Eight year old rescued baby sister from Dummer house fire

By Barbara Tetreault

DUMMER — Eight-year-old Harrison Holt rescued his baby sister from the family house as fire raged through the attached barn Sunday afternoon. His younger brother, Patrick, age 5, fled the house on his own.

John Holt said he was inside the house with the three children when he smelled smoke. He went outside to check and discovered the barn had caught on fire. Grabbing a fire extinguisher, he tried to put the fire out but realized it was getting away from him. Holt said he ran to the front and yelled at Harrison to call 911. He went back to the barn quickly to see if there was anything he could do and then ran back to the house to check on the kids.

In the meantime, Harrison had grabbed his baby sister Marie and carried her out of the house. The two joined their brother Patrick standing under a nearby oak tree the children had previously been instructed to seek out in case of fire.

Holt said he returned to find Harrison “had my 11-month old daughter under one arm and the phone under the other arm.”

The proud father said both boys were calm and orderly in reacting to the emergency situation.

Milan-Dummer Fire Chief Bud Chapman called Harrison Holt’s actions heroic especially for a child that young.

“It’s quite extraordinary. You don’t hear that very often,” he said.

Patrick Holt said he heard his father ask where the smoke was coming from and saw him go outside and check. When his father returned to yell the barn was on fire, he ran outside to the tree. His brother joined him there with Marie.

Harrison will be a third grader this September at Unity Christian School in Berlin, and Patrick will join his brother there as a first grader.

John Holt said the family had returned the day before from a camping trip, and his wife Heather had gone to pick up her grandparents in Berlin and bring them home for a visit.

The fast-moving fire destroyed the barn and house and the family lost all its possessions. Holt said they managed to save a few photo albums but even those incurred smoke damage.

“It’s all just things,” he said Tuesday, noting his family is safe and sound.

The family is staying with Holt’s aunt in Dummer and he said people have been dropping by with clothes, food and offers of support. Friends also set up a GoFundMe site.

“Everyone has been absolutely wonderful,” Holt said.

The Holts purchased the house about four years ago and immediately began to renovate it. Built in 1929, Holt said it was in rough shape and the couple completely stripped it down. Holt said basically they built a new house on the old structure.

A STEM professor at White Mountains Community College, Holt did much of the work himself.

A new stove was waiting to be installed and the couple had just purchased some new tile for the house. Also planned were solar panels.

“At least my list of things to do around the house is gone,” Holt joked.


Berlin Water Works to begin flushing hydrants

For the next few weeks, the Berlin Water Works will be flushing hydrants during the daytime hours from Monday through Friday throughout the city.

Beginning on Monday, July 31, and until finished; the Berlin Water Works will be flushing hydrants throughout the city for the purpose of cleaning water mains. Repairs will be made to the hydrants found inoperable during the flushing program.

Discolored water and low pressure will occur for short time intervals in different areas of the city during the hydrant flushing program.

In the event you experience discolored water, let your faucet run for 5-10 minutes to permit the discolored water to pass through your service line. If the conditions continue, close your faucet and wait for a period of 15-20 minutes to permit the discolored water to pass through your area and then reopen your tap again.

Water works officials thanked residents for their cooperation during the hydrant flushing program, saying the results will be beneficial to all water customers.


State sends money to municipalities for road repairs

By Barbara Tetreault

ANDROSCOGGIN VALLEY — The state is sending $30 million to cities and towns for road improvements and for Androscoggin Valley communities the amount will range from $203,779 for Berlin to $4,138 for Errol.

Gov. Chris Sununu this week signed SB 38, which in addition to the $30 million for local roads, also includes $6.8 million for repairs to “red-listed” municipal bridges.

“This is a key first step in rebuilding our state’s infrastructure and reducing property tax obligations for every citizen in the state. We’re sending cash back to towns so that localities can provide relief on their tax base — a home run for taxpayers,” said Sununu.

The money, which cannot be used for any projects already approved and funded, comes from last year’s budget surplus and represents a compromise between the governor and lawmakers. In his budget, Sununu had proposed establishing an infrastructure fund with surplus funds and establishing a committee to select projects. Instead, the Legislature voted to send $30 million directly to cities and towns based on the same formula used for dispensing gas tax revenues to communities. That formula is based on a municipality’s population and miles of road. The $30 million is a one-time appropriation.

Berlin Mayor Paul Grenier said city staff will be putting together three road projects to present to the city council as options. He said the money cannot be used for the Route 16 project since that work is already underway. Furthermore, he said the money has to be expended by the end of the fiscal year, which for Berlin is June 30, 2018.

While pleased to get the money, Grenier said the Legislature and governor are simply returning money that belongs to the municipalities.

“This is not a gift,” he said.

According to figures released by Sununu, local communities will receive: Berlin, $203,779; Dummer, $15,012; Errol, $4,138; Gorham, $53,385; Milan, $39,924; Randolph, $14,428; and Shelburne, $11,078.

Recycled Percussion's Berlin visit airs Friday

By Barbara Tetreault

BERLIN — Recycled Percussion’s visit to Berlin will be featured Friday, July 28, on WMUR television at 7 p.m. and band founder Justin Spencer said viewers will see some surprises.

Friday’s show is the fourth episode of the popular junk rock band’s new television series “Chaos and Kindness” and the first to be filmed live. While many of the stops Spencer and band mate Ryan Veniza made to spread their brand of kindness are known — the Berlin Community Market and Memorial Field — he said people should watch the show to find out their entire itinerary here.

Spencer said he did not know what to expect when he drove into Berlin last week given that residents had only several hours notice that Recycled Percussion was coming.

But word of their arrival had spread quickly and he said as they drove around people were waving at them and honking their car horns.

The pair had promised to sign autographs and pose for selfies with fans at the VFW hall in Berlin after filming and a large crowd greeted them when they showed up.

“To see hundreds and hundreds of people come out was totally awesome,” Spencer said.

While the other three episodes have focused on individuals or a family, the band decided on a different focus for the fourth one.

“We just decided we were going to pick a town,” Spencer said.

Using their Facebook page, fans were asked to vote among three communities: Berlin, Franklin, and Claremont. Tuesday morning, Berlin was declared the winner and Spencer and Veniza headed north, arriving around 7 p.m.

The pair zipped around the city, making quick stops to perform acts of kindness.

“The whole episode takes place live,” Spencer said.

Spencer said the 12-episode show that airs on WMUR was two years in the making.

While the band achieved fame for its “junk rock” music converting an assortment of items like buckets, power tools, and ladders into percussion instruments with the audience asked to join in, it is also known for performing acts of charity and giving back to people less fortunate.

Spencer said he grew up in Goffstown in what he described as a humble situation without a lot of stuff.

“I’ve always had a desire to give back,” he said.

Chaos and Kindness, he said, is a way for the New Hampshire-based band to give back to its home state.

“We do it for ourselves. We enjoy it,” Spencer said.

Founded in 1995 in Goffstown, the band achieved national prominence after their hit performances on the television show, “America’s Got Talent” in 2009. Spencer said the band does about 600 shows a year and has played over 6,000. Last year, they signed a contract to perform regularly at the Saxe Theater at Plant Hollywood on the strip in Las Vegas.