Majority of measures pass in Merrimack town election

Turf vote goes ‘down in flames’

Photo by GEORGE PELLETIER Merrimack superintendent of the checklist, M. Jane Coehlo, and supervisor of the checklist, Fran L’Huereux, count the number of voters.

MERRIMACK – Even with a little intermittent freezing rain, some 3,325 voters turned out to cast their ballot in the Merrimack town elections on Tuesday.

Everything passed with the exception of Article 7 on the Merrimack School District ballot, which was to allocate $1.2 million for the “design, construction, purchase, installation and original equipping” of a new artificial turf field for Merrimack High.

As election moderator Lynn Christensen announced, “the turf vote went down in flames,” being defeated with a vote of 917 yays to 2,368 nays.

In general, Christensen said the voter turnout was around 3,000 at 6:30pm.

“It’s more than we expected,” she said.

A vote to allow Keno games to be operated in Merrimack passed, 1,861 to 1,353, but Christensen said that wasn’t a vote that a lot of people were buzzing about.

“It’s not as big a deal as everyone thought,” she said before the count was announced. “I think most people figure, ‘why not?'”

Article 2 on the town ballot won with a 2/3rds majority; that stipulated that the town will raise more than $13 million for waste water treatment upgrades to the Souhegan, Thornton Ferry pump stations, as well as the Main Pump Station.

That in-favor vote was 2,203 to 1,016.

Budget concerns on Article 3 (the operating budget, with the default being $30.5 million), and Article 4 (the Capital Reserves Fund, $1.6 million); both won with a majority.

One hot-button issue was that of assigning and/or grading student homework in Article 8 on the Merrimack School District ballot, which won 1,770 to 1,473.

That vote amended a previous article that left homework up to the discretion of the teacher.

Paul and Julie DeRubeis did their own “homework,” researching the topic and attending the last deliberating session on the subject.

“We actually sat here and went over each question,” said Julie DeRubeis. “We’re pretty good with a lot of this. But we’re not okay with Article 8.”

She also felt that homework shouldn’t be at the discretion of the educator.

“How is a student going to learn?” she said. “I grew up in Merrimack and went through the school system. I went back to college 25 years after I got my associate’s degree, and homework was so beneficial at the college level.”

“It’s a work ethic that needs to be there,” Paul DeRubeis added. “Not having something like that when you’re young will hurt you when you’re older.”