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Selectmen hope to curb jumping from Whitten Neck Bridge with fines


July 19, 2018
WOLFEBORO — The Wolfeboro Board of Selectmen decided on July 11 to set a fine schedule to support an existing ordinance prohibiting jumping off the Whitten Neck Bridge. What might seem a harmless summer tradition, they said, actually carries danger of injury, not to mention to trespass on a neighboring dock and lawn.

Treena Crochet, a Whitten Neck Road resident, told her story on Wednesday evening of the events previously reported to the Wolfeboro Police Commission last summer. As she and her husband, Kevin Llewelyn, were on their boat approaching the channel between the rocks under the Whitten Neck Bridge, some young boys jumped off overhead. Startled, and frightened when they disappeared under the water, Crochet stood up just as the boat entered the channel, whacking her head against the concrete, hard enough to knock her back down.

Standing before the board, she said she received a concussion that day, and is left with permanent hearing loss, tinnitis, double vision and some memory problems from the injury. Her husband's report to the police commission resulted in the town's adoption of an ordinance, but the bridge remains a common place for jumpers.

Mathew Plache, whose mother owns the dock that is regularly used by youngsters as they make their way up and down the embankment, encroaching on private property, told the board that parents were observed dropping their children off and leaving them unattended for as long as five hours.

Chairman Linda Murray said the board has received complaints from Lake Wentworth residents.

Police Chief Dean Rondeau asked the selectmen to consider a fine structure to put some teeth in the ordinance. He said he realizes that the activity has been a part of Wolfeboro's culture for a long time, but it is dangerous. It is a main thoroughfare for boat traffic between Lake Wentworth and Crescent Lake and the channel around just 10 feet, with rocks under the water on either side.

After polling the board, Murray called the vote on a motion to establish fines as follows: first offense, $100; second offense, $200; and third offense, $500 and criminal charges. The motion passed 5-0.

In another dock matter, this time the town docks, the board agreed to signage notifying visitors as to how many people can be on the individual docks at a given time. The standard, according to Fire and Rescue Chief James Pineo, is 15 people per 10 linear feet. The signage will reflect that standard as it applies to each dock as a whole.

In further business. Selectman Dave Senecal agreed to represent the board at a meeting with ACSCME, per its request, to discuss union matters, with Murray serving as an alternate.

And the board designated members of the Libby Museum building committee, including Alan Harding, John Askew (Friends of Libby), Ex. Dir. Alana Albee, Public Works Director Dave Ford, Town Manager Becky Merrow, Selectmen's representative Brad Harriman, and the architect.

Merrow said she is meeting with a consultant on July 26 for a preliminary review of the town's asset management plans, and Planning and Development Director Matt Sullivan reported that committee work on the Master Plan is well underway, and he will organize the minutes of meetings and related information in one spot on the town Web site.

The next Board of Selecmen's meeting is scheduled for July 25, at 6:30 p.m. in the Great Hall.

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