Volunteers thanked for giving nearly 5,000 hours to NH Veterans Home


TILTON — Volunteers, who play a key role in maintaining morale and providing a link to the outside world for the 200 or so residents of the New Hampshire Veterans Home here, were honored at a special luncheon held in their honor at the home's Town Hall Wednesday.
Lisa Punderson, volunteer coordinator for the home, said that more than 90 people volunteered last year at the home and contributed 4,929 hours, which, based on a $23.07 per hour estimate on the value of volunteer work, amounted to a $113,717 contribution.
The most volunteer hours in a single day was 178 during a Cruise Night event, which brought dozens of classic cars to the home and is one of the favorite events for residents, rekindling memories of the hot rods and heavily chromed cars that many grew up admiring.
Punderson noted that volunteers who were being honored played many roles at the home, from bingo callers and clergy to outside trip assistants, a librarian and even a cribbage player, all of whom have contributed their special talents to help provide care and comfort for those who have served their country.
Among the volunteers are Steve and Carol Hankard of Hebron, who have been coming to the home every Tuesday for more than 10 years.
"We feel like its an honor to come here and spend time with the veterans. It's the highlight of our week," said Steve Hankard, a retired police officer from Hartford, Connecticut, who served six years with the Connecticut National Guard.
Carol Hankard, a retired nurse, said their son, Stephen, is the police chief in Sanbornton and that their daughter will soon be teaching at Newfound Regional High School in Bristol.
Veterans Home Commandant Margaret Labrecque said the volunteers add a great deal to the quality of life for the residents of the home and that their contributions of time and effort are invaluable.
"We have over 100 residents ranging in age from a man, 58, from the Vietnam War, to one who is 103, from World War II,'' says Labrecque, the first-ever female commandant of the home.
Residents of the home say they enjoy seeing the volunteers on a regular basis.
"They add a lot of enjoyment and companionship to the home,'' said Bill Bertholet, president of the resident council, who has been a resident of the home for two years. "They keep track of all of us and do a wonderful job."
Bertholet, whose wife, Paula, is originally from the Lakes Region, said he grew up in California but moved to New Hampshire after they were married and hasn't ever regretted it.

"I've lived all over the world but haven't found a better place than New Hampshire," said Bertholet, who lived in Gilford for 28 years before moving to the home.
He said his wife is also a volunteer at the home and enjoys working with the residents.
For more than a century, the New Hampshire Veterans Home has been a home and a health resource for Granite State armed forces veterans. Established in 1890 as the Soldier's Home for Civil War Veterans, it has provided care and comfort for thousands who have served their country.

04-13 volunteers 1
Steve and Carol Hankard of Hebron have been serving as volunteers at the New Hampshire Veterans Home in Tilton for over 10 years and say that the highlight of the week for them is there is their Tuesday visit to the home. He is a retired police officer from Hartford, Conn., and she is a retired nurse. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)

Wolfeboro home saved from fire, no injuries

WOLFEBORO — No one was injured and a home was saved from a garage fire Tuesday.
Wolfeboro Fire-Rescue was alerted to the blaze at the Michael Hanson residence at 79 Waumbeck Road by a passerby. No one was home at the time. First-arriving crews found fire in the garage.
"Crews were able to make a quick knockdown," said Wolfeboro Fire-Rescue Chief Butch Morrill. "Fire damage was confined to the garage with some smoke damage through the rest of the home."
The fire was declared under control within an hour.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation but was accidental in nature.

I-L class to move graduation site

MEREDITH — After the classes of 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 at Inter-Lakes High School failed to move their graduation venue from Prescott Park, this year's graduating seniors succeeded when the School Board last voted to hold the ceremony on the artificial turf field at the school.
"This was bigger than getting graduation on the turf field," said Erik Boquist, who, with Julia Eifert shares the class presidency. He explained that students and parents had pressed the administration for years, only to meet resistance.
"When we got no cooperation from the administration, we became the first class to take it to the School Board," he said.
"I hope this encourages other classes to fight for what they believe in," echoed Thomas Ainsworth, the class vice president.
Eifert and Boquist, who share the class presidency, reminded the board that 377 students, parents and residents, some 50 of whom added written comments, had petitioned to change the venue from Prescott Park. Then they countered the arguments against the change offered by the school administration.
Noting that the administration warned of the excessive heat generated by the synthetic turf, Eifert pointed out that students, including the helmeted and padded football team, regularly practice and play on the field in the heat of summer days, while the ceremony would be held on a June morning. She also suggested pitching a shade tent, with a water station, and indicated that the class might donate the tent for classes to follow.
Boquist addressed concerns that an outdoor ceremony would require scheduling a rain date that would complicate renting a sound system, by proposing that the school purchase a sound system that could be used again and again for a variety of occasions rather than incur repeated rental costs.
Randy Eifert, who Boquist would call "the man," sought to assure the board that seating for 1,200 on the field would not pose an unmanageable risk. The weight, he said, would be dispersed and high heels, which could puncture the turf, could easily be prohibited. He referred to the manual for the field that specifically indicated it was an appropriate setting for "graduation ceremonies."
"It's an athletic field, not an event field," said Chris Wald, the facilities director, who warned that the weight of the audience would exceed the recommended would exceed the recommended pounds per square inch, or PSI. Mark Billings of the board expressed similar concerns, explaining that shortening the life of the field would accelerate its replacement at a significant cost.
"Why can schools and colleges all over the country hold graduation ceremonies on artificial turf, but not us?" Julia Eifert asked.
Superintendent Mary Ellen Ormond recommended they hold the ceremony on Friday, June 10, at 4 p.m., on the turf field with a rain date of Saturday, June 11, at 9 a.m., with the proviso that if rain was falling at 6 a.m. the ceremony would move to the auditorium.
"I think we should try it," said Merrill. Susan Palmer-Ansorg said that "It's their graduation and they've made their case," and added she thought the board should "empower" young people who have advocated so responsibly.
But the board, with one member absent, divided evenly with Chairman Howard Cunningham, Craig Baker and Billings voting against and Merrill, Palmer-Ansorg and Duncan Porter-Zuckerman in favor. In part the motion failed because of the date, not the venue, as Baker expressed concern that Friday is a difficult day to travel for family members coming from a distance.
When a second motion to hold the ceremony on the turf on Saturday also failed by a three-to-three vote, Ormond recommended returning the event to Prescott Park, but no board member would offer a motion. With that, Billings revived the original motion, which carried with only Cunninham appearing to dissent.