Storm damaged Union Cemetery, north & south

LACONIA — Wednesday's storm wreaked havoc at Union Cemetery, where the raging waters of Durkee Brook eroded a stretch of its bank within feet of a mausoleum and monument on the north side of the graveyard while a culvert carrying Meadow Brook failed, opening a large sinkhole on its south side.

Durkee Brook rises east of Rte. 106 below Briarcrest Estates and flows northwest, passing under Garfield Street and running along the north side of Union Cemetery, parallel to Grant and Lincoln Streets, to Academy Street. At Meadow Street, just beyond Academy Street it is joined by what some call "Little Durkee Brook," then skirts Memorial Field and passes under Court Street, between Premum Mart and Lakes Region Party and Paper, and the railway line before emptying into Lake Winnisquam at the western end of Bartlett Beach.

High water has undercut the banks of the brook running alongside the north edge of the cemetery, loosening the roots of trees close to the stream. A large tree on a lot on Grant Street fell into the brook just below a sharp bend near the maintenance building. As the brook rose during the storm, water backed up behind the obstruction causing a section of the opposite bank, where a tree stump remained, to collapse into the stream bed, leaving the mausoleum and monument perilously close to the edge of the brook.

Cemetery official Suzanne Perley said that spot where the bank collapsed has been a source of concern for some time. "We seem to have been losing a foot a year to erosion," she said.

Meanwhile, on the south side of the cemetery Meadow Brook flows underground through a culvert, five-feet in diameter, beneath an unpaved roadway for approximately 150 yards, before flowing to and under Academy Street. Jon Neal, general foreman at the Department of Public Works (DPW), said that the water from the swollen stream reached the corroded section of the culvert it undermined the roadway, which collapsed to leave a oval sinkhole about 10 yards across, nearly 15 yards long and eight feet deep.

On Friday, a crew from DPW removed the obstructions from Durkee Brook and John Lyman of John Lyman & Sons of Gilford evaluated the sinkhole in anticipation of preparing an estimate to address the damage. John Perley, the president of the Union Cemetery Association, said that Lyman suggested lining the existing culvert with a smaller one, perhaps made of something other than steel, which would ensure against it failing elsewhere along its length. culvert

Suzanne Perley said that the association which is a charitable trust, has limited financial resources, most which can only be used for designated purposes, leaving only the income from invested funds for maintenance. She said that the income amounts to between $50,000 and $60,000 a year, which is less than the cost of maintaining the cemetery.

Following severe storms in 2007 the condition of Durkee Brook became a source of concern to the Planning Department, Conservation Commission and Belknap County Conservation District. At the time, Greg Jones, who is no longer with the Planning Department, said that the erosion has been caused by cutting and clearing vegetation from the banks of the brook and compounded by homeowners lining the banks with granite slabs and aluminum siding, which hastens and diverts the flow of water.

No effort will be made to remove the material lining the banks, but property owners were told not to put any more. Residents on Lincoln and Grant streets whose property backs on to the brook were reminded that a municipal ordinance requires that a 30-foot buffer either side of the brook must be maintained in its natural condition and, where it has been disturbed, must be replanted to the greatest extent possible. In particular,residents were urged not to dump grass cuttings, yard waste and other trash along the bank or into the brook. At the same time, abutters were discouraged from grooming their lawns to edge of the brook and encouraged to replant the denuded and eroded banks.


CAPTION: Squeezed between a mausoleum and the stream bank, a backhoe operator from the Department of Public Works removes a tree stump swept  into Durkee Brook alongside Union Cemetery when high water from Wednesday's storm undercut the bank of the brook. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Michael Kitch).


CAPTION: A culvert carrying Meadow Brook along the south edge of Union Cemetery in Laconia failed during Wednesday's storm, undermining the roadway and opening this sinkhole. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Michael Kitch).

Sanbornton bans dump 'picking'; protest in works

SANBORNTON — The decision of the Board of Selectmen last month to curtail "dump picking" at the transfer station has roiled a number of residents, some of whom intend to petition the board to lift the ban.

Charles Smith, the town administrator, said yesterday that Primex, the New Hampshire Public Risk Management Exchange, which underwrites the town's property and liability insurance, undertook a risk assessment last month. He said that Primex recommended against allowing residents to sift through the materials, especially the metals, brought to the transfer station for recycling. "It was an issue of safety and liability," Smith said. "The board was looking out for the safety of the public. If someone was injured, the town could be held liable."

"This decision was not taken lightly," said Brian Bordeau, director of Public Works. "The board knew they would be ruffling people's feathers."

Among those troubled by the Selectboard's decision is Peggy Graham, who believes that the ritual by which one person's trash becomes another person's treasure is an essential thread in the social fabric of the town. "We call it our store," she said. "Its an exchanges of clothes, toys, kitchenware and hardware. We had a wonderful library," she continued, referring to discarded books, "especially for the summer people." Furthermore, Graham emphasized that "people get and talk to each other as they look through things and I think that is good thing. Sometimes I see people I haven't seen for months."

Graham said that Rachel Paige is mounting a petition in an effort to persuade the selectmen to reconsider and reverse their decision. Paige could not be reached for comment.

The growing controversy echoes a similar confrontation that arose from a proposal to forbid dump picking in Meredith five years ago. There the ban was eased by allowing residents to pick from the metal pile, but not to clamber over or rummage through it. Nor would residents be permitted to take metal for sale as scrap. Finally, those wishing to pick through the metal pile would be required to sign a disclaimer releasing the town of all liability in the event of injury.

Students & staff all out for Community Dat at PSS

LACONIA — Pleasant Street School students fanned out all over the city Friday morning as part of the school's first ever Community Awareness Day.
''Only the receptionist and the janitor were left in the school. All 285 students and all the staff took part,'' said Pricipal Dave Levesque.
He said that students along with staff and volunteers met in assembly at the school at which the purpose of the day was explained before walking from the school to their various destinations throughout the city, which included the nearby Laconia Athletic and Swim Club and Boys and Girls Club of the Lakes Region, as well as the Bank of New Hampshire, Laconia Public Library, the studios of NH1 Media, the Taylor Home and Laconia District Court.
''We wanted to have a day in which the students could connect with the community and learn more about Laconia and it's history and the things people do in the city,'' said Levesque.
He said that Laconia Mayor Ed Engler spoke to the students at the assembly and urged then to be curious and inquisitive about the city in which they live.
''It was an opportunity for the students to find out what it's like to be a citizen and to see first hand what's taking place,'' said Levesque, who added that the staff members at the school were very enthusiastic about the project,
Younger students who visited the library took part in storytelling sessions led by children's librarian Gail Drucker while others had stories read to them by adults. They also had the opportunity to look at books in the children's section and take books home with them.
At Laconia Circuit 4 Court older students got to take part in a mock trial at the court which cast some of them in the roles of judge, prosecutor, defense attorney, witnesses and jurors in a case involving an alleged theft.
Judge James Carroll and Laconia Police prosecutor James Sawyer helped the students keep on track of a script for the trial and one of the students acted in the role of a press photographer throughout.

Mock trial, mock trial 2

Laconia Circuit 4 Circuit Court Judge James Carroll follows the script as Pleasant Street School students visit his courtroom on Friday to take part in a mock trial as part of a Community Awareness Days at the school. One of the students portrayed a press photographer and took photos of the trial. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)