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January 15. 2014 11:30PM


Small fire forces school evacuation

Students were forced to evacuate Hampstead Middle School late Wednesday afternoon after a fire broke out inside a small building attached to the school's gymnasium.

The fire was reported shortly before 5 p.m. in a building where tractors, tools, and other mechanical equipment are stored, said Natalie Gallo, who lives adjacent to the school and is also chairman of the school board.

While the cause of the fire was still being investigated Wednesday evening, Gallo said she was told that it likely started when a battery charger ignited.

Smoke from the fire entered the gymnasium and could be seen outside the school, Gallo said.

Gallo said students involved in after-school activities quickly evacuated. No injuries were reported.

"Everybody was evacuated appropriately, and everything seems to be OK," she said.

Gallo was not sure about the extent of any damage.


Board to vote on school calendar

The district is looking at a fairly traditional school calendar for 2014-15, according to Superintendent Michael Delahanty.

"The first teacher day will be on Monday, August 25 and students will start on Wednesday, August 27," said Delahanty.

Barring excessive snow days, the last day of school looks to be June 15. High school graduation for the class of 2015 is tentatively scheduled for June 12.

The School Board is expected to vote on approval of the school calendar at its Jan. 21 meeting.


Housing Authority presents payment

Since the Salem Housing Authority began providing affordable housing options for town residents nearly four decades ago, it has paid the town over $1 million in payments in lieu of taxes.

This week, Housing Authority Executive Director Diane Kierstead presented selectmen with its 2014 payment in lieu of taxes of $54,430.

"It has been a longstanding tradition of ours to do this presentation each year," said Kierstead. "This year, we have gone over the $1 million mark since the housing authority's first rental property went up in 1977."

Adding in the total water and sewer payments the authority has made to the town in that time, the total is just over $1.9 million, according to Kierstead.

"We appreciate what you do and we appreciate the payment in lieu of taxes," said selectmen Chairman Everett McBride.


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