Granite State News: Wolfeboro Year in Review, Part I

By Thomas Beeler

January 11, 2017

WOLFEBORO — During the year 2016 much happened in Wolfeboro, particularly changes in town department heads, and there were many events and issues during the year. To fit all that happened into a single article of reasonable length is impossible, and for that reason this record of the year will be published in two parts, the first to cover people in the news and key events and the second to cover issues, business and organizational changes and those we lost in 2016.

People in the news

There were a record number of changes in town department heads during the year. Five long-term leaders retired or resigned, though one of them ended up staying.

Ethan Hipple resigned as Parks and Recreation director to accept the same position in Portland, Maine. He was feted at a Jan. 8 reception at the new Abenaki Ski Lodge that he helped make possible. Assistant Director Christine Collins was promoted to take his place.

Wolfeboro Town Manager Dave Owen announced he would retire April 1 and the town received 44 applications to replace him. For personal reasons Owen announced on March 7 he would not be retiring and was given a new contract for at least two more years.

Selectman announced on April 6 that James Pineo was chosen to be Wolfeboro’s new fire chief. Pineo spent 17 years at the Littleton Fire Department, achieving the rank of lieutenant and acting captain. He replaces longtime Fire Chief Butch Morrill, who retired at the end of last year.

Rob Houseman resigned as cirector of Planning and Development after 20 years of service to become planning director of the Town of Hanover, effective Sept. 9. A reception was held for him on Aug. 6 in the Great Hall at Town Hall. After an extensive search his position was filled by Matt Sullivan, regional planner with the Strafford Regional Planning Commission, on Nov. 16.

Police Chief Stuart Chase announced in July his retirement at the end of 2016 after nearly 12 years of service and 47 years in law enforcement. A well-attended reception was held for him in the Great Hall on Dec 9. The Wolfeboro Police Commission announced that Captain Dean Rondeau would be promoted to succeed him as chief and that Mark Livie would be promoted to replace Rondeau as second in command. Both were sworn in on Jan. 4, 2017.

Chief Chase’s retirement was preceded by that of Donna Commerford, administrative assistant in the Wolfeboro Police Department, who retired on May 27 after 11 years of service.

Eric LaRochelle was sworn in as Wolfeboro’s newest police officer on June 6.

Scott Pike resigned from the Public Works Department to become Public Works Director in Wakefield in June but returned in October.

Selectman Linda Murray was chosen to receive the James Wolfe Award from the Wolfeboro Area Chamber of Commerce for her dedication to the community on April 13.

There were other people in the news in 2016 besides town official and employees.

Independent insurance agent Paul Doran was named Citizen of the Year for 2015 by the Wolfeboro Lions Club. He is the 42nd recipient of that honor.

Amy Piper was named Volunteer of the Year for 2015 by the board of the Nicholas J. Pernokas Recreation Park, known as The Nick. Eastern Propane was named The Nick’s Business of the Year.

On June 1, Chip Maxfield, president of Maxfield Real Estate, was honored with the 2016 Granite State Legacy Award, which celebrates the accomplishments of the state’s most distinguished citizens who have given the most to New Hampshire through business, philanthropy, politics and career.

Megan Marbury was named Volunteer of the Year for the 2015-16 school year by the Kingswood Youth Center.

Mildred Beach was recognized in July by the Nature Conservancy, Lake Wentworth Association and the Stamp Act Island Management Committee for her successful campaign to preserve the island in 1977 and her years of service since then.

In August Acting CEO Jeremy Roberge was chosen to be the permanent CEO by the trustees of Huggins Hospital.

Ryan Noonan resigned in August as executive director of Wolfeboro Community Television to move to California. His duties were taken over by Tim Goodwin.

Wolfeboro businessman Paul Zimmerman was honored as an outstanding alumnus of Nichols College on Oct. 14.

Events and milestones

There was a lot of activity in town last year. Most notable was how heavily the Great Hall in the newly renovated Town Hall is being used. The new Abenaki Lodge also hosted three events.

Abenaki Lodge opened officially on Jan. 2. On June 1 the Friends of Abenaki announced plans to build an additional building to house the ski team and provide storage space that was cut from the original proposal to save money.

First contra dance was held in the Great Hall on Jan. 23.

Wolfeboro held its Deliberative Session on Feb. 2. The only change was that the warrant article to reconstruct Winnipesaukee Drive was zero funded due to the lack of a final agreement.

New Hampshire’s First-in-the-Nation Presidential Presidential Preference Primary was held on Feb. 9. In Wolfeboro Bernie Sanders beat Hillary Clinton 722-525 in the Democratic contest and in the Republican race Donald Trump led a wide field with 602 votes.

The second annual Beveridge Ice Fest, sponsored by Beveridge Craft Beer and Soap Co. was held on Feb. 14 in 19 Mile Bay.

The historic Yellow House next to Carpenter School, also know as the Pickering House, was purchased by Patty and Peter Cooke, who plan to renovate the building as a 10-room inn.

Solarize Wolfeboro held a two-day event at the Great Hall presenting information for residents on installing solar panels on Feb. 28 and 29. It also held Open Houses demonstrating home solar installations on May 14.

The Fisherville Committee held a Brew and Chew and fishing derby on March 5. The ice on Wolfeboro Bay was too thin to re-establish a Fisherville bob house community last winter, as planned.

In town elections on March 8, Brad Harriman was re-elected to the Board of Selectmen. There were only two contests: Bob Tougher, Bob Loughman and Bob O’Brien was elected to the budget committee in a four-way race, and Lisa Braiterman outpolled David Raser for Trustee of the Trust Funds. All other races were unopposed and all 18 warrant articles passed. Turnout was only 17 percent, according to Town Clerk Pat Waterman.

Roger Champagne won the Rotary Ice Out contest, choosing March 18 at 11:30 a.m.

Six members were appointed to the town’s new Heritage Commission in April. Maggie Stier was elected chairman.

Wolfeboro celebrated Arbor Day on May 6, planting trees and bulbs in Clarke Park.

The N.H. Preservation Alliance presented its 2016 award to the town of Wolfeboro and the Friends of Wolfeboro Town Hall on May 10 for the restoration of Brewster Memorial Hall.

On May 26, the Trustees of the Trust Funds received court approval to modify the 1915 will of Edward F. Cate to allow larger annual payouts from the trust funds plus one-time payments to the five beneficiaries named in the will: First Congregational Church, Huggins Hospital, Lakeview Cemetery Association, Wolfeboro Public Library and the Town of Wolfeboro.

The annual Book and Author Luncheon to benefit the Wolfeboro Public Library was held on June 3 with authors Barbara Delinsky and Barbara Ross.

Lake Winnipesaukee Relay For Life was held at The Nick on June 25. The Relay raises funds for the American Cancer Society.

In July Huggins announced filing with the Charitable Trust unit of the Attorney General’s office for an affiliation with CMC and Monadnock Community Hospital to form GraniteOne Health

Wolfeboro’s annual Independence Day parade drew the largest crowds ever

The 29th annual Home Tour to support Central New Hampshire VNA & Hospice was held on July 13.

The 10th annual Nickfest was held on July 16 to raise funds for The Nick recreation park. The N.H. Boat Museum’s vintage boat auction and the All Saint Church Summer Fair were held the same day.

The documentary “Jim: The James Foley Story” was shown at the Kingswood Arts Center on Aug. 4. Foley, a Kingswood graduate, was a freelance reporter who was captured by Isis and executed in August 2014. A bench in Cate Park was dedicated in Foley’s memory on Aug. 4.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen toured the Cotton Valley Trail and visited the Wright Museum on July 21.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte campaigned in Wolfeboro on Aug. 1, serving ice cream at Bailey’s Bubble.

The third Beveridge Craft Beer Fest was held at the new Abenaki Lodge on Aug. 13.

Historian and Selectman Dave Bowers gave a presentation on tourism in Wolfeboro in the Great Hall on Aug. 18.

On Aug. 20 the Kingswood Youth Center held its seventh Chili Challenge fundraiser.

Wolfeboro Centre Church celebrated its 175th anniversary on Sept. 4.

The Sept. 13 state primary was the first election held in the renovated Great Hall. In the only contest, incumbent Carroll County Sheriff Domenic Richardi of Conway defeated Wolfeboro’s Luke Freundenberg

The new Heritage Commission solicited bids on the former information booth, now located behind the Yellow House. There were no takers.

On Oct. 5 Wolfeboro announced a 9.7 percent increase in electric rates in 2017 due to an increased assessment from ISO New England, which maintains the regional grid.

The Wolfeboro Cultural Collaborative, made up of the four museums in Wolfeboro, held its first Painted Pumpkin Patch contest on Oct. 9.

Wolfeboro Public Library presented its proposed expansion plan and gave tours of the library on Oct. 15.

A building owned by the Sawmill Marina Boating Club on Bay Street was badly damaged by fire on Oct. 19.

Huggins held a drive-through flu shot clinic on Oct. 25 and 27 that drew 270 participants.

State Senate candidate John R. White reported that a tire on his truck was slashed in his driveway on Oct. 26.

On Nov. 2 it was announced that Wolfeboro’s 2016 tax rate was set at $14.63 per $1,000 of valuation, up 4.7 percent.

Also on Nov. 2 selectmen approved a proposal to renovate the Freight House behind the railroad station and create a model railroad museum that would preserve parts of the Klickety Klack Model Railroad Attraction largely through private fundraising. The proposal will be on the March 14, 2017, ballot.

Selectmen approved the proposed decommissioning the town’s obsolete fire alarm system on Nov. 2. The project will be completed by April 2018.

The State Economic Development Association held its annual meeting at the new Abenaki Lodge on Nov. 4.

In the Nov. 8 general election both incumbent state representatives, Harold Parker and Steve Schmidt, won re-election, as did State Senator Jeb Bradley. Wolfeboro’s Amanda Bevard was elected Carroll County Commissioner.

The Benson Thanksgiving Dinner served 505 meals on Nov. 24.

On Nov. 25 a fire in an air handler closed Rite Aid Pharmacy and Hunter’s Shop ‘n Save for several hours.

The Chamber’s Christmas in Wolfeboro event was launched with the annual parade on Nov. 26. The Christmas Spirit Open House raised more than $15,000 for the L.I.F.E. Ministries Food Pantry.

The 18th annual Festival of Trees opened on Dec. 3. Beneficiaries this year are G.A.L.A. and Child Advocacy Center of Carroll County.

On Dec. 20 the Wolfeboro Planning Board voted not to recommend a petition warrant article allow drive-through restaurants in a specified business district in town. The article will appear on the March warrant despite the disapproval.

Another petition warrant article submitted by Jerome Holden would modify directional signage rule to allow abutters to approval sign pole placement.

The planning board also held the first of two hearings on a proposed zoning change allowing Accessory Dwelling Units – a second living space connected to a single-family home – as required by a new state law, under certain conditions.

Next week: A record of the issues, business and organizational changes and those we lost in 2016.

Read the article at Granite State News