Little League game delayed by fire at concession stand


LACONIA — Rist-Frost-Shumway edged J.C. Swain 7 to 6 in a Little League baseball game on Saturday morning, which was delayed by fire when grease atop a grill in the concession stand at Colby Field burst into flame.

Firefighters from Laconia, Belmont and Gilford were dispatched to the ballpark 9:54 a.m. when a caller reported the fire. Lt. Chad Vaillancourt found neither smoke nor flame showing from the two-story building that houses the clubhouse and concession stand, but two minutes later reported the fire that had reached into the wall of the building. Vaillancourt requested help, which drew crews from Belmont and Gilford.

A crew from Gilford laid 1,200 feet of 4-inch hose from a hydrant on North Main Street and firefighters ran a line through the side door of the building and into the kitchen to attack the fire. The wall was opened and fire there extinguished. Firefighters ensured that fire had not climbed to the upper story. No one was injured in the fire.

Aaron Jones, assistant coach of the Rist-Frost-Shumway team, said that the umpires halted play in the second inning and escorted the players and coaches to the outfield as the firefighters arrived. "Everyone applauded the firefighters," Jones said. "It was really fun."

Kevin Dunleavy, director of parks and recreation, said that fortunately Saturday was the last day of the Little League season. Fire Chief Ken Erickson estimated the cost of the damage at $5,000. Dunleavy said that the building was constructed by local volunteers and is owned by the city. He added that the city's insurance carrier has been contacted and noted that Laconia Little League also provides a certificate of insurance for its exclusive use of Colby Field.

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Firefighters work to put out a grill fire at the concession stand at Colby Field. (Photo courtesy Laconia Fire Department)

Sunday fire leaves Laconia family temporarily homeless


LACONIA — A fire caused by teenaged boys smoking in the attic caused about $50,000 in damage to a home on Old North Main Street Sunday around 5 p.m.

Fire Chief Ken Erickson said the boys, who were about 16 years old, had left the three-story house and later noticed some smoke coming from the attic. One of the boys ran back into the house and took a little girl who was on the first floor to safety.

The children's mother had just left for work, but returned immediately after her son called her. She stayed in her car with the young girl while firefighters extinguished the blaze.

Erickson said the there was a lot of fire in the attic but because it was unfinished, it was extinguished fairly quickly. He said most of the damage to the rest of the house, primarily on the second floor, was from the water used to put out the fire.

"Even though there was a significant amount of fire, not all of the water we use turns to steam," she said.

Erickson said there were multiple phone calls initially made to the 9-1-1, so the lieutenant in charge called immediately for a first alarm that brought crews from Gilford and Belmont to the scene.

He said when Assistant Chief Kirk Beattie arrived, he called for a second alarm when he saw the size and age of the home, but most of those departments were canceled immediately. Meredith firefighters stayed to assist.

Erickson said it took a long time to overhaul the attic and make sure the fire was completely extinguished.

He said the family was assisted Sunday night by the New Hampshire Red Cross but is insured. There were no injuries.

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Boys smoking in the attic of this home at 1420 N. Main St. accidentally caused a fire Sunday. (Gail Ober/Laconia Daily Sun)


Belknap County considers overseer for inmate workers at county nursing home

LACONIA — Belknap County Commission Chairman David DeVoy (R-Sanbornton) has proposed hiring an additional employee for the Belknap County Department of Corrections whose primary responsibility would be to oversee inmates who work in the kitchen at the Belknap County Nursing Home.
DeVoy made the proposal at Friday's meeting of Belknap County Commissioners saying that he was "concerned about the path we're being led down to hire more full-time employees to work in the kitchen at the county home."
Last month commissioners approved hiring four part-time workers for the county home kitchen after receiving a report that the use of inmate labor as dishwashers in the kitchen is not working out well.
Carolee Sliker, dietary manager at the nursing home, said at that meeting that a pilot program in which inmates are being paid $3 a day for work in the kitchen has seen "a parade of inmates coming through the kitchen who have behavior issues and do not want to work."
She proposed replacing the inmates who work in the kitchen with her own staff from 4 to 7 p.m. and hiring four part-time dishwashers who would be cross-trained as dietary aides so they could help serves the residents at supper.
She said that hiring the part-timers would cost $40,000 a year, which translates into an additional $20,000 for the rest of this year and that funds would have to be transferred for that purpose. Commissioners approved that proposal.
She also said that s that in the future the county needs to look at replacing other inmates who work in the kitchen with four full-time staff members, which she said would cost $208,000 a year.
But DeVoy says that he thinks that having inmates work in the kitchen is an important part of changing their behavior so that they can learn responsibility and prepare themselves to re-enter the community once their sentences have been served,
"Having a corrections officer there would increase their efficiency and help get better job performance from the inmates," said DeVoy.
Sliker has said that those who do want to work and do a good job are quickly lost as they qualify for work release programs, requiring the cooks to constantly train new inmates, which she said involves paying overtime for the cooks.
She also wrote in her report that "Using inmates in the kitchen is not working. My staff and I are not trained correctional officers and the kitchen is not a rehabilitation center."
DeVoy said that he is determined to see that inmates do work and that a trial program approved earlier this year by commissioners in which inmates who work at county facilities and are paid $3 a day works out.
Commissioner Hunter Taylor (R-Alton) said that he thinks that hiring an additional corrections officer to make sure inmates are performing their work correctly in the kitchen "is money well spent."