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Year in Review 2012: Goffstown schools, fires and ZIP code debate top stories

Looking back over the past year, items dominating news coverage included school budget battles, a consultant study at Mountain View Middle School and towns considering leaving SAU 19.

There were other issues in the news too, including a fire that destroyed the Hopkinton Highway Garage.

Here are our top stories of 2012.

Budget battle

Goffstown school spending was the hot topic during Town Meeting season in 2012.

When voters went to polls in March, a $36.4 million proposed budget was rejected, leaving the school district on a default budget of $36.1 million, still higher than the previous year’s budget.

But in addition to putting a higher budget forth to voters, the school district requested $18.6 million to renovate Bartlett and Maple Avenue elementary schools and the Goffstown High School athletic complex and Hieber Auditorium.

Already feeling the pinch from a higher school budget, voters rejected the $18.6 million bond.

However, the school district has not forgotten about the school renovations, and voters will again see this $18.6 million request on the school warrant in March.

In addition to the school bonds, on the town warrant, voters can expect to see a $3.3 million bond for fire station renovations.

MVMS consultant

Learning Innovations at WestEd, a West Coast consulting firm, was hired to study complaints about Mountain View Middle School’s climate, culture and leadership in September. The price tag for the consultant was $35,581.

One Goffstown resident, Benjamin Hampton, threw his hat into the ring for the consulting job, saying he would do it for free, but the school district instead hired WestEd.

A consultant was hired after many parents and teachers lodged complaints about the school and Principal Jim Hunt.

At one point, parents from New Boston and Dunbarton, who send their children to middle and high school in Goffstown, called MVMS a “black hole” students need to make their way through in order to get to high school.

Over the summer, a group of parents and faculty came together to devise a list of areas they wanted the consultant to study. Then once school was back in session, the consultant questioned teachers, and surveyed parents and students.

The results of the study are still pending.

AREA agreement

New Boston and Dunbarton’s school AREA agreement with Goffstown is set to expire in 2014. New Boston has decided to stay with SAU 19, but Dunbarton has been in talks with another school district, and in December, drew up an AREA agreement with Bow.

The decision of whether to continue sending students to Goffstown schools or form a new school administrative unit with Bow will go to Dunbarton voters at School District Meeting in March.

If Dunbarton leaves SAU 19, Goffstown could lose $2 million in revenue.

Sheriff race

A Republican candidate for Hillsborough County Sheriff, Frank Szabo of Goffstown, said he wouldn’t withdraw from the race despite controversial comments he made about using deadly force against abortion doctors.

Szabo said that although he had been urged to step down by some leaders in the New Hampshire Republican Party, he would continue with his campaign.

“I did not start this campaign for political gain or to join the status quo,” Szabo said in a statement.

Szabo said he would “absolutely” not rule out using deadly force to stop an abortion, and that he would “use the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s office to arrest abortion doctors for murdering innocent life.”

He later apologized for and retracted those comments, saying he didn’t understand the meaning of the question asked.

Szabo ended up losing the primary race to incumbent James Hardy and later moved out of the country with his family, reportedly to someplace in South America.

Highway garage

In June, a fire starting in a 10-wheel dump truck spread to the Hopkinton Highway Garage and destroyed it.

Hopkinton had been paying an insurance premium based on the garage being worth $1 million for years, but when appraisers were sent to the site after the fire, Local Government Center said the building was only worth $670,000.

In November, voters gathered at a special Town Meeting to vote on a $1.3 million bond to replace the highway garage. The article was rejected by four votes.

For the time being, the Highway Department has set up shop in temporary trailers, and heavy equipment is being stored at a Department of Transportation shed in Warner.

Voters will have another opportunity to vote on a new highway garage at Town Meeting in March.

Babe Ruth

In August, a bolt of lightning set fire to the Goffstown Babe Ruth equipment building, destroying it and everything in side.

Shortly after hearing the news of the fire, the Youk’s Kids Foundation, founded by former Red Sox third-baseman Kevin Youkilis, offered a $20,000 donation to the league to replace equipment lost in the fire.

Others stepped up to help as well, including John and Patti Putnam, who hosted a spaghetti supper fundraiser at Sawyer’s; the Oddfellows; and donations through an account set up at Citizens Bank.

Goffstown Babe Ruth President Kevin Baines said the new building will be smaller than the old one, and enough money has been collected to get started in the rebuilding process. For now, water and electrical issues have been addressed, and concrete has been poured for the 24-foot by 24-foot space.

ZIP code debate

Post office surveys were mailed to Pinardville residents in April, asking if they would like to change from their Manchester 03102 mailing address to Goffstown 03045.

For some Pinardville residents, having a Manchester mailing address is a headache. Mail is delivered to the wrong address, ambulances sometimes get dispatched to the wrong part of town and home and auto insurance premiums can be higher.

But when push came to shove, residents and businesses chose to keep their 03102 mailing address.

This was the second time the post office surveyed residents on the issue, the first being in 2000.

Bidding farewell

On Feb. 12, former Bow selectman and Hopkinton town administrator Leon Kenison died.

Harry Judd, who served as a Bow selectman with Kenison for eight years, described him as a dedicated public servant.

“Often, he was the first one to step forward when something needed to be done,” Judd said. “I was honored that he considered me a friend.”

The 2011 Bow town report was dedicated to Kenison.

Hopkinton Fire Chief Richard Schaefer died on Sept. 2 of a heart attack while on duty during the Hopkinton State Fair.

“He was a great guy, very up front and honest. As one would expect in a small town, someone holding that type of position is a real loss for the community,” said Hopkinton selectmen Chairman Jim O’Brien.

Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Yale was appointed interim fire chief, and selectmen are currently searching for a new, full-time chief.

Eugene Slusser, namesake of the Slusser Senior Center in Hopkinton, who, with his wife donated $1 million to build the center, died Sept. 25.

Slusser left an impression on those he met as, “just a wonderful, caring person,” said Marilyn Bresaw, Hopkinton’s human services director.

On Dec. 6, longtime Goffstown resident, and former Goffstown News editor and Goffstown town administrator Marie Boyle died.

Goffstown Town Administrator Sue Desruisseaux said if she could use one word to describe Marie, it would be selfless.

“It was never about Marie; it was always about someone else,” said Desruisseaux.

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