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Ashland selectmen accept Rescue Plan funds

September 16, 2021
ASHLAND — At their Sept. 13 meeting, the Ashland selectmen approved the acceptance of American Rescue Plan Act money, the final payment for the new fire truck, the purchase of a truck for the Sewer Department, and repairs to the Fire Station foundation.

The first order of business was a public hearing on the acceptance of $107,568.61 for this year from the American Rescue Plan Act. The same amount will be available to Ashland next year. Town Manager Fred Welch explained that the money was limited by the federal government to expenditures on water, sewer and communications projects. Any money not used for those purposes will have to be returned to the State of New Hampshire for reallocation. The Town will have four years to spend its total allotment. Currently, most communities in Grafton County have joined a consortium to develop broadband communications in the county. The state employees' union, which represents Ashland's town employees, had asked that some of the money be used to raise the salaries of those employees, but that does not seem to be allowable for the ARPA funds. The selectmen voted unanimously to accept the funds, but did not determine at this time how the funds were to be spent.

In 2017, Ashland's voters authorized a four-year lease purchase of a new fire truck, which went into service in July of 2018. The final payment of $204,229.52 is due this year. The Selectmen voted to withdraw that sum from the Fire Department Capital Reserve Fund to make the final payment.

The Sewer Department wishes to replace one of their trucks with a new truck. The Department requested the purchase of that new truck for $48,500, which is in their current budget. They would use the state's joint bid process, which helps to reduce the price. The selectmen approved the purchase as requested. The disposition of the old truck

will be decided later, as no trade-in of the old truck is involved in the purchase.

Town Manager Welch presented proposals for concrete repairs at the Fire Station in two parts, $16,345 for filling holes and treating exposed metal rods in the foundation, which he described as needing to be done before winter, and $7,880 for repairs to window sills and other parts of the building, which he said could be put off until next year.

As the capital reserve fund for repairs of all town buildings is limited, the selectmen decided to spend the $16,345 for the more pressing repairs and wait on the other repairs, just in case other building repairs may be needed over the winter.

The Purple Heart Community project is asking towns and cities across the country to proclaim themselves Purple Heart Communities to honor those who were wounded in the service of their country. The selectmen voted for Ashland to become a Purple Heart Community and to issue a proclamation to that effect. They also voted to buy two Purple Heart Community signs, at $52.70 each, and to erect them on Route 3.

The selectmen did formerly vote to appoint Scott Vien as Ashland's Health Officer, but no one sent the proper paperwork to the state to complete the appointment. The selectmen therefore voted to complete the forms for the nomination of Vien as Health Officer.

At the end of the meeting, Chairman Eli Badger appealed for volunteers to serve on the Planning Board and the Zoning Board of Adjustment, which needs more members. The ZBA has three members, when it could have five members and two alternates, so it operates with the bare minimum of members. That means, as Charles Bozzello, the acting chair of the ZBA, said, that an applicant needs the unanimous support of all three board members to win his case. It was pointed out that many feel that they do not have the knowledge to serve on either board, but Badger said that the main qualification for a candidate is a willingness to learn, as there is training available from the State,

both in person and online, supplemented as well by training from other board members. The selectmen favored putting an appeal on the town Web site for volunteers for these boards.

Salmon Press
Martin Lord Osman
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