Fire boat offered to Gilford may stay in Atlantic after all

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

GILFORD — Gilford officials may lose the opportunity to take a used fire boat from the city of Portsmouth. Some small towns on the Seacoast voiced interest in contributing to the upkeep of the vessel after the gift to Gilford was announced. Nevertheless, Gilford officials said they will go ahead with a public hearing regarding acceptance of the boat.

Selectman's Chairman Richard "Rags" Grenier said Tuesday he is not surprised that the smaller communities on the coast would be concerned about the Portsmouth City Council's decision to give the $350,000 boat to Gilford.

"We will go forward with our public hearing and wait and see what (Portsmouth's) final decision is," said Grenier.

Two weeks ago, the Portsmouth City Council, at the recommendation of Fire Chief Steve Achilles, voted to give the boat to Gilford. Achilles said the costs of maintaining it in salt water are too high, and that the U.S. Coast Guard and N.H. Marine Patrol have upped their presence in the waters off the coast, so the boat is rarely used.

The fire boat was purchased in 2005 with a federal Homeland Security Agency grant and cannot be sold.

Gilford's fire boat is 40 years old and is on the list of future capital purchases to be made by the town in the not-too-distant future. What appeared to be a godsend from Portsmouth has now turned into a controversy for Portsmouth's smaller neighbors.

According to Seacoast Online, officials in New Castle asked if the city would reconsider giving the boat to Gilford if they could get together a consortium of other smaller towns to offset the maintenance costs.

Portsmouth City Manager John Bohenko told Achilles to work with the consortium but said he wanted to see a financial commitment for at least five years, reported Elizabeth Dinan. He also said the final decision was in the hands of the Portsmouth Fire Commission.

Gilford Fire Chief Steve Carrier said yesterday that he has not given up hope that the fire boat can come to Lake Winnipesaukee.

"It's a gift," said Carrier. "We don't have it yet, but if they don't want to give it to us, that's their prerogative.

He said he continues to work with Marine Patrol Capt. Timothy Dunleavy learning about staffing and upkeep and still hopes the department gets the boat.

Not only will the fire boat improve Gilford's ability to fight fires on the lake's many islands and along the coastline, but Carrier said that medical transports from the islands and boats will be much more comfortable for those who firefighters, rescue crews and ambulance crews assist.

Gilford officials have scheduled the public hearing for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 11, in the meeting room at the Gilford Town Offices.

04-19 Portsmouth fire boat

This is the boat Portsmouth was prepared to donate to the town of Gilford. Now other towns on the Seacoast are interested in it. (Courtesy photo by Rich Beauchesne/Seacoastonline)

04-19 Portsmouth fire boat

Gilmanton selectmen say released minutes should have been nonpublic

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

GILMANTON — Like Richard Nixon's 18-minute gap in the Watergate tapes, selectmen have about an extra half-hour of business they apparently want to get rid of by saying it happened in a nonpublic meeting.
Last night, the board voted unanimously to approve a change in a time stamp in the April 4 minutes that had already been approved, to reflect that the board went into a nonpublic session earlier than the 8:49 p.m. reflected on the first set of approved minutes.
"The 8:49 was a mistake," recording clerk Heather Carpenter said last night before selectmen voted to alter the approved minutes to reflect that the board had entered a nonpublic session earlier than the original minutes had stated.
During that half-hour, selectmen and Town Administrator Paul Branscombe had some choice and derogatory things to say about a number of town employees and residents.
What was said on the 30 minutes or so of what is now in "nonpublic" has been made public because the CD of the recording was given to those who requested it.
One of those people was Brenda Currier, who read the riot act to the board in its meeting last Monday. Currier reiterated her displeasure at the board last night.
She also took Branscombe to task for telling a different newspaper last week that she and some of the people who support her are on a "witch hunt."
Currier reiterated her concern that in the now "nonpublic" session, board members confirmed that they wanted "a clean slate" and reduced former Selectman Don Guarino's sister-in-law to a part-time employee by taking away her duties as recording secretary.
She called them each out by name – Chairman Michael Jean, for making slights about the planning clerk; McWhinnie, for cutting Guarino's sister-in-law's job just because of who she is related to and not for her job performance; and Selectman Marshall Bishop, who made the statement that he was "just trying to protect her" from what appears to be the fallout of McWhinnie defeating Guarino in the March election.
Police Chief Matt Currier also set the record straight last night on some of his issues with what was actually said before they went into the "non-public" session.
He told them that he wasn't happy his health issues were discussed in public while putting a fence along the back of the police station was not. He said he was offended when Branscombe said he was paid too much.
He added that police departments do not release work schedules or personal cell phone numbers because of officer safety and said that if board members had any questions about his budget they could just ask.
Earlier Monday Jean said in a telephone interview that the reason for the administrative assistant's cut from full-time to half-time is because the new board is restructuring the selectman's office. He said Carpenter is also part-time and that the town can't afford too many full-time employees, despite the fact that the former recording secretary and assistant to the town administrator were just promoted to full time six months ago.
He maintained the reasons were discussed in a nonpublic session, voted on unanimously and then revealed to the public.
"It had nothing to do with her being related to Guarino," he said when asked.
Jean agreed that some of the things that were made public from the April 4 session should have not been said in public or released. Written approved minutes of the April 4 session that were available online last Friday are now gone. According to state law, they are the official minutes of the meeting.
Jean also said that there are two new members on the board and since the April 4 meeting all have attended a Right-To-Know session for newly elected board members and will be attending a second Right-To-Know session later this week.

‘Living hell’ - Neighbor to Meredith crematorium begs selectmen to force change to chimney

By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN

MEREDITH — "This is about as upset as I get," said Doug Frederick of the American Police Police Motorcycle Museum, who again appealed to the Board of Selectmen yesterday to address the emissions from the crematory at the Mayhew Funeral Home, which abuts his property. "Our life is a living hell up there."
Frederick contends that because the crematory is 15 feet down slope of his lot, its chimney reaches only to the second story of the building housing the museum, causing emissions to collect and ash to fall on his property. He suggested that adding 15 or 20 feet to the chimney would enable emissions and ash to clear his property and disperse in the air.
At the same time, he charges that the process by which the installation of the crematory was approved was secret, corrupt and incompetent as well as contrary to local zoning ordinances and state law.
Frederick has requested that Peter Mayhew, who owns and operates the funeral home, be required to add 15 or 20 feet to the chimney of the crematory, which he believes would enable emissions and ash to clear his property and disperse in the air.
Town Manager Phil Warren has advised Frederick that the town has no authority to address his complaints since crematories are regulated by state agencies, the Board of Registration of Funeral Directors and Embalmers and the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services.
However, Frederick told the board he took his complaint to both the Governor's Office and the Office of Energy and Planning, where he was told the issue is a matter for the town to resolve. Warren, who was echoed by Nate Torr, chairman of the selectboard, repeated that the town had no authority. "It's got to go someplace else," said Torr. "It's not an issue for the selectmen. We have no jurisdiction to do anything."
"I'll be coming to every meeting until the chimney is addressed," Frederick told the selectmen. "We are not here to ask that the chimney be raised, but to demand it be raised."
Frederick found an ally in Karen Sticht, who asked Warren to read the first general provision of the zoning ordinance, " No land in any of the districts herein set forth shall be used in a manner that is disorderly, unsightly, noxious, offensive or detrimental to the public or the owners or occupants of adjacent property," he read.