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Supreme Court upholds BTLA decision on pipeline assessments

GORHAM – The town of Gorham will reimburse the Portland Pipe Line Corporation between $110,000 and $115,000 as a result of the N.H. Supreme Court decision affirming the assessments set by the state Board of Tax and Land Appeals.
The town and Portland Pipe Line disagreed on the taxable value of the 4.95 miles of pipeline that runs through Gorham. The company paid the full amount for tax years 2008, 2009, and 2010 but then filed for abatement. When the town denied the abatement request, Portland Pipe Line appealed the valuations to the BTLA.
The BTLA ruled the city's assessments were too high but at the same time, the board said the assessments proposed by the company were too low.
The town's appraiser, George Sansoucy, assessed the pipeline at $4.5 million in tax year 2008 and $5.9 million in tax years 2009 and 2010.
Portland Pipe Line's appraiser, John Davis III, set an assessment of $2.3 million in 2008, $2.54 million in 2009, and $2.5 million in 2010.
The BTLA order set assessments of $3.8 million for tax year 2008, $4 million for 2009, and $4.3 million for 2010.
Gorham appealed the BTLA order to the state Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments last April. In a decision released on Nov. 25, the court said the town failed to prove the BTLA's decision was "erroneous as a matter of law". The court said it also could not conclude that the BTLA order was it unsupported by the evidence.
Gorham Town Manager Robin Frost said the town set aside funds to cover its exposure in the case. She set the figure at approximately $110,000 to $115,000 including interest.
While the town did not prevail at the Supreme Court, overall Gorham succeeded in protecting much of its original assessment. Frost noted that final assessment s for the three years are higher than the assessments submitted by Portland Pipe Line.
Still outstanding are Portland Pipeline's assessments for tax years 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014. Frost said she expects the town will use assessment figures in the BTLA order in settling the 2011 assessment. But in 2012, the town underwent a revaluation and Frost predicted those assessments could end up being disputed.

Last Updated on Monday, 26 January 2015 20:52

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Berlin School Board approves three new classes for fall

BERLIN—Three new classes were added for students at Berlin High School, but the vote didn't come without some opposition from the board. The board moved to vote individually on the classes, with Chair Nicole Plourde not in favor of adding Cake Decorating II.

The three classes up for discussion were Advanced Placement Statistics, AP English Language and Composition combined with U.S. History Honors, and Cake Decorating II.

It was proposed that the higher-level classes be offered for students who are looking to further their education while in high school.

AP Statistics is a semester long course with a perquisite of Algebra II. The purpose of the course is to introduce students to the major concepts and tools for collecting, analyzing and drawing conclusions from data.

AP English Language and U.S. History is a yearlong course with a perquisite of English 10 and the summer reading program. The course work will alternate every other day, with Fridays being used for joint discussion. College credit may be available for this course.

Most of the discussion focused on the addition of Cake Decorating II. The class would be available to all students who have already completed Cake Decorating I. The class is designed to expand on the skills that students have already learned and work towards developing advanced techniques including airbrushing, flower making and piping.

Roland Pinette defended the course, explaining that for some students they are gaining confidence and not just hands on skills.

"Students are gaining more than just hands on knowledge. They are gaining confidence, and bringing these skills home to show their family," said Pinette.

He went on to explain that some students could benefit from the experience of cake decorating in high school, and continue on to the culinary arts program at the community college.

By expanding classes into different areas, the school hopes that students will recognize what their interests are, even if those interests are not in conventional subjects.

Although, Plourde understood the benefits to some students, she felt that students would be better served by offering classes that were more geared to furthering their education.

"I wasn't thrilled when we offered Cake Decorating I. I think we need to focus on areas that would be more beneficial to students," said Plourde.

The board voted and approved the addition of the three new classes; with Plourde opposing adding Cake Decorating II.


Last Updated on Monday, 26 January 2015 20:52

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Gorham seeking members for Hazard Mitigation Planning Team

GORHAM--The town has held two meetings with June Garneau, Mapping and Planning Solutions and Heidi Lawton of N.H. Homeland Security and Emergency Management, to discuss updating Gorham's Hazard Mitigation Plan.

As mandated by the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000, all communities are required to complete a local hazard mitigation plan in order to qualify for FEMA funding should a natural disaster occur. The planning processes are made possible through grants from the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) through N.H. Homeland Security and Emergency Management. As a result the town is conducting a series of Hazard Mitigation Plan meetings over the next few months.

Through this series of public meetings, the Hazard Mitigation Planning team will address issues such as flooding, hurricanes, drought, landslides and wildfires and determine efforts the town can take to mitigate the effects of both natural and human-caused hazards. By examining past hazards, the planning team will establish priorities for future mitigation projects and efforts that can be taken to increase public awareness of hazards in general.

The Hazard Mitigation Planning team is currently being formed and the public and any interested stakeholders are invited to participate. All interested parties should contact Chad Miller (EMD) 466-5611 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if they wish to be included in the process.

Future planning meetings have been scheduled for Feb. 6 and March 6; all meetings are planned for 9 a.m. and currently scheduled to be held in the Emergency Operations Center at the police station. Please call ahead to Mapping and Planning Solutions, 846-5720, to reconfirm the time and location of each meeting. The general public is encouraged to attend and participate in all meetings whether or not they are a part of the Planning Team.

For more information on the hazard mitigation planning process, please contact June Garneau at Mapping and Planning Solutions, 846-5720.


Last Updated on Monday, 26 January 2015 20:52

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Governor Hassan announces launch of Text-to-9-1-1

CONCORD – Continuing efforts to improve public safety and to modernize state services, Governor Maggie Hassan and the Department of Safety today announced the launch of Text-to-9-1-1, a new service making traditional 9-1-1 emergency services available via text messaging.

"Public safety is state government's most important responsibility, and Text-to-9-1-1 is an important step forward in our ongoing efforts to ensure the safety of our people and communities," Governor Hassan said. "Making traditional 9-1-1 emergency services available through text messaging is a common-sense initiative that will help save lives as we work to modernize how we provide critical state services, allowing Granite Staters to access emergency services when they are unable to place a call in a dangerous situation."

"Text-to-9-1-1 is an important service and we're happy to have it here in New Hampshire," Division of Emergency Services and Communications Director Bruce Cheney said. "Text-to-9-1-1 allows residents in dangerous situations who are unable to risk the noise of a call to send a text for help. This will help save lives and must be used responsibly."

Texting should only be used when a voice call is not possible, as voice calls provide an advantage by allowing the 9-1-1 operator to more quickly assess the type of emergency and the location of the emergency.

How to text 9-1-1:

Enter the numbers '911' in the 'To' field,In the message field, type your exact location and a BRIEF description of the help you need – use simple words, do not use abbreviations or shorthand,Push the 'Send' button, andBe prepared to answer the 9-1-1 call taker's questions.

A text or data plan is required to place a text to 9-1-1. Currently, Text to 9-1-1 is offered via Sprint, AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile. Text messages may not go through if a cell signal is not available. If a text message does not go through, the sender will receive the following message: "There is no text service to 9-1-1 available at this time."

Messages to Text-to-9-1-1 cannot be received if there are multiple message recipients, or if pictures, videos or emoticons are used. Text-to-9-1-1 is for emergencies only.


Last Updated on Friday, 23 January 2015 22:19

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