Sanbornton moves to restaff weary road workers


SANBORNTON — The town interviewed candidates to fill a sixth slot in the Department of Public Works Friday, after the department director made it clear he needed a snow plow truck driver after an exhausting winter.

Multiple snow storms and rain storms created freezing conditions that put pressure on road departments and their budgets.

In mid-February, selectmen learned that the town was over its sand and salt budget by $15,000. The budget for contracted snow removal also ran low, but department overtime funding remained stable, aided by the use of contracted plow drivers.

Brian Bordeau, director of the Public Works Department in Sanbornton, said this winter presented a worst-case scenario, as storms pounded the town and its nearly 90 miles of roads while the department was down a driver.

"We've always had six people for the highway department," he said. "This particular winter, we lost two in the fall. We found another employee and hired him. This year, we had an additional truck with a plow wing and sander that we hadn't had in the past to help make our job easier. So the lack of that one person basically fell on my shoulders to climb into a plow truck with a sander and do the same type of work that they're doing as a plow member. The rest of the guys stepped up and took on additional responsibilities."

At a selectmen's meeting on Wednesday, Chairman Karen Ober floated the idea of not replacing the sixth plow truck driver and using contract services instead.

Bordeau said he needs the sixth driver as well as the contracted plow services. The board took no action as a result of the discussion, and town staff indicated that interviews were taking place Friday to fill the sixth driver's position.

Bordeau said he was surprised by the suggestion to leave the job unfilled, saying the department puts in "an average of four to five hours after a storm is over to clean up, hit the routes, get the roads plowed."

"That was kind of a surprise," he admitted of the selectmen's discussion.

The town conducted a privatization study about three years ago and found that in some cases to save money, the town could add a hired subcontractor rather than buy another truck for plowing, Bordeau said.

The contracted plowing would have eased the crunch this past winter if staffing had remained stable, he said.

"In this case, we were down this one person, so it was almost like we didn't feel the full effect of it. It did help a little bit with the overtime because that size truck was bigger than what we have," he said.

The town website lists 89.1 miles of town roads or state highways in Sanbornton that are maintained by the town.

Three years ago, a push to privatize the Public Works Department resulted in a final determination that such a move would not save money, but the town did try privatizing a snow plow route, which opened the door to subcontracting, according to minutes of the Highway Study Committee.

Winni Derby trout and salmon tournament returns this May


LACONIA — The Winni Derby, the largest landlocked salmon and lake trout tournament in the Northeast, will return to Lake Winnipesaukee in May, sponsored by a partnership between the Daniel Webster Council of the Boy Scouts of America and the Laconia Rotary Club.

Last year, the Laconia Rotary Club, which became the prime sponsor of the event in 2010, cancelled the derby for only the second time since it began in 1981 when medical issues overtook several of its principal organizers. The derby was also suspended in 2010 at the direction of the New Hampshire Fish & Game Department to ease pressure on the hard-pressed salmon population.

The tradition and charm of the derby was captured by the experience of Kelly Martin two years ago. Martin, who won the both the junior and women's divisions as a 12-year-old in 1989, caught the first fish of the day, a 2.82-pound, 21-inch salmon while fishing with her husband, Dave, who won the derby in 1994, and her mother Marilyn Dennison, who had fished in every derby since 1981.

Chris Hopkins of the Daniel Webster Council said the derby represented an opportunity for the Boy Scouts to partner with a community service organization and engage in an outdoor activity, both staples of the Scouting ethos. This year's tournament, the 34th, will be held on May 19, 20 and 21. Hopkins said that for the first time the event will open with an exposition on the evening of Friday the 19th at the Laconia Ice Arena, where sponsors and vendors will display their wares and anglers can come together over food and refreshment, accompanied by entertainment, raffles and grab bags.
"We're making an effort to keep the tradition going after the interruption last year," Hopkins said.

Ray Meyer came to the derby from bass fishing and worked with the late Rick Davis of Moultonborough, who founded the Lakes Region Inland Fishing Association, which spawned then sponsored the derby for 30 years. Meanwhile Meyer became involved in Scouting, bringing his his experience and expertise to the partnership. He said that the derby, which once drew more than 1,200 anglers has diminished by as much as a third to about 800. "That's still a good amount of folks," he said, "but we're working to build it back up."

Meyer said that competition will operate as it has in the past. It will be confined to landlocked salmon and lake trout with daily and grand prizes in different divisions, including those for women and youth, based on the weight and length of the fish.

Harold DeLucca of AJ's Bait & Tackle, longtime sponsors of the event, welcomed the return of the derby. "We need it," he said, adding that "we had an average winter, but we're not breaking any records." He said that last year the shop stocked smelt and shiners then found the derby was cancelled. "We're looking forward to having it back," he said.

Ralph Langevin of Martel’s Bait & Sport Shop in Laconia said that because he does not operate on Lake Winnipesaukee the impact of the derby on his business is not especially significant. But, he also was pleased the derby will resume. “People aren’t fishing like they used to,” he remarked, “and events like the derby help to keep interest in fishing alive –  and with the Boy Scouts involved, it’s all for a good cause.”
At Thurston’s Marina at The Weirs, Don Thurston said that the Winni Derby is “one of those things that puts you back in touch with what the lake is all about. The fishermen have a fun time out there. It’s great to have it back.”
For more information about the derby and to register, visit the website at or call 603-625-6431.


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Two years ago, Clyde LeMay of Wilder, Vermont won $12,000 for the 4.14-pound salmon that he landed in the 33rd annual Lake Winni Derby. (Courtesy photo)

Belknap County Commission, Delegation heading for showdown over budget cuts


LACONIA — In the throes of its dispute with the Belknap County Delegation over the county budget, the Belknap County Commission has scheduled a meeting on Tuesday, March 28, at 5:45 p.m., just 15 minutes before a posted meeting of the delegation, at which some members are expected to seek to restore some of the $545,804 the delegation stripped from the budget adopted earlier this month.

In an apparent attempt to forestall reconsideration of the budget, Rep. Herb Vadney (R-Meredith), who chairs the delegation, said Friday that he would cancel the meeting of the delegation posted for Tuesday. Earlier this week, after the commission asked the the delegation to reconsider the budget, Vadney said that he was not inclined to do so. However, as of late Friday afternoon the delegation, commission and county officials were not informed of his decision to cancel the meeting.

The confrontation between the commission and the delegation is drawing to as the deadline of midnight on March 31 to enact the budget fast approaches.

Commissioner Hunter Taylor of Barnstead said, "We're still hoping that there will be a meeting of the delegation consistent with the public notice that the chairman has posted." He the public will be invited to the commission meeting, the purpose of which is "to discuss where we are in the budget process and how to overcome the mess we're in."

Taylor was echoed by the chairman of the commission, Dave DeVoy of Sanbornton, who said he hopes members of the delegation who share the commissioners' misgivings about the budget "will take the opportunity to put things right."

Taylor said that the flaws in the budget were underscored by the decision of the delegation to halve the appropriation for contingencies from $150,000 to $75,000 "after they knew that there are pending expenses that would more than exhaust the balance left in the contingency account after they cut it." He explained that the sprinkler system over two wings of the county nursing home must be replaced at an estimated cost of $63,000. At the same time, the interest payment of the tax anticipation note, or borrowing to fund operations until the receipt of property tax revenue, is $50,526. Only $36,000 has been budgeted, leaving the county $15,000 short. The expenses of $78,000, Taylor said, leaves the contingency account $3,000 in deficit at the end of the first quarter of the year.

Taylor said cuts to the budget of the Sheriff's Department of $126,756 have jeopardized its capacity to fulfill its constitutional and statutory responsibilities while the $95,400 struck from the Corrections Department which included funding for two positions, could delay the opening of the new Community Corrections Center. In addition, he said that the budget adopted by delegation includes some $290,000 in revenue, representing the state share of the employer contribution to the New Hampshire Retirement System, on the mistaken presumption it applies to all county employees rather than only to members of the corrections and sheriff's department and the hopeful assumption that the state will appropriate the $40.8 million required to fund 15 percent of the cost of pensions of county and municipal employees.