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Subcommittee recommends county not sell barn and house

WEST STEWARTSTOWN – After a year of study, a Coos County delegation subcommittee is recommending the county retain ownership of the county barn and administrator's house.
The subcommittee recommendation, which was presented at the delegation's quarterly meeting last week, calls on the delegation to oppose selling the house and barn. The house and barn are located on the grounds of the county complex in West Stewartstown.
Two years ago, the delegation voted to sell the administrator's house but last year delayed any action on the barn and house to allow the subcommittee to conduct a thorough review.
Until 2011, the county operated a dairy farm on the property but the delegation sold off the dairy herd that year. For several years, the land and barn were leased to a local farmer. This June the county agreed to lease the farmland to CJEJ Farm/Blue Mountain Dairy through the end of the year.
According to minutes of last week's delegation meeting, the subcommittee recommends the delegation and county commissioners form a county barn/lands advisory committee with business and farming experience. Commissioner Rick Samson, who attended the meeting, said the committee would consist of two current or former successful farmers, a person with farm and business experience, one person from each of the county's three districts with a desire to contribute the success of the farm and land, a representative of the delegation, and a commissioner to coordinate and oversee the advisory board. While the committee would report to both the delegation and commission, the county administrator and board of commissioners would still make final decisions.
While the commission has not taken a formal vote on an advisory committee, it appears to support the idea. Commissioner Paul Grenier has recommended Samson chair it.
The administrator's house was built in 1972 and until recent years, the county required the administrator to live there. But with the advent of cell phones, the delegation decided it did not need to require the administrator to live on the county grounds and current administrator Jennifer Fish does not reside there. The house has been empty since Administrator Sue Collins retired in 2012. An appraisal performed on the house and 3.59-acre lot two years ago, set the value at $187,000.
Rep. Leon Rideout, (R-Lancaster), who chaired the subcommittee, said the subcommittee originally proposed leasing the house with the farm. But the commissioners have recommended moving the county administrative offices into the house. The offices are currently in the nursing home.
Subcommittee Vice Chair Rep. Wayne Moynihan, (D-Dummer) said the group did not focus on reuse of the house but said there was a consensus on the subcommittee that it should not be sold.
Delegation Chair Robert Theberge said he favors moving the administrative offices into the house and using the basement meeting room there for training. He asked Fish to prepare an estimate of the cost to move and renovate the house for administrative offices for the delegation's next quarterly meeting in October. Theberge said he will schedule a vote on the issue at that meeting.

Last Updated on Monday, 18 August 2014 22:02

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Injured hiker rescued off Mount Hayes

On Thursday, August 14 at approximately 1 p.m. rescue personnel was notified that a hiker was injured and unable to walk on the top of Mount Hayes in Gorham.

The hiker, 71 year old Ernie Hess, of Lancaster Pa. was hiking with his wife in the Mahoosuc Range when he fell and suffered a hip injury leaving him unable to walk. Personnel from the Gorham EMS along with volunteers from the Androscoggin Valley Search and Rescue Team, and a group of students and instructor's from The SOLO wilderness first responder school in Conway assisted N.H. Fish and Game Conservation Officers in this back country rescue.

The rescuers hiked approximately 2 miles and found Mr. Hess who was being given medical care from Gorham EMS. Hess was loaded into a rescue basket and teams of six alternated in carrying the victim out over the steep and rocky terrain. The group arrived at the base of the Mountain around 8 p.m. and the injured man was transported out on a North PAC Rescue all-Terrain vehicle, stationed at Gorham Fire Department to a waiting Ambulance. The rescue was completed quickly due to the large response of Volunteers and Search and Rescue professionals.

Hess Rescue

 

Last Updated on Friday, 15 August 2014 18:47

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Governor Hassan declares State of Emergency as a result of overdoses from Synthetic Cannabinoid

CONCORD – In order to protect public health, Governor Maggie Hassan has declared a State of Emergency in NH as a result of recent overdoses in Manchester and Concord due to the misuse of the synthetic cannabinoid identified as "Smacked!".

The declaration of a State of Emergency triggers the Department of Health and Human Services public health powers under RSA 21-P:53 or any other applicable statute to investigate, isolate or quarantine and require the destruction of the commodity in question. The department will work closely with local police departments to quarantine the "Bubblegum Flavor" of "Smacked!".

Since August 11, 2014, there have been 41 people in the Manchester area reported to have experienced serious medical reactions to the synthetic cannabinoid and at least 20 were taken by ambulance to Manchester hospitals for treatment. In addition, the Concord Police Department has reported at least three cases in the last 24 hours.

"These products pose a serious threat to public health, especially to young people, and it is our responsibility to do whatever we can to combat the recent rash of overdoses," Hassan said. "In consultation with the N.H. Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, public health officials in the N.H. Department of Health and Human Services and the Attorney General's office, I have declared a State of Emergency so that we can move quickly to stop the sale of this dangerous substance that has caused an outbreak of serious overdoses."

While not related to overdoses at this time, samples of at least two other brands of synthetic cannabinoids, "Crazy Monkey" and "Green Giant," have tested positive for controlled substances. Store owners are reminded that it is illegal to sell or consume these controlled substances under New Hampshire law.

Other brands of synthetic cannabinoids may also pose dangers for substance abuse and public health. Stores are encouraged to voluntarily remove all synthetic cannabinoids from their shelves.

Generally referred to as "spice," synthetic cannabinoids are chemically engineered substances similar to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana. While they are labeled as not for human consumption, "herbal incense" products of this type are known to be ingested by smoking or brewing into a tea because they contain synthetic cannabinoids.

"It's very important that individuals be made aware that use of this product poses serious and immediate danger to their personal health," Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Nicholas Toumpas said. "We strongly recommend the public avoid any use of this product, and we will work with local police departments as quickly as possible to put the quarantine into effect."

Attorney General Joseph Foster said, "As we have seen in recent days in Manchester and Concord, the misuse of products like 'Smacked!' can cause significant and adverse health risks. Therefore, we are strongly recommending that merchants who have similar products remove them from their shelves and destroy their current inventory. Retailers that continue to knowingly sell these dangerous or illegal products are placed on notice that they could be held responsible for harm caused to a user of the product."

The Governor's declaration will last 21 days unless terminated earlier or extended by further order.

Last Updated on Friday, 15 August 2014 18:45

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Berlin Schools take families to small claims court in attempt to collect on unpaid meals

BERLIN—It is the school's responsibility to provide meals to all students regardless of their ability to pay. However, at the end of the 2014 FY Berlin Public Schools found that 184 students owed money for meals served, totaling $4,018.44.

Last year was the first year that the schools used an electronic system to track student meals. Prior to that, students had meal tickets, but that meant if the student didn't have a ticket, they didn't get a meal.

"Saying that a student couldn't eat is really unfair, and it isn't good for the child or for learning. It also singled the child out and drew unnecessary attention to their situation," explained Bryan Lamirande, the school's business administrator.

The school's system is in the process of being upgraded to operate electronically. Instead of tickets, students use their student I.D. number like a pin when they checkout. Their account is automatically deducted for the meal.

Last year the district sent out letters to families notifying them if their child had charged their account for lunch. The letter went out when the student reached $20, noting that sometimes student charge their account for milk, and sending out notification for such a small amount would be frivolous.

The families were notified three times in an attempt to collect the unpaid balance. Families were given the opportunity to set up payment plans to pay off the balance.

Families that neglected to contact the school to make payment arraignments were taken to small claims court. In addition to the original amount owed the families had to pay back the $85 filing fee.

So far, four families were taken to small claims court, with two of them rectifying their bills.

Lamirande explained that they don't like to go after people for unpaid bills, but when operating under such a strict budget it becomes necessary to try and collect payment.

"The schools lunch program has a tight margin. It's a self-funding program that is independent from the school district; but when there is a loss it becomes the district's responsibility," states Lamirande.

The school is looking into offering electronic options for parents to pay online for their child's lunch. Right now parents can view the account balance online, but still have to send in money to the school.

The school board also voted to increase the meal prices for breakfast and lunch between 10 and 15 cents. The increase in prices reflects the rising food costs.

Breakfast went from $1.50 to $1.65. Lunch for grades 1-5 went from $2.50 to $2.60. Lunch for grades 6-12 went from $2.75 to $2.85. Adult lunches went from $3.25 to $3.40 and milk prices will remain the same.

If parents have additional questions about the school lunch program they can contact the Food Service Director, Candy Richard by calling the Berlin High School 752-4122.

In other business, the school board voted to increase the Hillside school nurse from part-time to full-time. Due to cuts and retirement there was approximately $42,000 in savings and $38,000 of that money will be allocated to the nursing position.

The addition of hours will mean that all schools will now have a full-time nurse. This also opens up the possibility of having the Hillside nurse be a representative on the Health and Wellness Committee and Safety Committee, which was not possible when working part-time.

 

Last Updated on Friday, 15 August 2014 18:40

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