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Laura Francis. Durham First Selectman.

Town has many reasons to be thankful


This is the time of year we gather with family and friends to give thanks for the many blessings in our lives. I thought I would take this opportunity to share a few of our municipal blessings.

First, we are blessed with a talented and dedicated staff at the town hall, town garage and the library as well as volunteers in our public safety departments. They are busy updating, improving and innovating many things that will enhance service delivery. In the next several months we will have an integrated connectivity to all our town buildings, a project that will also enable us to have a more robust storm/emergency hotline as well as a tip line for our resident state trooper’s office; we are making improvements to our website including the creation of a mobile site that will be easier for you to access from your mobile devices; the assessor’s office is busy helping grow our grand list through a personal property audit and closer scrutiny on all accounts; we are close to rolling out a more convenient way for residents to electronically transact business with the town hall; and lastly, we now have partnered with the Durham Fair Association to open up a local food bank for those in need.

I am grateful that the brook restoration project at White’s Farm enabled us to use the fields for volunteer parking for the Durham Fair. What a difference it makes to park so close when you are putting in long hours volunteering. We are not completely done with the restoration however. In December, our state partners will return and clean out blockages on the north side of Route 68 that will further reduce the flooding that happens close to the road. Also, next year we will plant along the banks of the brook to create more stability and to protect the brook habitat. We are exploring a partnership with the Nature Conservancy to apply for a grant to achieve our goals.

I am very thankful that we didn’t have three years in a row with a major October storm! We are busy preparing for the winter season however. Plows are ready to go, salt and sand are on order and employees are going to training classes to brush up on their skills. Thanks to the planning of the Board of Selectmen, Board of Finance and our Public Works department, we have on order several pieces of equipment that we have had to rent over the past several years. It will be infinitely better to have these units on hand.

Thanks to our legislators, specifically Sen. Fasano, the Town of Durham has received the funding to replace the failing culvert at Pickett Lane over the Allyn Brook. We also received funding approval to fix the Coe Road Bridge over the Parmelee Brook. Taking care of our infrastructure is one of our most important duties. Our roads carry our most precious assets, you our residents.

I give thanks to our whole community. It is gratifying to watch how well we care for others in need. I have watched the kindness of friends and strangers all bound by our common residency buoy families struggling with illness and death. It is something special not found everywhere.

Lastly, thank you for the opportunity to serve you. Someone told me early on, being first selectman would be the hardest job I will ever love. He was right. It is an honor and a blessing. Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving Holiday.



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