Sanbornton voters show strong support for Fire Department


SANBORNTON — "It was a good day," said Fire Chief Paul Dexter, the lone full-time member of the department, after voters agreed to spend $139,800 to hire two full-time firefighters/emergency medical technicians while scuttling a petitioned warrant article to do away with Emergency Medical Services Fire Apparatus, Equipment and Vehicles Special Revenue Fund.

For several years Dexter sought to add full-time personnel to a department consisting of a call company of 17 members and five per-diem firefighters, which he contends frequently leaves the town without service, particularly between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., when about half of all calls for service occur. Two years ago, his request for two full-time fighter/EMTs failed by four votes and last year was soundly rejected by nearly 100 votes.

Afterwards, a committee was convened to explore a regional approach to augmenting the fire service by entering cooperative arrangements with neighboring departments. The committee met with fire chiefs from Belmont, Franklin, New Hampton, Tilton-Northfield, Meredith and Laconia, as well as with officials from Stewart's Ambulance Service. But, since Sanbornton had no full-time personnel to bring to a relationship, the committee concluded that cooperative agreements were not an immediate option for addressing the town's needs.

Dexter said that with two full-time firefighters he expects closer cooperation with neighboring departments, especially Tilton-Northfield and Franklin, particularly in the coordination of deploying and purchasing apparatus.

Dexter was also pleased voters chose not to discontinue the Emergency Medical Services Fire Apparatus, Equipment and Vehicles Special Revenue Fund. The fund accrues from the fees billed for ambulance services, less the 6.75 percent of monies collected by the billing company. The fund is used to purchase ambulances along with equipment and supplies for medical and fire services. medical and fire equipment.

At year end 2016 the balance in the fund was $273,004. The petitioned warrant article was not recommended by either the Board of Selectmen or the Budget Committee.

In the contest for a three-year term on the Board of Selectmen the incumbent, Katy (Wells) North withstood the challenge of Dave Nickerson to return to the board by a vote of 261 to 181.

In the elections for the Budget Committee, incumbent Roger Grey polled 193 votes, but lost his bid for another three-term as Ralph Rathjen topped the poll with 273 votes and John Vorel ran a close second 270 to capture the two seats on the ballot. Justin Barriault, with 271 votes, won a two-year term on the Budget Committee over Bill Whalen, with 185 votes.

Crews continue to clean up from storm in Moultonborough


The Laconia Daily Sun

MOULTONBOROUGH — Buckey's Restaurant and Tavern was back open Friday, three days after losing power in a storm, but don't even think about buying that clam chowder with a credit card.

"We don't have Internet or phone service," manager Jamie Gray said. "We're cash only."

Line crews were well represented among the diners as they got a bite to eat after hours of working in freezing weather to restore power to thousands of homes and businesses that lost electrical service when howling winds knocked trees into power lines on Tuesday.

A total of 2,608 New Hampshire Electric Cooperative customers still had no service Friday evening, including 1,653 in Moultonborough. At the height of the outage, more than 50,000 homes and businesses lost power statewide, including nearly all of the more than 5,000 customers in Moultonborough.

Gray rode out some of the storm in his car in the restaurant parking lot.

"Branches were horizontal going by me," he said.

"In the 15 years we've been here, we've never lost power this long or had to close this long. I've never seen a storm like this. I spent years in Florida and this was like a hurricane and a blizzard mixed into one."

Seth Wheeler, a spokesman for the cooperative, said all service should be restored by Sunday.

"Along Route 109 from Moultonborough to Tuftonboro whole swaths of trees were laid flat and 12 to 15 spans of wire were down with trees across them," Wheeler said.

The weight of trees on electrical lines snapped a couple dozen power poles. The towering pine trees were not able to withstand wind gusts as fast as 60 mph, he said.

Fire Chief David Bengtson said the fire station had to use a portable generator for a time. The town's public safety building was without power for about four hours when drifting snow plugged the vents of the emergency power generator.

Downed power lines were a major safety issue.

Bengtson said two of the fire department's vehicles responding to emergency calls were stalled by downed power lines and had to stay put until utility workers could clear the lines. One man was trapped in his car for two and a-half hours, with downed power lines on either side of the vehicle, before he could be reached by rescuers.

The fire department had several calls from people whose carbon monoxide detectors were going off as a result of fumes from portable electric generators.

"They should be at least 10 feet away from the house," Bengtson said. "Some people had them under their porches and fumes were getting into their homes, triggering the alarms." 

A small airplane parked at Moultonborough Airport was flipped over by the wind and blown along the runway, where it was still visible Friday, partially buried under snow. 

About 100 repair workers from around New Hampshire and Vermont were working with tree crews to access problem areas.

Meanwhile, MetroCast, which provides telephone, cable television and Internet service, said nearly all of its customers in the area were back online Friday.





LHS Coach Kozens to lose role as dean of students

10 layoffs possible as Laconia looks to cut school district expenses


LACONIA — Plans are being made to lay off 10 teachers and change the responsibilities for a popular football coach as the Laconia School District looks for ways to make future budget reductions.

Other savings could be made through job attrition as $800,000 in reductions are likely to be needed one year after $1.6 million in cuts were made, district Superintendent Brendan Minnihan said Thursday.

Craig KozensCraig Kozens said he has been advised that he will lose his role as dean of students at Laconia High School as part of the cutback plans.

He said he plans to stay on as the school's football coach and athletic director and that he is hopeful of securing a teaching position through retirement.

Minnihan said the budget process will not be completed until the summer, so cutback plans could be adjusted.

"Nothing has been 100 percent decided," he said.

The goal will be to retain as many teachers as possible, and current plans call for layoffs not to exceed 10, Minnihan said.

"We don't really have a choice, since we have to find reductions," Minnihan said.

He also said Kozens' administrative role is significant.

"The dean of students plays a pretty important role in terms of relations with students," Minnihan said. "Sometimes you have to make a change."

The district is in a pinch as it struggles under the city's tax cap at a time when costs for health care and retirement are increasing.

Kozens has been at the school for 16 years, the last four as dean of students. He declined to disclose his reaction to learning of the position change.

He is popular at the school and in the community.

Last December, Kozens was honored for his contributions to enriching and enhancing the lives of the city's children and youth as the 29th recipient of the Debra Bieniarz Award.

In nominating him for the award, David Bartlett, principal of the high school, described Kozens as kind, giving and empathetic, noting that he supports "students and families in crisis, whether they have experienced a loss in their family, find themselves homeless, or without transportation."

Kozens was also named Northeast Football Coach of the Year for 2010 by the Federation of High School Coaches Association. 

Before coming to Laconia High School, he coached at New Hampton School.