Selectmen approve new location for Bikes-Not-Bombs shelter

By Kirstan Knowlton

GORHAM — The board of selectmen approved an amended plan for the original location of the proposed Bikes Not Bombs drop-off shelter. The new location will be less visible and will require the previously poured concrete slab to be moved.

Moving about 200 yards to the left of the original location, the shelter, which will be a drop-off point and warehouse for bicycles until they can be sent to developing countries, will sit in the back corner of the parking lot next to Gorham Public Library making it less visible to nearby residents.

According to the Bikes Not Bombs website, the organization “Provides community-based education and assists development projects with recycled bicycles, related technologies and technical assistance, as concrete alternatives to the militarism, over-consumption and inequality that breed war and environmental destruction. Their organization is part of a worldwide movement for peace and responsible stewardship of the earth.”

Throughout the year, anyone can drop off bikes of any condition to the collection site to be used in the development project, which provides hands-on, community-based education.

Local residents recently expressed concerns that at its original planned location, the collection facility would have an overflow of used bicycles and would look unsightly.

The concrete slab, estimated to weigh roughly 28,000 pounds would be moved in the spring once the ground is thawed. Specifics on how the slab will be moved and who will move it have not yet been worked out.

Matt Saladino, a guidance councilor at Gorham High School was on hand at the meeting with high school senior Bronson Leclerc to finalize their plan, and to answer any questions.

Resident Steve Roy was still concerned about the monitoring and maintenance of the collection site, but Saladino reassured him that the school would take care of it, citing a strong community service group among the students.

All three board members approved the new location.


Request for funding water fountain

In other news, Nicole Eastman of the CARE Committee, a group of student’s parents, approached the town requesting funding for a new water fountain in the gymnasium at the Ed Fenn Elementary School.

In her presentation, Eastman explained that the committee was looking to install a water fountain similar to one that was put in down by Libby’s Pool. The fountain would cost roughly $1,800 to install, with water and electric access already available.

The committee felt the fountain upgrade was needed, because the current fountain does not meet the needs of the students. Since other fountains in the school no longer work, students have been using the faucets in the restrooms to refill their water bottles.

Eastman questioned if the recreation department might be willing to help cover some of the costs for the new fountain, citing the department's use of the gymnasium and the benefit to their participants.

The school and the town recreation department have an agreement under which the school covers a portion of the costs to maintain town recreation fields, which it regularly uses for sports practice and games.

Jeffrey Stewart, director of the parks and recreation department, was not at the meeting, but had already submitted a letter to the town manager about his decision on making a donation. Stewart who did not support the use of funds from the recreation department for the project said that it was not necessary to replace the fountain at this time, because it did not have an impact on health or safety.

When asked about the school’s plan to replace the fountain, she said that it has been on the list of projects to be worked on by the school, but each year it has been cut from the budget.

Eastman, who did not have a specific number in mind when she first approached the board, said that the committee would be very happy with any donation that they received. She explained that the committee was expecting to raise about $1,000, and would need to come up with roughly $800 more, and offered a figure of $500.

Selectmen Grace LaPierre suggested that if the school could donate $400, they would match that amount from the town Recreation Revolving Fund to raise the remainder of the funds.

Eastman thanked the board for their donation, and said that she would let them know if the committee needed anything else.

Local officers receive award for going above and beyond call of duty

By Kirstan Knowlton

GORHAM — Recognizing their efforts for going above and beyond the call of duty, two Gorham Police Officers, Brian Lamarre and Jonathan Imperail, were honored on National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day.

During Monday night’s Gorham Selectmen's meeting, Lamarre and Imperail were surprised by family and members of their department when they were awarded the Lifesaving Medal for their acts of heroism last summer giving lifesaving aid to individuals in separate incidents.

Imperail saved the life of an OHRV rider following an accident on July 3, 2016. He responded to the reported accident, meeting the rider on the trail and providing emergency medical assistance, which  included the application of a proper tourniquet just above the patient’s practically severed arm. His actions on scene were described by the Gorham Emergency Medical Service Director as, “life saving.”

Lamarre was working a special detail at the NASCAR event in Loudon on July 17, 2016, when he was called upon to provide aid to a person attending the event. During his shift, a vehicle pulled up to Lamarre with an unconscious passenger. The driver said the passenger was not breathing and did not have a pulse. Lamarre and Groton Police Chief E.J. Thompson took the patient out of the vehicle and began CPR. After four cycles of CPR, the patient’s heartbeat and breathing were restored and the patient survived.

“Police officers respond to a wide range of calls for service, and in many instances, must assess the incident and then react at a moment’s notice. Officer Imperial and Officer Lamarre were presented with situations that certainly required them to efficiently assess the situation and then quickly react with a high degree of competence and professionalism. They are a credit to their Department and to the profession of law enforcement," said Gorham Police Chief P.J. Cyr.

The Gorham Commendation and Awards Program awards Lifesaving Medals to officers who have saved or attempted to save the life of another, and have done so under circumstances that warrant special recognition for exceptional service "due to a high degree of efficiency, professionalism or act of initiative and quality." Officers awarded the Lifesaving Medal are presented with a green and white ribbon that is worn on their uniform and also presented with a certificate of award for their personnel file.

Gorham PD AwardReceiving a standing ovation, Police Officers Jonathan Imperail and Brian Lamarre were honored for going above and beyond the call of duty and providing life-saving assistance to individuals. From left are Selectmen Patrick Lefebvre, Selectmen Terry Oliver, Selectmen Grace LaPierre, Officer Michael Turgeon, Officer Jonathan Imperail, Police Chief P.J. Cyr and Town Manager Robin Frost. (KIRSTAN KNOWLTON PHOTO)

award picGorham Police Officers Brian Lamarre and Jonathan Imperail were honored on National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day with Lifesaving Medals. (COURTESY PHOTO)

Labonville on NH Chronicle Friday

GORHAM — The media spotlight will shine this Friday, Jan. 13, on Labonville, Inc., and the line of work and safety clothing made at its facility on the Berlin-Gorham Road. The company will be highlighted on WMUR’s N.H. Chronicle, starting at 7 p.m.

Alex Labonville said a film crew came north to Gorham last week to film the segment, focusing largely on his family’s long history making the Labonville line of chainsaw chaps, winter pants, gaiters, wool jackets, vests and other gear. A group of 10 to 12 employees make the clothes at their sewing building next to the retail store. Overall, the company employs a total of 40 people.

Labonville is the third generation to work in the business and he said Chronicle interviewed him about his grandparents, Delores and Emilien Labonville, who moved to this country from Canada in the late 1940s during the Great Depression. After operating one of the area’s largest logging operations, the couple started making safety and work clothing and opened Labonville in 1953.

Labonville said the family has always stressed the quality of the clothing it makes and keeping its manufacturing operations in this country.

He said he became a member of New Hampshire Made last year and believes that is how N.H. Chronicle learned of Labonville’s operation.

Information on the show can be found at

City approved for second river walk grant

BERLIN — It has taken 15 years, but patience and persistence have paid off for the city and its dream of a river walk.

Community Development Director Pamela Laflamme told the city council Monday night that the N.H. Department of Transportation has approved Berlin’s grant application for $688,000 in federal Transportation Alternatives Program funds. The city must provide a 20 percent match or $172,000, which Laflamme said the city hopes to at least partially meet with funding from the Route 16 upgrade project.

Last fall, the city received a $250,000 grant from the federal Northern Borders Regional Commission for the river walk.

Combined, the two grants will allow the city to build a river walk from the Service Credit Union Heritage Park to the 12th Street Bridge.

A river walk was first proposed in 2002 by then City Engineer and Public Works Director James Wheeler with an initial estimated cost of $2.3 million. A design by Wright-Pierce Engineering calling for a 10-foot multi-use trail made of bituminous concrete, lighting, benches, interpretative signs, a canoe launch, and fishing areas increased the price tag to $3.9 million.

In a follow-up interview, Laflamme said the city unsuccessfully applied several times for grants over the years, paring down some of the elements to get the initial walk built. The city can add components later as money becomes available.

Thomas Jameson, project manager for DOT’s Bureau of Planning and Community Assistance, said the bureau received 46 applications seeking $26.6 million in TAP funds. Berlin’s application was one of 12 approved for funding, with a total of $6.9 million awarded.

He said the projects must go to the governor and Executive Council for final approval, which he estimated will occur in late February or early March.

Once approved, he said the city must execute an agreement with DOT and then go through a selection process to hire a consultant to design the project. The consultant and city will develop a scope and fee for the river walk before any billable work can begin.

While the Northern Borders grant is for the section from the park to the pedestrian bridge and the TAP funds are for the remainder of the walk, Laflamme said the city would likely follow the same process for both and hire a consultant to design the entire project. She said the city hopes to get the work underway this summer to dovetail with the Route 16 work.

Given the competition for the funding, Laflamme was pleased the city was selected as one of the recipients. Noting that the Androscoggin Valley Chamber of Commerce annually hosts some large events at the park, she said the river walk will help increase its role as a gathering spot for the city. The river walk will also accent the attractiveness and recreational value of the Androscoggin River as it winds through the center of the city.