Londonderry Fire Department crews and Granite Ridge Energy workers spent some time Thursday morning, April 23, sharpening their skills at the plant on substantial height rescue. Photo by Chris Paul
In recent weeks, Presidential hopefuls have begun paying barnstorming visits to New Hampshire, a phenomenon sure to increase in the months ahead for this first-in-the-nation Presidential primary state.
Whether chatting with breakfast diners, glad-handing tavern patrons, hosting “town hall” question and answer sessions or making their case at fundraising dinners, whichever candidate interests you is likely to be planning a visit down the road or across town or in the community next door.
We encourage you to take a personal look at the candidates, check out the man or woman behind the public relations hype, and hear for yourself whether your views match up to the promises of the person who is eager for your vote.
In the next few months, you should have the chance to see a horde of candidates in person. We urge you to make time to do so. We live in a state that gives us the opportunity to vote for a candidate based on our personal impression, not what a paid promoter wants us to think. That’s an opportunity residents of other states can only envy.
If you’re a Democrat or an Independent, you should be in the room with the Republican candidates as well. Hear for yourself what they are saying, if for no other reason than to know the opposition.
But the clock is ticking. Winning or losing in New Hampshire doesn’t seal the fate of any candidate, but it definitely plays a significant role in what will happen in other states in the months ahead.
So ask some questions. And if you have the chance, don’t accept the answer of “I favor smaller government, I want to end health care reform, I want to cut the deficit, I want a strong foreign policy.
Anyone can say that – and more often than not, they do. Anyone can attack their presumed opponent rather than express their own views.
Platitudes and generalities mean nothing. Push the candidate to offer specifics. How will each candidate help the unemployed? How does a candidate’s religious views impact his or her decision making? How will a candidate “fix” Social Security in laymen’s language? What can be done about ISIS?
Ask real questions – politely. If you don’t get real answers, keep in mind that failure to answer or be specific may be the most telling answer of all.
By virtue of living here, the significance of our vote resonates from one coast to the other, from the border with Canada to the border with Mexico. That’s another reason to vote intelligently. And that means asking tough questions and making up our minds for ourselves.
After a tougher than usual winter for bus routing, Business Administrator Peter Curro proposed bus routing software and an alert system that would allow the School District to lay out more efficient bus routes and send notifications to parents of delays.
“This past winter, we encountered many delays due to road conditions, weather and accidents that delayed the arrival of the school bus,” Curro told the School Board at its April 21 meeting. “Technology today allows us to instantly communicate to the parents and alert that some action may be in their best interest when planning for their student pick-up.”
In addition to the bus routing software and alert system, Curro proposed GPS (Global Positioning System) services that would allow bus terminal staff and School District staff to have access to the location of the buses during their routes.
The GPS services would also allow families to track their students’ buses in real time using the SafeStop App, which they would download and subscribe to at their own expense.
“Parents could use this for bad weather days where it’s snowing, or when it’s a little cold and they want to move the student out as they know the bus is coming around the corner,” Curro said.
GPS chips would be installed on the District’s buses, also allowing parents with the app to use the tracking service when their students are headed to and from athletic events and field trips.
Curro said the service would be valuable during inclement weather, mandatory rerouting, breakdowns and accidents.
“If approved, the District is ready to install the GPS chips in a few buses this year to conduct a pilot test of the alert and tracking system,” Curro said. “We intend to have all issues resolved and ready for use before the beginning of school this August. We feel these technologies will provide better communication to parents and provide more efficient routes and practical locations for bus stops for the various grade levels.”
The cost of the bus routing software system is $19,000 in the first year, with an additional annual fee of $4,000. The “Alert” Notification System would cost an additional $1,000 annually, and the GPS hardware and software fleet technology to track the fleet of buses in a live environment would cost the District $5,750 annually.
Parents who wish to utilize the GPS technology would be charged a monthly fee of $4.95 for use of the SafeStop App.
“When we asked about computerizing the routing process and installing GPS services a few years back, the cost was pretty high and we deemed them to be too expensive at that time,” Curro said. “Like any other technology, the cost has come down substantially.”
The cost of the technology in 2012, when the District renewed its contract with Student Transportation of America (STA), was double what it is now, Curro said.
Funding for the new services would come from the Business Office professional services line, which is intended to fund unanticipated studies and services that are related to business activities, according to Curro, who said it would be appropriate to fund the bus routing software for $19,000 in FY15, as the District would need to install the product as soon as possible to test and use it for this summer’s bus routing. The remaining programs and services, if approved, could be funded in FY16.
Chairman Steve Young raised the issue of privacy, noting the Board would definitely have to establish policies related to use of the GPS technology.
“I would imagine we might have parents concerned about being able to track the buses,” he said.
“I’m intrigued by it; my only question would be is the price going to go down next year?” board member John Laferriere asked.
Curro said once the GPS chips are installed on the buses, service fees are annual and the District could choose to stop utilizing any or all of them. The District’s contract with Student Transportation of America expires in 2019.
The Board did not take action on the proposal and plans to discuss the technology further at its May 5 meeting.