DEAREST OF FRIENDS
Joan Cowan joined her old friend Florence Howes as a guest of honor at an afternoon reception celebrating Florence’s 90th birthday, surrounded by friends and family on Saturday, July 16 at Jackson’s Lodge in Canaan. (Alan Farnsworth photo)
Colebrook Breaks Ground on Main St. Project Today, Outlines Work Schedule
BY Jake Mardin
The long-awaited Main Street rehabilitation project in Colebrook is ready to start, with a groundbreaking ceremony scheduled to be held this afternoon.
JP Sicard of Barton, Vt., submitted the winning bid to replace the aging water and sewer mains on Main, South Main, Colby, Bridge and Park streets, installing water and sewer service connections to the edge of the right of way. The intent is to complete the first five phases of the project in 2016 and the last three phases in 2017.
The first phase is from Parsons Street to Bridge Street, and two-way traffic will be maintained during the work. Phase two covers the area from Bridge Street to the Mohawk River, and will see two-way and alternating one-way traffic. The third phase takes place from the Mohawk River to the end of the project area at the base of Cooper Hill, and will have alternating one-way traffic during sewer main replacement and two-way traffic during the water main replacement. Phase four will encompass the area from Titus Hill Road to Parsons Street and will allow for two-way traffic, and phase five will take place from Titus Hill Road to the starting point of the project near Northern Outlet.
The final three phases all involve work on side streets. Phase six consists of work on Bridge Street and will see two-way traffic for water work and alternating one-way traffic for sewer work. The traffic pattern will be similar for phase seven, which covers Park Street, and there will be two-way traffic during phase eight on Colby Street.
Work is anticipated to take place from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and from 6 a.m. to a time to be determined on Friday. Town permission is required for work outside of these hours on town roads, and DOT permission is required for work on state highways. No work is allowed on Sunday without permission from the town, and no work will take place during the Moose Festival.
Access to existing driveways will also be maintained, and if major work must be done that prohibits full access, the contractor will coordinate the work with the owners and the engineer 24 hours in advance.
The public is invited to attend today’s groundbreaking ceremony, taking place at the business park off of Bridge Street at 1 p.m. Former town officials are also invited to the ceremony in recognition of the work they put in to make the project a reality.
(Issue of July 20, 2016)
A BIGGER EXERCISE AREA
Jordan Phinney and Laurie Connors (background) of the Indian Stream Health Center work with Hayahn Masson and Logan Hailey to increase the area around the Physical Fitness Center at the Canaan Recreation Park. The ISHC Community Clean Up effort took place on Saturday, July 16, and was followed by an afternoon five-on-five soccer game at the park.
(Alan Farnsworth photo)
Several Officers, Members Resign from Pittsburg Fire Department
By Rob Maxwell
At least four Pittsburg firefighters have resigned their positions as a result of an apparent dispute with the town’s selectmen over the appointment of a fire warden.
Chief Sandy Young, Lt. Peter Keyser, Jill Young and Joel Young stated their intentions to leave the department during a meeting at the fire station on Wednesday, July 13, reducing the department’s active membership to fewer than 15.
Pittsburg’s volunteer fire department operates under the government of the town with a chain of command that flows downward from the selectmen to three fire wardens and then to the department’s chief and officers. Traditionally, two of the wardens have been members of the fire department while the third is a town resident not serving as a department volunteer. Roy Amey and David Parker currently serve as members of the department and as wardens while Richard Baribeau was recently installed as the third, “civilian” warden as a replacement for Gary Covell.
One point of contention between the firemen and the selectmen appears to be a feeling among some firefighters that Mr. Covell’s departure as a warden was not accompanied by a formal letter of resgnation, and that the selectmen appointed Mr. Baribeau without expected consultation with the department’s officers.
Selectmen Brendon McKeage and Richard Lapoint confronted about 25 residents and firemen at their regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, July 18, and listened to several members of the public express their concern over the current situation and what it may portend for the future. Board chairman Steve Ellis did not attend this meeting, as he is currently out of town. The meeting was also attended by wardens Mr. Amey and Mr. Baribeau, neither of whom chose to speak.
During a brief interview prior to Mon-day’s meeting, Mr. McKeage and Mr. Lapoint made it clear they would not address specifics of the fire department issue with the press or the public until they had received advice from legal counsel. “We will not comment on this issue now and we are seeking legal advice,” said Mr. McKeage. “We don’t know officially that anyone has resigned and we are unaware of what happened at the fire meeting last week.”
Mr. Lapoint noted that his immediate concern is whether the town will have adequate fire and emergency services in the face of the reported department resignations, and expressed his belief that the town is at no risk of inadequate fire department coverage. Mr. McKeage finalized the interview by saying, “The board has always supported the fire department and the board always will. There’s apparently a difference of opinion about how the fire department is being governed and that is something that needs to be worked through.”
The public segment of Monday’s meeting opened with Mr. McKeage asking all in attendance to state their concerns one by one if they chose to do so, and he reiterated that neither he nor Mr. Lapoint ?would comment on specific issues. “We have been caught off-guard by this so we are limited in what we can say,” Mr. McKeage stated. “No written letters of resignation have been received by the board, and no one has been asked to leave.”
Pittsburg business owner Georgie Lyons spoke first, citing potential problems with business and residential insurance coverage. “If word gets out that we don’t have adequate fire department protection, people could lose their business and home-owner policies,” she said. Ms. Lyons added that should fire and emergency protection eventually devolve to the Beecher Falls Fire Department, response times to the northern reaches of Pittsburg could prove to be dangerously long.
Fire department officer Steve Kiley read from a prepared statement that included his belief that, “The selectmen are seeking total National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) compliance in our department. New Hampshire is not a mandated NFPA state, and for good reason.” (The NFPA develops, publishes and disseminates recommended fire department codes and standards which are not necessarily binding in their entirety in many small, volunteer fire departments.)
Lindsay Gray spoke emotionally about his disappointment concerning the apparent breakdown of communication between the selectmen and the firemen saying, “The firemen have been getting different answers to the same questions, so some answers can’t be true. When people are resigning after 20 to 30 years of service, there’s a big problem but nobody seems to want to admit what the real problems are. There are too many egos and not enough cooperation.”
Acting Chief Duane Covell asked Mr. McKeage why “one warden was let go and another one hired without input from the department?” Mr. McKeage answered succinctly, “That’s a question we will not answer now.”
Mr. Lapoint told the gathering, “We don’t want to run the department and we want the chain of command to work. I would like to see this fixed. Please give us the time we need to get the facts we need to properly inform you.”
Acting Chief Covell had the final word before Mr. McKeage closed public comment, saying, “Our hearts have been ripped out and I can tell you there are more department members ready to leave.” Chief Young declined to comment when contacted by phone on Monday afternoon, and he did not attend Monday’s meeting.
(Issue of July 20, 2016)
PLENTY OF CHOICES
Payton Perigny ponders her choices before a display of books during the CLiF Summer Readers Program on Monday, July 11 at Colebrook Elementary School that welcomed over 40 children for a story and a choice of two free books each. The Colebrook presentation is one of 84 visits by CLiF (Children’s Literacy Foundation) to summer programs throughout New Hampshire and Vermont. (Alan Farnsworth photo)
Upper Connecticut Valley Hospital Appoints Scott Colby as President
Upper Connecticut Valley Hospital and North Country Healthcare have appointed Scott G. Colby as the new president of Upper Connecticut Valley Hospital. Mr. Colby will assume leadership of the 16-bed critical access hospital in late August, replacing interim administrator Peter Gosline.
Mr. Colby comes to UCVH with experience in health care strategic planning, business operations and development, medical management collaboration, financial analysis, team-building and growth initiatives. Most recently, he has served as senior vice president of sales and executive director for Minuteman Health in Manchester.
As president, he will manage the day-to-day operations of UCVH and its more than 120 employees based in Colebrook, and will be responsible for ensuring patient care and maintaining the hospital’s financial integrity. Mr. Colby will report to the UCVH board of directors and to North Country Healthcare CEO Warren West. He also will have a role within North Country Healthcare in developing a new, secure health system that will preserve access to high-quality health care for people in northern New Hampshire and Vermont.
“Scott’s wealth of experience in the health care industry, especially in insurance services and staff and operational management, will make him a great addition to UCVH and to the new North Country Healthcare affiliation of hospitals,” said Mr. West. “Scott will play a key role in maintaining high-quality health care in the North Country and help us build a new clinically integrated health system. He will also take a leadership role in forming new mutually beneficial relationships with New Hampshire’s health insurers so that we may ensure local access to health care for the citizens of the North Country.”
Mr. Colby has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from UNH and a master’s of science in management and health care administration degree from New England College. He also is a 2002 graduate of Leadership Manchester. He has held positions as executive vice president of the New Hampshire Medical Society, director of government affairs and managed care of Catholic Medical Center, and manager of network contracting of Tufts Health Plan.
“It is very important that the new president be able to balance the needs of the local community and the new, rapidly evolving system of care in the North Country,” said outgoing CAO Peter Gosline. “I have known Scott for a number of years and I strongly believe he has both the talent and the drive to provide the leadership required for UCVH to thrive in this environment.”
Regarding his appointment, Mr. Colby said, “I feel very fortunate to have been chosen to lead UCVH, its medical staff, and employees at a very exciting time in its 51-year history. I have worked in health care for more than 25 years and continue to be humbled by the compassionate care delivered by physicians, nurses, therapists, and all who come in contact with patients,” he continued. “I am truly impressed by the UCVH staff’s dedication and tireless efforts on behalf of their patients. They are an inspiration and I am excited for this opportunity to help the UCVH staff and physicians continue their important work. The UCVH communities should be very proud of what UCVH has accomplished and equally as excited about what the future holds.”
UCVH board chairman Greg Placy said, “We welcome Scott to the Colebrook area... I’m confident that he will provide the leadership UCVH needs to meet the future challenges in health care and enhance our hospital’s strong commitment to the community.”
Upper Connecticut Valley Hospital (www.ucvh.org) is a member of North Country Healthcare (www.NorthCountry Healthcare.org), an affiliation of Androscoggin Valley Hospital, Littleton Regional Healthcare, Upper Connecticut Valley Hospital and Weeks Medical Center. North Country Healthcare’s mission is to develop a highly coordinated health care network that will improve quality, increase efficiencies, and lower the cost of care delivery in the region.
(Issue of July 20, 2016)