The Truth is Out There but Where? UPDATED

In the ongoing saga of school board meetings that address nothing, you should know that the school board chairman has ignored my request to discuss the flooding at Pollard School at Thursday’s school board meeting. Voters thinking about installing sprinklers in Danville should pay attention.

WMUR and the Union Leader are suggesting a sprinkler pipe burst because of cold weather. WMUR’s interview with Superintendent Metzler was kindly forwarded to me by Rob Collins. Additionally, the district sent out this notice to school board members:

“Due to the unusually cold weather, the district encountered a few issues today. The delayed opening began with an additional delay for a SN bus due to a traffic issue on Phillipswood.  Parents were notified of the student’s delay in arriving to school. Pollard experienced a water pipe burst in the overhead of the main entrance corridor causing significant water damage.”

This caused me to write the following email yesterday.

Mrs. Steenson:

I would very much appreciate having Mr. Hughes to our next SB meeting on Thursday to  help us understand how a pipe can burst given our considerable investment in software monitoring technology in all our schools – as well as a report on the damage.

Thank you,

Donna Green


Readers should know that every year we have budgeted $25,000 for Building Management System upgrades to one school a year for systems that are supposed to monitor interior temperatures and notify the Facilities Director when temperatures fall dangerously low, among other things.

So my questions concerning this incident are numerous:
  • Did the burst pipe located in the ceiling of the foyer happen because of freezing?
  • Does Pollard have an upgraded BMS?
  • How could an interior pipe get so cold that it burst?

    Mr. Kelly Ward kindly responded to me in an email this morning saying in part:

“The fire department stated that it was not believed to have been related to the cold temperatures but merely a coincidence. This makes sence in the fact that if the pipe had been frozen to the point of bursting, there wouldn’t have been any liquid until the outside temps had risen.  The other part of that is that the fire chief stated that while it was cold in the ceiling, it wasn’t cold enough to have frozen that size pipe.”

Now it is not impossible that the press got this wrong and just assumed the weather caused the problem, but then why would Mr. Collins be circulating a news story without a correction?  And why would the district attribute this to the cold as well?  Perhaps it’s as simple as people assuming it was the cold when the fire chief knew better. In any event, there is enough conflicting information out there that I would certainly like to hear from our own Facilities Director as to the cause of the flooding, the extent of the damage, and the remediations being done to prevent this from happening again.

Here are some of the other responses from fellow school board members on this issue.From the always insightful Mr. Sapia:


No need, we all understand  it was 20 below 0. Water freezes at 0.  We have more important things to deal with!

From Mr. Collins:

Donna, this is a non issue. Happens all of the time, especially in a structure of this type. I support not putting on the agenda, waste of time. My $.02

 No doubt our insurance company is happy to hear how casual we are about pipes bursting.  I’m certainly not happy with a school being closed for two days. Given that we are asking district residents to invest the better part of a million dollars for a sprinkler system in Danville, wouldn’t it be nice to know that these things don’t happen all the time?
Here are other issues that won’t be on the agenda but should be:
  • Water quality report at Sandown Central  dated Dec. 28 and notification to the board dated Feb 10.
  • Rob Collins’ contention publicly and to the board on numerous occasions that an accountant was hired by the district and had confirmed the preliminary Sandown withdrawal buy-out number. It has been learned that the SAU never hired anyone and no one has been paid for any such service.

The truth is out there, but where? Don’t look in board meetings. These are just for show and what they are showing is a profound unwillingness to discuss any substantive issues.

WMUR Pollard

UPDATE Feb. 18, 2016:   Sandown’s Town Hall experienced some flooding also though the Tri-Town Times reports that it was not due to freezing. The Sandown Board of Selectmen released their agenda today for their Feb 22 meeting.  They prudently and responsibly included the flooding under “New Business:” Status and update of flood from holding tank at Town Hall.



Filed under Sandown Issues

21 responses to “The Truth is Out There but Where? UPDATED

  1. Mary Ann DiStefano

    Will be interesting to see if the chairwoman is at the TRSD board meeting on this Thursday or at the Danville Candidates night at our community center. I am sure she will use the board meeting as an excuse to not be present for questions.

  2. Cathy

    Just as a FYI: pipes bursting due to the cold will typically result in flooding. Not all the water needs to freeze nor does it need to freeze solid in any one area but only “expanded” beyond the capacity of the pipe. The water on the back end that isn’t exposed to the cold temperature would then be at a free flow due to the compromised integrity if the pipe (it broke) causing flooding. This make “sense” as to why there can, and likely would, be liquid in cold temperatures.

    • Interesting. Thank you. Being a homeowner for 13 years in Winnipeg where temperatures routinely go down to -40C and stay there for 2 weeks in Jan., I never heard of sprinkler pipes routinely bursting inside occupied/heated buildings. (Happens all the time, says Mr. Collins.) Furthermore, my husband grew up in Winnipeg and he never had a delayed school opening because of cold – neither did my kids who went to school in Ontario. Weather happens and we should have the Boy Scout ethic of always being prepared.

      • Cathy

        I have to concur.
        Times have certainly changed.

      • Len Mullen

        Different priorities. We have had two weather delays and will have a half day Friday for teacher development to kick off February vacation. 2/5 actual teaching days this week. Last Friday was a Bag Day.

  3. This was contributed via email from Mark Richards:
    Systems that cost the taxpayer hard-won cash and which later fail deserve deeper scrutiny. Spending money on improperly specified, poorly installed, or ineptly managed hardware is a waste of money. Given this is public money…[edited] inquiry on behalf of the taxpayers to determine what systems are in place, how much they cost, and if they failed – *why* – is a basic public accountability and is the responsibility of the governing board (yours, allegedly) to do.

    “Happens all the time”, and “this is a non issue” reveal reprehensible irresponsibility that should, along with the mold, be excised.

    Here are the basics:

    1. This apparently occurred during the coldest sustained temperature this season.

    2. Building monitoring casts a wide net, but anything worth such expense will report temperature, humidity, CO2, CO, methane, water flow (after-hours a continuous flow would be an anomaly), and flood.

    Water flow is detected by an ultrasonic or in-line flowmeter. This is simple to install and worthwhile to monitor. Most systems can detect very low flows. Sustained flows during certain periods should trigger an alarm.

    Flood is detected by a fluid immersion pad. When the pad gets wet, resistance drops, and this translates to flood. These are placed strategically to detect flooding before it becomes a lake.

    Either the system does not exist, was poorly specified, or is not being properly monitored.

    Have at it! Good luck.
    [Mark Richards via email to DG with edits.]

  4. Mark Acciard

    Perhaps Someone could inform Mr. Sapia, that water freezes at 32 degrees, not zero.

  5. Melissa

    I cannot comment on the pipe burst, as I have no expertise in that area.

    However regarding the delayed opening, it is a matter of damned if you do, damned if you don’t. I do not ever remember a delayed opening because of temperatures as a child. That being said, there is always that one person. Someone will complain about the cold. Brakes lines freeze, and in this sue happy world, I don’t blame the district for protecting themselves.

  6. Dan Beaule

    Their reply is kind of arrogant. It’s almost as of they’re trying to hide something.

  7. AAT

    At the risk of sounding “against the children” and “anti-safety”, I don’t understand this push to retrofit buildings to add sprinkler systems. In this area, I have to believe it is much more likely to have damage caused by leaks rather than fires. With all the ways the money could be spent, this has always seemed suspicious to me. Did the sprinkler systems end up as warrant articles or in the budget?

    • At first the Danville sprinkler was in the budget but then Dr. Metzler introduced new deans so the board took the sprinklers out of the budget and put it as a warrant article so the deans would not increase the budget. Keep your eye on the pea!


    SANDOWN – The town hall sustained water damage over the weekend when an elbow on a 1-inch water pipe failed and water began filling the ground floor.

    • The difference between the town and the district is that there aren’t competing stories about what happened, and if one member of the BOS wanted to discuss this at a meeting, it would be discussed in public.

    • This shows Pinkerton at 22 and Timberlane at 37 in state ranking. Bedford has moved down to #2.

    • Len Mullen

      VLACS has the same grade for academics, a better grade for teachers, and higher parent satisfaction. VLACS is FREE (no tuition0 for New Hampshire residents. One of the advantages of a Big School is the diversity of academic offerings. Now smaller schools can achieve the same or better diversity by supplementing B&M offerings with virtual classes.

  9. Rob Collins should keep his nose out of Sandown, and start worrying about re-election.

    • He’s worrying very hard about the re-election of Mrs. Steenson, so hard that he is taking it upon himself to make Mrs. Dube’s candidacy most unpleasant already. You might enjoy checking out Facebook page SpeakoutDanville.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s