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Maintenance of Lufkin's property sparks discussion among Whitefield selectmen

by Tara Giles
Sports reporter - Coos County Democrat and Berlin Reporter

Lufkins Service Center in Whitefield was the topic of conversation at a recent board meeting in town. The Lufkin family has owned and operated the shop in Whitefield since 1975. (Photo by Tara Giles) (click for larger version)
April 16, 2018
WHITEFIELD — During a recent Select Board meeting in Whitefield, Lufkin's Service Center was the topic of much discussion. The conversation was in regards to a junk yard permit for a site Mark Lufkin owns out of town, which segued into concerns regarding the Service Center location in town.

Lufkin was at the board meeting, and asked if the board had time to sign his junk yard permit. Board member John Tholl explained that the permit had not been signed because fellow board member Peter Corey had been out of town. According to the minutes, Corey had requested additional information from the state to see if the board was obligated to renew the permit.

Corey said, "Some of us have concerns about the way Mark is maintaining the properties downtown, and it is a point of continuous complaints that Peter personally receives from a lot of people."

Corey said that before he signs a document that says Lufkin is in full compliance with the laws for operating junk yards, he wants to be sure he is. Corey said he is not convinced that Lufkin is in compliance.

There were no residents at the board meeting that spoke against Lufkin's Service Center or how they operate their business.

Former board member Wendy Hersom explained, "The municipal association's read that if the licensed junkyard has complied with the previous license conditions for the location in question (not taking into consideration other locations that are not the subject of the junkyard permit) and the licensed junkyard has not become a public nuisance, and the applicant has not been convicted of larceny or receiving stolen goods, and the applicant certifies he is operating his junkyard in compliance with the best management practices established by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, then the renewal of the junkyard license must be approved."

The board signed the permit.

Lufkin explained that because he has a dealership as well as a garage in town, several cars could be parked on his property at any given time depending on the influx of business. He explained that his vehicles are not junk. Because Lufkins offers a towing service, often times cars that have been in accidents will be seen on the property. In addition, cars that need to be drained before heading to the salvage yard are at times on the property as well.

After receiving a grant from the state, a new dismantling pad will be installed at the out of town salvage yard, which will alleviate the issue of additional cars being stored in the downtown shop. Lufkin explained that he has 160 days to remove a vehicle once it is deemed unfit for the road.

Corey said that Lufkin had pushed the limits to the extreme and said that he counted six un-plated vehicles at the Dairy Bar which is not approved as a storage lot. Corey went on to say that he has nothing against Lufkin's business and would just like to see the area downtown more presentable.

Lufkin explained that the garage has suffered two fires over the past year, and that himself along with his family and employees have been working tirelessly to rebuild from that.

Brad Lufkin, Mark's father, has operated the garage in town since 1975. It is one of two businesses in downtown Whitefield that have stood the test of time. Brad's wife Terry won various awards from the work that she did over the span of eleven years to beautify the downtown area while the triangle still existed. In addition Mark Lufkin bought the Dairy Bar and renovated it, to keep the popular spot open in an otherwise quiet downtown during the summer months. The Lufkins employ several teenagers throughout the summer and fall months offering them a stable profitable place to work that is close to their homes.

Several customers of Lufkins Service Center keep bringing their cars back to be repaired due to Lufkin's honesty and flexibility in taking payments for services, knowing that often times those in the area cannot afford to pay for expensive repairs all at once. Lufkin has empathy for the people in his hometown and does what he can to ease the burden on residents whenever possible.

"We're currently rebuilding from two fires and we're doing what we can to reduce any eye sores. We want the town to look as good as possible, this is our home too and this is where we operate our family businesses," said Lufkin.

Terry Lufkin added, "We all have tried very hard throughout the years to make the town a pleasant place to live and for people to come to. The state took the triangle out in 1998 saying it was a safety issue, the Town of Whitefield won beatification awards and this triangle was part of those awards. I use to do all the flowers around the common and old veterans memorial as well. Since the triangle was removed we have had some very unfortunate things happen to our business and have had to struggle at times to stay in business for over 43 years."

Of her son, Lufkin said, "Mark has worked very hard for most of his life to help keep things running smoothly and has always been there to give a helping hand. There have been fou generations at Lufkin's Service center at this location. When my husband and I were going together Brad's dad ran the Sunoco garage and Brad worked for him back then 51 years ago. As we approach our 50Th wedding anniversary this year, Mark has taken over the garage and his son young Bradley is also working at Lufkin's Service Center. We appreciate the people in Whitefield, and it is why we have made it our home all of these years."

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