Fire destroys Haverhill home

MOUNTAIN LAKES—A North Haverhill couple and their three children are homeless after fire ripped through their split-level home at 111 Hilltop View Drive in the Mountain Lakes district on Saturday.
Officials said Anne Foldeak, Robbie Schmead, and three children ages 8 to 15, were not home when the fire was reported at 11 a.m., prompting a large-scale response by local and mutual aid departments.
“There was heavy fire coming from the front half of the house,” said North Haverhill Fire Chief Phil Blanchard when crews arrived. “Things went as good as they possibly could given the logistics and getting water” to the scene.
Initial reports were that all three children were trapped inside the basement of the split-level home, which were unfounded.

Fairlee budget hearing focuses on employee pay

FAIRLEE—A raise in pay for town employees in Fairlee was the major topic of discussion during a budget hearing on Jan. 11.
Fairlee Selectboard member Cathy McGrath told the two dozen or so people who had checked into the Zoom meeting that the board had decided not to bestow cost-of-living raises in 2021. Most of the audience was employed by the town or represented a municipal department.
“We’re not doing cost-of-living raises because it [last year] was an incredibly unusual year,” McGrath explained. “Many taxpayers have been furloughed or had hardship, and this is a reflection on what’s available in the pocketbooks of the taxpayers. Many people, including myself, have been impacted by loss of work.”

Rivendell weighs staff cuts in next budget

ORFORD—Citing a potential “unconscionable” spending increase, Rivendell Interstate School District board members last week asked administrators to prepare a draft 2022 budget that would eliminate as many as five full-time equivalent staff positions.
After approximately two hours of discussion during a regularly scheduled meeting on Jan. 5, board members deferred finalizing a figure to put before community members at a budget hearing later this month. They instead scheduled a special meeting for Jan. 12, after this edition’s press deadline.

Newbury teen has eye on the future

NEWBURY—Even six months after a terrible car crash, there are still plenty of signs and posters proclaiming “Sierra Strong” across the landscape.
As well as an encouragement to Sierra Longmoore and her family, they are a reminder of the determination and will to live and the combined prayers of those who support her.
Everyone wants to know about her journey and how she is doing.
The recovery of Sierra Longmoore has been nothing short of miraculous.

Newbury voters reject OUUSD withdrawal

NEWBURY—Newbury residents will remain part of Oxbow Unified Union School District, the school district formed with Bradford in 2019.
A special town meeting, with polling held on Dec. 29, concluded with a total of 310 votes cast, according to Newbury Town Clerk Nikki Tomlinson. Residents voted 140-169 on the question “Shall the Newbury School District withdraw from the OUUSD?” There was one blank ballot. There were 152 absentee ballots cast, while 158 people voted in person.
In contrast, 1,172 Newbury residents voted for either Joe Biden or Donald Trump the previous month.
Although Newbury and Bradford have long partnered in a unified school district to operate the 7-12 Oxbow High School, the towns maintained separate school districts to operate elementary schools in each town until Act 46.

Amid infections, vaccine gets early rollout

NORTH HAVERHILL—“The vaccine is the thing that will end this,” Grafton County Nursing Home Administrator Craig Labore said in a recent interview with the Journal Opinion.
The first COVID-19 vaccination clinic for GCNH staff and residents came earlier than expected, bookended by positive COVID-19 test results in nearly a dozen staff members.
On Dec. 14, a total of five staff members tested positive for Covid through GCNH’s standing testing practices.
The individuals were all asymptomatic, and Labore said he could not speak to the origin of the transmissions. Upon learning of the results, Labore said they notified the nurse they work with at the NH Department of Health and Human Services and arranged for facility-wide testing for staff and residents. These tests all came back negative. The initial five staff members were able to isolate and return to work once the period of concern was over.

Pellet plant could come to business park

NORTH HAVERHILL—A local wood pellet company is mulling a possible manufacturing plant in the town-owned industrial park next to Dean Memorial Airport.
Morton Bailey of Lyme Green Heat told selectboard members on Jan. 4 that his company is still drawing up engineering plans, but that the business has identified the North Haverhill site for a possible $7 million facility that would convert wood chips into wood pellets for heating fuel. Haverhill Town Manager Brigitte Codling said Bailey first approached the town several months ago about the proposal.
The two lots are located on either side of Business Park Drive. Conceived decades ago, the business park was developed by the town, which funded a lengthy sewer system extension from the Grafton County complex to make the lots more marketable.

Bradford, Newbury return to polls

BRADFORD—School officials held an informational meeting on Monday night ahead of the fourth vote on an Oxbow Unified Union School District 2020-2021 budget next week.
Monday night’s meeting—held via Zoom—was sparsely attended.
The budget of $16,780,183 is identical to the one defeated by 15 votes on Nov. 24. Board members unanimously opted to resubmit the same figure for another vote, citing significant cuts to the district’s schools—Bradford Elementary, Newbury Elementary, Oxbow, and River Bend.

Ahead of vote, Newbury debates dissolution

NEWBURY—Newbury residents have until Dec. 29 to vote on whether they want the town to withdraw from the Oxbow Unified Union School District.
On Dec. 21, nearly 75 people listened to an informational meeting held via Zoom to hear different perspectives on the single question on the ballot. Hosted by the Newbury Selectboard and facilitated by Monique Priestley, speakers presented their cases. A recording of the session can be found at

Panel dissolves after board balks at help

TOPSHAM—The committee tasked with the new town garage site evaluation has been dissolved after the selectboard did not support the group’s request to hire professional help.
Selectboard chair Larry Hart has assumed the responsibility and is continuing the committee’s efforts to bring options to the town for a vote.
“We needed people with more expertise but couldn’t get board approval,” said Jim Clark, former chair o