Town of Walpole Staff Meeting – 12/19/20

Selectboard Present:Steven Dalessio (Chair); Peggy Pschirrer; Cheryl Mayberry

 

Staff Present:Sarah Downing (Manager of Administration); Richard Kreissle (Administrator of Finance); Justine Fafara (Library Director); Justin Cassarino (Recreation Director); Ben Hoy (Recycling Director); Justin Sanctuary (Lt. Police Department); Sandra Smith (Town Clerk/Tax Collector); Helen Dalbeck (Hooper Institute Executive Director); 

 

Excused:Michael Rau (Road Agent/Highway Department Director)

 

CALL TO ORDER:  Mr. Dalessio called this Staff Meeting to order at 5:00 PM in the Bridge Library and welcomed everyone.  He thought it would be a good idea to meet here to show the progress made on the library.  It is a spectacular Town building and this is a grand addition.  It is the result of a lot of hard work by many different people.  A round of applause was given to Mrs. Fafara for putting this all together.  He advised this meeting is being recorded.

 

Recreation Department:  Mr. Cassarino submitted the following report dated December 18, 2019.

Basketball:

 Practices, games, and clinics have started last week.  The Pre-K through K children are having a great time.
 Some teams have participated in jamborees in the area;Others will be participating in tournaments in January or February.
 Looking at purchasing more attachable hoops.  Struggling to figure out where to store them;

Will be talking to Sam Jacobs and/or new principal at the Walpole School.

Daddy and Me Dance:

 Getting everything ready to soon post to the public and put in the paper.  The date will be Saturday, February 8th, 2020, the week before Valentine’s Day.
 Will start selling tickets in January.

Ice Skating:

 Working with Bruce Bickford to see if he would be interested in doing this for the town again.  It will be in the field on the side of St. John’s Church.  
 They would like to get this started right at the beginning of January.

Mr. Dalessio hopes the new principal will continue to work with the Town as Mr. Jacobs does.  Mr. Cassarino replied that this was brought up with the Superintendent of Schools and will be a part of the interview process.  Ms. Mayberry noted that community involvement is on the interview list.  Mr. Cassarino advised their goal is to have this vacancy posted by tomorrow and finalized by April or May 2020.  Ms. Landry stated that the person has to be the “right fit”.  Ms. Mayberry added the contract starts July 1st, 2020.    

 

Hooper Institute:  Ms. Helen Dalbeck submitted the following report for the period of 11/22/2019-12/17/2019:

School Programs:  Ms. Dalbeck reported a lot has been happening.  The 4th grades have been travelling to local farms and Christmas tree growers.  Younger students have been making seasonal crafts and getting outside for some winter tree identification.  Fifth graders have been deep in soil studies and 6th graders have been studying cones, conifers and composting the raised beds in the snow. Spinach is being harvested from the High Tunnel for the school kitchen and the structure has been buttoned down and partially sealed for the winter.  It will eventually freeze but they will have fresh greens until it does.

Public Programs:  December was all about prepping for wreathmaking and teaching two wreathmaking workshops.  There were 12 wreathmakers.  Attached is a photo of Ben Hoy with wreath in hand!  They will do this program again.

Community Outreach:  They had a table with crafts at the Thanksgiving Farmers Market in Walpole on Nov. 23.  She was able to set up a slideshow, make vegetable necklaces with the kids, meet some more of the local farmers, crafters, artists and ardent walkers and outdoors people that live in this town.  A highlight for her was connecting with two students that are members of the Green Group at Fall Mt. HS.

Building and Grounds:  The driveway is being plowed by an anonymous volunteer and they do an amazing job.  The Institute building will be closed for the winter on 12/20.  Becky and she will continue to drop in on occasion to pick up program materials, check phone messages and keep an eye on the place.  She will be working from home on most days when she is not teaching or hosting a special program in town or attending meetings.  She hopes to reopen the Hooper Institute the week of March 23, 2020, weather dependent.

Governance:  The HI Board meets the 1st Wednesday each month, 7pm except in January, their meeting will be on 1/8/20, at the Town Hall.  The administrative team for Friends of Hooper Institute has been meeting monthly.  Next up will be a FOHI members gathering and a roll out of a new 2020 fundraising event (or two).

 

Looking ahead, the Walpole Village Tree Tour flyer is attached, 1/12/20; Tracks and Trees 3/8/20 at Distant Hill, and Eyes on Owls, live owl program on 4/11/20.  Mr. Dalessio mentioned in June 2020 there will be an Old Home Days celebration.  Ms. Dalbeck might want to think about some Hooper activities.  Ms. Mayberry advised they can get Ms. Dalbeck connected to the school system for delayed openings and/or school closings.  Calls go out at 5:00am.

 

Ms. Dalbeck thanked everyone and asked them to please consider becoming a Friend of the Hooper Institute (FOHI).

 

Recycling Center:  Mr. Ben Hoy presented the following report dated 12/19/19.  He mentioned that winter at the Recycling Center is a little different.  They have to watch out for ice but sand is available.  Alstead transfer station has decided to dispose of all plastics received at their facility.  Many concerned residents are now bringing their plastic recyclables to Walpole, where all #1 and #2 plastics are recycled.  Several towns around the state have turned to disposing of recyclables without the necessary recycling infrastructure in place.  Our recycling system has risen to the challenges imposed on the market today with an organized pre-sort system and the baling machinery/manpower to improve the quality of outgoing product.  Walpole recycling recently organized and cleaned out 2 trailers that were previously unused, and turned them into active commodity storage zones to maintain full truckloads of pure OCC cardboard, which fetch the highest dollar on the market.  With the newly created space, they are also separating different types of plastic. Their volunteers can support the extra plastic coming in.

 

Sand is available to the public in the green “can” next to the compactor marked “Sand”.

 TrueNorth confirmed desktop computer at Recycling Center will not be able to receive security updates after January 14, 2020.  Replacement of the tower recommended by TrueNorth.  Mr. Dalessio said they need to go back to TrueNorth for the same configuration the Town office has and get a price.
 Reuse Center 30×40 addition estimates have been received from Griffin Construction and Seldon concrete as of 12/17/19.
 Interviewing applicant for open recycling attendant position 12/19/19.  Filling the open position will bring them back up to full working capacity.
 Used waste oil collected over the spring summer and fall is keeping our workers, volunteers, and public warm within the Recycling Center.  Picked up several truckloads of banana boxes from library over the past few weeks.  Donated several pallets of banana boxes to the Fall Mtn. Food Shelf for the holiday season.

 

Responding to a question from Mr. Dalessio, Mr. Hoy stated the weights look about average.  Most of the weight is from garbage.  Mr. Kreissle will do a revenue worksheet.  

 

Town Clerk/Tax Collector:  Mrs. Sandra Smith distributed copies of her staff report.

They have been very busy collecting taxes, answering questions, etc.  Will be glad when this year is over!

 

They have collected $4,324,238.07 on the fall warrant of $5,875,765.00 giving them an uncollected of $1,551,526.93.  They have a due date of Monday, December 23rd.  Happy Holidays to all!

 

Mr. Dalessio pointed out that property tax bills went out about a day earlier than usual.  This is the time of year the Town starts to run short of money.  In mid-December a check for $1,000,000+ is issued to the Cheshire County.  The FMRSD payment is made every month.  

 

Police Department:  Lt. Justin Sanctuary was present.  The Police Department had handed in a report for the period of November 16, 2019-to-December 15, 2019.  Total monthly calls for service were down to 295.  Drivers seem to be more careful and do not go out as much in the winter months.  

 

Public Safety Comparison:

Emergency – 30Administration – 55Citizen Assists – 59

Motor Vehicle Calls:

Accidents – 7MV Stops – 52Traffic Safety – 11

Criminal Investigations:

Drug/Alcohol – 9Crimes Against People – 52Crimes Against Property – 20      

 

Lt. Sanctuary advised that at the end of the year they have many reports that need to go to the State.  They have had more dog calls than usual.  Identity theft is difficult to track.  North Walpole no longer has the Warming Shelter as it was relocated to Route 5 in Westminster.  This has cut down on pedestrians crossing the bridge.  

 

Highway Department:  Mr. Mike Rau was unable to attend.  He has been putting in a lot of hours due to the weather and vehicle breakdowns.  Mr. Mike Simonds broke a finger while in the process of putting a plow on the truck.  The department is now down two people.  An experienced employee has been hired and will start in early January.  Mr. Dalessio mentioned that next year they hope to put up another building and get rid of a garage building here in the Village.  It will consolidate items.  All building roofs were fixed.  Following is his written report for the period of 11/21/19-to-12/18/19.

 Serviced trucks and equipment;
 Cold patched;
 Crushed metal dumpster at Recycling Center;
 Cleaned catch basins;
 Winter weather call outs on 11/21, 11/23, 11/24, 12/1, 12/2, 12/3, 12/6, 12/13, 12/14, 12/17, and 12/18.
 Put out sand piles;
 Cut outs in snowbanks for rain;
 Sanded Recycling Center;
 Fixed Truck-7 Hydraulic hose;
 Fixed Truck-1 lights, hydraulic hose;
 Foxed Truck-8 wing block, wheels;
 Foxed Truck-3 hydraulic hose x2,
 Fixed Truck-9 window;
 Fixed Truck-5 cylinder bracket, lights, hydraulic hose;
 Fixed Aebi exhaust;
 Equipment storage roof is finished;
 Trees cut in shop yard.

 

Selectboard Office:  Mrs. Sarah Downing submitted the following written Staff Meeting Report dated December 19, 2019.

Assessing Update:

 As part of the cyclical revaluation process, 25% of the Town will be visited by Avitar over a four-year period.  We are now in our 3rd year of revaluation.  In the fifth year, sales data is analyzed, property credit and exemptions are audited, etc.
 The Avitar field representative is currently visiting properties for list and measures for this year’s section of revaluation.  If changes in condition, improvements, etc. are noted, changes will occur on property owner’s tax cards.
 Property owners are encouraged to review tax cards for accuracy.
 If property owners have questions or requests related to the revaluation process or any other assessment questions, they are to call the Selectboard Office.
 Property Assessment Abatement, Veterans’ Tax Credit, Solar Energy Tax Credit, Elderly Assessment Exemptions and Current Use applications are being accepted at the Selectboard Office.  The Abatement Application deadline is March 1, 2020.  The PA-29 and A-10 forms are due on or by April 15, 2020.
 The DRA has set the 2019 Equalization Median Rate for Walpole as 101%.  Therefore, in general, property assessments have been found to be a bit lower than the current market value.

Water and Sewer:

 Thirty-day late notices have been sent out by Mrs. Jodi Daigle.  Sewer and Water Liens were warranted to the Tax Collector on 12/12/19.

Town Hall Facilities:

 An updated Town Hall rental rate sheet has been created.  Damage deposits have been increased.  The half-day rentals are no longer available for future agreements.  The gazebo is no longer available for rent.
 The new swipe-card based locking system is in the last stage of installation.  Cards have been created for those that need access to the Town Hall.  Expect more information in the near future from the Selectboard Office.

 

Mr. Kreissle reported that for years there has been discussion about how many keys were out there with the public.  At times people would rent the Town Hall for a Saturday but with a key would come in Friday evening.  Security was an issue.  At the beginning of October, Mr. Brad Nash and Mr. Kreissle worked together to find a vendor.  With the new system they can control when people access or exit the building.  It is a pricy system.  They researched three vendors.  Mrs. Jodi Daigle has been working with the installer and learning how to work the system.  Mr. Kreisler and Mr. Nash continue to work on the final details before implementing the new security system. 

 

Vacation Time:  The Selectboard distributed copies of a change in vacation time starting January 1, 2020.  Some employees have accumulated so many vacation hours, it has been impossible to reduce their accumulated vacation time. Mrs. Pschirrer explained that in the past some employees carried over 40 hours. With this change, employees can now carry over up to 80 hours.  Employees now have the option of contributing some of their accumulated hours to the Sick Leave Pool.  The Selectboard will decide whether or not they should buy back some of those vacation hours during the Selectboard meeting tonight.  If so, the employee will receive an individual letter explaining the calculations.  They encourage employees to use some of their accrued vacation time.             

 

ADJOURNMENT:  Mr. Dalessio thanked Mrs. Fafara for letting us use this new meeting room in the Library.  He wished everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  This Staff Meeting was adjourned at 5:55 PM.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Regina Borden, Recording Secretary

 

 

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