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Welcome to the NEW Atkinson Reporter! Under new management, with new resolve.

The purpose of this Blog is to pick up where the Atkinson Reporter has left off. "The King is dead, Long live the King!" This Blog is a forum for the discussion of predominantly Atkinson; Officials, People, Ideas, and Events. You may give opinion, fact, or evaluation, but ad hominem personal attacks will not be tolerated, or published. The conversation begun on the Atkinson Reporter MUST be continued!

This Blog will not fall to outside hacks from anyone, especially insecure public officials afraid of their constituents criticism.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Hundreds celebrate Atkinson Marine's life

From the Eagle Tribune;

July 23, 2011
Hundreds celebrate Atkinson Marine's life
By Doug Ireland

ATKINSON — There were a few tears, many smiles and even a little humor yesterday as approximately 450 people honored Marine Maj. Jeremy Graczyk.

Graczyk, "a Marine's Marine," would have wanted it that way.

The crowd packed the pews and the grounds of Atkinson Congregational Church to say farewell to a man celebrated for his character, intelligence, spirit and love of life.

Graczyk was killed in a BASE jumping accident July 12 while off duty in Switzerland.

"We knew he was special, just not how special," said James Graczyk, standing near his son's flag-draped coffin.

He eulogized his 33-year-old son, as did two of the Marine's military comrades. Each spoke of his successes as a leader and a human being.

James Graczyk brought some humor to what was a solemn ceremony that began with a police-led procession and included military honors. He said his son was boisterous, daring, loved loud music and was a bad singer often called "Crazy Uncle Jeremy" by his young nephews.

Jeremy Graczyk enjoyed rock climbing, motorcycles, skiing, skydiving and traveling the world. He died in an accident while BASE jumping, the extreme sport of parachuting from fixed objects like buildings, antenna towers, bridge spans and mountains.

He persuaded his father to accompany him on faraway fishing trips. "There was not much left unsaid between my son and I," he said.

But there was one thing — asking Jeremy to speak at his funeral someday.

"I never thought the roles would be reversed," James Graczyk said.

Jeremy Graczyk, Timberlane Regional High School's valedictorian in 1995 and a U.S. Naval Academy graduate, knew as a middle school student he wanted to join the military, his father said.

"We quickly realized this was no passing fancy," he said. "Jeremy loved the Marine Corps as a parent loves a child. ... He was a Marine's Marine and a true warrior."

James Graczyk and others who spoke during the two-hour service asked the crowd not to grieve for his son, but to celebrate his life. "Live your life to the fullest and don't let grief overcome you," he said. "We will remember him always in our memory."

Fellow Marine Kent Kroeker said he and Graczyk joked about the possibility they could be killed in battle.

"We have been composing our eulogies as long as we have known each other," Kroeker said.

The high-spirited Graczyk was always on the go, a true human being and leader who could do anything, he said.

"For one moment in his entire life, he never stopped moving," Kroeker said. "On duty or off — it didn't matter. He was always on a mission."

Another friend, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Patrick Mahoney, spoke of Graczyk's leadership skills and how even in heaven, he would lead God's "elite corps of angels."

"Like all of us, God gave Jeremy many gifts," he said. "Jeremy grew into a remarkable leader."

Mahoney called Graczyk "one of America's legendary legionnaires." Anyone in a tough situation should just ask themselves, "What would Jeremy do?" he said.

Nearly 200 people filled the church, about 250 others sat outside beneath three big tents in the blistering 100-degree heat. Large fans and speakers were set up for the benefit of those who could not be inside.

Gov. John Lynch, who was at the funeral, ordered all flags in the state be lowered to half-staff yesterday in Graczyk's honor.

Graczyk, who was well decorated during his 12-year military career, will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

In addition to his father, Graczyk is survived by his mother, Darlene, and a sister, Jennifer Sakash.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Atkinson chief: Selectmen threatening his job

From the Eagle Tribune;

July 22, 2011
Atkinson chief: Selectmen threatening his job
By Cara Hogan

ATKINSON — Police Chief Philip Consentino said selectmen are threatening to fire him for doing his job.

Consentino had heart surgery on June 14 and had been doing some work, mostly paperwork, from home while he recovers. But in a letter Consentino said he received on July 12, selectmen asked him to stop doing any police work.

"While you are out recuperating from your surgery, you are instructed that you are not authorized to perform any of your duties as a police chief or elderly affairs director of the town of Atkinson," the letter read. "Performing any of your duties ... you will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination."

The letter was a shock, Consentino said, and he doesn't understand why selectmen would threaten his job.

"I have to get a letter like this to throw all this added stress on my recovery," he said yesterday. "The feeling I got in my gut after receiving a letter like that, it just turned my stomach."

But Selectmen's Chairman William Bennett said the town is not trying to keep Consentino from his job.

"Some people think we're trying to push the chief out and that's in no way, shape or form what we're doing," he said. "The standard phrase in administrative letters is 'disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.' It doesn't mean we're trying to fire him. It just means he has to listen to what the Board of Selectmen tell him to do."

In fact, Bennett said, he wants to get Consentino back to work, but it's a liability issue.

"We want him back in the saddle as fast as possible, we just don't want him to push himself and come back too soon," he said. "I know Consentino, he thinks he's invincible. I don't want him to die on the job and his wife sues us for letting him come back to work."

But Consentino said he has a note from his doctor, saying he is recovering well and ready to work.

"My surgeon stated I could go back to work doing light duty at the Police Department behind the desk," he said. "The selectmen rejected that and said I will have to come back in full capacity, and have my doctor sign off on the physical demands for the Atkinson Police Chief."

The selectmen's letter said Consentino would have to be able to lift 25 pounds, carry more than 50 pounds, and be able to twist, bend, crawl and kneel before he can return to work.

"I'm hoping my surgeon will give me the OK to go back to work by Sept. 1, with no restrictions whatsoever," he said. "But why don't they just let me go back to desk duty? They're just restricting the police department's ability to function."

Town Manager Phil Smith would not confirm whether Consentino had presented his doctor's note and been rejected.

"The chief himself would have to release to you his medical documents from his doctor," he said.

Bennett said the letter to Consentino was a slight mistake. The chief does not need to be able to perform those specific physical activities before coming back to work, he said.

"We need to know if he is pain-free enough to make good decisions," Bennett said. "If he comes in and does desk duty, we don't want him jumping into the fray when he's not ready. It's a stressful job."

Three days after his surgery, while still in the intensive care unit, Consentino said, his wife brought him police paperwork and he would sort it out.

"When I finally got home from rehab, I was paying the bills here and sending them to Town Hall," he said. "Now, I get this letter saying I can't do anything. I have totally divorced myself now from the police department. The department is going to suffer dramatically because Detective (Philip) Farrar is not in a position to make decisions that a chief would make."

Selectmen did not appoint an acting chief while Consentino is out. Farrar was named officer in charge when Consentino left for his surgery.

Consentino said he feels persecuted and singled out by the board.

"(Fire Chief) Mike Murphy was out for surgery two months ago," Consentino said. "I called and asked if he was required to send in a note. He said he was surprised because just three days ago, the town had called and asked for a note from his doctor, which was about two months after the fact."

For now, Consentino is focusing on his health and not working for the town.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Atkinson mourns Marine's death

From the Eagle Tribune;

July 15, 2011
Atkinson mourns Marine's death

ATKINSON — Local residents are mourning the death of a 33-year-old Marine killed in an off-duty parachuting accident in Switzerland.

The U.S. Marine Corps said today that Maj. Jeremy J. Graczyk died while on a monthlong leave from his unit in Quantico, Va. No details on how the accident occurred were available.

Graczyk joined the Marines in 1999 after graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy, deployed multiple times to Iraq and Afghanistan and decorated numerous times.

The 1995 Timberlane Regional High School valedictorian is being remembered as a wonderful man dedicated to serving his country.

Atkinson resident Steven Lewis said his son, Garrick Lewis, had known Graczyk since they were children.

"Jeremy was a true American," Lewis said. "He was a kind, warm, full-of-life guy who loved his country."

Selectman William Bennett said he knew Graczyk and his family well.

"My son grew up with him," Bennett said. "He didn't deserve it; he was a really good kid."

Friday, July 15, 2011

Atkinson projects behind schedule

From the Eagle Tribune;

July 15, 2011
Atkinson projects behind schedule
By Cara Hogan

ATKINSON — Work on two town building projects has been delayed.

One involves repairing a leaky roof at the fire station; the other is the removal of asbestos at the police station.

Selectman Fred Childs said work should start soon at the two stations, both located on Academy Avenue.

"The Fire Department is going to be painted and we're trying to decide whether to make repairs or replace the whole roof," he said.

Voters approved $46,000 for the roof, Fire Chief Michael Murphy said. But there's no final deal with a contractor, so nothing has started.

That prompted Murphy to send a letter to selectmen this week.

"I asked selectmen what the status is moving forward," he said. "I wanted to prompt them to find out where we stand and when work will start. I'm getting tired of seeing the damage."

Murphy said the leaky roof has caused minor damage to wallboard, ceiling tiles and paint. The building is only 10 years old. "People are pointing fingers left and right and there's no recourse," he said. "This has been going on for the past few years. The bottom line is the roof needs to be repaired. This is the time of year to be doing work on a roof."

Childs said scheduling problems have delayed the project.

"We've been getting prices for it," he said. "But (Selectman William) Bennett has missed a couple of meetings and (Selectman William) Friel, too. We haven't really all been together the last couple of months. But it's still in the works."

Murphy said he knows selectmen are busy, but wants to make sure the work starts this summer. "I don't believe any construction would interfere with the department," he said. "It's all roof work, not interior work. I'm sure we could manage with the contractor."

Repairs at the police station are also behind schedule.

"At the Police Department, we're changing all the air conditioning vents and putting a whole new ceiling in," Childs said. "There was some asbestos residue in there. Instead of cleaning that out, we're just replacing it. That should be done by next weekend."

It will cost about $4,000 for the new ceiling and vents as the town makes sure the air quality is safe for employees. Detective Sgt. Philip Farrar said the work at the station had been scheduled and then rescheduled.

"There is no work going on at this point," he said. "They were supposed to come in and take the ceiling down last weekend, but now they're saying this weekend. I'm really not sure what's going on."

Childs said the town had a contractor, but then found a better deal, causing the delay.

Friel knew someone who could do it a lot cheaper, but because it was a holiday weekend, he couldn't do it right away," Childs said. "Now, they're making sure it's being done right. I know they're anxious to get it done, but we are going to do it. We haven't been overlooking it, things don't happen at the snap of a finger sometimes."

Childs said there are many projects in town right now, including painting the Historical Society and making repairs to the Community Center.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Atkinson police chief recovering from surgery

From the Eagle Tribune;

July 4, 2011
Atkinson police chief recovering from surgery
By Cara Hogan

ATKINSON — Police Chief Philip Consentino came home from the hospital Thursday after heart surgery on June 14.

Consentino had surgery to repair a leaky valve in his heart. He has been on medical leave from the police department while in the hospital.

"This was very major surgery," he said. "It was an eight-hour surgery. They ripped me up and sewed me back together."

Consentino said he's still in pain and can't return to work yet, but he's happy to be home again.

"I called (the station) two to three times a day to make any major decisions and answer questions while I was in the hospital," he said. "I'm home now, running things from the house, sorting out different bills and doing paperwork. I can't get out and run 100 miles per hour yet, but my brain and arms are still working, so I can still do something."

The longtime chief he should be able to get back into the office in a few weeks.

"I have an appointment with the surgeon next Tuesday and, hopefully, I'll get a clean bill of health," he said. "I'd say a couple of weeks and then I'll be able to get back, whether it's just light duty work, sitting at a desk or whatever."

Until then, Detective Philip Farrar is in charge.

"He seems to be recovering quite well and I'm hoping he'll be back real soon," Farrar said of Consentino. "In the meantime, we're holding our own here."

Farrar took over as second in command after Lt. William Baldwin left the department for a job in Plaistow. The selectmen voted to bring in an independent company to review the staffing needs of the department and put off hiring Baldwin's replacement. Just a few weeks later, Farrar announced he would be retiring this summer, leaving the department understaffed.

But now, Farrar said, Consentino's surgery has changed his plans.

"I put the retirement plans on hold for now just because I don't know when he's coming back, and I'm not going to walk away and leave him stranded," he said. "We've got a good crew here and we're doing fine. Everyone pitches in."

Selectmen's Chairman William Bennett said everyone is relieved the surgery went well.

"We're very happy that the chief is recovering so well," Bennett said. "We're glad to have him back in town and we look forward to him getting back in the saddle. "

There have been no problems at the department in Consentino's absence.

"The chief left a capable man in charge," Bennett said. "Farrar will remain in charge until the chief is ready to return."

The Atkinson community has stepped up to help Consentino and his wife during his recovery.

"The outpouring of people sending me cards, and calling and offering help has been absolutely amazing," Consentino said. "So many people took the time to send me a get well card and I really appreciate their concern. It gives you a warm feeling knowing there are people who care about you."