Sometimes, bills are introduced in the State Legislature as the result of a specific event. Such was the case when both House Bill (HB) 346 and Senate Bill (SB) 152 were introduced in January of 2015. The genesis for each was a situation that occurred at Stevens High School in 2014, and the realization that current law does not provide the hiring authority in school districts with a complete criminal background check on potential hires. Without all of the information regarding a person’s criminal background (if any), school districts have hired people who have committed crimes and misdemeanors beyond those specifically listed in RSA 189:13 paragraph V. As a result, students have been at risk and sometimes victimized.
The failure of the current law to protect our students became quite clear to the Claremont School District in 2014. Though the situation had devastating consequences, it was a catalyst to fix the law. Over the past 14 months, the victim, her mother and members of the school district and community have testified numerous times in favor of this legislation. Based on testimony from a State Police Officer in January of this year, HB346 was voted down in favor of SB152 which was later amended and sent to the House Education Committee for its final committee hearing last week.
In the very near future, the House will vote on SB152 and the final leg of this legislative process will be complete. Claremont’s senator and representatives have supported this legislation over the last 14 months, and it is our hope that the entire House will vote overwhelmingly in favor of SB152. If passed, it will go to the governor’s desk for signature and Claremont will have played a key role in making students safer.
Though state laws dictate how local school districts and municipalities are governed, their effectiveness is not always known until measured by certain events. Last Saturday, Claremont held its first auction of tax-deeded properties. One of the properties (54 Windsor Rd) held significant historical value, and I received letters from the NH Division of Historical Resources and the UNH Cooperative Extension requesting that the Council explore options for removing the property from the auction in order to preserve it.
Though RSA 80:80 allows a municipality to remove a property from the auction block to retain it for public use, it cannot be removed in order to be transferred to an individual or organization for a specific purpose. Since the City did not have the financial resources to retain it for public use, the Council could not remove it from the auction block. Thus, there was no guarantee that the buyer would preserve it. However, the outcome of the auction proved both beneficial to the property’s future and the taxpayer. With a winning bid of $82,000, Heritage Mills not only secured the property’s future by committing to its preservation, but also paid all of the back taxes owed.
After the auction, my husband and I attended Arrowhead’s luncheon in recognition of all those who volunteered for or supported the organization. This winter approximately 50 people volunteered their time, ranging anywhere from an hour to hundreds of hours, to bring affordable tubing, skiing and snowboarding to Claremont. Unfortunately, the lack of snow meant fewer days open, and revenue is down. To help offset this lack of revenue, Arrowhead will host a concert series beginning May 28th. Please consider attending. If you would simply like to make a donation to them, please go to their website at www.arrowheadnh.com, click on the online store tab and scroll to the bottom of the page. Your support will be much appreciated by all of the people who have dedicated themselves to an organization that has enriched this community and made Arrowhead a destination point in Claremont.
Charlene Lovett is the Mayor of Claremont. Please email all questions, comments or concerns to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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