State rep details what he calls lies from county leaders about rest home

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Cliff Newton, State rep Strafford 6

To the editor:

Following letter is relevant excerpts from County Commissioner Memorandum of June 27, 2024 with my remarks are Bolded and Italicized. Unlike their memorandum, mine is NOT on official County stationary or at County expense.

We have now learned that Rep. Newton (R) has a motive for his condescending inaccurate letters. He has worked with his fellow Republicans to carve out a geographical section of Strafford County which makes it easier for him to get elected as a County Commissioner.

Lie #1. I never "worked to carve out geographical Section." Districting occurred in 2023. I decided to run for County Commissioner Memorial Day weekend of 2024.

When he testified on the bill to carve Strafford County into districts, he stated this was his first time testifying on legislation, despite being in the legislature for six years. Great self-serving representation.

LIE #2. No carving done last year except for the Thanksgiving Turkey. I have been a state rep serving people of Ward 2 (now County District 3) for 10 years, not six, and a lifelong resident of the district. Since they used County resources for their "Hit Piece" letter shouldn't they answer the questions I have been asking like 'Why are we out $17.5 million with nothing to show for it?

Now we understand he is simply preparing his platform for election by lying in letters to the editor.

Lie #3. The Commissioners attest I am lying. PROVE IT! I report with original intent documents from the County. If they are lies, then it is because I was given LIES by them.

This is despite providing Rep. Newton (R) with over 1,000 pages of requested information on the project.

Yes, and under the right to know request they HAD to give "over 1,000 pages" to me. I also have more documents from other sources because the new nursing home debacle is a BIG STORY that needs to be told.

You will notice that his false claims regarding plans for a replacement Riverside Rest Home offer no solutions. One of the oldest tricks in the election manual is to blame others without offering solutions.

Lie #4. We contacted one of the request for proposal (RFP) responders in December 2023, who, in their RFP reported that they built a fine rest home in Carroll County and could do one similar but with 215 beds for Strafford County, for around $64 million in 2023 dollars. Which is 1/3 the cost of what the Commissioners kept proposing and they knew it.

There were several votes on constructing a new Riverside Rest Home in all of which he voted NO. We lost the $15+ million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) grants due to his "no" vote.

Lie#5. This answer is lengthy but we lost $15.3 million. The money from GOFERR was a Forgivable Loan with certain obligations and requirements. Not a grant. The County Commissioners and administration promised, but could not deliver on performance because the bank (1/3 of The Delegation) was against spending $200 million when we felt we could get the same job done for $64 million. Further, the GOFERR contract required that the county notify them of any changes to the proposed plan or site changes Immediately! The Commissioners changed both the site location and design plans in the spring of 2023 and did not notify GOFERR until September 2023 several months later. This was the first breech of the contract.

In fact, Rep. Len Turcotte (R) stated he did not care about the 15+ million-dollar grant as he felt the nursing home could be built for less than the $139,000,000.

Lie #6. The Commissioners telling us they could build a nursing home for $139,000,000 million, will be addressed later in this letter. The Commissioners keep referring to the GOFERR money as a grant.It was never a GRANT. It was a FORGIVABLE LOAN. Definition of Grant is a sum of money given by a government or other organization for a particular purpose. Definition of Forgivable Loan is a type of loan where borrowers don't have to pay back some or all of the balance owed, provided they meet certain conditions, The GOFERR Forgivable loan conditions are in the contract which is an easy read, only 8 or 10 pages and can be read by anyone who asks the County for a copy of it.

Rep. Newton's (R) claim of a $200,000,000 cost for a replacement nursing home was never proposed, he just made up that number.

Lie #7. There are so many numbers being floated around with this project. the Commissioners numbers have ranged from $139-$170 million. Let's try to do the math.

(1) Dec 2022 County bond vote to start (that's a key word here) a new nursing home project of some kind $6.2 million

(2) Forgivable loan award from GOFERR $15.3 million

(3) Dec 2023 Bond request (not approved for bonding) for new home $163 million

Total so far both asked for and received $184.5 million

(4) Government project cost overrun (they always do) 15% $27. 6 million

New total $215.1 million

Looks like my $200 million "claim" (within $15 million) is a lot closer than the $139 million ($76.1million under) they proposed to build one for in Lie #6.

Now, since their numbers have been all over the place from $139 to 170 million, let's for example, say that they could build one for $170 million. If we amortize $170 million bond/loan for 20 years at 5% interest . What does that give us? A monthly payment of $1,121,924.76 with total interest paid in 20 years = $99,261,941.60. Seen enough?

One option we want to pursue and at least have the County consider, is a home like the one recently built in Carroll County. This would cost approximately $64 million using the same formula would be a monthly payment of $422, 371.67 with total interest paid in 20 years= $37,369,201.54. Roughly 2/3rds less that the Commissioners proposal in cost for a new nursing home with the same number of beds.

The Strafford County Commissioners have offered to meet with the Republican Caucus, but they responded with unacceptable terms where they want the meeting to cover other subjects at their discretion.

Lie #8. We have three letters -on record- requesting our concerns be addressed. The first in early 2023 and the most recent in May 2024. We have always wanted the entire delegation to come to the table for an open meeting to clear the air. A meeting to try to find common ground is somehow "unacceptable terms." The Chair of the delegation formed a building committee but then refused to let us meet. How acceptable is that? The Commissioners, The Chair, and the majority of the delegation, the only ones who have statutory authority to call such a meeting, refuse to call one. Why? Are they worried the "TRUTH" will come out? Who is the one with the "Narrow Political agenda.". Call them and tell them you want a meeting!

This is similar to the action the House and Senate Republicans took when they split the County into districts disenfranchising 90,000 voters.

Lie #9. Just the opposite. The intent of the Legislature was to create three county commissioner districts and the voters of each district would get to vote for their resident commissioner representation. UPDATE: The ballot law commission ruled the law allows Strafford County District 3 to vote for Deanna Rollo, a candidate for District 3 Commissioner who doesn't want to live in District 3. Think about that. If elected, she will be allowed make decisions for District 3 from District 2 Rollinsford.

We respect Rep. Newton's (R) right to run for office and can only hope he does it by proposing honest ideas instead of false claims that meet his narrow political agenda.

Lie #10. The County Commissioners and Democrat majority delegation (24 (D) to 14(R) ) are the ones not willing to come to the table unless they can control everything. Can you say "MOB Rule ?Are they worried that an investigation might come up again for discussion at such a meeting? Notice that they have not used their resources to responded and answer questions I have been asking for 2 years and the good citizens of Strafford County should be asking now? Hmmm.

One last note Commissioner Maglaras testified before the executive committee that in the 40 years he has been a County Commissioner that he has NEVER LIED! His name is on the document referenced above. God Bless Strafford County and GOD BLESS AMERICA and special thanks to The Rochester Voice for printing the rest of the story.

- Cliff Newton,


State Rep Strafford 6

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