March 6, 2012
By Edith Tucker
Coos County Democrat
LANCASTER — Region I Fish and Game Lt.
Doug Gralenski spoke up at the county delegation’s public hearing on Friday
to strongly support spending $500 from the account balances of three
Unincorporated Places — Cambridge, Kilkenny, and Success — to help the White
Mountain Ridge Runners purchase a $40,000 UTV and trailer for use as an
emergency “wilderness” ATV and snowmobile emergency response vehicle (ERV).
The Club hopes to purchase a fully outfitted five-and-a-half-foot-wide 2012
Arctic Cat Prowler HDX 700 and dual axle trailer.
The county commissioners voted unanimously at their Feb. 8 meeting to support this expenditure, subject to an affirmative vote of the delegation at its March 10 budget adoption meeting.
Gralenski said that based on his 20-plus years of experience, he could attest that this purchase is “a regional need” that could be met by using a private entity without “bureaucratic strings” to purchase and outfit the rig.
He cited instances where the lack of a special vehicle caused accident victims a lot of unnecessary pain, including a dogsled driver who was struck by a snowmobiler in Success that had to be brought to an ambulance stretched out on his own dogsled, pulled by a privately owned snowmobile.
Gralenski said that F & G Sgt. Wayne Saunders, who has been directly involved in providing first aid and EMS services, believes that there is a need for this kind of vehicle in the Androscoggin Valley.
Rep. Gary Coulombe of Berlin, who pointed out that he is a Captain in the Berlin Fire Department, said that he has been on duty when ATV accidents have taken place in Jericho State Park in Berlin. Fortunately, Coulombe said, all five were single victims but that it is only “a matter of time before one of the four-person quads” is in an accident in which the driver and three passengers is involved. The EMS agencies respond regionally, the firefighter said.
White Mountain Ridge Runner Assistant Trailmaster Larry Gomes, a Bay Stater who spends weekends and vacations in Stark to which he plans to move some day, said that he expected that the ERV that would be housed in a trailer in a central location would be used in Berlin, Gorham, Milan, Errol, Stark and at least three Unincorporated Places by trained volunteers and Fish and Game.
When the subject was raised of whether the county was taking on a liability risk by contributing to the ERV’s purchase, county attorney Robert “Bob” Mekeel pointed out that liability would more likely be assumed by the use of outdated equipment.
The Berlin City Council voted to provide $1,500 for the purchase, and private entities have also donated funds, most recently AutoNorth in Gorham that gave $1,350 to the cause by making a $25 donation from each its February sales.
The Ridge Runners also plan to resubmit an application for a $20,000 match from the Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund of the N. H. Charitable Foundation.
Commissioner Tom Brady of Jefferson said that the commissioners had backed the request in their capacity as selectmen of the Unincorporated Places.
Rep. Herb Richardson of Lancaster pointed out that other snowmobile clubs and fire departments also work cooperatively with Fish and Game to effect backcountry rescues of those riding snowmobiles and ATVs and that this new use of Unincorporated Places’ funds should be made available in an equitable and fair fashion.
The commissioners also voted at their Feb. meeting to give $2,500 from each of two accounts of Unincorporated Places — Dixville and Millsfield – to support a non-motorized 75-milelong North Country Endurance Challenge race on Saturday, Sept. 8, sponsored by the North Country Chamber of Commerce.
Grant Killian, Director of the Untamed Adventure Racing (www.untamedadventure.com) whose company maintains a mailbox in Littleton, explained that he envisions a 75-mile-long multisport race to include mountain biking, paddling, and running.
Right now, only one Unincorporated Place — Dixville — is on the route, but the commissioners suggested that Millsfield, which also will benefit for 10 years from the wind farm’s PILT payments, could be added. The delegation did not specifically discuss this $5,000 expenditure, however.
In response to questions posed by this reporter which were followed up some by Rep. Richardson, Commissioner Burnham “Bing” Judd of Pittsburg, who also serves as a selectman in the town of Pittsburg, admitted that the he had decided to allow the Pittsburg Fire and Rescue to submit an application for $750 from each of two abutting Unincorporated Places — Atkinson- Gilmanton Academy Grant; and Dix’s Grant (but not Dixville) — on Monday, Feb. 13, following the Feb. 8 meeting. Pittsburg Fire and Rescue seeks to replace a box trailer used to haul backcountry rescue equipment at a cost of between $18,000 and $20,000.
Judd explained that he had polled his fellow commissioners by e-mail and secured unanimous approval to expend a total of $1,500.
The day prior to that on Sunday, Feb. 12, he had told this reporter in a telephone interview that there would be no additional requests for U. P. monies allowed until the next budget cycle. When Rep. Richardson said that e-mail polling is not allowed under the state Right to Know Law, Judd agreed that he “supposed” he had broken that law.
Later, Judd apparently said that he plans to have the commissioners post a meeting at 8:30 a.m. on March 10 at the Coös County Nursing Home in Berlin, one half-hour before the delegation’s budget meeting posted at 9 a.m. so that the commissioners can vote on the Pittsburg box trailer request in public.
The combined total assets of the Unincorporated Places stood at nearly $2,440,000 on Dec. 31, 2011 (see p. 14, 2011 County Annual Report).
At Friday’s county delegation
At Friday’s county delegationmeeting, F & G Lt. Doug Gralenski urged the Coös state representatives to support using funds from 3 Unincorporated Places to help the White Mountain Ridge Runners buy an Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) for regional use. (Photo by Edith Tucker)
White Mountain Ridge Runnersassistant Trailmaster Larry Gomes was at Friday’s county delegation meeting to provide details about the ERV that the club is trying to buy to respond to backcountry accidents in Jericho State Park in Berlin and elsewhere in Coös. (Photo by Edith Tucker)