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Meredith will pay its 'call' firefighter force higher wages

MEREDITH — At a workshop yesterday, the Board of Selectmen approved a pay raise for "call" firefighters that will narrow the disparities between their compensation and that of their counterparts in neighboring towns and their colleagues in other departments.

So-called "call" firefighters are essentially trained volunteers who get paid an hourly wage when, and only when, they respond to a alarm.

Meredith has only one full-time salaried firefighter, Chief Ken Jones.

Jones broached the issue last October in the course of preparing the 2014 town budget, stressing that the retention and recruitment of employees was an increasing challenge. An appropriation of $115,000 for a wage adjustment was included in the budget in anticipation of approving the new pay scale.

Town Manager Phil Warren cautioned that comparisons with other towns are difficult because departments have different responsibilities and operations. However, compared to a peer group of 11 other fire departments (Ashland, Barnstead, Belmont, Bridgewater, Bristol, Campton-Thornton, Center Harbor, Hebron, Holderness, Moultonborough and New Hampton) the current hourly wage in Meredith is between 18.4 percent and 43.7 percent below the median depending on the rank.

The current rates are for trainees $7.49, for firefighter-1, 2 and 3 $9.29, for lieutenant $10.33, for captain and second deputy $11.36 and for first deputy $13.42. The new rates will be $9 for trainees, $11.50 for fighter-1, $12.50 for firefighter-2, $13 for firefighter-3, $14 for lieutenant, $16 for captain, $17 for second deputy and $18 for first deputy. The increases range from 20.2 percent for trainees to 49.6 percent for the first deputy.

With the increase, hourly wages will be between 2.7 percent and 10.5 percent above the median of the peer group with the exception of the rate for trainees and lieutenants, which will fall 5.7 percent and 1.5 percent below the median.

With the staffing plan Jones has proposed, the cost of the increases are projected at $ 108,000, within the amount budgeted.

"This has been brewing for several years," said Selectman Peter Brothers in support of the plan. "Our interest is to retain our call fire fire department structure," he remarked, adding that full-time, professional personnel would cost between $950,000 and $1 million a year. He said that the current pay scale left volunteers asking "do I work for $12 or $15 an hour or do I drop my tool belt and answer the call for $9.50?"

Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 April 2014 12:33

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Seaplane crashes into 40° Lake Winnipesaukee

ALTON — A pilot suffered from cold water immersion but escaped without serious injury when his single-engine seaplane crashed and sank on The Broads, north of Rattlesnake Island, on Lake Winnipesaukee at about 12:30 p.m. yesterday.

Vadim Gayshan, 59, of Sudbury, Mass. was found by Marine Patrol officers Joshua Dirth and Philip Carpenter at 12:50 p.m., 20 minutes after the crash was reported, straddling the tail section of the largely submerged plane and waist deep in water. Gaysan was brought aboard the patrol with a throw ring and taken to Glendale, where he was met buy an ambulance from Alton Fire Rescue and transported to Lakes Region General Hospital in Laocnia.

The N.H. Department of Environmental Services (DES) reported the water temperature of the lake was 40 degrees Fahrenheit yesterday.

According to Marine Patrol, Gayshan, a pilot of 13 years whose experience includes two years with seaplanes, told officers he had flown the Cessna T206H from Fitchburg, Mass. He said that he was eying the retreating ice on the lake and flying at a speed of 70 to 80 knots between 300 and 400 feet above the water when he decided to fly "touch and gos," landing on the surface and taking off again without stopping. He said that he misjudged his elevation and the pontoon caught on the water, causing the plane to crash nose first. The plane subsequently sank in 105 feet of water.

Marine Patrol and DES, in partnership with Dive Winnipesaukee of Wolfeboro and Winnipesaukee Marine Construction of Gilford, were working to recover the plane yesterday.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 April 2014 11:59

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Keys & then car stolen from patron of Belmont fitness club

BELMONT — A woman exercising at a local fitness club had her car stolen Saturday morning, presumably by some one who rifled through her pocketbook while it was in the locker room.

Police said yesterday that a woman called to report her keys were taken from her unlocked gym locker sometime between 9:40 and 11:20 a.m. The victim's pocketbook was not stolen.

When the victim couldn't find her keys, she went into the parking lot and noticed her 2013 Ford Explorer was missing.

The victim had left her cell phone in the car and police were able to trace it to Bellerica, Mass. Belmont Police notified police in both Bellerica and Winchester about the car theft.

During the police response, a second woman reported her keys were stolen from a different unlocked locker at Planet Fitness in the Belknap Mall, however her car was still in the parking lot.

Police again remind people who use public gyms to always put a lock on their locker and to leave valuables at home. They recommended locking any pocketbooks or other valuables in the trunk where they are out of sight of someone walking through the parking lot.

Anyone with any information is asked to call the Belmont Police at 603-267-8351.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 April 2014 01:10

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Tilton officials seek town's oldest resident

TILTON — Seeking to perpetuate a tradition that began more than a century ago, town officials are searching for the town's oldest resident on whom to bestow the Boston Post Cane.

The tradition of the cane originated in 1909 as a promotional gimmick hatched by Edwin Grozier, publisher of the Boston Post newspaper. He sent canes fashioned of ebony from what was then the Belgian Congo and capped in 14 carat gold to the selectmen of 431 towns across New England. Each cane was inscribed "Presented by the Boston Post to the oldest citizen of ________."

The first cane was awarded in Tilton to Joseph L. Thompson, who was born in 1817 during the presidency of James Monroe, in 1909. William Bayley was the last to hold the cane from January 2010 until his passing in October 2013 at 96 years young.

The original Boston Post Cane is on permanent display at the Town Hall and the names of the recipients appear on a plaque on its case. Each recipient receives a replica of the cane, along with a certificate recognizing him or her as the oldest resident.

Nominees must have resided in Tilton for at least ten years, but residency in a nursing home or assisted living facility will not disqualify anyone whose permanent domicile, verified by either voter registration or tax records, remains in Tilton. Should the oldest resident decline to accept the cane, it will be retained by the town until his or her death when a new candidate will be chosen. Candidates or their representative must provide an original or certified copy of their birth certificate and proof of residency.

Nominations, including the name, date of birth, address and telephone number of the nominee as well as the name and contact information of the person making the nomination, should be submitted by letter or e-mail to the Town Clerk at 257 Main Street or to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Nomination must be submitted by May 31.

For further information contact Town Clerk Cindy Reinartz at 286-4425, extension 104.

Last Updated on Saturday, 19 April 2014 01:07

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