Downtown: Local man honors hometown vets, busy City Council meeting

  • Matthew Wieczhalek-Seiler looks at the banner for SSGT James Harmon that he had made up for honoring New Hampshire veterans at Saymore Trophy on Thursday, September 6, 2018. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Published: 9/9/2018 10:59:39 PM

Amid the chaos of tomorrow’s primaries, a small group of people will gather at the Capital Plaza to engage in a different form of patriotism.

Matthew Wieczhalek-Seiler is the driving force behind an effort to honor veterans who call Concord their hometown through a program called Hometown Heroes. He has created six banners featuring Capital City veterans from across conflicts that will go up around Concord on the anniversary of 9/11 and remain until Veterans Day.

You may be familiar with some of those on the banners, like Concord’s own Franklin Pierce – who, aside from being a president, also served in the Mexican-American War as a general. That banner will reside in front of the State House.

But there are others, like Murray Howard and Ronald Milligan, Navy men who served in, respectively, World War II and the Korean War and have since died; Scott Miller, who served in the Army during the Persian Gulf; and Thomas Harmon, Cold War and Persian Gulf Air Force veteran, uncle to James Harmon, a Marine who served in the country’s Global War on Terrorism.

For Wieczhalek-Seiler, the effort has become almost like a full-time job. He said it has taken him the last six months to round up the names, secure funding, navigate the city’s permitting process and have the banners designed.

But it’s all in memory of his own hometown hero: his brother Thomas Seiler, who died two years ago while serving one of his several tours in the Army. His brother is memorialized in their hometown of Attica, N.Y., in another Hometown Heroes program. 

“He loved his country,” Wieczhalek-Seiler said. “I loved my brother dearly. ...He was my motorcycle buddy, my hockey buddy. Hours before he died, we talked about going to a hockey game. That’s what he did on leave. He was constantly overseas, constantly protecting his country.”

What started as a small program has now expanded; Wieczhalek-Seiler said he has had enough interest to create a second set of banners. He said the first group of banners will go into storage after Veterans Day, but will go up again next year, before Memorial Day, and stick around until Veterans Day.

Primary season

Voting day for the primaries is tomorrow.

There are a few local contested races to watch. Floterial District 10 has three open seats that Mel Myler, Joel Prescott, Mary Jane Wallner, Mary Kusturin and David Luneau, of Hopkinton, will be vying for on the Democrat side; Luke Dimond and John French VI are the Republican contenders.

In District 27, it’s a four-way fight on the Democratic side between Rebecca McWilliams, Carl Soderstrom, Art Ellison and Eric Gallager.

District 14 will see a contest between Jim McKay and Roy Schweiker, both Democrats.

Incumbent Dick Patten and Safiya Wazir will be in a contest for District 17.

For more info on state Senate, congressional and the governor races, be sure to check out our online election guide.

As a reminder, here are your polling places, by ward:

Ward 1: Immaculate Conception Church, Bonney Street, Penacook

Ward 2: West Congregational Church, 499 North State Street

Ward 3: Beaver Meadow Golf Course - Club House, 1 Beaver Meadow Street

Ward 4: Boys & Girls Club of Greater Concord, 55 Bradley Street

Ward 5: Green Street Community Center, 39 Green Street

Ward 6: St. John’s Activity Center (St. John’s Church), Thorndike Street

Ward 7: West Street Ward House, 41 West Street

Ward 8: Bektash Temple, 189 Pembroke Road

Ward 9: Havenwood, 33 Christian Avenue

Ward 10: Broken Ground School, Portsmouth Street

City council notebook

The landfill on Old Turnpike Road, as well as a few other surrounding properties, may have a different zoning by the end of tonight.

The City Council will be deciding whether to rezone the old dump, as well as a portion of the transfer station, the future site of the fire department’s training facility and some private lots, from residential open space/medium residential density to industrial. The change, should it occur, would match the lots with the surrounding industrial zoned land.

A report from deputy city manager of development Carlos Baia notes changing the zoning will allow the city to do more with the land; open space zoning only allows for 10 percent lot coverage, versus the 85 percent lot coverage permitted by industrial zoning.

Switching the zoning would allow the city to construct training structures for the fire department. It would also permit solar panels on the landfill, a use currently not allowed after the Zoning Board of Adjustment ruled that solar panels count as impervious surfaces, as those who followed the West Portsmouth Street solar debate might remember.

The zoning change will go before a public hearing before the council votes.

That’s not the only interesting thing to watch out of tonight’s Council meeting: there is a proposal to lower Rockingham Street’s speed limit from 30 to 25 mph, the most recent effort in a decade of trying to slow the street down, according to a report by traffic engineer Robert Mack.

About 260 residents signed a petition asking for the change, but the city’s transportation committees having mixed views on the subject, says Mack’s report. They seem to support the idea of testing lower speed limits with appropriate signage for a year, but express doubts that such a measure will change motorist behaviors.

Also on the agenda: a resolution to appropriate $1.4 million to rehab Taxiway A at the city’s airport, part of CIP project 468. The bulk of the money comes from a $1.278 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration; a $71,000 grant from the state; an another $71,000 from the city to repair the taxiway.

Councilors will also be debating whether to switch to a bagged leaf program instead of its famous bulk collection efforts and the merits of sending $124,300 back to Beaver Meadow Golf Course to forgive its deficits and ensure the course doesn’t operate in the red this year.

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