Last truck leaves Liberty Hill, marking end to coal tar cleanup project

GILFORD — At 2:30 p.m. on Aug. 7, 11 years after coal tar was discovered on four house lots on Liberty Hill Road, the last of 2,662 truckloads of contaminated soil — enough to cover more than 30 football fields to a depth of six inches — was hauled from the site.

John Shore, spokesman for Liberty Utilities, described the last truck as "a huge milestone for the company, the neighbors, the town and the state that heralds the completion of one of the largest environmental projects ever undertaken in New Hampshire. He said that the site remains to be back-filled, graded and seeded, work expected to be finished by Sept. 23 when grass will begin to grow.

The quality of groundwater at the site will be monitored for many years and while the site will remain undeveloped it will be open to limited recreational uses.

Work at the 4.5-acre site began in the spring of 2014, spanned two constructions seasons and cost $13 million. Each day trucks left the site with 20 cubic yards of contaminated soil and returned with an equal load of clean fill, timing their trips not to coincide with the school bus schedule. Contaminated soil was taken 34 miles to Environmental Soil Management Inc.'s facility in Loudon, where the contamination was removed by treatment with extreme heat. Charter Environmental Inc. of Boston undertook the project, which was designed by GEI Consultants Inc. of Woburn, Mass.

Throughout the project, air quality, noise and vibrations at the site were closely monitored in order to minimize any adverse effects on nearby residents. "We really did our best to minimize the disruption," Shore said. "The low number of complaints reflects that effort." At the same time, he noted that crews recorded more than 25,000 working hours without an injury at the site.

In the 1950s the coal tar, a byproduct from a manufactured gas plant that exploded 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.

KeySpan and its corporate successors proposed several less extensive and expensive plans for addressing the contamination while town officials steadfastly insisted that all the coal tar on the site be removed. Ultimately the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) agreed and ordered Liberty Utilities to remove it.

20 local residents facing drug-related charges

LACONIA – Laconia police yesterday released the names of 20 people, 18 in Laconia and 2 in Gilford, as the result of a "warrant sweep" executed early on Thursday morning. The Daily Sun initially withheld the names and addresses of the arrestees because the police department had not released the charges that the individuals were arrested for. Yesterday, that information was made available to the Daily Sun.

The names and charges against the people who were arrested in Thursday morning's drug related "warrant sweep" are:

Troy Edgerly, 31, of 144 Valley St. is charged with one count of conspiracy and one count of being a felon in possession a firearm.

Kimberly Hobbs, 37, of 144 Valley St. is charged with once count of sales of drugs - narcotics.

Christopher Hodges, 40, of 80 Valley St. is charged with one count of sales of drugs-narcotics.

Elizabeth Perkins, 25, of 10 Winter St. Apt 2 is charged with one count of sales of drugs-narcotics.

Diana Hawkins, 51, is charged with one count of sales of drugs-narcotics.

Michael Ash, 24, of 664 Main St. Apt. 4 is charged with one count conspiracy and one count of endangering the welfare of a child.

James York, 32, of 11 E Jewett St. is charge with one count of sales of drugs-narcotics.

Julie Paquet, 27, of 154 Blueberry Lane Apt. 11 is charged with one count of sales of drugs-narcotics.

Sabrina Bostwick, 19, of 145 Kendall St. in Franklin is charged with one count of conspiracy.

Joshua Davidson, 33, of 180 Union Ave. Apt. 8 is charged with one count of sales of drugs-narcotics.

Amanda Caldon, 28, of 18 Winter St. is charged with one count of conspiracy and one count of endangering the welfare of a child.

Danielle Woods, 30, of 934 North Main St. is charged with two counts of sales of narcotics.

Nicholas Godbout, 27, of the N.H. State Prison for Men in Concord is charged with one count of possession of controlled drugs-narcotics with intent to distribute.

Jessica Maheux, 30, of 72 Batchelder St. Apt. 3 is charged with once count of sales of drugs-narcotics.

William Brown, 32, of 123 Merrimac St. is charged with one count of sales of drugs-narcotic.

Douglas Prefontaine, 17, of the Belknap County Jail is charged with one count of sales of a drugs-narcotics.

Scott Batchelder, 24, of the N.H. State Prison in Berlin is charged with one count of sales of narcotics.

Nathan Walter, 24, of 40 Varney Point Road in Gilford is charged with three counts of sales of drugs-narcotics.

Nicholas Barlow, 35, of 34 Hickory Stick Lane in Gilford is charged with one count of sales of drugs-narcotics.

Ashley Steele, 23, of 114 Highland St. Apt 4. is charged with one count of sales of drugs-narcotics.

With the exception of those who are already incarcerated, the above were released on personal recognizance bail and given court dates.

Bluebird pairs making themselves at home at Laconia Transfer Station

LACONIA — Despite stiff competition for seasonal housing from aggressive sparrows, several pairs of eastern bluebirds nested at the Transfer Station off Meredith Center Road again this year.

In 2011, 10 bird houses were erected at the Transfer Station as part of an initiative taken by the city, Waste Management Inc. and the Wildlife Habitat Council to add the 25 acres to the 73 other transfer stations, landfills, and disposal sites certified by the council as providing food, water, shelter, cover and space suited to wildlife. Some 30 members of local 4-H clubs and Scout troops erected bird houses and bat boxes on the property with direction from Scott McPhie of the Planning Department and members of the Conservation Commission.

Ever since, two or three pairs of bluebirds have taken up residence each year, while barn swallows and house wrens fill the remaining vacancies. Al St. Cyr of Waste Management Inc., who has been recording the comings and goings of the bluebirds with his camera, said that apart from the birds, he has even found a young flying squirrel in one of the bird houses. "I opened it up to clean it out," he recalled, "and this little flying squirrel jumped out, went into a tree and sat looking at me for five minutes."

Bluebirds are about 6 1/2 inches long. The brilliant, royal blue back, wings, tail and head above a rusty breast and white belly distinguish the male while his less flamboyant partner accents her buff back, crown and throat with flashes of blue in her wings and tail. Bluebirds prefer open spaces, fields and meadows, perching above them, with an alert, upright posture, on utility wires, fence posts and low branches from where they search for prey below. With a fluttering of wings they drop from their perch to seize insects, showing a preference grasshoppers, crickets, katydids and beetles.

Once common as robins, eastern bluebirds have dwindled in number as house sparrows and European starlings have taken their nest sites. Bluebirds are cavity nesters, making their homes in holes abandoned by others, which makes them ideal tenants for bird houses.

McPhie said the persistence of the bluebirds is remarkable in light of their annual struggle with the growing number of sparrows at the Transfer Station. Sparrows will invade the bluebird's nest, destroy the eggs or kill the chicks, and occupy the bird box.


CAPTION: A male bluebird flashes his colorful wings as he returns to his next in one of 10 bird boxes art the Laconia Transfer Station. Each year bluebirds take up residence in three or four of the boxes. (Courtesy photo. Al St. Cyr, Waste Management Inc.)