China town clerk: Get funding reports in soon; late fee now in place for dog licenses

by Mary Grow

Town Clerk Rebecca Hapgood had three messages for residents and selectmen at the Feb. 4 selectmen’s meeting.

One was a reminder that any group that has not submitted its fiscal year 2017-18 report to be included in the 2018 town report needs to do so immediately.

Another was that dog licenses have a $25 late fee added as of Feb. 1, and it isn’t the town’s fault – it’s state law.

And, Hapgood assured selectmen, residents are watching their meetings on line and have told her how much they appreciate being able to follow town affairs on their own schedule. Most public meetings, including the selectboard, planning board and budget committee, are live-streamed and recorded. To watch a past meeting, anyone interested in viewing them should click here.

Selectmen also heard a presentation on the school forest behind China Primary School from Anita Smith. She and fellow retired teacher Elaine Philbrook have supervised maintenance and uses of the property for more than 20 years.

The forest has three main purposes, Smith said: education and recreation for all area residents, including, but by no means limited to students; display of the forest as a “dynamic ecosystem”; and, as a working forest, provision of natural resources, notably wood.

The forest has 20 outdoor classrooms and multiple trails. Signs provide directions and point out significant features.

Smith pointed out that the forest does not depend on tax money, but funds activities through proceeds from timber-harvesting and private organizations’ and state grants. She and Philbrook also welcome gifts of labor and relevant materials; for example, she said, Erskine Academy students and Eagle Scout candidates have worked on trails and facilities, and Inland Hospital donated enough snowshoes to outfit two classes at a time.

Another timber harvest is about due, Smith said. The most recent was early in 1998, to clean up after the ice storm.

Pending grants from Project Canopy and the Oak Grove Foundation will be used to replace the roof over the reading tree, one of the early improvements on the property.

Smith sees the property as an asset to China and the surrounding area and as a model for other towns and school units.

Selectman Ronald Breton encouraged her to ask for more help from the town public works crew and suggested she request an annual appropriation.

In other business, selectmen unanimously approved a Boston Post Cane policy setting out requirements and procedures for choosing the town’s oldest known resident.

Recommendations are welcome; the recipient must have been a resident for at least 25 of the previous 40 years.

They also approved the revised personnel policy on which they have worked for several weeks.

Because their next regular meeting would have fallen on Presidents Day, Feb. 18, when the town office is closed, they moved it to Tuesday evening, Feb. 19.


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