Back in 1991, I was the Clerk of the Works for a new fire station in the Town of Deering. This means I was at every Selectman’s meeting giving them updates. We put up a two-story, two-bay fire station in seven weekends, with a well and septic, including land purchase, for $30,000.00.
At the same time, a contractor was hired by the Deering Selectmen to build a glue-laminated bridge in town, just down the road for $48,000.00.
The Selectmen and Road Agent, Peter Beard, bid-rigged the proposal so Northeast Timber Bride would get the job – so naturally, the firm switched materials and construction to a totally inferior, prototype, “stress-laminated” bridge – complete with a water, not oil based pressure treatment guaranteed for 30 years, not 75 years. Hancock got a real wooden bridge in the same time period for $15,000.00. It is on Hemlock Drive and as good as new.
I caught on and requested the plans, material lists etcetera for four months under RSA 91-A. After four months and a refusal by the Selectmen to allow me to ask about the project any longer, I took them to Hillsborough Superior Court pro se, and won.
The Town attorney promised Judge Sullivan he would give me exactly what asked for – but then tried to reverse the deal. I took the Town back for contempt and the judge called it a draw with explicit directions to the Town to give me what I asked for.
When our police chief saw what was at issue he realized the Selectmen and Road Agent had the documents all along and asked them for a sit-down to talk. They refused. He arrested them. They dissolved the Deering Police Department. So no prosecutor would show up at their hearing. That is what happened and they walked away. I didn’t.
I went to the NH AG who should have arrested them for hindering prosecution, no help.
I went to see the head of the DOT – Charles O’Leary, then the Dept. Head, who tried to goad me into a fight with him in his office. I laughed him off. I had the design calculations for the bridge on DOT graph paper, proof one of his guys did it.
I went to the NH Licensure Board and tried to pull the (NH DOT employee) engineer’s license who used the DOT AutoCad system to draw the defective Deering Bridge plans. See where this is going?
The Licensure Board was required to hold a public hearing on my written complaint. They avoided that.
In the process, I got all the liberals in town to hate my guts for exposing our town to bad press.
My arguments: The plans were not signed by the engineer, the wood treatment was water-based, the lumber grade was less than #1, the bridge had a sag in the middle, not a raised camber, the backfill was sand not gravel, the bridge was not bolted to the foundation.
It all holds true today. And the DOT comes out and grades the bridge just like every other bridge in NH.
The pictures are of half of the above ground guardrail supports made of the same material as the wooden bridge. A water-based treatment is not supposed to come within one foot of soil.
This was 1991 and I have learned one thing – NEVER trust anyone in state or local government unless they earn it.
I have every document, tape, and photograph of the entire ordeal in a safe place.
WHEN the bridge does fall in I will be happy to assist anyone injured or damaged financially.