Pratt home is past Covid outbreak

BRADFORD—The Margaret Pratt Center has won a COVID-19 battle.
When the virus came to call, it was no match for the prepared.
Thirteen breakthrough cases were discovered in fully vaccinated staff and residents who suffered only mild symptoms in an outbreak which began on Oct. 29.
The center currently has 46 residents with a 40-member staff.
The outbreak was traced to someone outside the center.

DCF plans court challenge

MONTPELIER—The Vermont Department for Children and Families will appeal to the Environmental Court to overturn the Newbury Development Review Board’s decision to deny the proposed Covered Bridge juvenile detention facility.
DCF Commissioner Sean Brown told legislators during a hearing on Nov. 19 of the Joint Legislative Child Protection Oversight Committee. DCF will appeal the decision alongside Becket Family of Services, the private contractors that would operate the facility under its Vermont Permanency Initiative subsidiary.
“We are disappointed in that decision, and while it is a legal document and any challenge to it will be a legal process, we believe there is basis for appeal,” Brown said.

DRB rules against detention center

NEWBURY—The Newbury Development Review Board has rejected the site plan application for the proposed Covered Bridge juvenile detention center.
In a 7-0 decision issued on Nov. 12, the board found that the development could not satisfy the town’s zoning regulations in the rural district where Stevens Place is located.
Covered Bridge would be owned and operated by the nonprofit Vermont Permanency Initiative, Inc., an offshoot of Orford-based Becket Family of Services. VPI has been operating an assessment and treatment center for adolescents at that location for several years.

Budget prep now underway

BRADFORD—Selectboard members will start reviewing a proposed 2022 budget in earnest at their meeting on Nov. 23.
The board, which typically meets on the second and fourth Thursday of the month, moved its next meeting to Tuesday, Nov. 23 so as not to conflict with the Thanksgiving holiday.
A preliminary draft of the budget prepared for the meeting on Nov. 11 shows more than $2.5 million in proposed municipal spending. There are earmarks for the town-operated summer camp which was cancelled the last two years due to COVID-19 and inadequate staffing.

Court says town owes precinct

NORTH HAVERHILL—Haverhill has been ordered by a court to repay highway money it withheld from Woodsville.
The ruling comes as the two entities appear headed for trial in February over a lawsuit filed in 2020. But at least for now, Woodsville has been given a major boost as it seeks to claw back money it claims was kept from the precinct.
The dispute has some history with aspects of the agreement incorporated into state law dating to the 19th century.

State rep holds Town Hall

WEST FAIRLEE—Rep. Sarah Copeland Hanzas, D-Bradford, led an evening Town Hall forum hosted by the selectboard at the West Fairlee Community Building on Nov. 10.
She reviewed several issues relevant to West Fairlee, such as broadband expansion, roads and bridges, housing, in light of the American Relief Plan Act and infrastructure funds.
“Sarah Copeland Hanzas likes to touch base with the selectboard every year and have the opportunity for a more broad discussion with folks,” selectboard chair Delsie Hoyt said to get the forum underway.

Discrepancies persist on Covid school counts

NORTH HAVERHILL—The COVID-19 case tracking dashboard run by SAU-23 shows different numbers than the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services school case dashboard.
SAU-23, the school district that covers Haverhill, Bath, Benton, Piermont, and Warren, started maintaining a COVID-19 case tracking dashboard online in September when students began to test positive for the virus.
As of Nov. 8, four of SAU-23’s eight schools had different case numbers on the district dashboard and the state dashboard.

Fairlee water leak plugged quickly

FAIRLEE—A massive water leak in the municipal water system was repaired last weekend.
Selectboard chair Peter Berger said on Sunday that the leak was in an old section of pipeline feeding the cemetery across from the system’s pump house on Route 5 north of the village.
On the afternoon of Nov. 5, sensors alerted the water systems operators that there was a problem. When the leak was discovered, water was pouring out at a rate of 200 gallons per minute.

Projects lined up for ARPA windfall

NORTH HAVERHILL—Grafton County received over $17 million in funding from the federal American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA, and the county government plans to direct these funds to several local projects.
“It’s an unprecedented opportunity, and I’m excited to see how we can help improve our services, reduce taxes, and provide county residents with some long term meaningful progress,” Grafton County Administrator Andrew Dorsett said.

Board declines mask mandate

NORTH HAVERHILL—There will be no requirement for players and fans to wear masks during basketball games at Haverhill schools this winter.
On Monday night, the school board voted 4-3 not to impose a mask mandate at basketball games as several months of indoor competitive sports near. The vote does not change current masking protocols inside Haverhill schools for academics, but board members asked the superintendent to once again survey parents and community members about masking in advance of their December meeting.