2012: Year in review
Thursday, January 3, 2013
The fate of a missing woman captured widespread attention during the summer and fall as search crews looked for Lorinda White after she disappeared from her Milford home on Aug. 5. Five days later a body was found behind Jacques School but not immediately identified. Not until October did the state Medical Examiner’s office declare the cause of death: accidental due to heat exposure.
Later that month the Telegraph filed a right-to-know request prompting the release of 98 pages of documents that back up police assertions that no foul play was involved in the death of the 51-year-old woman.
More sadness came in September with the sudden deaths of Milford Middle School teacher Robert Foster, of a heart attack, and of Army Spec. Jared Davison, of Milford, who died of unexplained causes at his Virginia army base.
Another significant Milford story of 2012 was the hiring of a new police chief, Michael Viola, who was welcomed at a community party in Town Hall.
Dick MacDonald, a well-loved barber on the Milford Oval retired in 2012 and so did Jacques School principal John Foss who was treated to a send-off party from the school community.
In Lyndeborough ongoing conflicts between selectmen and the police department resulted in the firing of Sgt. Paul Roy and the resignation of the office-in-charge Thomas Burke.
The Wilton-Lyndeborough School District was rocked by scandal with the resignation of Superintendent of Schools Trevor Ebel after The Cabinet and The Telegraph began running stories about lavish spending during professional training conferences.
A tiny pond in Mont Vernon drew national attention because of its name, a name that many people considered offensive. Residents eventually voted to change it from Jew Pond to Carleton Pond.
People in Mont Vernon were pleased when the town’s only store reopened in January, but owner Kristen O’Brien closed Fishbones General Store less than a year later.
Another Mont Vernon O’Brien, Bill O’Brien, garnered headlines with his controversial leadership in the state House of Representatives. In November, he narrowly retained his seat but lost his position as Speaker of the House when Democrats won a majority.
In this presidential election year, residents had a close-up view of several candidates including GOP nominee Mitt Romney, and election officials in all the towns dealt with the state’s new voter identification law.
Amherst voters turned down the town and school budgets in March, and later in the year Town Administrator Jim O’Mara was put on a paid leave of absence, with no explanation given.
Fishbones, the Mont Vernon general store, opened. It would close less than a year later.
The Open Cupboard Pantry in Wilton came under the auspices of the Wilton Lions Club so that it could keep its ability to get food from the NH Food Bank under a charitable exemption it lost when Sacred Heart Church closed.
Mitt Romney won the New Hampshire Republican Presidential Primary.
Milford High School’s We the People team won the state championship for the 10th time in 14 years and prepared to head for the national championship.
Economic issues were blamed, at least in part, for a rise in Milford’s crime rate.
Dick MacDonald, long-time Milford barber, retired.
Milford’s Toadstool Bookshop announced that it would move, but not very far, just a bit up Lorden Plaza.
Milford recreation officials agreed to revisit their policy about attendance at the annual Daddy Daughter Dance after two young girls were turned away because they didn’t have male escorts.
The newly installed bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Manchester wrote a letter to The Cabinet asking Mont Vernon voters to change the name of Jew Pond.
Dick Putnam, owner of Putnam’s Store on Main Street in Wilton, was given the Melvin Jones Fellowship Award by the Wilton Lions Club. It is the highest honor they could bestow upon a member.
Nancy Maguire, the literacy coordinator for the Souhegan, Amherst, and Mont Vernon school districts, was named principal of Milford’s Jacques Elementary School.
Towns held their annual elections. Mont Vernon voted to change the name of Jew Pond to Carleton Pond and kept Senate Bill 2 voting for the school district. Milford voters approved everything on the town warrant, including a new ambulance facility on Elm Street. Amherst voters shot down two school district budgets and the town budget.
Wilton voters, at School District Meeting, shot down a proposal to change the authority of the Budget Committee to advisory only.
Ashes from a wood stove put into a plastic bucket and placed on a wooden deck started a house fire in Lyndeborough. Quick thinking by a dad got his kids and his dog out.
Milford Police Chief Fred Douglas announced that he would retire in June.
“Mad Men” star Vincent Kartheiser spent several hours at The Good Loaf bakery in Milford, where his brother, Nathan, works.
Nine local churches sponsored the first Night of Worship in Milford, held at the Amato Center for the Performing Arts at the Boys and Girls Club of Souhegan Valley. About 400 people turned out.
Amherst banned off-road vehicles from town land.
Wilton selectmen issued a cease a desist order to the owners of a trampoline on Crescent Street. The device was atop a retaining wall behind the fire station and fire officials were concerned about someone getting hurt. The next week, the trampoline was removed.
Wilton-Lyndeborough Superintendent of Schools Trevor Ebel resigned after The Cabinet and The Telegraph began running stories about lavish spending during professional training trips.
Lyndeborough’s Board of Selectmen and the Police Department’s officer in charge battled over the board’s decision to cut department hours. Later, The Cabinet revealed that the board paid a Concord attorney more than $15,000 for legal advice regarding Selectman Donnie Sawin and the Police Department.
The former vice president of the Milford Middle School PTO, Anne Marie Ulbin, was charged with 10 misdemeanor counts of theft involving PTO funds.
A fire on Maple Street in Wilton killed Arnold Vance. Later, the state medical examiner ruled the death a suicide.
Twenty-two candidates applied for the job of Milford police chief in the wake of the announcement that Chief Fred Douglas would retire in June.
After hiring an attorney to help them deal with inquiries about spending by Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative School District employees on professional development trips, WLC School Board members set up a series of community meetings with the interim superintendent.
The state Attorney General’s Office announced that it had finished an investigation of the Lyndeborough police and selectmen and that no criminal activity had been found. Milford balloonist Dale Riley took his last flight, taking with him his grandson, Noah, 10, who had never gone ballooning.
US News & World Report named Milford High School a notable school, one of 13 schools in the state to make it onto the magazine’s rankings.
Milford police Sgt. Kevin Furlong was honored by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund for his crucial role in saving the life of young Mont Vernon home invasion victim Jaimie Cates in October 2009.
The Cabinet’s building was sold to Housing Initiatives of New England. Corp., the non-profit that also owns the Mill and Linsey Landing senior apartments across Bridge Street from The Cabinet. It was announced that Cabinet editorial staff would remain in the building for at least three years.
The Mont Vernon School Board voted to use $90,683 in surplus funds to make several maintenance and technology purchases.
Two Milford teenagers – Molly Mendola and Andrew Myers – trained as lifeguards, saved swimmers at Hampton Beach.
John Foss retired as the principal of Milford’s Jacques Memorial School.
Lyndeborough’s top police officer, Capt. Thomas Burke, quit rather than fire Sgt. Paul Roy, who was fired two days later by Selectman Kevin Boette.
The Souhegan Cooperative School District approved a 175-day school calendar, meaning slightly longer school days.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney drew an enthusiastic crowd to Milford.
Lyndeborough residents began circulating a “no confidence” petition about the Board of Selectmen.
Milford selectmen lifted a ban on personal fireworks, 3-2.
A building at Riley Bros. Lumber in Mont Vernon burned to the ground after being struck by lightning.
Robert Scully was named to replace Robert Thompson as dean of students for Souhegan High School.
Milford hired Michael Viola, a police captain from Fort Myers, Fla., to be its new police chief, replacing Fred Douglas who retired.
A Massachusetts company unveiled a plan to convert the upper floors of the Pine Valley Mill into 50 units of affordable apartments for those whose incomes are in the $32,000-$50,000 range.
Milford chose Eckman Construction of Bedford to build its new ambulance facility.
More than 20 people signed each of two petitions calling upon the Lyndeborough Board of Selectmen to appoint a police chief, either immediately or after a Town Meeting vote in March.
A fire at the 96 Crosby St. home of the Garland family in Milford was deemed accidental. They lost nearly everything but were not home when the fire broke out, and family pets survived.
The Lyndeborough selectmen, in a posting on the town’s Web site, denied all of the accusations leveled against them by a citizens’ group and said they had they best interests of the town at heart.
For the second time, Bob Kokko donated elm trees to Milford and helped place them on the Oval. The trees previously donated were destroyed in the Halloween snow storm of 2011.
Milford Town Administrator Guy Scaife and Selectman Kathy Bauer said that the voter ID law passed by the state Legislature was a bad idea – “a solution looking for a problem,” Bauer said.
New Milford Police Chief Michael Viola is welcomed to town at a reception held at Town Hall.
Police, friends and neighbors begin a search for Lorinda White, who left her Milford home apparently barefoot and without her wallet or cell phone.
Amherst residents rallied around the owners of the Homestead Grocery and Deli after burglars twice hit the store. A cash mob drew hundreds of people to the store.
Two local men, Peter Savage of Mont Vernon and Robert Tiedemann of Milford, were killed in separate car crashes.
A body of a woman found behind Jacques School in Milford was identified as that of Lorinda White.
After complaints from a resident that the bill for Mitt Romney’s Milford visit had not been paid, town officials discovered that the bill had been sent to the wrong address.
The Lyndeborough Board of Selectmen denied tax-exempt status for the United Church of Lyndeborough for a small lot on Route 31 because it was not “in regular use for religious purposes,” as is stated in a New Hampshire statute. The church’s pastor accused the selectmen of bias and harassment.
Milford’s annual Labor Day parade drew hundreds of observers and Tagg Romney, presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s son.
Milford Selectman Mark Fougere called the Route 101 Bypass between the exit for Lorden Plaza and Route 13 “horrendous” after a Merrimack man, Erich Eger, 49, was killed in a crash. Selectmen were looking for ways to improve safety.
Turnout for the state primary was low and there were no surprises.
The family of Christopher Vars was presented military medals in Amherst Town Hall. Vars had earned the medals while serving with the Army in Korea and was killed at the Chosin Reservoir.
The U.S. Board of Geographic Names approved the change of Jew Pond in Mont Vernon to Carleton Pond. Voters had approved the change at March Town Meeting.
Fears that the Wilton Town Hall Theatre was in danger of closing because of the switch to digital by movie producers were unfounded, owner Dennis Markaverich said.
Popular Milford Middle School teacher Robert Foster died of a heart attack while climbing Pack Monadnock in Peterborough.
Milford selectmen were considering a change to the open container law that would allow people bringing home a half-empty bottle of wine, for instance, in the trunk of a car to carry it across a sidewalk and into an apartment or home without risking arrest. The change was eventually adopted.
Frederick Dyke of Amherst declined the Democratic Party’s nomination for state senator because, he said, he didn’t meet residency requirements. His decision meant that Sen. Peter Bragdon of Milford ran unopposed.
The state Medical Examiner’s Office announced that Lorinda White of Milford died of hyperthermia, heat exposure, and ruled the death accidental. Later police released 98 pages of documents that show no foul play was involved.
Lt. Mark Reams, a 19-year veteran of the Amherst Police Department, was named chief, replacing Chief Peter Lyon.
Joan and Paul Dargie were named citizens of the year during Milford’s annual Great Pumpkin Festival.
A Hampton real estate development company was considering building a drug store on Elm Street in Milford, across West Street from the Rite Aid Pharmacy.
Milford police arrested five people after they allegedly found a homemade bomb plus drugs and stolen items in a house on Orange Street.
Rainsford Deware III was named officer in charge of the Lyndeborough Police Department.
Hurricane Sandy hit the region but with far less devastation than it caused in places like New York and New Jersey.
Former Lyndeborough police officers Thomas Burke, once the officer in charge, and Paul Roy, once a department sergeant, filed suit against the town charging that they were either fired or forced to resign because of their investigation into actions allegedly taken by Selectman Donald Sawin.
The Amherst Planning Board looked at an idea for a condominium development off Route 122 that would include 25 units of affordable elderly housing.
Democrats had a good election in New Hampshire, taking the governor’s office and both seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. Locally, Democrats Shannon Chandley and Ruth Heden won Statehouse seats in Amherst and Milford, respectively.
Fishbones, Mont Vernon’s village store, shut down.
Milford’s bowling alley and its last video store – Milford Lanes and Movie
Scene – shut their doors.
Milford’s budget was estimated to be rising 5.6 percent.
Milford selectmen supported a plan by the Milford Community Athletic Association to build playing fields on the town-owned Brox property.
Wilton was considering filing suit against Lyndeborough over $146,000 in funds it overpaid to support the towns’ consolidated schools.
Stanley Young was named Wilton’s Citizen of the Year.
Amherst Town Administrator James O’Mara was placed on a paid leave of absence and people in Town Hall sign confidentiality agreements.
Former Wilton Fire Chief Rene Houle was laid to rest.