For Jerry and Lisa Carter, the panic was instantaneous.
Their wedding ring, which had been in Lisa’s family for six decades and was designed by her mother, Louise, has been lost.
Preparing for the arrival of Christmas for their children and grandchildren, Jerry was cleaning the house and accidentally put the ring in the trash.
“It was my mom,” Lisa said Tuesday. “She is 88 and designed it for her wedding and gave it to me for my wedding.”
Lisa was cooking for Christmas at her home in Sugar Hill before heading to Boston to visit her grandchildren.
Halfway, she realized that she had left her ring on the counter.
Then it dawned on him that he might not be there anymore.
Alerted by Lisa, Jerry took action and called the Franconian police, who contacted the transfer station which, on the evening of Sunday, December 19, was then closed.
Tim Blake, manager of the Tri-Town transfer station in Franconia that covers Franconia, Sugar Hill and Easton, called it like looking for a needle in a haystack.
“The police tried to contact me, but I was driving at the time so I couldn’t get the call,” Blake said. “They called my second in command [Kevin Dauphine] and he came back and opened it. They were looking for him, but found nothing. At 6 o’clock, it is too dark.
Jerry spent a good hour in the trash that night.
“The next day, [Lisa] called me early in the morning and told me she was on the way up from Boston, ”Blake said.
Late that morning, December 20, Lisa was already at the transfer station, ready to jump in to try and find the ring.
“It was so cold the night before and everything was wet and frozen,” Lisa said.
The additional waste brought in when the station opened to the public posed an additional challenge.
Blake and his team shared the odds with him.
“They said, ‘I just want you to know that no one has ever found what they were looking for,'” she said.
“In the end, I locked my machine and made the decision to remove the container just enough to be able to enter it safely,” said Blake. “Then I started to go in there. They said it was in a black bag. We pay as we go, so we are purple colored bags. “
With the large number of bags to be combed through, however, the likelihood that the black bag would be found, and relatively quickly, was low.
“After about 15 or 20 minutes I pulled the bag out and it opened and there it was, just sitting there on a piece of cardboard, clear as daylight,” Blake said. “I picked it up and said, ‘Please tell me this is your ring,’ and it was. It was perfect.”
Lisa remembers that moment, the one that brought a lot of emotion and relief.
“She told us it was her mom’s ring and her mom designed it, so there’s a ton of sentimental value in there,” Blake said. “Frankly, especially when she drove over from Boston, it broke my heart so I had to do something. I had to try. I was really lucky. A needle in a haystack doesn’t even describe it. It meant so much to her and her family and it was amazing to give it back to them.
The discovery marked a first for Blake, who served as transfer station manager for four years after taking over from Greg Wells.
“A first to find a ring, yes, but it is not the first time that I have been going there in search of a ring,” he said. “This is probably at least the third time that I have personally looked for something in the machine that has been thrown in error, normally a ring. It was like the third ring, but we found this one.
Their second marriage for the two of them, Lisa and Jerry have been married for 11 years.
Together they have four sons and two daughters, and neither is married yet, meaning the ring survives to be passed on to the third generation.
“We couldn’t be more grateful to the Franconian police and the people who work at the transfer station,” Jerry said. “It’s a real Christmas miracle.”
“It’s the best thing in the world,” Lisa said.