It’s been an exciting time being Cheshire County Commissioner these past two years, and as County Treasurer the previous two. Through this experience, I’ve seen the extent in which counties in New Hampshire effect the everyday lives of people living here. I’ve come to realize the dedication of administrators, departmental heads and their staff, the state representatives who serve as our county delegation, and the board of commissioners.
The single-most thing that’s become apparent to me from watching this team is that department heads need commissioner support to be innovative and to run smoothly and efficiently. And taxpayers need a commission that will be both mindful of community needs, and the ability to finance those needs.
Luckily, that combination has been the order of the day and I promise to continue and add to the progress in areas such as nursing and critical care, energy efficiency and resourcefulness, and meaningful, alternative programs to the traditional criminal justice system for individuals with a substance use disorder and/or mental illness.
Immediately at my election as commissioner in 2019 we were dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and tasked with dispersing $14,778,619 in American Recovery Program assistance. A million dollars of this money went to the City of Keene and the other towns in the county to use as they pleased; $1.8 million went to non-profits; nearly $2 million went to local businesses that were impacted by the pandemic; and $4.5 million allowed us to design and create a regional emergency medical services agency that will operate without county tax dollars.
Other recipients included county hall renovations and county facility HVAC upgrades; community arts; economic development agencies in Keene and Winchester; two area chambers of commerce; and even $20,000 to fund lifeguard training in area towns.
The regional ambulance service allowed me to fulfill a campaign promise to work towards regional solutions in a meaningful way.
But, I am also working on another area: community power aggregation. Besides being able to join with regional hydro-electric producers to supply a big chunk of the electricity that powers county facilities, our new community power aggregation program will allow us to purchase all of our facility’s power needs, while allowing individual towns to join our consortium and take advantage of lower electric rates for both the towns’ and resident’s needs through our combined buying power.
Throughout the next few months, I’ll try to highlight other important roles a county commissioner plays in the lives of the citizens of Cheshire County. I hope I’ll be able to win your confidence.