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Stuck duck just part of a town hall tradition in Epping

Union Leader Correspondent

June 04. 2013 10:30PM
Road Agent Dave Reinhold holds a duck that he rescued from a chimney in the Epping Town Hall Tuesday after it became stuck. (COURTESY)

EPPING — Lisa Fogg knew something wasn’t right Monday when she heard fluttering noises coming from a boarded-up fireplace in her Epping Town Hall office.

“I was a little nervous because I thought if we opened it up, something was going to fly out at us,” said Fogg, Epping’s town accountant.

After the fluttering continued off and on throughout the day, Fogg asked Town Administrator Gregory Dodge to take a look. They removed the board covering the fireplace, but didn’t see anything unusual.

When Fogg returned to work Tuesday morning, she heard the fluttering noises again.

“It was two times right in a row and I heard stuff falling and I thought, ‘There’s got to be something in there,’” she said.

Fogg then grabbed Road Agent Dave Reinhold, who was at town hall. Reinhold removed the board over the fireplace, poked his head in and looked up the chimney.

He saw feathers and wings and thought it was some kind of bird sitting on eggs in the chimney. But when he grabbed a flashlight and got a closer look, he noticed a big beak.

“It was a big duck. He couldn’t open his wings so he couldn’t fly,” Reinhold said.

Moments later, the stuck duck popped its head down into the fireplace.

At that point, Reinhold put his hands up into the chimney to try to pull the Muscovy duck to safety.

“I had all I could do to get it out of the hole,” Reinhold said.

After a few tries, Reinhold was able to free the duck, leaving behind a few feathers. Reinhold held him for a little while, and gave him some water.

“The duck was fine. It was just thirsty,” he said.

Reinhold said he took the duck outside to a bridge over the Lamprey River; as soon as he held out his hands, the duck flew off into the water.

This isn’t the first time Epping town employees have encountered wildlife in the 19th century brick town hall.

A bat invaded a selectmen’s meeting in 2011, swooping around the heads of board members before being shooed off by officials with an umbrella and a table cloth.

In 2009, the town hall was targeted by a flock of pigeons that perched on the bell tower and dumped hundreds of droppings on the walkway below.

For weeks, town employees were forced to power-wash the walkway in the mornings before town hall opened for business.

When Fogg moved into her new office with the old fireplace in April, a small bird somehow made it inside to greet her.

But Tuesday’s discovery was a little unexpected.

“I never thought this was going to be a duck,” Fogg said.

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