Fatal crash - Northfield woman killed in head-on collision on Route 3


TILTON — A Northfield woman was killed in a head-on collision Monday at 4:40 p.m. after her car, headed east, collided with a westbound Ford F-450.

Police said Josephine Lepelley, 72, was trapped in her car and died from serious injuries sustained in the crash. She had two small dogs who were in the Dodge Caravan with her, which were later reunited with her family.

The truck was driven by Matthew Otto of Belmont. Police didn't say if he was injured in the crash.

Police said just prior to the crash, the Tilton Police received a call from On Star that came from E911 saying a vehicle was driving erratically in the eastbound lane and that it has just been in a collision near the Rodeway Inn.

The Belknap Regional Accident Investigation Team responded and assisted the Tilton Police with their investigation, which is ongoing.

Route 3 between Laconia and Tilton was closed for a significant amount of time and all traffic was rerouted through Sanbornton.

Anyone who may have witnessed the crash or who has any information is asked to call the Tilton Police Department at 286-4442.

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The sun sets as rescue workers attend to a head-on collision on Route 3 in Tilton that claimed a Northfield woman's life. (Courtesy photo)


Fire ’N Stone catches fire

Tilton business damaged when truck snags power line


TILTON — A Route 3 business's showroom was seriously damaged by fire late Tuesday morning after a tractor trailer appeared to hit an electrical wire that sparked an attic fire.

Tilton-Northfield Fire Chief Michael Sitar said the fire at Fire 'n Stone on 539 Laconia Road in the Lochmere section of town causes extensive damage to the building, while the water used to fight it caused extensive damage to the ceiling and the showroom below.

"It caught the whole attic on fire," Sitar said. "The fire scene was very dangerous at first due to the live electrical wires arcing and the delivery truck being energized with live wires upon it. Eversource was able to cut power to the wires within about a 40-minute time frame from the initial crews arriving on scene."

Sitar said the tractor trailer "caught" the down wire, or the wire that runs between the pole and the building, and he thinks it arced and sparks set some of the insulation on fire.

He said the first responding truck was actually called to examine the area where the wire sparked near the building. He said Deputy Chief Timothy Joubert called Eversource to come to the scene but took the time to walk around the building and use a thermal imager that showed there was a fire in the attic.

He said there was nothing showing when the first truck arrived.

Sitar said firefighters had to cut a few holes in the roof of the building and also had to pull down the many of ceiling tiles to access the burning attic. Since there are no fire hydrants in that section of Lochmere, water was drafted from the Winnipesaukee River at the end of Church Street.

"The building is intact," he said, but added that the damage to the interior is extensive and it could be a while before they are able to reopen.

"This was a good stop," Sitar said. "That building could have completely burned down."

Sitar said the Tilton Police and the New Hampshire State Police were able to keep two-way traffic moving through the area, although one lane had to be closed for fire equipment.

Sitar estimates there were 25 firefighters from Tilton-Northfield, Belmont, Laconia and Franklin.

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Firefighters work to put out a fire in the attic space at Fire 'N Stone in Lochmere after a truck caught on a power line, creating sparks. (Courtesy photo)

Gilford officials work to define default budget terms


GILFORD — Leaders of the School Board and the Budget Committee appear to have come to a compromise solution to develop a default budget for next year and try to eliminate the animosity of previous year over what goes into a such a budget.

School Board Chairman Karen Thurston and Budget Committee Chairman Norman Silber have agreed to have two members from each board meet with Superintendent Kirk Beitler and Assistant Superintendent for Finance Scott Isabelle on Sept. 1 at 5:30 p.m. at the SAU office.

Chris McDonough, who is the School Board's representative to the Budget Committee, and school board member Sue Allen will join Silber and budget committee member Susan Greene, along with administrators at the public meeting.

"I am going to the meeting as chair of the budget committee because I was asked to do so by the new superintendent," Silber said Tuesday.

"I explained to him that I thought the meeting would be of limited utility because the (Department of Revenue Administration) form and the statute are clear, unambiguous and self-explanatory," he said.

Clear, unambiguous and self-explanatory are some of the words used by school board attorney Gordon Graham when he met with the board in a public session held last week.

In Graham's opinion, the words in the Official Ballot Law, commonly called SB2, regarding the creation of the default budget  state that "for the purposes of this paragraph, one-time expenditures shall be appropriations not likely to recur in the succeeding budget, as determined by the governing body..."

He said the school board is the "governing body" in this instance, so it is the school board who determines what a one-time expense is.

Graham explained to them how they could make the default budget more transparent by using different categories and words.

Much of last budget year's dissension came from the Imagination Station playground and the fact that the money allocated to building it was not removed from the budget.

While it was a "one-time only" expense, explained Isabelle, a similar amount of money was budgeted for repaving the parking lot at the elementary school for this budget year.

Board Chairman Karen Thurston said that each year the school tries to budget for one major capital project – like the Imagination Station, the parking lot, and carpet and floor replacement.

Graham and Isabelle agreed the board needs to do a better job of explaining this to the Budget Committee and the taxpayers.

Graham suggested creating strategic plans for ongoing building repairs, technology upgrades, and curriculum so the budget committee can review expenses and see that they are consistent with accepted strategic plans and not "one-time only" expenses.

He also suggested creating capital reserve accounts but added the time-value of money should be considered, meaning with interest rates so low on savings, it may not make sense in some economic climates to create or add to them.