Ashland town administrator taking same job in Gilmanton

GILMANTON — The town had named Paul Branscombe to be the next town administrator, replacing Arthur Capello who is taking the administrator's job in his home town of Farmington.

Branscombe has been the town administrator in Ashland for five years. Before that he spent 44 years in the insurance industry working for Lloyd's.

He describes himself as a "workaholic" who if often at his desk early in the morning and staying late into the evening. An admirer of Winston Churchill, his favorite quote is that "if we are all together, nothing is impossible. If we are divided, all will fall."

Capello said Branscombe was one of four applicants who applied for the job. He said Branscomb's experience, his good reputation throughout the state and his personal demeanor were a few of the reasons selectmen chose him.

Branscombe is expected to start in Gilmanton no later than August 10. Capello said he will attend selectman's meeting and work one night a week in the interim.

In the search for a person to replace former Selectman Steve McCormack, Capello said three people have filed a written notice with his office expressing interest in the open position.

In no particular order they are Brian Forst, Brett Currier, and Rachael Hatch. Currier and Hatch have both served as selectman while Forst is the Chairman of the Budget Committee.

Selectmen will hold a workshop session on Tuesday to discuss how they will move forward in naming a third selectman who will serve until elections in March. Chair Don Guarino said there will be no public comment allowed however anyone with interest is welcome to observe the meeting.

City police report 59 stops for violations of new 'hands free' law; 17 tickets written

LACONIA — Police Chief Christopher Adams told the Police Commission on Thursday that there had been 42 warnings and 17 summonses issued for violations of the new hands-free while driving law.

Adams also said that he has noticed during his regular travels that fewer and fewer people are using cell phones while driving.

"I hope our officers are using discretion," said Adams.

The new state law that prohibits holding a device while having a conversation or texting went into effect on July 1.

In other police business, the Police Department's 12th annual National Night Out is being held at 103 Blueberry Lane on August 4 from 5 to 7 p.m. Adams said that the very first night out was on Blueberry Lane and he was excited about returning there.

National Night Out is a nationwide event sponsored by police departments and other public safety officials.

Adams also reported the resignation of Officer Brandy Enis who he said was moving on to other endeavors. Enis was the subject of a public (at her request) hearing to dispute her reprimand for accompanying a landlord into his apartment because he said he was afraid of the tenant. Her reprimand and the department's decision to impose it was heard by a Belknap County Superior Court judge but the results were sealed.

Capt. Bill Clary said the department finished Motorcycle Week with a budget surplus of $8,000 but overspent the line items used to pay out of town officers.

Commissioner Armand Maheux said he would like to see salaried command officers paid for the amount of time they spend working on Motorcycle Week, or at least given compensatory time off.

Commissioner Warren Clement said it is part of their job description.

Porch fire on tiny Olive Place

LACONIA — Firefighters quickly extinguished a fire that broke out on the porch on the upper story of a two-unit residence on Olive Place, a horseshoe shaped enclave off Spring Street, shortly before 4 p.m. yesterday.

A neighbor, Seana McDuffie, spotted the flames and reported the fire, then alerted the resident of the ground floor unit, who had a key to the unit above, which was unoccupied. She said that he went upstairs and threw water on the fire. However, Fire Chief Ken Erickson said that fire was showing when Captain Bob Landry and his crew from Central Station arrived.

Erickson said that since fire engines cannot negotiate the narrow entry and close quarters of Olive Court, firefighters must run hose from Spring Street. "We've trained at this site," he said, explaining that firefighters were prepared to run hose to the building and raise a ladder to the porch. Damage was confined to the porch.

The cause of the fire was unknown, Erickson said.