Friday, August 20, 2004

Bikers plan ride to aid family

Fund-raiser tomorrow for Firefighter McNamara's survivors

Karen Nugent

A group of Hells Angels from Lowell is planning to roar through Lancaster and Clinton tomorrow to raise money for the family of fallen Firefighter Martin H. McNamara V.

The group - with upwards of 300 bikers - will make a stop of two hours or so at Scooby Doo's on Main Street in Clinton, where a registration session will take place.

The bikers also plan to ride past the Mill Street site of the Nov. 29 fire where Firefighter McNamara was killed, and will pass under an arch of raised firetruck ladders.

The "Run for a Fallen Hero" will start at 10 a.m. in Lowell. The first stop will be at the Pawtucket Social Club in Lowell, where bikers may register. The second stop is Scooby Doo's, 626 Main St., Clinton, also a registration session.

There is a third stop at Southside, on South Broadway in Lawrence. The last stop, at Club 125, 725 S. Main St., Haverhill, will feature a post-run party with food and live bands.

There is a $10 donation for participants. All donations will go to the McNamaras.

A manager at Scooby Doo's said yesterday a patron from the Depot Square bar rides with the Hells Angels and is the connection to Clinton.

Police Chief Mark R. Laverdure said his department can handle the bikers.

"They're not all Hells Angels; there's a lot of other motorcycle people. It's a diverse crowd," he said.

In fact, Lancaster Police Chief Kevin D. Lamb, a motorcycle enthusiast, plans to join the ride.

Firefighter McNamara, a volunteer from Clinton, left a wife, Claire B. McNamara, and three young daughters, including a baby born five days after he died.

The flier for tomorrow's motorcycle ride says, "On November 29, 2003, Marty McNamara, a volunteer firefighter, lost his life while on duty. He leaves behind a wife and children. The town of Lancaster, where he volunteered, is not helping the family."

Joan C. Foster, chairwoman of the Lancaster Board of Selectmen, said yesterday the statement about Lancaster not helping the family is untrue.

"The (ride) is not associated with the family or the Fire Department. But it's a free country, and they can say what they want," she said yesterday.

"I think the townspeople have been very supportive of the family. But I think that it's great that this is happening, and there's another fund-raiser," Ms. Foster said.

The selectmen put an article on a March special town meeting warrant requesting an annuity for Mrs. McNamara and the children for about $650,000 - $30,000 a year for Mrs. McNamara and $2,600 a year for each child. The money would be like a pension - part-time firefighters in town do not qualify for a pension or an accidental death benefit payment. The measure was approved by town meeting voters and will be put to voters at the polls Nov. 2.

Also at the March 22 meeting, voters approved $20,695 for Firefighter McNamara's funeral and burial expenses.

There also were payouts of $267,494 from the U.S. Justice Department and about $100,000 from the state. A McNamara Family Fund, advertised on the Lancaster town Web site, was established at the Leominster Credit Union for public contributions.