Burning a Hole in Their Pocket

By S.D. Plissken | May 13, 2018

The Milton Town Administrator calculated during the Joint BOS and Budget Committee meeting of Monday, December 4, 2017, that the mass assessment had caused some $1.4 million to be collected above and beyond that needed to cover the budget. According to the breakdown in the Press Release of November 13, 2017, that would be a $247,660 overage for the county and state school taxes, $403,900 overage for the Town, and $748,440 overage for the local school tax.

The Board of Selectmen (BOS) have never explained in any public setting how this came to be. (It is not apparent that they understand it themselves). Nor have they ever explained how they plan to return the overages to the taxpayers, either as refunds, tax credits, or by some other method.

Like as not, they are incapable of ever retrieving the state and county amounts totaling $247,660 that were over-collected as a result of this “process.”

Instead, they have devoted themselves to parking issues. It seems that there are rental units near the dam that lack the currently mandated two parking spaces per housing unit. The BOS have never explained whether that shortage is the result of a failure to enforce that mandate or whether those units predated the requirement. In any event, those renters without parking at their residence park instead on White Mountain Highway (the state highway), presumably to the detriment of the business owners that front that highway. Except during the winter parking ban, when they park on the state land near the dam.

Meanwhile, the purchasers of the former Ray’s Marina property have found that they too are short of parking requirements. The former owners had access to the parking spaces now occupied by the Milton Crossing strip mall (Dunkin’ Donuts/Dollar General), as well as a triangular patch on the pond side. The new owners had intended to open a restaurant, but one that also had some associated residence units. Their redevelopment process has been stalled for at least a year, reportedly over their parking shortage.

At the most recent BOS Meeting, that of Monday, May 7, 2018, item 10 on their Agenda was the Parking Plan, Design & Purchase. The Town Administrator explained that they had discussed the Parking Plan at the most recent Workshop meeting (not recorded). She reminded them that the DPW Director, Pat Smith, had arranged for them all to visit the property in question. It was 25 to 30 with “metes and bounds” or 15 to 20 without those “metes and bounds.” He “… really wants the Board to make a commitment on buying the land and moving forward with it.”

Chairman Thibeault recalled that the “… number was $400,000 with the assumption that 70% of that was ledge.” Selectwoman Hutchings recalled that it was “closer to $500,000 … not including the purchase price of the land either.”

Selectman Lucier wanted to “table” the issue until the next meeting. The Town Administrator reminded them that the DPW Director sought a commitment. Chairman Thibeault gave his opinion that he “… is all in favor of improving parking downtown, but I think this particular spot needs to be abandoned and we need to look at different options. It’s way too expensive for what we have.”

It would seem that the BOS has decided to spend public money for private purposes, i.e., parking for either private residences or businesses, or both. They drew back from this particular property as being too expensive – price plus $400,00 to $500,000 of site work – but apparently it would all have gone differently had it been cheaper.

It is likely legal for them to solve private parking problems with public money, but is it legitimate, ethical, or even politically-savvy for them to do so?

Back in April, Selectmen Lucier questioned the purchase of a tractor for the beach. He thought rightly that a purchase of that size should go before the voters. (“I don’t think the three of us [Selectmen] should make a $10,000 choice. It should be the voters or taxpayers of Milton. They’re the ones who are paying the bills”).

But that does not matter now. They have $403,900 of taxpayer money and it is burning a hole in their collective pocket.

References:

Milton Board of Selectmen. (2017, December 4). Milton BOS Meeting, December 4, 2017. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/iHs1VF2tO28?t=3269

Milton Board of Selectmen. (2018, April 2). Milton BOS Meeting, April 2, 2018. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/hOJyH7ZPHEI?t=3141

Milton Board of Selectmen. (2018, May 7). Milton BOS Meeting, May 7, 2018. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/6oeKNRKTPSw?t=4010

Milton Town Administrator. (2017, November 13). Press Release. Retrieved from http://www.miltonnh-us.com/uploads/index_683_1719174841.pdf

 

 

Black Flies Return

By Muriel Bristol | May 11, 2018

The very last vestiges of packed snow situated in shady spots disappeared by Mayday. The Spring warmth that dissipated the snow also brought out the black flies. They are typically a nuisance between about Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. I try to remember what my grandfather always said: we need the black flies, as they are food for the fish and birds.

According to a UNH Cooperative Extension fact sheet, New Hampshire is home to 40 species of black flies, of which only 4 or 5 are considered to be either annoying or “significant” human biters. Only the female bites and most species feed on birds or other animals.

Black flies breed in running water. Females lay their eggs on stream vegetation or the water surface. When the larvae hatch (as water temperatures reach the 40-to-50 degree range), they attach themselves to rocks, leaves, grass or other submerged objects. The larvae pupate underwater and emerging adults rise to the surface to fly in Spring or early Summer. They mate near their hatching site and female seeks a blood meal (you) before laying eggs to begin the cycle again.

Only two species of black flies in New Hampshire consistently and abundantly bite humans. These are Prosimulium mixtum and Simulium venustum. Simulium venustum, the so-called “white-stockinged” black fly emerges in early to mid-May in southern New Hampshire and remains a pest until the end of May. In the north, it emerges in late May to early June and can remain abundant until the end of June in some areas and even into July in higher mountain localities (UNH/CE, 2009).

Light clothing colors such as orange, yellow and light blue are less attractive to black flies than dark green, brown and red. They are drawn also to perfumes and aftershaves.

The same remedies used for mosquitoes work also on black flies, although less effectively. The Centers for Disease Control recommend DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, and Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus for use in repelling biting anthropods, including black flies.

Years ago, Ole Time Woodsman Fly Dope was considered quite an effective repellent (although it had a very strong smell) and it was widely available in sporting goods stores. Johnson’s Baby Oil was said to be effective also.

Black flies are active only during the day. They do not bite at night. Depending on weather, black flies tend to be more active at certain times of day. Activity peaks tend to occur around 9:00 to 11:00 AM and again from 4:00 to 7:00 in the late afternoon and early evening, or until the sun falls below the horizon. They tend to be most active on humid, cloudy days and just before storms. If possible, avoid activity during times when black flies are most active. Early morning, midday and late evenings are the best times to work outside (UNH/CE, 2009).

The University of Maine Cooperative Extension has been quoted as saying that

Generally black fly bites cause some itching and minor swelling from the first few bites of the season, following which an immunity develops, with subsequent reduced reactions.  Nonetheless, even individuals who have lived all their lives in black fly country and are exposed every season, can have greater effects if they get an unusually high number of bites on their first exposure of the season, or have some significant change in their physical condition or medical status.

Good luck.


See also Hot Water for Itchy Bug Bites


References:

Ole Time Woodsman. (n.d.). [Home Page] Retrieved from https://oletimewoodsman.com/

University of Maine Cooperative Extension. (2012). Insect Repellents [Fact Sheet]. Retrieved from https://extension.umaine.edu/ipm/ipddl/publications/5108e/

University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension. (2009, July 1). Black Flies [Fact Sheet]. Retrieved from https://extension.unh.edu/resource/black-flies-fact-sheet

Walmart. (2018). Coleman Mosquito Head Net. Retrieved from https://www.walmart.com/ip/Coleman-Mosquito-Head-Net/13848609

 

Probably … Not

By S.D. Plissken | May 10, 2018

Milton Police Chief Krauss asked the Board of Selectmen (BOS) to accept a “free” police dog at the BOS Meeting of Monday, January 8, 2018. Controlled K9, LLC, was “seeking an organization” to which to donate a 3-year-old Dutch Shepard K9. The dog had received minimal training, thus far, and there would be a need for further training going forward, including drug activity training. (The chief had already had the dog evaluated by experts as having “trainability”).

It has long been known that drug dogs are not reliable. While they do have keen senses, they are more interested in pleasing their handlers than in the task. That causes accuracy rates of less than half (i.e., less accurate that the flip of a coin) or even less. Bomb- and mine-sniffing dogs are much more accurate. Their handlers do not have the same biases and incentives towards arrest quotas and asset forfeitures: they want mostly to live.

But the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that a dog’s actual accuracy does not matter as much as its certification (Florida vs. Harris). For that reason, drug dogs are often described as “probable cause generators.” They are a court-sanctioned way to reliably manufacture probable cause where none actually exists.

Chairman Rawson remarked that it would be “Wonderful. A great asset for the Town of Milton.” Selectman Long asked where the dog would be housed and Chief Krauss replied that the dog would be kept at his residence. Not mentioned, or apparently even considered, were any costs for evaluations, additional training, certification, veterinary expenses, or upkeep. Without further ado, Selectman Thibeault moved to accept the K9 donation, Selectman Long seconded the motion, and it passed unanimously. None of them expressed any constitutional concerns.

A month later, the Rochester Voice reported (on Friday morning, February 9, 2018) that Nute High School Principal Jan Radowicz had that day said that “Milton and State Police conducted a drug sweep through Nute High and Middle School today, but found no drugs.” No warrant or probable cause was mentioned. The students were confined to their classrooms while the dogs “swept” the hallways and classrooms. Principal Radowicz mentioned that the school would continue to work with the police. Her constitutional concerns, if any, were not reported.

Chief Krauss returned to the Board of Selectmen on Monday, March 5, 2018, to report that, despite “continual training,” the donated dog just lacked the “drives” to continue training. The BOS voted to contact the donor to see if they will be willing to take the dog back under their care.

Chief Krauss did not mention any plans or intention of replacing the dog with one that had more “drives.”

References:

Balko, Radley, Washington Post. (2015, August 4). Federal appeals court: Drug dog that’s barely more accurate than a coin flip is good enough. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2015/08/04/federal-appeals-court-drug-dog-thats-barely-more-accurate-than-a-coin-flip-is-good-enough/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.a4ad19ec7063

Hinckel, Dan, and Mahr, Joe, Chicago Tribune. (2011, January 6). Tribune analysis: Drug-sniffing dogs in traffic stops often wrong. Retrieved from http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-01-06/news/ct-met-canine-officers-20110105_1_drug-sniffing-dogs-alex-rothacker-drug-dog

Long, Rebecca, 60 Minutes. (2004, January 5). Does The Nose Know? Retrieved from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/does-the-nose-know/

Rochester Voice. (2018, January 9). Police, drug-sniffing dogs sweep Nute Middle High. Retrieved from http://www.therochestervoice.com/police-drug-sniffing-dogs-sweep-nute-middle-high-cms-9475

Town of Milton (2018, January). Milton Board of Selectmen Meeting Minutes, January 8, 2018. Retrieved from http://www.miltonnh-us.com/uploads/bos_agendas_770_2631624852.pdf. (There is also a video of the brief dog discussion and acceptance on Youtube at https://youtu.be/jDlhSg8plKo?t=1601).

Town of Milton (2018, March 5). Milton Board of Selectmen Meeting Minutes, March 5, 2018. Retrieved from http://www.miltonnh-us.com/uploads/bos_agendas_794_1363558446.pdf. (There is also a video of the brief dog rejection on YouTube at https://youtu.be/F6wbcKpHQSk?t=6642

Local NH Liquor & Wine Outlet Stores Join Business Migration to Route 11

By S.D. Plissken | May 1, 2018

The NH Liquor & Wine Outlet stores at the Lilac Mall in Rochester and on Route 11 in Farmington have closed.

The NH Liquor Commission (NHLC) announced on March 2 that it would “… open a new, 20,000-square-foot New Hampshire Liquor & Wine Outlet on Tuesday in Rochester. The state-of-the-art, freestanding store, which is located within The Ridge Marketplace on Route 11 just off Exit 15 of the Spaulding Turnpike, features an enhanced shopping experience, more than 6,600 sizes and varieties of wines and spirits, and a strategic location providing exposure to more than 36,000 daily motorists. NHLC anticipates this new store generating $9.5 million in sales each year. This new, larger location will replace the existing Lilac Mall store on Route 125 in Rochester and the Route 11 site in Farmington.”

NH Liquor Commission Chairman Joseph Mollica said, “We are constantly evaluating our stores looking for opportunities to optimize our sales success, which last year reached an all-time record of nearly $700 million. This new store will serve our customers in Farmington, Rochester, and neighboring communities in Maine, as well as the traveling public.”

The new Ridge Marketplace location opened as planned on Tuesday, March 6. It is 5 miles from the former Farmington location and 3.4 miles from the former Lilac Mall location.

In related news, the NHLC closed the Dover and Somersworth outlets in favor of a larger new Somersworth outlet. The Portsmouth Circle outlet is being expanded in place.

New Hampshire is one of seventeen states that chose to create state-run monopolies when Prohibition was repealed in 1933. (The other choices being continued state-level prohibition and licensing private vendors).

NH Public Radio (NHPR) ran a short report of the history of NH liquor licensing on its Only In New Hampshire show in December 2017: You Asked, We Answered: Why Do All New Hampshire Bars Have To Sell Food? (11:28).

 

Milton’s NH Employment Security (NHES) Community Profile

By Muriel Bristol | April 30, 2018

New Hampshire Employment Security (NHES) produced an update to its Milton statistics in its NH Community Profiles in December 2017. Most of its figures were updated to 2015.

It included US Census Bureau figures, which estimated Milton’s population at 4,606 inhabitants as of 2015. This would be an increase of 0.3% of the 4,592 inhabitants estimated in 2014. Milton’s net population had not increased significantly since the 2010 census, when it had 4,598 inhabitants.

224 (4.7%) of Milton’s 4,606 inhabitants were aged under 5 years of age, 883 (19.2%) were aged 5-19 years of age, 815 (17.7%) were aged 20-34, 1,223 (26.6%) were aged 34-54 years of age, 803 (17.4%) were aged 55-64 years of age, and 658 (14.3%) were aged 65 years of age or over. There were 2,294 males (49.8%) and 2,312 (50.2%) females. The median age was 43.1 years (an increase of 4.6% over the prior year).

Milton had 2,058 housing units in 2015. Single-Family Units, Detached or Attached accounted for 1,616 (78.5%) of them, Mobile Homes (and Other Housing Units) accounted for 242 (11.6%), 2-4 Unit Multi-family Structures, i.e., apartment buildings, accounted for 107 (5.2%), and 5-or-more Unit Multi-family Structures accounted for 93 (4.5%) housing units.

By computation, the average Milton housing unit sheltered 2.2 inhabitants.

Milton’s single largest employer by far was the Milton town government, whose 247 employees (132 Municipal Services and 115 Education) made up 11.3% of the 2,185 employed inhabitants. Next largest was Index Packaging with 157 employees, Eastern Boats with 38 employees, Iron Mountain with 20 employees, and ProLine with 13 employees.

Most of Milton’s Working Residents (87.5%) commuted to employment out of town. Most of them (78.2%) commuted to another NH community, while some (9.3%) commuted to employment out of state. The mean travel time was 31 minutes. Only 12.5% worked in Milton.

Some 124 inhabitants (5.4%) were unemployed in 2015. (This had declined to 73 inhabitants (3.1%) by 2016).

The Per Capita income was $33,495 in 2015 (an increase of 0.9% over the previous year). The Median Family income was $67,991 and the Median Household income was $60,000. Individuals below the poverty level were 8.8% of the population.

References:

New Hampshire Employment Security (NHES). (2017, December 5). New Hampshire Community Profiles. Retrieved from https://www.nhes.nh.gov/elmi/products/cp/

Milton in the Third (1810) Federal Census

by Muriel Bristol | April 23, 2018

Milton made its first appearance as its own town in the Third Federal Census (1810). (It had separated from Rochester in 1802). It had 1,005 residents on Monday, August 6, 1810: 477 males (47.5%) and 528 females (52.5%).

Milton had 163 households with an average 6.2 inhabitants per household. Only 6 households (3.7%) were headed by a female (5 of them were titled “Widow”).

The surnames represented as heads of household (all other inhabitants were identified as counts only by age and sex) were: Adams, Applebee, Amos, Berry, Brackett, Bragdon, Bunker, Burham, Cate, Chamberlain, Chapman, Chase, Colby, Cook, Copp, Courson, Couston, Dearborn, Dore, Downs, Drew, Ellis, Fisk, Foss, Garland, Gate, Gerrish, Goodwin, Grant, Hanson, Harford, Hartshorne, Hayes, Henderson, Hierd, Horne, How, Jenkins, Jennings, Jewett, Jones, Libby, Lord, Lyman, McDuffee, Matthews, Merry, Meservey, Miller, Moulton, Nute, Nutter, Palmer, Paul, Peavey, Perkin, Phifield, Pinkum, Plumer, Prumer, Remick, Ricker, Rines, Robers, Roberts, Scates, Smith, Stevens, Tibbetts, Tuttle, Twombly, Varna, Varner, Varney, Wakeham, Waker, Wallingford, Watson, Wentworth, Whitehouse, Whitham, Whittum, Willey, Wingate, Worcester, and Young.

326 of Milton’s inhabitants were aged under 10 years of age (161 males and 165 females), 153 were aged 10-15 years of age (66 males and 87 females), 206 were aged 16-25 (97 males and 109 females), 166 were aged 26-44 years of age (76 males and 90 females), and 153 were aged over 45 years of age (76 males and 77 females). All of these were “free white” inhabitants. Peter Gerrish was the only inhabitant in the “all other free persons” category.

Merrill’s Gazetteer of the State of New Hampshire (1817) described Milton seven years later as having “3 religious societies, 1 meeting house, 3 grain mills, 3 sawmills, 1 clothing mill, and 3 trading stores.”


Previous in sequence: Northeast Parish in the Second (1800) Federal Census; next in sequence: Milton in the Fourth (1820) Federal Census


References:

Wikipedia. (2018, November 9). 1810 United States Census. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1810_United_States_Census

 

Milton Town Beach Has Its Own Government

By S.D. Plissken | Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Last February, a Milton resident missed the deadline for a petitioned warrant article that would have made access to the Milton Town Beach free to residents.

On Monday, April 2, 2018, Selectman Lucier questioned the purchase of a $12,000 tractor for that same Town Beach. He had been unable to find any authorization for its purchase in warrant articles or in the minutes of either the Board of Selectmen’s Meetings or the Recreation Commission. “Who signed it, who signed the check for it?,” he asked.

He got his answer in the Milton Board of Selectmen [BOS] Meeting of Monday, April 16, 2018.

The BOS have been trying to ascertain the status of its various town committees and commissions, be they active or defunct. Four are listed in the 2017 Town Report: the Conservation Commission, the Economic Development Committee, the Recreation Commission, and the Townhouse Stewardship Committee. Some residents have questioned whether any of them fulfill any legitimate governmental functions.

It emerged that the Recreation Commission was authorized by warrant article in 1948. Since then, it seems to have been reauthorized in 1977. It got a sibling Beach Committee or Commission in 1997 and the two were merged together in 1999. Or so it would seem from the rather spotty records.

The Recreation Director, Karen Brown, added that “the ’99 vote gave the Commission the right to oversee a revolving fund. The 2004 vote gave the Commission the full authority over the beach, the maintenance, all using the funds taken in, and that was elected and both passed, and that’s where the authority came from.” “And then in 2006, there was a vote to try to bring the authority back to the Board of Selectmen and that failed, leaving it as not an advisory committee, but as a committee overseeing and having full access to the money.”

And it would seem that the BOS has little to say about it – the Recreation Commission is its own beach government, established by the voters and authorized to collect its own revenue (sorry, no free beach access) and allocate that revenue just as they see fit (say, on tractors). One of the BOS sits on the Recreation Commission “ex officio” and the BOS fill vacancies to the Commission.

Unless the Recreation Commission is defunct. There seemed to be some doubt as to whether they have met often enough to remain an active commission.

But that remains to be seen…