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Mixed results for area teachers as town meeting season kicks off

  • Joan Malfaot  (left) and her husband Richard Malfoat (right) exit the Loudon Town Hall after voting in their town elections; Tuesday, March 12, 2013. <br/><br/>(SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor staff)

    Joan Malfaot (left) and her husband Richard Malfoat (right) exit the Loudon Town Hall after voting in their town elections; Tuesday, March 12, 2013.

    (SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Bradford Inspectors of the Election Robert Toppi and Phyllis Wilcox chek in first graders from Marcie Stockwell's class at Kearsarge Regional Elementary School. The first graders voted on how to donate money they raised through a three-week long snack shop. The 36 first-graders voted to donate the money to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.<br/> <br/>Voting on Tuesday, March 12, 2013. <br/>(ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)

    Bradford Inspectors of the Election Robert Toppi and Phyllis Wilcox chek in first graders from Marcie Stockwell's class at Kearsarge Regional Elementary School. The first graders voted on how to donate money they raised through a three-week long snack shop. The 36 first-graders voted to donate the money to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

    Voting on Tuesday, March 12, 2013.
    (ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Officials badges and a gavel lay on the stage in New London Town Hall;  Tuesday, March 12, 2013. By noon 140 people had cast ballots on the $37 million school budget that was up for vote. <br/>(ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)

    Officials badges and a gavel lay on the stage in New London Town Hall; Tuesday, March 12, 2013. By noon 140 people had cast ballots on the $37 million school budget that was up for vote.
    (ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Allan Doyle casts his ballot at the New London Town Hall on Tuesday, March 12, 2013. The town voted on a $37 million school budget.<br/>(ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)

    Allan Doyle casts his ballot at the New London Town Hall on Tuesday, March 12, 2013. The town voted on a $37 million school budget.
    (ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Carol Tiede (left) and Barbara Vessy (right) of the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 42 cook dinner for the poll workers in Barnstead; Tuesday, March 12, 2013. Cooking dinner serves as a fundraiser for scholarship money for local high school juniors selected into the American Legion Auxiliary Girls' State a program that helps educate students about the government.<br/><br/>(SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor staff)

    Carol Tiede (left) and Barbara Vessy (right) of the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 42 cook dinner for the poll workers in Barnstead; Tuesday, March 12, 2013. Cooking dinner serves as a fundraiser for scholarship money for local high school juniors selected into the American Legion Auxiliary Girls' State a program that helps educate students about the government.

    (SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Jerry Conti (center) and Jeanne Eastman (right) joke around as Barnstead Town Moderator Vernon Chris Hipkiss (left) oversees voting in the Town Halll in Barnstead; Tuesday, March 12, 2013. <br/><br/>(SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor staff)

    Jerry Conti (center) and Jeanne Eastman (right) joke around as Barnstead Town Moderator Vernon Chris Hipkiss (left) oversees voting in the Town Halll in Barnstead; Tuesday, March 12, 2013.

    (SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Jeanne Eastman helps register new voters in  Barnstead; Tuesday, March 12, 2013. Eastman's daughter, Judy Forsyth, who was registering voters alongside her made Eastman her name patch. <br/><br/>(SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor staff)

    Jeanne Eastman helps register new voters in Barnstead; Tuesday, March 12, 2013. Eastman's daughter, Judy Forsyth, who was registering voters alongside her made Eastman her name patch.

    (SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Joan Malfaot  (left) and her husband Richard Malfoat (right) exit the Loudon Town Hall after voting in their town elections; Tuesday, March 12, 2013. <br/><br/>(SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor staff)
  • Bradford Inspectors of the Election Robert Toppi and Phyllis Wilcox chek in first graders from Marcie Stockwell's class at Kearsarge Regional Elementary School. The first graders voted on how to donate money they raised through a three-week long snack shop. The 36 first-graders voted to donate the money to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.<br/> <br/>Voting on Tuesday, March 12, 2013. <br/>(ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)
  • Officials badges and a gavel lay on the stage in New London Town Hall;  Tuesday, March 12, 2013. By noon 140 people had cast ballots on the $37 million school budget that was up for vote. <br/>(ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)
  • Allan Doyle casts his ballot at the New London Town Hall on Tuesday, March 12, 2013. The town voted on a $37 million school budget.<br/>(ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)
  • Carol Tiede (left) and Barbara Vessy (right) of the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 42 cook dinner for the poll workers in Barnstead; Tuesday, March 12, 2013. Cooking dinner serves as a fundraiser for scholarship money for local high school juniors selected into the American Legion Auxiliary Girls' State a program that helps educate students about the government.<br/><br/>(SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor staff)
  • Jerry Conti (center) and Jeanne Eastman (right) joke around as Barnstead Town Moderator Vernon Chris Hipkiss (left) oversees voting in the Town Halll in Barnstead; Tuesday, March 12, 2013. <br/><br/>(SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor staff)
  • Jeanne Eastman helps register new voters in  Barnstead; Tuesday, March 12, 2013. Eastman's daughter, Judy Forsyth, who was registering voters alongside her made Eastman her name patch. <br/><br/>(SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor staff)

Teachers and support staff in Allenstown, Deerfield and Epsom saw new contracts pass at the polls yesterday, while their peers in Northwood and Weare saw theirs rejected. Former state representative Tony Soltani lost his bid for Epsom selectman, Northwood Elementary is getting new security and Deerfield voters gave the cold shoulder to Northern Pass.

Weare decided to stop electing its police chief. Voters there also said no to a $675,000 public works building but yes to raises for town employees. Newfound Area and Kearsarge Regional school districts also considered teacher contracts yesterday, but those results were not available by deadline. Also unavailable were the results of a vote on the Hillsboro-Deering school budget, which was cut by
$1 million by voters at a deliberative session.

Yesterday was the kickoff to New Hampshire town meeting season. Voters across the region went to the polls to elect municipal and school district officials. And in communities with the SB 2 form of government, they also considered budgetary questions at the polls.

Here’s a look at some of the big questions on yesterday’s ballots:

∎ In Northwood, voters followed the recommendation of the budget committee and voted down a three-year teacher contract that would have cost $228,147 in raises this year. Voters also rejected a three-year contract for school support staff, but by a smaller margin of 346-317. That contract would have cost $34,261 in raises this year. The school board had supported both contracts.

However, voters did approve a request by the school board to spend $34,589 to beef up security at the town’s elementary school, 417-251.

On the town ballot, Northwood voters passed the proposed $12.36 million budget, an increase of $150,172 over this year’s budget, 475-156. They overwhelmingly rejected requests by the selectmen, however, to allow the selectmen to appoint the town treasurer and road agent. Both will remain elected.

∎ Allenstown voters approved new contracts for teachers and school paraprofessionals but rejected a petitioned warrant article that would have spent nearly $44,000 next year to provide bus transportation for 143 students from the town who attend Pembroke Academy.

That proposal appeared on both the town and school district ballots yesterday, and so was rejected twice, 413-183 on the school ballot and 445-162 on the town ballot.

Tom Irzyk, chairman of the Allenstown School Board, said the district doesn’t provide transportation for its high school students, but a parent wanted to bring forward the proposal. The district has run pilot programs for bus service in the past, he said, “and we just didn’t get the kind of ridership to support it.”

The new four-year contract for Allenstown teachers was approved, 318-294, and a new three-year contract for paraprofessionals was ratified, 332-259. The paraprofessionals’ current agreement will expire this year, but the town’s teachers have been working without a contract since 2011.

Attempts in 2011 and 2012 to pass a new teachers’ contract failed – last year, by just two votes.

“The teachers, they’ve given up some sick time and reduced some of the benefit packages that we were providing, to help get this thing pushed through,” Irzyk said.

∎Epsom’s Soltani, who lost his seat in the state House last year, failed to win a seat on the town board of selectmen. He was handily defeated by incumbent Robert Blodgett, 604-98.

Soltani has been in the news as he stood trial last month in Merrimack County Superior Court for charges related to his involvement in a high-speed police chase last year. A jury convicted him of two misdemeanors, but he was acquitted on a more serious felony charge.

Reached last night, Soltani said he wasn’t surprised by the results. “I expected that,” he said. “My name has been dragged through mud.” Asked if he planned to stay involved in local politics, Soltani said yes.

“It’s good to have some competition,” he said.

A three-year teacher contract passed in Epsom, 436-405. That will cost taxpayers $80,456 this year in raises.

∎ In Danbury, residents voted, 213-120, to spend $5,000 to renovate the bathroom in the town hall. And on a 243-78 vote, they requested a study of whether the town should withdraw from the seven-town Newfound Area School District.

∎ Deerfield voters took a stand yesterday against Northern Pass, the $1.2 billion proposal to bring 1,200 megawatts of hydropower from Quebec to the New England electric grid. The project’s transmission lines are expected to run through New Hampshire, from the U.S.-Canadian border to an existing substation in Deerfield.

A warrant article expressing opposition to the project “as currently proposed” passed on a 796-443 vote. So did a second article expressing a preference for the transmission lines to be buried, not strung along towers, 799-427.

The town also won’t be getting a new $2.4 million public safety complex. Voters rejected a proposed bond for the project, 815-425.

On the school ballot, Deerfield voters gave teachers their first contract in three years, in a vote of 687-542. The contract will cost $113,718 in raises the first year and add 20.9 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value to the tax rate. They also passed the proposed $11.98 million budget, which is up $69,700 over this year’s.

∎ Town employees in Weare will be getting raises this year. But soon, they’ll all be paying 5 percent of their health insurance costs, too.

A new one-year contract for police officers was approved, 708-633, as was a one-year contract for public works employees, 797-539. A separate measure to grant raises to non-unionized town workers also passed, 733-605.

“The highway department employees haven’t had a raise in a long time, like five or six years, and this is the first contract that’s passed with any monetary value to it since their union was formed,” said Tom Clow, chairman of the Weare Board of Selectmen.

As for the police contract, he said, “It was negotiated in good faith, and so to have the voters support that is really good.”

With the raises, Clow said, also come new agreements on health insurance premiums. The town’s non-union employees began paying 5 percent Jan. 1, he said, while the new police and public works contracts mean those employees will begin paying the same share later this year.

That, he said, will provide “very substantial savings for the town.”

School support staff in Weare did not fare as well. Voters rejected a one-year contract, 763-596, and also declined to give school district officials permission to hold a special meeting if a new contract agreement is reached.

Voters did vote, 774-547, to spend up to $600,000 to buy 137 acres on East Road to “preserve (the town’s) rural character.” Under a planned conservation easement, 20 acres would be reserved for recreation and access to a gravel pit for the town.

But voters in Weare weren’t so generous yesterday when it came to infrastructure: Bonds that would have paid for a $675,000 public works facility and a $1.7 million replacement for the Peaslee Road Bridge fell short of the three-fifths threshold needed for approval. The vote was 784-566 for the public works bond and 766-563 for the bridge bond.

“That’s very disappointing, because they were so close. . . . We’ll try again next year, probably, on both,” Clow said.

Weare is one of just a handful of towns in New Hampshire with an elected police chief, and Chief Gregory Begin was elected to a third three-year term in 2011. But Begin, the town’s first elected chief, will also be its last – residents voted 833-491 to make the job an appointed position starting March 2014.

“It’s really very unusual to have an elected police chief,” Clow said.

He said the change isn’t directed at Begin, who will be eligible to apply for the chief job “if he wants to stay on.”

∎ Belmont said yes to allowing a solid waste transfer station within the town’s industrial zone, 276-215. The town put the question to voters after Bestway Disposal Services said it wanted to put a transfer station next to its recycling center on Route 140. Town Planner Candace Daigle supported the request, telling voters that communities that host a transfer station often see a reduction in their solid waste disposal costs.

In a 345-148 vote, Belmont voters also passed the budget committee’s proposed budget of $7 million, which is $36,250 lower than this year’s budget. The selectmen had favored a $7.04 million budget.

∎ Voters will continue to elect the planning board in Pittsfield. A proposal to return to the pre-2007 practice of having the selectmen appoint the planning board, instead of having its members elected by the town, was overwhelmingly rejected, 356-57.

Pittsfield voters also rejected the latest attempt to do away with zoning in the town, 327-85. A similar proposal failed two years ago, 528-213.

∎ Starting next year, the town clerk, tax collector and treasurer in Webster will begin serving three-year terms instead of the current one-year terms. The town voted to extend the terms for the three officers, while at the same time re-electing all three incumbents for one-year terms: Tax Collector Karen King, Town Clerk Michele Derby and Treasurer Mary Smith. (None was opposed.)

∎ New Hampton voters overwhelmingly approved the proposed $2.47 million town budget, an increase of $37,000 over this year’s budget, 222-38. They approved a request by the New Hampton School, a local private boarding school, to hire out a school resource officer. The 177-79 vote allows the selectmen to enter into a 31∕2 year contract with the school.

(Annmarie Timmins can be reached at 369-3323, atimmins@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @annmarietimmins. Ben Leubsdorf can be reached at 369-3307, bleubsdorf @cmonitor.com or on Twitter @benleubsdorf.

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LIVE BLOG: N.H. town meetings and elections 2013

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

11:32 p.m.: That looks like the end of our coverage of tonight's notable events folks! Didn't see your town or school district? Check tomorrow's Monitor for full results and more details. We'll be filling in our holes left from missing results tomorrow as well! ----- 10:54 p.m.: Gordon Preston (298 votes) and David Kerr (276) were elected for selectman positions …

Town-by-town vote totals

Thursday, March 7, 2013

ALLENSTOWN TOWN CLERK (1 seat, 1 year) Kathleen Rogers 371 Stephanie Cheney 209 SELECTMAN (1 seat, 3 years) Jeffrey Gryval 393 Robert Lee 165 SEWER COMMISSIONER (1 seat, 3 years) Carl Caporale 241 Jim Rodger 222 Andrea Martel 119 SEWER COMMISSIONER (1 seat, 1 year) Jeff McNamara 280 John Anderson 266 LIBRARY TRUSTEE (1 seat, 3 years) Pauline Boutin 327 Christine Frost 185 ROAD AGENT (1 seat, 3 years) Ronnie Pellisier 280 …

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