Take it back - Petition asks Gilmanton selectmen to reinstate Guarino as chairman

GILMANTON —Nearly 70 residents have signed a petition to remove Rachel Hatch as chairman of the Board of Selectmen and reinstate the former chairman, Don Guarino.
About 30 or 40 residents showed up Monday at the first meeting of the selectmen since she was made chairman on Nov. 18, but no action was taken by the board.
During the beginning of the public comment period, Hatch made it clear that Guarino's removal as chairman was "not orchestrated," and noted that when Selectman Michael Jean initially made the motion, after a prolonged screaming match between herself, Guarino and Town Administrator Paul Branscombe, she actually moved to end the meeting to let everyone cool down.
However, she said she felt the reason Guarino was removed as chairman was because he was not acting as a team player, going around the board and Branscombe to get information from a previous employee. Jean agreed and said that's why he made the motion.
Guarino defended himself by saying that, according to Branscombe, some paperwork was lost in the flood created by a broken sprinkler system in the building in January, and he called the former town administrator for some information. Guarino added that the way people were blaming the former administrator for the errors in the 2015 budget preparation prompted him to call and ask him what, if anything, happened.
"I don't feel guilty," he said, adding that earlier in the evening he had presented some data to the board about the size and staffing levels of comparable town clerk/tax collectors' offices in the state for comparison to Gilmanton.
"Now I'm being chastised," he said.
Members of the audience had a few things to say as well. Some said Hatch isn't qualified to be chairman because she had been appointed and not elected to this board. Glen Lines likened her being chairman to being a temporary seasonal Walmart employee who suddenly gets promoted to store manager.
"I was appointed, sir," said Hatch in reply.
Hatch was appointed a few months ago to replace Steve MacDonald, who resigned. The decision to appoint her was acrimonious, as Jean supported Hatch while Guarino supported Brett Currier, who ran a last-minute write-in campaign in March and came away in second place. It took two meetings before Guarino agreed to appoint her.
Resident Terry Donovan said she was "profoundly embarrassed" by the town in September and is embarrassed to think people would call Hatch a "transient." She likened Hatch to a good quarterback for the town and approved of some recent personnel decisions.
Craig Gardner said he accepts Guarino's reasoning for contracting the former town administrator and that the petition should trigger some kind of discussion from the board about Guarino's ouster.
Hatch remained steadfast in that she doesn't support any member of the board acting independently of the entire board. She added that the town now has a full-time administrator and research should be agreed upon by the board and funneled through him.
One resident said that Guarino's going around the board is what annoyed Hatch, but added that the previous town administrator is a good resource. He said they should all work together and not try to "catch" someone making a mistake.
While Richard Gillette said he isn't "for or against" anybody and that he just wants some transparency, the majority of people who spoke said they support Guarino being reinstated as chairman until the March election, when Hatch may run on her own.
Hatch said the next public meeting of the board will take place Monday, Dec. l4, and the specific topic of how the board operates will be an agenda item. Selectmen are also scheduled to interview seven engineering firms and review their qualifications to design some replacement bridges. Hatch's plan was to meet in a nonpublic session to protect the reputations of the companies; however, Branscombe said he didn't think that was legal and said he would contact the town attorney for advice.

Saving the Mini Mount – Replica gets a new home on dry land in Wolfeboro

WOLFEBORO— "It's where she belongs. It's her home," said Doug Smith, as he passed the keys to the M/V Little Mount Washington — the "Mini Mount" — to the trustees of the New Hampshire Boat Museum yesterday.
A working replica of the M/S Mount Washington built to one-fifth scale, the Mini Mount was launched by its builder, the late Jack Miller of Wolfeboro, on July 4, 1995, and plied the waters of Lake Winnipesaukee until 2008. Smith acquired the ship in 2011 and, with help from Tim Lacey, Al Dirth, Dave Tarbox and Bob Baker, spent the last four years restoring it at Dave's Motorboat Shoppe in Gilford. "We were just the caretakers," Smith said, "trying to find it a permanent home."
Lisa Lutts, executive director of the museum, said the Mini Mount will become a centerpiece of the museum's permanent collection. She said that it will be displayed outdoors beneath a canopy on its trailer until the museum completes its new facility on Bay Street, when it will placed on a permanent footing — again outdoors — overlooking Back Bay.
"The boat and its history ties into the history of Lake Winnipesaukee, Wolfeboro and what is in the museum," Lutts said, "and it will be a wonderful teaching tool."
Rick Kourian, a trustee of the museum, said that accepting the donation of the Mini Mount "was a not a casual decision. It is obviously a large piece and we had to be assured that we could take care of it."
Miller, with assistance from Ed Aleska, built the Mini Mount working from the original blueprints of the M/S Mount Washington. The ship is 50 feet long with a 7-foot beam, and weighs 10 tons. Lacey said Aleska told him he and Miller devoted 20,000 hours — "one hour per pound" — for seven years to the project. The Mini Mount is powered by a pair of 350-cubic-inch, 235-horsepower Crusader Marine V-8 engines, which drive two 17-inch by 14-inch four-bladed propellers to a top speed of 15 knots, or 17 mph. A generator on board produces 7.5 kilowatts of electricity. The horn at the bow is tuned to the pitch of its larger counterpart and its registration number — NH0002MT — is just one digit higher than that of the M/S Mount Washington.
With the captain and pilot navigating from the wheelhouse, the Mini Mount had space for eight passengers and a bevy of some 300 Barbie dolls, purchased at yard sales by Miller's wife. Many of the Barbie dolls were seated in blue fiberglass chairs, replicas of the seating aboard the M/S Mount Washington, fashioned by Miller's son-in-law.
After the Mini Mount left the lake in 2008, it was acquired by Mount Washington Cruises with an eye to adding the replica to its fleet as a novelty. But, because the ship was built without certified drawings, it could not be insured for commercial use. After a spell under cover at Irwin Marine, the Mini Mount was stored alongside the M/S Mount Washington in Center Harbor and ultimately offered on Craigslist without a specific asking price.
Smith, a man of few but telling words, said, "It was tearing my heart out to see it falling apart. I saw it on the lake in its heyday, and thought it was a marvel of what Jack Miller created and just wanted to rescue it. I was astounded when I first saw it, and I still am."

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Logue gets $62,500 in deal to leave county

LACONIA — The Belknap County Commissioners have signed a confidential settlement agreement with Belknap County Nursing Home Administrator Matthew Logue in which Logue resigned his position and will receive $62,500 from the county's insurance firm, Primex.
The confidential agreement was obtained by the Daily Sun after a Right to Know law request was filed with Belknap County Administrator Debra Shackett, The agreement prohibits parties to the settlement, including Shackett, from commenting on it other than saying that "the matter has been resolved."
The settlement payment was proposed by Primex "based on a business judgment relating to the likely cost of litigation and on that basis was agreed to by the County of Belknap and Debra Shackett, all of whom deny any liability for the matters referenced herein,'' according to the six-page document.
The document also says that Logue's resignation ''is not an admission on his part that his job performance with the County of Belknap was deficient.''
The settlement provides that Logue will receive $35,725 in what the document calls "alleged compensatory damages" and that $26,775 in legal fees will be paid to the Douglas, Leonard and Garvey law firm of Concord, which represented him.
Logue, who was hired in December of 2012, has been on paid administrative leave since Oct. 27, and his resignation takes effect on Dec. 23.
He has been at the center of of many disputes between current members of the commission after having been restored in January of this year to the post from which he had been fired in August of 2014 by the previous commissioners.
Logue was discussed at what Commission Chairman Dave DeVoy (R-Sanbornton) said was the most heated nonpublic meeting of the commission, which held in late July. The core issue discussed at the meeting was a response to a grievance filed by Logue against the county which apparently named the commissioners and Shackett as offenders. The nature of the grievance was not described in the meeting minutes but is alluded to in minutes of earlier nonpublic sessions.
At the July 15 meeting, commissioners discussed a request by Shackett for legal representation in the "Logue matter," which Commissioner Hunter Taylor (R-Alton) said was premature, as the claim had been communicated to the county's insurance carrier.
''The carrier will have to make a determination as to whether the allegations set forth in the Logue demand letter are within the coverage of the county's (insurance) policy,'' the July 15 minutes read.
The so-called demand letter from Logue's attorney was brought up by Commissioner Taylor at the same meeting when he questioned whether or not Commissioner Richard Burchell (R-Gilmanton) was suggesting that the commissioners consider offering Logue "the $80,000 referred to in his attorney's demand in return for Mr. Logue's resignation."
In September of 2014, Logue appealed his firing to the Belknap County Convention's Personnel Committee, which at that time consisted of former convention chairman Rep. Colette Worsman (R-Meredith), Vice Chairman Rep. Bob Greemore (R-Meredith) and Burchell, who at that time was a state representative from Gilmanton and clerk of the county convention.
The committee voted unanimously following a lengthy hearing in October of 2014 to reinstate Logue as nursing home administrator and denied a request from the former commissioners to reconsider the issue, which led to the commissioners filing a suit with the New Hampshire Supreme Court to overturn the reinstatement. But Burchell and DeVoy, who were the only two commissioners to take office in early January of this year, voted to drop the appeal and reinstated Logue. They had made their intention to drop the appeal public before they took office.
Burchell, who was elected as chairman of the commission in January, was ousted as chairman in early March and replaced by DeVoy at a March 2 meeting. His ouster was supported by Taylor, who had been named to fill a vacancy on the commission in late January.
At a June 4 meeting, commissioners Taylor and DeVoy censured Burchell for leaking information from a nonpublic meeting in February to Logue and in July unsealed the minutes of seven nonpublic meetings held while Burchell was chairman.
The minutes of the nonpublic meeting of Feb. 23 showed that Logue had filed a grievance maintaining that electronic mail communications were illegally taken from his work computer, depriving him of the opportunity to refute charges made against him by County Administrator Shackett at the October hearing.
Regarding a written statement on Logue's grievance, which he had filed with Burchell on Feb. 16, commissioners Taylor and DeVoy pointed out that Logue had not been denied a request for restoration of his work e-mail and had been directed by the county administrator's office to contact Mainstay Technologies, the county's information vendor, to inquire about the feasibility of restoring his e-mail history.
At the time he filed his grievance, the process of restoring his email was already underway, according to the two commissioners, who said the time requirement for filing a grievance is within five working days of an employee knowing that they have a grievance, and that Logue, who had returned to work on Jan. 8, had discussed the missing emails with Administrative Assistant Angela Bovill in mid-January. They concluded his grievance had not been filed on time and denied it.
The commissioners also said Logue's conclusion that his emails were wrongfully taken had no evidence to support it as there was no hint of any intentional wrongdoing. Logue had been away from his work computer for four months but had received an e-mail file prior to the Oct. 6, 2014, hearing containing all of his email history.

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