Winter weather is on the way and that has communities across the region acting like Atlanta in a snow storm. The Bow Police Department used a Nixle Alert to transmit a warning from the National Weather Service about the likelihood of snow squalls in the region and their impact on traffic. Weather forecasters predict a strong Arctic cold front will move across the state today, spawning a broken band of heavy snow squalls early to mid afternoon. Areas affected by the squalls should expect them to last between ten and thirty minutes, producing white out conditions with winds gusting between twenty five and thirty five miles an hour. Up to two inches of snow could fall in that brief time.
The Merrimack Police Department issued an alert asking residents to prepare for the cold snap. They’re urging folks to check in on seniors, family members, neighbors and friends to ensure they’re warm and to be mindful of their pets. We’ve linked to a list of safety tips they published to protect against the cold.
In the Queen City, Mayor Ted Gatsas convened an emergency meeting yesterday with officials from the Fire and Health departments, New Horizons and the Day Center to address how to get the homeless out of the coming cold weather. Gatsas said the Day Center has agreed to allow the homeless to remain in its facility until New Horizons opens its shelter to take them in. But, New Horizons has been operating in excess of its capacity and is just flat out of room. So, at last night’s meeting, Mayor Gatsas asked for and received permission from the Board of Aldermen to open the old police station and use the city’s emergency cots to give approximately fifty of the homeless a place to go to get out of the cold. Police officers will staff the facility to ensure order is maintained. Health Officer Tim Soucy said the city will determine the station’s capacity and availability in a meeting this morning and will announce arrangements by Noon today. Be sure to stay tuned to Girard at Large for Al Kaprielian’s weather forecast to get all the frigid details of the Arctic Express headed our way.
News from our frigid backyard continues after this.
Looks like the Hooksett School Board has surrendered to Pinkerton Academy’s contract terms. The once unanimously opposed to minimum student requirements board caved in to Pinkerton demands for student minimums based on an average number of freshmen enrolled over a three year period of time. Only John Lyscars and David Pearl, yup, those two again, opposed the contract which, if adopted by the voters, will force the town to send a minimum number of kids and or the dollars to pay their tuition for the remaining seven years of the contract regardless of the number of kids who actually sign up to go there. Board Member James Sullivan was absent from last night’s meeting.
In Manchester, arguments over street lights and road conditions at last night’s meeting of Board of Mayor and Aldermen kept things warm as aldermen received a study from the Department of Public Works showing that fifty six percent of the city’s roads are rated in poor to failing condition. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the city will have to spend seven million dollars a year for the next twenty years to get caught up, or it could just spend one hundred and ten million dollars next year and be done with it. The study did identify a variety of possible fixes for roads in need of repair that are new, exciting and more cost effective than the traditional methods employed by the department, so the city could see some dramatic improvement in a short time with sufficient funds, especially if it uses the data to head off more trouble at the pass, in sort of an ounce of prevention to head off a pound of cure approach.
The study prompted Mayor Ted Gatsas to propose the city create a Road Replacement Account similar to its Motorized Equipment Replacement program. As part of that, Gatsas advocated using the nearly quarter of a million dollars in new revenue the city will receive from the state from the increase in the gas tax to bond up to three million in additional road funds. He suggested the board set up a special committee appointed by Board Chair Dan O’Neil to oversee the funds. O’Neil suggested the matter be referred to the existing C I P Committee, which, honestly is a better move.
The real controversy of the night came over a Gatsas backed recommendation from the Department of Public Works that the city not only convert to L E D street lights, which everybody supports, but that they also spend another one point three million dollars to add so called smart meter technology that provides real time information on all nine thousand street lights and gives the city instantaneous control over their usage. Department officials said the technology would provide the information required by the Public Utilities Commission as part of the rate case the city intervened on to even make this project possible and that it would also provide useful data on everything from outages to kilowatt usage that would enable more savings. Gatsas said it was also a public safety issue because it would enable the quicker restoration of outages. Several aldermen didn’t swing at those pitches and questioned whether or not the chosen vendor, Philips Lighting North America, had sufficient experience to do the job.
After a hotly contested debate, the recommendations passed with Gatsas casting the vote that broke the six six tie. Don’t expect the contract to be signed anytime soon, though as that vote falls well short of the ten votes needed to issue the bonds for the project. Aldermen Ed Osborne of Ward Five and Normand Gamache of Ward Eleven were absent. Joining Gatsas in supporting the project were aldermen Jim Roy in Ward Four, Bill Shea in Ward Seven, Tom Katsiantonis in Ward Eight, Barbara Shaw in Ward Nine, Bill Barry in Ward Ten, and Keith Hirschmann in Ward Twelve. Ward One Alderman Joyce Craig issued a Notice of Reconsideration, which means the matter will be back for a vote at the next meeting. No matter how this one gets sliced, it won’t meet the time constraints it needs to to meet budget projections.
That’s news from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ is next.