Belmont Memorial Day speaker covers history & significance of U.S. chaplains

BELMONT — During the Memorial Day ceremony hosted by the Belmont American Legion Post 58, Lieutenant-Colonel Gary Mauck, spoke about the importance of chaplains in the military and their role in protecting the nation.

Mauck, a Vietnam veteran and Army chaplain, provided a brief history of chaplains in the military stating that by law there must now be one chaplain for every one hundred thousand members of each denomination fighting in the war. Throughout the history of conflicts involving Americans, new chaplains emerged to new meet the needs of growing denominations, such as the Roman Catholic's in the Mexican War, Jews during the Civil War, and an Muslims in the 1990's. Mauck noted Israel Evans as the first chaplain from New Hampshire who was part of the N.H. militia during the Revolutionary War, who is depicted in a painting in the New Hampshire Stathouse.

Mauck also took a moment to tell the story of the four chaplains from World War II who saved the lives of various soldiers on the USS Dorchester after it was torpedoed by an enemy U-boat. The Jewish, Roman Catholic, Protestant, and United Methodist chaplains distributed all of the life jackets including their own to the soldiers in need, before praying and locking arms before they died. Following the event, individuals pushed to have a chapel built in the Pentagon in their honor, however Mauck stated the Pentagon declined the proposal and instead a monument was built in Durham, N.H. Following 9/11, however, a chapel was built in honor of all the chaplains who have given their time and lives to this nation. In this building there is a memorial to the four chaplains from World War II.

Mauck concluded his address stating that these are just a few examples of how chaplains and service members give their lives for the nation. "We deserve the best," states Mauck, "and we've got it."

Local officers from the Belmont Police Force were joined by the Belmont High School marching band, the local Boy and Girl Scout troops, and the Cub Scouts during the procession toward the memorial where the annual ceremony is held. The annual raising of the flag was performed by Legion members Tyler Best and Harold R. "Rich" Stanely. 

Belmont American Legion Commander Steve Bracy conducted the service, stating that Memorial Day is a sacred day of the year that should be remembered and celebrated by all. He continued by emphasizing the importance of honoring those who have given their lives to defend the country and flag, as well as their dedication to assuring the nation's freedom. Bracy's sentiment was echoed by Pastor Jim Smith who provided the opening prayer honoring all those who have fought and are currently fighting for our nation.

A moment of silence was observed in memory of World War II veterans Herbert A. Prescott, Phillip O. Swain, Ernest B. Piper, Arthur M. Hackett, and Harleig C. Brown; Vietnam veteran, Seven C. Stanty; Korean War veteran, Leo J. Rolfe; and Air Force veteran, John J. Moynihan. Additionally recognized was first responder and former two time American Legion Commander and Financial Officer Leonard B. Hooker,, who passed away this year. Bracy stated that Hooker was always supporting the post, and will be greatly missed.

The ceremony commenced with Bracy thanking the local service members, and high school band members Malia Lundahl and Eric Osgood performed taps during the ceremony. "Way too many men and women have died so that we may have life," said Bracy. "All will know that it was not in vain though as we go forward with their courage and strength."

Gilford vet charged with facilitating underage drinking party

GILFORD — A local veterinarian was charged with facilitating an underage drinking party Sunday at 11:16 p.m. following a complaint of a loud party.

Dr. Brenda Stow of 128 Glidden Drive was released on personal recognizance bail and 18 people, 14 minors and four juveniles were charged with illegal consumption of alcohol — a violation.

A minor is anyone between the ages of 17 and 21 while a juvenile is anyone under the age of 17.

Lt. Kris Kelley said most of those arrested were released to a parent or responsible adult.

Kelley said that as graduation season arrives, parents should talk with their children about drinking, the dangers of driving while intoxicated, and that all should be aware that giving alcohol to a minor is against N.H. law.

Belmont Selectboard majority thwarts move to eliminate job at public works

BELMONT — With the retirement of one of the town's senior-most truck operators and the promotion of another, selectmen found themselves at odds at their meeting May 18  over whether or not Belmont should replace the empty position. By consensus, the board eventually agreed to post the vacancy and will be hiring a replacement.

Selectman Chair Ruth Mooney suggested that the Public Works Department could at least temporarily go without filling the position or possible look to sub-contract the work during the winter because this time of year is a "slow".

"At the election, the budget passed but by not a lot," Mooney noted. She added that many of the people who came to the recent discussion about the Belmont Mill complained that their property taxes were too high.

Director Jim Fortin said the winter was the slowest time of year for public works crews. Spring, summer, and fall are when the department must do the town's gravel roads, the roadside ditching, repair any winter damage, and mow the grass.

He explained that there are only 31 weeks of the year that members of the Public Works Department can take vacations and because he has had little to no appreciable turnover in the department in a number of years — all of those vacation days must be taken during the spring, summer, and fall. This leaves him with about 1.5 people out per week.

"We have 43 vacation weeks to take in 31 weeks." said Fortin.

He said the Public Works Department is already doing more with less. "I just want us to be left alone and keep carrying on," he said.

Jon Pike told Mooney she was missing the point, which is that 75 percent of the total money raised by local taxes goes to the school district and this past year, when the motions came at the Shaker School District annual meeting to add full-day kindergarten and a science teacher there "was nobody there to stop it".

"Yeah, they worry about taxes, but we have a great road maintenance crews," said Pike.

Pike noted that Fortin wasn't asking for any more people just the same staff levels he's traditionally had.

Town Administrator Jeanne Beaudin noted that if they do fill the position— the town will save about $6,000 this year alone because of a difference in seniority-driven pay grade.

Mooney stuck to her guns and said that she fears increasing budgets because while they have historically passed, the margin is small.
"This is a dangerous path you're going down," said Ron Cormier. "I see it at the state level all of the time."

"We'll decimate the department," he continued. "Don't emulate the state budgetary process — it's horrible."

The state often uses attrition a part of its budget balancing process and, according to Cormier, it means many state employees are doing the jobs of two. He noted it's a drag on moral as well.

Pike added that townspeople want the streets and roads looking as good as possible and to be passable.

In other business, selectmen reviewed a long-term water district planning and maintenance scheduled prepared for them by a outside company.

One of the top recommendation made, was to get either well 1 or well 2 operating so the town can have a backup source of water if needed. The chemical treatment cistern should also be a project that the water district should evaluate sooner than later.

All in all, selectmen were told the system looks good.