Board weighs discontinuing roads

NORTH HAVERHILL—Selectboard members discussed a proposal that the town relinquish maintenance of several class V roadways in town.
During the selectboard meeting on Nov. 23, Haverhill Town Manager Brigitte Codling asked board members to consider several warrant articles to discontinue town roads with three or less residences on them.
Codling said that under state law, the board can vote to put a question before town meeting asking voters to discontinue certain town roads. If discontinued, the road becomes a class VI roadway and is subject to private maintenance.

Oxbow budget falls again

BRADFORD—Voters narrowly rejected a 2020-2021 operating budget for the Oxbow Unified Union School District last week.
With 1,178 people in Bradford and Newbury participating, 50.3 percent (593) voted against the $16,780,183 proposal while 49.1 percent (578) voted in favor. There were seven blank ballots.
This was the third attempt to get an operating budget for the current school year passed. The margin this time was much tighter than the previous two votes.
Last week’s turnout was by the far the highest in the two towns during the three rounds of voting held in 2020. Like the first round in June, ballots were mailed to all registered voters this time. For the Sept. 1 vote, ballots were only mailed upon request.

Town meeting back to Tuesday

BRADFORD—It looks like next year’s town meeting in Bradford will be on a Tuesday.
Earlier this year, residents were asked to consider alternatives to the traditional meeting date and time—the first Tuesday in March at 9 a.m. In an Australian ballot vote, held in conjunction with Vermont’s presidential primary, voters opted to hold the 2021 town meeting on the first Saturday in March.
But shortly after the vote, town officials learned that state law mandates that the deliberative be held on the first Tuesday in March or one of the preceding three days. In 2021, the first Saturday in March occurs only after the first Tuesday of the month, nullifying the 2020 town meeting day vote.

Classroom shelter eyed for town forest

BRADFORD—Low-St. John Forest has long been used as an outdoor learning lab for students at Bradford Elementary School. But they may soon have an actual classroom to use when they are learning in the forest.
The Bradford Planning Commission has given its OK to the construction of an outdoor classroom shelter.
The forest was acquired by the former Bradford Academy and Graded School District in 1946 when Jessie Blakely Low donated 65 acres of forestland on Mount Tug off of Goshen Road. In 1961, Nina St. John donated an additional 60 acres. Now, the Oxbow Unified Union School District owns the property.

Cottage Hospital CEO to resign

WOODSVILLE—The leader of the local hospital for the last 10 years will step aside early next year.
A spokesperson for Cottage Hospital confirmed on Monday morning that Dr. Maria Ryan had resigned.
“Dr. Maria Ryan surprised the Board of Trustees and the hospital staff with her resignation, with the last day being Jan. 30, 2021,” wrote Dhaniele Duffy. “The outpouring of love and respect from the staff was immediate. Dr. Ryan has great business sense, but more importantly she was known as the People’s CEO. The letters from her staff are filled with stories about how Dr. Ryan positively touched their lives.”

Men face charges in monoxide deaths

NORTH HAVERHILL—Three local men have been indicted for their roles in the January 2019 carbon monoxide deaths of a Lyman couple.
John and April Courtney died as a result of the poisoning. Last week, Richard Mallett Jr., 49, of Woodsville, Philip Poirier, 28, of Corinth, and Adam Vigent, 51, of North Haverhill—all three licensed gas fitters in New Hampshire—were indicted on negligent homicide charges.
Beginning in October 2018, the men installed a new heating system with a gas boiler at the Courtney residence. According to the indictments, Vigent came up with the installation and directed the system installers, Mallett and Poirier.

Legislature approves detention center

NEWBURY—The Vermont Legislature’s Joint Fiscal Committee has approved a plan for the Becket Family of Services to operate a new state juvenile detention center in Newbury. The six-bed, residential treatment program for youth involved in the state criminal justice system would undergo a $3.1 million renovation to transform the former bed and breakfast into a secure facility.
The committee voted unanimously on Nov. 20 to approve the plan, as previously recommended by the Joint Legislative Justice Oversight Committee and the Joint Legislative Child Protection Oversight Committee. The Becket-run site would replace the Woodside Juvenile Rehabilitation Center in Essex, which closed in October

NH has mask mandate

New Hampshire imposed a statewide mask mandate last week after “substantial community transmission” of COVID-19 was found in all 10 of the state’s counties.
Under the mandate, all New Hampshire residents over the age of 5 will have to wear masks or cloth face coverings over their noses and mouths when they are within indoor or outdoor public spaces and cannot maintain a physical distance of at least 6 feet. The order defines “public spaces” as any public or private spaces generally open to the public from lobbies and waiting areas to restaurants and retail businesses to parks and patios.
The mandate took effect on Nov. 20 and will remain in place until Jan. 15 under the current executive order from Gov. Chris Sununu.

ZBA holds hearing on sawmill

PIERMONT—The Piermont Zoning Board of Adjustment will consult town counsel about whether a small firewood processing mill that started operating earlier this year needs a permit.
The ZBA held a hearing on the matter on the evening of Nov. 16.
The mill is located at the intersection of Route 25 and River Road on the former Gould’s Store parcel. The property is owned by FAS Holdings and Mike Olsen of North Haverhill, but the mill has been operated by tenant Jackson Mitchell.

Detention center plan moves forward

NEWBURY—A legislative panel voted on Nov. 12 to approve a plan to open a new state juvenile detention center in Newbury.
The Joint Legislative Justice Oversight Committee signed off on a recommendation from the Vermont Agency of Human Services and Vermont Department of Children and Families to enter into a contract with the Becket Family of Services for a six-bed, secure residential treatment program for youth involved in the state criminal justice system.
Under the deal with Becket, the state would spend more than $3.1 million to renovate a former bed and breakfast on 280 acres at the end of Stevens Place, a dirt-covered, dead-end road off of Fish Pond Road. For the last five years, Becket has been operating the Vermont Assessment Center at Newbury at the site