Merrimack looks to the future

MERRIMACK – Public relations and communication were among the themes selectman discussed Thursday night while brainstorming their goals for the upcoming year. Board members will further discuss and prioritize plans for the future at the board’s meeting June 10.

One of the reasons they are laying out their goals now, said Selectman Carolyn Whitlock, is because the board will be talking with potential town managers in the near future.

Selectman Chuck Mower said Merrimack should add a public relations component to the town in order to show what a vibrant and inviting community it has.

He also suggested improving the overall look of the town.

Other members suggested things like expanding public awareness of town services and improving communication between residents, departments and legislators.

A business outreach effort was suggested, as well as reviewing the town Web site and adding frequently asked questions to each department’s site. More participation in regional issues and resources was also recommended as well as getting involved with statewide issues such as removing the Merrimack tolls on the F.E. Everett Turnpike.

Selectman Dick Hinch said the board needs to make the potential Merrimack Valley Regional Water District a higher priority.

“We need to review and take whatever action’s appropriate to joining the Regional Water District,” he said.

The idea behind the district is for Nashua to acquire Pennichuck Corp.’s regulated assets by eminent domain and then turn the utility over to the district to own and operate.

Other topics included reinstating evening hours at the town clerk’s office, providing budgetary guidance to department heads, exploring a pay-as-you-throw trash-removal system and implementing a self-evaluation program for the Board of Selectmen.

In other business, the board passed a motion to accept Harvard Pilgrim’s Primex plan as the town’s health insurance provider.

Harvard Pilgrim was the least expensive of insurance plans offered to the town.

Bob Levan, the town finance director, said coverage was basically the same from all of the providers that bid and that few employees, if any, would need to change doctors on any of the plans being evaluated.

Two requests made by the Fire Department were also granted at the meeting. The board voted to accept a $5,000 New Hampshire Homeland First Responder Satellite Grant that would provide satellite training in Fire Stations 2 and 3. The board also passed a motion to award a $382,058 bid for a new fire engine to manufacturing company American LaFrance of Southern New England.

Andrea Bushee can be reached at