Rockingham, Westminster discuss sharing recycling center


BELLOWS FALLS -- Westminster's town manager and Selectboard chairman attended Tuesday's meeting of the Rockingham Selectboard to further discussion the possibility of using the Rockingham/Westminster Recycling Center.

Town Manager Russ Hodgkins and Chairman Nathan Stoddard addressed the Rockingham Selectboard in the Rockingham Town Hall Lower Theatre as the seventh item on Tuesday's agenda to get Rockingham's agreement, which they received, to move forward with plans of joining forces with Rockingham.

The facility is located in Westminster, but owned by Rockingham.

Rockingham/Bellows Falls Municipal Manager Willis D. "Chip" Stearns II told the Rockingham Selectboard incorporating Westminster will entail a hike in hours of operations, investment in one compactor by each town and a possible increase in the number of recycling containers at the facility. He also said the next budget cycle would include numbers that correlate to Westminster's contribution to Rockingham's facility operations.

Hodgkins said his town will hold public hearings on Sept. 9 and 23 to present four viable options and generate feedback. He told the Rockingham Selectboard a collaboration will "enhance both towns in the monetary form because your rate will go down with the volume of trash and recycling." He and Stearns also said the two towns are in different solid waste management districts, which are now competing for the business and will likely negotiate a lower rate to help secure it.

"If it stays where it is, we're going to be in the $650,000 range for an annual budget and that is just not doable for a small town like Westminster," he said.

Hodgkins also assured Rockingham Selectboard Chairman Tom MacPhee he conducted a survey of the Rockingham/Westminster Recycling Center and there is plenty of room at the site. Rockingham pays taxes on the facility, but Westminster returns it to the town.

Earlier in Tuesday's meeting, Rockingham Health Officer gave the Selectboard an update on the property at 14 Tuttle St. in Bellows Falls. She said Ruggerio Trash Removal has taken out soft items and trash from the property for $2,500 and Paul's Pest Control captured about five creatures at a cost of $300. Howard also said she and Bellows Falls Fire Chief Bill Weston walked through the property and said the air quality in the basement is very foul.

As the meeting neared its end, the Selectboard rejected a motion that would have given any town official authority to confiscate all unlicensed dogs. The motion would have permitted any of the canines to be transferred to an animal shelter or rescue organization in an attempt to find them an adoptive home. It also would have meant an impounded animal could be "destroyed in a humane way" if it is not placed in such a home or transferred to a humane society.

Selectboard members Ann DiBernardo, Susan Hammond and Josh Hearne voted against the motion, while MacPhee and Vice Chairman Peter Golec voted to pass it. DiBernardo told the Reformer she voted to strike down the motion because it would authorize "a license to kill" dogs who should not be punished for their owners' disregard for the rules.

In other business:

-- The Selectboard voted to grant the owners of Leslie's The Tavern with $15,000 out of the Rockingham Revolving Loan Fund. The loan is set at a rate of 4.5 percent interest over 60 months and will be used to upgrade the fire suppression system for the restaurant. According to information from Rockingham Development Director Francis "Dutch" Walsh, this will include new exterior venting and will bring the system into compliance with the state's fire code.

-- Selectboard also designated the National Incident Management System (NIMS) as the basis for all incident management in the town.

-- Alan LaCombe was reappointed as a planning commissioner and a member of the Rockingham Zoning Board.

-- In his manager's report, Stearns said Hodgkins & Sons cleaned up 409 Saxtons River Road, which was part of the FEMA buy-out following Tropical Storm Irene.

He said all the town bridges have been cleaned with a compressor and E. Clark Landscaping, the company that mows the town's parks and cemetery, has indicated roughly five additional mowings (more than the contracted number of 20) will be necessary due to the high volume of rain this summer. Stearns said the additional mowings will come with a 25-percent increase.

-- The first installment of 2014-15 town and village taxes are due Aug. 10, but can be submitted on time by Aug. 11 because Aug. 10 is a Sunday.

-- Verizon Wireless intends to erect a cell tower on private property at the end of Darby Hill Road. Howard, on behalf of the Rockingham Planning Commission, has sent a letter to Verizon's attorney.

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


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