Mayor says Pennichuck seeking other buyers

Is Pennichuck Corp. looking to sell the company out from under Nashua’s effort to take it over?

That depends on whom you ask.

Mayor Bernie Streeter says yes.

“It’s no secret they are at this point . . . seeking other suitors, as well,” Streeter said Thursday.

When asked to elaborate, Streeter would only say, “It’s the talk of the trade. It’s an ugly rumor.”

Pennichuck President and Chief Executive Officer Don Correll says no way.

“Unequivocally, we are not talking to anyone else about selling the company,” Correll said Friday.

“Because of my tenure, I know a lot of people in the business and I’ve worked with them on a variety of things for 25 years, and we continue to have discussions on industry issues,” he said. “But I can say unequivocally that we are not having any discussions with anyone else about a sale.”

Making a list . . .

With less than a week to go before St. Nick appears, here’s a fanciful look at what folks in City Hall might like to find wrapped in a bow:

Best stocking stuffer

Alderman Paula Johnson and her husband, James, will likely have a fatter Christmas stocking than usual.

Since 1997, the Assessing Department mistakenly overlooked James Johnson’s veteran’s tax credit.

According to a memo from Maureen Lemieux, the director of administrative services, the department at least twice ignored proof from the Johnsons that the credit was still valid.

Johnson the alderman has not voted on the issue.

The credit is $100 per year, so the family will get a refund of $600. The refund passed the aldermanic Finance Committee last week and will be handled by the full Board of Aldermen on Tuesday.

Apparently, it came to light when the Johnsons received their latest bill in November.

A buried hatchet

In this time of peace, love and good will to all, the mayoral election might seem like ancient history.

But not to Streeter and Alderman-at-Large Steve Bolton.

Bolton unleashed a string of . . . uh, well, they weren’t compliments . . . about a memo from Streeter, his mayoral opponent.“To chastise us in this manner is not gracious, it is not harmonious, it is not cooperative, it is confrontational, it is insulting, it is unfair, it is undiplomatic, it is untactful and it is unbecoming,” said Bolton, according to minutes of a recent aldermen’s meeting.

He was responding to a memo from Streeter that included eye-catching capital letters and bold printing.

The memo chastised the aldermen for not asking tough questions about the proposed teachers’ contract at a committee meeting. Streeter leads the committee and he could have asked the questions.

But Streeter said he showed his dislike for the contract by holding his nose and letting it pass without his signature.

A charm to ward off the Grinch

The holiday troublemaker is having his way with the Division of Public Works.

Typically, the city does away with parking fees downtown as a boon for the retailers during the holiday season.

This year, the division wanted to show off its new parking meters that will feature a debit-card payment system. A parking committee, made up of retailers and City Hall administrators, opted not to have free parking, but instead to give away 500 of the snazzy cards.

Enter the Grinch.

The cards, with a microchip, appeared to have been imprinted with the code for another city.

And another city got Nashua’s cards, according to Traffic Engineer Susan Klasen.

But hope springs eternal. The Grinch might be gone as early as Monday, with cards that will work in the city’s meters, Klasen said.

On top of that trouble, spirits are low at the Ledge Street offices.

One after another, members of the senior staff have filed out of the office and moved on to other things. The latest announced departure is Director George Crombie. He will be working until mid-January. Jim Mealey, the deputy director for administration, had a going-away party Friday, his last day.

The gift of new titles

To deal with the vacancies in the division, Streeter and the Board of Public Works bestowed the title of “acting” on a few folks.

City Treasurer/Tax Collector David Fredette is the acting deputy director for administration. He fills in for Mealey.

Rick Seymour, the head of the wastewater treatment facility, has been appointed the acting division director once Crombie vacates his office. He filled the same position for several months before Crombie was hired.

Other staff members in the division had previously been upgraded.

Stephen Dookran, the deputy city engineer, is the acting city engineer. And Klasen is the acting traffic engineer.

The gift of more free time

Outgoing aldermen will complete their public service to the city this week.

Ward 9 Alderman Scott Cote, Ward 2 Alderman Tim Nickerson, Ward 8 Alderman Stephen Liamos, Ward 1 Alderman Kevin McAfee and Alderman-at-Large Fred Britton will have to find someplace new to spend their nights besides City Hall.

We bet they won’t have too much trouble with that one.

A misplaced gift

Community Development Director Kathy Hersh has been a loyal aide to Streeter.

Her division’s $200,000 investment of taxpayer money in a new, revamped land-use code raised some eyebrows after months of work. Some feared the regulations would be too onerous on businesses and developers. The would-be zoning document was handed over to a committee of local business interests organized by the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce during the summer.

And it hasn’t been seen since.