News & Views
Photo of Sandwich Village by Joe Janis
September 29: Fall colors have arrived early and remind us of the seasonal shift in town priorities. During our regular meeting, we completed our sealed bid process for abandoned boats from Little’s Pond and if you might be interested in a canoe or kayak at a great price please examine our remaining inventory at the Transfer Station. We plan to liquidate all inventory later in October – stay tuned!
Julie Dolan provided a Broadband Advisory Committee update and reviewed ongoing work to secure new sources of federal funding while also voicing continued support of the NH Electric Co-op’s ballot initiative that will enable it to act nimbly upon opportunities to support broadband efforts within member towns. The Co-op owns most of the power poles in town. The Selectmen enthusiastically support this initiative and the creative and dogged dedication of the Broadband Committee.
Three community members have graciously offered to participate in the 2021 budget season that is scheduled to kick-off Tuesday October 13th at 5 pm; we are excited to work with Griff O’Brien, Julie Dolan, and Roger Plimmer as we look ahead to what is shaping up to be a financially uncertain year. As the Selectmen consider weighing capital and operating expenses, we have also begun building tours to better familiarize ourselves with the needs of town buildings. As always, our goal is to strike the delicate balance between keeping our tax rate low while providing quality municipal services. As a reminder (approximately): 43% of your property tax goes to support our local schools, 34% to support the town, 15% to state education, and 8% to Carroll County.
Combining resident input and their own deep understanding of traffic issues, Road Agent Jon Peaslee and Police Chief Varney provided recommendations on intersections in town, such as the intersection of Quaker Whiteface and Stevenson Hill roads, that would benefit from Stop Signs. Balancing public safety with a reluctance to put up too many signs, the Board agreed it be prudent to proactively place signs at selected intersections, particularly given the increase in traffic that we experienced this year.
Selectman Horn updated the Board on a much needed paving project at the Central Fire House. The Highway Department will be working to support the Fire Department’s paving project and we look forward to the project’s completion before plowing season is upon us. As a reminder, this is a good time to think about preparing your car for winter. We live in a rural mountainous town and depend on residents to understand the tricky challenge of winter road conditions and support our road crew that works day and night to serve our community.
As the weather gets cooler and tax season approaches, the Town administration is devising a Town Hall re-opening plan, mindful of safety precautions and subject to modification; under current conditions, Town Hall is scheduled to open for Tuesdays and Thursdays only starting Tuesday October 13th. As a reminder, all town business is still conducted by phone, mail, or outside.
Our Town Clerk/Tax Collector and elections team received much positive feedback regarding residents’ experiences casting Absentee Ballots last Saturday. Staff have been working diligently to ensure an efficient and smooth voting process in the safest manner possible this season and we greatly appreciate the Sandwich Fair Association’s willingness to support this major lift.
In an effort to support our town employees, we are reviewing HR processes and procedures to enhance productivity, support resilient problem-solving, and encourage a heart of service to our town, our residents, and fellow town employees. Our workforce is deeply proud of our town and genuinely appreciates your support and understanding. We accomplish everything that a larger town is expected to do, only with fewer staff.
Lastly, the Board engaged in ongoing discussion to address a property which was improved without advanced approval from the Town. The owner is working to bring the property in compliance; as a reminder, town staff are happy to answer any questions regarding permitting, current use and other related property improvement questions. There is much information also available on the town website: www.sandwichnh.org.
Board of Selectmen
Editor's note: This letter was posted on August 7. The Town Clerk wants everyone to be aware that the State's requirements are subject to change. You can always check with her if you have any questions. Phone number below.
Holding an Election in the Midst of a Pandemic
Holding an election in the midst of a pandemic offers a series of challenges to those of us charged with overseeing these events. It is important that everyone who wants to has the opportunity to cast their ballot while also considering the health and welfare of poll workers and voters. Twice in the next few months, on September 8th for the State Primary Election and then on November 3rd for the General Election for all Federal and State offices, the Town will face the difficulty of balancing these important goals. This year’s elections will look and move a little differently than in the past and we would like to offer our vision of how it will work.
First and foremost, we encourage all voters to vote by absentee ballot. This will afford the most protection for voters and poll workers. The Secretary of State has added, temporarily, the concern of a voter for potential health risks to the allowable reasons to cast an absentee ballot. The form for requesting an absentee ballot is available on the Town Clerk’s section of the Town website. The form is also available at the back entrance to Town Hall. For more information on this you can call the Town Clerk’s office at 603-284-7113.
For the Primary Election in September you will receive a Republican or Democratic ballot depending on which party you are registered with. Undeclared voters may request either ballot but must re-declare as Undeclared or you will be registered to whichever party you requested a ballot for. The form for re-enrolling as Undeclared will be included in your absentee ballot mailing if you request to vote absentee. You must return it along with your completed ballot.
If you choose not to vote by absentee ballot be advised face masks will be REQUIRED to enter the Town Hall to vote. Face masks will be available for those who forgot to bring one. Six foot social distancing will be enforced. Due to the confined space of the elevator to the second floor it will not be used for the elections. Provisions will be made in the parking lot for an area for those physically unable to climb the stairs or for voters who feel unable to wear face masks. If you fall into either of those categories please vote by absentee ballot.
Respectfully, James Mykland, Sandwich Town Moderator
Alison Gage, Sandwich Town Clerk/Tax Collector, 603-284-7113
Town of Sandwich, 8 Maple Street PO Box 194, Sandwich, NH 03227
The experience of one Sandwich voter:
Thank you, Alison, Town Clerk. Rudy and I applied for both ballots on a single application. We mailed those applications in to you. You and Lois checked that we are Sandwich residents, registered voters, real people. Then you mailed us our September 6 ballots. We filled out the ballots. Each of us put our ballot in a special envelope that we sealed and then we signed our names on the outside. Then we inserted this envelope in a larger mailing envelope. Then we mailed it to Town Hall. Lois tells me that the ballots will be held in their sealed envelopes until election day. But every ballot is registered as it comes to Town Hall with the Secretary of State. We can even track our ballot online. No chance of losing it. A safe and careful system is guarding our most precious democratic right. No need to go to Town Hall on election day where election workers might be exposed to someone with Covid-19. We know every vote will be counted that night by our team of Town officials and volunteer registrars. Thanks for protecting democracy!
Courtenay Delaney writes: Hello all, we hope that you are enjoying your summer! Our July 20th Selectmen’s Meeting and work session covered a lot of ground, including a ‘Meet and Greet’ with our Town Counsel Walter Mitchell and Laura Spector-Morgan.
Police Chief Shawn Varney provided us with COVID-19 updates, noting that there are no known active cases in town and that we have a sufficient supply of PPE. Chief Varney also provided a summary of how parking enforcement is going at our Town beaches. All agreed to ‘deputize’ Ole Anderson so he can also issue parking tickets to those without a valid pass/sticker. Ole visits all three beaches on a regular basis and can be that extra set of eyes for enforcement on busy days.
The Sandwich Climate Action Coalition (SCAC) met with the Selectmen and Planning Board Chair, Mike Babcock, to learn how they can help with the Energy Chapter of the Town’s Master Plan when it is next updated with fresh census data. Discussion followed on how best the Selectmen can implement the initiatives within Article 21 from the 2020 Town Warrant.
Alison Gage, our Town Clerk/Tax Collector went through the official liening process which was executed earlier in the day. Documents were signed and notarized and the Selectmen were briefed on the potential deeding of a few properties and those taxes which are delinquent. Despite COVID-19, we are happy to report that the number of properties with delinquent taxes is on par with years past.
The Selectmen have also been evaluating opportunities to improve organizational culture, increase cross-training of staff, and Selectmen Horn has been working on improvements to our employee performance review process. Earlier this summer, the Selectmen agreed to prioritize the goal of empowering the workforce, increasing efficiency where possible and engaging employees in a shared vision for the Town; the Selectmen will continue to evaluate organizational structure, culture, and processes for town business to work toward that end.
Lastly, we had a very good discussion on Town fireworks and postponing them further into the winter based on recommendations by both Chief Varney and Fire Chief Call. After thoughtful consideration, the Selectmen supported the Chiefs’ recommendations and agreed that safety of the town and frontline workers is of the utmost concern during these difficult times. We are hoping Atlas Fireworks agrees to do our fireworks display on New Year’s Eve so we can give a very loud and celebratory goodbye to 2020. Stay tuned!
As always, we are pleased by the efforts of everyone to pitch in, work together, and observe safe protocols. Respectfully, Joanne Haight, Leo Dwyer, Todd Horn, Sandwich Board of Selectmen
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