A case of public disinterest

MILFORD – Perhaps it’s a testament to the good job being done in Milford schools, or perhaps it’s a sign that SB2 has altered people’s interest in annual meetings, but Tuesday night’s public hearing for the proposed Milford School District budget set a new public-attendance record: Two.

That’s how many people not associated with the School District showed up to hear the half-hour presentation in the high school cafeteria.

One was Phil Gendron, who said that as a taxpayer and the husband of a former teacher, he was curious about the budget.

Did anything at the meeting stun him?

“I’m stunned there wasn’t anybody else here,” he said, joking.

The other member of the public declined to give her name.

State law has long required public hearings on the budget, and bonded warrant articles have long been required to be held about a month before town meeting, to give people time to think about issues before they show up to discuss and vote on them.

SB2 split traditional town meeting into a deliberative, non-voting session held a month before voting day – but the public hearing remained, a few weeks before deliberative session. Perhaps as a result, interest in the public hearings has dwindled in Milford, and some have called for them to be dropped altogether.

Tuesday’s hearing saw the official presentation of a proposed $27.4 million operating budget, up 4.4 percent, plus $240,050 in proposed warrant articles, mostly for repairs and paving warrant articles, mostly for repairs and pavingwork around the schools. The School District deliberative session will be held Feb. 5 at 7 p.m. in the Milford Middle School.

New look online for town

AMHERST – Wondering how to register your car or connect to high-speed Internet service? Are you curious to see just what your selectmen look like?

Look no further than the town of Amherst’s colorful new Web site at www.amherstnh.gov. The site debuted this week.

The recently redesigned site – which includes photos and contact information for various town officials – is intended to help residents find the information they need more quickly.

“We are trying to make it easier to navigate,” said Town Administrator Carl Weber.

Amherst resident Richard Hart worked a couple of months on the redesign at no cost to the town, Weber said.

While the old site can still be accessed at www.town.Amherst .nh.us, “it will be going away soon,” Weber said.

The town is now exploring the option of offering residents the ability to register cars online.

Digital prints for time of need

Keeping kids safe is tops on most parents’ lists, and one way to safeguard them is to keep their fingerprints on file in case of an emergency.

To that end, the Talarico Auto Group is planning a two-day child safety exposition at its dealerships in Manchester, Milford and Merrimack.

Free digital-identification packages and Amber Alert posters will be available, as will the chance to have your child digitally fingerprinted. The auto dealer says the prints will not be kept by police or other authorities – all the info goes home when you do.

The weekend, slated for Feb. 7 from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. and Feb. 8 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m., is part of Code Amber’s “Project Safekids,” and the digital prints are intended for use as part of the National Amber Alert System, which uses the media as an early-warning system in the event of an abduction.

Staff writers David Brooks and Lynn Tryba contributed to this report.