Thursday March 14, 2013

WINCHESTER, N.H. -- The third and final phase of upgrades to the town's wastewater treatment plant is stuck in the mud after voters Tuesday rejected the $1.48 million needed for the completion.

Even though a simple majority voted in favor of Article 2, the two-thirds majority needed for passage was not met. According to the town, 284 sided with the project while 270 did not. The article was recommended unanimously by the Winchester Board of Selectmen but was opposed, 6-2, by the town's budget committee.

The $1.48 million would have been used to prepare plans and specifications for sewer collection system inspections and to carry out improvements to the facility on Duso Road. Town officials will now have to find a new way to move the project forward.

The town reported that ballots were cast by 607 of its 2,493 registered voters.

Former Town Administrator Joan C. Morel previously told the Reformer that the project's third phase will include upgrades that weren't part of the previous two phases because there wasn't enough money budgeted. Phase 3 will also include inspecting the system that runs through the town, she said.

Morel, who earned a three-year term on the Hinsdale Board of Selectmen on Tuesday, said the first phase consists of basically building a new plant (with a brand-new centrifuge) on the site of the old facility. Morel said there was $3.4 million -- appropriated by voters at the 2009 Town Meeting -- available for the work but residents approved an additional $500,000 when Winchester learned the former amount was not enough.

Passage of the article on Tuesday also would have given the selectmen the authority to apply for, accept and expend grants, donations and gifts for the project.

The town took management the facility in 2008, after the expiration of its contract with United Water of Auburn. The plant was having various mechanical breakdowns at that time.

In other Town Meeting business on Tuesday, residents voted 358-194 to make it illegal for any animal in town to run at-large on properties that don't belong to their owners. It applies to all domestic animals. According to the ordinance, any resident whose domestic or wild animals get loose could be fined $50 each time the animals escape. The owners would also be responsible for expenses for caring for the animals.

Residents voted 356-197 to adopt Article 23, establishing a seven-member committee to study the possible effects of consolidating the Conant and Thayer public libraries. The committee will be appointed by the selectmen and will include a representative from each library.

Voters also approved Article 3 (which passed 322-245) on the town warrant, adopting a $3,417,661 operating budget. They also adopted a sewer department's budget of $318,361 and a water department's budget of $240,042.

In the candidate elections, Theresa G. Sepe and Herbert (Chan) Stephens secured two-year seats on the Board of Selectmen, with 384 and 305 votes, respectively. Sepe is already on the board and was seeking re-election.

Michael Doherty (345 votes) and Gustave Ruth (271) earned three-year positions on the planning board in the town's only other contested race.

The other election results are: Bonnie Leveille -- supervisor of the checklist; Theodore Whippie -- trustee of the trust fund; James Tetreault -- town clerk/tax collector; Barbara Kelley, Marilyn Baker and Bonnie Leveille -- Conant Public Library trustee; Dianne Skawski-Pride and Joan Gratton -- three-year terms as Thayer Public Library trustees; Frank J. Amarosa III -- one-year term as Thayer Public Library trustee; Harvey Sieran, Kathleen Hebert and Margaret Curti -- budget committee; Thomas MacQuarrie -- three-year term on Musterfield Cemetery Committee.

Domenic Poli can be reached at dpoli@reformer.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.