Scenic overlook? Can't see the lake for the trees

GILFORD — On Route 11, about a mile west of Ellacoya State Park, a scenic overlook perched above Lake Winnipesaukee offers an expansive view of The Broads, the open stretch of the lake, and to the White Mountains beyond.

You can get there from here, but you can't see there from there for the trees.

The overlook is atop a steep slope approximately 800 feet from the lake. Scenic Road, which is lined with residences on both sides, runs down below, between the highway and the shoreline. The slope immediately adjacent to the overlook is covered with saplings, mostly oak and birch, which have grown to obscure the view of the lake and leave only glimpses of the mountaintops. Older, taller trees fill much of the space between the highway and Scenic Road, providing a second screen.

Bill Boynton, spokesman for the New Hampshire Department of Transportation (DOT), said that tree cutting to preserve scenic vistas is often problematic, particularly if the trees obscuring the view are not within the state right-of-way, but growing on property owned by other public entities or private individuals or corporation. For example, he said that the DOT negotiates with the United States Forest Service when cutting along the Kancamangus Highway between Conway and Lincoln.

Moreover, Boynton noted that tree cutting is a labor intensive operation and, particularly during the construction season, not high on the department's list of priorities. This year, with the department about to exhaust its federal funding and the state budget still hanging in limbo, he doubted there would be resources to clear the view.

Meanwhile, the kiosk at the overlook includes a schematic spanning the view from the spot from Sandwich Mountain to the west and Mount Shaw to the east. In the middle, between the two, 47 miles away, stands Mount Washington, while visitors are asked "Do you see Mount Washington in the distance?"

Canoers rescued on Opechee by jet skiers

LACONIA — Fire Department officials said three people on jet skis came to rescue of three young men who had been thrown from their canoe on Lake Opechee Tuesday afternoon. The rescue happened on the southern end of the lake, off Moulton Street.

Asst. Chief Kirk Beattie said gusty winds and choppy water likely contributed to the three canoeists being tossed from the boat.

He said the jet skiers wanted to remain anonymous but by the time they arrived they were taking the three men and their canoe to shore.

Beattie said the men were checked out by ambulance crews and were uninjured.

Fire official want to remind people to wear life preservers while in the water and to notify people of their departure times and expected time of return.

Remaining 2 Gilmanton selectmen will interview Currier, Forst & Hatch on Tuesday

GILMANTON — Selectmen decided last night to hold open interviews with the three people who expressed a desire to fill the seat left vacant when Steve McCormack resigned. The interviews will be conducted on Tuesday, July 28 at 6 p.m.

The decision to interview Brett Currier, Brian Forst and Rachael Hatch came after Chair Don Guarino reviewed the pertinent state laws, the town's own policies, and the procedure used the last time two board members needed to fill a vacancy.

"I think we should take our time," said Selectman Michael Jean. "It's an important decision."

Guarino said he wanted to make it sooner than later but agreed another week wouldn't be too burdensome.

Jean made his statements after letters of interests that were submitted by Forst and Currier were read aloud. Both were at the meeting but Hatch was unable to attend. Guarino said Hatch didn't submit a letter but both he and Jean determined she was a qualified applicant.

Forst, who is the chair of the Budget Committee said he would like to fill the vacancy until March elections because he has served on the board before, is the chair of the Budget Committee, and is familiar with the way the town if operated. Forst said he would step down as Budget Committee chair should he be chosen.

Currier, who served a three-year term that ended in March but nevertheless mounted a last-minute writ- in campaign and finished second, wrote that tradition in Gilmanton says the person who finished second in the last election should be named to the open seat. He cited the time that Hatch was the second vote getter to David Clairmont who died while in office. Hatch filled his term and went on to win a full term at the next election.

He also said that he had stayed involved in the town, serves on the road committee and was often the only member of the public at many board meetings.

Two letters of support for Currier were read to the public — both saying he had the necessary expertise to fill the vacancy and both cited previous tradition in town.

There were also two nearly identical letters sent by two townspeople who didn't want Currier to sit on the board because his son was going to be police chief, beginning in January.

Both said Sgt. Matt Currier was an excellent supervisor and would make an excellent chief but felt he would do better if he was chief without having to answer to his father, who would be his direct supervisor if he was named selectman. The writers said it was different during Currier's last term because Joe Collins was (and is) chief and Matt Currier worked for him.

Guarino read the state's nepotism rules but noted that when he called the local government center for advice on the Curriers, he was told that in some small towns in New Hampshire it was not unusual to have similar potential conflicts of interest. During the time Currier was selectmen, he was careful to recuse himself from any police department business that involved his son.

Next week's interviews begin at 6 p.m. and only the selectmen and Town Administrator Paul Branscombe — who officially starts Monday but who sat in on last night's meeting — will be asking questions.

Guarino said the interviews will be the first thing on next week's agenda and the interviews can be attended by the public but there will be no public input during that time. The regular business meeting of the board will begin after the interviews.

Neither Guarino or Jean said definitively whether or not the board would make their decision next week but it is anticipated an appointment will be made then.