revisit this issue at their June 3, meeting. But for now the Selectmen will continue with the Zoom meetings.

The board asked Doda to write a letter to American Tower telling them the town is not interested in redoing the current contract. None of the board saw any benefit to the town in renegotiating the present contract.

It was announced that Fire Chief Greg Bolduc has resigned. A press release would be prepared and distributed by Doda.

Landau said Charter Brothers are still waiting for a figure for the roof repair at Stevens Hall. The price for painting the building is $115,000 but the recommendation is that the roof be done first before painting the building. Landau said he was staying on this and hoping for a figure by Monday, May 10.

The board in non public discussed the Road Acceptance Hearing, The upshot of the discussion was, according to Doda,  the Selectmen went along with the Planning Board and are not going to push the Road Acceptance Meeting out a couple months; it will still be the first meeting in June as usual (June 3rd).  There are three roads currently being worked on and  Planning Director Andrew Hadik thinks one might be ready in time but he is not sure.  The three roads under consideration are Hemlock Lane, Jenkins Farm Road, and Wilcombs Way.

Chester Election is Tuesday, May 11th, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Multi Purpose Room and the rescheduled Town Meeting will be held Saturday, May 15th, at the Chester Academy parking lot starting at 9 a.m. A draft ballot and a list of the candidates is available on the Town Clerk/Tax Collector's web page.


Chester Selectmen Approve Manchester Water Works Gate on Old Chester Turnpike
By Penny Williams    4-23-21

The Chester Board of Selectmen met Thursday evening and after a lengthy discussion with the Manager of the Manchester Water Works properties, approved that organization putting up a gate on the Old Chester Turnpike.

The purpose of the gate is to reduce the illegal use of off road vehicles in the area that is comprised of roughly 1,000 acres between the Manchester Water Works property and open land owned by the town. In addition, the gate will hopefully stop people driving out as far as they can and then dumping their trash.

Chester Selectman Steve D'Angelo wasn't convinced that there is illegal use of the area by off

John O'Neil, Manager of the Manchester Water Works properties provided specifics of both issues and said that property owners abutting the land/ road area and the town and emergency departments would have access to the gate.

The board voted, except for D'Angelo, to allow the gate to be put up by the Manchester Water Works. O'Neil also indicated the plan is to improve the road somewhat at the Chester end and try to connect the Old Chester Turnpike with Gardiner Road as for the most part it is now under water and virtually impassable in places. He said this is a beautiful area for recreation and invites everyone to enjoy it and to protect it.

The board had a Public Hearing regarding rescinding the Special Revenue Fund in Warrant Article 23. The change to making Special Revenue Fund an Expendable Trust Fund and closure of the Special Revenue Fund for the Cemetery was requested by the Department of Revenue Administration. The Public Hearing remained open throughout the meeting but no one made a comment.

Selectman Chuck Myette gave a slide presentation of the Stone property for informational purposes. The property is owned by Roger Roach and he would like to give it to the town if the Federal tax appraisal comes back as a satisfactory amount for him to do so.

Myette pointed out there is no particular need or use for the land and building at this moment but there are several benefits it would provide for future use. Among those uses would be possibly building the new police station on the land; providing an emergency exit for Chester Academy and emergency vehicles; and among others, a community center. This will be brought to the people for their vote as Warrant Article 26.

The board affirmed it thinks the 300 Anniversary idea to have a special stage coach painting done to the Multi Purpose Room wall facing Chester Avenue would be fine so long as an artist can be found and the cost figured out. It was suggested to check with Derry since they have had some good murals done in recent years.

There was a long discussion over the amount of money in the Warrant Article for the Highway Road Improvement. The board discussed this but put off any further decision to the next meeting.

The board also discussed wearing masks out of doors. After a lengthy discussion it was decided that the selectmen should go with recommending that masks be worn but that it can't be enforced. The board will discuss this further at the next meeting with Recreation Director Corinna Reishus with respect to mask wearing outside on the fields and at sporting events.

The board approved allowing the Legion to hold a car wash at the Transfer Station.

 


Chester Selectmen Approve 20 Acre Conservation Property Purchase
By Penny Williams   4-16-21

Thursday evening, April 15, the Chester Board of Selectmen approved the purchase of a 20 acre parcel recommended by the Chester Conservation Commission.

Conservation Commission Chair Victor Chounard described the 20 acre parcel owned by Michael and Wendy Ennis with whom  his commission had negotiated a $49,900 purchase price.

The land is adjacent to other Town owned Conservation land, bringing the total of those lands to roughly 140 acres making it even more attractive. It is also in a virtual natural state with an existing trail and is appropriate for outdoor activities and uses. Its wetlands feed into Beaver Brook one of two watersheds on the property and provide habitat for wildlife.

After a brief discussion the board voted to approve the purchase.

The selectmen discussed with Recreation Director Corinna Reishus opening up the Town facilities. Given the likelihood the Governor plans to lift the mask mandate the next day  the discussion centered on the fields and outdoor activities.

The consensus was the fields should be re-opened with the provision that social distancing would be adhered to and when that can't be masks would be worn and numbers kept to the 100 limit. Reishus said users of the fields have to fill out specific forms agreeing to follow the conditions of use. The board agreed to the fields being open under these conditions.

The board voted unanimously to continue the wearing of masks requirement in Municipal buildings.

Selectman Steph Landau told the board the 300 Anniversary Committee is looking for help with a number of things. One is they want information regarding the history of the present municipal building when it was switched over from being the town's school. Another history they are seeking is that of the Fire Department and the history of the fire department building. Anyone who can assist the committee with this information is asked to contact them directly.

Landau added the committee will be coming before the board seeking permission for  a place to sell tickets for the October 23, Gala Dinner. In addition he said the committee is trying to get the history of the Boston Post Cane. It was noted that that information is in the Town Report.

Stevens Hall work and  costs were discussed. Selectman Steve D'Angelo wasn't happy with the recent presentation regarding work on the building and the cost.

Landau said the latest information is the painter selected by the project management indicated that painting the building after current coating of paint has been  removed down to bare wood would cost $215,000. However,  if only loose paint and edge smoothing takes place before repainting the cost would only be $115,000. 

The Charter Brothers want to do the roof first but this cost is really high and D'Angelo feels the people need to make that decision. He believes the people need to be fully informed of the costs of this project and make a decision about what they will support.

It was noted that the security doors are now in place in the municipal building. There are 5 baby calves at the Spring Hill Farm (SHF) which people can come and see, pat and watch being fed.

Selectman Chuck Myette said the grant application has been submitted to the AARP for work on the SHF building to make it ADA compliant. This would include two ADA compliant bathrooms. He indicated that in the application the various ADA compliance components for the building were listed in a prioritized manner so the grant amount could be applied to the components. He indicated they should hear what will be covered in the not too distant future and that information regarding the grant application for the barn should be available soon as well.

Town Manager Debra Doda told the board she had contacted Town Counsel as instructed regarding the Police Department OHRV Article to be purchased using Police Detail Funds.

Town Attorney said so long as the OHRV can be used for special details the Detail funds can be used. The Police indicate the OHRV would be used for special details among other things.

 


Chester Board of Selectmen Decide to Reopen Chester Cautiously
By Penny Williams   4-9-21

The Chester Board of Selectmen on Thursday night, April 8, decided to cautiously start reopening town buildings and fields.

Recreation Director Corinna Reishus said she had requests for a wedding ceremony at Wason Pond Covered Bridge and from the Chester Academy sports and Chester Baseball to allow use of the town fields.

 The board discussed the fact that Wason Pond has opened to outdoor use but were reluctant to give the ok for the requested wedding ceremony for the covered bridge or spring sport events to use the fields.

After going over the current situation Selectman Steve D'Angelo said he wanted to move very cautiously and preferred to delay any decisions until after the state releases its new guidelines, the board discussed whether it made sense to open the town fields and buildings.

In the end, the board gave permission for the town fields to be cleaned up and readied for use but delayed stating when they would actually reopen for sporting events until their next meeting.

They decided given all that is going on at Stevens Hall that it should not reopen. And as for the wedding at Wason Pond, D'Angelo said they will decide next week but that the fewer attending the ceremony even though it is out of doors the better. The wedding ceremony was approved by the Wason Pond Committee,

The board during their discussion tentatively set the reopening for Chester Academy and the Town teams to use to the town ball fields for May 1.However, the board agreed to revisit this decision next week after the new guidelines are issued by the Governor.

Several residents who are involved with sports spoke up urging the board to move more quickly with regard to allowing the use of the town fields for spring sports.

The board then discussed the Boy Scout Yard Sale and it decided that since they want to use the big tent that would be used by Chester Academy for graduation that waiting until June for Scout event makes sense.  D'Angelo continued to express the need for caution.

The board then discussed what questions were going to come up at the Monday night Budget Committee Public Hearing on the Budget and Warrant. The board expects the Budget Committee to challenge a number of articles on the Warrant. Among those they expect to be challenged are:

* The Historic Building Capital Reserve Fund  and in addition expect many questions regarding the cost and scope of the  project for Stevens Hall

* The Article requesting an OHRV - Chief Aaron Berube noted it can be used as a detail vehicle so use of the Detail Fund money is valid - the selectmen wanted that checked again by the Town Attorney

* There will be questions regarding then CIP for Highway Improvement

* Acquisition of the Stone Property  -  it was noted that Budget Committee is against this proposed acquisition

The board discussed parking at the Spring Hill Farm (SHF) property. Selectman Chuck Myette wanted to put signs up indicating where parking is allowed so cars don't mess the hay field up by parking there.

D'Angelo favored putting up some kind of fencing so as not to discourage people from using the SHF property. Myette indicated it didn't matter what they did so long as the hay field is protected since there will be haying planned as well as the use of the High Tunnel.

 


Chester Selectmen Ask Town Manager to Reorganize and Number Warrant Articles
By Penny Williams   4-2-21

There was a discussion among the board members  Thursday night, April 1, regarding which warrant article should come first after the zoning amendments, the budget or the CIP articles. There was also discussion about the 10 percent rule regarding which should come first, the budget or the CIP articles.

In the end the Selectmen asked Town Manager Debra Doda to reorganize the Warrant removing the letter designation for articles and replacing these with numbers and rearranging the articles with respect to financial importance. It was noted that changes to the reorganization can be made down the road at or before the Deliberative Session.

The board then discussed the concerns raised by an engineer reviewing the stairs leading down to the basement at Stevens Hall. Selectman Steph Landau said he had not been at the meeting but had learned that concerns about repairing and improving them had been raised because of constructural concerns.

Landau made the point that while there might well be a need for work on the stairs leading down to the basement, the basement got very little use with almost nogthing being stored down there. As such, he felt this was not something that needed to be addressed immediately, but could be put off and possibly grants sought for this particular aspect of the renovation. His point was the roof and getting the building painted, at least three sides, before the 300 Anniversary were the primary needs the $400,000 had been put into the Capital Reserve Fund to accomplish first.

There was a discussion regarding whether repairing the stairs was on the CIP and Doda confirmed that it is. Selectman Chuck Myette said it has waiting for a bid next to it and he wondered if the review that took place the other day would produce a bid. Landau said he didn't know but would check on it but thought the Charter Brothers probably had it on their list to get a bid.

The board noted that access to the second floor is also awaiting a specific bid but is on the CIP. Both these items are not slated for this year.

Town Clerk/Tax Collector Liz Lufkin asked the board if they were going to continue the abatement of interest on the 2020 property tax levy which they approved under the Governor’s emergency order. The 2020 levy will be liened April 15th. The notices of intent to lien were sent out the first week of March. The abatement of interest on the 2020 property tax levy will stay in effect until April 15th. The remaining outstanding 2020 property taxes will then be liened along with the interest that has accrued throughout 2020. The board discussed this for awhile and in the end a motion was approved to discontinue their previous tax interest abatement on the 2020 tax levy.

The board discussed the suggestion for a gate on the Chester Turnpike made by the Manchester Water Works as a way to reduce the trash and damages to property in that area by off road vehicles and people. The board discussed this and decided before they approved the gate they wanted to see how the homeowners at that end of the Chester Turnpike area felt about it. The board asked Doda to send a letter to those homeowners and if they did not respond by 30 days they would move forward with the gate.

 


Chester Board of Selectmen Send Warrant to Budget Committee
By Penny Williams  3-26-21

The Chester Board of Selectmen on Thursday evening, March 25, discussed at length exactly what amount they wanted to have in each of the Warrant Articles and pushed by Town Administrator Debra Doda to complete the Warrant so it could be sent on to the Budget Committee.

When all was finally said and done the board approved adjustments to several articles with the main purpose of ending up with enough money for the work on Stevens Hall to get started and not be a terrible tax burden to Chester tax payers.

Article H - CIP Funding - This article was adjusted to read raise and appropriate $650,000 for the Town's Municipal Capital Improvement Plan Capital Reserve Fund.

Article I - CIP Projects - This article calls for raising and appropriating $183,903 for specific CIP projects and to withdraw $183,903 from the Municipal Capital Improvement Plan Capital Reserve Fund. The Board wishes to add a new  line for $250,000 for Stevens Hall, which is being checked for legality by Town Counsel.

Article J - Highway CIP Funding - This article asks that $750,000 be raised and added to the Highway Capital Improvement Plan Capital Reserve Fund. The board lowered the original $1,000,000 amount to $750,000. The total amount to be raised will be offset  by $144,597, from the anticipated Highway Block Grant.

Article K - Highway CIP Projects - This article asks taxpayers to raise $750,000 for roadwork in Chester by withdrawing $750,000 from the Highway Capital Improvement Plan Capital Reserve Fund.

Article T - Historic Building Capital Reserve Fund - The amount in this article was raised to $400,000 with the funds to come from the Unassigned Fund Balance.

Article Z - Stone Property - This article was discussed at length. The property owner wishes to donate the 28.2 acre property, located at 78 Raymond Road to the town. The caveat is the appraisal of the property must favor the donor from a tax standpoint and this can't be figured out until just prior to Town Meeting, which has been moved to May. The terms of the donation should it be made, to be negotiated by the Board of Selectmen.

Selectman Steph Landau and several other Selectmen favored this because it would mean the town might be extremely well positioned for future needs. This property is in the center of town; next to the fire department and the school; and,  it would provide an emergency exit from the school if the town decided that was needed. The discussion was that the building located on the property might have a use now but if not it might have a use  later as with the land itself.

It was noted that should the owner decide to just walk away from the property the town would wind up owning it and be responsible for it and the costs associated with this could be substantial. It was decided that the board would handle the  negotiations once the appraisal took place at the specified time and the donation was favorable.
 
Police Chief Aaron Berube notified the board that there have been a series of automobile break ins in the area of North Pond Road, Orcutt,  Fiddlehead,  and he Trillium. It was an FYI to residents to not leave valuables in their cars and to lock them.

The board was in favor of allowing a Re-enactment during the 300 Anniversary |Proclamation Day. The Proclamation will happen at Stevens Hall and then people could walk to the area behind the Municipal Building to view the Re-enactment. It would display things related to the era such as goods made by the Re-enactors,  The board was ok with using that location for the Re-enactment event.

The board discussed the Stevens Hall project and Landau said he thought that after what the historic building roofer who had come looked at the roof  had said about the roof and the information received about what the Town could do regarding repairs and renovations from the Preservation Society that wouldn't negatively impact the fact the building is on the Historic Register, he felt $400,000 this year would get a good deal of the work done.

He did add that the total cost will likely be somewhere between $900,000 to $1,100,000. He also indicated that over the next year or so the town would very likely be able to obtain grants to help with the restoration and repair of the building, further reducing the cost to the town.

The board felt it had achieved its goal of adjusting the Warrant Articles to provide up to around $650,000 in funding for the work they wish to start on Stevens Hall. Given it will take more than a year, grants may be obtained that would lower the overall cost.

 


Chester Resident Robert St. Amand to Clean up Town Pound
By Penny Williams   3-20-21

Resident Robert St. Amand has stepped forward to clean up the Chester Town Pound, and he told Selectmen on Thursday night, March 18, that he and some friends plan to do it at no cost to the town.

 Saying he has a passion for old town pounds and after looking at several neighboring town pounds he felt it important to clean up and resurrect the Chester pound. He said his motivation is to bring greater awareness of and to the Chester pound. His plan is to clear up about 6-feet to the edges of the pound's exterior and clean up the interior. He said they will not touch the stones of the pound walls.

St. Amand said he would like to erect a sign, perhaps something similar to what other towns have. The pound is historical so the board suggested he check with the NH Historical Preservation Society to see what would be needed to have a state historical sign put there.

The board was pleased by St. Amand's desire to clean up and renew the Chester Town Pound and approved his efforts and thanked him for wanting to get this done. It was noted that this would be another step ahead for the 300 Anniversary.

Maria Veale asked the board whether they would or could approve the Wason Pond Pounder event going forward for this September 18.

Selectman Steve D'Angelo suggested planning the event for next spring might be a better idea, noting it might be able to be part of the 300 Anniversary celebration. Veale indicated that this was to be the final Wason Pond Pounder event and they really wanted to do it this fall if possible.

The board wasn't against the Pounder Committee preparing for the fall if they kept in mind it might have to be postponed again depending on the pandemic situation. The board reminded them that all guidelines would need to be followed.

 It was noted that the May 1, Guidance should provide a better handle on whether the September date might work and the board noted they have not been able to decide yet on whether the Town Fair can be held this year.

Beth Sautter, Spring Hill Farm Advisory Board Chair reviewed Spring Hill Farm (SHF) activities for the board .

She said Ryan Neal has been working his Maple Sugaring operation and the SHF Advisory Committee has approved allowing Buddy Menard and Alex Bartels to use the farm fields for cattle.

The men are willing to take over more of the haying production in return for being able to graze  cows at the farm. They hope to use the fields around the barn primarily since there is water and electricity at the barn, as well as a couple of the outbuildings.

Their main intent is to create a sharing event, creating a long-term relationship with the SHF, and offering their services and time in return for grazing. Menard said they hope to hold clinics and events to bring people to the farm to see and interact with the animals.

The board after a brief discussion voted to approve the Memorandum of Agreement between the Trust and  Menard and Bartels regarding use of the Spring Hill Farm fields for cattle.

Kristina Snyder asked the board to approve her developing a Milkweed Garden at SHF that would attract the Monarch Butterflies and bees.

Snyder explained her ideas for developing the pollinator garden and added that the SHF Advisory Board approves of her plan. She asked the board to approve her using at least a quarter acre or more to develop this garden, noting that the butterflies are almost an endangered species so this makes this development even more important. The board  approved her request.
 
Sautter added that there are two grants the SHF Trust is dealing with  one to handle the work needing to be done to the barn foundation and the other to work on making the SHF farmhouse ADA compliant so it can be used.

Gary Goudreau and Selectman Steph Landau went over the latest information regarding the repairs and renovations to Stevens Hall.

A roofing contractor who specializes in historical building roofs and is a slate expert examined the roof and believes it can be repaired without needing to be entirely replaced, which was good news.

There were other observations and information discussed regarding insulation and repairs. However, Goudreau needs to get clarification from the Historical Society as to exactly what they can and can't do if the Town plans to keep the building on the Historical Register.

The board was glad to get the update and asked that Goudreau and Landau check and see if someone from the Historical Society could come to the meeting to talk to the board about what can and what can't be done to the building.

 


Chester Selectmen Approved Window in Building Inspector Office
By Penny Williams   3-12-21

On Thursday night, March 11, the Chester Board of Selectmen approved having a window put into the office of the Building Inspector addressing security concerns.

Building Inspector Myrick Bunker suggested having a window put into his office similar to that of the Town Clerk/Tax Collector for people to transact business with him, thus addressing some of the security concerns of having too many people in the building and offices.

The board discussed it and were in favor of it but wanted Town Manager Debra Doda to get bids for the job from  local contractors. It was felt the current bid, from an out-of-town contractor, was too high and the board prefers to use local people when possible.

Doda mentioned a grant that might be available to help fund this project and that is 6 months down the road so there is time to come up with more bids and a design for the window. Doda said she would work on getting the bids.

Selectman Steve D'Angelo asked Planning Director Andrew Hadik to come before the board and explain the five proposed Zoning Amendments, which he did.

The Zoning Amendments include:

* Voting Article 2 - Zoning Amendment 1 - Article 2 - Internal Lot definition

* Voting Article 3 - Zoning Amendment 2 - Articles 2 & 5.3.3 - Bed & Breakfasts

* Voting Article 4 - Zoning Amendment 3 - Article 4.14.3.1 - Fences

* Voting Article 5 - Zoning Amendment 5 - Article 6 - Open Space Subdivision

* Voting Article 6 - Zoning Amendment 6 - Article 9.4 - ADU Fire Sprinklers

Selectman Steph Landau, as Liaison to the 300 Anniversary Committee, told the board about some of the things the 300 is planning and asked if the board had any issues with any of the plans, which they did not.

Among the plans are a car show to be held this fall on August 7, to be followed by a larger event in May of 2022 as part of the Anniversary year.  The plan is to hold the event at the school parking lot if the school approves it.

Another event is the plan to put up banners at Stevens Hall, the Meetinghouse and on the Common. There will be a parade and speeches from invited dignitaries and possibly firing the cannon all on May 7, 2022. He noted there has been some discussion about having an encampment for the event as well.

Landau said the 300 Committee asked if the selectmen would write the letters of invitation for the May 7, 2022 event to the local, state and federal dignitaries and the board said that would be appropriate and agreed to do it.

 Finally a time capsule is being developed to be buried at the Stevens Hall front lawn with a rock and plaque designating it and the time to open it. He thought they were planning the opening for the 400 Anniversary.

Landau asked if there board had any concerns with liability issues associated with the planned 300 Anniversary events. Selectman Chuck Myette suggested Landau get a complete list of planned events and then go to Primex and check on the liability issue.

Fire Department Lt. Phil Gladu introduced three new fire department volunteer call members, Lauren and Kevin Russell and Rob Versalone. He said they are getting their gear and beginning training but none are certified as yet. Gladu said there is a fourth possible new volunteer department member in the offing as paperwork for the position had been pick-up but not returned as yet.

D'Angelo suggested a different approach to the Selectmen's Town Report. He suggested gathering pictures of staff and employees who have stepped up to get the town through this difficult year with a brief description of each individual's contribution.

He also suggested a picture of the five selectmen to be taken in the Stevens Hall auditorium would be a good way to go. The board approved of his suggestion and D'Angelo will work with Doda on developing the report. Myette offered to help if needed. D'Angelo also wanted the 300 Anniversary planned events in the report so people would learn what is being planned.

 


Chester Selectmen Approve the Town Administrator to Handle Impact Fees $5,000 or Less
By Penny Williams  3-8-21

The Chester Board of Selectmen on Thursday evening, March 4, decided to authorize Town Manager Debra Doda to handle future Impact Fee decisions that are $5,000 or less.

This decision followed several sessions in which Selectman Steve D'Angelo complained about the current process of handling impact fees, which he characterized as a waste of the board's time.

The board had received an Impact Fee release recommendation from the Planning Board to cover a Police Department purchase. D'Angelo was also upset by the fact that the Police Department had already purchased the equipment and thus was actually applying for the Impact Fees for coverage 'after the fact.'

The board discussed the current process and decided in the future that Doda should be the one to handle the authorization for the approval of requests for the use of impact fees that are $5,000 or less. D'Angelo was still not satisfied and voted against it because he said that amount  was too high.

Selectman Chuck Myette reviewed for the board members, Joe Hagan and Jeremy Owens, the meeting he and D'Angelo and Selectman Steph Landau had had with the Charter Brothers and Architect Gary Goudreau and Doda during the week.

He indicated the Charter Brothers and the group did a thorough inspection of the building inside from basement to attic and actually found only one place where there was an obvious leak and it was near a broken outside gutter.

He told the board and listeners that the Charter Brothers agreed to have a roofing contractor come and completely review the roof and determine whether it needs to be redone or whether it can be repaired. They will also get information on where slate would be procured if needed and the associated costs.

The decision was made to pay the Charter Brothers the $6,500 and a letter of intent for the first phase which is for the design service.  They agreed they would have the hard numbers the board requested in the next couple of weeks. Once the board has those numbers and a timeframe for the work needed, decisions on how to raise the funds for the Stevens Hall project can be determined as well as what can be done to make it attractive for the 300 Anniversary. 

The board again talked about the need to make better use of the building going forward, noting that it is a remarkable building. It was pointed out that the roof repair decisions may be subject to the requirements of the building being on the National Register of Historical Buildings. The board voted unanimously to provide the Charter Brothers with the letter of intent and the $6,500 payment.

The board discussed the Article which is asking voters to raise and appropriate $250,000 for Historical Building Capital Reserve Fund. Landau suggested increasing the amount to $300,000 noting that after five years there would be enough available  to pay for what the board anticipates will be the cost of the Stevens Hall restoration and repair. He called this 'proper planning.'

Landau also suggested there are grants available through the NH Preservation Alliance for small restaurants that are housed in historic buildings and Chester has two which might be able to use the grant money. He referenced the General Store and the Ye Old Post Restaurant.

He also suggested someone might want to look into the barn grants available as one might possibly be used for the old barn at Wason Park. Right now he told the board there is an application for a $10,000 matching grant for work on Spring Hill Farm with the NH Preservation Alliance.

D'Angelo said Planning Director Andrew Hadik plans to address the board in the next couple of weeks regarding the proposed Zoning Amendments. He said he  didn't know what they were all about but felt the board should understand them and Hadik's explanation would inform listeners as well.

The board put off working on the Warrant and the CIP Project article for another couple of weeks.

 


Chester Selectmen Looking for Hard Numbers for Stevens Hall Project
By Penny Williams    2-26-21

On Thursday evening, February 25, the Chester Board of Selectmen agreed that they need more definite numbers regarding the Stevens Hall repair and restoration project.

The board was unhappy with the projected costs associated with the Charter Brothers contractor bid for the Stevens Hall project. Board members said the costs are increasing and they don't really have any specific hard numbers on the costs associated with the various aspects of the proposed project.

The board is concerned that they don't have a specific time line either. The motivation behind starting this project was to ensure the building was ready for the 300 Anniversary but now that appears out of the question. For one thing the apparent cost could be in the million dollar range and the time needed to complete the proposed work would not have it ready for the 300 Anniversary.

It was noted that grants that might be applied for to help deal with the cost of the project haven't even been heard from as yet and the escalating cost estimates are disappointing.

The board decided to have Town Administrator Debra Doda contact Charter Brothers, the preferred contractor, and set up a day time meeting the coming week between the contractor and some of the board members - Steve D'Angelo, Steph Landau , and Chuck Myette.

The selectmen would seek to get the hard numbers from the contractor associated with the roof repair, wood repair, painting and so forth and bring those numbers and time line back to the full board at their March 4, meeting.

The board also discussed scraping the full repair and restoration project before the 300 Anniversary and consider  putting "lipstick on the pig," by painting just the front possibly or doing something modest to have its appearance appropriate for the 300 Anniversary.

It was also noted that choosing to replace the roof slates with shingles might not work since the building is on the National Register of Historical Buildings.

Selectman Joe Hagan called for the board to sit down and reassess a long term plan for how the building can be used in terms of Town use. He pointed out that if voters, are going to be asked to pay such large amounts of money for the building repair and renovation they will need to be convinced it is warranted.  Being able to show how the town can use it would be of value.

The board discussed that several town departments could be moved to Stevens Hall but noted that Maintenance Director Paul Cavanaugh had suggested this would be extremely costly. The board thought they would need to have a contractor look at this possibility and determine whether it is feasible and what the cost would be.

Doda informed the board there are some funds left from last year that were not spent for designated CIP projects and if applied to the current amounts the amount raised from tax payers would be less.

The board discussed making this change or reducing the amount requested for the Municipal Capital Improvement Plan Capital Reserve be reduced from $400,000 to $350,000 or just put the $50,000 left unspent from CIP projects last year in the CIP. The board decided they had time to think about these options and would revisit it in March.

The board approved purchasing a FM transmitter. Doda and Corinna Reishus, Recreation Director, researched this and they found one comparable to what was borrowed last year from Atlas Fireworks for the Town Meeting held outside. The transmitter would cost under $200.

The one they decided to bring to the board for their decision costs $199.99  and Doda pointed out it would have many uses in addition to the Town Meeting held outside. The FM transmitter would cover the entire parking lot (Chester Academy parking lot). The board authorized Reishus to immediately purchase the transmitter.

The board approved the release of $132.99 impact fees for a Police Department winter coat. Selectman Steve D'Angelo questioned how a coat could be considered Personal Protective Equipment and voted against it but the rest of the board voted to approve the request.

There was a discussion about whether the young man who has been developing maple syrup sales using Spring Hill Farm (SHF) trees, Ryan Neal, who is under an agreement with the town, should have that agreement renegotiated with more money going to SHF.

Myette noted Neal has asked for an agreement to use Wason Pond trees and that agreement is being negotiated. D'Angelo asked if the Wason Pond Committee was on board and Myette said they were.

It was decided to move forward with renegotiating the agreements with Neal whose maple syrup sales are going well at local super markets.

Myette also said that an application for a grant has been submitted to AARP that would be used to bring SHF building into ADA compliance if it is approved.

He also noted that the boy scout project for walking bridge at Wason Pond is getting the assistance of the Conservation Commission. It will be 4-feet wide and about 150-feet long. D'Angelo raised the concern that horses would use it and Myette said they will put up signage prohibiting this but the bridge/walkway would probably be sturdy enough for horses. However, he noted that horses, like emergency vehicles, will be able to pass alongside the bridge/walkway.

 

 


Chester Board of Selectmen Approve Use of Jack Road
By Penny Williams    2-12-21

Patrick and Daniela Connelly, Field to Fork Farm owners, spoke with the Chester   Selectmen at the board's Thursday night, February 11, meeting requesting the board's approval of their use of a small portion of Jack Road for people to reach the farm's parking lot.

The Planning Board required the Connelly's to get written approval from the Board of Selectmen to use Jack Road, a Class 6 road, for people coming to Agritourism events at the farm.

The board discussed this request and Selectman Steph Landau suggested that so long as the Connelly's were willing to put in a post and a red sign with the information that the roadway is a Class VI Road and is used at the users risk, he saw no reason to not to approve the request. He added that the homeowner across the road from the Connelly's was interested in using that small portion of Jack Road and supported the Connelly's request.

It was suggested that to limit traffic, in addition to the signs suggested by Landau a gate might be put across the road. The desire to reduce use was to prevent traffic from going through the Jenkins Farm subdivision

The board approved the Connelly's request and asked that they place the requested Class VI - Use at Your Own Risk signs at both ends of Jack Road and consider possibly adding a gate.

Landau suggested that having an up-to-date list of all private and Class VI roads in Chester would be a good thing and to see that where necessary specific signage be put there at town expense. Town Manager Debra Doda said there is such a list and they could look at doing this.

The board authorized the use of Statutory traditional May dates rather than the traditional March dates. The board authorized Doda to update the calendar with these dates adding the May 11 date for Town Elections and May 15 for the Town Meeting.

Doda said that the Safety Manual had been updated with the addition of an employee safety violation that was corrected be maintained in their personnel record for 6 months on the advice of Town Counsel.

The board discussed this and Selectman Steve D'Angelo suggested the time the record be held be extended for a minimum of 12 months and a maximum of 18 months. The board approved this change and then approved the Safety Manual pursuant to Doda making that edit.

Household Hazardous Waste Day is slated for October 9 which is also the date for the Spring Hill Farm Fall Festival. The board discussed this briefly expressing the feeling the fact the Household Hazardous Waste Day would be bringing in people from 5 other towns was probably a good thing for the Spring Hill Farm Fall Festival. Doda said she had letters of commitment from the other five towns and if the board approved she would apply for the grant to offset the cost of the event.

Landau suggested that the town buy FM transmitter equipment such as they borrowed from the Atlas Fireworks last year for the outdoor Town Meeting, spending not to exceed $500.  A speaker system will also have to be purchased and Doda is working with the resident of Chester who loaned the town a system last year and Cable Director Robert Grimm. The board asked Doda to look into this and bring a proposal to the board.

 


Chester Selectmen Approve Maintenance Department Truck Purchase
By Penny Williams  2-5-21

The Chester Board of Selectmen met on Thursday evening, February 4, and arrived at a resolution to the often debated issue of providing the Maintenance Department with a pick-up truck that it needs.

The Town Administrator Debra Doda told the board there were three bids for trucks for the Maintenance Department, all the same size and with the same equipment. The lowest bid was the one obtained by Maintenance Supervisor Paul Cavanaugh in the amount of $27,306. After a brief discussion the board voted to accept the lowest bid and authorized Cavanaugh to go ahead and purchase the truck.

The board discussed several questions raised by the Budget Committee, which had approved the Selectmen's proposed Operating Budget.

One area discussed was the proposed $25,000 matching contribution to the Chester Congregational Church tower that houses the Town owned clock.  At one point two articles for contributions had been proposed and one question was what happened to the second article. It had been deleted.

Then it was suggested the amount of the present article be increased to a $50,000 match contribution. However, several raised the concern that this shouldn't be considered until after the actual cost of taking care of Stevens Hall is known. It was decided there was no need to make a decision on the article right then since the Deliberative and Election dates had been moved to May.

Then there was a discussion among the budget committee members on zoom and the selectmen over the amount the selectmen had decided to put into Article H, CIP Funding and Article J, Highway CIP Funding.

Budget Committee member Michael Weider said he thought that it should have been an even split  putting $700,000  into each article. The Selectmen had decided to put $400.000 into Article H, the Town's Municipal Capital Improvement Plan Capital Reserve Fund and $1,000,000 into Article J, the Highway  Capital Improvement Plan Capital Reserve Fund. His argument was based on the need for the town to use the CIP properly by funding it so that when the town reaches the need set forth in the CIP Table 10 for work or equipment replacement the money would be there.

After a discussion the board decided since the Town Meeting and Elections have been pushed out two months  the Public Hearing can also be moved nearer to May. As such it made sense to table this discussion and have Doda work on updating the calendar for the future meetings and bring it to the next meeting (Thursday, February 11) for further discussion.

The board approved the Planning Board's recommendation to use impact fees in the amount of $195.93 for Police Department Personal Protection Equipment.

The board accepted the changes made to the Safety Manual and approved it.

Selectman Steve D'Angelo asked if Fire Chief Greg Bolduc thought this was the time to put the article that was defeated last year asking for adding two full time  firefighters back into this year's Warrant. Bolduc said that the department  is presently getting people out the door to calls adequately and he doesn't see the need for that article at this time.

The board approved expanding the carryover from 2.5 months to 12 months for the Flexible Spending Account and the Dependents Care Act.

 


Chester Selectmen Move Dates of Election and Deliberative to May
By Penny Williams   1-30-21

On  Thursday evening, January 28, the Chester Moderator Michael Scott recommended moving the Chester Election and Deliberative dates to May and the Board of Selectmen approved that recommendation.

The Chester Election will now take place the second Tuesday in May, May11, and the Deliberative will take place the following Saturday, May 15. Scott planned to announce the move on Monday, February 1.

There was a discussion about whether the sign up for candidates, which ended Friday, January 29, at 5 p.m., would be the exclusive opportunity for candidates to sign up. Scott and Town Clerk/Tax Collector Liz Lufkin both indicated they expect further information from the State regarding that and other election and deliberative related issues. However, for the moment it would appear this candidate sign up period is it. But both agreed if the State recommends or designates a second sign up period be held the town would certainly do that. With the moved up Election and Deliberative, those in office will continue.

The board discussed the upcoming February 8, Budget Committee Budget Hearing and based on the posting of that meeting, it appears it is a Budget Committee Hearing so the board has nothing to do or say about the date.

The board discussed the use of impact fees for the purchase of items on the CIP Table Ten. Selectman Steve D'Angelo said doing this will save townspeople money. After an in-depth discussion the selectmen agreed to ask Town Manager Debra Doda to remove the three General Government Items on the CIP Projects that total $25,000 and these will be purchased now with impact fee money.

The board discussed a suggestion made by Michael Weider at the Budget Committee meeting to move $200,000 from Article r. Fire Engine Capital Reserve Fund, reducing that article amount to $200,000 and moving the $200,000 to Article, CIP Funding for the Town's Municipal Capital Improvement Plan Capital Reserve Fund, increasing the amount in this article from $400,000 to $600,000. However, they tabled any decision so those articles remain as presented but the discussion will likely continue at their next meeting Thursday, February 4.

The board did move the Carkin Road Article forward after asking Doda to remove the recommendation lines.

 


Chester  Selectmen Still Undecided on Town Deliberative Date
By Penny Williams   1-22-21

The Chester Board of Selectmen met Thursday evening, January 21, and with Moderator Michael Scott discussed the decision to set the date for the Deliberative session with them.

Scott told the board he was not sure when to make the decision and announce it regarding the date for the Deliberative session. He did indicate he thought they should be creative about it and he favored holding it outside but was concerned that if he made the decision that night some would criticize him and if he waited to make the decision later he would be criticized.

Scott stated that the Deliberative can't be held inside because social distancing can't be achieved so he agonized over when to postpone the Deliberative session to. He raised the possibility of changing the Chester voting date but Selectman Steph Landau objected to that idea saying he wanted to keep the date of March 9. The Town Meeting date at this point is tentatively slated for  March 13 but the discussion revolved around postponing that date to May 15 or possibly May 29 due to issues and circumstances relating to the COVID-19 pandemic..

Scott indicated he wanted to look into whether it is within the law to have that much time between the voting session and the Deliberative March 9 to May 15 or May 29. He raised the concern of how to swear people in if these dates were selected. He told the board he would have a definite answer for them at their next meeting, January 28, and that he really wanted to be able to give townspeople a month's notice with respect to the Deliberative session.

The board heard from the homeowner Russell Quintal and his attorney Beth Davis regarding the Carkin Street warrant article. The board, Michael Weider and Andrew Hadik from Planning, all discussed this with Davis for a long time. The issue is that Carkin Street is a paper street even though the town accepted it as a town road and Quintal has zoning issues with the garage and front porch as things sit. He is asking the town to discontinue the paper street and he and the other resident of the paper street would split the land now the paper street.

In the end Quintal said he only wanted to do what is right. He and his attorney wanted to encourage the board of selectmen to recommend the warrant article and that was the purpose for their coming to the board at this point.

The board later decided to hold off making a decision on whether or not to recommend the article. It was deemed important to inform the homeowners who would be receiving the land if the legislative body approved discontinuing the road how much they would owe the town, $13,216. The board will take this article up at the next meeting. The board also wanted to continue the discussion in non-public.

The board went over the Warrant and recommended most of the Articles although Selectmen Steve D'Angelo and Landau either abstained or voted not to recommend several including: The Revaluation Article, PACT Article, Highway CIP Article,  Highway CIP Projects, Police Department OHRV Article, Rescinding 2013 Article w0 regarding cemetery revenues, and,  Change in Town Meeting Date Article to second Tuesday in May.

The board delayed decision on the Operating Budget Article, CIP Projects, and the Carkin Street Article, but tentatively voted 4-0 to abstain. They moved the petition articles forward without recommendation.

Selectmen D'Angelo and Landau got into a disagreement again over the purchase of a truck for the Maintenance Department. Landau had wanted to take the Police Department used truck for maintenance and buy a new truck for the Police Department. The board after exchanging words voted 2-1-1 to move forward with buying a truck for Maintenance that had been identified as a good purchase at a discounted price..

 


Chester Board of Selectmen Vote to Extend CARES Act Coverage
By Penny Williams  1-17-21

The Chester Board of Selectmen discussed the request of the Chester Police Chief, on Thursday evening, January 14, to reconsider their decision regarding the expiration of the CARES Act as of December 31, 2020.

Police Chief Aaron Berube said he was asking the board to reconsider extending the CARES Act because his officers and the members of the Fire Department are first responders who can be exposed but since they now would need to use their own personal and sick time they would be less likely to report potential exposure. He said the department is working with the First Responder Optional Screening Test ( FROST) Program which is given weekly and if they test positive they have to go and get the COVID-19 PCR test and until they get a negative result they can't return to work.

Berube noted that even if the department is only down one position this is significant. He ask the board to reconsider reinstating the CARES Act even if they only approved 40 instead of 80 hours off with compensation before the officers' personal and sick time kicked in.

The board members all said they would support their people if they had to be out of work because of COVID-19 but Berube said he wants to ensure that his people have the best protection and support possible.

The board debated this and Selectman Joe Hagan said he would favor reactivating the CARES Act for 80 hours. After a brief further discussion the board reversed its decision and reinstated the CARES Act for 80 hours to remain in place until all the town's first responders are vaccinated when the board would look at this issue again.

The board discussed the Animal Control position which still hasn't been filled. After a discussion the board approved having Park Ranger, John Wright take on this role with a stipend of $2,500.

The warrant is still under discussion with each article assigned a temporary letter identifier. Once finalized they will be assigned numbers.

The Carkin Street Warrant Article asks the residents to vote to discontinue that portion of Carkin Street that abuts Donna Street and lies between tow house lots containing 12,406 square feet or0.28 + acres of land. That property would then revert to the abutters who will be responsible for any surveyor's fees associated with the lotline adjustment.

The board discussed this issue and Road Agent Michael Oleson affirmed that there is a decided plowing issue related to this street area. However, it was thought the town should get compensated for giving up that land to the homeowners. The board decided this should be reviewed or considered the Planning Board and the ZBA, It was decided before the board makes a decision they wanted Planning Board and ZBA to come in and provide their input to the board. Town Administrator Debra Doda was asked to make that happen.

There was a long and involved discussion regarding funding for the CIP and Highway CIP.  Special Warrant Article h asks the residents to vote to raise and appropriate the sum of (amount to be decided)  to be added to the capital reserve fund known as the Town's Municipal Capital Improvement  Plan Capital Reserve Fund .

Special Warrant Article j  asks voters to raise and appropriate the sum (to be decided) to be added to the capital reserve fund known as the Highway Capital Improvement Plan Capital Reserve Fund with $144,597 which is the anticipated grant amount this year from the NH Highway Block Grant to be used to offset this appropriation and the remainder to be raised through taxation.

After a lot of discussion the board finally approved funding the CIP Capital Reserve Fund and the Highway Capital Reserve Fund with $700,000 each for a total of $1.4 million.

 


Chester Selectmen Vote to Send Out Stevens Hall RFP
By Penny Williams  1-10-21

The Chester Board of Selectmen met Thursday night, January 7,  and after a brief discussion with Architect Gary Goudreau agreed to sending out the RFP for the renovation work on Stevens Hall.

Goudreau developed the RFP and has already made contacts with some General Contractors for the restoration work on Stevens Hall. The plan is to make sure the RFP is in General Contractors hands by January 15, give them time to review the building and see what needs to be done , and get their responses back by February 12.

The building must be tested for lead paint and Selectman Steph Landau said he would take care of getting that attended to immediately. The push to get the work on Stevens Hall done and completed  is to have it ready for the 300 Anniversary that is fast approaching.

The board approved Police Chief Aaron Berube accepting a grant in the amount of $8,090.56 which will give the department funds to train officers in how to provide narcan when needed. It will also make it possible for officers to have Narcan available in their cruisers and at the department.

The board discussed what to do about Carkin Street. It turns out the Town did accept it as a street. It involves about a quarter of an acre of land that the town owns and the board decided there needs to be a financial assessment of that land's value. Town Manager Debra Doda was asked to get this done. The proposed article will need to wait for this information for completion.

The board discussed the possibility of putting another Road Bond on the Warrant this year. The discussion about this found the board in agreement that this was not the time to be putting a bond on the Warrant. They decided to go only with the CIP for road work this year.

During the discussion about the road bond possibility, the selectmen discussed the fact that the Town should be putting money away in Capital Reserve Funds to help address big ticket items they know are coming up in the near future. These issues include two fire department trucks that will need to be replaced and the need for more work on the roads, among other things.

One way to get these Capital Reserve Funds started would be to tap into the Unassigned Fund Balance. The selectmen wanted specific figures of what would be available if the Unassigned Fund Balance was brought down to 12 percent. The final decision would be made about the development of Capital Reserve Funds and how much to put in them before the Warrant goes to the Budget Committee so this will be discussed at the next meeting.

Selectman Steve D'Angelo asked Doda how recent the Town Vehicle and Equipment list  is. He said it is a good thing to have but it needs to be updated annually and contain critical information such as when purchased, amount of the purchase cost, maintenance records and mileage. Doda said she would look into upgrading the list to meet his suggestions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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