DERRY — Town councilors got updates on elections, revenue, and also gave approval to move forward with the rail trail/Hood Dam project

At a meeting Aug. 18, councilors also heard from Parkland Medical Center CEO John Skevington, who offered a look at the COVID-19 progress and how the local Derry hospital fared for the past several months during the pandemic.

Here are some highlights:

— Town Moderator Tina Guilford presented information to councilors on election planning for both the Sept. 8 primary election and General Election Nov. 3

Guilford said all is being put in place to stress safety for voters, ballot staff and volunteers.

Derry residents will vote in a single location for both elections — Calvary Bible Church for the September primary, and at Pinkerton Academy for the November election.

Guilford said voters who requested mail-in ballots are sending them back in a timely way. Voters can also check online to see if the town received their ballots.

Guilford said voting staff and volunteers will be trained for election days and safety guidelines will be in place. That includes making sure voting is done quickly and efficiently.

"I'm hoping people are there less than 15 minutes," Guilford said.

The moderator added that voters coming to the polls will see a different way of checking in and voting, including using a pen that will be a one-time use, having plenty of hand sanitizer ready, and also using special mats to be placed under ballots so any hand sanitizer on the ballot doesn't affect the processing once it is entered in the machine.

— Parkland Medical Center CEO John Skevington reported that the 86-bed hospital was successful in its mission to treat patients, support families and staff and keep safety measures in place during the coronavirus pandemic.

The hospital reported its first COVID-19 case back on March 13. As of Aug. 18, the hospital had none.

Skevington said Parkland remains equipped and ready to continue to provide service to its patients and won't ever let its guard down, even as New Hampshire continues to show successful numbers in keeping the virus under control.

"We remain ready and prepared," he said. "Hopefully, the worst is behind us."

Skevington said Parkland also continues to learn from other hospitals around the nation in areas where there have been spikes in cases.

Concerns are there for the fall, the CEO stated, if and when there is another spike in COVID, and the traditionally onset of flu season.

"That's why we are staying ready for it," he said.

Town Councilor Phyllis Katsakiores asked the Parkland leader if he felt a mandatory community masking effort would be a positive thing to do, adding she would not support it.

Skevington said any effort the town could put in place to help would be appreciated.

"And it's important for us as a hospital to lead by example," Skevington said. "We know masking, in combination with proper hand hygiene, social distancing, can reduce the spread of this virus."

— Town councilors also approved a measure to move forward with the Hood Pond Dam project and rail trail extension, saying yes to using supplemental funding to support the projects.

The rail trail work will construct the next section of the trail over the Hood Pond Dam and on to North High Street. Construction could begin next month.

The project had been bid out back in 2019, but all bids received then were rejected due to insufficient funding, according to a staff report presented by Public Works Director Michael Fowler.

The most current bid for the work is $465,000 from American Excavating.

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