The Commons
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BFMS, library renovation bonds are approved by voters

Originally published in The Commons issue #102 (Wednesday, May 25, 2011).


BELLOWS FALLS—The only surprise at the annual Village Meeting last week was that both the bond votes passed.

Voters approved a $10.5 million bond for renovations to the Bellows Falls Middle School, 639-574.

In the other vote, for the Rockingham Free Public Library, a $2,957,000 bond for renovations was also approved, 689-511.

The library’s event sign on the sidewalk in front of the library after last Tuesday’s election read simply, “Renovations thank you.”

Library Director Celina Houlne’s years-long efforts were answered by a faithful public, who are using the library more than ever in the current economic downturn, including job searches on the library’s heavily used computers.

The renovations will let more of the library’s four levels will be available for community use.

School renovations: ‘pins and needles’

Tim Doherty of the BFMS Renovations Committee said that he is happy with the outcome on the school bond vote.

“We were able to give people more time to understand and consider the options [following the Rockingham Annual Town Meeting],” he said. “I think they really saw that this is the best time to make this choice.”

Doherty said that the town will have to wait 30 days before it begins the paperwork to access the bond, and he expressed his anxiety around rumors that those who opposed the BFMS bond would file a petition to put it to a vote for a third time.

“We’ll lose the money,” he said. “Right now, we’re first in line to get the [$10.5 million].”

“If a [re-vote] petition is filed, we’ll either lose the money altogether, or be pushed to the bottom of the list, and get what’s left over [after other municipal bonds].” He added that the 1.5-percent interest rate the bond stands at now would go up to 5 percent if there is a delay.

Doherty said that he is on “pins and needles” until the 30 days have passed. But, he said, “The voters have spoken, and I think they understand that there will never be a better time to do this, and that this is the best option available to the kids and their parents.”

He admits that his 3½-year stint chairing the renovations committee has “sort of burnt” him out, and that he is looking forward to being on the sidelines “looking on.” But he expressed a desire to “see the project through” to completion.

“The kids are basically going to get a new school with all the modern upgrades,” he said. “You can’t beat that for the price.”

He said that after his own kids got through school, he became involved in the renovations committee “to give back to the community” that educated his kids.

“It’s a nice school, and I felt I had a moral obligation to follow this through and see it done,” he said.

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