What Made the News in Derry in 2013

What follows are some words and phrases that were on Derry lips in 2013, and the reasons why.

1. John Anderson. The former Derry town administrator terminated his relationship with the town Oct. 27, after a summer of administrative leave, both paid and unpaid. Anderson, 50, went on paid administrative leave July 12 after a July 11 incident at his home, in which he was alleged to have exposed himself to a door-to-door salesman of DIRECTV services. The case was investigated by state police and handled through the County Attorney’s Office. Anderson was arrested and formally charged in August, at which time the Town Council voted to place him on unpaid leave. He went back on paid leave for the last week of his contract with the town. His trial is now scheduled for Feb. 7, 2014.

2. Brittany Flannigan. The Pinkerton Academy graduate and Plymouth State University freshman died in a Boston hospital after a nightclub concert in which she allegedly overdosed on the drug “Molly,” a form of Ecstasy popular with attendees at electronic music events. While the Pinkerton community mourned her, Flannigan’s death made regional news as the public grappled with the “Molly” epidemic and how to protect its young adults.

3. Route 28 South. An extensive overhaul and bridge replacement on Route 28 South was completed by Thanksgiving in order to prepare the way for extension of town water and sewer.

4. Dumpster Depot. The Manchester-based Dumpster rental service presented plans to build a new facility on land off Ashleigh Drive. While the project passed the Planning Board, abutters had unanswered questions, including whether Dumpsters would be brought back empty and if not, how long they would be stored at the facility. Neighbors, including Planning Board Vice-Chair John O’Connor, were not happy. Under the leadership of O’Connor, who recused himself from the Planning Board, and resident Brenda Wilson, they appealed to the Zoning Board of Adjustment. The Zoning Board granted their appeal.

5. Taxation with – and without – representation. A handful of residents at a sparsely-attended Derry Cooperative School District meeting added $800,000 back to the budget, prompting concern from many residents.

6. Taylor Library. The East Derry public library survived a challenge to its funding and existence. When a cut of the entire budget was proposed, community members packed the Council Chambers to protest losing “their” library. The Council voted to add the funding – $176,612 – back into the budget.

7. The Derry Farmers Market. Unlike the Taylor Library, the Market did not survive a funding challenge. The market, part of the Economic Development Department, had its funding reduced to $5,000. Supporters of the cut said the Market, with funding of $20,000 and revenues of $11,000, was losing money for the town. Market Director Beverly Ferrante severed her official relationship with the town and the Market continued as an independent entity, moving to the Derry Feed and Supply parking lot for October and then to its permanent summer/winter home at Upper Village Hall in East Derry.

8. iPads. In June 2012, the Town Council voted to approve the purchase of iPads for Council members, in order to standardize the receiving of information and cut down on paper use. After declining to run for reelection, former Councilor and Republican state representative Brian Chirichiello asked then Administrator John Anderson if he could keep his iPad, instead of receiving the traditional gift of a Derry town chair. Chirichiello’s request sparked a discussion on what is and isn’t town property. While Chirichiello kept the iPad, he also offered to pay the difference between its cost and the “Derry chair.” The three newly-elected Councilors, Mark Osborne, Thomas Cardon and Al Dimmock, declined the offer of iPads.

9. Passages and pride. Grant Benson, 84, died after a life of service to the community. Benson, who died Feb. 23, was remembered for everything from Thanksgiving baskets to serving as a library trustee. The family company, Benson Lumber and Hardware, celebrated its 100th year in 2013, marking four generations of Derry business and service.

10. Born free, taxed to death. The 2013 tax rate, set in October, brought a 3.3 percent increase to most Derry households. The tax rate was set at $31.49 per $1,000, an increase of $1.01 over the 2012 rate of $30.48. The “town services” portion stayed stable at $10.39; school district, $17.34, up from $16.35 last year; state education rate $2.62, up from last year’s $2.59; and county, $1.14, down from 2012’s $1.15.

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