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Ashland selectmen review 150th anniversary celebration

September 12, 2018
ASHLAND — At their Sept. 4 meeting, the Ashland selectmen reviewed the 150th Anniversary and Fourth of July celebrations, approved the ambulance contract and the lease purchase agreement for a new loader, and dealt with other issues.

Jane Sawyer, chair of the committee to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the incorporation of the Town of Ashland, was very pleased with the celebration, saying that it went beyond what she expected. She noted the play about the secession of Ashland from Holderness, the well attended cemetery walks, the "super" parade with nine floats and a variety of music, the flag raising ceremony that followed, and the many alumni from all parts of the country that

attended the Alumni Day. She did add that the weather dampened attendance at the street dance and that the boat parade was smaller than hoped, but was generally pleased with the results of the Committee's four years of work. The selectmen praised the celebration, with Chair Fran Newton congratulating all for "a great event." Sawyer

reported that financially, the celebration ended in the black, with nearly all the bills paid and over $1000 in the bank. Although some commemorative items are sold out or nearly so, there are still many items available, notably the books, ornaments and plates. They can be purchased at Elaine Hughes Realty Group, at 116 Main St., and will

also be sold at the Town Wide Yard Sale and Christmas Night. The 150th Committee plans to remain in operation until the end of the year and continue selling off the inventory. If there is a large amount left at the end of 2018, they are considering contributing it to the playground project. There was discussion of the 150th banners, which will remain up until the Christmas wreath banners are displayed. Sponsors of the 150th anniversary banners can claim them as souvenirs of the celebration.

Fran Wendelboe, Chair of the Fourth of July Committee, reported that this year's two day Independence Day celebration went very well. Attendance at the ball field was down because of the very hot and humid weather, with many who would normally have gone to the field staying away, and several people treated for heat exhaustion. Still,

the children's games and apple pie contest were popular, and the food vendors did well. Kendall B. Hughes explained that the event was financially successful, ending with $27,796 in the bank, more money than the committee had started with. The heat depressed 50/50 raffle ticket sales, but the pancake breakfast, ad book and banner sales were

up from the prior year. Expenses came in somewhat below budget. Wendelboe said that the Committee was "a wonderful team," although they could have used more volunteers. The new plan of ending the parade at the ball park worked well, and was copied by the 150th anniversary parade. The selectmen thanked the Fourth of July Committee

for a great job. Selectman Harold Lamos also thanked the Police and Fire Departments.

After a short discussion, the selectmen approved the new three-year ambulance contract with the Town of Plymouth, which is unchanged except for the price, which rose to $48,801 for the first year, a price in line with recent one and a half to two percent annual increases. They also approved the lease purchase agreement for a John Deere loader for the Public Works Department supported by the voters at the March election, and authorized Public Works Director Craig Moore to sign the agreement on behalf of the Town.

Kendall B. Hughes, the new chair of the Heritage Commission, outlined plans for the Town of Ashland Appreciation Day, to be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 22, the volunteer work portion of the day will focus on reorganizing Christmas Night materials stored inside the old jail and landscaping the area between the jail and the Town Hall. The Department of Public Works has done some preliminary work in the jail and on the grounds. The Ashland Community Church will serve a free lunch to those who volunteer that day. The selectmen also thanked Susan MacLeod, who recently resigned from the Commission, for her service.

The selectmen discussed hiring PBCam to videotape Budget Committee meetings, Town Administrator Charlie Smith explained that the cost would be $40 per meeting, There was some discussion on which meetings to film, with the consensus that the meetings with department heads presenting and discussing their budgets with the Budget Committee would be the most useful to Ashland voters. Newton felt that the budget process was one of the most important functions of the town government and should be more available to the citizens. The selectmen voted to proceed with the filming, They will work with PBCam on a case by case basis to decide which meetings to tape.

The Town Administrator raised the possibility of a feasibility study of the portion of the old woolen mill that the Town may take for unpaid taxes to help determine what could be done with the building. The application for such a study is due in October, and would require a public hearing. The consensus was to further explore a possible grant for a study. The selectmen also talked about scheduling a tour of the mill building with the Fire Chief or the Public Works Director.

The selectmen discussed a request from a veteran who missed the April 15 deadline for a veterans tax credit application to allow him to proceed with that application anyway, but took no action on the request. The selectmen began and ended their meeting with non-public sessions on employee issues. During their first session, they

discussed the request of Parks & Recreation Director Ann Barney to hire two staff members to cover the increased number of children in the after school program.

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