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8 - March 9, 2012 | Salem Community Patriot More Letters to our Editor


continued from page 7 Civil Union Laws Needed


I am a resident of NH and the subject of marriage equality has been on my mind. Tis subject has been confusing for me because everyone has the right to be married all across the United States. Some people choose not to get married because they do not want to create a union with someone of the opposite sex. Tat is a choice they have made. Tey are choosing not to exercise their right to get married and that is okay. Now, as far as having equal rights in regards to legal matters, health insurance, tax implications, etc., I completely understand where a homosexual couple would want fair treatment in those situations and that is what a civil union allows. Tere should be laws that allow civil unions in order to fix the imbalance of rights for homosexual couples, but their right to get married has never been taken away, they have just chosen not to exercise that right.


Shelly Sousa – Salem Blasted by Belanger


In a non-public hearing, I had the opportunity to meet with the Salem Hoard of Selectmen. Ronald J. Belanger was one of the Selectman at the time. He is now running again for Selectman.


I say let him keep running … straight out of Salem. Te meeting was a nightmare. Ronald J. Belanger appears to he a Jekyl/Hyde personality. When the camera is off, a pure brute emerges. I had attended the meeting seeking assistance from the Board. Everett McBride was present at the meeting and appeared to thoroughly condone Belanger’s outrageous conduct. Ronald Belanger went on a tirade. Te man was


inappropriate, unprofessional, patronizing, and crass. Instead effectively seeking information, in order lo make an informed decision, Belanger expounded on an unnecessary, unwanted, prolonged lecture regarding the Salem welfare system. His demeanor was arrogant, boisterous, and condescending. After the meeting had ended, Ronald Belanger and Everett


McBride voted the same way. My attendance at the meeting was futile. My issues were simply dismissed. Te experience was disappointing, needless, and insulting. I expected compassion and understanding from the Board


of Selectmen. I walked away with a severe reprimand from Ronald Belanger, which was without cause, and fully tolerated by Everett McBride. Ronald Belanger claims to run again on the banner “Let


your voice be heard.” In my unfortunate experience, this was not his disposition. Te reality is that the only voice Ronald J. Belanger is interested in hearing is his own.


Judith Tompson - Salem Vote “Yes” for Curbside Pick-Up


Te solid waste industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. Te last figures I could find were for 1999 and at that time it was $43.3 billion! Even in the small town of Salem it is an industry of approximately $2.2 million. Te taxpayers


of Salem are currently funding the operation of the transfer station to the tune of $1,000,000 plus and the private haulers are pulling in another $1,200,000 from the 48 percent of the town residents who pay to have their trash picked up curbside. Now you have an idea of why there is such opposition to the implementation of curbside pickup in Salem. It is hitting these people in their wallets. Tis opposition is not being led by people who are concerned about the tax impact on Salem residents. It is being led by people with a background in the solid waste industry. Other than the tax impact to the residents of Salem, most of their attacks have been personal, leaning heavily towards statements made by the volunteer members of the Salem Municipal Solid Waste committee who will see no financial benefit from curbside pickup other than the benefits all affected residents will see. Tese attacks pick one misstatement out of a presentation or article and tear it apart to suit their needs. Tey have also relied heavily upon the fact that there was a $100,000 miscalculation in the figures presented by the Solid Waste Committee. Tis error was due to the money that was removed from the budget by the Salem BOS with the elimination of C&D Disposal at the transfer station. Te opposition’s latest position was calculating where the money was coming from to pay for the increase in the budget required to fund curbside pickup. Te average cost of $33 per house is calculated by multiplying the median value of a house by the 12 cents per thousand dollars of evaluation impact that curbside pickup will have on the budget. Of course, all houses will not pay an additional $33. Some will pay more, some will pay less. Tey stated that this does not add up to the additional $400,000 needed annually. Of course it doesn’t! Homeowners in Salem are not the only taxpayers. Take a look around at all the businesses and commercial property in Salem. Tey are a big part of Salem’s tax base and will be helping to pay for curbside pickup as the also pay for our school system, road maintenance, fire and police departments and any other budgeted item.


Another opposition statement is that our Town Manager,


Keith Hickey, is the driving force behind curbside pickup implementation in Salem. Tey are saying this because he was a proponent of curbside pickup in Merrimack where he was Town Manager before accepting the position in Salem. Tat idea is complete rubbish. Te Salem Solid Waste Committee began meeting in the summer of 2009. It was chartered by the than Board of Selectmen consisting of Pat Hargreaves, Beth Ross, Arthur Barnes, Mike Lyons and Everett McBride. We were asked to review ways of increasing recycling including pay-as-you-throw, curbside pickup, combination curbside pickup and pay-as-you-throw and enforcing mandatory recycling. Tis had the support of all members of the BOS at the time. Please vote “yes” for curbside pickup and be sure to attend


the Deliberative Session on Saturday, March 17, to vote for the funding to implement curbside pickup. Remember, this is a two stage decision. Te non-binding referendum will be voted at the polls on Tuesday, March 13, and the funding on Saturday, March 17. Do not let the decision of the majority of the voters be overridden by a minority of opponents on Saturday!


Ronald Wells - Salem


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felt that Yetman may be impaired. Once Yetman stepped out of the vehicle he became argumentative and agitated, refused to perform any field sobriety testing and also took an aggressive stance toward Officer Turner. Yetman then attempted to punch the officer. As Officer Turner began struggling


with Yetman, the passenger in the vehicle, David Hanlon, 48, of Merrimac, MA, got out of the vehicle and began to approach the struggle. Officer Turner instructed Hanlon to stop several times. Hanlon ignored the orders of the officer and was struck with a Taser that Officer Turner deployed to gain control of the situation. Hanlon immediately fell to the ground. While Officer Turner struggled with


Yetman and deployed his Taser on Hanlon several Salem police officers arrived to assist the situation and both were taken into custody. Police say that both men


Richard Yetman David Hanlon remained a problem


throughout the arrest and booking process. The unruly pair were both later released on $500 personal recognizance and will be arraigned at the 10th Circuit Court in Salem at a later date. Yetman is charged with DWI, speeding and resisting arrest. Hanlon is charged with obstructing government administration and resisting arrest.


Approve Phase 2 Renovations for Our Kids!


We have been a citizens of Salem for the past 40 years, and we love this town. We raised our kids here, and they all went through the Salem schools, including North Salem which now is a renovated school. When my kids were in elementary school, the schools were relatively new. But that was 40 years ago, and things have changed. Educational needs have changed, and buildings don’t last forever – they have to be altered to meet the needs of today’s students. We are grandparents now, and none of my grandchildren are in the Salem schools. Tey won’t benefit directly from any of the upgrades, but we believe that investing in our schools is the right thing to do for our kids. It will also have a direct impact on our property values and attract more young families to Salem, both of which are


needed. Investing in our schools means we care about our kids.


Our kids are our future. Sometimes we need to do things not because they provide a direct benefit to us but simply because it’s the right thing to do for our community. Please join us in voting “Yes” to our schools and kids on


March 13.


Paul and Janet Wheeler –Salem Salem Schools in


Need of Renovations Please join me in voting “yes” for the Phase Two Renovation


Project for the Salem schools. Te Phase One is complete and you can all see what a wonderful job has been completed. For us to stop now would be a crime. My family and I have lived in North Salem since 1968. We have three wonderful children that attended North Salem School and right on through Salem High. One thing this town has going for it is its school system. In my opinion the best in the state and in this region as well. Salem has never held back when it came to the schools and


now is not the time to start. Our schools are old and in need of renovation. Let’s keep up the good work and approve the Phase Two renovations. Our kids deserve the best we can give them.


Paul R. Wheeler, Sr. - Salem Vote “Yes” on Article 2.


Renovations Are a Problem Tat Won’t Go Away


Tuesday, March 13, represents another milestone moment


for the town of Salem. I would like to take this opportunity to thank both sides of the Warrant Article 2 debate. For those who want Warrant Article 2 to pass, you have done your homework and you should be commended. For those who want to keep our taxes low, you too should be commended as that is admirable cause. Despite the passionate pleas and well thought out commentary, at this stage of the debate neither side is likely to convince the other to change their mind. Terefore, I say to those like myself, who want the Warrant


Article 2 passed get out and vote. Simply put – those in favor of the elementary school renovations have the numbers – even in the 60 vs. 40 percent world Salem lives in – If people get out and vote Warrant Article 2 will pass. I commend school board Bernard Campbell who several


weeks ago clarified his comments regarding a five versus six school plan. We are not voting on a five school versus a six school plan – we are voting on an Article to renovate three of the six Salem Elementary Schools. Here in lies the trickery by those who want low taxes for the sake of nothing other than having … low taxes. Realize – if Warrant Article 2 does not pass now it will sometime in the near future and whether it is for six, five, four or even one elementary school such a project will undoubtedly come at higher costs because interest rates and construction costs will only go up as the overall economy improves.


Lest I digress as my comments are not likely to change


anyone’s mind. Parents, grandparents, and anyone of voting age who has some affinity to not only the Salem Public Schools, but the community of Salem and who is in favor of improving the schools at a more than reasonable cost – be heard, be motivated and get out and vote on March 13.


Richard Wilson - Salem Propaganda on Deferred Maintenance of Salem Schools


Te purpose of this letter is to offset the half-truths and misleading information that has been the subject of much Internet chatter and other forms of written propaganda accusing the Salem School Board and school Administration of purposely deferring the maintenance of our schools to create facility conditions that now require substantial renovations. Tese statements are patently untrue and have been forwarded to mislead the general populace as to the true purpose of what we consider maintenance. Tere is a much larger picture that extends from current renovations and improvements to our school buildings, to routine improvements to the electrical, mechanical and structural systems, to upgrades to doors, roofs, and windows, and to the extensive renovations needed for the overhaul necessitated by 60-plus year old buildings that see more wear and tear in a year’s time than any other type of


municipal facility. For years the School Board included hundreds of thousands of dollars in maintenance and repair requests only to see budget reductions made by others. Consequently, the district has managed with $40,000 to $50,000 in annual maintenance funds to address facilities valued at almost $60 million. When we began to identify capital improvements to our buildings through a priority formula method, we started to address long needed repairs by including $100,000 to $200,000 in separate warrant articles; Capital Improvement articles that generally enjoyed the community’s support. However, in 2005 the School Board hired an outside vendor/company to conduct a long-needed facilities audit which identified more than $13 million in immediate facility infrastructure deficiencies. Tis got everyone’s attention. Facing these immediate facility needs and realizing that other infrastructure weaknesses would soon follow, we embarked on the development of a facilities master plan. Once kindergarten was mandated and we needed to build school additions, we agreed we would also address all our educational programming needs; our school safety and security needs; and our infrastructure needs such as floors, ceilings, plumbing, storage, roofs, and technology systems among other issues. Te master plan reflects only needs, not extravagances. To renovate all at once makes good financial sense. Our buildings are old and the systems are crumbling. Tis is not the result of neglect but of insufficient funds for major upgrades and improvements, the imposition of new programs and requirements, and aging systems that must be replaced. It makes good financial sense to take care of these needs in phases, which is exactly what the School Board wants and plans to do.


I categorically state that the information contained above


is the truth. Tere is no reason for the Salem School Board to issue false information regarding the state of the school buildings and the amount of funding needed to renovate our schools. Te Salem School Board exists to serve the Salem community; we are proud of our record and stand behind these statements.


Pamela R. Berry, Vice-Chairman, Salem School Board – Salem


Why Should We Do Phase 2? It’s important, as we approach the March 13 vote, to


remember why we’re doing elementary school renovations. We need permanent space for state required kindergarten and appropriate permanent space for student special services. We need to stop teaching in portable classrooms, closets, stairwells and hallways. We need to improve the safety and security of our schools. Tere are millions of dollars in recommended maintenance and systems upgrade work that should be done on our three remaining elementary schools. Spending $1.2 million on maintenance and upgrade work on one building would cost nearly $100 in taxes for a $300K home if it were done in the annual budget. However, that cost does not include adding permanent kindergarten or student special services space. Since it doesn’t include permanent kindergarten space, we have to spend additional money to rent portables. Since there’s no new space included for individualized reading instruction, physical therapy, occupational therapy or special needs students, we’d still be teaching in portables, closets, hallways and stairwells. It includes no new multi-purpose rooms so we’d still be using cafe gymatoriums. Tere are no adequate nurse’s rooms and no new entrances, with the improved security those provide, included in that money. We’d be spending a lot of money and still would not have addressed our real needs. Alternatively, we can renovate and reconstruct the last three elementary schools using a 20-year, $21.5 million bond. Te maximum tax impact to renovate all three schools is $139 in year three, the highest year. Tat amount decreases every year after that. We get permanent space for state required kindergarten and appropriate permanent space for student special services, new multi-purpose rooms, new entrances, new adequate nurse’s rooms, upgraded plumbing, electrical, heating/ventilating and safety systems. Tis cost would include fixing the items that are in the maintenance and upgrade plans. So would we be wiser to spend $100 in taxes for each school to upgrade the inadequate spaces we have and pay even more money to rent portables and not address our real needs, or to spend less than $139 per year in taxes and fix all the issues at all of the last three elementary schools? Join me in voting “Yes” on Article 2 because it gives us


better value for our taxes and it’s the wisest thing to do. Peter Morgan – Salem


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