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July 29, 2020 top stories
Ambulance contract in limbo

NORTH HAVERHILL–The Haverhill Selectboard wants more information before it releases public funds to Woodsville Ambulance.
In a 4-0 decision at the selectboard meeting on July 20, the board voted to withhold $110,000 in municipal funding. Selectman Steve Robbins, who is a paramedic for the service, recused himself from the vote.
The move comes a few weeks after the board approved a contract for the current fiscal year and following several months of poor relations between the town of Haverhill and Woodsville precinct. The latter entity has sued the former entity in a dispute over highway revenue-sharing.
During last week’s board meeting, selectman Matthew Bjelobrk made a motion to “hold off” on releasing those funds until the town can confirm with the precinct that the ambulance service is a valid entity that is licensed with the state.
In January, the precinct submitted a proposed contract with the town under the name Woodsville Rescue Ambulance. They later submitted a revised contract under the name Woodsville Fire District.
Bjelobrk said the latter does not have a license to operate an ambulance service while the former did not exist at the time an application was made to the New Hampshire Bureau of Emergency Medical Services for licensing in 2019.
“The problem is that entity did not exist at the time that this thing was filed,” he said.
To drive the point home, he filed an application with the Secretary of State’s Office to incorporate Woodsville Rescue Ambulance, Inc. The application was approved on June 26.

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The 2020 North Haverhill Fair is in the books. Of course, it was a little different this year as this hay bale at the fairgrounds along Route 10 noted. It wasn’t alone as the fair still sponsored a hay bale trail with entries from across the area taking part from home or business. Some of the winners and other festive designs can be found inside this week’s edition.
WRVS outlines
reopening plans

WAITS RIVER—Waits River Valley School’s staff has been developing plans over the summer to ensure a smooth reopening.
The main focus with the reopening is to ensure protection for students and staff.
State-mandated changes as well as protocols instituted by Principal Carlotta Simonds-Perantoni will be evident from the first day.
During the July 23 board meeting on Zoom, attended by parents and community members, Orange East Supervisory Union Superintendent Emily Knisley and Perantoni addressed the protocols.
One parent had concerns on what would happen if a child contracts COVID. Who would pay for testing? What about the plight of the uninsured?
Knisley responded that the Vermont Department of Health would help in working with contact tracers and if someone becomes positive, the state agency would get involved. If the contact was in school, the appropriate people would be notified and quarantined.
“Health insurers are covering costs of COVID,” Knisley said. She didn’t have any information on how the uninsured would handle the cost.
When asked about the school’s plan to keep masks on students, Perantoni responded, “Masks will be required. We’ll be diligent … masks on inside, masks off outside and social distancing conversations.”

OUUSD sets
revote date

BRADFORD—School board members unanimously voted to approve a revised budget for the Oxbow Unified Union School District. The budget and an article asking Bradford and Newbury residents to approve the sale of the former Boltonville School property in Newbury will be on the warning for an Australian ballot vote on Sept. 1.
Administrators trimmed $179,098, or about 1.1 percent, off of the budget that voters rejected on June 30. At the previous board meeting on July 15, a letter was reviewed that was signed by 11 residents in Bradford and Newbury. That group requested that at least one percent of the original budget be cut before putting it before voters again and suggested that the cuts be made by reducing administrators’ salaries in order to put students first.
The new budget amount is $17,086,683, of which $12,291,035 will be raised in taxes. The revised budget is 4.74 percent larger than the 2019-2020 budget which was $16,312,935. Revenues for the 2021 fiscal year are projected to be 2.41 percent higher. This would result in an equalized per pupil spending rate of $18,195 versus $16,814 for FY 2020. Projected spending per pupil is 8.2 percent more than last year.
The impact on the two towns would be to increase the homestead tax rate by 7.25 percent in Bradford to $1.6899 and 4.54 percent to $1.6279 in Newbury, a decrease of about 2.5 cents from the defeated budget’s homestead tax rates.
An informational meeting for members of the public will be held by Zoom on Aug. 19.
OUUSD board chair Danielle Corti informed colleagues that the item on their agenda regarding the article to dissolve the district had been removed. She had been notified by the group that requested it that having the board discuss dissolving the district now was not the “correct path.” The letter writers must work with the towns on that question first, rather than the school board.

Rivendell schools
target hybrid plan

ORFORD—Rivendell Interstate School District’s reopening will look different for different students.
Some students will return to school in person, while others will resume their studies remotely. The choice will be up to parents and guardians.
Although details of Rivendell’s reopening recommendations have not yet been unveiled, Superintendent Barrett Williams has made it clear that parents will have both options as the new school year begins.
The recommendations are intended to show “what in-person learning will look like and what remote learning will look like,” Williams said in a recent interview. Most important, he said, is to “rebuild relationships with kids” who have been out of school since mid-March “and to address their social and emotional needs,” while furthering their education.
Plans were designed to be flexible to comply with state guidelines for in-person, remote and hybrid approaches, recognizing there could be changes during the year, depending on health data and evolving state requirements.
Rivendell’s reopening plans will gradually be unveiled starting July 31, when they will be released to the faculty and staff. The Rivendell board will then weigh in and presumably approve the plan, with or without changes, on Aug. 4.

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