2-1 votes mark Belknap Commissions' decisions to hire attorney and add to team that negotiates with county unions

LACONIA — Attorney Paul Fitzgerald of the Wescott Law office was named as legal counsel for the Belknap County Commissioners when they met Wednesday morning at the Belknap County Complex.
Fitzgerald, a former mayor of Laconia, has served in the same capacity in recent years for Belknap County and was named by a 2-1 vote.
Commission Chairman Dave DeVoy (R-Sanbornton) and Hunter Taylor (R-Alton), commission vice chairman, voted for Fitzgerald and Commissioner Richard Burchell (R-Gilmanton), who said he wanted to interview other people first, voted no.
Burchell said that one of he reasons he wouldn't support Fitzgerald is because he drafted the employment contract that former commissioners approved for County Administrator Debra Shackett, which he maintained was not in the public's interest.
But Commissioner Taylor said that it should be remembered that an attorney works for his clients, in that case the commissioners, and shouldn't be held responsible for the details of the contract.
He also said hat he had seen Fitzgerald work and that he is highly competent and knows county law. He said he worked in cooperation with Fitzgerald when the lawyer represented Commissioner Dave DeVoy and himself in defending Burchell's early 2015 lawsuit to overturn the action of his fellow commissioners in ousting Burchell as chairman of the commission. The request was denied and DeVoy remained as the new chairman.
Gordon Blais of Meredith asked if he could provide public input on the nomination and said that he believed ''you people are not interested in the best interests of the county''and maintained that the contract ''pretty much guaranteed employment for life".'
Burchell was also on the short end of another vote when commissioners DeVoy and Taylor voted to add Shackett to the county's collective bargaining negotiating team.
Taylor, who is a member of the negotiating team, said that there was movement in talks with all four unions representing county employees, but the team needed someone with experience in previous negotiations.
Burchell said he was disappointed by her nomination but DeVoy said ''we need her insight".
Commissioners approved a request from Brian Loanes of the Restorative Justice Department to hire a case manager to replace Katie Laux, who will be leaving June 1 to start an internship for her Master's degree. He said that Laux will be available for 8-10 hours a week in the coming months.
The commission also approved a request from Corrections Superintendent Dan Ward to apply for a grant which would provide up to $55,000 for training programs for inmates at the Belknap County House of Corrections.

At EMT dinner, honors for those who save lives and one who saved Christmas

LACONIA — A heart attack victim who was revived by emergency medical personnel came to the annual EMT awards dinner to thank those who saved his life.

"I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for them," said Bill Wasuta, a state Department of Transportation employee who suffered a heart attack last Aug. 20. Wasuta was attending a seminar at the Franklin Waste Water Treatment Plant when he was stricken.

According to Franklin Fire Chief Kevin LaChapelle, the plant had just installed a defibrillator and DOT CPR Instructor Sean Byron remembered seeing the sign and knew it was in the next room.

Byron immediately began CPR while others got the defibrillator and others called for assistance. LaChapelle said crews were returning from another call but within six minutes assembled a team consisting of Capt. Bruce Goldswaith (paramedic). Capt. Gary Hicks, FF/EMT Mike Foss, Capt. Chuck Bodein, FF Randy Danforth, FF Greg Stetson, FF Brad Kerry, Richard Vaughn and Justin Hinds to the facility.

Wasuta's pulse came back in the ambulance on the way to Concord Hospital and returned home.

Wasuta and the team who saved him received a standing ovation from the crowd. He said he is working with a cardiologist and others to get back to work but he is living at home and with his family.

At the awards dinner held at the Beane Conference Center and attended by physicians and other staff members from LRGHealthcare, a special award from the NH1 Children's Auction went to Laconia Firefighter Steve Hanser.

Hanser lives in New Hampton and after a fire heavily damaged a home just prior to last Christmas, he recruited a group of area firefighters, many from Laconia, to raise money and go to the home to rebuild it so the seven children in the family would be home and be able to enjoy Christmas.

"He never wanted recognition," said emcee Shawn Riley. "I had to beg him to come.

"The true definition of a hero is someone who does something without any expectation of recognition," Riley said.

Hanser also received a standing ovation.

The EMS provider of the Year was is Sam Schlemmer of the Center Harbor Fire Department. Introduced by Dr. David Mattice, he noted Schlemmer's 20 years of experience as a first responder and as a emergency room nurse at LRGH.

The Paul Racicot Award for Excellence went to Dwayne Mann of the Laconia Fire Department. Mann was unable to attend Wednesday's ceremony but Racicot described him as smart, methodical and very kind.

Another unit citation went to the Gunstock Safety Services for saving the life of a man who had a heart attack while skiing.

The award was presented by Kyle Griffin, the head of safety services and ski patrol who mustered a team of ski patrol/first responders who began CPR, radioed for resources and had the man breathing again when the Gilford Fire and Rescue team arrived and transported him to LRGH from where he was taken to the cardiac unit at Concord Hospital.

The life-time achievement award was present to Alton Deputy Fire Chief Richard Brown, who has been with the Fire Department for 30 years as a part-time or call-firefighter. The award was presented by Alton Fire Chief Ryan Ridley who was just named chief about a week ago.

The Service of the Year Award went to the New Hampton Fire Department and Chief Paul Drake for a multitude of different services they provide including a training facility for other departments and sharing equipment garnered through a federal grant.

The department was also singled out for their action in Ashland during a Jan. 2, 2015, "white out" on Interstate 93 that caused a 35-car pile up for both its response times and the number of personnel they were able to muster quickly.

Correction: Sellar pleaded guilty to non-aggravated sexual assault

TILTON — A Tilton man recently pleaded guilty to one felony count of felonious sexual assault and was sentenced to 3 1/2 years to 7 in prison — all suspended contingent on his good behavior. Based on a report issued by Tilton Police, The Daily Sun on May 20 incorrectly reported Eric Sellar, 30, of Primrose Drive had pleaded guilty to the more serious charge of aggravated felonious sexual assault. Sellar was also sentenced to serve 12 months in the Belknap County House of Corrections for one misdemeanor count of endangering the welfare of a child. He was credited with 169 days of pre-trial confinement. Sellar will be on probation for five years after his release from the house of corrections.


Bomb scare at Newfound High said not credible

BRISTOL — State and local police along with the Bristol Fire Department responded to what they determined to be a non-credible bomb threat at the Newfound Regional High School yesterday.

Corp. John Guarnieri said last night that by the time the school received the notification, the time of the threat had already passed.

Guarnieri said all three Newfound schools were put on secure lock down while Bristol Police and the N.H. State Police searched the high school.