BankofNH DreamBig 728x90

Safety urged following deadly ice accidents on lake waters

02-25 pier on lake


The ice and snow has been melting fast as temperatures rose into the 60s this week, despite several snowstorms the previous week. This pier in Meredith show the water on one side and ice on the other. (Courtesy Jennifer Lea Reynolds)



02-25 Col. Kevin JordanIn his more than 20 years with the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, Col. Kevin J. Jordan has never seen a day as tragic as Saturday, Feb. 11, when three people died after their snowmobiles broke through the ice of Lake Winnipesaukee and plunged into frigid water.

He calls that day "a perfect storm" of bad conditions on a lake that never completely freezes anyway, but he remains concerned about the potential for ice accidents in the closing weeks of winter.

"I'm going to worry until the snow cover goes away," he said Friday. "When everything gets covered up with snow, people make mistakes. They don't realize they're on thin ice. People from out of town may not know that and they get into trouble."

Jordan urges people to test the ice to make sure it's stable. This is especially important on Lake Winnipesaukee.

"It is one of the more unpredictable lakes, in terms of currents, land mass, prevailing winds, depth," he said. "You can have an area with 10 inches of ice and then it just goes down to open water.

"You can't go flying across the lake and assume everything is OK. You can end up in open water."

Killed in one of the accidents on Feb. 11 in Alton was Arthur Remy, 15, of Mamaroneck, New York.  Mark O'Connell, 62, of Moultonborough and David Crosier, 67, of Westborough, died the same day in Moultonborough.

"It was a horrible tragedy, the worst one we've ever had," Jordan said.

With unseasonably high temperatures of about 60 degrees in recent days, lake ice is melting fast, which presents another problem. People can get into trouble when driving onto frozen lakes to retrieve their ice fishing shelters, or "bob houses."

02-25 bob house on melting iceVehicles used to retrieve these huts sometimes break through the ice. Occasionally, one of the shelters will fall through the ice and sink to the bottom of the lake.

"We've made cases on people who leave them and they go down," Jordan said. "They are full of things like propane heaters. The debris can be a hazard to boats that come out in the spring."

Jordan said recent years have included warmer winters that could limit the thickness of ice.

National Weather Service spokesman John Jensenius said the long-term average winter temperature at Concord since record-keeping began in 1868 is 23.3, while the average for the period from 1981 to 2010 was 23.9.

"So, overall, there has been a slight warming trend," he said. "However, if you consider the past 10 years, five of the winters have averaged above normal and five of the years have averaged below normal, one just barely below normal."




This bobhouse in Meredith may still be on solid ice, but the open water is encroaching. (Courtesy Jennifer Lea Reynolds)

  • Category: Local News
  • Hits: 408

Alton argument

Jeffrey Clay is arrested after sparring with selectmen at board meeting


ALTON — Once again, a resident and selectmen butted heads at a meeting, resulting in the arrest of Jeffrey Clay.

When the Board of Selectmen met on Wednesday evening, Clay was removed by police and arrested after allegedly refusing to comply with the chairman's request to confine his remarks to items posted on the agenda and resisting the efforts of police to escort him from the meeting.

Alton Police Chief Ryan Heath said Clay has been charged with two counts of disorderly conduct as well as resisting arrest and released on personal recognizance bail pending his arraignment in May.

The video of the meeting has yet to be posted, but both Clay and Cydney Johnson offered written statements about the incident on Thursday.

According to Clay, he was allotted three minutes to speak during the time designated for public input. He said that when he told the selectmen their actions were "incompetent and reprehensible," Johnson asked him to confine his remarks to items on the agenda and, when he continued, recessed the meeting.

During the recess, Clay said that two police officers approached him and told him he had been asked to leave. Clay told the officers no one had asked him to leave and Johnson confirmed she had not asked him to leave. When the meeting reconvened, Clay continued speaking in the same vein and Johnson warned him again to speak to the agenda. When he did not, she then asked the police to remove him. Clay said he had not exhausted his time and was not given an opportunity to address at least three items on the agenda.

"Holding public officials for their incompetent, illegal and unethical actions," Clay said, "should not result in citizens being arrested, bullied or harassed. I continue to live in fear for my safety."

In her statement Johnson explained that the board's "public participation policy" stipulates that the first of the two public input sessions on the agenda is restricted to items posted on the agenda. Clay was recognized to speak, she said, but did not address any items on the agenda "contrary to the permission he was given and the rules of procedure." She said that she repeatedly asked Clay to confine his remarks to the agenda, "but he ignored the requests, talking over the chairperson and refusing to listen." He was told that "he was disrupting the board's meeting," she said, "and was warned a number of times that if he persisted he would be removed from the meeting."

Johnson said that Clay's "conduct was so disruptive that the board was forced to recess the session," hoping he would "voluntarily address agenda items" when it reconvened. However, she said that when the board reconvened "Mr. Clay continued to ignore the requests of the chair" and was warned that he would be removed if he did not comply with the rules of procedure. When Clay persisted, she said, she asked the police to remove him.

Heath said that when the officer sought to escort Clay from the meeting, he resisted and was placed under arrest. "This is now a criminal investigation," he said.

This is not the first time Clay has been removed from public meetings. Earlier this month the town moderator asked police to remove Clay, who had repeatedly challenged his conduct of the proceedings.

"I've had enough of your sarcasm, sir. You are a public official. If you don't want to serve in an appropriate way, get the hell off the stage," Clay said to town officials.

The moderator replied "Get the hell out," and asked police to escort Clay from the building and fined him $1. Heath said he has not collected the fine.

In 2015, the Board of Selectmen directed police to remove Clay from a meeting after he claimed the board repeatedly violated the Right to Know law, statements the selectmen claimed represented "character assassination. He was removed and charged with disorderly conduct. When the case reached the court, Judge Jim Carroll of the Fourth Circuit Court, Laconia Division dismissed the charge, ruling that "the silencing is nothing less than censorship of the defendant's criticism given at a time and place designated by the board itself for public input."

Afterwards, Clay filed suit with the U.S. District Court alleging the town violated his right to freedom of speech and was awarded $42,500 when the case was settled.


  • Category: Local News
  • Hits: 434

Gilford selectman questions ‘responsibility’ of Laconia for Fire Dept. training facility fire

02 24 gilford fire training 1

Demolition of the Fire Department Training facility off Lily Pond Road, near the transfer station, should occur shortly, Gilford officials said. The facility sustained damage in an October fire. (David Carkhuff/The Laconia Daily Sun)



GILFORD — The town has received the go-ahead to demolish charred remnants of the Fire Department Training facility off Lily Pond Road, but for one selectman, the question of how the facility was damaged by fire remains a cloud over the community.
The training facility, located near the transfer station, caught on fire on Oct. 4, 2016, sustaining damage that made it unusable for training.
On Wednesday, during a selectmen's meeting, Chairman Richard Grenier asked if the city of Laconia would acknowledge the incident, noting unresolved questions.
"The Laconia Fire Department was out there training, and after they left, it basically burned to the ground," Grenier said.
"I guess my concern is responsibility," Grenier said. "I'm certain there was no maliciousness to it, but we're out a lot of money."
According to reports at the time, firefighters responded shortly before 8 p.m. that night, and by then the roof had nearly collapsed. At the time, Gilford Fire Chief Steve Carrier said his department was called just before 8 p.m. for an outside fire somewhere near the airport and found the roof of the training center burning.
Built with donations, grant money and volunteer labor, the training facility was approved in 2009, constructed in 2010 and used by area departments as a training site for extinguishing fires. Constructed out of metal trailers, it featured three floors of "burn rooms" with wooden studs and drywall nailed to the studs. Firefighters could practice using ladders at the facility, which was equipped with stairways and a roof.
On Wednesday, Gilford Deputy Fire Chief Bradley Ober said the town's insurer, Primex, gave approval in mid-January for the town to conduct demolition at the site. The recycling department found a salvage company to aid in removal of the debris, he said.
"We've cleaned up the parts that we wanted to keep separate. We should have that cleaned up probably within a month," Ober said.
Ober said the town's first priority was to clean up the site and then consider ways to replace the facility.
Cause of the fire was deemed unknown/accidental, Ober told selectmen, although he acknowledged that there was speculation about an arsonist in the area at the time.
"Are we going to see any acknowledgement from the city of Laconia?" Grenier asked.
Ober said, "I wouldn't be able to speak to that."
Grenier said, "To me, if there was an arson, why isn't it being investigated?"
Ober said, "We didn't find anything that indicated it was an arson fire."
Grenier said, "I'm just upset by it. It was an excellent training facility used by a lot of departments, SWAT teams."
"I'm not above going to Laconia's city council," he said.
After the meeting, Grenier said he was reminded of the destruction when he paid a recent visit to the transfer station, prompting his questions.
Laconia Fire Chief Kenneth Erickson, when contacted on Thursday, said, "We were in the building that day training, and that night it burned. When we left the building, we were pretty confident that all the fires were out."
Firefighters left around 3 p.m. By 8 p.m. that night, "it was a roaring inferno," Erickson, who was among the responders, recalled.
"I have reached out to Chief Carrier in the hope that we can help do something," Erickson said. "I haven't heard anything pertaining to the building since the week of the fire."
Erickson said he was not sure what "acknowledgement" means.
The training facility was built using about $25,000 of town money plus a number of donations, including one for $5,000 from Meredith Village Savings Bank, according to press reports.


02 24 gilford fire training 2

  • Category: Local News
  • Hits: 447