Treatment for the long term

07 26 Riverbank Cafe

Randy Bartlett and Everett Henderson in the Karma Cafe on Tuesday afternoon. The cafe is one of the many businesses that help support the Riverbank House treatment center.  (Karen Bobotas/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Riverbank House offers open-ended drug and alcohol treatment

By RICK GREEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — Randy Bartlett said his problem with substance abuse began in the fourth grade and quickly escalated.

“I had a needle in my arm at 16 and I was almost dead at 21,” he said Wednesday in the Karma Cafe, a restaurant that is part of the treatment and recovery community he runs along the Winnipesaukee River.

At 21, he traded in his drug habit for what he calls chronic workaholism and entrepreneurialism.

His high-energy business drive and salesmanship helped grow his family's multimillion-dollar sign business in Hudson, New Hampshire, over a 10-year period. But then drug abuse returned with a vengeance. Cocaine was his downfall.

“My own struggles with substance misuse caused excruciating heartache and exhaustion for the family and friends who watched helplessly as I rejected every opportunity to be the best version of the person they loved,” he said.

Bartlett cycled in and out of short-term treatment for years, before finally staying clean and sober after a longer-term stint in rehab.

Now, at 49, he has created a treatment program that utilizes the lessons he learned the hard way.

The longer the treatment, the greater the chance for success, so Bartlett has built an open-ended program in which people can stay as long as they want.

“What's different here, and you won't find anything like it anywhere in the country, is that there is no set duration for the program,” he said. “We're prepared to have you stay and build a real foundation.”

In addition to the restaurant, there is a woodworking shop that produces rustic furniture with a natural edge, a charter-boat business, a yoga studio and an athletic club. These businesses are intended to offset some of the costs of Riverbank House, which Bartlett describes as marginally profitable.

The program costs $42,400 for six months, $1,400 a month for the next six months and $774 a month after that. Insurance typically pays for 28 days detox and treatment, which Riverbank House offers, but with the emphasis on longer-term treatment most costs are covered by the clients. A third of the residents are charged reduced rates on a sliding scale based on income.

One success story is Everett Henderson. With more than 25 years experience in the restaurant industry, he is general manager of the Karma Cafe, which is open 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

He came to Riverbank House for treatment for alcoholism, thinking he would stay a month or two. Henderson has now been in the program for 18 months.

He had underwent treatment elsewhere, but ended up returning to alcohol.

“I was basically doing very well when I fell into an old habit,” he said. “I got into a relationship with a person that did choose to live that lifestyle.

“They say if you hang around a barbershop long enough, you're going to get a haircut.”

He said managing the Karma Cafe is eminently preferable to his previous work in restaurants.

“It's more than just the food, it's the atmosphere of everything that's going on around here,” he said.

“It's very nice to work in the restaurant business where you're not pushing people for their last dollar and then kicking them out at 2 o'clock in the morning.

“It's really part of something that's bigger than ourselves.”

He said he is helping the residents, while he is helping himself and the community.

“I try my best to give everybody a tour. I take them out back to see some of the work. It's not the addicts and alcoholics that are here that they need to worry about. It's the alcoholics and addicts who are not willing to do something about their situation that are a greater concern.”

07 26 Riverbank Woodshop

Andy Bauer in the workshop at Riverbank House building tables out of black walnut on Tuesday afternoon.  (Karen Bobotas/for the Laconia Daily Sun)

07 26 Riverbank Gym

Yoga and Karate trainer Tyler Blanchard (right) works with residents in the exercise room at Riverbank House on Tuesday afternoon.  (Karen Bobotas/for the Laconia Daily Sun)

  • Written by Adam Drapcho
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Fire chief honored 63 years after his death

Former Winnisquam Fire Chief Chester Brickett will be recognized with Medal of Valor

By THOMAS P. CALDWELL, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — A fire chief who also served as first president of the Lakes Region Mutual Fire Aid Association will be honored on Sept. 25 with the Paul Sypek Medal of Valor after formal recognition of his death, more than six decades ago, as having occurred in the line of duty.
Winnisquam Fire Chief Chester Brickett died of a heart attack while returning from a fire call in Laconia on Jan. 14, 1954, but his death had never been recognized as occurring in the line of duty. It took the efforts of two current Mutual Aid members to provide the documentation needed for state Fire Marshal J. William Degnan to officially rule that Brickett’s was a line-of-duty death.
Lakes Region Mutual Fire Aid Chief Coordinator Jonathan Goldman, who also is a team leader with the Granite State Fire Service Support Team, came across Brickett’s name on a Facebook page managed by John Bolduc of Londonderry, “New England Fire Rescue History On This Date.” After seeing the post about Brickett’s death, Goldman confirmed that his name was not listed on the New Hampshire State Firefighters Memorial in Concord.
Lt. Kevin Nugent who, in addition to serving on the Mutual Aid Association, is a former Winnisquam fire chief, had come across Brickett’s name years earlier while reading historian Warren Huse’s “Our Yesterdays” column.
Nugent joined Goldman in searching internet websites, 1950s-era town reports, and handwritten Mutual Aid meeting minutes to determine the circumstances of Brickett’s death. They also interviewed family members to gain information about the man.
Their research had revealed that, while returning from the fire, Brickett was “stricken behind the wheel” and later died while being transported to the Laconia hospital.
“Richard Rusk was in the passenger seat and was able to apply the brakes and steer the vehicle safely to a stop,” Goldman said.
Brickett’s cause of death was ruled to be a heart attack. He was 51 years old at the time of his death.
They learned that Brickett had served as fire chief in the young fire department for six years. The Winnisquam Fire Department had been established in 1942 to serve the Winnisquam section of Tilton, Sanbornton and Belmont and was funded by annual payments from the three communities.
The Lakes Region Mutual Fire Aid Association was established in March, 1953, and Brickett served as its first president, continuing until the time of his death.
Despite circumstantial evidence that Brickett was serving as chief at the time of his death, they could not find official documentation of the fact. Then Nugent came across a leather-bound book of hand-written meeting minutes from the Winnisquam Fire Department. Inside, he found a notation saying, “This page to be left blank in memory of our Chief, Chester Brickett. Passed away at the wheel of of the F.M.C. in the line of duty returning from the home of Herbert Ford, South Main Street, Laconia. Jan. 14, 1954.”
The leather book provided the proof they needed to secure the designation of a line-of-duty death for Brickett.
With the designation, Brickett’s name will be engraved on a panel of the N.H. Firefighter’s Memorial and the N.H. Fire Service Committee of Merit will honor him with the Paul Sypek Medal of Honor, the highest award that can be bestowed on any New Hampshire firefighter, during the organization’s annual awards ceremony in September.
“I believe he was one of the original firefighters with the Winnisquam department, and he may have been its second or third fire chief,” Nugent said.
The Winnisquam Fire Department merged with the Belmont Fire Department in August 2006.
Goldman said there are a couple of other names they are researching that also may qualify for official recognition in future years.

07 26 Brickett
Lakes Region Mutual Fire Aid Association Chief Coordinator Jonathan Goldman, seated, and Lt. Kevin Nugent look through a leather-bound book of meeting minutes that includes a page honoring Winnisquam Fire Chief Chester Brickett who died in the line of duty on Jan. 14, 1954. (Tom Caldwell/Laconia Daily Sun)

07 26 Brickett2
Pages of hand-written meeting minutes for the Winnisquam Fire Department have a page left blank to honor Chief Chester Brickett who died in the line of duty on Jan. 14, 1954. (Courtesy Photo)

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Traffic shift - Road work at Laconia Bypass may hold up drivers July 31-Aug. 1 (269).

Road work being done around the Laconia Bypass at the Laconia/Belmont line will affect traffic next week, said Chuck Flanders at the state Bureau of Construction.

On Monday, July 31, a traffic lane shift will be implemented on NH 106 following the partial completion of the bridge rehabilitation over US 3 (Laconia Bypass). Traffic lanes will be shifted back to the original configuration. In order to complete the work for this lane shift, one-way alternating traffic will be utilized on NH 106. In addition, the ramp from US 3 (Laconia Bypass) southbound to NH 106 southbound will be temporarily closed and traffic will be detoured, using signs, onto the southbound off ramp at NH 107. Motorists should expect delays and be aware of the detour as well as the subsequent lane shifts on NH 106.

On Tuesday, Aug. 1, a traffic lane shift will be implemented on US3 (Laconia Bypass) following the partial completion of the bridge rehabilitation over NH 107. The northbound and southbound lanes will be shifted back to the original configuration. In order to complete the work for this lane shift, one way alternating traffic will be utilized on US 3 (Laconia Bypass). In addition, the ramp from NH 106 northbound to US 3 (Laconia Bypass) northbound will be temporarily closed and traffic will be detoured, using signs, onto NH 107 and the northbound ramp there. Motorists should expect delays and be aware of the detour as well as the subsequent lane shifts on US 3 (Laconia Bypass).

Because this work includes repainting traffic striping, it must be done under dry conditions, said Flanders. If there is rain during the previously mentioned dates, the work will be rescheduled to the next clear day.

  • Written by Ginger Kozlowski
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