Atkinson Fire Department and the community mourned the sudden death of Fire Chief Brian Murray at age 53 in August.
Murray, of Salem, New Hampshire, died in the Pittsburg, New Hampshire, area. He leaves behind a wife and daughter.
Former Salem fire Chief Larry Best said Murray always had the best interests of his firefighters in mind and served the people — firefighters and the community. Best described Murray as a one-of-a-kind guy with a huge heart who led by example.
Murray became Atkinson’s fire chief in 2021, bringing with him knowledge and experience of a three-decade career. He spent 15 years with Salem Fire before earning the leadership position.
During his time in Atkinson, he helped move the department forward with new technologies and training.
Atkinson Fire Director of Emergency Medical Services Paula Holigan said Murray was in the midst of looking at ambulance contracts and increasing staffing. He had big plans for everyone on staff.
Murray worked for the department as a part-time chief. Sine his death, Atkinson Board of Selectmen approved making the position full-time.
The board noted that daily responsibilities of the chief’s position have grown in recent years. At year’s end, the position remained open.
Center School preserved
ATKINSON — The last-remaining one-room schoolhouse in Atkinson got one step closer to becoming a museum this year as the Board of Selectmen approved a lease agreement with the Atkinson Historical Society in July.
The society has looked to restore the former Center School building on Academy Avenue to its one-room roots.
The Center School was built around 1880 and in operation as a school until 1949. It later served as the town’s police station and most recently a family counseling center.
The Atkinson Historical Society has spearheaded efforts to preserve the town’s last-standing, single-room school for more than two years, which included getting it added to the New Hampshire Register of Historic Places last year.
The school will be open during town events once it is restored and only be open five months out of the year and closed during the winter.
Historical Society president Kate Rochford said it will cost upwards of $200,000 to restore the building to its original condition. Grants and fundraising will be used to cover that cost.
The society launched community fundraising efforts to also help with the costs.