Highlights from LGC’s 71st Annual Conference
More than 550 local officials and staff from cities, towns, county government offices, and school districts across New Hampshire converged on the Radisson Hotel Manchester on November 14 and 15 for the New Hampshire Local Government Center's 71st annual conference, Sharing the Vision. The conference featured 53 sessions, 105 booths, a multitude of networking opportunities, a health and safety fair, and awards programs honoring outstanding local volunteers, advocates, and officials.
The keynote address by Mary Collins, author of American Idle: A Journey Through Our Sedentary Culture, challenged local officials and volunteers to improve the health of their communities by building sidewalks and bike lanes to encourage "spontaneous movement" in everyday life. A college basketball player and track star who was almost died following a traumatic bicycling accident, Collins said her experience as a person unable to move sparked the idea for the book.
"It was the first time in my life I couldn't be physically active," she said.
Collins' take-home message was this: "We have to recast the conversation. Few American citizens are as suited to bring about change as are the people in this room."
Municipal Volunteer of the Year Awards
Susan Tucker of Goffstown and Susan Sherman of Plaistow were recipients of NHMA's Municipal Volunteer of the Year award. Tucker has been a volunteer in her community for 36 years, starting in 1976 when she began a two-year stint as a volunteer physical education teacher at the Maple Avenue Elementary School because the school district didn't have the money to fund the position. She has been a member and chairman of the parks and recreation commission and participated on the paper roads committee, in the garden club, the high school booster club, and the local mothers' club. Sherman, a teacher at the Timberlane Regional Middle School for 40 years, has a history of civic engagement that includes advocacy and leadership leading to the acquisition and development of the town's athletic and recreation complex; and memberships on the first Old Home Day committee and the Plaistow Cable Advisory Committee.
NHMA Annual Meeting and Municipal Advocate of the Year
The annual conference provided a venue for members of the New Hampshire Municipal Association (NHMA) who held their annual meeting and elected officers. In addition, NHMA presented the Russ Marcoux Municipal Advocate of the Year Award, named in memory of its first recipient, the late Bedford Town Manager, who received the ward posthumously in 2011. The 2012 Municipal Advocate of the Year Award went to Hudson assessor Jim Michaud.
"I am very surprised, and energized, to have received the NHMA Municipal Advocate of the Year Award for 2012," Michaud told New Hampshire Town and City magazine after the awards ceremony. "I have been involved with municipal work in New Hampshire for twenty plus years, mostly in the capacity of a full-time assessing official. I have also been privileged to serve as a member of the Supervisors of the Checklist (Hooksett), Budget Committee (Hooksett) as well as Zoning Board of Adjustment (Merrimack). It has been a rewarding and empowering experience to have worked with NHMA. Right from the get -go some 20 years ago, and continuing through today, the organization's employees and its resources have made my professional and volunteer work life much more effective. In kind, this has benefited the employers and communities, especially the town of Hudson and its officials and residents, that I have been involved with over the years. I further appreciate my employer, the town of Hudson, in recognizing the big picture on municipal advocacy on a collective basis."
Excellence in Annual Reports Awards
During a luncheon ceremony on the second day of the conference, Barbara Reid, government finance advisor for the New Hampshire Municipal Association, presented the Excellence in Annual Reports Awards, recognizing cities and towns for producing exceptional annual reports. Winners were judged in six categories, based on population of the municipality.
In the cities category, Nashua took first place for the fourth consecutive year; Hampton took the top place for towns of 7,500 and higher; and Belmont was first, for the second consecutive year, for towns of 5,001 to 7,500.
"Producing an annual report is a daunting task," said Reid. "These documents are important for providing financial information that the general public can understand, but none of these is just about finances. There's a personal side of your community, remembrances, humor, memories of past years."
The annual conference is made possible each year thanks to the financial support of LGC's sponsors. These include Platinum Level sponsors Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in NH; CVS Caremark; Health Resources; National Insurance Services; Northeast Delta Dental; Onlife Health; Gold Level Sponsors Municipal Resources, Inc.; RBS Citizens; TD Bank; Silver Level sponsors Ramsdell Law Firm, P.L.L.C.; Towers Watson; Bronze Level Sponsors Bianco Professional Association; Cleveland, Waters and Bass, P.A; GeoTMS Software; New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority; People's United Bank; Shaheen & Gordon, P.A.; Peter J. Reimer, LLC; Preti Flaherty Beliveau; Ransmeier & Spellman, PC; Strategic Benefit Advisors. Program advertising was donated by ICMA-RC and Tradebe; support donations came from Aldrich & Elliott, PC, and Town and Country Reprographics.