10 teams of raft campers set out to raise $100k for Make-A-Wish

MEREDITH — Yesterday afternoon members of $10 teams clambered aboard a raft moored in Meredith Bay, where at least one member of each team will remain for until noon on Friday when, after 44 hours on the water, they expect to have raised $100,000 for Make-a-Wish New Hampshire.

Now in its fifth year "Rafting for Wishes" last year contributed some $80,000 toward fulfilling the wishes of 84 children diagnosed with life-threatening conditions. Julie Baron of Gilford, president and chief executive officer of Make-a-Wish New Hampshire said that there are more than 100 children facing the same situation this year.

"These kids are an inspiration," said Jason Perry, who pioneered "Rafting for Wishes." He recalled that a young man called at the program's office and offered to sit in a raft in return for donations. The arrangements were made, but at the last moment the young man jumped ship. "I was in the wrong place at the wrong time," remarked Perry, who happened to be in the office when the news arrived. With a friend, also called Jason, he spent 36 hours in a raft on the Merrimack River and raised $36,000 and "Rafting for Wishes" was launched.

From a pair of castaways, the event has grown to a flotilla of 10 teams — AutoServ, The Common Man, The Fitness Edge, Gilford Police Department, Mill Falls at the Lake, Team Minions, New Hampshire State Troopers, Target Corporation, T-Bones of Laconia and Perry's 44 Hour Survivors. Each team has at least 10 members who will take to ensure that at least one member is always aboard and each member raises $300. A large raft, with room for 44 people, is ringed by smaller, canopied rafts, each with capacity for six, which offer shelter from the weather and a place to sleep.

Each team has a "wish buddy," a child who has had his or her wish fulfilled, who take part to express their gratitude.

Baron said that making wishes come true is "more than just something to do", explaining that physicians and nurses have found that a wish fulfilled has a beneficial effect on the physical well-being of the child. "It's not a mere gift," she continued, "It is trying to find out what their heartfelt wish is and bringing it to life." For many children, she said that living their wish marks a turning point in their effort to overcome their illness. "It can be a life changing experience," Baron remarked.

Rudy Beer, an 8th grade student at Inter-Lakes Middle School, and Carolyn Gaudet of the AutoServ team have joined Perry in vowing to stay aboard the raft for the duration — all 44 hours. "It's for everybody," Beer said while Gaudet dismissed the challenge, saying "this is nothing".

While the teams float in Meredith Bay, Hesky Park will be alive with food, music, games and fireworks until the end.

Baron estimated that even before the teams took to the raft the event had raised between $30,000 and $40,000 and encouraged everyone to contribute, either on-line at nh.wish.org or by phone at (603)-623-9474.

Sanbornton contracts for administrative services of Laconia man, through MRI

SANBORNTON — Selectmen voted unanimously last night to enter into a nearly year-long contract for town administrator services with Municipal Resources Inc. of Meredith.

The contract provides that MRI will provide the town with the services of Charlie Smith of Laconia in exchange for $5,820 per month until December 31, 2015 and 6,500 per month through June 30, 2016.

The contract specifies that Smith will work a minimum of 2,000 hours a year — or a 40-hour work week for 50 weeks. In addition, MRI will provide eight hours a month of supervision for Smith, who has limited experience but holds a Masters degree in public policy. Additional supervision from MRI will cost $120 per hour.

The decision to subcontract town administrator services comes in the wake of the board's decision not to renew a contract for former Town Administrator Bob Veloski. According to the town book keeper, Veloski was paid $5,305 monthly based on an annual salary of $63,671 as of July 1.

Selectman Karen Ober explained that the arrangement with MRI accomplished one goal for the town, one goal for Smith and one goal for MRI in that the town gets a highly educated town administrator, Smith gets the hands-on experience he needs and MRI continues its program of hiring and training recent college graduates in the business of town administration.

The savings to the town of Sanbornton comes in the form of not having to pay Social Security taxes or into the state retirement system for the town administrator. It also eliminates the need for the town to pay for health insurance.

While the selectmen met and interviewed Smith, along with his employer Don Jutton, should the relationship not work out, MRI will provide a different town administrator. The contract with MRI has a clause that allows the town to end the contract with 15 days notice if the board feels it's not working.

"I think this is going to work out pretty well," said Selectman's Chair Dave Nickerson. "If we hired off the street it would have cost us much more."

Ober quoted something Jutton told them about Sanbornton saying, "We're too big to be small and too small to be big."

Nickerson said that for the balance of this fiscal year (Sanbornton uses a July to June fiscal year for budgeting, not a calender year) the budget line will be $25,407 short. He noted that this would have been the case regardless of whether the town chose MRI or hired an administrator for pay comparable to what it's paying MRI.

He suggested that over the next few weeks, the individual department heads and the selectmen will scour the budget for line items that can be transferred to the executive administration line.

Smith begins officially Monday morning and will be meeting with Ober and the department heads today.

Tandem bicycle trip ends early after accident

LACONIA — A city couple riding a tandem bicycle escaped serious injury yesterday afternoon when a small car hit them as they passed Vista Foods on South Main Street, headed south toward Belmont.

The female victim who asked not to be identified said she was pedaling on the back of the bicycle when a female driver turned into the Vista parking lot in front of them.

"My husband tried to swerve but was unable," she said as she rested on the steps of Sunflower Natural Foods store, which shares an entrance with Vista.

Because their feet were clasped in, she said they both fell on the bicycle rather than falling off the bicycle.

The woman had scraped her arm, which was treated and bandaged by responding ambulance crews, and had a small scrape on her left knee. She was wearing a helmet.

"I'm probably going to be pretty sore tomorrow," she said noting she doesn't bounce back from falls like she used to.

Her husband, who dealt with city police regarding the crash, appeared to be fine and their bicycle was relatively unscathed and was rideable. Both appeared to be middle-aged.

The woman said the couple had just left their home in the north end of the city and were headed south to take a ride through Belmont along Route 107. Grateful that they were both relatively unharmed, she said that yesterday's weather was the kind of day she had been waiting for for weeks.

When asked about her helmet, she said she and her husband are veteran cyclists and wore helmets before companies made helmets specifically for bicyclists. She said they had taken bicycling trips together that lasted as long as two weeks.

The city police officer who investigated the crash said it appeared to be purely accidental and no charges would likely be filed against the driver of small, blue Toyota.

The couple left together and said they were going to ride back to their home, inspect the bicycle, and get some rest.