Wednesday February 6, 2013

BELLOWS FALLS -- The Rockingham Selectboard voted Tuesday to accept a grant that will provide the 25 percent local match required for the FEMA buyout of a few houses flooded during Tropical Storm Irene.

The Community Develop Block Grant of $65,228 will be used to match a fourth of what it will cost FEMA to purchase three properties devastated by the storm that took an unorthodox path through New England in August 2011. FEMA will take care of 75 percent of the cost.

Rockingham Health Officer/Zoning Administrator Ellen Howard previously told the Reformer the town will make offers to the three property owners to purchases the homes. She said Rockingham will be reimbursed 75 percent of what it spends.

The Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission is administering the buyout.

Earlier in the meeting, Rockingham Development Director Francis "Dutch" Walsh gave the Selectboard an update on the Rockingham Revolving Loan Fund. The fund, administered through the Walsh's development office and the town's finance department, makes money available to small businesses opening in town.

"Over the past year the fund made one loan to a start-up business in the amount of $40,000 and five individuals made initial applications and there were about eight other inquiries that didn't get to the application process," he told Selectboard members. "This year, a total of 10 loans were being administered by the development and finance offices.


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One loan was paid off early in the amount of $38,000 that came back to the fund. One loan matured and was paid in full."

Of the remaining eight, Walsh said, one is a non-performing loan in the amount of $19,887 that has gone to the town attorney for collection. The rest of the loans total $445,635. Walsh said the revolving loan fund has a $294,000 balance and one loan of $39,788.50 is expected to be paid off this month.

Walsh also said the fund's committee is down two members and recommended the Selectboard approve the appointment of Katie Dearborn as a representative. Selectboard member Peter Golec made the motion and Josh Hearne seconded it before it passed unanimously. Selectboard member Matthew Trieber, who is also the district's representative to Montpelier, was absent.

In other business:

-- During his manager's report, Municipal Manager Tim Cullenen said the town will co-sponsor with the Windham County Humane Society a neutering program of feral cats. He said he did not have all the details but the society will be allowed to use the Rockingham Town Hall Lower Theatre a few times over the next six months.

He said the humane society got a grant to cover all veterinary services and the town's only contribution will be the use of the hall.

-- Cullenen said a benefit for the Greater Falls Warming Shelter will be held at the Bellows Falls Opera House on Thursday, Feb. 21.

Domenic Poli can be reached at dpoli@reformer.com, or 802-254-2311. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.