Newport police honor man for heroism

Posted Sept. 04, 2008, at 8:21 p.m.

NEWPORT, Maine — A highlight of Wednesday’s selectmen’s meeting was the recognition of Philip Cote, an alert resident who is being called a hero.

Cote, who works at the McDonald’s Restaurant on Route 100, was at work at 6:45 a.m. Aug. 28 when he heard a child screaming for help, Police Chief Leonard Macdaid said. The driver of a vehicle had become unconscious and her child was hanging out the side window as the car continued slowly down Route 100 in the center lane.

“Philip ran to the Jeep, steered it into the Subway parking lot and was able to get it stopped,” Macdaid said. He presented Cote a certificate of appreciation while Cote’s family members looked on with pride.

Macdaid also recognized an anonymous tipster who helped solve a series of burglaries, as well as Lt. Randy Wing, who arrested the four juveniles involved in those burglaries. Macdaid also introduced a new officer to the board, Tim Hall.

Also Wednesday, board members were disappointed that a new flashboard system on the North Street Dam had not been installed.

In November 2006, Newport selectmen praised lakeside resident and inventor Tom Hart for a design for hydraulically controlled flashboards for the North Street Dam. The town had been using the gate in the dam to raise and lower the lake level and officials were concerned about the wear and tear on the expensive machinery.

Hart’s design uses steel flashboards sealed with rubber that are raised and lowered hydraulically, allowing the gate to remain in place. He estimated the cost of the project at $6,000, a figure that is about one-third the cost of an average repair to the existing gate.

But that was then and this is now. On Wednesday night, selectmen were discouraged that nearly two years after the design was proposed and approved, Hart has not completed installation of the flashboards.

“We have $8,600 worth of supplies already purchased,” Town Manager James Ricker told the board. “Tom has told us he is working elsewhere,” Ricker said, implying that Hart did not have time to do the town project.

Hart could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Also on Wednesday, the board approved the purchase of a new $8,485 rescue boat and trailer. The boat, which is a new 2004 model, would replace the existing rescue boat that firefighters said is unsafe. That boat had been obtained years ago from military surplus and was damaged, causing it to veer left and toss out occupants.

The new boat has a flat bottom and flat front, allowing victims to be brought on board more easily, firefighters said. It also contains compartments for medical supplies.

The old boat will not be offered for sale, Ricker said, because it is not safe.

The board placed a 1967 firetruck out for sale, putting it on eBay with a minimum bid of $4,500.

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