Hurricanes Marred The Year

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By Patrick Cronin

Hampton Union, Friday, December 30, 2005

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

HAMPTON -- 2005 was known for its storms; the tsunami that struck Asia on Dec. 26 ushered in a year of the busiest hurricane season on record.

Locally, people responded to help the victims of the tsunami and then Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and the flood victims in the western part of the state.


The year started with a bang literally when a construction truck working on the $12 million sewer infrastructure project at Hampton Beach erupted in flames.

Pamela Smart was back in the news after she asked Gov. John Lynch for a pardon.

Leslie Richards and her husband, Todd, of Hampton returned home from a trip to Thailand, where they helped her brother search in vain for the bodies of his wife, 13-month-old son and mother-in-law who were killed in the tsunami.


Police arrested the man who robbed banks in Hampton and Exeter. Douglas Ford, 41, of Delray Beach, Fla., pleaded guilty and is behind bars.

More than 700 people took the plunge into the frigid Atlantic Ocean for the sixth annual Penguin Plunge, which benefits the Special Olympics.

Fred Muscara was officially named principal of Hampton Academy.


Politically in Hampton, March departed like a lion as voters roared their disapproval over town spending and rejected the budget. Hampton officials dealt with the fallout for the remainder of the year by making cuts in the Fire Department, proposing to privatize trash collection and the closing the transfer station on weekends.

In a controversial move, the board also voted 3-2 to eliminate one of two deputy fire chief positions.

All police details in town ended after voters rejected the police detail special revenue account, which funded the details.

The Hampton Beach Village District voted to pay to install wiring for lightsat Hampton Beach.

Ousted state Rep. Jane Kelley was dead serious about raising money for her cremation; she held a fund-raising event for it in March.


In April, local Catholics mourned the death of Pope John Paul II.

Three local officials received threats after the town election. Budget Committee Chairman Mary-Louise Woolsey and Selectman Rick Griffin reported that nails were thrown on their driveways. Selectman Cliff Pratt received a threatening note that was placed on his barn door.

Test results of an air-quality survey at Hampton Academy found mold in two unoccupied spaces and elevated carbon dioxide levels and temperatures. Officials spent the rest of the year addressing the problems.

Former Selectmen Chairman William "Skip" Sullivan, former Budget Committee Chairman Sandy Buck and Hampton State Rep. Tom Gillick sued selectmen for not implementing the default budget that was advertised to the taxpayers of Hampton.

William "Bill" Elliot, known to many as "Mr. Hampton Beach" or "The Singing Cop," turned 100.


The Seacoast Education Association took a vote of no confidence in Superintendent James Gaylord. Andrew Gushee, president of the union, said the working environment in SAU 21 is "hostile" and the union has serious concerns with the way Gaylord has handled recent personnel issues.

Selectmen voted to sell 95,000 baseball cards that were recovered by the Hampton Police Department in a stolen vehicle in the 1990s.

Gordon MacRae, a former priest at Our Lady of the Miraculous Church who was found guilty more than 10 years ago of sexually assaulting boys, was back in the news when his lawyers said they would appeal his conviction.

The police and fire unions filed a record number of grievances after voters rejection the $26 million operating budget.

The Winnacunnet Cooperative School Board opposed renewing Principal Ruth Leveille’s contract. She called for a public meeting to hear the reasons for the board’s decision but canceled it at the last minute.


In June, a woman lost a leg in a motorcycle accident on Route 1A.

Disbarred attorney Arthur C. Randlett was charged with four felony theft indictments by the Rockingham County grand jury for allegedly stealing money from his clients.


The month began on a tragic note after two Massachusetts men drowned at Hampton Beach on July 4 after being swept away by a riptide. It was the first drownings at the beach since 1964.

The names of more than 700 residents who failed to license their pets by the April 30 deadline began airing on the local cable channel.

A Rockingham Superior Court judge ruled in favor of a lawsuit to restore police details; it was filed against the town on behalf of the Hampton Police Association.

Juan Zayas, 26, of Hartford, Conn., was arrested by the Hampton Police Department for destroying two sand castles that were apart of the fifth annual Sand Sculpture Contest at Hampton Beach.

Seabrook resident Paul Michaud walked away with the town’s entire collection of 95,000 baseball cards after bidding $525 at the annual surplus auction.

The state Executive Council voted unanimously to deny Pamela Smart’s pardon request.

Selectmen voted to keep Ashworth Avenue a one-way street but said it was still an option to turn it into a two-way street with a center turning lane in the future.

Winnacunnet High School basketball coach Jack Ford resigned after leading the squad for 31 years.


Alexandra Harrington took home the crown and title of Miss Hampton Beach 2005.

Selectmen questioned why a request by the Winnacunnet Cooperative School Board to fill in the Park Avenue spur that allows cars to turn right on Winnacunnet Road never came before them. The spur was filled to accommodate the school’s new entrance.

Local officials and residents gathered at the Hurd Farm to celebrate the preservation of Hampton’s last dairy farm as farmland and open space forever.

Two veteran Hampton Beach lifeguards, Dan and Stephen Ryan, said they were fired for not taking down their personal Web site about the lifeguard contingent and beach safety. The two sued the state for wrongful termination.

Eight year-old Taylor Ann House won the first-ever junior Hampton Beach Idol Competition.


An estimated 120,000 people attended the 16th Seafood Festival.

Foss Manufacturing filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, and, according to court documents, President and Chief Executive Officer Stephen Foss resigned after allegations of fraud within the company came to light.

Karen Anderson, an administrative assistant to the town for the last 14 years, resigned to become the new town administrator of Greenland.

A Rockingham Superior Court Judge has ruled that Helen Garland, 75, is incompetent to stand trial in the beating death of her 85-year-old sister, but left open the possibility that she could be prosecuted in the future.


Citizens Bank at Hannaford’s was robbed. Lee Lafaso, was charged and is behind bars awaiting trial.

The Winnacunnet Cooperative School Board sued selectmen for its vote to force the School Board to restore the spur that was removed on Park Avenue and close the school’s new entrance. The suit was dismissed after selectmen and the School Board agreed to keep the spur buried until voters have their say in March.


After 81 years, Colt News Store, one of the last stores that represented old downtown Hampton, announced that it would go out of business.

The District Court moved out of the building on Winnacunnet Road to its new temporary quarters at 130 Ledge Road in Seabrook.

An extortion case against Planning Board member Ken Sakurai was dismissed after a Hillsborough county attorney decided there wasinsufficient evidence.

Selectmen voted to lift a sewer moratorium placed on Kings Highway since the early 1990s.

Police Chief Bill Wrenn was nominated by Gov. John Lynch to run the state’s prisons as commissioner of the Corrections Department.

Selectmen began reviewing plans for a new fire substation at Hampton Beach and an administrative wing addition to Station 2.

Armed with a petition signed by 500 residents and business owners in town demanding that the transfer station be open both Saturday and Sunday, selectmen voted to do just that.

The Winnacunnet Cooperative School Board voted to ban R-rated movies but said it would make special exemptions if a teacher could prove the educational value of showing the film.


It was announced that a new movie, "Losing Jerry," would begin filming next year at Hampton Beach. The movie tells the coming-of-age story of three friends who share a love of Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead.

Hampton Police Capt. Jamie Sullivan was named new police chief.

The Budget Committee voted 8-6 to cut more than $700,000 from the selectmen’s recommended budget of $24 million. The move would hold spending to the amount in this year’s default budget, $23 million.

Selectmen vote not to recommend for next year the budget approved by the budget committee.

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