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POW/MIA Chair of Honor dedicated by Wakefield selectmen

Wakefield selectmen dedicated a chair to honor Americans who were Prisoners of War or Missing in Action at their June 27 meeting, The chair was donated by Rolling Thunder and presented by Robert Wiggin (center, to the left of the chair). Members of the Milton Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8393 (left of Wiggins) were present for the ceremony and led the board and audience in the Pledge of Allegiance. (Photo by Thomas Beeler) (click for larger version)
July 11, 2018
WAKEFIELD — Wakefield selectmen opened their June 27 meeting with a ceremony dedicating a Chair of Honor for servicemen who are Prisioners of War or still Missing in Action in the Town Hall conference room.

The black chair with gold markings was placed in a corner closest to the main window, flanked by American and POW/MIA flags and cordoned off with a velvet rope. A plaque placed over the chair explains that it is to honor those who have not come home and awaits the last lost serviceman or woman to sit in it.

The chair was donated by Rolling Thunder, a nonprofit group that raises money to support efforts to bring our soldiers home, including the Chair of Honor, and to advocate for veterans' rights, explained Robert Wiggin, a U.S. Air Force veteran and a member of Unit 1 of the national Rolling Thunder organization. He explained that the first chair was placed down South at a race track. The idea then spread so that every sports stadium in the U.S. now has a chair and the group is now seeking to place them in public places in towns everywhere.

Wiggin said there are 90,000 service people Missing in Action, and the nation should not rest until all are home or accounted for.

Members of Milton VFW Post 8393 were present and led selectmen and audience members in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Compassion commended

Selectmen also presented Officer Matthew Martino of the Wakefield Police Department with a letter of commendation for showing compassion to a resident in distress. The resident had gone to tend the grave of her recently-deceased husband and discovered that the flowers she had left on the grave were stolen. Officer Martino took the report and assured the distraught widow that the department would do its best of find the thief. The next time the widow visited her husband's grave, she discovered that Officer Martino on his own initiative has replaced the stolen flowers to ease her grief.

Selectman Connie Twombley had heard about Martino's act of kindness from the widow herself. Twombley also read aloud the letter of commendation.

Bridge Assessment bids

Town Administrator Kelley Collins had sent 48 engineering firms a Request for Qualifications to perform an assessment of all of the town's bridges. She explained that the New Hampshire Department of Transportation required soliciting a Request for Qualifications before issuing a Request for Bids.

Six bids were received, but one of the bidders was disqualified, Collins said. She developed a matrix of qualifications to evaluate the finalists, and invited three to a special meeting with the Board of Selectmen on June 21. Following interviews with the finalists the board agreed with Collins' top pick based on her matrix: HEB Engineers of Conway.

Selectmen voted unanimously to choose HEB to do the work. The first step in the process will be a public information session by HEB, which will take place at the board's next meeting.

Public Works Director terminated

In her Town Administrator's Update, Collins mentioned that an ad for a Public Works Director would be published in the June 28 issue of the Granite State News. Asked by this reported following the meeting if this meant Public Works Director Leigh Nichols had left his position, she replied that he had been terminated. She also said she does not anticipate that there would be inside candidates.

Apparently, the termination took place on June 21, based on Nichols Facebook post:

"Just wanted to let everyone know that the Board of Selectmen (I would assume on the recommendation of the Town Administrator, based on the Personnel Policy, and because her signature was on the paperwork) Presented me two options to either resign or to have them "terminate my employment" with the Town of Wakefield, I chose the latter. It has been a pleasure serving all of you as your DPW Director."

Contacted for a comment, Collins said she cannot comment on a personnel matter.

Other business

One of the 18-year-old boilers at the Public Safety Building has failed. Police Chief John Ventura sought bids to replace it and received three. The lowest bidder was Coburn Heating and Air Conditioning at $7,300, followed by K&M at $9,273 and Pioneer Mechanical at $12,000. The board voted to accept Chief Ventura's recommendation to go with Coburn as the lowest bidder. The cost will be covered by a capital reserve. Chief Ventura said he will put replacing the building's second boiler in the Capital Improvement Plan.

Chief Ventura also asked selectmen to sign a contract to update the Emergency Operations Plan. Without an approved plan the town will not be able to accept FEMA grants. However, there is a 50-50 grant available to produce a current plan that will not require a cash outlay by the town. Collins has solicited bids on updating the plan and received three bids, the lowest of which was Hubbard Consulting at $4,000, The board approved Chief Ventura's request. Hubbard Consulting had been approved for the contract earlier.

The owner of the park at Map 10, Lot 4-17, a cabin taken for nonpayment of taxes, paid $2,482.04 in back taxes, interest and fees. Selectmen signed a quitclaim deed to return the property to the owner and back on the tax rolls.

Selectmen signed the annual Forfeiture List of Unlicensed Dogs. Dogs must be registered with the Town Clerk by April 30.

The board approved Technology Capital Reserve Funds totaling $5,929 got replacing computers, including a laptop for the Supervisors of the Checklist, as well as upgrading access points for WiFi connections.

A letter from Nate Fogg resigning from the Conservation Commission was accepted with thanks for his past service.

The board formally adopted the IRS 2018 mileage rate of 54.5 cents.

Collins reported a letter of complaint from a Spectrum subscriber about recent price hikes and said she is keeping a log of the three or four complaints a year that may give the town leverage when the contract comes up for renewal.

Collins also reported receiving a letter from a resident warning the town not to go on his property. As a result, the town will be unable to approve an outstanding building permit application he has filed.

A culvert on Pond Road (a Class VI road owned by the town but not maintained) was struck by a plow. Someone later removed the culvert, creating a trench on the road. Selectman Vin Wallace said police should find out who damaged the culvert. The board concluded that the resident should contact the contractor who plows the road.

The planning board complained that Selectman Wallace, the selectmen's liaison, had not attended meetings. Selectman Twombley agreed to attend instead.

Rick Poore was appointed a full member of the Heritage Commission and Paul Johnson was appointed full member of the Conservation Commission. Both men had been alternates previously.

The next meeting of the Wakefield Board of Selectmen will be at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, July 11 in the Town Hall conference room.

All selectmen meetings are broadcast live by ClearView Community TV and may also be viewed online at governmentoversite.com.

Garnett Hill
Martin Lord Osman
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Garnett Hill
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