Tempers flare amid charges of nepotism at emergency meeting on Hackett Hill Road pavingBy TRAVIS R. MORIN
Union Leader Correspondent
August 28. 2018 10:50PM
HOOKSETT — Charges of nepotism and personal animus provided a fiery backdrop for an emergency meeting Monday evening on the paving of Hackett Hill Road.
The meeting was focused on the status of paving being completed by GMI Asphalt, which was called into question after Councilman James Levesque received a complaint over the weekend that “tack coat” had not been used on a stretch to improve the bond between pavement layers.
Levesque said he visited the site and was able to lift off pieces of pavement due to lack of tack coat.
“I went down and looked at it the other day and I was able to put my fingers underneath the asphalt and pull a piece right up,” he said.
Councilor Robert Duhaime also expressed frustration with the allegedly missing tack and concern GMI was paving without town supervision. Duhaime said he was alerted to the problem by his brother, Roger Duhaime, who works for Advance Excavating and Paving of Allenstown.
The brothers said they drove to Hackett Hill Road on Monday morning and didn’t see any town supervision where the paving was underway.
GMI general manager Warren Colby attended the meeting and was adamant tack had been applied and said town officials were on site throughout Monday’s paving. Colby said that he was present when his crew applied tack to the entirety of Hackett Hill Road.
Director of Public Works Diane Boyce confirmed that both the town’s highway crew chief and a representative of its engineering firm were present for the Hackett Hill paving Monday morning.
Colby explained the weak pavement Levesque highlighted wasn’t the result of missing tack, but rather of the poor quality of the road, which he said was worn down so much that gravel was exposed when GMI milled the road surface before repaving.
“We milled an inch and a half,” said Colby. “And as we went across there was a couple areas — especially on the other road that we did — where we were literally going so deep we were busting into some of the gravel and it was unraveling.”
He said the section Levesque had remarked on likely came unraveled at some point over the weekend and that his crew had repaired it Monday morning.
Colby said he felt targeted by Councilor Duhaime, noting the brother works for a paving rival.
“My patience, honestly, is a little thin,” said Colby. “I feel like I’m being picked on. I think there’s a couple people in this room that work for local contractors who now are not happy that I have this job. And I want that brought up.”
During public comments, Roger Duhaime openly criticized GMI’s paving methods and suggested the project be halted until the town hired a new engineer.
“I’m no paving expert, but I really think we need a paving expert,” he said. “I know we’ve got a new engineer coming, I’d like to see the project put on hold until at least we have somebody here, some professional.”
Seated next to each other before the council, Roger Duhaime and Colby traded barbs.
“I’m not pointing fingers,” said Roger to the board.
“You are pointing fingers. You’re pointing them at me,” replied Colby.
Councilor Duhaime denied any vendetta against Colby or GMI, saying his concerns weren’t personal but rather on behalf of the town.