Politics, Floods Among Top Stories For 2006
Hampton Union, Friday, December 29, 2006
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
Democrats surprised even themselves by sweeping into office, upsetting the Republican stronghold locally and across the state. Democrats gained control of the House and Senate. Taxes continued to be the third rail of local politics as residents said enough to politics as usual, and taxes, by continuing to vote down town budgets in Hampton and Seabrook.
2. Mother's Day flood
Mother Nature gave us up to 14 inches of rain in the days leading up to Mother's Day. Homes and neighborhoods were flooded and total damage measured in the hundreds of thousands if not more. The floods were followed by more unusual weather, including a tornado and destructive hail storm this past summer.
3. Global War on Terrorism
War hit home in 2005 when two Seabrook men were injured while fighting in Iraq: Army Reservist Mike Cawley, 43, and Marine Staff Sgt. Ian LeJeune, 27. In June, a soldier with ties to North Hampton, 2nd Lt. Matthew S. Coutu, 23, was killed by a sniper in Baghdad.
This year, on the fifth anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, American Legion Post 35 dedicated the Global War on Terrorism monument. The town of Hampton also presented overdue memorials to two natives killed in action in the Vietnam War, i.e. Bruce Brown & Mark Brown.
4. Drugs and crime
Ocean National Bank on Lafayette Road in Hampton was robbed on Dec. 20, adding to a long list of bank heists in the Hampton area.
On Oct. 6, police arrested Derek Kucinski, 20, a self-admitted heroin addict from York, Maine, who is expected to plead guilty to nine bank robberies in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. The bank was also robbed in January. In November, law enforcement officials seized 12 pounds of crystal methamphetamine.
5. Developing situation
The crush of commercial development continues on Route 1. As the state plans to widen Route 1, towns are dealing with development in different ways. Hampton Falls failed in an attempt to create a historic district to preserve its rural portion of Route 1. North Hampton is considering zoning options to limit further growth and traffic. Seabrook is dealing with a proposed Target and 14 other stores, as well as three stand-alone restaurants, on Route 1.
6. The changing face of Hampton Beach
With the majority of the $12 million sewer infrastructure project completed, the beach started to change into what officials hope will become a year-round tourist destination. A ground-breaking ceremony was also held this for the $30 million Royale Shores project.
7. Water war
North Hampton voters resoundingly defeated an article to study the potential hostile takeover of Aquarion Water Co. The hotly debated article came after a citizen petition that grew from concerns over water rates and alleged improper maintenance of hydrants by the company, which was sold to an Australian investment bank.
8. Town Manager search
Hampton's search for a town manager continued through the end of the year after former manager James Barrington resigned in August to return to his home-state of Texas.
[Fomer Seabrook Town Manager Fred Welch was appointed Town Manager of Hampton by Selectmen on January 8, 2007]
9. Bayview Crematory
As Rockingham County Attorney Jim Reams and prosecutors prepared for trial in the case of improper procedures at Bayview Crematory, they lost their main witness, former Bayview employee James Fuller, who died after a battle with cancer. Fuller, a Seabrook School Board member, had pleaded guilty to forging cremation certificates, yet maintained his innocence.
10. We remember:
Among so many: Former Seabrook Selectwoman Karen Knight, 46; Seabrook School Board member James Fuller, 54; Winnacunnet High School Junior Lloyd Chapin Jr., 17, of Seabrook; Richard (Robbie) G. Robinson, 71, of North Hampton; North Hampton Tax Collector Peggy Neves, 72; Seabrook Harbor Master Jerry Rowe, 42; William "Bill" R. Kennedy, Long-time Restaurateur, 79 of Hampton; Shannon Kiernan, 28, a WHS teacher killed in a snowboarding accident; and Hampton Falls Road Agent Richard Merrill Sr., 70.