Sunday, February 3, 2013

Deliberative Results

Voters debate libraries, sewer upgrade project

Posted: Sunday, February 3, 2013 8:00 am   

By Meghan Foley Sentinel Staff

WINCHESTER — A warrant article seeking to move forward with the third and final phase of upgrades to the town’s sewage plant has cleared its first hurdle in getting voter support.

The majority of voters at the town’s annual deliberative session Saturday morning voted to place the article on the ballot next month after about an hour-long discussion focused on the necessity of the $1.48 million project.

Ryan Cain, an engineer with Tata and Howard, said the scope of work in the third and final phase is everything not included in the first two phases of the project. Those items include putting a rubber membrane roof on the operations building, upgrading the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, installing a station to receive sludge delivered to the plant, and upgrading the well water system and laboratory equipment. Developing a plan to inspect the sewer collection system is also part of the project.

Upgrades to the roughly 30-year-old plant have been ongoing since 2010.

Resident William A. McGrath asked if the $1.48 million was enough to fund all the items listed under the third phase. Cain said it was.

In addition, 50 percent of the cost, or $739,050, would be covered by the state, he said.

Resident Harvey J. Sieran pressed Cain for specific numbers on what would be saved in electricity costs if the upgrades are done. Cain said he didn’t have specific numbers, but knew from the first phase of the project that electricity costs did go down for the facility.

Sieran also asked if installing equipment to improve the plant’s ability to accept more sludge from septic systems was cost effective.

Cain said septage currently generates about $4,000 a month, or $48,000 a year, in revenue. That $48,000 offsets the labor and maintenance costs associated with accepting the waste, he said.

Two articles involving the town’s two public libraries, Thayer and Conant, also generated a lot of discussion.

One, establishing a committee of seven residents to study the effects of consolidating the libraries, quickly moved to a conversation of why the Thayer Library shouldn’t be dissolved.

Julia Ferrari, chairwoman of the Thayer Library trustees, said she believed the article arose because of the library’s budget.

“We voted to have the same budget as Forest Lake,” Ferrari said. “Aren’t our children more important, if not as important, than having to take millfoil out of Forest Lake.”

Earlier in the meeting, voters approved warrant articles seeking $2,000 to be put into a capital reserve fund for treating exotic invasive plants like millfoil at Forest Lake, and to appropriate $1,200 for the operation of the boat ramp at the lake. Thayer Library was allocated $3,500 for fiscal 2013, according to the town budget.

Selectman Sherman Tedford said the article wasn’t to dissolve Thayer, but to form a committee to study the two libraries.

Theodore Whippie, vice chairman of the Conant Library trustees, also spoke against the article, saying comparing the two libraries was like comparing “apples and oranges.”

“There is a good reason for two libraries, and I think it would be a mistake to combine them at this time,” he said.

Before voters decided in favor of putting the article on the ballot as written, resident Paul Taylor proposed an amendment that would alter the membership of the study committee. Instead of having five residents and one representative from each of the two libraries on the committee, Taylor suggested the board have two representatives from each library, two residents and one selectman. The amendment was seconded by Kenneth Cole.

“The purpose is to make sure the study is done in a fair way,” Taylor said.

The amendment was voted down.

An amendment proposed by Tedord, and seconded by Selectwoman Theresa Sepe, to reduce the amount placed in a capital reserve fund for the Conant Library from $20,000 to $10,000, also failed. Voters then approved placing the article on the ballot as written with the $20,000.

Sepe said while she would like to support the allocation of $20,000, she would also like to see a detailed explanation from the trustees about what repairs still have to be made to the century-old library.

Whippie said the biggest of those repairs is the roof, which he was told two years ago would cost about $100,000 to repair.

Sepe said the library currently has $45,000 in its capital reserve fund, and she would like to see a warrant article next year asking voters to support a roof repair project.

Sieran, a library trustee, said he strongly objected to funding the project all at once.

“I don’t think people in town will vote for a lump sum,” he said.

Voters approved the remainder of the 31 warrant articles, including one containing the town’s proposed $3.42 million budget, with little discussion.

The deliberative session, which began at 9 a.m., ended at 1:10 p.m. Voting will take place Tuesday, March 12.

Meghan Foley can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1436, or at Follow her on Twitter @MFoleyKS.


Comedy Act said...

The town moderator did a little comedy act,He explained to the crowd how every one in town should be thanking our employees because of the wonderful job they do for us. Then the police Chief made a speech about how his officers are the best he has ever served with. No idea about the PD, but the Chief wants credibility so we will vote for the new cruisers.

Anonymous said...

We all know that like any town we have good employees and some not so good. It just seems funny that the moderator felt the need to pat them on the back at deliberative, he was probably just following orders.

disgusted with the rest of you said...

Our town hall has become the mutual admiration club. It's membership includes, unqualified, overpaid, appointed ( because they kiss a$$) people, not on their knowledge or abilities. They are paid to support the selectmen and any decisions they want and not the wishes of the townspeople or things in our best interest. No one votes year after year to put heavy unnecessary burdens on tax payers except idiots that follow orders. While other towns and even the State of New Hampshire cuts spending and lays off workers, those in charge here, over the past 5 years has doubled the budget with all of their spending warrants. There is no fiscal restraint, no transparency in town government and because of the secrecy and bold faced lies we're all told, most people in town have turned the other cheek and looked away. Winchester has become a cesspool,it's no wonder we need a new sewer plant. Over and over again, the headlines in the Keene Sentinel or featured articles are about something happening in our town. From numerous lawsuits, Planning Board, Zoning Board and Tax Court, the Budget Committee, it's Winchester almost every other day. There is a serious problem in this town and it starts at the top of the food chain. Empathy and those in charge are destroying what's left of this town, that less than 50 of it's citizen's cared enough to attend Deliberative and attempt to right the ship shows how dead Winchester truly is as a town.

Anonymous said...

disgusted with the rest of you said...

I actually disagree with you just with the fact Winchester has always been this way. You state its just the last 5 years? Winchester has been backwards and ignorant for far longer than that.
Maybe its in the water I don't know and frankly don't care anymore. Our house is on the market and we are done. I have lost all hope that this town will change because obviously its not just the town government its the entire town including the residents.

Anonymous said...

So I was there. I lasted just over 3 hours when I couldn't take it anymore.

A couple of things I still don't understand. How purchasing a 50K piece of equipment will not affect taxation. The way Selectwoman Frasier explained it, the state lets towns borrow the equity value they have just like a homeowner would if they applied for home equity loan. So doesn't the town have to pay that money back just like a homeowner would and how does that not affect taxation?

There was no discussion on the town operating budget. No explanation on why this year's # is so much higher. I should have spoke up.

For well over an hour they discussed the sewer project. The rep. from the company could not answer many questions but I did hear him say there are no other phases planned. I wonder if that was said back before phase 1 too.

The vote to cut the # of Budget Committee members was close be still passed. Fewer members on that board makes me nervous and I got the feeling that they just want to get rid of "dead weight."
Not good.

So like I said, I left before the end. I could take it no longer. I am sure that poor Sentinel Reporter is now asking for an extra day off.

I was telling my wife that night that I left the meeting feeling uncomfortable with the authority figures we have in Winchester. I doubt they can handle what is going on in Town Hall and I am scared to find out what is really going on. I hear about all these lawsuits and such. I'd like to attend more meetings and participate more but with a demanding job and two small children I am unsure if I can. I will sure as heck will try. School delibrative is Saturday 9am at the school. Save me a seat.

Kevin on Swan Street

disgusted with the rest of you said...

anonymous @ 9:19
You completely misunderstood what I said about the " past 5 years"
I was talking about the increases in the budget that has soared and nearly doubled. As a long time resident, I am well aware of the problems this town has had for years since certain people have hoodwinked everyone into believing they are looking out for the rest of us while they line their own pockets and people sit back and do nothing.

Anonymous said...


In the present participle hood·wink·ing,

That is the selectmen's middle names:

Sherman trick somebody: to deceive or dupe somebody, especially by trickery Tedford

Gus trick somebody: to deceive or dupe somebody, especially by trickery Ruth

Ken trick somebody: to deceive or dupe somebody, especially by trickery Gardner

Roberta to deceive doesn't pay her property taxes or dupe somebody, especially by trickery Fraser.

double standard said...

Yes, they all lie at one time or another and it wouldn't surprise me one bit to find out they are involved in some things that are considered very shady to say the least. I've heard there are many skeletons in the closets at town hall and if this weren't true, then why all the secret meetings behind closed doors? Why the inaccuracies and long delays in written meeting minutes, if they get posted at all? As several commenters have stated several times, what are they all trying to hide?

And you shouldn't pick on Roberta for not paying her taxes like the rest of us do, course we all don't go on expensive vacations and then post pictures on facebook to show everyone either, but then again we aren't all selectmen or town employees getting fat off of the hog. There's a long list of town officials and employees who haven't paid property taxes in years and yet they all support more spending, wonder why? Do your homework before you go to the poles and vote, there are several new people running for office and it's past time to start making changes or feel the consequences when the next tax bills come due.

for all our sake,vote them out said...

We don't need new cruisers to sit idle on detail or more equipment for those highway employees to ruin, like the dump truck they dropped the tree on or the grader they keep stripping out the gear box on amongst other things. Why do the officials in this town feel they need to have the brightest and shiniest new toys every year, while other towns take care of the things they have and make them last? Is it a lack of respect for us citizens or is it lack of knowledge and no sense of responsibility that drives this quest for the best and newest. Name another town that has spent so much on needless things in this area. We've bought a new fire truck, new ambulance, new cruisers, new trucks for highway, and new computers for the town hall; not once but several times. All the while, people are losing their jobs, their homes and their way of life; yet big spending continues as the norm here, why?
It's because people we have put our faith and trust in don't give a rats a$$ about us, it's all about them, their image and a lack of people getting involved to right the path and put a stop to all of this foolishness.
Time to get out the vote and put these people out on the street before they put us all in the poorhouse.


Everyone knows the real reason behind the attempt to get rid of the Thayer Library is Margaret's feud with Julia and Ed Lake's ouster as the librarian who never did anything but suck the town dry. Why suddenly after all these years two libraries serving the town is too much? One that costs thousands of dollars to maintain and operate is okay. The other that is run by volunteers, has rich heritage and history behind it and has cost the town nothing up until this year when the town gave it a measly $2500 to repair damages from neglect by the former librarian/maintenance person who lived there, suddenly is not. Through Julia's hard work and persistence and those other volunteers, the library received a grant to be repainted after years of neglect.The volunteers have spent many hours cleaning, categorizing volumes of books that were donated yet never put on shelves and extending the hours of operation and planning upcoming events. They have even started a Friend's of Thayer Library Committee ( see their facebook page ) to garner more help and possible donations to accomplish the many things that need to be done, all at no costs to the town. That it still needs some work to return itself to the glowing condition it was prior is not a surprise and won't be a tenth as costly as the repairs to the Conant Library are going to be for all of us. Now we need a study from hand picked people, by the selectmen of course, to see if it should remain open and an asset to the Ashuelot community? Give me a break, the only study we need is why certain people remain in office and why this lunacy continues.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

The selectmen are not stupid, they are running this town for the best interest of themselves and the town employees. Remember the instructions to the moderator, " make the employees look good to the voters." We will see who gets full time with benefits this year.

Wake Up said...

The way I understand it, the backhoe has problems because of neglect, preventive maintenance, but can be fixed for a heck of a lot less than a new one. Does anyone take responsibility for lack of maintenance or things like towing the grader with out the proper things disengaged? O, but when you run into whoever is responsible be sure and thank them for the great job that they do for us.