China town office now open for business

by Mary Grow

At their July 6 first-in-the-month meeting, China selectmen heard town department reports, submitted in writing and summarized by retiring Town Manager Dennis Heath.

The major news from the town office is that people may now enter the building to transact business. No more than two people are allowed in at the same time; masks are required; and the area is disinfected between visitors. Monday was the first day; Heath said things went smoothly.

The system is set up with a bell outdoors to let people notify those in the office that someone is waiting. Other signs give additional instructions, including a request to be patient if no one responds immediately to the bell: everyone inside might be on the phone.

The public works report said paving had started on Mann, Plummer and South roads. The crew had removed a beaver dam on Ingraham Road.

Transfer station employees have been very busy now that more services, including recycling, have reopened.

On behalf of the assessor, Heath reported enough new construction to make him “cautiously optimistic” the town’s valuation will increase when assessing is complete.

In his capacities as manager and treasurer, Heath said, “We did very well” in FY 2019-2020. Property tax collection was at 99.7 percent, he said. Revenues exceeded projections and expenditures were under budget.

He quickly added, “You’d best use caution going into this next fiscal year, because that’s when you really may see the hit on revenues.”

Heath will have retired and Becky Hapgood will have succeeded him before the next regular China selectmen’s meeting July 20. The July 6 meeting included a brief handing-over ceremony modeled on the military transitions familiar to Heath.

Heath and Selectboard Chairman Ronald Breton presented Hapgood with a personalized bison-hide padfolio made by China craftsman Travis Hill, and the three exchanged thanks and good wishes. A cake made by town office staffer Angela Nelson followed.

Hapgood intends to use her gift to “keep papers organized for meetings.”


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