Sanbornton officials say fire chief misrepresented city’s stance on help


SANBORNTON — At least two members of the Sanbornton committee for exploring fire resources in neighborhood communities disagree with the fire chief's assessment that the city of Laconia is not interested in helping them.

David DeVoy, who serves as the chairman of the committee, said that the Laconia representatives who attended Tuesday's meeting said the city is willing to help Sanbornton, especially with equipment purchase coordination and administrative services.

"I wasn't happy with the chief's comment (to The Laconia Daily Sun)," said DeVoy Thursday, adding that Chief Paul Dexter's comments were not an accurate reflection of what Laconia representatives said.

"(Mayor) Ed (Engler) appeared to be open to regionalization," said DeVoy, noting that he said at the meeting he wouldn't care who was in charge if a more regionalized approach to firefighting was being properly addressed.

Also objecting to Dexter's statements that Laconia would be unwilling to help them is committee member Roger Grey, who said that all three city representatives – City Manager Scott Myers, Fire Chief Ken Erickson and Engler – said they were very interested.

"I'm embarrassed for Scott Myers," Grey continued.

Myers sent out a scathing letter to all of the committee members as well as Engler, Erickson and the Daily Sun, saying that after reading the article about Dexter's comments, he wonders if the two of them were at the same meeting.

"Laconia representatives came to the meeting for no other reason than to have a conversation about the possibility of shared fire services in the area," said Myers.

Grey and DeVoy acknowledged that since the eight-member board was formed in July at the behest of the board of selectmen, its members have been fragmented about their opinions.

Dexter has made it clear through his actions and words that his desire is to have three full-time firefighter/EMTs to provide station coverage to the town seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. He said Wednesday that from what he has learned about the ability of surrounding departments to help the town, he believes the best approach for the community is to expand the fire department.

Grey said Thursday that to some degree, he believes Dexter went into the process with that mindset. He also said that he didn't support having the chief on the committee because he felt that his presence would compromise objectivity. Grey said that former Selectman Dave Nickerson resigned early from the committee because he held the same opinion.

Both DeVoy and Grey said the chief's statements to the media have hurt the committee's mission, which was to do the interviews with surrounding towns and present an unbiased report of their findings to the selectmen about the possibility of regionalization of some services.

DeVoy has also been a long-time advocate of regionalizing many services throughout Belknap County, including fire services. Since he is also the chairman of the Belknap County Commission, he said he would support seeking a grant to examine the possibility of regionalizing a number of services now being provided by individual communities.

DeVoy said all of the towns Sanbornton reached out to are willing to continue the conversation but said it is the political leaders who need to come together if they want to see some regionalization.

Grey was more specific to Sanbornton's immediate goal and said that to some degree, the fire portion of the town's emergency responses are regionalized because of the Mutual Aid System that provides for assistance for building fires from surrounding communities already. He added that Sanbornton firefighters and EMTs also provide that same assistance to its neighbors during building fires.

His concern is for emergency medical services and thinks that's where the committee can make its greatest contribution.

"We were supposed to do this as a committee and I think (Dexter's statements) are not going to help us come to a single recommendation," he said.
The Sanbornton Fire Regionalization Committee meets again on Wednesday, Feb 1, at 7 p.m. at the Sanbornton Fire Station.


LETTERS in response to original story:

Dexter’s comments make it difficult for regionalization work

To The Daily Sun,
With reference to the Sun’s Thursday Jan. 24, 2017, article about the Sanbornton Fire Department, Chief Dexter is certainly welcome to his opinion, but it should be noted that his statements are just that, his opinion, and they are not mine.
I was at the meeting Dexter references and have a completely different “take.” Laconia Fire Chief Erickerson, Laconia Mayor Ed Engler and Laconia City Manager Scott Myers all said, more than once, that they are willing and able to work with Sanbornton, at any level, on regionalization and/or shared services.  Reference the rough draft minutes of our 1/24/17 joint meeting that are posted on the town website.
 At our very first meeting, committee members agreed that we would have no preconceived notions about outcome, and that we would only go forward as a unified committee.  By going public now with his comments, Dexter has violated the spirit and intent of the committee charter.
 Some of us on the committee were concerned that a fire chief shouldn’t even be on a fire department regional study committee due to a perceived conflict of interest. Dexter’s comments in the Sun, his pre-emption of the committee final report and the fact that the BOS insisted we meet in the fire house rather than the town offices all lend credence to those concerns.
Dexter’s comments are going to make it difficult for Sanbornton residents to believe our final committee report will be unbiased. This makes it all the more important for Sanbornton residents to attend our March 15th Town Meeting and continue the discussion of how to balance spending between the Sanbornton Fire Department and other essential town services.
Roger Grey
Sanbornton Fire Department Regionalization Study Committee Member


Minor discrepancy in news article is blown out of proportion

To The Daily Sun,
I think perhaps that there might have been a misunderstanding between Gail and the chief with regards to the difficulties with long response time.  They are due to  geographical fact, and always figure into any cooperative endeavors between Laconia and Sanbornton Fire and EMS.
I think that Mr. Grey’s letter takes a minor discrepancy in a news article and blows it way out of proportion into the realm of irresponsible politically motivated rant.
 Andrew Sanborn
Sanbornton Fire Department Regionalization Study Committee Member

He's keeping your water clean and safe

Floyd Dungelman of Laconia Water Works receives Meritorious Achievement Award


LACONIA — Floyd Dungelman, the water quality control supervisor at the Laconia Water Works, has become the third member of the department to be honored by the New Hampshire Water Works Association with its Meritorious Achievement Award, given annually to one person in recognition of their outstanding service.

Dungelman, who joined the Laconia Water Works in 1989, joins his colleagues Phil Pineau and Dave Candeias who earned the award in the past, to make a trio of winners, the most of any municipal department and matched only by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services.

"It's a good award for being granted to only one person each year," said Superintendent Seth Nuttelman, who added that because Dungelman was nominated by his staff, his achievement is all the more impressive.

"It's nice to get the award," Dungelman remarked, "but lots of the credit goes to my co-workers. We do have a very good team here." Reminded that his colleagues nominated him, he laughed and said "I told them I wouldn't forget that!"

Dungelman came aboard just as the department built its treatment plant. He explained that before it was built, water drawn from Paugus Bay and heavily chlorinated, then, as it was pumped to a reservoir on Stark Street where the treatment plant stands, the chlorination was reduced. He quickly played a key role in making the transition to the modern filtration plant, producing six million gallons of water per day, which passes through three filter units and is treated to the standards of the Safe Drinking Water Act administered by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and monitored by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services. He earned his grade III treatment and distribution licenses in 1993, considered stern test for any operator.

"We've always had superior water quality," Dungelman said, adding that "When I see people coming out of the supermarket with bottled water, I can't understand it."

During Dungelman's tenure, the city's distribution system has added six booster stations – The Weirs, Evergreen, Lighthouse, Endicott, Wesley Woods and Paugus Woods – while the water tank storage system has grown from two with the addition of the Lighthouse tank and tanks at The Weirs and Lakeport. As water quality control supervisor, Dungelman assumed the added responsibilities managing the day-to-day operations of the treatment plant and booster stations while continuing to ensure compliance with the ever changing regulations and standards of the Safe Drinking Water Act. During the upgrade of the treatment plant, a project spanning three years, his staff said that Dungelman demonstrated "his leadership abilities" as "a steady, levelheaded contributor to all phases" of the undertaking while maintaining "a positive, constructive and cooperative relationship between all employees, vendors and contractors."

11-26 Floyd Dungelman award


Dennis Bothamley, chairman of the Board of Water Coommissioners, left, presents the 2017 New Hampshire Water Works Association Meritorious Achievement Award to Floyd Dungelman, water control supervisor of the Laconia Water Works. Dungelman is the third member of the department to receive the award, a number unmatched by any other department in the state. (Courtesy photo)

Amount of Gunstock payment to Belknap County still up in the air


LACONIA — The proposed Belknap County budget for 2017 projects that there will be $175,000 in income for the county from the operations of the county-owned Gunstock Mountain Resort. But there is no guarantee that the county will receive that money because a memorandum of understanding, which specified that amount of money going to the county, expired at the end of 2016 and has not yet been renewed.
Rep. Ray Howard (R-Alton), who has been representing the Belknap County Delegation in its discussions with the Gunstock Area Commission on a new MOU, told his fellow legislators in budget discussions earlier this month that there is no agreement at this time and recommended that revenue be left out of the budget.
Belknap County Commission Chairman Dave DeVoy (R-Sanbornton) said he felt that the revenue line should remain the budget and pointed out that the delegation would have a lot of leverage over the commission when it comes to them later this year seeking a line of credit to fund its start-up operations for the next ski season. Gunstock can only borrow money with county delegation approval.
Sean Sullivan, chairman of the the five-person board appointed by the delegation to oversee the operations of Gunstock, said that the commission is willing to negotiate the amount to be paid to the county but has made no offer yet and is waiting to get a firm number from the county delegation negotiators.
"We're willing to talk, but we want to hear some specifics from the delegation. We're not going to negotiate with ourselves," said Sullivan. Former Commission Chairman John Morgenstern, who was replaced by Russ Dumais of Gilford in December, had said that the area needed to look at building up its operating fund and capital fund reserves before committing to any new level of funding.
The delegation, meanwhile, has seen members like former Rep. Brian Gallagher (R-Sanbornton) call on Gunstock to increase the amount paid to the county to a $400,000-to-$500,000-a-year level, based on recent improvements and additions to Gunstock's year-round offerings, which have increased profits realized from those operations.
Sullivan points out that Gunstock is looking to recover from a difficult ski season last winter in which the number of skier visits dropped by one-third and income dropped by $2.1 million, with about half of that loss experienced during the Christmas vacation period, normally Gunstock's busiest time of the entire ski season.
Last winter Gunstock was open for 93 days and had 117,648 skier visits, compared with being open 121 days in the winter of 2014-15 and hosting 181,090 skier visits. It was the poorest ski season in recent memory according to Greg Goddard, general manager of Gunstock
Net operating loss for the year was $954,145, compared with a net operating profit of $495,904 for the previous year. Total profit center revenue for all operations, including the summer months, was down from $11,210,774 to $8,824,561, with total operating expenses declining by over $900,000.
The 2017 budget adopted by the Gunstock Recreation Area Commission projects 170,000 skier visits this coming winter with $12.1 million in total revenues, including summer operations, and a net profit of $1.3 million from all operations.