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Wakefield accepts gift of Union blacksmith shop

by Thomas Beeler
Editor of The Granite State News

WAKEFIELD SELECTMEN accepted the deed to the blacksmith shop owned by John and Diane Gray in Union at their Oct. 10 meeting. Present at the signing ceremony were (l-r) Selectman Charlie Edwards, Selectman Chair Ken Paul, Heritage Commission Chair Pam Judge, Selectman Peter Kasprzyk, Bob McChesney (who is donating blacksmith tools to the shop) and Heritage Commission member Phil Twombley. (Courtesy photo) (click for larger version)
October 18, 2012
WAKEFIELD — Last Wednesday, Oct. 10, the Wakefield Board of Selectmen accepted the deed to an historic blacksmith shop in Union Village on behalf of the Heritage Commission.

Commission Chair Pam Judge noted that the deed has been in process for more than a year.

She said there were two blacksmith shops in Union in the 1800s. The one being donated on Bridge Street is owned by John and Diane Gray. Judge introduced Bob McChesney, who will donate artifacts to exhibit at the shop, including blacksmith tools and a tool box from a blacksmith shop in Sanbornville owned by C. Wiggin. These tools had belonged to A.J. Soucy, who worked under Wiggin and he had purchased his tools.

McChesney, a retired builder, purchased A.J.'s tools when he retired. He will be directing the Heritage Commission in restoring the building.

Judge said the Heritage Commission intends to run the restored Union blacksmith shop as a working shop, open to the public, once it is restored. It will produce objects to sell to raise funds to help with the upkeep.

Selectman Chair Ken Paul moved to accept the blacksmith shop on behalf of the town Selectman Peter Kasprzyk seconded and the vote was unanimous.

Selectmen had two other appointments on Oct. 10. The first was with Cynthia Wyatt concerning the need for repairs to the Maple Street Bridge in Union, but Ms. Wyatt was not present and her appointment was rescheduled for Oct. 24. Paul said his view was that rather than repair the bridge, it should be removed since there are bridges with higher priority in town and there is a second way in and out via Bridge Street.

The second appointment was with Stacy Caplette, who has proposed adding a crosswalk across Meadow Street in Sanbornville between the Lovell Lake Food Center and Profile Bank. Police Chief Ken Fifield said that the state Department of Transportation (DOT) has no issue with adding a crosswalk but that if the town does add the crosswalk it will have to maintain it. DOT will not take responsibility for it.

Paul said he had no problem with adding the crosswalk, provided there is money in the budget to do it. He did think the crosswalk would be safer if it were closer to the bank than Longmeadow Hardware.

Caplette said the town needs to send a letter to DOT requesting the crosswalk. DOT will then check the proposed location and confirm that it is OK to proceed.

Selectmen voted unanimously to send the letter.

Highway safety grant

Chief Fifield reviewed with the board a $3,780 Safe Commute grant he is requesting. He said the goal of the grant is to allow police to concentrate on slowing traffic during the commuting periods, twice a day. He said the focus on commuting enforcement has resulted in fewer crashes. Officers target distracted drivers. The grant period starts in the fall and runs to next fall. Fifield noted the town gets $24,000 a year in policing grants. The cost to the town is wear-and-tear on the cruisers, gas, and time spent in court. The grants pay for the policing time.

Selectmen Charlie Edwards said he hates grants. "There is no such thing as free money," he stated.

Fifield responded by saying highway safety grants are paid for through the 18 cent federal tax on gasoline. "It's like a rebate," he said. "You don't have to request it, but others certainly do."

Other business

During public comment former selectman Johnny Blackwood warned selectmen about the proposed shared mechanic arrangement with the school board. See separate story in this issue.

Town Administrator Teresa Williams presented the board with the two bids received for the town audit, from current auditor Vachon Klukay and from Roberts & Greene PLLC of Concord. Selectmen looked over the documents and agreed they needed more time to study the bids, so the decision was postponed until next meeting. "Looks like the audit will cost less," Paul commented.

Selectmen approved a payment of $35,247.40 from the Landfill Capital Reserve for the removal of the ash pile at the transfer station.

The board approved waiving the stop payment fee on a replacement check for an abatement sent to Gary Bushey. The check had not arrived a month after being mailed. Williams said lost checks are a rare occurrence.

Williams reported that Town Clerk Monique Wood applied for and received a Moose Plate grant of $8,506 to rebind and preserve town records from 1924 to 1941 and from 1942 to 1982. She also showed selectmen a town tax book from 1874 discovered by Ron Fuller at the transfer station book barn. This will be the earliest surviving town record. Current records only go back to 1878.

Kasprzyk reported that Oak Hill Road would be paved on Friday, Oct. 12 and that work has begun on Brackett Road. Repairs to the rusted dump truck bed at the highway garage will be completed shortly.

Edwards reported that the planning board has approved the zoning changes pr4oposed by Arthur Capello.

He said a new veterinary hospital is coming to town, to be opened in the Dow Building on Meadow Street. The practice will treat dogs and cats and have no outside holding area, though dogs will be walked on a grassy area out back. The owner agreed to keep the plaque on the building but will change the Dow Building sign to the name of the business, but in the same style. The applicant will return to the planning board with a final plan shortly.

Edwards reported John Hendrith presented a plan to the board for the former SAU 64 building in Union, which he is purchasing. He intends to open a small diner.

The board noted that the Nov. 6 election will be held at the Paul School for 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and that there will be an Eagle Scout ceremony on Nov. 11 at St. Anthony's Church.

The next regular meeting of the Wakefield Board of Selectmen will be on Wednesday, Oct. 24 at 7 p.m. in the Town Hall meeting room.

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