The Community Christmas Chorus, directed by Harry Hikel and accompanied by pianist Sharon Pearson, presented a program of Christmas carols to a full house at the Grace Community Church in Canaan on Sunday afternoon, December 14. From the left are Cecil Hikel, Sue Gosselin, Melanie Reese, Marylu Granquist, Rosemary Reindeau, Linda Hikel, Dana Tillinghast, Sue Hikel and Alice Umlah; seated in front is Lois Judkins.
(Alan Farnsworth photo)
Coös County Officials Present $34.16 Million Budget Proposal to Delegation
By Jake Mardin
The Coös County Commissioners presented their 2015 budget recommendation totaling $34,163,660 to the county delegation in a public hearing held at the nursing hospital in West Stewartstown on Friday morning. County administrator Jennifer Fish welcomed newly elected representatives John Fothergill, Alethea Lincoln-Froburg and John Tholl to the meeting, and thanked former representatives Larry Enman, Marcia Hammon and Gary Coulombe for their service.
Ms. Fish provided some background on the budget process, and what parts of the budget are constitutional or statutory obligations, and which are traditionally supported. The budgets of the register of deeds, county attorney, medical referees, county sheriff, treasurers and commissioners are all mandated by the state constitution, while state law governs those of the corrections, the unincorporated places and state assistance programs for which, Ms. Fish noted, the county acts as a tax collector. The law requires that counties fund 50 percent of all services to all who qualify for nursing home care and Medicaid, regardless of where they live.
Programs traditionally included in the county budget are the Stewartstown and Berlin nursing homes, the victim-witness advocate program, UNH Cooperative Extension, Coös County Conservation District, county land management, social service agencies, the Coös Economic Development Corporation, the recycling center and the transfer station.
Ms. Fish also explained the county’s role in Medicaid. The two nursing homes are funded by the state for all residents who qualify for Medicaid, and about 85 percent of residents at both facilities qualify for Medicaid. At the end of each month, the two homes bill the New Hampshire Medicaid program for care.
The county pays the state 50 percent of Medicaid costs for Intermediate Nursing Care (INC) and Home and Community Based Care (HCBC). Ms. Fish explained that the county paid 50 percent of the nursing home costs to Medicaid residents in several homes, including Country Village in Lancaster and Morrison Nursing Home in Whitefield.
This budget includes a 1.5 percent cost of living adjustment, step and longevity increases, and sick pay for employees. There are increases in the N.H. Retirement System--from 10.77 to 11.17 percent in Group I and from 25.30 to 26.38 percent for Group II--and health insurance premiums are expected to go up, with a ten-percent maximum increase. Ms. Fish said the surplus estimate used in the 2015 budget is $2 million; the actual surplus used in the 2014 budget was $4,127,722. The county won’t know what the actual surplus will be until the books close in January.
The county budget proposal is increasing by $22,653 (.07 percent) to $34,163,660, and the county tax amount is estimated to increase by $1.35 million (nine percent) to $15,692,719. Commissioner Paul Grenier said the surplus amount is a big reason why taxes are up, noting that the amount they used for 2015 is a conservative estimate. The 2015 county tax allocation is divided into four segments: nursing homes (49 percent), state assistance programs (28 percent), criminal justice (19 percent) and administration and programs (four percent).
The West Stewartstown nursing hospital budget is increasing by $91,970 to $10,382,070. Included in the budget are a $120,000 parking lot project and a handicap-access lift. Mr. Grenier said the project will involve paving the entire parking lot of the building on the front (Route 3 side). He also said that the budget shows that the nursing home constitutes a sizeable economy and said things “would be pretty tough” if it didn’t exist.
The Berlin nursing home budget is decreasing by $106,129 to $10,644,680, and includes a $42,000 project to update the call bell system. Administrator Louise Belanger said that when the facility was upgraded, the lights above the doors that went on when there was an alert were removed, and the project would bring them back.
The total county government budget, which includes departments such as the county attorney, corrections, and the sheriff’s office, as well as many special appropriations, including the CEDC and senior meals, is increasing by $38,317 to $11,546,877.
The 2015 unincorporated places budget is decreasing by $672,758 to $1,499,150. Millsfield’s budget is decreasing by $422,919 to $609,928, while Dixville’s is going down by $118,134 to $245,503. The delegation will vote on the budget in March.
(Issue of December 17, 2014)
SUCCESSFUL FUND DRIVE REWARDED
In less than four weeks, the employees at Colebrook’s Big Apple Store raised nearly $2,500 that C.N. Brown will donate to the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Fund-raising coordinator Tiffany Olson (second from left) traveled through some harsh weather all the way from South Paris, Maine, on Wednesday, December 10 to thank and congratulate the store’s employees for their efforts. From the left are Bambi Kennett, Ms. Olson, Jeff Boivin, Connie Hand and Amy Falconer. (Rob Maxwell photo)
N.H. Economic Development Division Honors Codet as Business of the Year
The Québec-based Codet Newport Corporation, whose workwear manufacturing operation includes a plant in Colebrook, received DRED Commissioner Jeffrey Rose’s Company of the Year award during the 19th annual meeting of the N.H. Division of Economic Development on Tuesday, December 9 in Concord.
“Each year we take time to honor the company of the year—a company, which, for many reasons, stands out for attributes like innovation, collaboration and opportunity,” the commissioner said. Company representatives Vincent Audet and Stephane Lefebvre were on hand to accept the award from Commissioner Rose, who called the Colebrook operation “one of the cornerstones of the local economy.”
Codet is a third-generation family business headquartered in Coaticook, and manufactures outdoor and protective apparel under the Big Bill brand. The company branched out to Colebrook in 1992, and this past year added 11,500 square feet and 25 employees to its operation on Gould Street.
Commissioner Rose presented two Company of the Year awards, the second going to ComcastNBCUniversal, which this year expanded into Hudson and turned a 127,000-square-foot building into a call center with room for 600 employees.
(Issue of December 17, 2014)
A PERFECT LITTLE WH
Mandilynn Howland and her Cindy Lou Who hairstyle helped set the tone for the Colebrook Elementary School’s second grade chorus, who sang two songs from the movie “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” during the holiday “Songs From Film” concert on Thursday evening, December 11.
(Alan Farnsworth photo)
Beecher Falls V.F.D. Continues Raising Funds for New Gear
The Beecher Falls Volunteer Fire Department has received a matching grant from the Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund for $16,500, which will be awarded when the department has raised that same amount.
The department has been raising money for the last three years toward its goal of nearly $68,000 to purchase new protective clothing consisting of a jacket and pants for each member. These items will replace older gear that is no longer compliant with regulations, and is becoming worn out.
The department has raised over $20,000 and has also received generous donations and grants from other sources. “Diana Rancourt has been very instrumental in helping the fire department with some of these grants,” said Chief Steve Young. These funds include a $5,000 donation from the Border Lions Club; $2,000 from the Ben and Jerry’s Foundation; an $8,000 matching grant from the Tillotson North Country Foundation; a $2,000 Trans-Canada grant; and $1,000 coming from Auto North in January.
More information about the project may be obtained from Chief Young, at 802-266-8963 or email@example.com.
(Issue of December 17, 2014)