It is time for another series of updates and notes!
One of the more enjoyable spring traditions we have in Manchester is to celebrate the contributions of one of our outstanding volunteers and one of our town employees. This year’s ceremony, open to the public, will be held at the Crowell Chapel on May 15th at 5:00PM.
Olga Hayes is this year’s Volunteer of the Year. Olga continues to give so generously of her time, currently serving as Chairperson of the Parks and Recreation Committee as well as being a member of the Conservation Committee. Her strong leadership and considered council on both boards have served the town very well. In addition to her board and committee work, Olga has brightened up the halls of Town Hall with her artwork!
Lieutenant Todd Fitzgerald is this year’s Employee of the Year. Todd has been with the Manchester Police Department for some 27 years starting out as a beach patrol officer. Over the years he has received 21 letters of commendation for specifics acts of exemplary performance for the Town, including a number of lifesaving acts. Most recently Todd served admirably as our interim Police Chief and has been instrumental in helping Chief Conley settle in. A life-long resident, Todd’s dedication and love for the community is second to none.
Please join us at the Crowell on May 15th to honor our 2017 award winners.
As the spring rains continue and the water level at Gravely Pond rises, the Selectmen are able now to end the outdoor watering ban. The state still has our area under a drought advisory thus we ask people to be mindful of their water consumption and to be conserving as possible. We will continue to monitor closely the situation and will let residents know if we need to re-impose any restrictions.
The Selectmen will be holding a public hearing on proposed new water and sewer rates at their May 15th meeting. A new multi-tiered set of water rates is being proposed that imposes higher rates for higher volume users as a way to discourage high volume consumption of municipal water. A majority of households are low to modest users of water. These residents will not see much, if any, increase in their water bills. However, we have some high end users, mostly related to heavy outdoor irrigation of lawns and gardens. Similar to other communities, we are proposing a fairly significant increase in rates for these heavy users. Selectman Eli Boling has delved into the details of our consumption patterns and tiered rates. His analysis can be found on the Town’s website. After the public hearing and final decisions on the rates are made, a mailer to all households will be sent prior to the start of summer explaining the agreed upon rate structure.
The Selectmen will be continuing their analysis of how we staff our emergency services in the Fire Department over the next several months. As recent letters and articles have indicated, we need to respond to the drop in our call fire fighter ranks. The Finance Committee has gathered detailed information on a number of “sister” towns that shows us already spending significantly more than other communities on our fire and ambulance services. Most towns of our size rely heavily on volunteer and call fire fighters. Whether we can as well going forward is one of the key questions we face. The Selectmen will be examining the data that has been gathered, looking at what works in other communities, listening to the concerns and ideas of our career fire fighters and exploring various options, including possibly sharing services with neighboring towns, which will ensure we continue to be able to respond to fires, medical emergencies and other hazards quickly and efficiently. Your input at upcoming meetings is encouraged as well.