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Farewells and milestones mark the second half of 2011


January 04, 2012
The final few months of 2011 were marked by fond farewells and important milestones in Gilford.

Fire Training Facility

After only two years from conception to completion, the Gilford Fire Department crew announced the official completion of the fire training facility Saturday, July 9.

"This will help us keep sharp to do our jobs effectively," said then Chief John Beland as he stood proudly before the newly constructed facility. "The real benefactors will be the community."

The three-story structure consisted of nine steel shipping containers purchased from Tilton Trailer and assembled almost entirely by members of the Gilford Fire Department to represent a single family home. The facility, however permanent, can be changed to allow for different training purposes.

According to Beland, the fire department raised every cent for the project and completed the structrure without any town funding. Through grants, spaghetti dinners, a yard-sale, donations ranging from $5 to $5,000, and their own labor, the fire department reached their goal.

Public safety employee memorial park

In honor of Gilford public saftey employees, the Board of Selectmen discussed plans for a memorial park at the junction of Routes 11-A and 11-B.

For their dedication and their efforts to make Gilford a safe place to live, selectmen decided to construct a park consisting of liberty elm trees and a flag pole honoring those in the Gilford police and fire departments.

Over the year, police officers have taken it upon themselves to purchase all their own weapons for use in the line of duty. Also, the members of the fire department have raised funds and constructed their own fire training facility. Employees of each department took the responsibility upon themselves in an effort to ease the tax burden on Gilford residents.

Originally, the selectmen planned to have the memorial triangle park completed by Sept. 11, but they ran into problems with the NH Department of Transportation regulations regarding the property, such as the placment of the existing utility pole, removal of some pavment and the need for surveys and documented project planning.

Selectmen have not set a new completion date but have stuck to their plan in honor of Gilford public saftey employees.

Beland steps down

After about 30 years of service, Fire Chief John Beland announced his retirement Tuesday, Aug. 16 at the Board of Fire Engineers meeting, but said he would still have a part in emergency services.

Beland left the Gilford Fire Department in September and joined the Lakes Region Mutual Fire Aid Association Communication Center (LRMFAA) as Deputy Coordinator on Monday, Oct. 3.

Beland said he did not plan to retire this early, but he could not pass on the new opportunity with the LRMFAA. After many years in a field that is equally physically and mentally demanding, Beland figured he was nearing the end of his service.

Looking back on his career, Beland had nothing but positive feelings towards his years of service to the community.

"I'm so honored and blessed. I never felt I had to get up and go to work; not many people can say that about their profession," said Beland. "There is a ton I'm going to miss. The people I work with are a pronominal group that had achieved many goals set over the years. I'm going to miss interacting with them on a daily basis."

The Board of Fire Engineers appointed Deputy Steve Carrier to Chief upon Beland's retierment.

New library's third birthday

Staff of the Gilford Public Library celebrated the new building's third birthday Thursday, Aug. 18 with a celebration for trustees and board-members and cake served all day for everyone.

According to Librarian Katherine Dormody, it was three years ago to the day that they cut the ribbon and officially opened the doors to the new building. She said people now visit the library for more than just to check out books. Some come to sit and enjoy a book or read the newspaper, or bring their laptop computers to work.

Since the opening of the new building, the library staff has been able to organize more programs and expand existing programs such as their summer reading program. Dormody explained how the old building did not allow for many special events without rearranging bookshelves making part of their collection unavailable. The new facility, with its large meeting room, not only solved this problem but allowed for staff to schedule daytime events and multiple events at the same time. Dormody described events taking up most of the space in the old building and at times hindering the staff's ability to loan out items.

All space-related issues have been remedied and much of the staff's excitement over the new building was reignited as they celebrated their third anniversary.

2011 Old Home Day

Gilford residents celebrated their 92nd annul Old Home Day Saturday, Aug. 27 with plenty of food, fun events and fireworks to end the summer season with a bang.

The Village filled with wandering residents checking out various craft and food booths set up in the field to the historical society buildings and all the way up to the community church fried-dough stand and dunking booth and library pie, ice cream and book sale.

The jungle safari theme encouraged groups to make some creative parade floats covered in green leaves and wild animals. The best float award went to the Streetcar Company, the Lakes Region's longest running community theater group, for their Lion King themed float.

New to Old Home Day this year was several inflatable bounce-houses at the Village Field for the kids to play as parents browsed the near-by craft tables.

There was one major scheduling change to the event line-up this year. The Gunstock Nordic Association held their thirty-fourth annul 5K road race at 8 a.m. instead of later in the afternoon. Racers, including Town Administrator Scott Dunn and School Superintendent Kent Hemingway, lined up in the cool morning air to race up Belknap Mountain Rd and back through the Village.

Gilford residents did not let the threat of Hurricane Irene, which was creeping up the East-coast, ruin their Old Home Day celebration.

Police Chief John Markland resigns

After six years as Gilford's Police Chief, John Markland ended his 26-year career in law enforcement with a letter of resignation to the Board of Selectmen effective Friday, Sept. 30.

Markland attributed his decision to leave mostly an epiphany when his young grandson wanted to take him kayaking for Father's Day this past June. Markland admitted that he is not really an "out-door kind of guy," and had never been in a kayak before; he agreed to opportunity to spend time with his grandson. Markland recalled feeling relaxed for the first time in a while. He seemed to leave all the stress of police work and political issues on shore as he paddled around with his grandson.

He decided that he wanted to see his grandson graduate high school. He also feared the usual amount of stress in police work along with the tension he felt between the police department and the town administration may be effecting his health.

Originally, Markland said he wanted to serve for another four years. He attributed his decision to resign now came because of the deterioration he felt in the relationship between his department and the town administration. Markland said he was too honest for politics, and he felt the politics were getting in the way of police duty.

As he prepared to leave the department, he said he would miss everyone in the department. They were his "Dream-Team," he said.

"It's something special to be a police officer," said Markland proudly. "It's even better to be a Gilford police officer. These guys don't do it for their ego or the paycheck; they are in it for the community."

Selectmen appointed Deputy Kevin Keenan to Police Chief upon Markland's resignation.

Bobbie Miller

The family of Bobbie Miller, the victim of an in-home murder in November of 2010, turned to the public with a $50,000 reward for help with the investigation during a press conference Tuesday, Oct. 25.

Family members, including Miller's daughter Jennifer, mother Madeleine Blake, brother Ken Dionne and sister Mickie Moore, traveled from around the state and across the country to the trail-head of the Mt. Major hiking trail to make their announcement. According to family members, this was one of Miller's favorite places. They offered the reward with the hope that it would remind people of the investigation and keep the investigation open.

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