News & Views
Photo of Sandwich Village by Joe Janis
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
We hope that you are well. On June lst we continued the process of exploring potential COVID-19 driven Town budget reductions (reduction in paving expense, workforce, etc.). We will proceed thoughtfully and will not compromise essential services.
On Sunday, May 31, we honored Police Chief Wyman with a drive-by celebration in appreciation of his 20 years of exemplary service to our Town. Thank you to the many town residents, family members, and law enforcement colleagues from across the state – and beyond - who showed up with signs, balloons, cards, and heartfelt praise. You might have heard the full Fire Department and Law Enforcement sendoff escort. We are deeply grateful for his years of proactive leadership and deep commitment to the very best principles of community policing.
On Monday, we held swearing in ceremonies for our new Police Sergeant, Karl Koch (pronounced “cook”), and the promotion of Staff Sgt. Shawn Varney to Chief. We truly appreciate the tremendous community affirmation in support of Police Chief Varney.
We are finalizing our plans for our beaches and summer recreation. This has required more study and taken longer than any of us would wish, thank you for your understanding.
Roads, road drainage, and the Transfer Station continue to occupy much of our time. We approved the $2+ million yearly Tax Anticipation Note (TAN) that provides us with necessary working capital until property taxes are collected. Each week the Selectmen report on what the residents have shared with them so that we can provide community responsive leadership.
Please support our local businesses and nonprofits as we look to get our local economy back into gear. We will all need to pitch in, work together, and observe safe protocols. Respectfully, Joanne Haight, Leo Dwyer, Todd Horn, Board of Selectmen
The Sandwich Selectmen write: Hello all: Thank you to all residents who participated in the recreational spaces survey! It is great to hear how committed this community is to using public spaces in a safe and fair manner. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be implementing modifications to beach policies this year with the understanding that we must remain flexible in this time of ever-changing circumstances. All policies are subject to change, however we understand residents are eager to begin summer planning. Community cooperation is essential to ensuring effective policies and is greatly appreciated in advance!
Please wear a mask when moving to and from vehicles and maintain distance from anyone that is not in your household (per CDC guidelines). Please do not come to the beach if you or a member of your household is sick. As we seek to keep facilities accessible to all residents, please be mindful of the large at-risk sector of our population.
No Lifeguards on Duty: swim at your own risk at all times! No inflatables, but lifejackets and foam noodles are allowed. There will be no picnic tables and no swim raft, but we will have swim lines. There will be no swim lessons this summer.
The Beach parking area will be for beachgoers only. Please use roadside parking or the trailer lot across the street from the beach for boat use including rooftop launches (kayaks, canoes, etc.) Beach games will not be allowed (spikeball, frisbee, bocce, football, Kan Jam etc.)
As always, facility stickers and/or guest passes are required for use of the town beaches. Parking policies will be strictly enforced. Beginning June 17th, Beach Attendants will staff the town beach at Squam 7 days a week 10:00 am - 5:30 pm to assist in implementing the following procedures. The Beach will be open regular hours 7:00 am to 10:00 pm.
Upon arrival, beachgoers will give their name and the number of people in their vehicle to the beach attendants. Attendants will note the arrival time, and assign the group a number. Beach goers will have a two-hour time limit when beach is at capacity. If the beach reaches capacity, an attendant will give group members a fifteen-minute notice. Attendants will determine capacity based upon parking and discretion, taking into consideration beach space and CDC guidelines. If the beach does not reach capacity in two hours, beachgoers may stay until capacity is reached. However, if capacity is reached, the time limit will be counted as when beachgoers arrived, not when the beach reached capacity. Beachgoers may attempt to return two hours after they leave.
Any beachgoers who biked, walked, or are dropped off will abide time limits. Drop-offs and walk/bike-ins will not be allowed when beach is at capacity.
We ask that folks follow CDC guidelines for social distancing at the Potholes and Bearcamp Pond. Please limit visitation duration and do not attempt to enter when these parking areas are full.
As these policies are subject to change, full cooperation is key to assessing whether future modifications to beach policies are necessary. We are eager to facilitate the enjoyment of sunshine and our local facilities during these difficult times.
If you have any question or comments, please direct them to Sandwich Parks and Recreation Director Ole Anderson at: firstname.lastname@example.org
As you can imagine, our response to COVID-19 dominated our weekly meeting on Monday the 11th. With the professional insights of Dr. Paul Simmons – the Town’s medical advisor - and other local and state resources, we are working our way through a time of uncertainty and anxiety. Balancing public health, economic welfare, tradition, routine town business, and all that we hope for each summer is tricky.
The biggest take-away was that we need your understanding and support as we apply the best judgment of our state and local leaders. We appreciate the flexibility and open-minded, open-hearted spirit of our community.
We will communicate regularly, understanding that we might have to change direction on some policies as circumstances shift. We are developing a survey to learn more about what our residents hope for this summer. Managing expectations will be a challenge as we will likely face significant budget challenges.
We also have a heavy load of normal Town business to address as each Town Committee works through modified protocols of distancing and Zoom meetings. Thank you to our many extraordinary volunteers upon whom we rely. Your service is what makes our thriving community possible.
Our meetings, agendas, and minutes are all public and can be found on the Town’s website.
We observed all recommended protocols (masks, distancing, limit of ten) and met in person upstairs in Town Hall this week but will return to virtual meetings on May 18th. We, also, remain flexible!
In addition to our usual department and committee business, we worked to complete the hiring process and plan a smooth transition as Chief Doug Wyman retires on May 31st.
The Town’s recreational facilities currently remain open. We need your help and support here: please maintain social distancing and appropriate hygiene (hand washing/sanitizer, etc.) Currently, we are not recommending having the swim raft in the water nor will picnic tables be placed on the beach as both compromise social distancing. We continue to research what makes the most sense for typical summer activities and events including Old Home Week. We will keep you posted and appreciate your patience! These are difficult and complex decisions.
Courtney Delaney, the Town’s new Administrative Assistant, started her training with both Jennifer Wright and Cathy Graham. We are excited to have her on our team.
Please do not hesitate to contact us or the Selectmen’s Office if you have any concerns or questions. 284-7701 email@example.com
Stay safe and stay well, Respectfully, Joanne Haight, Leo Dwyer, Todd Horn, Sandwich Board of Selectmen
The Sandwich Board of Selectmen is studying how best to allow its residents to enjoy all that summer brings to our little town, while also making sure everyone is safe. They are following State protocols during this time of COVID-19 but also need to establish their own guidelines, specific to Sandwich. This survey was established to gather information from our residents on your thoughts on how best to keep our beaches and recreational facilities open and safe this summer. This Survey will close on Sunday 5/24.
We are looking for ideas representing all generations; if more than one person in your family would like to take the survey, please make sure they use their individual e-mail address. If other members of your household will NOT be filling out this survey, please include their perspective in your responses. Please do not take this survey multiple times!
We estimate it will take 10 minutes to complete.
Please share this survey with anyone you may know who is not on the SandwichBoard. We are hoping to get input from as many residents as possible. There will be a link on our town website on the Parks and Recreation page. http://www.sandwichnh.org/departments/parks_and_recreation/index.php
Some important information:
Sandwich Parks and Recreation Director
A big thank you to our wonderful Selectmen!
We hope that you are staying healthy and well. We feel so fortunate to live in a thoughtful and generous community surrounded by nature.
Each week the Selectmen meet to address Town business and make the best possible decisions. We review information from our Department Heads (Fire, Highway/Transfer Station, Parks and Rec, Police, Town Clerk/Tax Collector); our Town Committees and Commissions (there are 10 of them – all staffed by local volunteers); the New Hampshire Municipal Association; relevant medical professionals; and the most recent Emergency Orders from the Governor. Our local Emergency Management Team works through the many State Emergency Operations Center Situation Reports.
As important, every week we consider issues that residents have brought forward by email, phone, personal contact, and the Sandwich Board. Despite abundant information, there remains much ambiguity and uncertainty in these unusual times. We apply our prudent and thoughtful judgement and truly appreciate all the support that we have received.
Some of our routine Town business has been suspended due to physical distancing requirements. We appreciate your patience and understanding. That said, every week we discuss public safety, roads, the transfer facility, local quality of life/economic issues, the Town’s budget, and resident welfare. We serve at the pleasure of our local residents and under very specific guidance granted by the State of New Hampshire.
Our meetings, agendas, and meeting minutes are all public. Please visit our town website for more information: www.sandwichnh.org. We will also do our best to communicate with you through the SandwichBoard on any important decisions relative to our Town facilities.
On May 4, the Governor will give us additional guidance as to what comes next. Until then, thank you for washing your hands, practicing physical distancing, taking care of your neighbor, and following quarantine guidelines (especially if coming from another state). Please support our local businesses and nonprofits and the front-line workers of our town who are going above and beyond in these difficult times. Our community knows how to pull together and step up to a challenge.
Joanne Haight, Leo Dwyer, & Todd Horn
News & Views
This is the new blog that goes with our website update. An archive of blog entries from May, 2015 to May, 2018, is available here.
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