Apparent drowning in Gilman Pond

By ADAM DRAPCHO, LACONIA DAILY SUN

ALTON — Divers from the state Department of Fish and Game were searching Gilman Pond Wednesday afternoon for a man they feared drowned after falling out of a canoe late Wednesday morning.

A 9-1-1 call was placed shortly before 11 a.m. on Wednesday, requesting emergency help for a person who had fallen into the pond.

New Hampshire Fish and Game Sgt. Alex Lopshanski said two men were fishing in a canoe late Wednesday morning, when one of the men, a 67-year-old resident of Malden, Massachusetts, felt a fish bite his line.

"In attempting to set the hook, the victim went overboard and disappeared. His buddy paddled around looking for him, but he never surfaced again." The other man, a 66-year-old from Portsmouth, remained in the canoe and was not able to locate his fishing partner.

Rescue crews from Alton were assisted by Tuftonborough, West Ossipee, Farmington, Wolfeboro, Ossipee Corner and New Durham, as well as Fish and Game.

Though the pond is neither large nor, with a maximum depth of 17 feet, especially deep, divers continued their search through the afternoon. Visibility was hampered by thick weeds, with one diver likening the experience to swimming through an "underwater hayfield."

Evan Turcotte, deputy chief with the Alton Fire Department, was one of the first to respond to the scene. He noted that the incident unfolded in a very short matter of time, and underscored the reason for proper safety precautions. The canoeists had flotation devices in their vessel, but weren't wearing them at the time of the accident.

"It all happened in two minutes. No matter how small (the pond) is, no matter how shallow the water is, personal flotation devices are absolutely necessary," Turcotte said.

08-04 Gilman Pond drowning

New Hampshire Fish and Game divers, accompanied by a documentary crew cameraman, head out onto Gilman Pond in Alton to search for a man who fell out of a canoe while fishing late Wednesday morning. (Adam Drapcho/Laconia Daily Sun)

Search is on in Alton for canoeist

ALTON — At 10:52 a.m., crews from Alton were called to a distress call from a canoeist who reported needing help and who was on Gilman Pond. Dispatcher from Lakes Regional Mutual Fire Aid said they could hear water in the background.

The missing man is a 67-year-old from Malden, Massachusetts.

Right now crews from Alton are being assisted by rescue and dive teams from Tuftenborough, West Ossipee, Farmington, Wolfeboro, Ossipee Corner and New Durham.

08-04 rescue-search

Jean ousted as head of Gilmanton selectboard

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

GILMANTON — In a second overthrow in as many years, two selectmen voted Monday to oust Michael Jean as chairman, installing Selectman Steve McWhinnie as the new chairman.

Jean was the one who engineered a similar take down of former chairman Don Guarino in 2015 after a screaming match between Guarino and former board member Rachel Hatch.

Jean said Tuesday that he will continue as selectman until his term ends in 2018.

According to Jean, the ongoing complaints made by Brett and Brenda Currier about the way the selectmen handle themselves and their accusations against Selectman Marshall Bishop and the Gilmanton Winery are behind the recent push.

Jean said that while he agrees that Bishop, who owns the Gilmanton Winery, has the necessary permits he needs from the state Department of Environment Services to continue operating his business, he still supports the Currier's rights to address the board about what they think are inconsistencies in Bishop's business.

"When they make appointments to appear on the agenda and stay within their allotted time, they should be allowed to speak," Jean said.

Jean said Marshall, who made the motion to oust him, was tired of being "beat up" in public by the Curriers, but Jean said he thinks getting tossed around a little bit is part of being a selectman and a publicly elected official.

Bishop said the reason he made the motion to oust Jean was not because he didn't like him but because "We need a person to make the meeting run smoothly."

"I had to think about this for a long time," said Bishop, who added that he thinks Jean is a smart man but thinks McWhinnie will make the meetings more productive.

He said he is trying to keep his personal opinions about the things the Curriers say publicly about his business to himself but that the "last two weeks have been pretty tough on me."

Bishop said he agrees that the Curriers or any residents should be allowed to address the board but says it should not be a rehash of old business and that it should be done respectfully.

When asked if he consulted with McWhinnie about Jean's ouster, he said he hadn't but had told McWhinnie he was very tired about a month ago.

"I have seven months left and then I'm done," he said, adding the selectmen are there to help the taxpayers, not the "groups of taxpayers."

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