Spring challenges aired in Plymouth

The abandoned general store at 137 Highland Street is slated for removal after Plymouth officials condemned the building as a safety and fire hazard this week. The building has suffered a roof collapse and its distinctive “parapet” wall was deemed unstable. Marcia Morris. (click for larger version)
May 01, 2009
PLYMOUTH — The board of selectmen tackled a wide variety of issues, at a busy regular meeting on Monday evening. From the appointment of police officers, to road repairs, to precautions for the Swine Flu, to preparations for Plymouth's State's annual Spring Fling weekend, the pace of activity seemed to be quickening with the season.

Plymouth Fire Chief Casino Clogston and Land Use Enforcement Officer Brian Murphy appeared before the board to report on one casualty of this past winter. They reported that a roof collapse at the abandoned general store at 137 Highland Street has created a public safety hazard, necessitating action on the part of town officials. Murphy received unanimous approval of the board to order the building to be demolished and the property cleaned up under the RSA governing hazardous and dilapidated buildings. Chief Clogston said that the 17 foot parapet wall in the front of the building poses a threat to pedestrian safety should it collapse onto Highland Street. He also cited fire violations on the property.

Town Administrator Paul Freitas said that should the owner fail to do the work within the prescribed time frame, the town will proceed with the demolition. "We will get it done in the quickest and safest way possible," said Frietas. While the cost of the work was not anticipated in this year's budget, Frietas explained that the town will hold the lien as a receivable for reimbursement to cover the expense if it should become necessary. At present there is no estimate for the costs of demolition and cleanup.

The Deputy Fire Chief and Plymouth Health Officer, Tom Morrison, appeared before the board to brief members on steps underway to prepare for the unlikely event of a local outbreak of the Swine Flu that has hit other parts of the country, causing concern about a wider epidemic. To date, he said there have been no cases in New Hampshire or New England, but he emphasized that public health officials are acting proactively and are equipped to handle the situation in cooperation with the university and school district in the event of an occurrence. He distributed pamphlets on how to prevent the flu and a Fact Sheet from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services that is also available at the Fire Department and Speare Memorial Hospital. He said there is a public hotline that has been established to answer questions or concerns. The telephone 888-330-6764 is staffed from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. "The good news is that we have been planning for this kind of event for a long time," said Morrison. "Hopefully, this will be nothing more than a practice exercise for us."

On a brighter note, town officials celebrated the promotion of Officer Derek Newcomb to Sergeant. Plymouth Police Chief Steve Temperino had high praise for Newcomb, saying that he had maintained a 3.2 GPA in his degree program. He graduated from Nicholas College with a B.A. in Criminal Justice and was hired by the Plymouth Police in November 2006.

Temperino said that in May 2007, Newcomb was one of the first officers on the scene of a tragic assault that resulted in the death of a PSU student. "Without Derek's careful and articulate interviewing of those in the vicinity of the crime scene, an arrest and ultimate conviction in that investigation would not have been possible," said Chief Temperino. "Derek's education, training, performance and commitment to the profession are all indicative of the leadership qualities we are looking for at the Plymouth Police Department."

Plymouth State University Director of Security Creig Doyle brought forward two part-time appointments to the PSU Police Department. Retired state trooper Steven K. Hersom and former Liquor Enforcement Officer Randall Avery were appointed to the PSU Force. Board members noted with appreciation the long years of experience of these two new officers. Avery, a Holderness resident, worked for the Liquor Commission for 22 years and formerly served as a Plymouth police officer. His knowledge of the Town, the University, and alcohol enforcement issues was welcomed by the board.

Noting that the annual Plymouth State University "Spring Fling" celebration is coming up this week, Chief Temperino invited board members to join him for a "ride along" during the busy evening hours. Plymouth State Dean of Students Tim Keefe issued an invitation of his own for board members to join the swarms of "yellow jackets" on campus, whose job it is to serve as goodwill ambassadors, monitoring student behavior and cleaning up campus after the parties and concert activities have completed.

Keefe also presented a slide show presentation to the board, illustrating the new temporary parking lot in Plymouth that will be used by PSU students while construction of the new Ice Rink is underway across the river in Holderness. He said that lot will be returned to its original condition after construction is complete and parking is resumed at the new athletic facility. He offered to schedule an informational presentation on the Ice Rink and the innovative energy efficiency techniques used in the design. Finally, Highway Superintendent Mike Heath updated the board on scheduled repairs to Main Street. He said DOT has informed him that the work will take place over three days during the first week of June and will include repairs to South Main from Anderson's Bakery past Court Street. Parking will not be available during the work. Area businesses will be notified as soon as possible. "There will be an inconvenience, but they (DOT) are coming in and getting out as quickly as they can," said Heath. The Town will complete its portion of the road reconstruction work at the same time, at an estimated cost of $25,806, which Heath said was considerably cheaper than if it were not undertaken in conjunction with the state work.

The meeting closed with a non-public session on personnel and legal issues. The next regular meeting will take place on May 11 at 6 p.m. at Plymouth Town Hall. There will be a work session prior to the regular meeting at 5 p.m.

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