WISHING SHEILA A HAPPY RETIREMENT
The Town of Colebrook organized a farewell party for Sheila Beauchemin on Thursday afternoon, marking her retirement after 22 years. The courtroom at the town hall was filled with people wishing her the best, among them were her husband Keith (left) and selectmen Ray Gorman (right) and Greg Placy. (Jake Mardin photo)
VA to Present Plan for Local Veterans' Care in Colebrook Monday, Dec. 12
By Jake Mardin
White River Junction VA Medical Center director Al Montoya will host meetings in Colebrook and Berlin on Monday to discuss the future of veterans' health care services in Coos County.
In July, administrators from the VA Center and U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen held a meeting at Indian Stream Health Center, where a large group of veterans talked about concerns and problems they had with receiving medical care under the Veteran's Choice Program. Mr. Montoya attended and said that at the time, the VA was adjusting the hours of availability for the medical mobile unit at ISHC to two half-days per week.
One of the questions posed to veterans at the meeting was if they wanted care available five days a week, or only on one or two days. The resounding theme was that our veterans wanted their care where they live, five days a week," he said.
After the meeting, administrators returned to work to look at ways to fulfill veterans' wishes. Mr. Montoya said they came up with a proposal for a case-managed approach, under which VA-employed nurses and social workers would work here in the area. He said one or two VA employees would be in the North Country five days a week, with the times at each location one of the questions that would have to be worked out.
He said these employees would act as "point people and assist veterans with their needs, including billing questions.
"This is an out-of-the-box model we have come up with to present to our veterans," he said. "You can't do better than having our vets be seen where they want to be seen, and having someone take care of them if they have any questions."
The meetings will be held this Monday, December 12, at 10 a.m. at the Berlin Town Hall, and at 1:30 p.m. at the Colebrook Town Hall.
(Issue of December 7, 2016)
A VISIT WITH SANTA
Four-year-old George Crull seemed a bit puzzled as his grandpa Terry Rosi visited with Mrs. Claus and Santa on Saturday, December 3 during Santa's Workshop at the Tillotson Center. Terry vowed he's been a good boy all year, and presented Santa with a long list of Christmas presents he hopes to receive. (Alan Farnsworth photo)
Expanded Verizon Cell Coverage Goes Active on Towers Around Coos County
By Jake Mardin
State and local leaders, business leaders, law enforcement, project members and others were on hand for the official announcement of expanded Verizon 4G LTE cell service in Coos County on Friday.
As of Friday, voice and data service from Verizon was made available from towers on Morse Mountain in Groveton, Chapel Hill in Clarksville, on Milan Hill and in Errol. Wireless Partners is bringing the service to the area, and president and CEO Robert Parsloe was among the speakers at the announcement event.
"We're proud and grateful that Verizon is working with us on expanding our cell coverage," he said, recognizing the partners involved in making the project possible, including those on the infrastructure end like FairPoint, Eversource and 186 Communications. He also announced that he had signed a lease with Bob Chapman to have an office at the mill site in Groveton, from which the engineers will work. He also thanked the Coos Economic Development Association, Northern Border Regional Commission and Border Development Corporation (formerly Colebrook Development Corp.) for their contributions that made the project possible. He announced that another 12 sites will be part of the second phase of the project.
Mr. Parlsoe also recognized U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen for her efforts in getting the project going, and she spoke about the important role that cell coverage plays in today's business environment. "If we don't have cell service, its going to be hard to attract business," Sen. Shaheen said. "Having cell service is integral to getting those businesses to move in."
Jeff Rose, commissioner of the N.H. Department of Resources and Economic Development, echoed Sen. Shaheen's comments on business, and said that in a tourism economy, guests expect modern-day amenities including cell service. Coos County Sheriff Gerry Marcou said the service will improve communication for law enforcement and rescue personnel. "Hopefully the service is going to save some lives in the North Country," he said.
"We are thrilled with this announcement," Chapman Industrial Park general manager Mike Stirling said. "Today, it is impossible to conceive of doing business without cell service." He said two more companies are ready to move into the site, and each has sent a memorandum of understanding. "This is merely the first step in bringing the North Country back."
Pittsburg selectman Steve Ellis said on Monday that he is pleased that a portion of his town will now have coverage. "It's going to help us from an economic development standpoint as far as attracting small businesses and families to our town to settle here, and help keep our schools open," he said. In terms of public safety, he said the town has "thousands of visitors during the winter, and having cell service is going to save lives" when someone gets into trouble in the woods. He also said that local police, Fish and Game and Border Patrol will benefit from coverage. "Keeping connected through cell service is going to help them and help save lives in our community."
Mr. Ellis said he looks forward to additional towers going up in town to provide additional coverage, which he hopes will be accomplished by the end of 2017. "I look forward to working with them to make sure that is achieved so our town service will be expanded," he said.
Mr. Parsloe said on Monday that like most new networks, this network supports only LTE and Voice Over LTE (VOLTE) devices.
(Issue of December 7, 2016)
A 'FROZEN' CHARACTER
Four-year-old Catherine Joos, dressed as Princess Elsa, gets a hug from Mrs. Claus as she and Santa make their entrance at the Kiwanis Christmas Party on Sunday, December 4 in the Colebrook Elementary School gym. (Alan Farnsworth photo)
Zoning Board Rejects LaPerle's Appeal of Site Plan for Grampy's Restaurant
By Rob Maxwell
A brief gathering of the Colebrook zoning board of adjustment last Wednesday, November 30 ended with all five board members voting to deny an appeal brought by LaPerle's IGA owner Guy LaPerle, who took issue with the planning board's approval of a site plan for neighboring Grampy's restaurant.
The ZBA's decision came after months of wrangling between Mr. LaPerle, the Town of Colebrook, Grampy's owner John Kohler and Andrew Hicks, who is selling him the property for his restaurant site. ZBA chairman Dennis Bailey and members Brian LaPerle, Sam Bird, David Thatcher and Joe Anderson spent very little time deliberating before deciding to approve a motion written by town attorney Bernard Waugh that put aside all of Guy LaPerle's objections.
The decision upheld the Colebrook planning board's May 3 approval of a site plan submitted by Mr. Kohler and Mr. Hicks, which allowed for the relocation of Grampy's from Colby Street to a lot between the IGA store and Route 3. During the months since, Mr. LaPerle and his attorney John Riff have maintained that the planning board's approval violated a standing Colebrook ordinance concerning the establishment of temporary structures in town.
Mr. LaPerle brought the matter before Coos Superior Court, where Judge Lawrence MacLeod dismissed the case on September 3, citing a New Hampshire statute requiring aggrieved parties to bring their complaints to a ZBA before seeking recourse from the court.
A contentious public hearing held by the ZBA on Tuesday, November 15 resulted in no decision reached, and Mr. Bailey stated that the board would consult with attorney Waugh and present a motion for consideration on November 30. The four-page motion to deny Mr. LaPerle's appeal was read in its entirety at Wednesday's meeting by board member Brian LaPerle, and no input was allowed from the public.
The motion largely expressed the notion that Guy LaPerle's appeal lacked evidence to prove "any threat to the health of the communit...any unreasonable fire hazard or any substantial decrease in the property value of the abutting LaPerle property." The motion also cited a lack of evidence that Mr. Kohler's business has caused a loss of business volume at the IGA store, that a substantial number of the public have been using parking spaces at LaPerle's in order to patronize Grampy's, or have been using the restrooms in the IGA in lieu of the portable toilets provided by Grampy's.
In summary, the motion before the board stated that the New Hampshire Supreme Court "has held that changes or increases in business competition are a natural part of our free-market economy and do not constitute a legal harm, at least not for zoning purposes."
After the motion was presented and seconded, each board member was given an opportunity to offer an opinion, and these statements indicated the board's dismay over LaPerle's inability to provide evidence of harm and their (the board's) belief that Grampy's relocation was a more or less welcome addition to the town's economy. "In the long run," stated Mr. Bailey, "allowing Grampy's to do business at this location will benefit both parties and the local business environment."
The ZBA decision leaves Mr. LaPerle with the options of no longer seeking relief or bringing the matter back to Superior Court and no announcement of his plans has yet been made.
(Issue of December 7, 2016)