MEREDITH — Gold Star father Mark Decoteau told a crow gathered for a Memorial Day service at the POW-MIA monument here Monday that ''as a nation we seem to have lost our way when it comes to Memorial Day.''
Decoteau, a 1983 West Point graduate whose son, Army Pfc. Marc Paul Decoteau, was killed in action in Afghanistan on Jan. 29, 2010, said Memorial Day is not a holiday at all yet has been turned into a national holiday style event marked by barbecues and shopping rather than a day to honor those who gave their lives in service to the nation ever since Congress changed the date from May 30 to the fourth Monday in May in 1971, creating a three-day weekend.
He said that the original Memorial Day dates back to after the Civil War and was known as Decoration Day for years because that was when the graves of those who had died during the Civil War were decorated.
He said that during his military career he and his fellow soldiers attended many services where they honored those who gave their lives and that those ceremonies served as stark reminders of the meaning of war. For him they became even more meaningful during the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, particularly after the death in 2005 of a friend and fellow West Point graduate.
But nothing prepared him for the cold night in January of 2010 when he received word that his 19-year-old son, Marc Paul, who had joined the U.S. Army right out of Plymouth High School in 2008, had been killed while supporting combat operations in Afghanistan.
''After that, Memorial Day took on a significance I could not fathom before'' said Decoteau. He said that since the American Revolution some 1,330,000 Americans have dies serving their country and urged those in the audience to look, listen, and learn about American military history and its significance.
''Take time to know them (our veterans) and the price we have paid for freedom,'' said Decoteau. He is the town manager of Waterville Valley and was at the ceremony with his wife, Nancy, who was presented with flowers for her status as a Gold Star mother, and is the town manager in Warren. Their son, Andrew, is a sophomore at West Point.
Also honored as a Gold Star mother at the ceremony was Lenda Cournoyer, of Gilmanton, whose son Nicholas, 25, a Laconia High School graduate, was killed in Iraq in 2006. Natalie Bowles, his sister, was also honored at the ceremony as a Gold Star sister and placed a wreath at the POW-MIA monument during the ceremony.
The POW-MIA service followed upon the heels of a ceremony held in front of the Meredith Library earlier in the morning which was presided over by Griggs-Wyatt American Legion Commander Bob Kennelly and at which State Senator Jeane Forrester spoke.
Veteran Elliott Finn and members of the audience listen attentively to a MemorIal Day speech at the POW-MIA Monument at Hesky Park in Meredith delivered by Mark Decoteau of Waterville Valley, whose son Marc Paul Decoteau was killed in Afghanistan in 2010. (Roger Amsden/for the Laconia Daily Sun)
Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 May 2014 12:34
LACONIA — Only two companies have bid to collect the city's trash and recyclables, but Casella Resource Solutions, the current contractor and likely low bidder, priced its service within the amount City Manager Scott Myers recommended in his 2014-2015 budget. Bids were opened at City Hall on May 22.
Casella bid $39,550 per month, or $474,600 per year while the other bidder, Waste Management, Inc. bid $67,007 per month, or $804,084. Once the bids are reviewed and confirmed the contract will be awarded.
The current one-year contract with Casella is set to expire on September 30. However, to address concerns expressed by Casella, Myers proposed shortening the term of the contract, inviting the bids in the spring and setting the term of the new contract to coincide with the city's fiscal year. Under the current contract, Casella collects recyclables at the curbside and empties the four remote bins for a flat cost of $10,000 per month, regardless of the tonnage. Casella found that the volume of recyclables taken to the remote locations has far exceeded the projections presented when the current contract was put out to bid, which the company claimed expanded the scope of the work.
This time around bidders were asked to price the collection of recyclables at the curbside and at the remote bins separately so that, together with the weekly collection of trash at the curbside, there are three components of the contract. Casella bid $10,000 per month to collect recyclables, irrespective of tonnage, at the curbside every other week and $3,750 per month to empty the remote bins for a total of $165,000 per year for the recycling component of the contract, which is $45,000 more than the current contract.
Based on an estimated annual volume of 4,200 tons, the company bid $25,800 per month, which represents $73.71 per ton and $309,600 a year, to collect trash at the curbside weekly.
When Myers prepared his budget proposal he projected the recycling program to cost $145,000, or $20,000 less than Casella's bid price. But, at the same time, he projected a modest increase in the volume of recycling that would further reduce the volume of trash collected at the curbside and consequently reduced the request of the Department of Public Works for weekly trash collection by $12,800, from $352,800 to $340,000. Altogether Myers budgeted $485,000 for the collection contract, $10,400 less than Casell's bid of $474,600.
The contract sustains the incentive to recycle. The cost of collecting, transporting and disposing of trash is approximately $152 per ton, which is spared by each ton that is recycled since the cost handling recyclables is fixed at $13,750 per month irrespective of the volume. Since 2009-2010 the recycling program has contributed significantly to stabilizing the expense of dealing with solid waste at approximately $1.6-million, but increases in the volume of recycling has yet to become sufficient to achieve net reductions in expenditures.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 May 2014 12:19
LACONIA — Residents joined their counterparts from across the state and around the United States yesterday to mark Memorial Day in tribute and homage to those members of the armed forces who gave their lives to create the nation, preserve the union and defend the country.
The day began with a parade through downtown, led by a military color guard followed by city officials, officers of American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars, Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts and John Mont, a former prisoner of war riding in vintage Army truck. All moved to the strains of the Laconia High School marching band.
Earlon Beale, post adjutant of of Wilkins Smith Post 1 of the American Legion welcomed the crowd to Veterans Square, where Don Sorensen of the VFW delivered the invocation. The choral group from Laconia High School, directed by Deb Gibson, sang the national anthem and, with those gathered at the square signing along, "God Bless America."
"I am proud to represent all the residents of Laconia," began Mayor Ed Engler, "by marching in this parade and participating in this event to honor our war dead." Born and raised in a small town in South Dakota, he recalled that his earliest memory of Memorial Day was of his father donning his uniform and marching in a parade to the cemetery. Noting that the Second World War had ended several years earlier, he said that nearly everyone in town attended the ceremony wearing red silk poppies.
Engler recalled that during World War II, 16 million of the country's 130 million people were called to service and 400,000 lost their lives.. "Every community was touched," he said, including Laconia, where more than 2,000 took up arms, Of those, 38 did not survive, noted Engler, who then proceeded to read their names aloud. "We keep the flame of eternal vigilance in their name," the mayor closed.
Beale urged his listeners never to forget America's veterans and their families, to whom all those who enjoy the bounty and freedom the nation offers are indebted. Remarking that many veterans are aging in years and suffering from ailments, he declared "as long as we have our health we'll be here to help you remember."
Beale, together with Bill North, commander of VFW Post 1670, laid a wreath at the foot of the memorial of those 2,000 as high school student Sebastian Huot, echoed by Mikayla Minor, sounded "Taps."
Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 May 2014 12:11
GILMANTON — After serving one term in the New Hampshire House of Representatives, Richard Burchell, a Republican, has decided against seeking re-election and instead will challenge the incumbent, Republican John Thomas of Belmont, for the seat on the Belknap County Commission representing Barnstead, Belmont, Gilmanton and Tilton.
Burchell said Friday that "I'm very happy that I served in the House for two years," but confessed "it's not a day at the beach and can be very frustrating at times. I met some really great people on both sides of the aisle," he continued, "but it was difficult to get used to the ways they do things."
Meanwhile, as tensions between the Belknap County Convention and Belknap County Commission mounted, first over the county budget and then over the county jail, Burchell said he "became more interested in county government," where he remarked "you can have a greater impact on people's lives."
"It is very apparent that we're dysfunctional," Burchell said of the dispute between the convention and the commission, in which he has sometimes played a leading role. At the same time, he noted that "there are some grave decisions to be made." In particular, he acknowledged that conditions at the county jail must be addressed.
Openly critical of the recommendations of Ricci Greene Associates, the consultants engaged by the commission, he insisted that "there are several viable alternatives" and claimed that "spending $12 million or less will fill the bill." He added that he has read widely about corrections policy and facilities and considers himself well-versed in the issues.
Burchell suggested that "leadership and candor" in lacking among the current commissioners. "If the only choice is cave and cower or stand up," he said "I'm going to stand up."
Thomas, a veteran lawmaker who served seven terms in the House, several of them in leadership, was elected to a three-year term on the county commission in 2011. "Unless something drastic happens," he said Friday, "I'm running." Thomas, who succeeded Democrat Ed Philpot as chairman of the convention last year, has neither disguised his differences with the Republican majority of the convention not shrunk from confrontation with its chairperson, Rep. Colette Worsman (R-Meredith).
Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 May 2014 12:07
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