* follow links in blue click on pictures to enlarge
SUMMARY OF GRAFTON COUNTY
Grafton County is geographically the second largest of New Hampshire’s ten counties, covering 1,747 square miles. (Coos County to the north is slightly larger, with 1,855 square miles.) The County is roughly rectangular in shape, running from Bristol in the southeast and Lebanon in the southwest, to Bethlehem and Littleton in the north. Grafton County ranks fifth in New Hampshire’s population with 89,118 (2010 census) residents. It consists of 38 towns, one city (Lebanon) and one unincorporated area (Livermore, which is almost entirely national forest). Grafton County is very much a rural county. With access to mountains, lakes, and cultural centers, the County is a major tourist destination.
Counties perform services which work best when designed to meet local needs which are too expensive or too difficult for the towns themselves to provide. County government has an executive branch consisting of three elected County Commissioners who jointly serve as the County’s chief executive, and four elected department heads: the County Attorney, Sheriff, Register of Deeds, and Treasurer. County elections are held every two years during even-numbered years. Commissioners are elected from individual districts, while the other four officials are elected countywide. The legislative branch of county government consists of all State Representatives from the county (26 in Grafton County); this is called the County Legislative Delegation; this Delegation adopts an annual county budget which raises revenues and appropriates funds for county departments and programs. Grafton County has a budget of $35,885,795 for Fiscal Year 2012 with $19,409,043 to be raised by property taxes. The Delegation elects an Executive Committee of nine members which meets with the Commissioners monthly to review the County’s financial reports. Counties were originally organized to provide regional courts at convenient locations throughout the State so that people would not have to travel to the State Capital for court business. Since 1984, the State of New Hampshire has funded a Unified Court System, but most counties maintain courthouses which they rent to the State. The Grafton County Courthouse, located on Route 10 in North Haverhill, houses the Grafton County Superior and Probate Courts.
GRAFTON COUNTY DEPARTMENTS AND PROGRAMS
GRAFTON COUNTY COMMISSIONERS’ OFFICE: Telephone: (603) 787-6941
The Commissioners collectively administer the business of the County and exercise budgetary control over County operations, preparing the annual budget for approval by the Legislative Delegation, authorizing department expenditures and the payment of bills, signing contracts on behalf of the County, and managing County buildings and land. Commissioners hire the County’s professional administrators including (in Grafton County) an Executive Director, Nursing Home Administrator, Superintendent of Corrections, Human Resources Director, Farm Manager, and Maintenance Supervisor. The Executive Director supervises the Commissioners’ office, which serves as the County’s business office, and coordinates County operations in accordance with Commissioner policies. The Commissioners meet once a week to approve payments, confer with County officials and administrators, and conduct other transactions on behalf of the County.
GRAFTON COUNTY NURSING HOME: Telephone: (603) 787-6971
The Nursing Home, on Route 10 in North Haverhill, is licensed for 135 beds and cares for elderly or disabled people who need nursing care. Residents are primarily Medicaid recipients but the Home does accept some private patients. The federal government pays 50% of Medicaid costs for the residents; the State contributes 25%; the County pays the remaining 25%. The Nursing Home provides employment to almost 225 local residents. The facility includes a Special Needs Unit for people with Alzheimer’s disease; it provides a secure, home-like environment with specially trained staff and activities designed to maintain the residents’ self-esteem and reduce their anxiety.
DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS: Telephone: (603) 787-6767
The Grafton County Department of Corrections houses suspects awaiting trial who have been denied or cannot post bail and for individuals convicted and sentenced to a year or less of incarceration. It is one of the few counties that have facilities for female inmates, who are housed in a separate section from male inmates. Sentenced inmates do farm chores, mow and rake lawns around the County buildings, or work in the Nursing Home kitchen. Rehabilitative programs are also available to the inmates. With completion of an addition in 1989, the facility can house up to 108 inmates.
COUNTY ATTORNEY: Telephone: (603) 787-6968
The County Attorney is considered the chief law enforcement officer of the County. County Attorneys prosecute all criminal cases in Superior Court except murders, which are prosecuted by the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office, and at times assist local police in prosecuting district court cases. The County Attorney also serves as the County’s lawyer, advising County officials and defending the County in legal cases brought against the County.
REGISTRY OF DEEDS: Telephone: (603) 787-6921
County Registries record purchases and sales of all land and buildings in the County, enabling people to prove ownership when they buy and sell property. Registers of Deeds also record liens against property for taxes or other debts and collect State real estate transfer taxes on sales of land and buildings, sending 96% to the State and retaining 4% for County use. The Grafton County Register of Deeds raises over $550,000 each year to support County operations and to reduce the amount to be raised by County property taxes.
COUNTY TREASURER: Telephone: (603) 787-6941
The Treasurer manages County finances, collects taxes, borrows money to meet County needs, invests money not immediately needed to pay County obligations (with approval of the County Commissioners) and signs checks to pay County bills that have been approved by the Commissioners.
COOPERATIVE EXTENSION: Telephone: (603) 787-6944
Provides County citizens with professional help in forestry, agriculture, 4-H youth development programs and Family and Consumer Resources. Funds are received from federal, State, and County government to support these efforts. People with questions about farming, home gardening, woodlot management, or family development can call this office for information
GRAFTON COUNTY FARM: Telephone: (603) 787-6971
The Farm includes a dairy operation, a small piggery, and a tree farm. Much of the Farm’s work is done by inmates who are serving sentences in the County Department of Corrections. The Farm produces vegetables for the County Nursing Home and Department of Corrections. The Farm also raises potatoes for local food pantries and pumpkins for a local school district..
HUMAN SERVICES DEPARTMENT: Telephone: (603) 787-2033
Since State law requires that counties contribute to various State assistance programs that serve County residents, the Commissioners’ Office includes a Human Services Department to perform this function. The County pays 50% of Old Age Assistance and Aid to the Disabled cash grants, 25% of Medicaid costs for County residents in County and private nursing homes or those receiving services in their homes, and up to 25% of youth and family costs administered by the State Division for Children, Youth, and Families or Division for Juvenile Justice Services. County participation in these programs helps reduce local welfare costs, but requires that Grafton County send approximately 40% of the property taxes it raises directly to the State (more than $5.8 million anticipated in FY 2007).
The County also helps fund mental health agencies, visiting nurses associations, senior citizens’ “Meals on Wheels” programs, domestic violence agencies and similar programs that serve local communities.
To help troubled families and control the costs of placing youngsters in group homes and other institutions, counties receive State Incentive Funds which they grant to local Social Service programs designed to prevent out-of-home placements. In FY 2005, Grafton County distributed $227,000 to 21 such agencies.
SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT & DISPATCH CENTER: Telephone: (603) 787-6911
The Sheriff and deputies handle order and security in the State-run Superior and Probate Courts, protecting the judge, jury, and others in the Courtroom. They transport prisoners to and from courts and correctional facilities. The Department also investigates crimes and helps other law enforcement agencies with investigations. In Grafton County, the Department operates a 24-hour-a-day Dispatch Center (E-911) that handles communications for local police, fire, and ambulance departments.
STATE AGENCIES LOCATED AT THE GRAFTON COUNTY COURTHOUSE:
Superior Court (603) 787-6961 conducts major criminal trials, hears appeals, divorce and civil cases. Superior Court judges are appointed for life by the Governor and Executive Council. A Clerk of Court serves as the Business Manager and oversees daily operations. The Grafton County Courthouse has two Superior Courtrooms. The State has paid all court expenditures since 1984. Probate Court (603) 787-6931 validates wills of people who have died, appoints guardians for people who are incompetent to manage their own affairs, terminates parental rights of absent or unfit parents, and approve adoptions of children. The Register of Probate is elected every two years, records wills and oversees the operations of the Probate Courts. Probation and Parole (603) 787-6900 oversees individuals who are on probation or have been paroled from serving time in a County corrections facility or the New Hampshire State Prison.
County Commissioners' Office
3855 Dartmouth College Highway
North Haverhill, NH 03774
If you find any problems please email webmaster
Created 2005 ~ All Rights Reserved
last updated ~08/01/2013