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Voters reject propane-only heating plan at Lafayette Regional School

Union Leader Correspondent

May 13. 2014 11:52PM

FRANCONIA — Once again, Lafayette Regional School District voters decided that Lafayette Regional School should be heated by a hybrid system that uses both oil and wood pellets.

Voters met May 8 for a special meeting in the multi-purpose room at the school, which serves students from Easton, Franconia and Sugar Hill in kindergarten through sixth grade. After about two-and-a-half hours of debate, they voted down a proposal to remove the current oil-heating system and to replace it with one that only uses liquefied petroleum (LP) gas.

The action reconfirms the will of voters who appropriated $78,000 for a conversion from oil to wood pellet/LP gas combination system at the annual district meeting in March.

After the annual meeting, a group of voters successfully petitioned to reconsider the matter at a special meeting.

Former School Board Chair Tina Peabody said she and her colleagues began exploring how to best heat the school when the school district was notified that it must replace pipes in the existing oil-fired system.

The school board looked at several options and an engineering study concluded that an all-LP system was the least expensive and had a quicker payback than the others.

On Tuesday, Luther Kinney, who succeeded Peabody as head of the school board, said “a record turnout” of voters came to the May 8 special meeting, adding that proponents of both the LP and wood pellet systems spoke passionately about them.

That said, “It was a very cordial meeting,” Kinney continued. “People were respectful and it’s a credit to the town, really.”

“Both systems” — LP only and oil/wood pellets — “would save the school a considerable amount of money versus the oil we are currently burning,” said Kinney, noting that “the LP system has a much lower upfront cost to install and also was easier in terms of space limitations.” Peabody previously said that using wood pellets would require storing them close to where they will be used and also enlarging the boiler room.

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