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Welding Mishap Nearly Costs Lebanon Resident His Garage

Lebanon — A Lebanon man saved his garage from catching fire yesterday after he used a bulldozer to pull a piece of machinery that was ablaze out of the building.

The fire began when Mike Townsend was welding a piece of machinery in his garage and then left his Storrs Hill Road home to pick up his son at Lebanon High School.

While he was gone, his wife Joan looked out the window of their ranch-style home and noticed smoke billowing from the garage.

Townsend, who was on his way back to his house, connected a bulldozer to the machinery that was on fire as soon as he arrived and hauled it out of the garage so the flames wouldn’t spread to the structure.

“Good old farmers, they know what to do,” Joan Townsend said when interviewed at her home yesterday afternoon.

The Lebanon Fire Department received the call at 4:50 p.m., and when firefighters arrived, the piece of machinery was fully involved. But it took firefighters only three or four minutes to douse the blaze. Firefighters then used a thermal imaging camera to make sure the fire hadn’t spread throughout the garage.

Capt. Jim Wheatley said he wasn’t sure what started the fire, but said the garage only suffered smoke and heat damage. As firefighters drove away, Townsend held ice in his right hand because he burned it while he connected the bulldozer to the machinery.

Newport School Stays Closed Remainder of Week

Newport — School district officials have decided to keep Richards Elementary School closed for the remainder of the week because of delays in repairing the fire alarm system.

Classes have been cancelled at the K-4 school since Monday, the day after a sprinkler pipe ruptured in a third-floor classroom, causing flooding and knocking out the fire alarm system.

SAU 43 Business Manager Chuck Stuart said yesterday that the violent storms throughout the south, including Tennessee, delayed the delivery of replacement parts for the fire alarm. The repairs won’t be completed until today at the earliest.

“We don’t think it is worth bringing the students back for one day,” Stuart said.

An extra couple of days will also allow Servpro, the company hired to do the cleanup, to complete its work, without students in the school, Stuart said.

Big Rig Gets Stuck Under Trestle in Royalton

Royalton — A section of Route 14 in Royalton was closed for six hours Tuesday after the driver of a semi-trailer truck got his truck lodged under a train trestle near Vesper Road.

Yisihak Mengesha, 37, of Anderson, S.C., was uninjured after he tried to drive his 13-foot-6-inch trailer under a 12-foot-1-inch clearance. Route 14 did not reopen until nearly midnight, and an Amtrak train was delayed while the tracks were inspected for damage.

The bridge wasn’t damaged, but there was extensive damage to top of the truck and trailer. Sabil & Sons towing pulled out the wedged-in truck. State police, Royalton Fire Department and the Department of Motor Vehicles assisted at the scene.

Hartland Man Dies Of Crash Injuries

Hartland — A Vermont man has died from injuries suffered in a car crash in Hartland last week.

Vermont State Police say 82-year-old Robert Guillette, of Hartland, fell asleep at the wheel on Interstate 91 south on Friday, going off the road and hitting a rock ledge in the median.

Police say he was taken to DHMC with what appeared to be minor injuries.

But police say a hospital evaluation determined that he had more serious internal injuries. Guillette died of those injuries on Monday.

According to his obituary which appeared in yesterday’s Valley News, Guillette worked at Split Ball Bearing and Timken in Lebanon before retiring in 1992.

— Staff and wire reports.

Claremont Community Center Delays Official Opening

Claremont — The official opening of the new $10-million community center has been pushed back to early March, city officials said yesterday, as it is taking longer than expected to install the floor.

Parks and Recreation Director Scott Hausler explained yesterday the new floor is a composite material that is actually poured over a rubberized mat that is laid over the concrete. But first workmen must grind the concrete down to “precision level,” Hausler said, before they apply the composite.

“There is a little more grinding that is necessary so that has taken a few days longer,” he said. “We want to be sure it is done right.” Laying the floor is a two-week process, he noted.

A “soft opening” is planned for the last week of February, when students on vacation will be able to use the new facility. Initially the new complex was to have its formal opening Feb. 16. Now it is scheduled for Saturday, March 2.

Hausler said otherwise everything else is on trach. “We are pretty pleased that this has been the only delay,” Hausler said.

Site work on the facility at the corner of South and Broad streets began about a year ago. When it opens the center will have an eight-lane pool, fitness room, full-sized gym and community rooms.