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Tilton's Market Basket all but closed by employee protest

TILTON — At first glance, the entrance to the Market Basket grocery store here looked yesterday a little like a farmer's market. Canopies lined the long entrance road and people gathered under them sitting in chairs, drinking water, and in one case, cooking over a grill.

A closer looks revealed a grass roots demonstration by Market Basket employees and their families held at the encouragement of local store Director Mike LeClair to protested the ouster of former CEO Arthur T. Demoulas by the partially family-populated Market Basket Board of Directors.

Arthur T. is known throughout the company as a boss who cared for and took care of his employees. Many of those who were in Tilton yesterday are multi-year employees of Market Basket who said they trusted him with their livelihoods.

LeClair, a 25-year employee, said yesterday that the event that pushed him over the top occurred Tuesday when a delivery truck sent by new Market Basket Co-CEOs Felicia Thornton and Jim Gooch was accompanied by what he described as a military-type private security company and their statement to him that "trust and acceptance are earned and cannot be imposed."

"What did they think my employees were going to do," he said standing in front of the nearly empty store. "For the most part, they're a bunch of 18- and 19-year-old kids."

"Come get the perishable truck you sent that's at the dock, unloaded...It will rot before we unload it," he said in a Facebook post.

LeClair and his 330 employees are part of something rarely seen anymore in private sector America — a push back against what they see as a hostile take over of the company that employs them.

The story of the Demoulas family is a long and ofter contentious one. According to multiple sources including the Boston Globe, Funding Universe.com. and the New York Times, the company was founded by Athansios "Arthur" Demoulas in 1917 as a single family store.

The couple had two sons, Mike and George, who both worked at the store and bought out their parents in 1954. Both boys married and each had offspring named Arthur — Arthur T. from Mike's side and Arthur S. is from George's side of the family.

After George died suddenly while vacationing in Greece in 1971, Mike continued to operate the stores, gradually expanding to where he had two supermarket chains — the original one called DeMoulas Super Market and later Market Basket — created to circumvent a Massachusetts law that said one supermarket chain could only have a fixed number of liquor licenses.

George's widow, Evanthea and their children continued to own one half of the shares but Mike continued to operate the business. In 1980, Mike had George's widow removed from the Board of Directors creating a family rift that has continued to this day.

George's side of the family through Arthur S. contended that Mike's side of the family, represented by Arthur T., sold some of their side of the family's stock without their knowledge.

The Demoulas family hit the courts in 1990, litigating six lawsuits that stretched over seven years. The Boston Globe referred to the suits as the "the legal Full Employment Act."

The pivotal ruling came in 1994 when Massachusetts judge Nancy Lopez ruled that Arthur T.'s side of the family must return the stock valued at about a half a billion dollars to Arthur S.'s side, giving Arthur S.'s side 51-percent of the stock.

Both sides of the family have two seats on the Board of Directors with three seats belonging to non-family members. Arthur S. has as seat while Arthur T. does not.

On June 23, the board met and fired Arthur T. as CEO — even though he still personally controls about 14-percent of the Market Basket stock.

As word of Arthur T.'s dismissal traveled through the company this past weekend seven top executives demanded his return. They were fired by the new co-CEOs Felicia Thornton and Jim Gooch.

In the only statement issued by Arthur T. since his removal as CEO, on Monday he asked the new CEOs to rehire the fired employees.

Employees in stores throughout Massachusetts began holding demonstrations for the return of Arthur T. and the fired executives and yesterday that groundswell reached Tilton.

Every employee who was asked said they just wanted "Artie T." (Arthur T. Demoulas) returned to the company as it CEO.

Inside the store, the employees spelled "ARTIE T" in the empty produce sections using Styrofoam containers that normally would have been filled with vegetables.

With a few exceptions, the meat and produce cases were empty. Employees continued to stock the shelves with dry goods while they last and there were cashiers and floor clerks to assist the few customers who were shopping.

Only the goods that come from outside vendors are being stocked in Market Basket's shelves.

Joe Linehan is the front-end manager and has worked for Market Basket for 11 years. He was on the job yesterday and said his crew was doing what they need to do to take care of their customers.

He said normally on a Wednesday morning, there would be 10 cashiers working. Yesterday there was one.

Customers loyal to the store, LeClair, and his employees — most of whom are local people — brought coffee, water and food to the demonstrating employees yesterday. Many customers refused to enter the store and came to the parking lot only to show moral support.

Those who did enter the store were greeted by Market Basket employees who said they are still dedicated to giving their customers the best possible service they can.

Dennis Warner has worked at Market Basket for 31 years. As a former store manager, he is now legally blind but said when he tried to resign, the company found him a job he could do.

"I got a call," he said, saying it was Artie's T. top executives asking him what they could do to held keep him as an employees.

"He supported me when I needed it and now I'll support him," Warner said.

 

CAPTIONS: "ARTIE T. is spelled out in an empty fish case at Market Basket in Tilton.

Employees and their families demonstrate against the recent ouster of former Market Basket CEO ARthur T. Demoulas and a number of his top executives.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 July 2014 11:26

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Circumstances behind Conway teen's disappearance & return home still a mystery

by Daymond Steer

Conway Daily Sun

CONWAY — As of Tuesday afternoon, law enforcement was still trying to piece together how formerly missing teen Abby Hernandez came home on Sunday night after being missing for nine months.
Abby Hernandez, 15, disappeared after leaving Kennett High School on Oct. 9 at the end of the school day. She wrote one letter home at the end of October but had not been heard from since until Sunday when she was reunited with her family.
Many anticipated a press conference would be held Tuesday evening but instead the attorney general's office released a statement saying the investigation is ongoing.
Law enforcement also asked if anyone saw a woman wearing a multicolored sweatshirt and black pants on the North-South Road between 10 and 10:30 Sunday night. The outfit appears to be similar to the one she wore on the day she disappeared, based on school security footage of her walking down the school's hall on Oct. 9.
"Investigators continue to conduct interviews and review videotape surveillance from the businesses in the area surrounding the Hernandez home in order to gain answers to the many questions surrounding the disappearance and return of Abigail," the statement reads.
Anyone with information is encouraged to call Conway Police at 356-5715 or State Police at 271-3636.
The statement says Abby had no known means to sustain herself for the nine months she was missing.
"Should the investigation reveal evidence that a person or persons were involved with Abigail's disappearance and/or detainment or concealment, then the appropriate criminal charge(s) will be brought," reads the statement. "Until such time that law enforcement officials have a comprehensive understanding of the facts surrounding Abigail's disappearance and nine month absence, there will be no further press briefings."
The mystery enthralled the community and various Facebook pages, including The Conway Daily Sun's page and Bring Abby Home, have been lighting up with comments about the case.
"No offense but could this get any more strange?" wrote Claes Swede Hermanson on the Facebook page. "Does she have amnesia? Is she not cooperating? Did she forget if she wore those clothes? Either she was wearing those clothes or she was not."
On Tuesday afternoon, the Sun asked Kieran Ramsey, of the FBI, how common it is for a child to be found after being missing for so long. Ramsey said they were still sorting out the details of her disappearance. He said trying to put Abby's case in perspective by comparing it to other cases would be "very difficult." However, he said it's not hard to characterize Abby's return.
"To see her come home is a win in any column," said Ramsey.
The FBI's Kidnapping and Missing person's web page had about 70 names and faces on it as of Tuesday afternoon. Abby's name was still on the list but the word "located" was under her photo. She was the only person listed as located.
Ramsey hasn't spoken to Abby directly but says the core law enforcement agencies in the case, Conway police, state police and the FBI, were working with Abby on Tuesday afternoon and that he was waiting for a briefing from them.
"We know everyone has a million questions," said Ramsey adding law enforcement wants to make sure their information is as "solid" as possible before they release anything. Ramsey says his understanding is Abby is well. He said concerns for her well-being are another reason why they are being careful about releasing information.
Earlier in the day, Sr. Associate Attorney General Jane Young said she is "very, very, happy" that Abby is home safely.
"A lot of times it doesn't end that way," said Young who was on her way to Conway.
She says the investigation into what happened with Abby is "ongoing and dynamic." She told the Sun's reporter to be patient.
Conway police chief Ed Wagner said he was "extremely happy" that Abby has come home.
Abby's father posted a message on his Facebook page.
"We have prayed for this day — welcome home Abby," said Ruben on his Facebook page.
Bring Abby Home volunteer Amanda Smith said Abby and Abby's mother, Zenya, won't be doing interviews right away.
Paul Kirsch, who led the Bring Abby Home effort, said he was at work when he got the news. Kirsch had organized a number of vigils, started a Bring Abby Home website and helped distribute a number of Bring Abby Home fliers and magnetic posters.
"I was filled with a combination of total shock and happiness, said Kirsch about how he felt.
Kirsch reacted to the news by contacting Smith because he figured Zenya would be swamped.
"After that, the next thing I did, with complete joy, was walk out to my truck and take the Abby magnet off the back of it," said Kirsch. "My wife and I got to see the family last night and it was very special. We are so happy for them and for the community support."
On Tuesday afternoon, Kennett High School Principal Neal Moylan said he had no information about Abby but did say she would be welcome to return to school in September. Moylan has received countless media inquiries after news broke that Hernandez was home.
"We're glad she's home and safe with her family," Moylan said.
Abby's ex boyfriend told WMUR that this ordeal has been 'horrible' because he wondered what happened to her. He's glad she's home, WMUR reported.
For many months, Abby was listed on the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children's web page as a child who is missing from New Hampshire. She had been removed from the list by Tuesday afternoon. When reached Tuesday, Bob Lowery, a national center vice president in the missing children division, said his organization is "delighted" with the news.
He said their success rate drops off dramatically the longer a child has been missing but they have helped find people who have been missing for much longer. Lowery cited two examples. One person was found after 18 years and another was found after 42 years. The center won't close a case until the person is physically found.
"We don't give up," said Lowery.
The National Center's success rate has improved over the years, according to its website.
"The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children has assisted law enforcement in the recovery of more than 196,488 missing children since it was founded in 1984," states missingkids.com. "Our recovery rate for missing children has grown from 62 percent in 1990 to 97 percent today."
As of Tuesday afternoon, Bring Abby Home's Facebook page had well over 10,000 likes.
Most people on Facebook were thrilled with Abby's return. However, some commenters were negative. Desiree Reed, who posted on Bring Abby Home's Facebook page, addressed some of the negative comments.
"Sorry but even IF she did run away I don't feel like my time was wasted getting the word out about her disappearance and I'm sure a lot of people who wanted her home safe feel the same," said Reed. "She is just a CHILD. Even if she ran away by her own free will this could have ended badly. Stop being so selfish just be happy she is home."
Lee Albert Pelletier wrote, "The family certainly doesn't owe me any explanation. Just glad to hear they've been reunited with her."

Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 July 2014 01:31

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Female business owners tell congresswoman of their hopes & describe challenges

LACONIA — Women business owners described the trials and tribulations they have faced in starting and managing their own businesses at a Women Entrepreneurs Roundtable Monday morning at the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce.
All agreed that stress was a major part of owning a small business and that it is experienced differently by women than men as, despite changes over the last several generations, most of the child-rearing and caring for elderly parents still falls on the shoulders of women.
Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter, who along with the New Hampshire Small Business Development Center and the Chamberarranged the event, said that stress is the one constant theme she hears from other women business owners across the state and that seeking some relief and some improvement is one of the biggest needs of women business owners.
She said that one small step is her RENEW Business Act, which would help start-ups by increasing the tax deduction available to new businesses from $5,000 to $10,000.
Access to financing for start-up and expanding existing businesses and the cost of health insurance are the major issues facing small businesses all across the state according to Sally Holder, business adviser with the N.H. Small Business Development Center, who said that many SBDC resources are available to entrepreneurs, such as the Women-Owned Small Business Program.
Holder said that for many older women who are starting their own businesses one major issue is overcoming gender stereotypes and adapting to the role of goal setting and decision making in a manner which ''gets us out of the weeds'' and enables them to really take control of their business operations.
Cindi Ingalls, who along with her husband, Mike, who has his own career as engineer, started the Lakes Region Pet Resort on Rte. 3 in Center Harbor three years ago, says that one of her major problems is finding good employees.
''There are things we weren't aware of when we started our business, which 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It takes special people to be able to do that and and they're hard to find. There's a lot of physical work and some of the overnight shifts are hard to fill. One worker never showed up for their shift and that adds extra stress to doing our business.''
She said that younger workers of the what is known as the Millennial Generation put quality of life issues above all others and are sometimes difficult to work with as they don't like to stick with a schedule, whereas those of other generations are more concerned with keeping their jobs and having a regular paycheck. She recalls that when she first presented her plan for an upscale Pet Resort to a banker she was ''laughed right out of the office'' but eventually was able to obtain financing and start her business, which has proved very successful and now is 65 percent repeat business.
Jane Wood, who is the office manger at Patrick Wood Law LLC, her husband's firm, says that the biggest challenge is the poor economic climate. ''It's been so bad for so long. We weren't able to give raises for the last five years and had to let one person go. We have good people who work for us and fortunately she (the laid-off employee) was able to land a job where she could get health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act for half of what we had to pay.''
She observed that many women make the mistake of calling themselves and other women in business as ''girls'' and that often translates to others as saying ''you're a child and not be taken seriously.''
Jeanne Howe Compton, owner of New England Porch Rockers, says that she wants to take her chair caning business to the next level by obtaining financing which will enable her to get into manufacturing. She cited one success story involving four locally-owned women businesses who have joined together to form the Vintage Row Shops which are located on the same street, which is something of an elbow of Pleasant Street attached to the Downtown Laconia area.
''I'd like to be part of something which brings Laconia back to the place it was when I was kid,'' said Compton.
Lani Voivod, who partners with her husband, Alan, at Epiphanies Inc. says that the social media firm has been able to work with some high profile clients and she and her husband are co-founders of the "A-Ha!" N.H. Social Media Business Summits.
She said that women bring unique strengths to the business world through their sense of community, social responsibility and collaboration and have been able to change the conversation about what a successful business really should look like.
''We're changing the language of business and making it more intuitive and innovative,'' says Voivod.

CAPTION:

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (center) talks with women business owners Monday morning at a Women Entrepreneurs Roundtable at the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce. With Shea-Porter, center, are, left to right, Cindi Ingalls of the Lakes Region Pet Resort, Jeanne Howe Compton of New England Porch Rockers, Lani Voivod of Epiphanies, Inc., Karmen Gifford, executive director of the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, Jane Wood, office manager of Patrick Wood Law Office and Sally Holder, business adviser with the NH Small Business Development Center. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun.)

Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 July 2014 12:56

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2 separate hiking groups rescued from Mt. Major over weekend - 576

ALTON — Two separate hiking groups were rescued from Mt. Major in Alton over the weekend, according to the N.H. Fish & Game Department.

On Saturday at 7:55 p.m., 911 dispatchers received a call that two people were off trail and lost in the vicinity of Mt. Major in Alton. Movva Rao Nageswara, age 48, of Switzerland, and his daughter Raasida Gaugier, age 19, of Medford, Massachusetts, began hiking the mountain at approximately 4:15 p.m. They summited Mt. Major and then continued along the blue trail until they found what they thought was a separate green-blazed trail that led down the mountain. However the green blaze was actually an old boundary line, and they eventually lost the green blaze and became lost, at which time they called 911 for assistance. Alton Fire Rescue responded, along with Alton Police.

Meanwhile, at approximately 8:30 p.m., 911 dispatch received a second call for lost hikers in the same area. A church group from Massachusetts, consisting of 35 hikers, including 16 children, some as young as 3-years-old, had left the trailhead to Mt. Major at approximately 4:00 p.m. to summit the mountain. The group reached the top and took some time to enjoy the views and pick blueberries. When they departed the summit, they took the wrong trail, one leading away from the trailhead. By the time they realized their mistake, they were several miles from the trailhead and it was getting dark. The group had no lights or provisions, so they decided to wait at their current location and called 911 for assistance. Alton Fire Rescue and Alton Police were already on scene and initiated a second search for the lost group.

The search for the two groups was made difficult due to the lack of cell phone coverage and intermittent radio reception. Eventually, Fish and Game was called in to assist, with the first officers arriving at approximately 10:30 p.m. The priority was given to the group of 35 members, and they were eventually located at 1:37 a.m. the next morning by a member of the Alton Fire Department. The group was in high spirits, gathered around a fire singing songs. Lights and provisions were gathered and a rescue party consisting of Alton Fire-Rescue and Fish and Game personnel reached the group and escorted them to Alton Mountain Road, arriving at 3:13 a.m. The group was transported back to the trailhead, where they were returned to their vehicles.

The Dartmouth-Hitchcock Advanced Response Team (DHART) Helicopter was asked to assist in the search for the pair of lost hikers first reported. At 3:45 a.m., the DHART helicopter arrived on scene to begin a search using both FLIR and search lights. A Fish and Game search party consisting of Conservation Officer Ron Arsenault and Conservation Officer Joe Canfield made voice contact with two lost hikers at 4:29 a.m. and DHART was directed to focus their search in the officers' location, which resulted in the subjects being located at 4:36 a.m. The two hikers were assessed and guided to Alton Mountain Road, where transportation was awaiting to drive them back to the trailhead, where their car was parked.

Fish and Game officials say both incidents could have been prevented by good planning and preparation. They advise hikers to remember to pack appropriate lighting, clothing, equipment, food and water. It is also always good practice to hike with a partner in case of a medical emergency. Hikes often take longer than anticipated, and weather is unpredictable. Having appropriate gear aides in safety. Please visit http://www.hikesafe.com for a list of recommended equipment.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 July 2014 12:43

Hits: 322

 
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