It was a busy year for the Laconia Fire Dept.


LACONIA — "Every year, we're breaking records," said Fire Chief Ken Erickson, adding that the 4,622 calls for emergency service in 2016 — more than a dozen a day — were the most ever responded to by the department and 7 percent more than in 2015 and 40 percent than in 2010.

Erickson said that 70 medical emergencies, including more than 200 high-risk emergencies, accounted for 70 percent of the call volume. Medical emergencies included an estimated 150 overdoses of narcotic drugs. At the same time, the department responded to 568 reports of fire during the year. The number of fires, Erickson said, matches or exceeds those of municipalities with larger populations and fire departments than Laconia. And 263 times Laconia firefighters were dispatched to other towns by the Lakes Region Mutual Fire Aid Association.

Nearly 70 percent of the department's call volume originates in the most densely populated area of the city within 2 miles of Central Fire Station. Firefighters responded to 67 percent of calls from this area within four minutes and 89 percent of all calls within six minutes while responding to 63 percent of calls in rural areas with six minutes.

The department's three ambulances responded to 3,959 medical emergencies and reported fires. Erickson described the primary ambulance, which was dispatched to 3,110 emergencies, as "very likely one of the busiest ambulances in the state."

Erickson noted that 2,280 occasions the department responded to more than one call and said that simultaneous calls continue to pose a challenge for the department. With nine firefighters on duty, on average Laconia firefighters respond to 513 emergencies, which the chief believes may make them the very busiest in the state.

"I am extremely proud at how well our guys have managed their unusually heavy workload," Erickson, adding that the department operated without significant injuries throughout the year. "It is a testament to the hard work, training and focus of the members of this department."



















A final salute - The tombstone's tale of war and men



01-05 Aimee Fogg and books

Aimee Fogg of Gilford holds copies of the books that have resulted from her work to research the backgrounds of the 40 New Hampshire and 25 Vermont servicemen who died while fighting the Nazis in World War II and were interred at the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery in Belgium. (Bea Lewis/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Gilford woman nurtures the living by honoring the dead

By BEA LEWIS For The Laconia Daily Sun

GILFORD — Six years ago, Aimee Fogg traveled to Belgium to learn the circumstances of her great uncle's death in World War II. With the assistance of a German veteran who fought against Allied troops, Fogg walked in the footsteps of her paternal grandmother's younger brother, Paul Lavoie of Nashua, who was killed in action on Feb. 10, 1945, in Schmidt, Germany.

Visiting his grave at the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery in Homburg, Belgium, on Memorial Day 2010, proved cathartic for Fogg who realized that like her, many families did not know the details of their loved one's service and sacrifice, or even where they are buried. Today, she has a growing collection of adopted relatives after she decided to research and collect the stories and photos of the 39 other New Hampshire servicemen interred at Henri-Chapelle.

In 2013, "The Granite Men of Henri-Chapelle, Stories of New Hampshire's World II Soldiers" was published. In 2015, it was followed by "The Green Mountain Boys of Henri-Chapelle."

"These men have stories to share, voices to be heard, lives to be remembered and sacrifices to be honored," said Fogg. When she connects with surviving family members, Fogg said, many know little information other than their loved one was buried in Belgium. She does most of her interviews by telephone but also mails a questionnaire that gives them additional time to recall and reflect.
In researching Private Leroy Baker of Vermont, Fogg located his sister Cecile, who was adamant that they meet in person, so she and her family made the three-hour-long drive to Massachusetts. Baker's sister was waiting in the driveway when they arrived.

"She opened the passenger side door of the van and gave me a hug," Fogg said. "As she was hugging me, she said, 'I've been waiting 70 years for you."

The woman had saved a treasure trove of information about her brother.

"The project is not about the books. It's about them, because of them and for them," Fogg stressed. All of the information she gleans about soldiers buried at Henri-Chapelle is forwarded to the cemetery superintendent and placed in the soldier's individual file.

School children are frequently taken to the cemetery on field trips and are encouraged to walk among the sea of crosses and to pick an individual grave to learn more about the man who gave his life to turn back the tide of tyranny. Fogg said she is heartened to think her work is helping to allow those soldiers to continue to speak, helping the memory of the fallen to live on.

Her focus now is centered on collecting as many personal histories and photos of all 7,992 men who remain at Henri-Chapelle including 35 pairs of brothers, a trio of siblings from Tennessee, and two reporters. Fogg views the daunting task as a display of gratitude and appreciation for their sacrifice.

It is the moment that every military family dreads, when a service member's loved ones go from having a son or husband fighting in the war, to having a son or husband who became a casualty.

Fogg said in speaking with family members some recounted that their parents or grandparent's lives changed forever when the doorbell rang. Telegrams were the most common form of communication when notifying families. They were most often hand-delivered by couriers of Western Union, and followed a rigid format beginning with the dreaded words, "I regret to inform you..."

For many families, the sorrow of losing a son in the prime of life was so painful they never spoke of it. Fogg said a memory that many surviving family members have shared with her is that the family dogbegan acting odd, and refused to eat, within 24 hours of when the official death notification arrived. The stories are both heart-wrenching and heartwarming. Two pairs of Vermont brothers died within a week of each other on Dec. 14 and Dec. 21.

While some families opted for their loved one's remains to be sent home for reburial at war's end, Fogg said, others felt they should remain with their comrades in arms or feared an improper identification. One family told Fogg their parents had been unrelenting that there would be no stranger buried in the family plot.

"I call my project a celebration of life. The families always have the final say. I don't get into the battlefield specifies unless they want me to. Because it's about them, how they lived, not how they died," she said.

Most of the nearly 8,000 men who rest at Henri-Chapelle died fighting during the Hüertgen Forest campaign, the Battle of the Bulge, air operations over the region and in the Allied advance into Germany.

To increase public awareness about her project, Fogg founded "They Speak – Voices of Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery" and has created a website.

On Dec. 17, Fogg participated in Wreaths Across America at Arlington National Cemetery and visited SSGT Francis Larrivee's marker. A Laconia native, Larrivee is one of 40 New Hampshire men featured in her book, "The Granite Men of Henri-Chapelle."

A member of the Army Air Corps, he is one of 450 men listed as missing in action on a memorial at the cemetery in Belgium. His remains were uncovered in a German potato field and identified in 2005. His daughter Judith, opted for interment at Arlington. Larrivee, who was a right waist gunner, is at Section 60 among his crewmates, whose remains have been identified.

Fogg said Michael Culver the director of the Wright Museum of World War II in Wolfeboro invited her to speak about her work last fall.
Through that talk, she met Mike Folan, a history teacher at Prospect Mountain High School in Alton. His students researched the backgrounds of 34 New Hampshire men interred at the Netherlands American Cemetery in Margraten. They presented their research at the museum in May, and are now working on a similar project researching Granite State soldiers at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in France.

"This is a chance for them to all speak. They will never celebrate another Christmas, or Hanukkah, go to college, meet a child, or buy a house. People today don't seem to understand or grasp the hardships and sacrifices of World War II," Fogg said.

01-05 Aimee Fogg and family

Aimee Fogg seated center, holds her son, Robert, 2, flanked by daughter Isabella, 6, left, Chapelle, 4, right, and her husband, Ryan, standing left. (Bea Lewis/for The Laconia Daily Sun)


01-05 Aimee At Arlington 2

On Dec. 16, Fogg participated in Wreaths Across America at Arlington National Cemetery. She is pictured at SSGT Francis Larrivee's marker. A Laconia native, Larrivee is one of 40 New Hampshire men featured in her book, "The Granite Men of Henri-Chapelle." A member of the Army Air Corps, he is one of 450 men listed as MIA on a memorial at the cemetery in Belgium. His remains were uncovered in a German potato field and identified in 2005. His daughter Judith, opted for interment at Arlington. Larrivee, who was a right waist gunner, is at Section 60 among his crewmates who remains have been identified. (Courtesy Photo)


Is your street on the list?

7 miles of Laconia roads may lose maintenance


LACONIA — Just because your street has always been plowed and maintained, it is no guarantee that will continue.

Wes Anderson, director of Public Works, will present a report to the City Council Monday night indicating that the department maintains more than 7 miles of streets, or more than 8 percent of the 83 miles of roadway in the city, which may or may not qualify for being plowed, repaired and rebuilt at public expense.

Anderson stressed that the department is seeking guidance from the council and that no recommendations will be offered or decisions made with respect to specific streets until their history and circumstances have been thoroughly researched. "This is just the beginning of the process," he said, adding that there will not be any immediate changes to the department's maintenance program.

The Department of Public Works has identified more than three dozen streets which Anderson describes as "problematic," meaning that there is no record they have been formally accepted as city streets, as well as a handful of private roads that the city plows. In addition there are another eight so-called "paper streets" that appear on development plans but were never built or were built on either private or city property with no right-of-way.

In a memorandum to the council, Anderson notes that state law (RSA 231:59) stipulates that municipal highway funds can only be spent to maintain Class 4 and 5 public highways and not private roads. The department, he explained, has determined that the streets it has identified as "problematic" he explains, may not qualify as Class 4 or 5 public highways.

Anderson outlines several approaches to resolving the issues with the problematic streets. State law allows municipalities to designate some private streets as "winter roads" and plow them between Nov. 15 and April 1 while charging the residents for the cost. However, the city attorney has cautioned that the city could be liable if winter maintenance creates conditions leading to personal injury or property damage. At the same time, residents on other private streets may seek the same designation, leading to an increased demand for city services. Likewise, state law authorizes municipalities to designate a private road as an "emergency lane." But, the benefit of the keeping the road opened cannot be confined to the residents of the street but must serve the city by providing emergency vehicles timely access to other public streets. Finally, the betterment process provides a means of bringing a private road to the standard required to be accepted as city street by assessing the abutting property for the cost of the improvements.

The first step in addressing the issue, Anderson said, is to identify which streets the city should cease plowing and maintaining, which should be designated as "emergency lanes," and which they should consider accepting through the betterment process and proceed to accept in their present condition. He emphasized that it is essential not to set a precedent that could lead the city to improve or maintain any streets that were always intended to remain private roads, like those at South Down Shores and Long Bay.

The department has arranged the "problematic" streets into four categories. The first category consists of 18 paved streets — altogether 1.5 miles — in the downtown area, Lakeport and The Weirs that date to 19th and early 20th centuries and have been maintained and improved, but not formally accepted, ever since. They are: Arlington Street, Paradise Drive, Brittany Lane, Bayside Court, Hamilton Avenue, Dell Avenue, Cleveland Place, Jameson Street, Lane Court, Madison Street, Park Street, Tremont Street, Veterans Square, Wallace Court, Wentworth Avenue, Wilson Court, Riverside Court and Varney Court as well as Methodist Circle and the neighboring streets, dubbed "cat alleys."

Another 11 paved streets, representing 3.5 miles, in the rural reaches of the city have no record of being accepted as city streets. These are: Regis Road, Channel Lane, Cotton Hill Road, Fillmore Avenue, Lane Road, Lucerne Avenue, McKinley Road, Pickerel Pond Road, Prescott Avenue-Prescott Park and Hillcrest Drive-Phase1.

There are almost two miles of gravel streets, for which there are plans, but no records of having been accepted. These are: Colonial Road, Plantation Road in the Plantation Beach development, Hutchingson Street, Margin Avenue and Fisk Avenue at the Methodist Campground, Paugus Avenue and Truland Street.

There are half dozen private roads currently plowed by the city: Pendleton Beach Road, New Hope Drive, Hadey Road Wentworth Cove Road and Hillcrest Drive-Phase 2. Woodwinds Hill Drive, is also a private road plowed by the city, which the department suspects has been accepted. Anderson said that  if the city decides to stop plowing particular streets, residents could form a homeowners association and either pay a private contractor to plow and maintain them  or pay to improve them to city standards and have them accepted as city streets. Alternatively, residents could request that the road be improved and accepted through the betterment process.

Messer Court, Clarendon Street Bell Street Extension and the south extension of Eastman Shore Road are all paper streets as are Jewett Avenue, Gordon Avenue, Albany Street and Dover Street, which lie beneath Sacred Heart Cemetery.

Anderson estimates that the cost of bringing all these streets to city standards could exceed $10 million.