POISED TO DROP THE FIRST BALLOT
Balsams resort construction manager Jeff Stevens waits for the okay from town moderator Tom Tillotson, ready to cast the first ballot in Dixville’s First-in-the-Nation Presidential Primary vote at the stroke of 12 a.m. on Tuesday, February 8. Tom’s wife and town clerk Deborah and their son and checklist supervisor Tanner look on, along with a throng of media from as far away as Belgium in the Balsams Resort’s Hale House. Dixville’s nine votes went to John Kasich (3) and Donald Trump (2), and Democrat Bernie Sanders (4). (Karen Ladd photo)
Colebrook Answers Former Selectman’s Court Petition, Seeks Motion to Dismiss
By Jake Mardin
The Town of Colebrook has filed an answer and motion to dismiss former selectman Jules Kennett’s Coös Superior Court complaint regarding the transfer station and an alleged right-to-know violation.
In his complaint filed on December 29, Mr. Kennett alleges that the town failed to include minutes of a December 11 meeting at the town transfer station, in answer to his December 18 request to town manager Becky Merrow seeking access to governmental records under RSA 91-A.
He further alleges that he “discovered e-mails concerning the 12/11/15 meeting to be attended by Colebrook selectmen, town employees and Coös County employees at the Colebrook Recycling Center,” and that notices of the meeting “were not posted for public viewing as required [and] no minutes from [the] 12/11/15 [meeting] presented upon written request violates Access to Governmental Records and Meetings (RSA 91-A).”
Mr. Kennett’s complaint further alleges that selectman Suzanne Collins also holds the position of Coös County planning board secretary and “oversaw the movement of funds within the Town of Colebrook’s 2015 budget for the purchase of equipment in the name of the Coös County Recycling Center and she also negotiated, voted on and signed an agreement with the County of Coös to rejoin the Coös County Recycling Center on January 1, 2016.”
Mr. Kennett asked the court to block the town from joining the county recycling program, closing the town’s recycling center or removing any equipment. He also requested reimbursement for all costs incurred by bringing the complaint to court.
The board of selectmen’s answer and motion to dismiss were filed by Colebrook attorney Jonathan Frizzell of Waystack Frizzell. In their answer, the selectmen provide some background on the recycling issue and Colebrook’s participation in the county recycling center for some years before the previous board voted to leave the program. During a regular meeting on November 23, the board voted unanimously during public session to return to the county program.
On December 11, selectmen Raymond Gorman, Sue Collins and Greg Placy visited the transfer station, along with town manager Becky Merrow, town employees Anthony Rossitto and Wilfred Gaudette and county employees Craig Hamelin and Ben Champagne. “The purpose of the site visit was to coordinate the activities of employees of the Town of Colebrook and the County of Coös to ensure a smooth transition when Colebrook rejoined the county’s recycling program as of January 1, 2016,” the selectmen stated in the answer. “The practice of the board of selectmen, in an abundance of caution and in order to promote the spirit and intent of N.H. RSA Chapter 91-A, is to post all meetings of the board where a quorum of at least two board members is expected to be present. Unfortunately, through accident, mistake or misfortune, and not through bad faith or neglect, the site visit was not posted as a public meeting, even though the intention of the board was to post the site visit as a public meeting.”
The selectmen argue that the failure to post public notice of the site visit “was wholly inadvertent” and that no decisions were made and no votes were taken. “With a literal reading of RSA 91-A, it is clear that ‘a chance, social or other encounter not convened for the purpose of discussing or acting upon such matters shall not constitute a meeting if no decisions are made regarding such matters.’”
The board states that the December 11 visit does not constitute a meeting within the scope of the statute. “Even though the board did intend to post notice of the site visit, the board’s good-faith intention to ‘over-comply’ with the open meeting law does not mean that its failure to post notice of the site visit therefore means, ipso facto, that a violation of RSA 91-A has occurred,” the document states.
In an affidavit filed with the court, Ms. Merrow stated that the meeting lasted for about 60 minutes, and at the next board meeting, the activities of the transfer station were discussed. “Unfortunately, the December 11, 2015 meeting at the transfer station was not properly posted,” she said. On December 9 she sent an e-mail to two town employees advising them and others of the meeting. She said it was her intent to instruct an employee to post notice of the meeting, but “through accident, mistake or misfortune,” the e-mail was misinterpreted and the meeting was not posted.
Ms. Merrow said as the employee supervisor and town manager she takes responsibility for the meeting not being posted. “There was no bad faith or attempt to circumvent the Right to Know Law,” Ms. Merrow said. “No decisions were made or votes taken during the meeting at the transfer station.”
Ms. Collins addressed the claim of a conflict of interest in her own affidavit, noting that she was employed as the Coös County administrator for 28 years before retiring in 2012. “My service to the [county] planning board is that of a recording clerk contracted to record the minutes of the meeting,” she said. “I am not on the payroll of Coös County and invoice my services at the rate of $15 per hour for taking the minutes of planning board meetings and typing them. The Coös County Planning Board for the Unincorporated Places has absolutely no authority, jurisdiction, legal or financial relationship whatsoever to the Coös County Recycling Program.”
In its motion to dismiss, the town reiterates each issue and points made in its answer and accompanying affidavits. Attorney Frizzell writes that Mr. Kennett fails to demonstrate irreparable harm in regard to his request for injunctive relief.
As of press time, Mr. Kennett had not yet filed an answer to the town’s motion.
(Issue of February 10, 2016)
MCKINNON REACHES 1,000 POINTS
Coach Buddy Trask presented the game ball to Colebrook Academy senior Sedrick McKinnon after he reached the 1,000-point mark in his varsity career Monday night against Canaan-Pittsburg. He reached the mark on a shot with 3:05 left in the game, and had 24 points in the Mohawks’ 74-70 win. (Karen Ladd photo)
Quimby Country Board Votes to Close; Shareholders Still Seeking Alternatives
By Lucie Fillion Daley
The Quimby Country Corporation board of directors voted on February 2 against reopening the 118-year-old resort for the summer of 2016, and decided to list the property for sale.
“The financial hurdles to open this summer could not be overcome, and the time to implement any new business model would require significant time and financial resources that Quimby Country does not have,” stated a letter to shareholders and guests. The board sent the first notice of closure to shareholders and guests in late December, explaining its intentions to not reopen at that time.
When guests and shareholders rallied to “Save Quimby’s” via Facebook, personal phone calls, and e-mails, the board gave them a month to gather new reservations. Although 370 guest days were added, “The numbers didn’t justify opening for the summer,” board president Warren Coleman said. The board will soon begin returning deposits made for this summer.
Mr. Coleman said the property in Averill, which surrounds Forest Lake and connects to Big Averill Lake, has not yet been listed. Three board members are tasked with finding a broker to establish a price and list it shortly.
Many have contacted individual board members over the past month and a half to share stories, memories, concerns, encouragement and gratitude. “We understand how important Quimby Country has been in the life of so many people,” the letter said. The board had a difficult decision to make, but had to look out for the best interest of shareholders.
“As long-time guests, the board (members are) saddened that Quimby Country’s long and successful run has come to an end. We will see what the future brings and keep you informed,” the letter concluded.
Guests banded together to preserve Quimby Country once before. The Cold Spring House first hosted guests in the summer of 1898 when Charles Quimby, a hardware store owner from West Stewartstown, and two partners leased the Forest Lake Fishing Camp from the Connecticut Valley Lumber Company. It was largely promoted as a fishing camp and retreat for East Coast businessmen, as longtime guest Alison Thirkield wrote in her Quimby history.
By the time Mr. Quimby died in 1919, he had bought out his two partners, and his daughter Hortense Quimby took over. She transformed the resort into a family retreat by adding stables and a clay tennis court, and hiring counselors to oversee children’s activities. She bought the previously leased property, and she increased her holdings to include land along Big Averill Lake and Cottage Road. She then built 20 guest cottages that are still a feature of the resort. Families started traditions and made memories at Quimby’s Cold Spring Club, their summer retreat.
In 1967 after Miss Quimby succumbed to her 12-year battle with bone cancer, guests were dismayed to learn that she had left the Quimby property to the University of Vermont Medical School. They feared the Quimby spirit would be broken, and the land divided and sold for timber.
Several guest families formed the Quimby Country Corporation and pooled their resources to buy the property, continuing with operations under the management of Howard and Marge Henson. The guests had to change with the times just as they are trying to do today.
Although the property and its holdings will be offered for sale, the board wants to hear of any interest in purchasing Quimby Country from shareholders, guests, and friends, the letter states. The board also welcomes any creative suggestions.
The Thirkield family has a long history at Quimby’s, where riding mistress Eugenia Baker and guest Gilbert Thirkield Jr. met and fell in love in 1940. They then had two children Brian and Alison, whose families continued to vacation each summer. “If it wasn’t for Quimby’s, I wouldn’t be here,” Alison said. She, the Ladermans, and a few of the older shareholders’ families are working together to create a new business plan to help keep some form of Quimby’s alive for future generations. “We are working on a way forward and being hopeful,” she said.
Anyone interested learning more about Quimby’s may call 802-822-5533 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Issue of February 10, 2016)
Stratford police chief Wayne Hall checks on the deer that he and others helped save from the Connecticut River on Saturday. They took her to Burns Truck Stop and wrapped her in a thermal blanket to warm up before releasing her into the woods. (Jake Mardin photo)
Quick Effort Rescues Deer from River
By Jake Mardin
Thanks to the effort of a group of citizens in Stratford, a young doe was rescued from the Connecticut River and set free on Saturday.
Police chief Chief Wayne Hall said he and Tom Marcotte, Mike Lynch, Mark Newman and Ted Burns were all involved with the rescue after the deer was seen in the water across from the field adjacent to Burns Truck Stop. N.H. Fish and Game was called but didn’t have anyone to respond, and Chief Hall decided to attempt a rescue using a flat-bottomed boat.
At around 9:30 a.m. the group went out to get the deer, which Mr. Hall estimated to be a year to a year and a half old and about 100-130 feet from the shore. Mr. Lynch gave Chief Hall a life vest to wear and he was tied with a rope so he could be pulled out if necessary. After he was tied off he went out onto the ice, crawling about 75 feet while pulling the boat along the ice.
The ice turned into a more slushy variety, about an inch and a half thick. “I had another 50 to 70 feet to break through with the oars to get to the deer,” he said, and he eventually reached the doe. “I tried to talk to it and calm it down,” he said. He was able to tie a rope around the deer and was pulled to shore in the boat while holding onto the animal.
Once they got back up on solid ice, the deer stood up and tried to strike her front hooves at Chief Hall a couple of times. Chief Hall was able to secure the rope and move toward shore. Once on land, the deer walked around and tried to head back towards the river, so Chief Hall put his jacket over her head and got her to the ground to tie her legs.
At around 11 a.m., they got the deer to Burns Truck Stop, where they wrapped it in a thermal blanket to warm it up. At a little past noon, the group transported the doe to a location on Reservoir Road, and after she was untied, she took off towards the woods. “Thankfully the deer was fine and everything turned out good,” Chief Hall said.
(Issue of February 10, 2016)
IT’S ALL IN THE FAMILY
Four members of the Poulin family—Rage, Dathan, Rick and Jenn—hit the voting booths in Colebrook yesterday afternoon to cast their choices in the Presidential Primary. In a few years when Dezra catches up, they’ll be able to vote as a fivesome. (Rob Maxwell photo)