Local adult day program closes permanently

NEWBURY—Less than two years after the Oxbow Senior Independence Program celebrated its 30th anniversary, its day program has had to call it quits. The adult daily services program is yet another victim of the coronavirus pandemic.
OSIP was founded in 1987 with a dual mission. The organization provides subsidized, independent housing for older adults and adults with disabilities at three properties in Newbury and Wells River.
Built in 1988, the Montebello Hill Apartments in Newbury has 15 units. Spear House Apartments and Spear House in Wells River opened in 1992 and have 18 units, according to Robin Barone of Newbury. She has been the chair of the DOSIP board of directors for almost 23 years.

Illegal meeting warned, then cancelled

WELLS RIVER—The governing body of Wells River Village is bereft of a quorum after the resignation of one member and the sudden passing of another.
The village, incorporated in 1888, is an independent subdivision within the town of Newbury. It maintains a municipal water and wastewater system and its own highway department serving a village population of approximately 399 people, according to the 2010 census.
A three-member board of trustees oversees these services and a village clerk, holding an annual meeting and elections the third Tuesday each March.

County lines up new director

NORTH HAVERHILL—Grafton County’s new administrator will be a familiar face to some in the area. After serving as Littleton Town Manager for 5.5 years, Andrew Dorsett will start his new position on Feb. 16. He succeeds Julie Libby, who will become the county’s finance manager.
Previously, Dorsett was a town administrator on both sides of the Connecticut River in Warren and Bradford. He was also served as a selectboard member in Groton.
During his tenure as Littleton’s Town Manager, Dorsett helped manage the River District revitalization—a project, like others, made possible in large part by community volunteers. In an interview, Dorsett said the vision comes from residents, then he gets to embrace it, find community partners, and put together a finance package to oversee the project to completion. Volunteerism has been a critical part of Littleton’s progress, he said

Plant plans draw public ire

WOODSVILLE—The Haverhill Selectboard voted on Monday night to seek a public hearing by state regulators on a proposal to expand capacity and increase emissions at the biodiesel plant in the business park in North Haverhill.
The board’s vote comes as the biodiesel’s plant’s owner, Renewable Fuels by Peterson, have filed a request with the state to modify its permit with the state. According to its application, the company wants to install new equipment that would increase generating capacity from 6.8 million gallons per year to 7.8 million gallons per year.
The equipment would also increase methanol emissions, which is a regulated air pollutant, according to a summary of the request by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services.

Auction casts focus on vault repairs

BRADFORD—A mysterious void lies beneath.
For nearly a decade, the so-called “vault” under a Main Street sidewalk has vexed town officials. The vast empty cavern is a remnant, some believe, from a fire more than 50 years ago that reshaped one end of the downtown.
There is little wistful nostalgia, however, for this pest from the past. It is an expensive problem as aging supports crumble and deteriorate undermining sidewalk and building integrity.
There may, however, be some light at the end of the tunnel. With preliminary repair work underway and an upcoming property auction, there is renewed enthusiasm in finding a long-term fix.

Board tweaks truck purchase

ORFORD—A proposed 2021 Orford municipal budget is roughly level-funded with last year’s, according to an overview provided by selectmen at a public hearing last week.
Selectboard chair John Adams said the plan for 2021 is approximately $7,000 less than the 2020 budget, despite increases in employee health insurance, wages, and other costs.
“We figured out various ways to hold that down,” he said during a public hearing on Jan. 21 held via teleconferencing software.
The proposed operating budget is $1,158,454.

Chamber assesses efforts in challenging year

WELLS RIVER—“This year has been like no other for the chamber,” Cohase Chamber of Commerce Board President Andrew Barter said at this year’s annual meeting held on Jan 19.
The organization pivoted in response to the pandemic from its regular lineup of activities and tackled projects that strengthened its foundation. Although it produced at least one annual event along with a virtual summit, the overall theme for 2021 was organization and a new level of leadership.
The first big change of the year came in the first quarter with a new executive director, Ruth Ann Hacking.

In Times Past —It’s still in the mail—

“The postal service is for a variety of good reasons made a public function; but that it results in more economical or efficient management, there is not only no evidence to show but all evidence available contradicts.”—Windham County Reformer, Dec. 27, 1901.
The first part of this postal history analysis was published in December and was posted on my blog at larrycoffin.blogspot.com. It covered early postal delivery, rates, offices, the appointment of male and female postmasters, and the controversy over Sunday mail delivery.
This column continues to explore the history of the postal service and its myriad offerings, especially in the period before 1950. The interactions between public postal services and private enterprise, especially as it impacted the development of the government agency, are important areas surveyed here.

Fury after TM’s ‘morons’ comment

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article refers to statements using explicit language. Readers should be aware that the explicit language is quoted in full in a paragraph on page 8.
HAVERHILL—A furor erupted on social media last week after Haverhill Town Manager Brigitte Codling was caught on video using profanity to describe some of the town’s residents.
The comments were made after the conclusion of a budget advisory committee meeting on Jan. 12. The meeting was streamed live via Facebook and a recording was later posted to the town’s Facebook page.
After the meeting formally concluded, the voices of both Codling and finance assistant Jennifer Boucher, who are both off-camera, are heard. While some of the audio is garbled or inaudible, the two appear to discuss town meeting warrant article petitions circulating in town.

Oxbow finally has a budget

BRADFORD—In the fourth round of voting, the Oxbow Unified Union School District finally has a budget approved for the fiscal year that began over six months ago.
In balloting that was completed on Jan. 13, 552 residents in Bradford and Newbury voted to approve the $16,780,183 budget. There were 351 votes against the budget. There were 904 total ballots with one spoiled.
In Bradford, there were 208 absentee votes and 308 walk-ins. In Newbury, there were 226 absentee votes and 162 walk-ins.