Letters to the Editor

Amherst Country Club hosts Semper Fi Fund fundraiser

To the Editor:

On September 11, 2015, we’ll look back on 14 years of American determination to quell the aggressive actions of those who would seek to destroy our very existence.

Many of our government agencies work 24/7 to protect us from the invasion of these radical forces from ever reaching our shores. But none have given more than our military men and women who serve on the front lines in foreign countries, to root out the evil that exists.

However, not all who answer the call will return safely. Some will need our support.

As individuals, how can we provide support? The answer may be, to remember those who gave so much; and when the opportunity presents itself, to take an active part in supporting those who are in need.

One such opportunity will be a fundraiser conducted on 9/11 at the Amherst Country Club. It is in the form of a golf tournament for the benefit of the Semper Fi Fund. Because of the overwhelming response by golfers of our communities; the maximum number of players allowed to participate was achieved early and many had to be turned away. But, we are still accepting contributions. All donations, no matter how large or small, will make a difference to those who have answered the call and need our support.

For the benefit of the Semper Fi Fund, send your contribution to New Hampshire Wounded Heroes Golf Classic (NHWHGC). Make your check out to NHWHGC and mail to NHWHGC; PO Box 2 Amherst, NH 03031. Check out our website; www.nhwhgc.altervista.org.

The Semper Fi Fund and its program, America’s Fund, provides immediate financial assistance and lifetime support to post 9/11 wounded, critically ill and injured members of all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families, ensuring that they have the resources they need during their recovery and transition back into their communities. For additional information about the Semper Fi Fund, please go to their website, www.semperfifund.org or www.americasfund.org. When there, click on Events; you will see our Tournament.

More than 94 cents of every dollar that the Semper Fi Fund receives, is directed to various programs that assist our wounded heroes. On behalf of the NHWHGC Committee; we thank you.

George Scollin

Amherst

To the Editor:

Fifteen years ago the citizens of Milford voted to purchase the Brox Property. A detailed Master Plan was developed establishing a portion of the property for commercial/ industrial use to broaden the tax base and a portion for future Town uses; schools (Heron Pond School), cemetery, municipal/ emergency buildings , mining of gravel for Town use and sale and to keep the property out of housing development. The voters also voted to adjust the zoning so the Town can develop this property when needed.

We do not have the right to invalidate that vote.

Kudos to the Selectmen, Town officials and Monadnock Development Corp. for finding an appropriate company to purchase the property.

Noreen O’Connell

Former Selectwoman

Former Planning Board Member

Building Use Committee update to Mont Vernon citizens

To the Editor:

To properly maintain existing buildings or to replace when the time is needed? This is one of the most significant budgetary questions towns are faced with each year. Mont Vernon is no exception and the time has come to truly and thoughtfully address these questions. For years we have been frugal with spending on the maintenance of our town buildings. Sure, we built a new fire station and a new DPW garage and we have conducted some very expensive repairs to the McCollom Building but what has been spent to maintain, really maintain what we already have?

Being frugal can have its benefits but eventually it can also have its costs. As part of our research The Building Use Committee has been looking at what we spend annually to maintain buildings such as Town Hall and the McCollom Building and we think you would be very surprised at just how frugal we have become.

In the very near years to come our community will need to make some difficult and possibly expensive decisions regarding our municipal buildings. Do we renovate and maintain what exists? Do we let what we have fall even further into disrepair? Or do we remove existing buildings and build new? Any decision has associated costs that we cannot continue to avoid.

Our hilltop village is an important focal point of Mont Vernon and the Town Hall, McCollom Building and Daland Library are key elements to the beauty and history of the village. How would our village look without one, two or any of these buildings? But then again, could we build new and recreate the look of each building? This will be for you, the tax payer, to decide.

The Building Use Committee, appointed by the selectmen in June of this year, is researching this information for you and our report is due to the selectmen at the end of September. We are committed to providing in-depth information and options with estimated costs to the selectmen and ultimately the voters to decide how to best address the needs of our municipal buildings.

Yes, any decisions made will have costs and possibly add to our taxes. However, if we choose to continue down the path we have already taken we are only kicking the problem down the road and eventually the decisions will be made for us.

Please take the opportunity to educate yourself. In the weeks to come we will continue to bring some of our findings to you in various ways. If you cannot wait for the condensed installments, I encourage you to review the full meeting minutes at the Town Hall or at the Town of Mont Vernon Website http://www.montvernonnh.us.

William McKinney

Mont Vernon Building Use Study Committee

To the Editor:

I want to thank the many people who have helped and supported me this summer in my battle against Stage IV cancer.

There simply are not words to express how deeply each of you has touched my heart with your outpouring of love and comfort following my May 30 diagnosis. Nothing shattered my existence more than learning from my doctors the road ahead. Worse, my illness meant I am unable to work for the first time since I was 15 years old. The response from the community to raise funds to help me get by was one of the most awesome things I’ve ever experienced. I am humbled and overwhelmed by your generosity and concern. Suddenly, I don’t feel so alone. I don’t have to worry about paying my bills and, instead, can focus on my treatment.

I especially want to thank everyone at Amigo’s restaurant in Milford for hosting the Helping Hands for Kathy fundraiser on July 8 and for the area merchants who donated items to the benefit raffle. In four hours, you raised more than $3,000.

I also am extremely grateful to everyone who donated to "A Helping Hand for Kathy" GoFundMe page. Your donations so far exceeded $7,000 and are making a huge difference in helping me get by. I want to thank the parishioners of St. Patrick Parish for your prayers and concern and a special thank you to our pastor, Father Don Keegan, for his constant support, kindness and strength.

Whether you were there to give me a hug, a word of encouragement, made me laugh, listened when I needed to talk, or donated money, all your kindnesses are deeply appreciated. Every gesture is an act of love that has helped lift and sustain me along this difficult road. I love you all. Please keep me in your prayers.

Kathy Knowlton

Milford

Milford BOS lacks transparency in Brox land deal

To the Editor:

On August 21st the Town’s Attorney wrote the Selectmen about state law 41:14-a telling them that the legislature was concerned about the possibility of circumstances in which a Board of Selectmen (BOS) acted to sell land in a manner inconsistent with the wishes of voters.

Thankfully, the legislature provided a mechanism for the voters to bring the sale to town meeting because evidence suggests that Milford’s BOS did act in a manner inconsistent with the wishes of the voters in the current sale of the town’s Brox land.

The BOS went into non-public session eight times since November 17th to discuss what it called "land acquisition" not "sale." However, the right to know law says that "on its face" the motion to go into non-public session shall state: "the specific exemption under paragraph II which is relied upon as foundation for the nonpublic session." In this case, it means the "Consideration of the acquisition, sale, or lease of real or personal property …."

Yet there is no public record that the BOS had any meeting for the specific purpose of sale of 93 acres of Brox town land!

And then after the July 13th non-public session about land acquisition, the BOS issued a press release seemingly out of nowhere announcing it had approved a sale, surprising just about everyone.

When did the Selectmen talk about the sale of Brox and why didn’t they use the word "sale" when making a motion and when reporting results?

If we haven’t had enough secrecy and misleading information, there’s more.

The Selectmen have since disclosed that negotiations had started in fall 2014, but on May 26th when the Chair of the Conservation Commission (CC) specifically asked about sale of the property, Selectman Fougere misleadingly said to her that there were no negotiations.

While the CC and the rest of us were kept in the dark, there’s evidence that at least one person outside the BOS knew about the sale. An owner of a large tract of land that abuts Brox implied he knew about this deal, because he said at the July 21st Planning Board meeting: "I have heard about this for some time, and I, for one, am very excited."

So it seems the privileged few in Milford can obtain information while the public at large remains in the dark.

I don’t believe lack of transparency and misleading information is what voters expected from the Selectmen when, in 2011, voters added "commercial" to "industrial" as allowed uses in a sale.

Now voters are asking why the Selectmen are virtually giving away the land that the Town previously was trying to sell for $2 million.

I do believe the voters in 2010 wished to have public review and the option to vote on all town property sales, including at Brox, when they adopted state law 41:14-a.

On August 24th more than 100 registered voters took that rightful action by submitting a petition, and, for all the reasons stated here and others, the proposed land sale ought to be placed on the Town Warrant in 2016.

Suzanne Fournier

Coordinator

Brox Environmental Citizens

Milford

Why developing Brox is the right thing

To the Editor:

Recently, the Board of Selectmen signed a purchase and sales agreement to sell a portion of the commercially zoned Brox property. Residents will recall that this has been the stated intention of the voters dating back to when this property was purchased 15 years ago.

Voters gave their approval to buy this land with the very clear understanding that a portion of it (this portion of it) would be sold for commercial development. This is no secret; Boards of Selectmen over these years have tried repeatedly to find a buyer for this land, with no success. Anyone who has driven that section of the 101 bypass over these last 15 years have no doubt seen the large 4’x6′ billboard ‘For Sale’ signs along the roadside. We all knew the land was for sale. To suggest that there is some kind of "backroom deal" taking place is absurd.

Why is this a good idea? The first reason is our tax base. Milford’s existing tax base simply cannot sustain our current community needs. Too much of our tax revenue is generated by residential property (i.e. yours and my property tax bill). Our roads and bridges are in such a state of disrepair, that the selectmen have no choice but to ask the voters for more and more money each year just to keep them up. Just a few of the existing needs we are being asked to pay for are fire trucks, DPW equipment, $5 million for a new library, and fire station repairs. And this does not even include our school district, which has a budget 3 times that of the town. If we are going to be able to simply sustain this town, we need to make the tax base fairer to the Milford taxpayers.

But how do we do this? How do we increase tax revenues without burdening the citizens who live and work in this community each day? We now have a golden opportunity within our grasp. Some special interest activists in town want you to think that this is going to be an environmental nightmare, that we will be destroying a ‘pristine ecosystem’. Let’s think that through. The Route 101 Bypass runs straight through this property. There are high-tension power lines running through this property. There is already a town road (Perry Road) that runs beneath the bypass and through the property, and there has been talk for years that the state may add a new 101 exit ramp at Perry Road leading directly onto this property. In fact, this property was once excavated to provide gravel to build the bypass itself. Not only is this NOT the ecological haven that some want you to believe, this is in fact the perfect location for commercial development. Right off the bypass, where there already are roads for easy access and similar types of industrial and commercial businesses. And again, let’s not forget that this is the very property that voters have multiple times told the selectmen that they want sold for this very purpose.

Another aspect of this plan that makes so much sense involves Heron Pond School.

Currently, 650+ students attend this school, which has only a single point of egress (Heron Pond Road). Current (long-term) plans call for the extension of Heron Pond Road past the school and connecting with Perry Road. Not only would this plan give the school a badly needed second access, it would also alleviate school bus traffic on Whitten Road, giving buses more direct access to other parts of town. This is another example of good long-term planning that allows us to use our resources for the betterment of our community. Now, these are just plans, and this may not end up occurring, but if this special interest group gets their way, none of this will be possible.

Make no mistake; the group that is trying to thwart this sale is not stopping with the commercially-zoned area. It is their stated intention to block any and all use of the entire 270-acre property. This includes the land that has been set aside for potential community uses, such as future schools, athletic field space, cemetery space, and a possible west end fire station. If we allow this land to be taken off the table, guess what happens when we need land for a new school, or a new fire station? We have to go buy the land, which will once again go straight to your property tax bill.

Fortunately for all of us, the voters over the past 15 years had the foresight to plan ahead and make sure we have land set aside for these uses, as well as developable, tax positive land that can be used to reduce our tax burden. Lets not let single-minded activists swoop in after 15 years of careful planning and derail this well-vetted, tax-positive plan for our community’s future.

Tim Finan

Planning board member

Milford

Handicapped pets wheelchair calendar contest

To the Editor

With less than a week left for voting, the highly anticipated first annual Handicapped Pets calendar contest is coming to a close. The Amherst, NH based company created the contest for handicapped-pet owners to submit photos of their dearest fur-babies in their shiny rides – Walkin’ Wheels!

Handicapped Pets, founded by Mark C. Robinson in 2001, is a company that designs and distributes wheelchairs and other accessories for elderly, disabled, and handicapped animals to advocate a happy and healthy life for these precious animals despite any physical or medical limitations.

On August 27th, Handicapped Pets was faced with the difficult feat of narrowing down their overwhelming response of submissions to 53 finalists. Via Facebook, the company’s following of almost 100K has contributed their ‘likes’ to vote for their choice of Walkin’ Wheels pups. Upon the contest’s conclusion on September 9th, thirteen dazzling pets will be selected as favorites to be featured in a 2016 calendar: one for each month, plus a cover photo.

The competitive contest has attracted a remarkably enthusiastic response, with leading finalists collecting close to a thousand votes. Proud parents of these inspirational pets frequently ‘share’ the contest post with friends and family online, and many finalists are even making it into their local newspaper.

The fan base for these charming pets is passionate and steadfast, cheering on the finalists daily.

"Go Cleo. Forever in our hearts :-*," One user commented on the late local sensation, Cleo the Corgi’s photo submission. With the deadline drawing near, be sure to cast your vote for your most admired contestant at facebook.com/handicappedpets!

Alicia Buonamano

HandicappedPets.com

Amherst