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Rusty's Towing in Tilton currently handles all of Tilton's towing, but Norm's Auto Body in Belmont wants a piece of the pie.

Rustyís Towing in Tilton currently handles all of Tiltonís towing, but Normís Auto Body in Belmont wants a piece of the pie. Meghan Siegler. (click for larger version)

Meghan Siegler. (click for larger version)
April 23, 2009
TILTON — A turf war is brewing between two towing companies who both want to service Tilton Ė Rusty's Towing, which is in Tilton, and Norm's Auto Body, which is just over the line in Belmont.

Though Rusty Drew didn't say much at Tilton's Board of Selectmen meeting last week, Norm's owner Bill Camire, who started the conversation at the previous board meeting, had plenty to say in response to the selectmen's decision to not put both towing companies on a rotation.

According to Camire, Rusty's and Norm's were on a weekly rotation with Belmont and Tilton for about 30 years. A couple years ago, Belmont decided to only use Norm's. Northfield only uses Norm's as well.

"That's what prompted us to change it," Chairman Katherine Dawson said. "We needed to protect our businesses."

Asked by the board to compile data, Tilton Police Chief Robert Cormier said there have been 358 tows over the past three years, with an average of 125-150 per year. He said the police department usually tells vehicle owners involved in car accidents that there are two or three towing companies in the area (Mike's Automotive does limited towing) and gives them the choice.

However, Cormier said, "If there are two or three cars in the middle of the road, we want to get people out as quickly as possible."

In that case, Rusty's is the first company they call. If Rusty's can't come out, they call Norm's.

Cormier said that both companies are well liked by all three communities and that response times from both are excellent.

"It's a matter of business, and it's a matter of locality," Selectman Pat Consentino said. "No matter which way you turn on this, somebody's going to be unhappy."

Camire argued that he is a taxpayer living in Tilton, while Drew rents his property. Though it didn't come up at the meeting, Camire said later in a phone interview that Drew rents the property from Dawson.

"That's a conflict of interest," Camire said, adding that Dawson shouldn't have even been involved in the conversation last week.

Ultimately the board decided to write a letter to Belmont and Northfield asking them if they'd be willing to put both companies back on a rotation. Selectman Norm Boudreau worried that such a letter might cause "ill will" if the other towns think Tilton is trying to control their actions. Dawson suggested that the letter explain that the Tilton selectmen were approached by Camire and were faced with making a decision.

Unless the other towns agree to the rotation, Tilton will continue using Rusty's.

"What do the other towns have to do with (Tilton's business decisions)?" Camire asked as he was leaving the meeting. "We'll pursue another avenue then, but it's not fair."

Camire said Monday that the next avenue may mean a lawsuit.

"I'm gonna bring suit against the town, if we're forced into that," he said.

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