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Christmas Tree Lighting Postponed to Dec. 17

Due to this week's inclement weather, which is inhibiting the effort to procure a wild, natural Christmas tree and have it installed on the Town Common, the Select Board has postponed Dorchester's Christmas Tree Lighting until Saturday, Dec. 17, at 6 p.m. We realize this may conflict with some other holiday plans that residents may have, and we apologize for the inconvenience.

Mascoma Valley Ecumenical Council

The Mascoma Valley Ecumenical Council, in collaboration with the area Scout Units, will continue a tradition started in 1974 to provide Thanksgiving food baskets for those in our community who are in need. Any person or house hold within the towns of Canaan, Dorchester, Enfield, Grafton and Orange is eligible to be referred.

Enclosed is a copy of the Recipient Information Form and a Reminder Note for the referred to keep.....

Click here to see the form and the complete letter from the Mascoma Valley Ecumenical Council.

Road Agent Hiring Committee Minutes

Meeting minutes for September 20, 2016
Meeting minutes for October 4, 2016
Meeting minutes for October 13, 2016

Highway Department Update: October 15, 2016

In the absence of a full-time Road Agent since July 25, Dorchester has hugely benefited from the great work done on our roads and at the Highway Shed and Yard in the interim by a very dedicated team, including Larry Walker Sr., Paul Smith, Brian Sousa, and Ernie Marsh. They have filled potholes, cleared ditches, repaired a washout, removed windfall trees and branches, cleared away brush, worked on the Highway trucks and equipment, cleaned up the Highway Yard, and have, without fail, responded quickly and effectively to every situation brought to their attention.

Larry has managed this crew exceedingly well. Today, alas, is his last day in that capacity. He has work at home that needs to be finished before winter arrives. If you see Larry around town (or Paul, Brian, or Ernie for that matter), please take a moment to thank him for all his hard work this past summer and fall. Many residents have told me how pleased they are with the work Larry and his crew have performed. He certainly deserves the gratitude of all of us.

Other Highway updates of interest include:

* The Road Agent Hiring Committee (membership includes Selectman Larry Walker Jr. and residents Brian Sousa, Larry Walker Sr., and Monica Cox, who is Committee chair) continues to meet weekly in the effort to recruit and hire a new Road Agent for Dorchester. As I've stated before, it is the goal of the Committee as well as your Select Board to have a new Road Agent in place well before the snow arrives. The Committee's meetings are public, and the schedule as well as minutes of previous Committee meetings are posted on the Town website.

* In preparation for winter, gravel, sand, and salt for the roads have been ordered and delivered. There's new sand in the small shed outside the Highway Yard gate for use this winter by residents. * All the Highway Department trucks are being inspected by a certified mechanic and repaired as necessary. The road grader's rear brakes are also being repaired (a big job), and once they're done the grader will be ready for service again. The sanders will be inspected and repaired if needed; they've already been greased. The Highway Department's vehicles and equipment will all be in good repair for winter.

* Your Select Board has approved a bid from an outside contractor to replace five damaged culverts in Town -- one on Hearse House Road, one on Streeter Woods Road, and three on River Road. These culverts are collapsing, causing further damage to the roadway. The work will be done before winter. Also, a list of road contractors has been compiled in the event of an emergency (a major washout, for example).

* Bids are being gathered for work to reinforce the large garage portion of the Highway Shed. Selectman Mike Woodard has headed up this effort. He and Larry Walker Jr. have also made repairs to the staircase inside the Shed so the stairs meet safety codes and the upstairs meeting area can be safely used once again.

* The large pile of ditch-fill that had blocked a portion of the trailhead parking area at the foot of Clough Road has been removed, and the parking area is now available for the hikers, bicyclists, dog-walkers, hunters, fishermen, and, in winter, snowmobilers, mushers, cross-country skiers, and snowshoers who enjoy exploring Green Woodlands.

* Selectman Larry Walker Jr. continues to drive every mile of Dorchester's roads each Friday, on the lookout for new problems and issues. If you know of a new problem (or an old one that has not yet been addressed), please fill out a Highway Complaint/Comment/Suggestion form, available in the Town Office and at every Select Board meeting. These forms are collected by the Select Board and given to the Highway Department, which makes every effort to address issues quickly. The Board members -- Larry Walker Jr., Mike Woodard, and myself -- are also available by telephone and email; please don't ever hesitate to contact a Selectman.

Please know: Your Select Board strives to be proactive, to the greatest extent possible, in managing our roads and infrastructure in the interim before a new Road Agent is in place. You have all been very patient with the Board as we manage changes at the Highway Department, and this has allowed the Board time to make informed and, the Board believes, smart decisions. Thank you. Working together with you is the surest and best way to create a Highway Department, and a Dorchester infrastructure, we will all be proud of. Let us continue in that collaborative effort.

Your Neighbor,
Steve Bjerklie
Acting Chairman,
Dorchester Select Board

Budget-to-Actual Financial Reports Now Available

Budget-to-Actual financial reports for Dorchester are now available here on the Town website.

Click on the "Selectmen" tab in the menu bar above. You'll see a drop-down menu, and now there's a new page in that menu, "Town Budget." This is where you'll find budget-to-actual financial reports posted. There will be two posted every two weeks, one for the general budget and one for Highway specifically.

Budget-to-actual reports tell you where we are, as a Town, financially with regard to spending. For example, for the overall budget, the July 28 report shows that there was 42% of the fiscal year remaining as of that date, and the Town had 39% of budgeted funds remaining as of that date.

Town Office Keys

The Town Office contains a lot of information about our Town, some of which is sensitive and legally private. Over the years, as Town officials came and went, keeping track of who has keys to the Town Office became difficult. In fact, there's no clear record of who had a key to the Town Office. As you can imagine, this puts the sensitive and private information in the Office at risk. In order to minimize that risk, this week the Select Board had the locks on the Town Office changed.

Keys to the Town Office are now held by the three persons who work in the Office: the Town Clerk/Tax Collector, the Deputy Town Clerk/Tax Collector, and the Administrative Assistant to the Select Board. In addition, the Town Accountant has a key, as does each Selectman.

All keys to the Town Office are now tracked, and each person with a key has had to sign for it. Each key is stamped "Do Not Duplicate."

If you are a Town official and believe you need a key to the Town Office, please contact the Select Board.

We all want to keep our Town's information safe, especially any sensitive or private information. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Building Permits

It's summer, and the building is easy -- well, at least easier than in winter! Many Dorchester residents are taking advantage of the warm, good weather we enjoy this time of year to build new garages, sheds, workshops, firewood storage sheds, decks, and home additions.

Building permits are required for these projects. The good news is that the application for a permit is easily downloaded from the Town website; click on "Building Permits" on the Town Regulations page. Completed applications may be mailed to or dropped off during office hours at the Town Office.

Please remember two important points:

One, allow two to four weeks for a permit to be processed. Do not schedule a work crew for the day (or week) you submit the application!

Two, it's very important that an application include the measurements from the property lines to the new structure. Dorchester's legal setbacks are listed on the application. If a new structure is closer to the property lines or water or road frontage than the setbacks allow, the property owner will need a variance for the structure from the Zoning Board of Adjustment.

Dorchester Historic District Roads Restoration

Please be aware the roads in the Dorchester Historic District surrounding the Town Common are now being restored to their traditional width of approximately 15 feet. This is somewhat narrower than these roads have been for the past few years. When driving in the Historic District on North Dorchester Road or Town House Road, take care to avoid newly loamed and grass-seeded areas, especially at the points of the Common's triangle. Thank you!

Firewood Assistance

If you need firewood assistance, contact the Friends of Mascoma via

Food Pantry

A food pantry is open now at 9 Mechanic Street in Canaan behind Canaan Hardware. The pantry is open to any resident of Enfield, Canaan, Dorchester, Orange and Grafton. Hours of operation:

Wednesdays: Canaan : 2:30-6:30 PM
Thursdays: Enfield: 3-7 PM

Proof of residence required. You can shop once a week.
Call: 603-306-7831

Town Listserv

If you wish to receive updates by email from Town Officials on Town business such as Public meetings, Deadlines for Town Activities, etc, click here to subscribe.

Dorchester Notes

A local Dorchester resident currently publishes a monthly newsletter which we are happy to share. Click here to view the latest edition.

If you wish to receive the monthly newsletter by email, click here to subscribe.

Upcoming meetings

All meetings are in the Town Hall unless otherwise indicated.

Children's Christmas Party
December 10, 2016
7:00 PM

Planning Board
December 14, 2016
7:00 PM

Selectmen's Meeting
December 15, 2016
6:30 PM

Events Happening

Play Mascoma Valley
The Mascoma Valley Parks and Recreation are offering spring and summer events. Click here to learn more.