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Clean-up work on lower Liberty Hill has begun

GILFORD — Work to remove the toxic coal tar discovered beneath four house lots off lower Liberty Hill Road has begun with the clearing, fencing and preparation of a 4.5-acre site where nearly 140,000 tons of contaminated soil will be excavated, transported, treated and returned. The project, which is estimated to cost approximately $17 million, will be undertaken in two phases during this construction season and the next.
Yesterday, officials from Liberty Utilities, the corporate successor to the gas company that originally disposed of the coal tar more than a half-century ago hosted a tour of the site, stressing the extensive measures that have been taken to limit the impact of the project on the neighborhood and safeguard the heath and well-being of its residents.
Jim Ash of GEI Consultants, Inc. of Woburn, Massachusetts has overseen the remediation of the site since the contamination was reported in 2004 and is the principal architect of the operation to remove the contamination. He explained that altogether 93,000-cubic-yards of soil, of which between 40,000 and 45,000 are expected to be contaminated and require treatment, will be excavated. The soil will be trucked to ESMI (Environmental Soil Management ) Companies in Loudon, where the contaminants will be removed by thermal treatment, then returned to the site for backfill. Some 50,000 cubic yards of soil will be stockpiled on site for use as backfill.

The excavation has begun at the southern end of the site while the supporting infrastructure for the project is located to the north. Next year the site will be flipped as the northern portion is excavated.

David Boram, construction manager of the site, said that four trucks, each leaving with 20-cubic-yards of contaminated soil and returning with an equal load of clean fill, will make four round-trips each day, timed not to coincide with the school bus schedule. Trucks will enter at the northern end of the site, dump clean fill at a designated stockpile and collect contaminated soil stockpiled on a secure site, pass through a wheel-wash station and leave by the north gate. He expects the 34-mile run to Loudon and and back to take about an hour and a quarter. He said that the proximity of ESMI's facility has significantly reduced the cost of the operation.

Excavated areas will be backfilled as the work progresses. "There will not be a large, deep hole on the site," Ash said.

Ash said that apart from when trucks enter and leave the site will be secured at all times. Throughout the operation levels of dust, fumes, noise and vibration will be monitored electronically in real time around the clock at a number of locations around the site. For each condition threshold levels have been designated, which he described as "very conservative." For example, the threshold for vibration is equivalent to that of someone walking across the living room floor, the noise level is below that of lawnmower, and the sensor for dust is triggered before it is visible to the naked eye. Moreover, two thresholds have been set for each condition: an action threshold, which once reached requires immediate corrective measures steps, and an alert threshold, representing two-thirds of the action threshold. All conditions can be monitored on a laptop computer on site.

A lined retention pond has been constructed on site to capture groundwater from the contaminated soil before it leaves the site to be treated. The water will be pumped into an adjacent water treatment plant erected on site. After being treated to standards set by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Resources, which Ash described as "essentially drinking water standards," the water will be discharged, in appropriate volume and at moderate velocity, toward Jewett Brook, west of the site.

In the 1950s the coal tar, a by-product from a manufactured gas plant in Laconia, was dumped in a sand and gravel pit on the south side of lower Liberty Hill Road, which was subsequently reclaimed and divided into house lots. However, it was overlooked until 2004, when in the course of litigation it came to the attention of KeySpan, the corporate successor to the original gas company. KeySpan was itself acquired by National Grid in 2007, which was acquired by Liberty Utilities in 2012.

Mary Casey, who oversees environmental, health and safety for Liberty Utilities, said that the company will post a weekly update on its website — www.lowerlibertyhillsite.com. — throughout the project. The company will also maintain a hotline — 603-216-3600 — and respond to questions and comments from the public within one business day.

 

CAPTION: Jim Ash of GEI Consultants, Inc. of Woburn, Massachusetts (above) points to one of a number of stations that continuously monitor, air quality, vibration and noise in real time at the site on lower Liberty Hill in Gilford where work has begun to remove coal tar dumped there in the 1950s while (at right) Ash (left) and his colleague Tom Shock follow the results on a laptop in the field office. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Michael Kitch)

Last Updated on Friday, 23 May 2014 01:12

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Lafond admits guilt through plea bargain

LACONIA — Facing eight charges arising from the collision that took the life of one teenage girl and severely injured another on Messer Street last April, Amy Lafond yesterday pleaded guilty to negligent homicide and second degree assault, along with possession of of a narcotic drug and unlawful possession of a prescription medication.

The state dropped the charge of manslaughter, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison along with a misdemeanor drug offense and three traffic violations.

Lafond is scheduled to be sentenced on Thursday, May 29, at 10 a.m.

Ashen and drawn, Lafond, who has been held in the Belknap County Jail in lieu of bail since her arrest, remained impassive throughout the proceedings in Belknap County Superior Court, responding to Justice James D. O'Neill III's instructions and questions with barely audible yes and no answers.

Lilyanna Johnson and Alyssa Miner were struck by the Jeep Cherokee driven by Lafond while on the sidewalk near the crosswalk at the south end of the Messer Street Bridge at approximately 2:30 p.m. on April 19. Lafond was traveling northbound on Messer Street toward its intersection with Opechee Street. A car going in the same direction had stopped at the crosswalk, apparently to enable a number of Middle School students to cross the street. Lafond skirted the stopped car, crossed into the southbound lane of Messer Street and mounted the raised sidewalk, hitting the two girls.

Johnson died from her injuries while Miner suffered a fractured pelvis and ruptured spleen as well as severe lacerations and internal injuries.
Following yesterday's hearing, attorney Mark Sisti, who represented Lafond, said that "she insisted on a plea. She wanted to make sure that the victims' families did not have to go through this trial."
Belknap County Attorney Melissa C. Gulbrandsen told the court that the Johnson and Miner families accepted the negotiated plea, but asked that Lafond serve a minimum sentence of six-and-a-half years in prison.

"No amount of time diminishes the pain and suffering these families have felt," she said.

Negligent homicide, a class B felony, carries a sentence of three-and-a-half to seven years in prison. According to the plea agreement, Lafond is required to undergo counseling and treatment for drug and alcohol abuse and forfeit her driver's license indefinitely. She will be forbidden to contact by any means, either directly or indirectly, the family of Lilyanna Johnson, and to make restitution amounting to $120,000.

Second degree assault, a class B felony, also carries a three-and-a-half to seven year sentence to be served consecutively with six months of the minimum suspended on condition she undergo counseling and treatment for substance abuse. Again Lafond may not contact the family of Allyssa Miner and is required to make restitution of $140,000.

The three-and-a-half to seven year sentence for possession of a narcotic drug was agreed suspended, conditional on her good behavior for 10 years while on parole. Finally she was given a suspended sentence of a year in the Belknap County House of Corrections for unlawful possession of a prescription drug, a misdemeanor.

In accepting the plea bargain as appropriate, Sisiti told the court that it ensures that Lafond, who recently turned 53, will be incarcerated or paroled until she is 67 years old. With time served and good behavior, he expected she will serve five years and four months in prison.

Guldbrandsen told the court that there was not sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Lafond was impaired when the collision occurred, in which case the negligent homicide charge would haven risen to a class A felony with a maximum sentence of 15 years imprisonment. Therefore, she accepted the plea of guilty to the charge of negligent homicide for failing to maintain a proper lookout.

Presenting the state's evidence in the case, Guldbrandsen said that one witness reported that Lafond was holding a cell phone before the collision. Moreover, police executing a search warrant of her cell phone found that she had received three calls and a text message in the four minutes surrounding the time of the collision.

The Belknap Regional Accident Investigation Team, Gulkdbrandsen said, confirmed that Lafond, while traveling northbound on Messer Street crossed the double yellow line into the southbound lane at the junction with Opechee Street, then climbed on to the sidewalk, where she struck the two girls, struck the guardrail on the bridge and caromed across the roadway to come to rest in the northbound lane. Analysis of images of Lafond's vehicle captured by a surveillance camera mounted on Irwin Motors property indicated that she was traveling at 40 miles per hour, 10 miles per hour above the posted speed limit.

Following the incident, Guldbrandsen recounted, Lafond was taken to Lakes Region General Hospital where she told Officer Ben Black of the Laconia Police "I may have blinked for 30 seconds at the time of the collision.

Guldbrandsen said that the attending nurse found a 30 milligram oxycodone pill in Lafond's clothing. A blood test, Guldbrandsen said, measured 166 nanograms per milliliter of oxycodone in Lafond's bloodstream, which Guldbrandsen said was well above the 10 to 100 nanograms per milliliter common among patients using the drug as prescribed. In the course of searching Lafond's vehicle Officer Jeff Wholley found gabapentin, a prescription medication for managing pain. Lafond had no prescription for either drug.

Last Updated on Friday, 23 May 2014 01:06

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Sanbornton's historic 2nd Baptist Church moved 24 feet

SANBORNTON — After two years of planning and fund-raising and weeks of excavating and foundation work, the 2nd Baptist Church was moved forward by 24 feet yesterday afternoon.

The move is Phase 1 of a project designed to give the church more space and allow to modernize and expand said Pastor Chris McMicken.

Before the church could be moved, parishioners including Earl Leighton spend hours in the history steeple shoring up the beam for the move. While there, they stumbled upon five hand written books from the early 1800s that tell the history of the church.

According to the History of Sanbornton, New Hampshire Vol.1 annals, the first meeting house at the bay was build around 1808 as a Freewell Baptist organization under the leadership of Elder Moses Cheney on land set in the northeast corner of Elisha Smith's lot. No record of an earlier church in Sanbornton could be found.

The roof apparently blew off in 1816 and was replaced. The building was moved once before in 1886. In 1828, the church voted to adopt a "temperance article" and by 1875 the membership numbered 118.

McMicken said by moving the church forward or closer to the lake, they will be able to add a 24-foot area that will have bathrooms, a nursery and a refreshment area. The inside of the church will be reversed and the parishioners will face toward the lake with the entrance to the church through the new rear vestibule.

The project also moved the church about 13 feet closer to the vestry next door. Eventually, said McMicken, the church plans on connection the vestry with the church with and the new extension will have an ell on it for what he calls Phase II.

To move the church, excavation company Gold Eagle Contracting dug out the foundation and shored up the floor with temporary wooden scaffolding with rollers that allowed Rick Geddis of Geddes Building Movers to pull the entire building forward and sideways with a backhoe.

McMicken said the church will get an extra 12 feet of basement space as the result of the new foundation that will be built under the church.

For now, service are being held in the vestry. McMicken said they are targeting Thanksgiving Day for the first service in the newly reconstituted church.

Overall, McMicken said the project has cost $350,000 so far and the church has used some trust fund money and donations — including a significant one from the nearby Steele Hill Inn.

He said there is still a capital campaign ongoing to raise an additional $50,000 needed for some improvements to the parking lot and some insulation that couldn't be done under the existing budget.

 

CUTLINE: Pastor Chris McMicken stands in front of the 2nd Baptist Church in Sanbornton. The church was moved forward by 24-feet yesterday after about six months of preparatory work including shoring up the historic steeple. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Gail Ober)

CUTLINE: Rick Geddis gives directions to his work crews as they prepare to move the 2nd Baptist Church in Sanbornton yesterday afternoon. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Gail Ober)

Last Updated on Thursday, 22 May 2014 12:39

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Cooking competition entertains Taylor residents

LACONIA — More than 50 residents of the Taylor Community turned out for an afternoon cooking competition Wednesday which featured chefs Amanda Coburn and Brandon Rutherford matching wits and techniques in ways that tested their creativity and sent delightful aromas through the Woodside building.
Coburn, Taylor's director of dining services, who was the regional winner in a cooking competition sponsored by Kraft Foods last year, said that she was inspired by the competition and wanted to have one at the home which the residents could enjoy.
Both she and Rutherford were presented with the same basic ingredients — scallops, squash and avocados — along with a host of grains, fruits and vegetables with which to work and had 45 minutes to get it done.

Coburn served her scallops topped with an avocado based fresh salsa which was topped with blueberries, oranges and pineapple and accompanied by long-grained basamatti rice.
Rutherford chose pan-seared scallops served with a rustic avocado guacamole, squash and pan-seared french fries topped with cheddar.
Judges were Donna Garrison, Hal Dyment, Beverly Martin and Roger Amsden of The Daily Sun, who was drafted as a judge when a local chef was unable to attend.
The competition ended in a tie as both competitors received high marks from the judges for their creations.
Audience members said they enjoyed the event so much that they would like to see another competition in the near future.

 

CAPTIONS: Amanda Coburn, director of dining services at the Taylor Home, plates her entree during a friendly cooking competition at the home on Wednesday afternoon (Roger Amsden/ for The Laconia Daily Sun)

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 22 May 2014 12:23

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