2000 -- The Year In Review ... What A Year We Had!
Compiled by John Hirtle, Production Manager
Atlantic News, Thursday, December 28, 2000
The year Two Thousand dawned unlike any other year, amid hoopla and foreboding, as the world held its breath and celebrated for all it was worth. According to some, it was to be the "end of the world as we know it" as either the Second Coming arrived on our proverbial doorstep, or a thirty-year old computer glitch dubbed the "Y2K Bug" would send our computerized world back a thousand years.
Needless to say, doomsday didn’t happen. At least, not the way people foresaw it.
This, of course, is one of the many reasons we are presenting the Year in Review, as we consider some of the high and low points of the year here on the Seacoast, as we bore witness to everything from the near meltdown of SAU 21 and a Constitutional Crisis on the national stage, to the unveiling of the New Hampshire Quarter on the sands of Hampton Beach.
— January —
The New Year was chilly for many on January 1 as thirty-five brave souls dove into the chilly ocean waters off Hampton Beach.
The Claremont case took center stage briefly as the New Year dawned, as the question of how the schools should be funded remained a burden to the 'donor towns’ of the Seacoast. Governor Jeanne Shaheen faced her critics in Portsmouth in a civil public session, as many more faced the reality that it was no longer affordable to live on the Seacoast due to the tax hike. Later investigation would show that 'recipient’ towns were not using the money sent to them for schools, but were diverting much of it to local tax relief, road repair and other non-educational activities. Hampton Falls sponsored a debate on the educational funding topic, while many local towns joined an anti-Claremont Coalition to challenge the current payment system in the state courts.
Seabrook Selectman Burwell Pike resigned and to leave the locale for Arizona. Karen Knight, the runner up in the previous election sought to claim the seat as hers. This move was prevented by the sitting members of the board who chose to exercise their option of not naming a new board member, and refused to accept Burwell Pike’s resignation. Knight filed a Petition to Fill Vacancy at the Rockingham Superior Court as her quest to claim the seat dragged on through January. She would eventually be elected to the board in March.
Knight was also the driving force behind a petition to expand the Seabrook board of selectmen from three to five members, a move the two remaining members of the board did not wish to see.
Staples Office Supply announced plans to move into Seabrook on Route One, and their store was completed and open by fall.
Hampton’s Police Chief Wrenn proposed a leaner police station to be built at the beach near the current one. The previous year’s proposal had been defeated partially because it was so close to the center of town and the schools, as well as its price tag. Meanwhile, the current police station continued to slowly sink into the marsh.
Hampton Playhouse owner Michael Wakeen sought an exception to the sewer moratorium in Hampton to replace a sewer line, and asked the selectmen to approve the name "Playhouse Circle" for the new development. They did so, although there were many questions about the Playhouse’s status. Another request to build on all 25 lots in the development was turned down, as selectmen cited the sewer moratorium, and noting they had approved eight houses. The overall feeling was that the developers should wait until after the warrant to upgrade waste water facilities was passed in March before proceeding. Bids were also under consideration to expand the waste water treatment plant so that the sewer moratorium could be lifted.
Fred Rice, chairman of the Hampton Board of Selectmen opted to retire from the board rather than run again.
Parents of Marston School fourth graders did not wish to share, as the shared-book policy came under fire at a Hampton School Board meeting. The school defended its position, pointing out that funds saved from buying fewer textbooks were earmarked for purchasing more up to date and economical reference tools.
In North Hampton, a senior seminar highlighted the ongoing rehabilitation of historic Centennial Hall, which is still being restored. The town also came to a new agreement with the Hampton Water Works for a 16% rate increase, the first such increase in nine years. North Hampton residents also resolved to start growth management in town before they were overrun by developers. The citizen-sponsored ordinance went into effect until it was voted upon in March.
Winnacunnet High School started off the new year with Judeann Langlois officially named Principal of the school. George P. Bush, nephew of President-Elect George W. Bush visited the school to speak on a number of political topics, including youth involvement in the political process. But among the hot topics at school was a proposed badge plan which was hoped to make the school safer as fallout from the Columbine School Shootings continued. Fears of a future Columbine were intensified as it was revealed that two students had brought an explosive device into school, which was later detonated in another town. The one who was most involved in what was considered to be a case of "poor judgment" was suspended for ten days. Shrinking space was another hot topic, as Winnacunnet proposed enlarging the school, and doing away with the modular classrooms during a lightly attended by contentious budget meeting. A $17.9 building addition was ultimately settled on, and board members went out to the four towns to raise support for the project.
An armed robbery took place at Seabrook’s First & Ocean Bank, followed by a reckless chase where the suspect, Michael Nance, crashed his escape car, hijacked another in the middle of I-95, and crashed that one as well. He was rescued by the Amesbury Fire Department, and was officially arrested at the hospital.
Heating oil prices were on the rise, as a series of winter storms prevented ships from making their way into Portsmouth with their cargoes to be unloaded. This trend would continued into the summer though, as gasoline prices rose to well over a dollar and remained there for most of the year.
In Salisbury Beach, work began on leveling the aging beach side Frolics building, and restoring the dunes on its site.
The Seacoast finally saw the first snow of the winter on Thursday, January 13, after 303 days without any measurable snowfall- a record length of time since modern records had been kept.
Hampton Falls began considering enlarging their school, as they entered into an "option to purchase" agreement for the 48 acre Starvish Property on Drinkwater Road as a new school site.
As January drew to a close, a piece of Hampton’s history was preserved as Eagle Scout Joshua McDonald of Troop 177 completed cataloging the Pine Grove Cemetery, the oldest burial ground in Hampton, and presented the results at the last Hampton Selectmen’s meeting of January. The project takes a snapshot of the cemetery and its ancient and decaying gravestones as they looked in 1999. Across the road from the cemetery, another historic project was underway, as Judy Barrett sought to catalog her family’s history in the "old Hobbs Homestead" - a parcel of land occupied by the family since it was granted to their ancestors by the King of England in 1638.
— February —
February kicked off with politics, as New Hampshire held it’s first in the nation Presidential Primary. Nearly half of the Seacoast’s voters went out to vote their choice, making Senator John McCain (who had visited Ashworth by the Sea the Thursday before the primary) the winner of the state’s Republican ticket, followed by George W. Bush who took second place. McCain would fight a losing battle though, eventually dropping out of the race as George W. Bush’s funds swamped his efforts. Bill Bradley, the lone Democratic opponent of Vice President Al Gore’s bid for the White House did well on the Seacoast, and even visited Marston School with Bill Preston as votes were being cast. However, Gore went on to claim the state, and eventually was named the Democratic Party’s candidate. Thus the stage for the strangest Presidential Race in history was set.
2000 was also a Census year, and towns such as Seabrook strove to make sure everyone counted. The 1990 census underreported the number of residents in Seabrook (blamed in part to the "snowbirds" who head to Florida) and the town had lost some funding as a result.
The maples in Hampton’s Marelli Square fell to progress, as the place was prepared for the proposed gazebo, a structure two years in the planning. The maples were missed immediately, as townspeople protested their abrupt felling. Selectman Bonnie Searle demanded to know where the resulting firewood was heading to.
Seabrook faced a pointed issue, as a petition to allow body piercing in retail stores at tattoo parlors was pinned to the ballot. Town officials were adamantly opposed to this, pinning their own article onto the ballot to reaffirm the current practice of restricting body piercing to licensed physicians.
Even as Winnacunnet High School was working on support for an addition, North Hampton was considering if it was worth it to withdraw from Winnacunnet. A warrant for an eight member study committee was put on the ballot, and informal discussion were held with Greenland and Rye, who were interested in an alternative to the Portsmouth High School.
As Hampton’s first session of the annual Town Meeting began, outgoing Town Moderator John Walker was recognized for his ten years as moderator. The chief topics of the meeting which followed was Article Eight, the need for a new police station, and Article Nine, the need for an upgrade to Hampton’s waste water plant. Chief Wrenn would invest a great deal of time promoting the topic of constructing a new police station whenever possible, taking his case before the Hampton Seniors as well as other town gatherings.
The "pet collecting craze"- a tragic case of people having more pets than they could financially care for- appeared to grow regionally, as more cases were reported. Among them was a case where two plastic boxes containing guinea pigs were found abandoned in North Hampton. In addition, concerns were raised about the presence of coyotes, fisher cats and deer on the Seacoast as development diminishes their shrinking habitats, and wild animals move into more residential areas.
North Hampton was one of six New Hampshire towns to receive a grant to develop a local walking tour to highlight the town’s historic areas.
It took a while to find a replacement for the Hampton Beach Chamber of Commerce President Glen French, but on February 7, it was announced that "Doc" Noel would take charge of the chamber on March 6, 2000.
Approximately 160 brave souls gathered at Hampton Beach for the Penguin Plunge on Sunday, February 13, raising $114,000 for Special Olympics New Hampshire.
Seabrook deliberated 59 warrant articles, including restricting the growth of tattoo and fireworks stores, forgiving a loan to the Seabrook Housing Authority, and considering the turn the fire chief’s position from an elected to an appointed position.
Local elections heated up, as Jim Workman took an active role advocating his candidacy for Hampton Selectmen, and the town got to meet the candidates courtesy of the PTA on February 22. Bonnie Searle was scolded for campaigning for her reelection by wearing pins promoting herself at a Hampton Selectman’s meeting. A debate at the same meeting erupted over whether to print sample ballots out for prior to the election, resulting in Searle announcing that she would pay for sample ballots to be printed, and would distribute them herself.
The number of health insurance carriers in New Hampshire fell to four major companies, limiting the options available for those seeking insurance.
The McRel (Mid-content Research for Education and Learning) benchmarks neared completion in the Hampton schools to help align the curriculum to the test given to students.
Hampton Falls took another step towards enlarging the town’s tiny library as a proposed 5500 square foot addition was approved by the town selectmen for the March town meeting.
The Atlantic News brought home the honors from the New England Press Association’s 1999 Annual Better Newspaper Contest, seizing second place in the local advertisement (color) division.
— March —
Work begins on the "Playhouse Circle" project, as support buildings for the Hampton Playhouse -- the hotel where young participants of the Theater Arts Workshop were housed, and the tech barn were demolished.
Safety at Winnacunnet was revisited as the student badge proposal was revisited as the Winnacunnet High School Board met in North Hampton. The final presentation before the Hampton Board of Selectmen stirred up some debate over the timing, as it was held one week before the issue was presented to the voters.
Winnacunnet played host to a group of French hoop coaches who got to find out what American basketball is all about. They couldn’t have picked a better spot, as Winnacunnet’s undefeated Boys Warrior Basketball team was working their way to the finals.
In Hampton Falls, Police Chief Dean Glover announced he would retire at the end of the month after 23 years of law enforcement. Robbie E. Dirsa, a lieutenant on the Hampton Falls Police Force since 1995 and has 14 years of experience, was named the new police chief. The departing Police Chief was honored by the town on April 9.
The issue of sample ballots reappeared at the Hampton Selectmen’s meeting as the identity of an unknown person passing out marked up sample ballots door to door was sought. Partially in response to the sample ballot question, a special Hampton Warrant and Budget ballot section appeared in the Atlantic News.
The Home Rule amendment, which permits local governments to take action on a wide variety of affairs without getting permission from the state legislature was heartily approved in Seabrook. The item would appear on November’s ballot.
Seabrook fireman John Walsh may have been unable to fight fires in March due to a triple bypass surgery, but he and the fire department made a commercial for the Portsmouth Regional Hospital which performed the operation in its new cardiac unit.
Heritage walks took a step closer to reality in North Hampton as the process began to collect information for the project. Four walks in all are planned, the first of which was unveiled at North Hampton’s Old Home Day.
In Hampton Falls, discussion over a proposed American Independence Scenic Byway Loop was held. The route, identified in 1974, would run 25 miles through Exeter, Hampton, Hampton Falls, Seabrook, Kensington and East Kingston
An early spring thawed out the Seacoast in March as Canadian geese and swans were sighted heading northward.
Fourth grade teacher Rosemary Sheehy was named Marston’s interim assistant principal by Principal David O’Connor.
Parker’s Dream became a reality in Stratham as the ground was broken on the grounds of the NHSPCA shelter to build a new facility. The $2.2 million addition will bring a desperately needed 10,500 square feet of space to help house and care for animals.
As the election approached, the Hampton Police held an open house on Saturday, March 11 to show the public how badly the station’s deterioration was, to bolster the vote for a new station.
In sports, the Warriors Boys Basketball Team ended the regular season as the number one team in Class L, and charged into the state finals where they defeated the Nashua Blue Devils. Before the month was over though, the 19-1 team would fall to Manchester Central. Nonetheless, the team was recognized by Hampton Selectmen for their outstanding efforts. While that season may have been lost, the future looked bright as the WHS Boys JV ended their season with a 17-1 record. The WHS Girls Basketball would conclude their season 10-8.
At the Pease International Tradeport, excitement abounded as Alliance Aircraft moved in, announcing it would construct 70 and 90 seat aircraft. Before the year was out though, the business would be looking to move elsewhere, claiming New Hampshire was a 'hostile’ business environment, even as the company was hounded by a number of assorted firms to pay their bills.
— Election Results —
The proposed Winnacunnet High School expansion was soundly defeated.
In Hampton, voters slogged their way though a ballot with 66 warrant articles. The Police Station was approved by town voters 2280-1435. However, it was defeated by Exeter taxpayers in May who sought to delay a project in their own town by challenging a vote in court. At question was the different standards applied where SB2 towns (such as Hampton) could approve construction projects with a 3/5 (60%) majority while towns which still had town meetings needed a 2/3 majority. As a result, any construction project with less than a 2/3 majority was put on hold throughout Rockingham County in May, compounding the difficulties for civil improvements already brought on by the Claremont Case. Fortunately, the waste water treatment expansion was approved 2712 to 980, providing relief to those struggling under the sewer moratorium. John Workman and Bonnie Searle were elected to the board of selectmen.
In North Hampton, the proposed Growth Ordinance Management Ordinance was voted down. Lloyd Sullivan defeated Jennifer Landman to take a seat on the board of selectmen, while Selectman George Lagassa defeated incumbent School Board member Robert Copp, thus gaining two seats.
Hampton Falls voters rejected the bid to purchase 48 acres of land as a possible site for a new school. The school budget passed along with funding for computers. Thomas Beeler regained his seat on the board of selectmen, beating William Kenny in the only contested race in town.
Seabrook voters voted down any increases in spending, a move which would come back to haunt them in December as a special election had to be called to vote on a pay increase for town employees. Funds for water meters and televising local meetings were shot down as well. The Fire Chief position was kept as an elected rather than an appointed position, while incumbent Fire Chief Keith Sanborn was defeated by Martin Paul Janvrin. Karen Knight finally made it to Seabrook’s board of selectmen as well.
South Hampton, the sometimes forgotten fifth member of SAU 21 voted to build a new $1.8 million school. This will relieve the crowding in the current set of school structures which are arguably the oldest still in use in SAU 21, as the original Barnard School building dates to the 1850s.
Voters in Seabrook and North Hampton approved the start of a study to determine if they should withdraw from SAU 21 or not.
In Rye, Memories Studio burned to the ground in a raging fire which melted siding on nearby buildings and caused minor damage to fire engines moved in too close to the blaze. Local support for the displaced photographer Budd Perry was strong as a series of fund raisers began to help rebuild the business. For much of the year Memories Studios and the two other businesses lost to the fire, Fletcher Gallery and Custom Frame and Color moved a short distance up the road to Rosewood of Rye. Before the end of the year, a near duplicate of the original structure was erected on the fire ravaged site, and the three businesses moved back in.
SAU 21 set the stage in Seabrook for some 17 new and revised school policies to help the SAU operate more efficiently.
Hampton was under consideration as a site for a new Exeter/Hampton Courthouse slated to be built in 2003.
Water rates rose 16.1% in Hampton, the first such increase in eight years.
As the Hampton Falls town meeting approached, an anonymous donor made a gift of $525,000 in stocks towards the proposed town library addition whose estimated cost was $840,000. The addition was approved at the town meeting.
Seabrook faced dual lawsuits as the owner of Dredz International filed a Writ of Summons seeking relief from enforcement of the town’s health ordinance which restricts body piercing to licensed physicians.
Plans for salt marsh restorations continued across the Seacoast. Restoration efforts include restoring the proper flow of water in and out of the marshes to help prevent flooding of adjoining property, and the restoration of salt water to areas where phragmites, a tall freshwater plant which crowds out native plants, have taken root.
Hampton’s Board of Selectmen reconvened, naming Brian Warburton at the new chairman, and welcoming James Workman onto the board. Bonnie Searle returned as well, surrounded by complaints that she may have violated election laws by apparently campaigning at the Marston School polling place by wearing her campaign button and passing out voting bulletins. While Searle adamantly denied any wrongdoing, this set the tone for many confrontations between Bonnie Searle and the rest of the Hampton Selectmen. At the following meeting, it was decided to draft a letter to the secretary of state outlining the complaint against Searle.
"Bathroom talk" was a hot topic as the Department of Resources and Economic Development (DRED) considered renovating the bathrooms at Hampton Beach. It had been requested that they refrain from any improvements when the sewer moratorium was in place, but with impending expansion of the waste water facilities, DRED put sent a letter to selectmen indicating their intentions to update 'the Swamp’ a 'temporary’ set of ramshackle bathrooms just north of Ashworth by the Sea with a new, permanent bathroom facility. This drew cries of protest from beach residents, particularly those who anticipated their views of the ocean would be even more obscured by a new bathroom.
Labor contracts with town employees were drawn up and signed in Hampton as the month drew to a close thanks to the efforts of Town Manager James Barrington who acted as facilitator to get an agreement everyone was happy with, without bringing in labor negotiators or attorneys.
In Seabrook, newly elected Fire Chief Paul Janvrin threatened to file suit against the town for a significant salary decrease, after receiving a pay cut of nearly $12,000 when he assumed the fire chief’s position. This set the stage for a number of confrontations between Janvrin and the Seabrook Selectmen during the year.
The last North Hampton Selectman’s meeting of March was a stormy one as Peter Simmons came before the board to air grievances against Selectman Jack Steiner, alleging he had abused his office in influencing a decision on a parcel of land owned by Simmons. Steiner denied any wrongdoing. The North Hampton Conservation Commission decided that the best way to keep land from being developed was to purchase it. While this approach would cost money, it would result in savings in school and municipal services demanded by people building homes on such lots. The committee was particularly interested in purchasing land next to current town holdings to create 'preservation corridors’.
North Hampton’s first elected planning board was sworn in on Tuesday, March 21, and immediately had its first resignation as Ted Turchan resigned for personal reasons. The next highest vote-getter, Bill Carlson took his place on the board. Don Gould was elected Chairman, and Carlson was made vice chairman. Previous planning boards had been appointed. Chief on their agenda was creating a plan to limit runaway growth in North Hampton.
Students in grades 3-5 learned something about rocket science as they gathered at on the last Saturday of the month to build and fire off model rockets at Marston School.
Winnachronicle editor William C. Schultze was named a finalist in the National Merit Scholarship program.
Much to the dismay of Hampton Recreation and Hampton Youth Association athletes, the newly elected Hampton School Board voted to bar extracurricular sports at Centre School and Hampton Academy Junior High School due to safety concerns. The gymnasiums would be reopened in April once the concerns were examined and addressed.
The Seabrook Elementary School received a number of bomb threats in March, but no explosive devices ever turned up. The school staff received high praise from parents for their deft handling of each crisis as the groundwork was laid for dealing with the repeat crises more efficiently, and catching the pranksters.
At Greenland’s town meeting, the desperately needed police station was voted down. Greenland’s fire chief Tim Collins (who is also a deputy chief on the Portsmouth Fire Department) saw his proposal to have Portsmouth’s Fire Department take over Greenland’s ambulance service pass by a very slim margin. However, Portsmouth’s Mayor and City Council, not having been brought in on the deal brokered directly between Greenland and the Portsmouth Fire Department eventually shot down the plan lest they be accused of impropriety. By year’s end, Greenland firefighters were starting a fund drive to raise money to purchase a new ambulance.
— April —
New Hampshire Senate President Beverly Hollingworth informed Hampton Selectmen about the state’s Phrama Program which will provide drugs to those lacking the ability to pay for medicine, and the statewide property tax, which will remain in place until another funding solution is found.
Winnacunnet High School had to contend with a default budget, resulting in $203,000 worth of cuts. Four positions were either cut or left unfilled while less important programs were trimmed back or eliminated to make up for the shortfall.
The Hampton Beach precinct voted to explore the possibility of turning their fire protection services over to the town, so resources could be pooled in the future for equipment purchases and other replacement costs. Currently, beach residents are taxed twice for fire protection -- once for the town fire department, and once for the Beach based fire department. Combining them could offer some tax relief.
The Master Plan for Hampton Beach slowly took shape as a committee with members from DRED, town boards, and other local groups was formed to lay the foundations for the beach’s future.
Allegations of misconduct continued to hound North Hampton Selectman Jack Steiner, as Paul Simmons continued to claim Steiner had insulted his family and violated the town’s code of ethics in regard to attempting to influence the building inspector’s opinion on a parcel of land owned by Simmons. However, the letter from Simmons to the selectmen demanding action be taken was so vaguely worded that nothing was done.
The Friends of Centennial Hall in North Hampton asked for permission to pave and beautify the parking lot, which is partially owned by the town. It was agreed to do so, but by year’s end the lot remained unpaved. Fund raising to restore the historic hall continued throughout the year.
Hampton’s voter-approved Charter Commission met to consider changing the growing town’s form of government. The last such commission met in 1988.
While the original Hampton Playhouse was closed as the Playhouse Circle development rose behind it, it was announced that Hampton’s thespian spirit would live on as the New Playhouse and the Artists Collaborative Theater of New England (ACT ONE) would hold plays at the Winnacunnet Community Auditorium. Part of the proceeds would go to the school, and part would go the the New Playhouse Development Fund, as efforts continued to save the historic summer theater structure. The first performance of the season was announced to be "Of Pirates and Poets"
The Hampton Falls School Board sought to extend the option to purchase the Starvish property for a new school site, while educating the public about the need to plan for a new school in the not so distant future. Hampton Falls eighth grade students made plans to travel to New York City rather than Toronto, Canada for their class trip.
The Seacoast Business Alliance helped relocate the Seaside Elderly Day Out Center to new larger quarters behind the municipal parking lot on High Street in Hampton.
Harbor erosion in Seabrook resulted in the collapse of the town pier, and began threatening buildings near the edge of the water. The Army Corps of Engineers refused to give a permit for dredging or pier repair until a two year $400,000 hydrodynamic study was completed. For now, the pier remains closed.
Parking meters went up at the beach on April 24, as Beach businesses returned to start getting ready for the summer season.
The jet ski ordinance resurfaced in Hampton as summer approached. During previous summers, jet skiers have come in too close to shore, endangering swimmers.
SAU 21 delayed the release of new standards and benchmarks of the McRel program until May, so that they could be professionally printed up. In light of March’s bomb scares, $3,000 was set aside to improve classroom communication, as each school would get three cell phones and eight sets of walkie talkies for use in an emergency.
Hampton’s school gyms at Centre School and the Hampton Academy Junior High School were reopened for extracurricular activities after inspectors examined the situation from foundation to roof. Minor changes, such as the removal of old equipment and the insulation of radiators were made, but overall, the gyms were judged to be in good shape.
Seabrook decided to put a public restroom in the center of the town’s beach municipal parking lot on Route 1A.
Many homeowners discovered that the dry summer and winter led to a bumper crop of grubs, which led to the transformation of many lawns into muddy fields as the spring rains came.
Sprinklers were installed around the North Hampton Bandstand to keep the grass green. A similar project for some of Hampton’s playing fields was held up due to a miscommunication between selectmen and the Hampton Youth Association which was working to get the irrigation system installed. Details were ironed out at the following meeting, as permission was given to install the irrigation system on Field 1 and 2. Dugouts, bleachers and picnic tables were also donated to the playing fields by Timberland and Home Depot.
Kevin D. Shultz was sworn in as Hampton’s new building inspector on April 24.
North Hampton residents sought to get a high-speed access to the internet. Currently, Media One (as the cable company was called then -- it changed its name in the Fall of 2000 to AT&T Broadband) did not provide high-speed cable access in North Hampton, although the service is available in Portsmouth and some neighboring towns. North Hampton is also out of bounds for DSL service. Wireless internet access was suggested, but high startup costs were a stumbling block.
The science and math classrooms at Winnacunnet High School were suffering as an unusual number of illnesses and absences called into question the air quality in those rooms. Inspectors checked it out, as the board turned to reaffirming that only seniors could park at the high school. Any spaces still available will be given to juniors via a lottery system. The Seacoast Credit Union opened a branch at Winnacunnet High School on April 19 to give students a hands-on experience in business, and to encourage them to use banking services.
North Hampton School’s principal Peter Sweet proposed a 1 teacher to nineteen students ration for the coming school year to school board members.
Seabrook sought to regrade the beach to help protect beach front property. Unlike Hampton, which regrades Hampton Beach every year through DRED, Seabrook does it once every four years, and must obtain a special $600 permit for the work. There was some discussion about making the regrading a yearly event, thus avoiding the expense, and the possible problem of having a costly study of the beach and sand dunes.
Hampton’s Recreation Program Coordinator Brenda DeFelice resigned from her position on April 24. She would go on to work at FUN before taking the new full time Recreation Director position in North Hampton.
Jimmy Reynolds was named the new manager of the Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
— May —
Seabrook Elementary School started May off with yet another bomb scare. Students en route to the school were diverted to the Seabrook Community Center as police and firefighters checked the building out before allowing the students to enter at 9:30.
Members of a Maine to Philadelphia Benefit Skate for the Concerns of Police Survivors zoomed through the Seacoast on Route One.
The jet ski ordinance was shelved by Hampton Selectmen, following a lively debate between two factions, one side wishing to bar jet skis for safety and environmental reasons, the other not wishing have personal rights infringed upon, or damaging Hampton Beach’s reputation as a tourist mecca. Provisions were made for a mooring at the Smith & Gilmore Pier to moor the marine patrol craft to allow officers more time on the water to monitor jet skis. Along a similar vein, Hampton Beach residents voiced their dismay that the beach was vilified as sleazy, and little had been done to improve on it in recent budgets.
State Senator Mark Fernald (D-Sharon) began to make the rounds as he campaigned for the Democratic nomination for Governor. His first stop on the Seacoast was in Rye and the Junior High School.
An anonymously printed and distributed "North Hampton Educational Chronicle" appeared for the second time, making sweeping and unfounded accusations against the North Hampton School Board and staff members.
The tenth anniversary of the Pam Smart case came and went without much notice.
Seabrook Selectmen got a head start on implementing the annual water ban starting July 1.
The "Million Mom March" spoke out against guns on May 14- Mother’s Day- as they sought to persuade the government to pass common sense gun legislation.
The Hampton Beach Master Plan Advisory Committee got to work drumming up interest and participation of residents on committees .
Hampton Airfield held its annual cleanup, clearing the grassy airfield of loose rocks in preparation of the summer season. The first event was the annual Fly In where around 150 small planes would land at the airstrip. Further south, the Plum Island Airstrip, faced closure at the end of the summer as the SPNEA refused to release the land to the strip’s operators.
The Hampton Police Station project was officially put on hold due to the lawsuit filed by a member of a concerned taxpayer’s group in Exeter. Increased demands on the Hampton Police Department created a severe cruiser shortage leading to the DARE vehicle and police officers personal cars to be pressed into service. As a result, two cruisers which were to be traded in for new vehicles were retained.
Several walks were held on the Seacoast to raise funds to fight Cystic Fibrosis.
Seacoast letter carriers held their annual food drive, collecting thousands of pounds of food from postal patrons.
The USS Albacore in Portsmouth was named a historic mechanical engineering landmark by the American Society of Mechanical engineers. The revolutionary Portsmouth-built submarine which paved the way for all future submarine hull designs is now a museum open to the public.
A "roundtable" forum was held in Hampton Falls to discuss the future of the Lincoln Akerman School, and the school board looked to possible future requirements and expansion, as well as current concerns such as the increase in traffic in front of the school.
"Babyland" in Hampton’s High Street Cemetery had its new fence dedicated on Saturday May 20.
North Hampton was outgrowing their town offices and was beginning to look at the 3000 square feet of unfinished space over the police station as a possible spot to relocate. However, architect Richard Correll reported that the space was good for only a short term fix. Other ideas floated included renting out space in the North Hampton Factory Outlet. The North Hampton Historical Society has expressed interest in taking over the current town offices in the old town library as a museum and visitor’s center when the town moves out.
Richard Wollmar replaced 17 year Zoning Board of Adjustment member Allen Brandt in North Hampton as the issue of automatic reappointments to the board was aired before the selectmen.
Hampton Waterworks asked for customers to conserve water this summer, as ground water supplies had not yet recovered from last year’s drought.
Hampton’s Playhouse Circle development saw no relief from the sewer moratorium, as Ed Patenaude and Michael Wakeen appealed to the board of selectmen to allow the construction of 17 more homes, as they pointed out there would be no water coming from the closed Playhouse and its support buildings. Selectman Bonnie Searle astutely noted that the New Playhouse at Hampton would be operating at the Winnacunnet High School Community Auditorium, and would produce about the same amount of water as the original Playhouse. A third time was the charm, as Patenaude and Wakeen returned with an attorney in tow to appeal for relief one last time. After a private meeting, the selectmen granted the request , noting the pair had a "financial problem".
A special school board meeting was held to unveil SAU 21’s new benchmarks and standards.
Following all the bomb threats in Seabrook, school board members considered bringing a full time police officer into the school. Federal grants would pay for the officer.
As talk grew about the spread of the West Nile virus, a disease transmitted by mosquitoes, North Hampton and Rye talked of joining forces in battling the mosquito population in their salt marshes. Rye has been spreading larvicide on their marshes for some time, but North Hampton has balked due to the costs involved.
Nancy Gordon sold the Bib 'n Crib Shoppe in Downtown Hampton. This was the first of several long-time local business establishments to either shut their doors or be sold by their longtime owners as the year rolled on.
Hampton received a low-interest loan from the state to aid the town’s waste water treatment plant expansion.
North Hampton Police Department Chief Michael Maloney resigned, and was seen off on May 12. He has taken up the position of Greenland’s Police Chief.
The Hampton Rotary donated $2,500 to the James House Association to help restore the historic structure.
The New Playhouse at Hampton announced it would be holding a professional training program from July 10 to August 26 for young aspiring actors. Auditions for the program, dubbed "Story Tellers" took place on May 30. The lineup at the Playhouse was also announced, the programs included First Night, Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered, Sylvia, and Spousal Deafness & Other Bones of Contention. Acoustic guitarist Ed Gerhard also put on a performance.
The limelight shone on Hampton Beach, as an independent film maker chose the beach for the site of his movie "Click", a tale of how something in the water at the resort town makes people fall in love.
The Allard’s Moving & Storage building in Newington went up in smoke as a catastrophic fire leveled the structure.
Eleven months after the Old Salt burned down at Hampton Beach, the Higgins family held their official ground breaking for the reconstruction of the building. Two days after the ground breaking though, the Higgins family who own the site were in front of the Hampton Zoning Board of Adjustment seeking relief from two articles which seemed to be blocking progress on reconstructing the restaurant. While the variance for parking was granted, no work was ever done on the site, which spent the summer as a parking lot.
Low bus ridership figures for Winnacunnet High School prompted the school board to consider revising the terms of the bus contract to cut back busses. A survey in November, 1999 revealed only 307-337 out of 1037 students rode the bus -- a surprising figure given the limited parking available at Winnacunnet.
Work began on the Seabrook revaluation project.
McDonalds moved from its North Hampton location to a new site in Hampton on Lafayette Road.
Concerts and fireworks kicked off the summer season on Memorial Day Weekend at Hampton Beach, even as local Veterans honored those who had fallen defending our country. The Beach News, a publication of the Atlantic News was the sole summer publication to be found at the beach this year as The Beachcomber ceased publication.
The Hampton Beach Master Planners added more members to their ranks. Thomas Gillick continued to preside as acting chairman as the committees materialized.
Congressman Sununu presented a flag which had flown over the United State Capitol to Marston School Principal David O’Connor.
Native Americans held a pow wow at Seabrook School.
The Winnacunnet Sailing Team tied for first place in its division on Boston’s Charles River.
— June —
Even Hampton impatiently awaited the start of construction on the Marelli Square Gazebo, Hampton Falls dedicated their new Veterans Memorial Bandstand with a concert on Saturday, June 3.
Portsmouth’s Market Square Day was double the celebration as the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, the oldest Naval facility in the country celebrated its bicentennial on the same day. Its chief attraction was the USS Maine, a ballistic missile submarine which was offering tours while it was in port. Meanwhile, the old Naval prison- "The Castle" was being renovated for use as civilian office space.
The first annual Hampton Community Challenge was held as Hampton Beach. The event was a series of races and walks to recognize community volunteerism, promote health lifestyles, and to raise money for Hampton Recreation.
Police jogged through Hampton to Durham bearing the New Hampshire Special Olympics torch.
Winnacunnet High School Band Director Leighanne Jeziershi departed the school to accept a position at Pinkerton Academy in Derry.
A replica of Columbus’ ship Niña visited Portsmouth.
Questions were raised as to whether the Hampton Charter Commission was legal or not. Attorney John Andrews of the New Hampshire Municipal Association noted that voter approval for the formation of a charter commission and the actual voting for the charter commission members had to be held separately, by means of a special election held sixty days after sanctioning the formation of the commission. Hampton’s Town Counsel John McEachern interpreted the law differently, and had advised the town in January to put the authorization of the charter commission and the election of the nine members on the same ballot for the March elections. As a result, the commission was divided on the question of its own legitimacy, as it wrestled with the question of forms of town government. It was later determined that the statute was amended in 1998, so the commission was legal, and could continued on its work.
Winnacunnet’s Class of 2000 graduated. Other schools in SAU 21 held their own end of school observances, graduating their Junior High classes on to High School.
North Hampton received a grant to construct designated bike lanes along Route 111 and Sea Road.
Foss Manufacturing Company Inc, one of the largest businesses in Hampton, sought to enlarge its facilities with a 554,000 square foot addition to its existing facilities.
The Moody Fence on Beach Plum Way in Hampton continued to raise problems. While the town abandoned its court case against the Moodys, neighbors maintained that the fence was at the very least an inconvenience, at worst a potential hazard in an emergency due to its proximity to the road.
The Atlantic News bid a fond farewell to Isabelle Grasso, a long time reporter of the newspaper who chose to retire so as to spend more time with her family and enjoy life to its fullest.
North Hampton held its annual Old Home Days on June 17th. Among the highlights were an open house at Centennial Hall, the display of a cupola for the historic hall, races, antique appraisals, and the start of the North Hampton Bandstand’s summer concert series.
On Saturday, June 17, the Hampton Historical Society held a wine and cheese reception to mark the season opening of the Tuck Museum and the 75th anniversary of the Hampton Historic Society. The date was set to coincide with the New Playhouse at Hampton’s opening performance Of Pirates and Poets.
With the blessing of selectmen, Hampton’s Fire Department began raising funds to purchase two thermal imaging units which would aid firefighters to see heat- such as that created by a person- in a hazardous smoke-filled situation.
As tourists flocked to Hampton Beach for summer fun, concerns over jet ski use was brought up at the Selectmen’s meeting, as a few of the finer points of policy were clarified.
In Hampton Falls, developer Joseph Valle stood up the planning board and 20 abutters for a special meeting he had requested.
Complaints came from the Butland Avenue Development in Seabrook about shoddy workmanship and flooded basements. As a result, Seabrook selectmen decided to withhold $35,000 of bond money until Paul LePere, the developer, could resolve the problems.
Locals did well at the New Hampshire Surfing Championships at Hampton Beach on Saturday, June 17. Hampton Resident Leanne Falvey was the big local winner.
Jim Booth of North Hampton was the most recent Eagle Scout honoree, as his work at Dearborn Park in North Hampton was recognized.
Greenland held its annual in-line skate festival.
As June wound up, SAU 21 Superintendent of Schools Jack Bourgoin officially announced the appointment of Kevin P. Moran of Georgetown MA as the new Principal of Hampton Academy High School. The previous principal, Jan Yost had left to serve as principal of the Rye Middle School.
Members of the Hampton Falls Baptist Church broke ground for their new sanctuary on Sunday, June 25.
North Hampton Police sought to have a new ordinance to govern alarm systems, by having them registered and inspected once a year. Out of 468 alarms which the police had answered last year, only one was not a false alarm. Another proposed ordinance would allow police to fine people caught with small amounts of drugs $100 to cut down on court costs.
Hampton’s Police Chief William Wrenn was dubbed the 'Chief of Chiefs" as he was installed as the President of the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police.
The James House Association continued its restoration efforts, and requested use of adjoining town land for parking.
The Toddler Park at Tuck Field was dedicated as June came to a close.
On Sunday, June 25, the badly decomposed remains of a woman were found in Hampton’s Tide Mill Creek. Only a unique cross was found on her person to help identify her. She was eventually identified as 45 year old Donna Whiteside of Dracut, MA, who had not been seen since February 16, 2000.
— July —
The wearing of badges at Winnacunnet High School was firmly rejected as the board considered measures to improve safety at the school. The practice of staff and students carrying identification cards at all times was adopted instead. To solve the problem of nearly empty busses servicing WHS, it was suggested that a set of central drop off points be established in each town.
The status of the Beach Precinct Fire Station was scrutinized. While it is staffed by firefighters employed by the town, the old structure and its aging equipment are currently maintained by the Beach Precinct. It is clear that a significant investment will have to be made to update the equipment (many of the fire engines were purchased second hand) is it considered vital to maintain a fire department presence down on the beach to quickly extinguish any fires which might occur in the older structures, and spread like wildfire due to the constant ocean breeze. Also of concern was the problem that if the beach station was not maintained, insurance rates for beach properties might double or even triple. The Beach Precinct is currently considering turning the station over to the town.
The Hampton Rotary Club’s 1999-2000 President Robert Dennet passed the gavel on to Hampton Town Manager James Barrington. A fleet of majestic tall ships visited Boston, and local tour boats along the Seacoast were there as they took tourists for a waterside view of the sight to Boston Harbor. A similar, smaller event was held in Portland Harbor later in the summer.
Ultralights of all kinds flew into Greenland’s Sanderson Airfield, and buzzed the Seacoast.
Even as North Hampton and Seabrook considered their options of staying with SAU 21, Seabrook decided to refuse to pay the full amount of Winnacunnet Cooperative School District Assessment they owed, which amounted to $12,000 per month. Seabrook officials defended their decision, claiming the Winnacunnet School District did not have the authority to bill the town of Seabrook for Capital expenditures, as had been the custom, and intended to make sure Seabrook paid their "fair share". In response, the Winnacunnet School Board chose to take Seabrook to court, while the school struggled to find ways to cope with the estimated $400,000 shortfall by eliminating non-essential student activities, sports and the like.
Winnacunnet was also behind in time, as it was found it did not schedule enough time in the four standard subject areas due to 82 minute block periods in use. The state requires 90 minutes to meet requirements. As a result, the school day will have to be extended to 30-35 minutes in the 2001-2002 school year when the current bus contract expires.
Ideas were put forward for Hampton Beach’s Master Plan, as items such as landscaping, banning outdoor vending machines and putting utilities underground, and several schemes to update the Seashell Stage area.
Trinity Episcopal Church in Hampton welcomed Rev. Peter Lane to the pulpit. Meanwhile Pastor Wilbert D. Gough of Hampton’s First Baptist Church decided to pay to get people to pray at his church, offering a new $1 bill to the first 100 people present at the service.
Mosquitoes bugged the Seacoast, even as worries of the West Nile Virus spread. Birds, such as crows, could be bitten by a mosquito carrying the virus in Connecticut, and then could fly up to New Hampshire where another mosquito could bite the bird, and spread the disease. However, while any dead crow was treated with suspicion, no cases of the disease were reported in New Hampshire during the summer.
Local educators attended a two day emergency plan workshop held by the New Hampshire Office of Emergency Management to help schools prepare plans for a Columbine-style shooting incident.
The question of moving a shed at Presidential Circle one foot back came under the scrutiny of the Zoning Board of Adjustment, who issued an ultimatum the move it by August 3, apply for a variance, or go to court. The divided Selectmen let the matter drop, in light of a number of similar minor but time-consuming problems which had recently plagued the board.
North Hampton’s Byron Kirby was named the Hampton Rotary Club’s Man of the Year.
Seabrook selectmen dealt with town garbage by imposing a user fee at the transfer station.
A nine person delegation from the Republic of Georgia visited Hampton as part of a cultural exchange. Like Hampton, Georgia has many seaside resorts.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Gordon Humphrey visited the Seacoast, as the political campaigns heated up.
The 54th Miss Hampton Beach pageant was held at the Hampton Beach Seashell Stage. Out of the twelve contenders, Meredith Barnett of Manchester was crowned the winner.
Despite dreary weather, Newburyport held its annual Yankee Homecoming as July drew to a close.
The official groundbreaking for the much anticipated gazebo in Hampton’s Marelli Square took place on July 31 under overcast skies. Actual work on the site did not immediately begin.
— August —
The Rockingham Superior Court sided with SAU 21 over Seabrook’s refusal to pay their fair share to Winnacunnet High School. However, the injunction bond ordered merely puts money aside until Seabrook appeals are heard. Seabrook maintains it has been overcharged $341,636 for the past three years for capital expenditures. Even as the two sides shelled out money for the fight in court, Winnacunnet cut its operations to the bone to make up for Seabrook’s withheld funds. Both sides are confident of victory over the issue.
Local surfer Ralph Fatello vowed to catch a wave a day for a year in memory of his father Gus Fatello, who recently passed away from diabetes. Money raised from this will go to the American Diabetes Association.
Vidbel’s Old Tyme Circus put on a show at the North Hampton Factory Outlets to help raise money for the North Hampton Bandstand. The small circus had an encore performance at Seabrook’s Old Home Days.
The Pease Tradeport had its first air show in several years as part of a public awareness project held by the Brain Injury Association of New Hampshire.
Hampton’s Victory Garden on Barbour Road was highlighted during the "Hampton in Bloom" Garden Tour which took place on August 4-5.
Donations continued to come in for Hampton’s thermal imaging unit fund.
Hampton Beach Precinct agreed on the wording for a tax exemption for single family homes which produce no income.
In Hampton Falls, funds were allocated to construct a drop off/pick up lane at Lincoln Akerman School to help solve some of the more serious traffic issues faced at the school.
Seabrook sought input on a proposed stormwater treatment facility. Currently, coliform levels rise to unacceptable levels within 24 hours of a storm. These high levels of bacteria lead to the periodic closing of the Seabrook clam flats which are open from Labor Day to May 31. It is hoped that the stormwater treatment facility will help reduced the coliform, and the number of times the clam flats are closed.
While rainy weather may have dampened the spirits of vacationers, local water companies still urged caution as water restrictions were maintained. The Air Force Band of Liberty and Miss New Hampshire put on a concert in North Hampton despite the rain, as the event was relocated from the bandstand to the North Hampton School gym.
Kawasaki Jet Skis were donated to life guard along the Seacoast to aid them in rescue work.
Politicking persisted as Republican gubernatorial candidate Jeff Howard came to North Hampton to explain his position at a town hall meeting. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Fernald addressed the Hampton Rotary Club.
Seabrook held its Old Home Days, highlights of which included fireworks, the Miss Seabrook pageant, contests, the Lions turkey shoot, and the Vidbel circus.
The Hampton Beach Children’s Festival was extra special as it celebrated the official launch of the New Hampshire Quarter. In 1999, the United States mint started the 50 States quarter program to honor each of the fifty states in the order in which they joined the Union with a special quarter. New Hampshire, the ninth state, received its quarter in time for the summer. A large sand sculpture was erected at Hampton Beach to commemorate the event, as officials from the US Mint came to the beach to hand out shiny new NH quarters as prizes for the sand sculpture contest. Quarters and coin collecting kits were handed out as prizes in other contests as well.
Downtown Hampton held its annual Sidewalk Sales Days.
Seabrook welcomed Paul Maucero as the Elementary School’s interim principal. Meanwhile it was found that if Seabrook did withdraw from SAU 21 it would lose certain benefits for its teachers, and would have to set up offices for district services currently provided by SAU 21. The withdrawal would not have any bearing on the town’s current use of Winnacunnet High School.
Michael Lord of Shel-Al Trailer Park in North Hampton, who had been missing since July 3, had apparently expired in Norfolk MA in a case of "consensual adult conduct". His "partner" panicked and apparently disposed of the body improperly without contacting authorities. A search of the landfill where the body was allegedly deposited turned up nothing.
Christa Bauer, the Children’s Librarian in North Hampton resigned from her post to return to Canada and study teaching.
Across the Seacoast, children prepared to go back to school, while some adults, noting the still high gas prices, purchased oil in advance in case of another winter oil shortage and price hikes.
Members of Australia’s Parks and Leisure Department visited Hampton, as Hampton Parks and Recreation Director Dyana Lassonde returned the favor of their hosting her trip earlier in March and April to the land down under to see how things were done in the land of Oz.
A confrontation erupted at the Hampton Selectmen’s meeting, where town officials and board members aired their grievances about Selectman Bonnie Searle’s poor behavior. At this point, Bonnie Searle had routinely become the sole dissenting vote on virtually every issue which had come before the Selectmen, and taking on a negative attitude to even the most benign community activities such as Hampton Beach’s Senior Appreciation Days and the Christmas Parade. Searle would later apologize for a rude comment made to Jerry McConnell, organizer of the Senior Appreciation Days.
Winnacunnet High School officials appealed to Hampton Police to strictly enforce the no parking areas leading up to and around Winnacunnet High School. It is hoped that this will encourage more students to take the bus or car pool.
Hampton’s student population exploded as more children enrolled in the schools.
The first new disease-resistant American Liberty Elm trees were planted at Tuck Field as Hampton’s Conservation Commission sought to restore the shade trees to the town.
As August drew to a close, and schools reopened, Presidential hopeful George W. Bush visited Winnacunnet High School on August 30 to talk to juniors and seniors. Winnacunnet received high praise for their preparedness for the event, and the school would go on to host Republican gubernatorial candidates as the state primaries approached. Meanwhile, the Winnacunnet School Board reviewed why the expansion plan was voted down, so a new one could be reformulated which voters might accept.
— September —
Work finally began on Hampton’s Marelli Square gazebo.
Hampton Beach held its 11th annual Seafood Festival. This year, an admission donation of $1 was requested to help make the festival more profitable.
The Seacoast Art Association which has spent the last 12 years in the North Hampton Factory Outlet Mall was informed they had to move as something big was coming. For the next two months, speculation ran wild as to who the new store might be, before it was finally revealed Home Depot would be moving into the south end of the mall.
As summer wound down, the location and renovation of beach bathrooms heated up as residents protested a revised plan to construct the bathrooms on the beach itself.
Hampton’s Charter Commission released a preliminary report, proposing a town council/town manager form of government. The town council would have nine members (as opposed to the current five members), composed of six at large members and three members who represented the district they hailed from.
The NHSPCA held its annual Seaside Stroll for the Animals at Wallis Sands.
North Hampton’s Open Space Committee coined the slogan "North Hampton Forever" to raise awareness and support for preserving the towns open spaces.
Hampton Beach held its Senior Appreciation Days , bringing bingo, Ferraris and fun to the Senior set.
Plans were made for future improvements to Hampton’s schools. Of concern was the replacement of the remaining asbestos in school buildings and the repair of Centre School’s exterior cornice and parapet wall, which are deteriorating.
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation sought to hook its rest rooms on the Route 95 rest area to Seabrook sewers. Seabrook, which has a long history of refusing such outside hookups, despite the environmental benefits, refused immediate approval and asked to hold a public hearing into the matter once research into NH laws governing sewer lines crossing the border could be researched.
The Hampton Police and Fire Departments gave the thumbs down on a proposed joint safety complex to replace the aging structures on Hampton Beach due to the high price tag, and the operational difficulties.
Brian Page was officially sworn in as North Hampton’s Police Chief.
The USS Hampton paid a visit to Portsmouth, and her crew visited their ship’s namesake town.
North Hampton’s Little River Marsh restoration project went into high gear as one of the fish houses was moved to a temporary spot in the state parking lot, as work began on installing a new larger drainage pipe to improve the flow of water in and out of the marsh. Traffic was diverted around Scenic Route 1A as the road was excavated to put in the pipe. Work was also going into high gear in Hampton on Route 1 as the long anticipated rebuilding of the deteriorating road got underway.
Seabrook’s Fire Chief Paul Janvrin asked for funding for educational videos and a thermal imaging unit much like the one Hampton Firefighters are raising funds to purchase. He was rebuffed by the Selectmen who pointed out he did not have the purchase prices in writing, and more importantly, that the town was operating on a default budget which severely restricted any spending.
The Trinity United Church in Seabrook planned to build a new parsonage.
Hundreds of aspiring swimsuit-clad movie stars showed up at Hampton Beach on the a sunny but chilly last day of September to take part in a promotion for "Click" the independent movie which is seeking a sponsor. Some of the scenes may wind up in the movie. With camera rolling, the director filmed groups of people going back and forth in front of the Hampton Beach Casino and then several beach shots were made of people charging into the water.
Seabrook’s town manager Russ Bailey sought to draw on emergency funds to shore up the crumbling town pier, to aid with financial assistance for families in need of temporary housing, to improve the quality of the waste water discharge, and a rise in the cost of disposing certain items in solid waste, such as vacuum tubes used in television and computer monitors. The selectmen released the needed funds. In other news, a judge allowed Seabrook to hold a special town meeting so that the town could pay the agreed upon cost of living increases to members of the four unions in Seabrook. These town employees have not seen such an increase in almost four years.
— October —
The Hampton Meadows Condominium Association sought tax relief on the ground that its members were paying twice for some services, such as garbage pick up, and sewer system which was already provided by the condo.
The Poland Spring Water Company announced plans to establish a large warehouse operation to Seabrook in the coming spring.
Hampton Police Officer William Bourque replaced Richard Sawyer as the Winnacunnet High School Resource Officer following Sawyer’s promotion to Sergeant.
Fifteen of Hampton’s fire service personnel were honored for their outstanding acts in the line of duty to save lives and property during the ninth annual fire service awards and recognition presentation in Concord.
Parking meters finally came down on the main stretch of Hampton Beach following Columbus Day Weekend as the last seasonal businesses closed up. The Seacoast enjoyed unusually warm weather well into November, with the first killing frost finally arriving just before Thanksgiving.
Hampton Falls School Board held the first public forum to get input on renovating the existing Lincoln Akerman School, or building a new school. Like other local schools, Lincoln Akerman is faced with a growing student population.
Winnacunnet High School reacted quickly to a bomb threat found written on a cement bench outside the school. While school was neither delayed nor canceled, students were met by an obvious police and fire department presence. A search turned up nothing, and it was announced that time lost to such threats would be made up by extending class days, or holding school on Saturdays or vacation days.
Hampton observed Founder’s Day with a variety of activities at Tuck Field.
Local politicians redoubled their efforts to attract voters as election day neared. The Presidential race between Bush and Gore was stuck in a statistical dead heat.
North Hampton resident Judy Day complained about difficulty obtaining certain town records dealing with Mill Place and the North Hampton Factory Outlet. Part of the problem was the town’s lack of office space and faculty to organize the town records, which by some accounts, reside in at least sixteen different places around town.
The Hampton Charter Commission officially wrapped up its work, and sent it to the Selectmen. However, a dissenting opinion written by commission members Arthur Moody and Mary Louise Woolsey also accompanied the report, where they criticized several articles and tried to build support to retain the town’s current form of government.
A contractor was found to put in new pilings for the town pier which collapsed earlier this year.
Many local Christmas Craft Fairs were held much earlier this year, in some cases on the weekend after Halloween.
The Hampton Fire Department’s quest to purchase a thermal imaging camera drew to a close as approximately $59,000 was raised or donated to the project.
Hampton Town Manager James Barrington had his contract renewed for another three years.
Bob Gordon, owner of the 20 year old Gordon’s Shoe Store in Downtown Hampton prepared to close his shop for the final time. His wife Nancy had already sold the neighboring Bib 'n Crib business. McDormand’s Menswear across the street from Gordon’s would soon shut its doors as well.
Seabrook’s roads were found to be in a state of confusion, as the lack of a logical numbering system, and multiple roads with the same names could cause confusion to emergency personnel. A warrant to remedy this problem was proposed for the March ballot.
The new Seabrook Welcome Center opened on Route I-95 just north of the state line.
Election day came- and stayed for the entire nation for the next thirty days, as the state of Florida struggled over deciding who won the Presidential Election due to an apparently flawed voting system which resulted in multiple recounts, court challenges and discord before George W. Bush was declared the winner, and the future 43rd President of the United States. Not to be outdone by the Florida recounts, Arthur Moody, who had lost his bid for a state representative seat requested a recount, which reaffirmed the fact that he had lost.
Governor Jeanne Shaheen’s gamble paid off, for while she lost many votes on the Seacoast, the larger number of towns which benefited from her educational funding plan rallied to reelect her. John Sununu retained his seat in the House of Representatives, and Beverly Hollingworth returned to the state senate in Concord. Overall, voter turnout on the Seacoast was very high.
A minor fire took place during testing of the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant’s emergency diesel generators while the plant was shut down for a routine refueling. The plant has seen a significant decline in its value as ten out of the eleven owners have sold out. Seabrook Selectmen would consider the impact of the eventual decommissioning and dismantling of the plant .
Hampton Falls was honored by the state for a superb town report. Veteran’s Day was observed on the Seacoast with ceremonies at Hampton Academy Junior High School. Balloons were released on Veterans Day as part of a nationwide fundraising campaign for the World War Two memorial in Washington DC .
Winnacunnet High School cadets observed the Marine Corps 225th birthday.
Crowded polls on election day caused Hampton Selectmen to consider creating a second polling place for future elections.
The Winnacunnet Warriors Football Team fought its way to victory through the fall and ultimately defeated Exeter to seize the Division II Championship in a 10-9 thriller played before an audience of thousands.
Winnacunnet Students worked to save the sand dunes on the Seacoast.
A self-regulating tide gate was incorporated into the Highland Avenue project.
Hampton Selectman Bonnie Searle finally agreed to wear her microphone at televised selectmen’s meetings once it had been ascertained that the volume of her voice was not being altered.
SAU 21 teachers agreed to a unconventional and unprecedented new contract where they receive significant increases in salary in exchange for giving up health insurance benefits.
— December —
Parades marched onto the Seacoast as the Christmas Season arrived. Work on Route 1 for 2000 was completed in time for the Hampton Parade, although the gazebo in Marelli Square remained incomplete. Exeter held its parade as well, which had almost been cancelled earlier in the year. Parades also took place in Portsmouth and Rye.
Tree Lightings and caroling took place in Hampton and North Hampton
Hampton’s Cable Advisory Committee requested a stipend for volunteers to expand on the town’s cable television coverage. Part of this stems from the recent Winnacunnet Football victory, as a tape made by their Exeter counterparts is being rebroadcast on Hampton’s public access channel. Naturally, it is peppered with pro-Exeter sediments. The request was approved by the selectmen.
The Bailey Medical Building on Lafayette Road was dedicated in memory of Hampton physician Dr Charles B. Bailey.
In Seabrook, it was decided that residents would have to pay more for water activation and deactivation services.
New Hampshire Schools received their first ever report cards, to help parents and communities evaluate their local schools.
Hampton Falls broke ground on their new library facility. It is hoped the library will be open by next spring.
A proposal to turn the former Hampton Town Offices into a Senior Citizen Center was scrapped by Selectmen who did not feel it was a cost effective to use the rundown structure. Other warrant articles considered was $5,800,000 for the new police station (the price tag having risen due to an increase in gas and construction costs)
Winnacunnet High School considered welcoming fifty-nine students from Fremont to their already crowded facilities partly for altruistic reasons (the high schools which would normally take the students are refusing them for now) and partly because of the $500,000 in revenue that the school would receive.
The Master Plan for Hampton Beach slowly came together, as it was proposed that a permanent display highlighting the plan be put up in the town hall.
For some time, Hampton Selectman Bonnie Searle has been demanding to know the whereabouts of the town’s old clock which was salvaged from a fire. While the bell and the face of the clock were located by town workers, former Hampton Beach Chamber of Commerce President Glen French revealed he knew the location of the clockworks which he had saved from the scrapheap. While he did not reveal their exact location, he did detail his previous efforts to restore the clock.
Seabrook residents voted to give town employees a cost of living increase at a special town meeting vote held on December 12.
Marty’s Steakhouse, a popular eatery in North Hampton closed its doors to make way for the Home Depot which was coming to the nearby North Hampton Factory Outlets.
SAU 21 faced harsh criticism when it kept open schools on Thursday, December 14 as a fierce winter snowstorm swept through the region.
The Seacoast celebrated the Holiday Season, as donations to toy banks poured in, and Santa made frequent appearances at all sorts of school functions as it looked like the Seacoast would enjoy a white Christmas.
Thus the year wound down on the New Hampshire Seacoast, and 2001 approached.