Overdose help

Laconia Fire Department names paramedic/firefighter Brian Keyes drug recovery coordinator


LACONIA — When addicts overdose, most often the first person they see is a firefighter. This week, the Laconia Fire Department stepped up its effort to address the crisis of opiate addiction by naming a drug recovery coordinator.

Brian Keyes, a full-time firefighter/paramedic and recovery coach in his sixth year of sobriety, will be among the firefighters responding to every overdose in the city — day or night — and will begin the process of steering the patient into treatment and recovery. Deputy Fire Chief Shawn Riley likened Keyes's role to that of Officer Eric Adams of the Police Department, who for years has encouraged addicts to seek treatment for their addiction, helped place them in appropriate programs and supported them along their road toward recovery.

However, unlike the police, firefighters respond to every overdose, providing Keyes with an opportunity to reach every patient. Since the year began, Riley said, the department has responded to 101 cases of drug overdose, four of which proved fatal. The police make contact with most but not all patients while others are reluctant to speak with the police for fear of prosecution. He said that those using illicit drugs may be be more willing to approach a firefighter than a police officer about seeking help. Firefighters will carry cards with Keyes's contact information.

"We're hoping that Brian will be able to reach those that the police might not," Riley said.

Riley described Keyes as "a pebble in the shoe," referring to his role in leading addicts toward treatment and recovery in aftermath of an overdose when they are most alive to the risks of their addiction. At the same time, Keyes will continue to work his regular shifts as a firefighter/paramedic.

Keyes said that the program is modeled after Adams's role as the PET — "Prevention, Treatment, Enforcement" — officer and that the two will be working together.

Riley said that department considered a program akin to the Safe Station initiative that began in Manchester and was recently introduced in Nashua, which enables addicts to turn to the fire department for help, but found it lacked the resources to ensure its success.

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Tursi named Shaker superintendent


BELMONT — The Shaker Regional School Board has chosen interim Superintendent Michael Tursi to be its permanent superintendent.

Michael TursiHe was one of two candidates selected by the Superintendent Search Committee that was composed of parents, community members, administrators, faculty, staff and a school board member.

The second candidate, Dennis Duquette of Massachusetts, withdrew his name from contention.

"The board is confident that Mr. Tursi is unquestionably the best candidate for the position," said a media release issued after the board reviewed the search process and the community feedback.

"This was a thoughtful search, and Mr. Tursi is positive, enthusiastic, and wants to play an active role in our schools and community," said School Board Chairman Sean Embree.

Tursi has been interim superintendent since July 1, 2016.

Tursi holds a Bachelor's Degree in geology from Radford Univeristy in Virginia, a Master's of Education degree from Plymouth State University, and his Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies from Plymouth State University.

He previously served as superintendent for SAU 64 – Milton and Wakefield, and as the assistant superintendent for the Manchester School District.

He and his family live in Strafford, where they also manage a small farm.

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Gilford works toward having its own trash disposal station

GILFORD — A transfer station of their own is the hope of the town's Solid Waste Committee and the Board of Selectmen as they plan to put a $1 million warrant article before voters this spring.

According to Scott Dunn, the proposal is still being discussed by the Budget Committee, which doesn't necessarily object to the project but wants the selectmen to provide a breakdown of costs.

Gilford and Laconia have shared a transfer station since 1980s, when all states, including New Hampshire, began complying with the new mandates of the Federal Clean Air Act of 1970 and the Clean Water Act of 1972.

Around the same time, the Concord Regional Solid Waste Committee Recovery Center, or "co-op," was formed and the Laconia Transfer Station was opened on Meredith Center Road.

Gilford residents have been using the Laconia Transfer Station since its opening. Gilford is unique in that there is only a recycling center in town. To get their trash to Laconia, Gilford residents can either transport it themselves after buying a transfer station sticker at Town Hall or hire an independent contractor to pick up their garbage for them. There is a $5 minimum to go to the Laconia Transfer Station.

The benefit to town residents, said Dunn, is that if a transfer station is built at on the site of what is now the town's recycling center on Lily Pond Road, then Gilford residents would no longer have to travel with their trash to Laconia or to pay someone to take it to Laconia.

Dunn said there is no will on the part of the Solid Waste Committee to institute curbside pickup in Gilford.

As of 2015, the city of Laconia lets Gilford residents dispose of trash at $45 per ton. The actual cost is around $90 per ton, so Gilford taxpayers subsidize about 50 percent of the cost.
The city retains the first $5 of every load from Gilford residents for administrative costs. It used to retain the next $10 for repayment of a capital improvement bond, but the town's portion is now satisfied. The Solid Waste Committee members also said they do not believe single-stream recycling, which is what Laconia uses, is cost effective. They recommend a dual-stream recycling program which would separate corrugated cardboard from other recyclables.

Gilford voters attending the 2016 annual Town Meeting chose to pay $45,000 for an engineering study, and the result firm CMA Engineers of Manchester will be presented to the selectmen on Wednesday night. The Budget Committee will also meet with selectmen at 6 p.m. and many of its members will likely stay for the presentation.