Letter Box


Is this the reward
for success?

Editor of the Reformer:

On Nov. 13 there was a Joint Meeting of the Rockingham Selectboard and the Rockingham Free Public Library Board of Trustees to discuss the costs incurred in renovating the library, a project which has just been completed.

First let me say that by common consensus the town now has a beautiful library building, one of four Carnegie endowed libraries in the state. It is a library the whole community can be very proud of. Of course this comes at a price to the taxpayers. We have had some huffing and puffing from some taxpayers, notably the chairwoman of the Library Board of Trustees, about project cost overruns. But what are the facts?

As I understand it, the original project cost was estimated at very close to $3 million. To pay for it a bond, also close to $3 million, was issued by the town. What has been the financial outcome? The cost of the project as of mid-November amounted to $3,042,245.15 to be precise. This leaves an estimated cost overrun of around $153,000. While there are some additional bills to come in, these are unlikely to exceed about $10,000 and there will likely be some miscellaneous offsetting revenue. Of the $153,000 projected overrun about $65,000 is for new shelving for the library which was never included in the original project scope, since it had been hoped that the old shelving could have been retained. In the end this proved to be not possible. Also, there are some additional costs attributable to the renovation project, arising from some "free" services provided by the town’s highways department. These should not exceed about $10,000, which, of course, has ultimately to be paid by the taxpayers.

Thus the bottom line "true" deficit will likely be around $110,000 at most. This represents about a 3.6 percent cost overrun. Taking into account the bankruptcy of the main contractor when the project was only halfway through and all the ensuing negotiations with unpaid sub-contractors, it is to me quite astounding that the final cost overrun is so small. No thanks are due, I might add, to the Library Board of Trustees, some of whom still carp about cost overruns and whose meddling throughout the project only made matters worse.

Our thanks go first and foremost to Mr. "Chip" Stearns, the Town Manager, who has made superhuman (I rarely if ever use this term) efforts to bring this project to a successful conclusion. He was strongly supported by the Selectboard, in particular its Chairman, Mr. Tom MacPhee, the library staff and many volunteers.

Throughout the many months of renovation, an extremely stressful period, the staff were ably led by its former library director, Celina Houlne. While successfully managing the unnecessary and costly temporary transfer of library services to another location, insisted upon by some Trustees during the period of renovation, she also succeeded in achieving an operating surplus in the Library’s finances. Her reward? She got fired by the trustees.

Arnold Clift,

Saxtons River, Nov. 29

Blame the drivers,
not the road

Editor of the Reformer:

I agree with my good neighbor Mike Szostak that the Guilford Center Road is a high risk rural road. However, many roads in these parts are risky.

I feel the speed limit signs are adequate and that 45 mph is safe. There haven’t been that many fatal accidents on this road and of those I think you’ll find speed or alcohol are factors.

Unfortunately, we live in a fast-paced society where many people are on hectic schedules and as a result some people drive recklessly. Therefore, I say the way people drive is more the fault than the road.

I’ve driven this road all my life. The other day a fella asked me, "Have you lived here all your life?"

I replied, "Not yet!" Phillip L. Cutting,

Guilford, Nov. 29

See you next year!

Editor of the Reformer:

Thank you to the Reformer for your coverage of our annual Apple Pie Festival. Also, our grateful thanks to members and friends of our church who helped with preparation tasks and on that special Sunday, the neighbors who graciously allowed our activities and parking to spill over onto their properties.

We sincerely appreciate the support of all attendees, including the numerous motorcyclists who return year after year. The day was a huge success! We invite you to join us again next year on Columbus Day weekend.

Apple Pie Festival Committee,

Dummerston Congregational Church, UCC

Dummerston, Nov. 29


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