2022 Chester Board of Selectmen Meetings


Chester Selectmen Choose to Stay with MRI and SHF Recieves Grant
By Penny Williams   8-5-22

On Thursday night, August 4, the Chester Board of Selectmen met and made a decision regarding their Assessor.

The board reviewed the bids received and it was noted that their current assessing company, MRI (Municipal Resource Inc.), was significantly less than the other bids. The board took immediate action voting to sign the contract for the coming year for assessing with MRI.

Fire Chief Phil Gladu introduced a new recruit, Ken Martin, to the board. Martin indicated he is focused on firefighting and plans to go to the Fire Academy. Martin indicated that he would get his EMT as well but said he feels his main interest at this point in time is on firefighting.  Gladu said he would be both once he graduates from the Fire Academy. The board welcomed him.

Myette told the board that SHF (Spring Hill Farm) had received a $12,000 grant to move ahead with making the building handicap accessible. He said from fund raising and so forth there was actually about $16,000  plus when the grant is added to do the work. The board approved the accepting the grant and for moving ahead with making the building handicap accessible.

Myette said the SHF Trustees will pay for the cleaning work that needs to be done to the silo. He has lined up a vendor to do the pressure washing work. The board asked if there is any lead paint in the silo and he said there is none. The board approved moving forward with the silo clean-up.

Board Chair Chuck Myette said the Spring Hill Farm News Letter is out and he hopes people will read it.

* At Spring Hill Farm, volunteers have been increasing pollinator plantings in the field behind the pond and observing the small stand of milkweed growing there. We plan on adding more milkweed seeds this fall and planting more actual seedlings next spring. There are other areas around the farm which have milkweed growing as well. Every plant is precious now! The Spring Hill Farm natural areas are places the town can utilize to create and maintain crucial habitats if needed.

* Coming soon - New kiosk with map to help you navigate the trails at the farm. Fall Fest date at SHF is set: Vendors, games and demos! Sat. Sep. 10th SHF Benefit Trail Ride with horses: Lane Road Fields Sun. Sep. 25th

* Christy and Nick Ortins Geary Goats joined us at Spring Hill Farm in late July! They are a mixed aged crew of six, all Nubbian/Toggenburg crosses. Our head guy is Blue. He has three little brothers, Tim, Gerry, and Don, and two sisters, Jinx and Ru. The Geary Goats have been tasked with the job of invasive plant management at Spring Hill Farm. They will be constantly moving to new locations to take advantage of their gift of a hefty appetite. Why invasive plants are a problem Invasive species are plants that have been moved from their natural location and brought here for various reasons. Due to their abilities to thrive in conditions that do not favor native flora they take over and create monocultures that are not conducive to the health of native plants and animals. These goats will hopefully eat their way to a restored natural ecosystem balance

 


Chester Selectmen Approve Hourly Rate Increase for Snowplow Drivers
By Penny Williams   7-22-22

On Thursday evening, July 21, the Chester Board of Selectmen met and among other things approved raising the town's snowplow drivers hourly rate of pay.

Road Agent Michael Oleson told the board he could retain all of his snowplow drivers but to do so he wanted a ten percent hourly pay rate increase while everything else in their contracts would remain the same.

He justified the request by noting inflation and its impact as well as other towns trying to poach his drivers. The board members discussed the request and Selectman Steve Couture asked if he would consider an 8 percent increase.

Oleson immediately said he would because that was reasonable. The board voted to approve the 8 percent hourly rate of pay for snowplow drivers for the coming winter, all of them voicing hopes for a non-snowy winter but fearing ice would be worse especially as salt costs would be increasing.

The board approved the use of goats at Spring Hill Farm (SHF) to cut down on invasive growth of weeds.  

Christy and Nick Ortins have six dwarf goats they would like to have graze on the SHF field. They would have a Memorandum of Understanding with the town for allowing their goats to graze the field. They indicated the goats are the most effective way to deal with the types of invasive weeds that are growing in a field up from the barn and this would be an excellent trial to verify this.

The Ortins said they would use coral barriers to segment off areas for the goats to graze, moving the coral areas as needed. There would be no electric fencing or building needed for the goats. They noted they have a horse trailer that it is sufficiently large to allow the goats to sleep inside it at night.

The board asked for a map showing where the goats would be grazing and that appropriate signage be put up. It will be necessary to go to the Rockingham County Conservation District, “RCCD”, who holds the conservation easement on the property to get their approval for using the goats for grazing at SHF but Selectman Chair and Spring Hill Farm Advisory member Chuck Myette didn't believe that would be a problem so the board approved the Memorandum of Understanding.

The board discussed the Prosecutorial Contract with the Derry Prosecutor. It is a 10 year contract and Selectman Steve D'Angelo had met with them to discuss and clarify several questions he had. The board discussed the advantages of  using the Derry Prosecutor and wanted to see the contract reviewed automatically on a two year basis.

The board was interested to learn that there is an opt out clause. This led the board to discuss whether the town should pay for a whole year if they opted out half way through a year. It was decided to see if the Derry Prosecutor would negotiate possibly looking at a pro rate on this point.

The board approved the contract as presented subject to review by Town Counsel. If there were changes made by the attorney it would need to be discussed again.

The board spent time discussing the wage matrix and discussing where it needs to be tweaked. Other than agreeing that any bonus should have a higher percentage at the lower salary levels due to inflation the discussion ranged over a number of related salary and matrix issues. It was agreed that it should be looked at every two years and the board decided more would be discussed  in September.

The board decided to cancel their July 28 meeting so the next Selectmen's meeting will be on August 4.         

 


Chester Selectmen Ban Animals at Wason Pond on July 23 During Anniversary Events
By Penny Williams   7-15-22

The Chester Selectmen met Thursday night, July 14, and among other things voted to ban all animals at Wason Pond on July 23.

The reason for the animal prohibition at Wason on July 23 is that there are 300th anniversary events taking place there that day.

One event is the 5K race and the second is the Firemen's Muster that will be taking place.  To ensure safety and allow the events to proceed in as an effective manner as possible the board of selectmen voted to ban all animals at Wason that day. The prohibition is in effect from dawn to dusk.

The board also voted to have the 300 Committee work with the Police Department to decide on how many officers they feel are needed there during that day for traffic, parking and all other issues. The board also waived the fee for such officers and will allow the town to cover the cost either from the department's Detail Fund or some other possible funding source.

The board also approved use of the secondary access by uses parked at the Chester Academy parking lot during the 300th September 24 Parade.

Building Inspector Myrick Bunker presented the board with his updated Building Department Inspection fees. He informed the board he revises and updates these fees every three years and this is the third year so that is why he is presenting the fee schedule for approval.

Selectman Steph Landau suggested that agriculture out buildings should have fees only applicable to the first floor and not the second and third floor which is where hay and such are stored.

Bunker said if you can walk up to the second and third floor he charged those floors the same fee as the ground floor because anything could be stored there.

After a lengthy discussion the board and Bunker approved allowing for a waiver to be submitted for fees relating to second and third floors of an agricultural outbuilding. Once the agreement was reached the board voted to approve the proposed fee schedule as amended that night.

The board, without providing any names, approved Bunker moving ahead with a legal case concerning a developer who has failed to pay fees and owes about $20,000 in unpaid fees.

The board approved agreeing to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Raymond over that town's plan to do work on a culvert on Shattagee Road that abuts the Chester line.

The board had a discussion regarding the rental of equipment for mowing. After a back and forth it was decided to approve the rental of such equipment as needed on a one week at time basis.

After another in-depth discussion it was decided that Town Manager Debra Doda would draw up a RFP for assessing firms so the board had the facts in hand when they consider whether they have the best assessor system in place or need to look at what else is available.

There was a confusing discussion regarding the hiring and paying of individuals under age 18 for work at the Transfer Station. In the end it was simply decided to resume advertizing for adult employees for the Transfer station in hopes of getting adults interested in working there.

In Other News

Chester Academy's new Principal, Sarah Munsey introduces herself and has presented opportunities for parents and community members to meet with her this summer.

It is with great excitement that I write to you as principal of our amazing school!  There is so much to look forward to learning and doing, from meeting each of you to working with our leadership team, teachers, and staff to prepare for the new school year and beyond.  In the months leading up to today, I have had the opportunity to work on transition activities to help make this a smooth start, and I am confident that this work will continue to ensure that this is the very best year yet.

Creating a safe, welcoming learning environment that fosters critical thinking, creativity, and learning for our children takes each of us working together, listening to each other, and bringing our strengths and best selves to the table.  I firmly believe that open communication is the key to this collaboration and to our combined success, and I always welcome your thoughts, feedback, and input.  I am excited to work alongside you and to get to know you and your children!

Let’s Get to Know Each Other!

In the weeks ahead, be sure to check our Chester Academy Facebook page for information regarding informal opportunities to meet and engage in a variety of casual activities around town.   If you don’t follow us already, you can find us here:  https://www.facebook.com/chesteracademyNH 

 As part of the 603Moments campaign launched by the NH Department of Education, I’ll be sharing dates, times, and locations where I will be enjoying a 603 Moment, and I hope that you will be able to join me for one/some/all of them.  To learn more, visit https://603moments.com/.

I will be at Folsom's Sugar House from 4:40 to 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 20; at the BYO Picnic Lunch and Trail Walk at Chester Academy on Monday, July 25 from noon to 1 p.m. ; and at the Chester Library Story time on Tuesday, August 2, at 10:30 a.m.

In the meantime, I hope you are taking time to enjoy the many wonders and joys of summer.  I look forward to seeing you soon!

 


Chester Selectmen’s July 7 Meeting Cancelled
By Penny Williams   7-1-22

At the Thursday night, June 30, meeting the Chester Selectmen decided to cancel next week's meeting. The next meeting will be July 14.

The board confirmed that all invoices have been paid on the roads they previously approved as Town Roads subject to such payments being made. Hemlock Lane, Jenkins Farm Road, and Wilcombs Way are officially accepted as town roads.

The board discussed a request for funding to be encumbered for roadside mowing and rental equipment to do it. However, the board felt there is money in the budget for this and there is no money in the next budget for this.

Given the fact that the board was not in favor of encumbering money for this and there is no money in the budget now in effect as of July 1, they decided to set the request aside for the moment.

Police Chief Aaron Berube asked that $1,200 be encumbered for the purchase of a boot polisher. The board was not in favor of allowing this but told him if he wanted to spend money from his budget  he could do it.

The board discussed encumbering $4,000 for drainage work needed on Carkin Street and Wason Road. They also discussed the contract with the New Hampshire Planning Commission. No decisions were made relative to actual encumbrances.

The board approved accepting a grant to the Police Department from the Department of Safety for $2,495 for body camera server costs

 


Chester 300th Committee Provides Draft Information on Three Events to Selectmen
By Penny Williams    6-17-22

Members of the 300th Anniversary Committee on Thursday evening, June 16, gave the Board of Selectmen draft information regarding three upcoming events.

Rhonda Lamphere, Nancy Jolin, Sue Rieter, Chris Hadik and Jean Methot, went over the information they have at this point regarding numbers, parking and other details relating to the upcoming Firemen's Muster and the 5 K to be held on July 23 (with a rain date of July 24), the Car Show on August 6, and the final event, the Parade and Fair slated for September 24.

Lamphere made it very clear that the information and plans being discussed were just draft not finalized plans and decisions. The committee meets with the Technical Review Committee (TRC) on July 11 and after that it was thought more of the details would be finalized.

Selectman Chair Chuck Myette after listening to the information cautioned the committee members that they were probably underestimating the number of cars and people they would be dealing with at these events particularly the Parade and Fair. He raised concerns over parking issues at the Chester Academy parking lot and the potential impact on the fire department's ability to respond to a call if they needed to.

Town Manager Debra Doda brought up the fact that food vendors need to be approved by the board and suggested the board grant the committee and these events approval to have food vendor trucks. The board after a discussion approved food trucks and vendors for these events as Doda suggested.

Lamphere indicated that the committee will be meeting with the Chester Police and Fire Chiefs again to make the final decisions on parking, shuttle, and traffic issues and they will be instrumental in finalizing the committee's plans for all three events. She said the committee will be back to inform the board on their plans for these events after meeting with TRC and the chiefs.

Town Clerk Tax Collector Liz Lufkin told the board there are 147 dogs still unregistered. The civil forfeiture notices will have to be delivered either by the Police Department or by her office sending out certified notices.

The board members discussed this and approved Lufkin sending out the certified letters with the $25 penalty fee and a $7 service fee for the certified letter. Anyone interested in saving the money can come in and take care of licensing their dog by July 1.

Police Chief Aaron Berube requested approval for a rate increase for Police Details. He suggested the average of the towns he checked on was $78.80 but an acceptable amount for his department would be to increase the fee to $75. The board after a brief discussion approved his request.

The board after a discussion approved asking the Town Engineering firm, DuBois & King. to do an analysis and design for re-grading Wason Road to take care of drainage issues. The $5,000 or $6,000 amount approved for  the design was not to exceed this. The work needs to be done as soon as possible but the board approved this as coming out of next year's budget/

The board asked Doda to look into additional information and costs relating to ElectronicTime/Attendance Options. The board would like to see a list of potential vendors and the costs for the next meeting.

 


Chester Selectmen Approve Three Roads as Town Roads
By Penny Williams    6-10-22

At the Board of Selectmen's meeting, Thursday, June 9, the board approved accepting three roads as Town Roads.

There was a public hearing where the three roads were discussed. These roads were Hemlock Lane, Jenkins Farm Road, and, Wilcombs Way.

During the discussion it was noted that the single condition is that all the engineering fees, DuBois & King Engineering, be paid by or before July 1. If not any of the three roads whose fees remained unpaid would be denied acceptance.

The board wishes to move forward because if these roads aren't accepted now, it can't happen for another year.

Road Agent Michael Oleson said people living on the three roads need to remember that once the roads are accepted as Town roads they will not be able to park on them during the winter; and, 30 mile per hour signs will be erected.

In addition, he said the issue on Wilcombs Way is between the resident and the developer but it is something he has addressed and will handle so is not an impediment to accepting the road.

The public hearing was closed and after a brief discussion the Selectmen voted to conditionally accept all three roads.

Selectman Steve Couture told the board ReVision Solar is interested in developing a solar field on the town-owned land behind Town Hall. He said the company had rejected the land at the Transfer Station but have provided a new proposal to develop the land behind the Town Hall.

The electricity generated there would be sufficient to cover all of the Town Hall complex electrical needs and have a little left to outsource to the grid.

This proposal, Couture said, would be a no cost to the town and would generate some revenue. After discussing it the board decided to look into the proposal and check to see what the pros and cons are with respect to developing the power grid on the land behind Town Hall. If they make a decision to go with the ReVision proposal it will have to go to Town Meeting for voter approval.

The board voted to accept the letter covering the Wason Pond bridge and to set the weight limit at 3 tons. Once the letter is approved the Building Inspector can approve the bridge as it exists now.

The bridge will support a pick-up or the gator but not the ambulance but it will work. The board agreed to post it for a 3 ton limit.

The board approved the Town Manager Debra Doda signing the renewal contract for the Postage Meter.

The board approved re-funding $71 in registration costs to a resident.  


Carkin Street Resident Chaze Complains to Chester Selectmen Again
By Penny Williams  5-27-22

The Chester Selectmen, on Thursday evening, May 26,  were asked by a Carkin Street resident why no actual action has been taken to address the issues he brought to the board at a previous meeting.

Kim Chaze continued to claim since the puddle of water and the deteriorated state of the street are safety and security issues the town should address it immediately, see it as a top priority.

Chair Chuck Myette tried to explain the process the board and the town has to go through before it can just 'act.' Chaze wasn't buying it and his wife tried to take part in the conversation but said she found Selectman Steve D'Angelo's tone and attitude rude.

The board and Road Agent Michael Oleson tried to explain that what can be done as the process moves forward has been done. But very little was accomplished other than Myette and the board assuring Chaze that engineering and the funding to pay for it to address the drainage management design required was in process.

However, after Chaze left other Carkin Street and Donna Street residents spoke with the board noting they understood the situation and the process. They offered to work with the town to get the necessary easements and culvert and drainage design work accomplished to address the situation.

The board approved moving forward with identifying the buildings with alarms and working to implement a single alarm system.

Selectman Steph Landau brought up the fact the Police Department roof is leaking and needs to be replaced. It was decided to get estimates and to get this on the CIP.

The board authorized the Police Chief Aaron Berube to accept a $1,800 grant for ORV patrols from the NH Fish & Game.

 


Chester Selectmen Approve Truck Purchase and Reverse Abatement Denial
By Penny Williams   5-20-22

On Thursday evening, May 19, resident Kevin Scott appeared before the Selectmen to seek a reversal of the abatement denial he had received from the Assessors.

Scott went over the entire history of the issue that began back in 2004 for property located at 261 Chester Street.

He claimed the denial of his request for an abatement of a tax bill sent in 2021 and paid was invalid because according to the RSAs the bill should have been sent back in 2004 and therefore the time for the bill being delivered exceeded the 18 months allowed by law.

Scott said he paid the bill but sought a rebate which was denied. He went through the reasons why the denial was inaccurate.

The board asked some questions but once everyone understood the details, the board members felt that the town had made a mistake. They also noted that to fight the request would land the town in court where the cost to the town would far exceed the rebate request.

The selectmen, after a prolonged discussion, made a motion which they approved to provide Scott with the requested abatement.

Road Agent Michael Oleson asked the board for permission to expend $35,000 from the CIP Capital Reserve Fund for the purchase of the truck the board approved him purchasing.

The board approved it so he can move forward with the truck purchase which he told them he doesn't expect to actually receive much before summer of 2023.

Police Chief Aaron Berube asked the board to approve his acceptance and authorize his expenditure of an ARPA grant for the department's OHRV patrol grant of $24,552.00.

In order for Berube to receive the grant money he needed the approval of the board to accept and expend it which the board approved.

Berube reported that the Derry Prosecution Office has offered Chester a contract of $26,000 with a 3 percent annual increase for a 10 year contract. He said the contract is in process and will be forwarded to the Town Attorney and then the board but it was the best deal available to the town.

He went over a few purchases that he knows he will be asking for in the upcoming budget, none of which were big items.

The board approved the Water Testing Contract for Stephens Hall, Town Hall and the Wason Pond Community Center for the upcoming year.

 


Chester Selectmen Discuss Winter Maintenance
By Penny Williams   5-13-22

Thursday night, May 12, the Chester Board of Selectmen's main agenda item, Winter Maintenance, was discussed and a decision arrived at but the Selectmen want to come back to it and discuss possible increases at the next meeting.

The board after discussing the request to pay $102.177.82  over budget spending by Highway Department  and reimburse the Winter Maintenance Fund decided they should approve paying the $102,177.82  request and reimburse the Winter Maintenance Fund up to the $105,000. They had questions on why the budget was over spent and whether they should budget increase Winter Maintenance Funds and salt funds for the next year.

The board decided to consider the Winter Maintenance Fund and salt costs for the next year at the next meeting. They also wanted Road Agent Michael Oleson to be there to answer their questions.

The board re-appointed Mark Desiderio to the Spring Hill Farm Advisory Committee saying he has been a valuable member.

Selectman Steph Landau said he felt the board should authorize Maintenance to move forward with finding a program/system that would have all building alarms located in the same place.

He noted that this would not only be more effective but also would be less expensive. The board agreed and authorized Maintenance to begin searching for such a system to be installed.

The board approved a request for a Mill Pond excavation noting this is the final excavation that can take place there.

The board also approved a waiver for the Police Department officer on duty the night of the Father Daughter Dance at the Multi-Purpose Room, Saturday night May 14, to check in routinely.

The board got into a long discussion of field use after it was noted the Re-enactment on the main field over last weekend had dug a hole in the field.

The hole has been fixed and the cost covered by a donation but Landau pushed hard for the town to look into finding another place to have a soccer field developed.

The discussion didn't go anywhere but it was noted that while this is a good thing to do it will require someone or several someones passionate about it to get it done.

The board decided to go with the current floor scraper for the MPR rather than invest more than $6 thousand in a new one right now with the budget as tight as it is.

The Compactor for cardboard has arrived at the Transfer Station but no instructions on how to operate it. They need to get it operational.

The board agreed to have Landau and Recreation Director Corinna Reishus start getting prices on chairs for the seniors who find the current plastic chairs uncomfortable. Reishus said she is looking at needing around a dozen chairs.

 


Chester Board of Selectmen Discuss Facility Usage Forms
By Penny Williams   5-6-22s

On Thursday night, May 5, the Chester Board of Selectmen discussed Facility Usage forms with Recreation Director Corinna Reishus.

At the previous meeting the board had asked her to gather information on all the Facility Usage Forms and explain them to the board at their next meeting.

Reishus started out by saying she didn't recommend any changes at this time. However, she noted the fee schedule hasn't been changed since 2014. She said her first action on these forms was to develop a Snack Shack form in 2017.

It was suggested that a single form could be developed and a place to check off what facility the form was in reference to. The only issue here she noted is that different fees are charged for different facilities but she would see what she could do to reduce the number of forms.

People wanting to use one of Chester's facilities pay a security or maintenance fee. Fields are basically restricted to local use. Reishus said at this point she has $1300 in security/maintenance fees held from users who re-apply annually.

This aspect of the Facilities Usage Forms garnered the most discussion. Several selectmen felt they should not be held but returned at the end of the facility use or the season since the money is not gaining any interest for the people who provided the fees.

The board also felt that this money should in no way be co-mingled with other Town money. A Trust Account should be created for these funds and Reishus said she would talk to the Finance Director about this and get something set-up.

There was a discussion about eliminating the COVID-19 guidelines included in the forms. Several board members felt strongly that these should be removed because the guidelines are not mandated, just suggested.

Selectman Steve Couture added that a specific policy should be developed related to the Facility Usage Forms and the requirements and fees.

The board also asked that the Recreation Commission that appears at the bottom of the forms be removed from the forms and Town of Chester alone be on them.

The board approved the re-appointment of David Webster to the Wason Pond Committee through 2023.

The board members held a discussion about moving from servers to the Cloud but tabled it until after more information is available.

 


Carkin Street Resident Expressed Concern about Flooding to Chester Selectmen
By Penny Williams   4-29-22

On Thursday evening, April 28, the Chester Board of Selectmen met and heard from a very worried new Chester resident about the conditions on his street, Carkin Street.

Kim Chaze, who has been a resident of Chester for just a few months, told the board that a seriously dangerous condition exists on his street and he expects immediate action.

 He described how the street floods when there is rain and claimed a child could drown and certainly homeowners are being put in danger because of the lack of appropriate drainage.

Chaze and the board went over the situation several times with board members explaining how issues like this are handled by Chester. Road Agent Michael Oleson joined the discussion noting he could fix it but he has no funding for such an effort.

Oleson explained to Chaze that if he were to do the work he would have to take money already allocated to other projects. He did tell Chaze that he would take care of the situation but it would take a year.

The flooding issue Chaze referred to is not the same issue though related that concerns the cul de sac.

Last year voters agreed to discontinue Carkin at the cul de sac end if the owner of the property agreed to granting a drainage easement and other specifics. Oleson reported that although at the time the homeowner did agree to all the requirements, he has not had any communication from the property owner nor anything regarding the agreements requested. However, the people did vote to discontinue Carkin.

Selectman Steve D'Angelo said he isn't willing to accept any of this without being provided the minutes and/or cable video detailing the referred to agreement. He also bluntly told Chaze nothing would happen until there was a proper review of the situation on Carkin that he is complaining about and a solution offered by the Road Agent. Then before any work gets done there would need to be funding found to do it.

Chaze continued to say that this is a safety issue and it can't wait a year for resolution. D'Angelo continued to insist nothing will happen until complete information is provided and once a solution to the situation is developed money to fund it will still need to be found.

Ultimately the board asked Chaze to give the board and the Road Agent three weeks to look into the situation and they would get back to him at that point.

Oleson told the board he needs to start working on Jennifer Road and he would use the requested $25,000 highway impact fees to get started. He and D'Angelo disagreed on whether he could have Busby Construction start the road reconstruction  work and then get paid for it after July with CIP funds when the new budget kicks in.

D'Angelo indicated he felt the Department of Revenue Administration would not allow this and probably the new audit company wouldn't either.

Oleson said then he would use the impact fees and do the culverts on Jennifer Road and hope that in July he would be able to get Busby to do the road construction work. He told the board this was very doubtful as Busby, like other contractors, are already completely booked.

The board approved releasing the $25,000 Highway Impact fees as recommended by the Planning Board.

The board approved Kathy Dircks appointment as a full member of the Recreation Commission for a term to end in 2025 and for her to be the Recreation Commission representative on the Wason Pond Committee for the same term.

The board approved Victor Chouinard for a three year term on the Conservation Commission and approved Kristina Snyder as a regular member of the Conservation Commission for three years. Snyder was also approved to be on the Wason Pond Committee and the Spring Hill Farm Advisory Committee.

The board approved Rick Snyder as a full time Planning Board member for three years and as a member of the Zoning Board of Adjustment for three years.

 

 


Chester Building Inspector Meets with Board of Selectmen
By Penny Williams   4-22-22

On Thursday evening, April 21, the Chester Board of Selectmen met with the Building Inspector in an effort to get budget considerations up front early.

Myrick Bunker, Building Inspector, told the board he has no long range goals or projects and sees nothing moving ahead that would impact his budget.

He went over the efforts to get Caroline Wilson, his assistant, up to speed educationally and in terms of getting ready for certification for doing inspections and reviewing and providing permits.

He said Wilson has accompanied him for some time on inspections and he is about to start sending her out on her own. This will allow the department to conduct more inspections in a timely fashion.

The only thing in the future is his plan to start developing an updated fee schedule.

There were no other hearings or appointments on the agenda but Selectman Steph Landau had a report on the 300th Committee plans.

He suggested closing the Transfer Station on May 7th since the Governor and other dignitaries will be in town for the Proclamation Day events.

The board discussed it and felt this was a practical idea especially since the Transfer Station could be open on Sunday May 8.

Transfer Station employees on May 7, if the Transfer Station is closed, will be able to help get the Proclamation Day event chairs etc. set up.

The board had a discussion about what would be the most cost effective way to get sufficient tables for the 300th planned BBQ on the Town Field on Parade Day.

The decision was made for Maintenance to get costs of renting sufficient tables and the cost of buying sufficient tables and bringing the information back to the board. The board will make a decision regarding this at their next meeting.

Maintenance has reported that it has some security concerns since the alarms for the various building sites are not all in a single place so possible response might be slowed. Maintenance wants to put all the security alarms in one place with the information for each building covered. The board authorized Maintenance to move forward with this. 

Landau also noted the machine that is used to clean the Multi Purpose Room is broken and the parts are unavailable. He said a new machine, depending on size, would cost $7,300 to $8,300. No final decision was made and more information will be sought on how to best deal with this issue.


Chester Board of Selectmen Authorize Fix to Wason Road Culvert and Removal of 25 Trees in Town Right of Way   
By Penny Williams     4-17-22

The Board of Selectmen met on Thursday evening, April 14, and after a long discussion the board authorized the Road Agent to move forward with the permitting need to fix the drainage and culvert issue on Wason Road impacting homeowners there.

The board was informed about the Wason Road issue and because there will be six new houses built there shortly the Selectmen recognized that this drainage problem related to the culvert needs to be fixed now.

Road Agent Michael Oleson told the board it will cost roughly between $65,000 and $70,000 if the work is done in house. If the board wants to use an outside contractor it will cost between $85,000 and $90,000.

There is $22,000 in impact fees available so the board/highway will have to find the remaining $45,000. It was noted that money had been put into the budget to do work on a bridge that can't happen in this budget year so that money could be repurposed.

The Selectmen felt it was critically important to rectify the current homeowner issues caused by the drainage and culvert issues before the new homes begin to be built.

Oleson said at least 25 trees in the town's right of way will need to be taken down in the process. The board told Olson to get started on the permitting he needs to do while the board will figures out where the funds will come from in the next week or so.

Fire Chief Phil Gladu brought the board up to date on department happenings. He said several department members are taking courses and they are going well.

The department is hosting a Jump Class for Chester, Auburn and Sandown firefighters. The Fire Department is also working with the Police Department on OHRV classes using the department's gaiter.

The Forestry bed is back but the pump seized up and will need to be fixed. Gladu thinks it is only a bearing that needs to be replaced and said it is going to be fixed.

With Impact Fees he plans to purchase an Ultra Sound Machine which will be very useful and make first responders better able to deal with finding veins for drawing blood.

The cost of the machine is $4,000. A course on its use would be an additional $500 and he recommends doing that.  The selectmen said he can't use CIP funds so the board told him to just fund it from the equipment line.

The board discussed again how Police Chief Aaron Berube might make Chester police hires and employment more competitive.

The board had several ideas but members didn't want to make any decisions without doing further research. It will be on the next agenda.

The board decided it did not want to put town information out on the Front Porch web site.
 

 


Chester Police Chief Berube Warns Board of Selectmen of Increased Department Costs
By Penny Williams   4-9-22

The Chester Board of Selectmen met on Thursday, April 7, and were informed by Police Chief Aaron Berube that costs related to his department would be increasing in the coming year.

Berube discussed the fact that finding and keeping police officers is becoming increasingly difficult and many towns are resorting to either big bonuses or to increased salaries and or benefits. Chester needs to be prepared to address this if it wants to be able to maintain its police force.

In addition to that overlying issue is the need to decide on a new prosecutor. Berube said he has been talking to various attorneys and to the Derry  Persecutors Office and whichever way the board decides to go it is going to cost the Town more.

After a discussion Selectman Steve D'Angelo made a motion which the board approved authorizing Berube to move forward with developing a contract for a prosecutor with the Derry Prosecutors Office.

Berube also indicated there have been no internal department officers interested in the open detective position and the external officers he has interviewed want more money than Chester is offering. The board decided he needs to fill the position so asked him to decide on the best candidates for Chester and bring them to the board.

The board and Berube discussed possibly turning to an electric driven cruiser. Berube said because of things like not being able to have a cage or computer set up electric vehicles at this point would only work as a supervisors' car but it is something to continue to monitor.

There was a discussion about the department's truck and a suggestion was made to look at possibly getting an electric truck and see how that would work. It was noted even if ordered today it would take two years to get such a vehicle.

Berube addressed the recent shooting in Chester only to state that there is no threat to the community involved in the incident.

It was decided that if Maintenance needs a new machine for handling floors they should either rent one or get a new machine. Maintenance was authorized to get a price on a new machine.

The board wants an estimate of the cost to pave the rest of the dump road up to the salt shed. They want to get the estimated cost figure onto the CIP.

There was a discussion around insurance coverages and the board still wants information on whether there needs to be more insurance relative to parking issues related to the 300th fall fair event.

The board made a number of appointments.

* Joe Biedrzychi to the Spring Hill Farm Advisory Committee

* Katlyn Holland, a Pinkerton senior, to PACT

* Robert Grimm and Karl Knudsen reappointed to PACT.


Chester’s 300th Grand Anniversary Event the Only Fall Fair in 2022
By Penny Williams   4-2-22

Thursday evening, March 31, the Chester Selectmen met with the 300th Anniversary Committee and the Chester Town Fair Committee to find out whether both events or just one will take place this fall.

The selectmen wanted to be sure the final decision was acceptable to both organizations and that there aren't any issues. After a lengthy discussion and review of the discussions that took place between the two organizations it was affirmed that the decision to hold only the 300th Grand Anniversary event was the final decision for this year. The Chester Town Fair will be back next year but this year the September event will be the 300th Grand Anniversary event to be held on September 24th at the usual fair field location.

The board asked that all the logistics and parking information be provided to the Selectmen as soon as it is available.  However, the Selectmen approved the 300th Grand Anniversary will be the single fall fair event for this year.

Maria and Dave Veale and members of the Wason Pond Pounder Advisory Committee met with the board to get the board's support for this year's last Pounder event.

Veale went over a brief review of the history of the Pounder event, a 5k obstacle race whose proceeds go to the Chester Charitable Foundation. The funds are then distributed to a variety of local charities.

The date for this year's event is May 21 and Veale said they are hoping for 1400 participants.

The board said they support the event. Veale then asked the board to arrange for an ordinance that prohibited dogs and horses the day of the event at Wason Pond.

Selectman Steph Landau said the prohibition should be for prohibiting all livestock at Wason Pond during that day. The board said they would take care of that.

Veale said this is their last event but there is an interested party who may decide to take the event over. The Selectmen said they hoped that would work out and if it did the new organizers should get in touch with the board and they will offer their support to them.

The board discussed facilities fees with Corinna Reishus who noted these fees have not been adjusted since 2014. There was an in-depth discussion about the fees. The board questioned why Chester residents are charged fees.  Reishus said that fees are charged only to facility users from outside of Chester or commercial operations. All Chester users such as Scouts, American Legion or Baseball are fee free facilities users.

There is $1,300 in a fund that is the security deposit made initially by organizations that use the facility annually and is held until the organizations ask for it back. There was a lot of discussion on this fund that led to whether these local organizations needed to have insurance. This led to a request to the Town Administrator Debra Doda to ask Primex who the specific insurer would be and whether a town organization such as Scouts or Baseball actually need to have individual coverage or would they be covered under the town's insurance. The board would like Primex to come in and discuss the actual insurance company coverage for the Town.

It was decided that after more information has been gathered and provided to the board they might make the decision to only rent facilities to Chester resident users. The selectmen also wanted some changes made to the rental or facility use forms.

The board approved the changes made to the Social Media Policy by the Town Counsel and approved the policy.

The board decided to review the Revenue Collections and Deposit Policy and then discuss it at the next meeting after which it would go to Town Counsel.

The board approved the release of $31,250 (half of the Wason Pond Causeway Bride Engineering cost) Recreation impact fees as recommended by the Planning Board.

The board approved Road Agent Michael Oleson putting the wear course on Fremont Road.

 


Chester Selectmen Hear About Updating Hazardous Mitigation Plan and Emergency Management Operations Plan
By Penny Williams   3-26-22

On Thursday night, March 24, the Chester Board of Selectmen heard from Fire Chief and Emergency Management Director Phil Gladu and  Elizabeth Lufkin, Town Clerk & Deputy Emergency Management Director, about the update for the Hazardous Mitigation Plan  and the Emergency Management Operations Plan.

Gladu and Lufkin and other Town Employees and Elected Officials have been meeting with June Garneau of Mapping and Planning Solutions to work on the required five-year update to the 2016 Chester Hazard Mitigation Plan.  The Town and Mapping and Planning Solutions are conducting a series of Hazard Mitigation meetings to develop the plan over the next few months.

Through these public meetings, the planning team will address natural hazards such as flooding, hurricanes, drought, landslides, and wildfires, and determine efforts the Town can undertake to mitigate the effects of not only natural hazards but also technological and human-caused.  The team will also review shelter sites and the need for generators at those sites. 

By examining critical infrastructure and key resources, along with past hazards, the team will establish priorities for future mitigation projects and steps that can be taken to increase public awareness of hazards in general.

As mandated by the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000, all municipalities are required to complete a local Hazard Mitigation Plan to qualify for Federal Emergency Management Administration funding should a natural disaster occur. 

The planning processes are made possible by grants from FEMA.
Chester citizens and any interested stakeholders are invited to participate.  The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, April 20th, from 2. to 4 p.m. via “Zoom”. 

The public is encouraged to attend all meetings.  All interested parties should contact Lufkin by email at elufkin@chesternh.org to be included in the process; interested parties will be added to the Zoom meeting invitation list.  Future meetings are planned for May 18th and June 22nd.

Gladu and Lufkin said the next plan to be upgraded by Garneau will be the Emergency Management Operations Plan.

Right now he said the team is working with the school on their Emergency Management Operations Plan, going over identifying the plan's strengths and weaknesses. It is hoped this will be completed by the end of 2022.

The board discussed the importance of looking for available grants. There are grants out there to assist with developing and upgrading both of these plans and the Town is taking advantage of these funds to get the work done.

There was a discussion about the Multi Purpose Room's inadequacies when functioning as the shelter for the town. There aren't sufficient bathrooms for a large crowd of people using the shelter and the kitchen dishwasher needs to be replaced. Chester Academy is the secondary shelter. A search for grant money to address these deficiencies was discussed.

The board discussed turning liaison assignments into groupings where it makes sense. Chair Chuck Myette asked board members to review their liaison assignment and think about goals and potential grants that should be considered by their liaison department or committee. The board wants departments to come in before the selectmen and discuss their goals and what they see as potential grants. The idea is to align grants with activities associated with the various departments, committees and boards.

The board discussed seeking someone to do grants and to stay on top of potential opportunities as well as applying for grants. The thinking of the board is to look and see if there is anyone in-house who might be able to assume this responsibility and further to check with Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission to see if they have someone available for doing this for the Town.

The board discussed the Social Media Policy and decided it needs to be revised but this will require legal assistance. There were concerns regarding photographs of minors.

 


Chester Road Agent Oleson Shares Town Road Issues with Selectmen
Penny Williams    3-18-22

At the Thursday night, March 17, Board of Selectmen's meeting, Road Agent Michael Oleson brought forward several highway issues he thought the board should have on its radar.

He told the board Dump Road needs to be paved. Trucks are almost getting stuck despite his application of more gravel. Without this portion of the road up to the Salt Shed being paved the town is going to find itself in trouble, he told the board. It needs to be a road paved for heavy truck traffic. He indicated he thought it might cost in the neighborhood of $200,000 and said it should be planned for.

The parking issues at Town Hall are another area that needs to be addressed. He indicated the parking lots and drainage issues at Town Hall and for the Multi Purpose Room need to repaired and improved.

The parking lot at Town Hall is not on the CIP but should be. It was suggested that research be done and estimates for fixing the parking area and the catch basins need to be gotten,

Oleson said he plans to finish Jennifer, Harantis Lake Road, and Webster Lane as well as completing North Pond Road. He asked what the board thought about addressing Fremont Road.

He said with the proposed developments coming the trucks are going to tear it up but he added that even if he puts a wear course on it that would still be torn up. Engineers need to look at this and there needs to be a bond to address this issue.

Selectman Steph Landau suggested making the trucks use Stowe Road but this would need to have a temporary bridge installed. In the end Chair Chuck Myette said he would bring Fremont Road and how to address it up at the Planning Board and get back to Oleson.

Oleson said he wants to move forward with the purchase of a Freightliner 350 truck and the plow attachments. He said the $240,000 should get it. He said he wanted to purchase the same kind of truck that already is in use and the same with the plow attachments since that saves time and money as the parts are the same and he can keep some on hand. The board authorized him to move forward with the truck purchase.

The town will update its Emergency Operations Management Plan and use the $4,000 Homeland Security grant to help get it updated as required by law. The work is being handled by an outside contractor who is also updating the Towns Emergency Mitigation Plan.

The board discussed reorganization and decided that the current Chair, Myette should continue as Chair and that Selectman Steve Couture should become the Vice Chair.

The board tabled discussion of liaison assignments until Selectman Jeremy Owens was present.

The Senior Center Committee requested that a new liaison be assigned to work with them when the assignments are established.

 

 


Chester March 10, 2022 Town Meeting Results
By Penny Williams   3-11-22

The Multi-Purpose Room was not packed for the Chester Town Meeting but those there participated. The meeting was conducted by Moderator Michael Scott and lasted close to two and a half hours.

The two articles that got the most attention were article 14, CIP Projects and Article 11, Discontinuance of Hart Roberts Road.

The Hart Roberts Road Discontinuance article was ultimately passed as presented but speakers raised several issues before it was finally approved.

Article 14 - CIP Projects included one for Recreation in the amount of $418,750 for Wason Pond Causeway Bridge Reconstruction and Construction Management.
Several residents questioned the cost of the bridge work while several questioned why it needed to be done at all. Jack Cannon offered an amendment to the article to reduce the Recreation Wason Pond Bridge amount to zero thus reducing the CIP Projects Article total amount to $341,250. Residents approved Cannon's amendment and then approved the amended article.

Article 8 - Changing the elected Road Agent position to an appointed Supervisor of Roads passed.

Article 9 - Adding $15,000 to the revaluation Capital Reserve Fund passed.

Article 10 - The Solar Array at the Landfill article was amended to be tabled. The amendment passed and this article was tabled.

Article 12 - The voters passed the $5,439,657 Operating Budget without discussion.

Article 13 - Residents passed the CIP Funding Article for raising and appropriating $600,000 to be added to the Town's Capital Improvement Plan Capital Reserve Fund.

Article 15 - Residents passed the Highway CIP Funding article.

Article 16 - The voters approved the Highway CIP Projects.

Article 17 - Residents passed the $250,000 Fire Department Apparatus Capital Reserve Fund article.

Article 18 - The PACT Article for $38,000 was passed.

Article 19 - The 300th Anniversary article passed.

Article 20 - Residents passed adding $8,000 to the Town Master Plan Capital Reserve Fund.

Article 21 - The voters passed the Winter Road Maintenance Fund.

Article 22 - A petition article amending the date of the Indigenous Peoples Day passed.  

 

 


Chester March 8, 2022 Election Results
By Penny Williams   3-8-22

Chester is not a SB 2 town so their elections on March 8th addressed board and committee seats and Planning Board articles only. The Chester Town Meeting will be held on March 10 and the School District Meeting will be on March 16, at which times registered voters in attendance will vote on the articles presented.

On March 8th residents voted on open seats as follows:

* Selectmen - Chuck Myette, was re-elected for a 3 year term

* Town Moderator - Michael Scott was re-elected for a 2 year term

* Supervisor of the Checklist - Sara Jane Bibeau was elected for a 6 year term  

* Trustee of the Trust Fund - Thomas Paton was re-elected for 3 more years

* Budget Committee - Ronald McKinnon, Jr. was elected for a 2 year term - two 2 year term seats remain unfilled

* Budget Committee - one 3 year term seat remains open

*School Board Member - Jonathan Eckerman was re-elected and Sabrina Harris  were elected for  each for 3 year terms

Village Cemetery Trustee- Richard Bellemore was elected for a 3 year term

Great Hills Cemetery Trustee - Penny Henderson was elected for a 5 year term

Wilcomb Townsend Trustee - Lorna Hazelton was elected for a 5 year term

Wilcomb Townsend Trustee - Beth Swanson, was re-elected for a 1 year term

Library Trustee- Deborah Munson, and Mary Richardson were re-elected for 3 more years

Among the Planning Board Ballot articles is one that asks residents if they are in favor of increasing the Zoning Board of Adjustment alternates from 3 to 5 and residents voted yes 320 to 202

The only Planning Board article that residents didn't approve was the amended article that would prohibit conversion of a bed and breakfast in a detached form


Chester Selectmen Decline Post Office Building Upgrade Offer and Learn School Board Made Masks Optional
By Penny Williams   2-25-22

The Chester Board of Selectmen met Thursday evening, February 24, and discussed an offer for the Post Office Building. The board has received offers in the past and declined to pursue them and followed the same pattern Thursday night.

Selectman Steph Landau spoke up at the start of the discussion and stated that he opposes considering any offer for the Post Office Building. As the board discussed this it was noted that there would be no benefit to the town from pursuing the offer.

Landau gave a brief history of the building noting that the gap between it and the library used to be filled but that particular building was moved elsewhere leaving an approximately 16-foot gap between the library and the Post Office Building. The second floor of the building is what is in question.

The thinking over time has been to connect the second floor to the library and use that area for library offices as well as having a meeting room available. However, this has not gone beyond a discussion level probably because there are ADA issues and construction issues that would need to be addressed.

The selectmen voted they were not interested in the offer and asked Town Manager Debra Doda to notify the individual who had made the offer of their decision and she said she would take care of it.

The board then went through the exercise of assigning members to Articles on the Warrant that would need an explanation. The assignments are as follows:

* Article 8 - Road Agent position - Chair Chuck Myette

* Article10 - Solar Array - Steve Couture who suggested the plan should be to table this article until next year and the board agreed that should happen at the meeting

* Article 11 - Discontinuation of Harts Robert Road - Landau

* Articles 13-16 CIP related and Article 17- Fire Department Apparatus - Steve D'Angelo.

* Article 21 - Winter Road Maintenance Fund - if needed - Landau

Fire Chief Phil Gladu came in and told the board the School Board had met and decided to follow the state Department of Health and Human Services Department guidelines relative to masks.

The School Board voted to amend their school opening policy to reflect that masks would now be optional except for when on buses which is a federal mandate for masks. Following a quarantine of 5 days masks would be required for five days. Otherwise masks are optional effective Friday, February 25.

Gladu indicated while the state guidelines have not been posted yet this is what they are going to be and he expects them to be posted by the state the following day.

The board then discussed what their plan was for moving forward regarding masks. The short answer was they will make masks optional. This will mean that masks are optional for the upcoming Town Meeting.

Recreation Director Corinna Reishus was present on Zoom and said as the mask amendments become finalized she will implement more program assignments for the buildings and programs.

The Selectmen felt they should start to move toward lifting any remaining mask mandates that exist for town buildings and work on returning to normal. They would discuss this at their next meeting which won't be until March 17.

During Public Comment, resident Russ Norman, asked the board if they had ever received word on last year's town approved Warrant Article for Chester to be a standalone district.

The board said no and Norman said he had learned that Chester has been paired with Fremont as a district and Sandown is a standalone district. Norman wanted answers as to why the town's request was ignored.

Doda was asked to write a letter of inquiry and send it to the Legislative Committee handling redistricting and others who might be able to shed light on this issue.

 


Chester Board of Selectmen Approve Beer and Wine for 300th Anniversary BBQ
By Penny Williams    2-19-22

 On Thursday evening, February 17, the Chester Board of Selectmen voted in favor of allowing the 300 Anniversary Committee arranging for a beer and wine vendor to accompany the 300 Anniversary BBQ following the Chester Fair.

The board had previously told the 300 Committee it was all right but before the committee signed on with a vendor the members wanted an official vote of the board giving them permission for this.

The board discussed it briefly, the only issue being liability, but it was felt that the vendor would have the appropriate insurance and be the bearer of all liability.

The committee has discussed this with the Chief of Police Aaron Berube and he said it would be alright so long as they followed the requirements and regulations he outlined.

The Committee also asked for permission to have a tent. It was noted that for a 400-foot tent a survey would be needed although no one appeared exactly sure why a survey was needed but one has been planned.

The committee was asked to come back before the board when they have contracted with a vendor along with information about insurance.

The committee said it will cost roughly $1200 for the commemorative concrete plaque to be placed over where the capsule the 300 plans to bury in the Stevens Hall front yard. The board approved the 300 Committee plan to have the plaque placed over the buried capsule.

Road Agent Michael Oleson asked the board for clarification of Article 16, the Highway CIP article. The article calls for $1,501,734 for roadwork. However, Oleson said several chunks of that amount have been designated to other purposes and he needs to know how much he will actually have to do actual roadwork.

The details of the $1,501,734 were explained by the board as follows:

* $250,000 Engineering for red listed bridges

* $551,734 for the Cole Road culvert replacement using ARPA funds

* $700,000 for regular roadwork.

Oleson noted he usually has over a million for general roadwork but he will do what he can with the $700,000.

Selectman Steve Couture noted that the plan for a Solar Array won't happen after all. The company the town was working with, after doing an in-depth study of the location at the landfill area, decided it simply had underestimated the size of  the area and the Solar Array wouldn't work at there.

The board will leave Article 10, Solar Array at Landfill in the Warrant but will amend it on the floor to not having a site specific for a Soar Array if the voters approve having it.   

The board discussed possible grant opportunities as well as whether it would be worthwhile finding someone to be a grant writer for the town. Town Administrator Debra Doda was asked to look into this. She indicated she thought there were people who could fill such a slot.

The PACT budget was discussed as Selectmen Steve D'Angelo said he had concerns about it since PACT would have close to $100,000 by next winter.

He wanted to know what the plan was for using the budgeted money and was told basically improving and upgrading equipment by Cable Chair Bob Grimm. D'Angelo asked Grimm if they could discuss this in more detail at the next PACT meeting and Grimm responded of course.

In Other Business

* Road Agent Oleson has noted that the Town's roads will be posted for reduced weight limits soon. You may wonder why a Town posts its roads in the late Winter or early Spring.  The problem is that as the weather warms and the frost melts, the resulting water starts to saturate the base and subgrade of the road.  It's unable to drain away through the frozen soil below, and the base of the road begins to turn to mud, which is weaker than dry soil.  With less support under the asphalt, a heavy vehicle can cause cracks and ruts which allow more moisture to penetrate the base, and before long the road can fail entirely.  This isn't such an issue with passenger cars and other light-duty vehicles, but heavier vehicles - those over 33,000 GWV - can be a real problem on a vulnerable road. As the weather continues to warm, the base dries, and the road becomes stronger, reduced weight limits are lifted.
Please contact the Highway Department should you have questions.

* The small section of North Pond Road that has failed recently will be replaced next week.  As this was an issue with the batch of asphalt that was laid down in that particular area, the repairs are being done by the original contractor at no cost to the Town.  North Pond Road will not be closed, but you are likely to experience delays.  We thank you for your patience. 

* The Chester Fire Chie/EMD met with June Garneau of Mapping and Planning Solutions and other team members from Chester to work on the required five-year update to the 2016 Chester Hazard Mitigation Plan.  The Town and Mapping and Planning Solutions are conducting a series of Hazard Mitigation meetings to develop the plan over the next few months.

Through these public meetings, the planning team will address natural hazards such as flooding, hurricanes, drought, landslides, and wildfires and determine efforts the town can undertake to mitigate the effects of not only natural hazards but also technological and human-caused.  The team will also review shelter sites and the need for generators at those sites. 

By examining critical infrastructure and key resources, along with past hazards, the team will establish priorities for future mitigation projects and steps that can be taken to increase public awareness of hazards in general.

As mandated by the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000, all municipalities are required to complete a local Hazard Mitigation Plan to qualify for Federal Emergency Management Administration funding should a natural disaster occur.  The planning processes are made possible by grants from FEMA.

The Hazard Mitigation Planning Team is currently being formed.  Chester citizens and any interested stakeholders are invited to participate.  The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, February 23, 2022, from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM via “Zoom”.  The public is encouraged to attend all meetings.  All interested parties should contact Elizabeth Lufkin, Town Clerk & Deputy EMD, by email, elufkin@chesternh.org, to be included in the process; interested parties will be added to the Zoom meeting invitation list.  Future meetings are planned for March 23, April 20, May 18, and June 22.

More information on the hazard mitigation planning process is available from June Garneau at Mapping and Planning Solutions, jgarneau@mappingandplanning.com.


Chester Selectmen and Budget Committee Hold Budget and Warrant Articles Public Hearing
By Penny Williams   2-11-22

The Board of Selectmen met Thursday evening February 10, with the Budget Committee for the Budget Committee and Selectmen's Budget and Warrant Articles public hearing.

The Budget Committee Chair Michael Weider called the Public Hearing open. He then started with Article 8 and there were no questions or comments from the assembled residents on that article or Article 9.

Article 10 and 11 were not reviewed as they are not money articles.

Article 12, the Operating Budget, was corrected by Town Administrator Debra Doda. She indicated that as of the previous night's work session, the Budget Committee and the Board of Selectmen had agreed to reduce the Operating Budget bottom line by $92,000 making the Operating budget $5,439,657.

There were no questions or comments and Weider went through the articles until he came to Article 17.

Rhonda Lamphere asked why the $250,000 in Article 17, Funding Fire Department Apparatus Capital Reserve Fund, should be added to the Capital Reserve Fund rather than simply being put into the CIP.

Weider and the selectmen responded explaining why they chose to do it this way and she thanked them for the explanation. There were no comments or questions on the remaining articles.

At the conclusion of the review there were no changes to the articles. Weider asked the Selectmen to allow the Budget Committee to vote on their article recommendations. The Selectmen agreed without comment.

The Budget Committee then went back through the articles voting to recommend, something that Selectmen did after the Budget Committee Public Hearing was closed.

The Budget Committee recommended unanimously all the articles but the selectmen had two abstentions when they voted their article recommendations. Selectman Steph Landau abstained on Article 9, Revaluation Capital Reserve Fund and Article 18, PACT.

Article 9, Special Warrant Article asking voters to raise and appropriate $15,000 to be added to the Town Revaluation Capital Reserve Fund established at the 2009 Town Meeting in order to prepare for the next Town revaluation in 2024.

Article 18 PACT asks voters to raise and appropriate the sum of $38,000 for the purpose of providing public, educational, and governmental access television in the Town of Chester. Said funds to be withdrawn from the Special Revenue Fund known as the 'PACT' Fund established at the 2003 Town Meeting, separate from the General Fund and funded by Comcast subscribers in the Town of Chester

After voting their recommendations the Selectmen discussed whether to open the Wason Pond Community Center so the seniors can return to holding their meetings there.

It was decided that the board would authorize this but subject to Recreation being sure that either Recreation or the seniors have someone on site available to open the building and provide assistance to anyone needing it as the entrance ramp and the rest room are not ADA compliant as yet.

The board discussed whether to open Stevens Hall but since the elevator is not fixed and operational yet the board decided to hold off on opening Stevens Hall at this point.

The board then discussed the bids for the Audit company.

The town received three bids - Vachon Clukay & Company PC out of Manchester, Melanson from Merrimack and Plodzik & Sanderson, P.A. from Concord.  Financial Director Joanne Smith had recommended Vachon Clukay & Company PC, and the board voted to accept the Vachon Clukay & Company PC, bid.

The board discussed the two bids received for the Cole Road Project.

The Town received two bids for the Cole Road project. One of the bids was from Gale Associates, Inc. Bedford, and the other from Stantec Consulting Services, Inc., from Auburn.

The board members felt these two bids were basically quite similar. However, after a brief discussion they chose the Gale Associates, Inc. bid.

 


Public Ways Working Group Recommends Appointing Road Supervisor to Chester Board of Selectmen
By Penny Williams  2-4-22

The Chester Board of Selectmen met on Thursday evening, February 3, and heard the report from the Public Ways Working Group.

The committee, made up of the following people - Dave Anderson, Resident Myrick Bunker, Building Inspector / Code Enforcement Officer Jack Cannon, Budget Committee Debra Doda, Town Administrator Andrew Hadik, Town Planner Chuck Myette, Selectman Mike Oleson, Road Agent  and Mat Stover, Resident, Chairman, - recommended the town would benefit from moving on from an elected Road Agent to an appointed Supervisor of Roads.

The Public Ways Working Group recommended the Town of Chester hire and appoint a Supervisor of Roads responsible for the safety and convenience of using the town’s transportation infrastructure. The Supervisor of Roads would replace the elected position of Road Agent and that position would be discontinued. The benefits of this would include the town having a  full-time experienced professional providing long-term continuity to:

*  Supervise and actively participate in the day-to-day maintenance of transportation infrastructure, including winter maintenance and around-theclock service to repair acts of nature or other conditions which threaten public safety.

*  Provide professional planning, engineering, financial and regulatory compliance and approval, competitive bidding, hands-on monitoring of contractors, and day-to-day management of both maintenance operations and major building and repair projects.

The group proposed the following article for inclusion on the upcoming Warrant.
"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 Supervisor of Roads. The term of the elected road agent will terminate at the 2023 Annual Town election."

Current Road Agent Michael Oleson noted he supports the report's conclusions indicating this change would be the best for Chester long term. The time is right to make this change because under the law such a change cannot be made in a year when a position is up for re-election which would be next year for Oleson.

The board discussed having sufficient money in the article to cover the cost of the new position if the voters approve it as there would be a gap between the end of the road agents position and the start of the new appointed person to the new position. The board approved the article with the addition of adding $55,417 to the article to cover salary and benefits for the Supervisor of Roads position for six months in fiscal year 2022-2023 after which the salary and benefits would be part of the operating budget.

The board approved getting the report up immediately on the Town web site as well as making it available in summary form for a possible mailing. They felt a discussion on Cable would be good as voters need to understand the reason for the change. This issue has been discussed for years and been defeated by voters. Getting the report and its findings up and available to residents will be critical to getting this approved by the voters.

The board approved Rhonda Lamphere, Town Treasurer's recommendation to appoint a Deputy Treasurer. The board will write a letter approving Lamphere's recommendation of Christine Cue and Cue can then get sworn in.

The board worked on finishing up the articles for the Warrant and then spent time getting them numbered to their satisfaction.

There have been three bid responses for the Audit. The board decided to hold off making any decision until they can discuss the bids with the Finance Director Joanne Smith. They will take it up again at the board's next meeting.

The board also put off any discussion of the Cole Road Engineering issue. The board had copies of two contractor reports but they included significant differences and the board felt it necessary to question each contractor about their response. It was tabled to the next meeting.

The board approved waiving the bid process to award the bid from a local contractor familiar with the wiring in the Town Office Building to do the HVAC work to improve the Building Inspector and Planning Director's offices.

The bid is for $7,000 but the contractor's knowledge of the building's wiring system is critical and Selectman Steph Landau asked the bidding policy be waived. The board approved his request allowing for an amount not to exceed $9,000 for the project.  

 


Chester Board of Selectmen Worked on Finalizing CIP Warrant Articles
By Penny Williams     1-28-22

The Chester Board of Selectmen on Thursday night, January 27, focused on  finalizing the CIP Warrant Articles again.

The board at its last meeting went over and approved many of the articles on the Warrant. The following articles are the ones they didn't approve and had decided to go over again at this meeting. These are the articles that were either changed, had new language or were added.

The board members discussed each of this articles at length before determining how they wished them to read.

Article #A - Rescission of Road Agent Position - The Selectmen made a change to this article.  The wording now states that the term of the elected road agent will terminate at the 2023 Annual Town election. Residents are asked to raise and appropriate the sum of $55,417 salary and benefits for the Supervisor of Roads position for six months in Fiscal Year 2022-23. Salary and benefits for this position will be carried in the Operating Budget in future fiscal year.

Article # E - Budget,  remains unfinished at there isn't an approved Budget Committee final budget number as yet.

Article #I - CIP Projects - This article was changed. A number of projects were removed from this article. What remains are:
                   * Police - Cruiser with Outfitting - $56,250
                   * Fire - Repaving the Parking Lot  - $35,000
                   * Highway - Annual Surveying and Engineering Services - $10,000
                   * Highway - Class 8 Plow Truck,  Plow & Sander - $240,000
                   * Recreation - Wason Pond Causeway Bridge Engineering - $31,250
                   * Recreation - Wason Pond Causeway Bridge Construction - $418,750
The article continues  that  $791,250 be withdraw from the Municipal Capital Improvement Plan Capital Reserve Fund. 

Article #J - Highway CIP Funding - This Special Warrant Article had additional information added. The residents will be asked to raise and appropriate $744,370 to be added to the capital reserve fund known as the Highway Capital Improvement Plan Capital Reserve Fund with $144,370 which is the anticipated grant amount from the New Hampshire Highway Block Grant to be used to offset this appropriation and the remainder of the $600,000 to be raised through taxation.

Article #K - Highway CIP Projects - was not finalized. The board approved waiting until February 22, to finalize this article.

Article #L2 - Funding of Culverts & Crossings Capital Reserve Fund - This article was added. Residents are asked if they will raise and appropriate $4,885 to be added to the Culverts and Crossings Capital Reserve fund. This sum, represents accrued interest in the Winter Road Maintenance Expendable Trust Fund which causes that fund to exceed the cap of $105,000 and  is to come from the June 30, 2022 unassigned fund balance.

Article #O - Engineering of Culverts, Bridges, and Roads - Residents are asked to raise and appropriate the sum of $250,000 for the purpose of engineering of the Town's culverts, bridges and roads. Further to authorize the transfer of $250,000 from the June 30, 2022 unassigned fund balance for this purpose.

Article # R - Discontinuance of Hart Roberts Road -  This was newly added. The article asks if voters would approve the Town discontinuing as an open highway under RSA 231:45 the Hart Roberts Road from the intersection of Hart Roberts Road and Halls Village Road to the intersection of Hart Roberts Road and Jack Road. The discontinuance would take place June 1, 2022.

The remainder of the Warrant Articles remained as previously approved by the board.  

Chief of Police Aaron Berube came before the board wishing to clarify certain things that had been brought up by the Budget Committee and which he felt were either incorrect or unfair.

 He wanted to make sure that he went over the issues raised with the selectmen noting that he felt this important even though he had already reviewed with the board all of the issues under discussion.

He felt the Budget Committee unfairly accused him of inflating his budget. He said the Budget Committee questioned the Park Ranger being moved to Animal Control.

All of the things discussed Berube had previously covered in detail with the selectmen. Chair Chuck Myette apologized for the Budget Committee comments and assured Berube he had indeed covered all the issues with them and the board supported him and his budget proposal.

 


Chester Selectmen Work on More 2022 Warrant Articles
 By Penny Williams    1-21-22

 On Thursday night, January 20, the Chester Board of Selectmen concentrated on getting the Articles for the Warrant finished.

The board approved forwarding to the Warrant the following articles (not yet numbered) as proposed:

* Revaluation

* PACT

* Solar Lease

* Establish Culverts and Crossings Capital Reserve Fund

* 300th Anniversary Capital Reserve Fund

* Rename 300th Anniversary Capital Reserve Fund

* Winter Maintenance Fund

* Master Plan

* Funding for Fire Apparatus Capital Reserve Fund

* Funding for Historical Buildings Capital Reserve Fund

Then the board turned to making decisions about the remaining articles, mostly related to the CIP.

On the Road Agent article, the board decided to discuss it further at the next meeting and noted that the committee working on the Road Agent/Public Works Director issue planned to present their findings to the board on February 23.  There was a discussion regarding whether to include potential compensation in the article but the majority opted for not doing that.

On the Fireworks Article the board decided to leave the $7,000 in.

For the CIP Funding Article the board decided to appropriate $600,000 to be added to the capital reserve fund.

On the CIP Projects Article the board removed Recreation - Wason Pond  Well Pump & Water Line - $12,000. The board wants to do this from the current budget and do it this year so the Article seeks to raise and appropriate $895,984.

For the Highway CIP  Funding Article the board decided to ask the voters to raise and appropriate the sum of  $600,000 to be added to the capital reserve fund known as the Highway Capital Improvement Plan Capital Reserve Fund established at the 2015 Town Meeting with  $144,370 which is the anticipated grant amount this year from the New Hampshire Highway Block Grant to be used to offset this appropriation and the remainder to be raised through taxation.

The longest discussion was around the Special Warrant Article for  roadwork. At length the board decided that voters would be asked to raise and appropriate the sum of $1,221,734 for roadwork in Chester and withdraw $521,734 from ARPA Funds and the remaining $700,000 from the Highway Capital Improvement Plan Capital Reserve Fund for these purposes.

The Senior Center platform was discussed and it is in progress. Selectman Steve D'Angelo asked that the board consider putting $30,000 in the budget for the purchase of a van to be available to take seniors where they need to go. A driver for such a van can be figured out he noted.

Selectman Steph Landau told the board he is concerned that several town owned properties have not been surveyed and developments in the area of these Conservation parcels could encroach on the town owned properties if they aren't properly surveyed.

It was noted that there has been an exposure in the Multi Purpose Room. The board approved signs for the MRP recommending mask wearing for users.


Chester Selectmen Review 2022 Budget and Warrant Articles
By Penny Williams   1-16-22

The Chester Board of Selectmen met on Thursday, January 13, and went through the proposed budget fairly rapidly but got swamped going over the proposed articles.

Reviewing the budget that Town Administrator Debra Doda had made changes to following the previous week's meeting, the board made no changes to the proposed budget.

They did say that Elections budget were high but that was because of the number of elections that would be held.

They noted Information Technology was up but Doda said that the technology company had agreed to holding some lines at their own expense which kept the bottom line from being even higher.

The selectmen noted Planning is up too but that is due to adding a part time person to assist Planning Director Andrew Hadik.

The board expressed satisfaction with the Police budget noting that the increase is the result of one of the officers taking over as detective and the need to  replace that officer.

The board expressed concern but accepted the recycling increase which resulted from the amount of paper and cardboard coming in at the Transfer Station in a down market.

Animal Control is up  due to beaver control costs and adding the Park Ranger to this department.

The large Wason Pond increase is the result of beach maintenance.

The board suggested that the Library take another look at their budget but their foundation funds are down so likely nothing can be done there.

The bottom line for the operating budget for 2022-23 is $5,529,723, up $363,550 or 7.24 percent from last year.

The  board struggled with the articles not having final numbers for the majority basically because they needed to know how much money is still in the CIP Capital Reserve Fund. The board decided more needed to be done and they would discuss the articles at the next meeting.

The board did decide to move ahead with the purchase of a 15-foot screen for the Multi Purpose Room and Chair Chuck Myette signed the Letter of Intent for the Solar project. 

 


Chester Selectmen Reach Agreement with Revision for Solar Installation at Town Landfill
By Penny Williams   1-7-22

The Chester Selectmen met Thursday night, January 6, and reached an agreement with regard to the Letter of Intent regarding the potential Solar Installation at the town landfill in 2022.

The board discussed a negotiated agreement with Revision personnel. The issue is Revision initially said that the town would need to pre-pay $50,000 to cover  initial start up costs and permits but the board rejected this saying it was too much.

Dan Weeks and Jude Nuru from Revision addressed the board about an alternative arrangement of $25,000. The board discussed this but raised another question. What if the voters don't approve the Warrant Article for this project would Revision be willing to wait for payment of whatever costs they incurred up to the $25,000 until the end of June.

Weeks indicated that Revision could do that. He did say he wanted to get started immediately as the initial work and permitting are unknowns at this point and will take time. He indicated that $10,000 was probably more like the level of costs they would incur initially and another aspect of the start-up that would cost around another $10,000 could be deferred for awhile.

The board asked if Revision would be able to make a presentation to the Budget Committee complete with potential revenue benefits for the town and then address the Town Meeting regarding the project. Weeks said they could and would do that and said he was scheduling it right then and there.

It was noted that if the voters approve the project the up-front costs will be rolled into the overall project costs. But Weeks said it is necessary to start work now so the company can get the necessary information to be able to present a full picture to the voters.

There was a discussion about what the revenue amount would be and Revision couldn't give them specifics. Weeks was warned by board members they need to have an answer to this question before Town Meeting or the voters won't approve the project.

Weeks noted that if the town took over the equipment either at the end of the 25 year contract or earlier, the revenue for the town would be greater. For the project as presently financed and owned by a third party investor, the revenue for the town would not be huge but there would be virtually no risk for the town.

The board approved a motion to agree to a Letter of Intent that  set the possible up-front costs not to exceed $25,000 and if the voters turn the project down Revision can wait until the end of June for repayment for any up-front costs. The board asked that the revised and now agreed upon LOI be at the next meeting for their review and that they would sign it then.

Road Agent Michael Oleson told the board he had worked with Engineer Scott Bourcier, Gale Company, and had come up with a $200,000 cost quote for the engineering design for the Cole Road culvert project. The construction costs would be another estimated $600,000making the total project cost an estimated $800,000, he told the board.

Selectman Steve Couture was uncomfortable with a single bid and after a discussion he asked to see if  DuBois & King could provide the board with an estimate for the engineering design for the Cole Road culvert project.  

Town Administrator Debra Doda was asked to contact DuBois & King the next day and to see if they could and would provide the board with an engineering  design estimate for a board meeting two weeks down the road.

Police Chief Aaron Berube came before the board and told the Selectmen he wanted them to tell him specifically what they wanted to cut from his budget. He said he doesn't want to discover his budget cut without any discussion as has happened in the past.

The board and Berube discussed the possible places his budget could be cut. He indicated if he made one of his officers the new detective then midnight shift would not be manned. The board was not in favor of an unmanned midnight shift.

In the end it was decided to remove the legal line amount for the Prosecutor from his budget, and Berube would need to find another $7,000 to remove. In addition, a Warrant Article for a Detective would be created removing the proposed amount of that position from his budget.

The board approved putting out a RFP for auditor services but asked that Doda notify their present company this isn't because the board is dissatisfied with them rather it is just appropriate to do this periodically.

The board then spent time going over the amended budget with the cuts Doda had made based on what departments had suggested. At the end of a long discussion Doda was told to make the additional changes the board had discussed and they would go over the budget again at their next meeting. Selectman Steve D'Angelo insists that the budget bottom line has to be reduced if it is to pass.


 

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