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Belknap reps unite to help pass House budget

CONCORD — The Belknap County Delegation — all Republicans — voted unanimously with the GOP majority yesterday when the New Hampshire House of Representatives adopted its 2016-2017 biennial budget.,

House Bill 1, the budget, carried the House by a party-line vote of 212 to 161 and House Bill 2, the so-called companion bill, passed by the narrower margin of 194 to 179.

All 15 members of the 18 member county delegation who were present voted in the majority for both bills. Those present and voting were: Glen Aldrich, Russ Dumais and George Hurt of Gilford, Dennis Fields and Brian Gallagher of Sanbornton, Robert Fisher, Bob Luther, Peter Spanos and Frank Tilton of Laconia, Valerie Fraser of New Hampton, Ray Hpward and Peter Varney of Alton, Shari LeBreche and Michael Sylvia of Belmont, and Herb Vadney of Meredith.

Two members, Gallagher and Spanos, parted company with the rest on an amendment to HB-2 to introduce Keno, which carried with 206 votes in favor and 176 against. Keno, an electronic game of chance played in bars and restaurants by wagering that a series numbers will appear an screen, is estimated to generate between $8 million and $12 million in revenue for the state, which would be applied to the education trust fund. The House voted for Keno last year, but the Senate scuttled it. Governor Maggie Hassan included Keno in her budget this year.

Fields was the lone member of the delegation to vote in favor of an amendment to HB-2, sponsored by Democratic representatives, that would have raised the cigarette tax and closed offshore loopholes to businesses seeking to shed tax liabilities. Fields also alone voted for an amendment, also sponsored by Democrats, that would have funded a pay increase for state employees.

Last Updated on Thursday, 02 April 2015 01:39

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GHS senior who is Miss N.H. contestant hosting fundraiser for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals

GILFORD — Miss New Hampshire contestant Kylee-Ann Drew is excited to help organize a fund-raiser to benefit "young kids who need it the most". The fund-raiser to benefit Children's Miracle Network Hospitals will take place at Patrick's Pub & Eatery and will run from April 6-9. On those dates, Patrick's will donate 25 percent of the food portion of each check to the cause. Drew will be in attendance, periodically, to thank patrons.

Each year, Patrick's hosts around 25 fund-raisers through its Giving Back program, and more than $10,000 in donations are given back to the community.

Drew's Miss New Hampshire platform is based on "empowering communities through the Boys & Girls Clubs of America". She has already been giving back to her community by volunteering at the Lakes Region Boys & Girls Club in Laconia, where she teaches hip-hop dance to children once a week. She says, "The Miss New Hampshire and Miss America organizations really help young girls by providing scholarships. It's going to help me tremendously and it helps millions of other girls around the country."

Drew is a senior at Gilford High School and will graduate in June. She has been accepted to multiple colleges, and although she has not yet chosen a major, she has a strong interest in eventually studying dentistry.

Drew won the Miss Deerfield Fair title last fall, which is one of 27 local Miss New Hampshire titles. Her talent is tap-dancing, and she plans to dance to Michael Jackson's song "Slave to the Rhythm."

Miss New Hampshire preliminaries will be held on April 30 and May 1, and the final will be on May 2. All events are at the Stockbridge Theatre on the campus of Pinkerton Academy in Derry.

Call 437-9027 to get a ticket brochure, or visit MissNewHampshire.org for more information.

Last Updated on Thursday, 02 April 2015 01:36

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Gilford officer returns from 3 months at FBI Academy

GILFORD — After spending three months in Quantico, Va. at the FBI Academy, Lt. Kristin Kelley has a new appreciation of a lot of things — his family, his job and his community.

Kelley returned last week from the prestigious school armed with new tools that will help him be a better leader in the Police Department, a trusted official in the eyes of the people he is there to serve, and a better husband and father to his young family.

"You have to have a strong moral compass to do this job," he said yesterday from behind his desk that was piled with books and binders he acquired from the academy.

"My desk doesn't usually look like this," he said, asking not to have his photo taken while sitting behind it.

Kelley took four classes during his three-months at Quantico — management psychology, conflict resolution and leadership, ethics and business development.
His fourth class was one he wanted to take but wasn't necessarily part of his mission at the academy — the psycho-pathological behavior of violent offenders.

He said he actually found it fascinating not only because of the subject matter but the course was taught in part by agents of the FBI's Behavior Analysis Unit, who taught students not only about the inner minds of violent offenders but how its own teams are organized and effective.

Kelley also took a class in media relations — a topic that is always near and dear to the heart of the person designated by the department to speak to the media.

"It's not the content, but the messaging," he said.

He said the police have to listen to what the members of the community are saying, what information they want to known and understand and to keep the public's trust about what they are being told.

Kelley said much of the insight he gathered was from stories shared in class about media relationships — some of which have failed miserably and some of which were successful.

"When bad things happen we have to let the people know that they can trust us with their lives and safety," he said.

As to his role as administrator, he said the academy provided top-notch instructors and provided speakers who taught them how to cultivate the best they can get from a diverse group of employees.

"Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses," he said. "It's our jobs as managers to make sure that people strengths are matched with they job they do."

He also said part of his job is to prepare the people behind him for the day he retires. "We as leaders must cultivate the next generation of leadership," he said.

He noted that any department that fails to function when one of its leaders is gone for three months needs to take a hard look at itself. As to Gilford, he smiled and said his absence was barely noted.

He said Gilford has a great team of police officers and civilian employees who know their jobs and will continue to do them despite what happenstance and circumstance throws its way.

When asked what Gilford is doing right, he said that in his opinion most of the people of Gilford feel that the police are truly out there to help them.

He said his whole reason for being a police officer was to help the people in his community stay safe and to assist them through the hard parts.

"We also want people to know we are humans, too," he said.

As to family, he said many conversations he had both in class and with the friends he made were about priorities — like keeping your family first and preventing police burn-out.

He said knowing when an officer under his command is facing burn out or family issues is key to being a good leader. He also said learning how to better help his employees in crisis is one of the most important things he learned.

As to his own family, he said he never knew how much he would miss them and they him.

He mentioned coming home once and finding it nearly impossible to remove himself from his home and go back to Virginia.

"I know now how hard my wife works to keep our household together," he said.

From his short time away from home, Kelley said he learned a little bit about how deployed military personnel feel.

"I can never understand what a deployed service member really goes through, but as far as family and home, I think I got a small taste of what's it's like," he said. "And my hat and heart goes out to all of them."

Last Updated on Thursday, 02 April 2015 01:22

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Burchell again odd man out during county government discussions

LACONIA — The familiar fault line which has dominated the meetings of the Belknap County Commissioners for the last two months were plainly in evidence again Wednesday morning as Commissioner Richard Burchell (R-Gilmanton), whose ouster as chairman of the commission in early March was upheld yesterday in Belknap County Superior Court, continued to differ with his colleagues.
The commission voted to hire an accounting manager to supervise the Finance Department and to seek approval from the Belknap County Convention's Executive Committee to use $100,000 from a personnel management reserve fund in the 2015 county budget to fund the position.
The decision comes in the wake of the county's assistant finance director Marie Mora submitting her resignation, which followed shortly on the heels of the resignation last month of Finance Director Glen Waring to take a position with a school district in southern New Hampshire.
''It's an an unfortunate situation. This should never have happened,'' said Commissioner Hunter Taylor (R-Alton)'', who added that the county must move quickly to fill the position.
Commissioner Burchell disagreed, saying that he thought it would be ''an opportunity to go to the private sector'', a suggestion which Taylor rejected, saying ''we have a problem we need to address and address right now.''
Taylor said ''nobody uses privatization at the county level'' and said that Burchell's call for privatization would result in a lot of duplication of effort as any private firm would have to br fully knowledgeable about county budget procedures, which would require an inordinate amount of staff effort on the county's part.
Burchell had earlier this year, following Waring's resignation, suggested that he had confidence in Mora being able to take on many of Waring's responsibilities. But Commission Chairman Dave DeVoy (R-Sanbornton) said that Burchell had already outlined a plan of his own to reorganize the county and that people were concerned about losing their jobs and what he was reporting they had said should be taken with a grain of salt.
Another discussion of a vacancy also pitted Burchell against his colleagues as he championed an effort by Belknap County Nursing Administrator Mathew Logue to fill a position which Logue said had been vacant for a year.

The person that Logue wants to replace is currently on leave but was recently reinstated to her position following resolution of a court case. Burchell questioned Logue about the impact the reinstated person would have on the county home and Logue's response led to a discussion as to whether the commission should be discussing the matter in public.
DeVoy objected to the direction that the conversation was taking, saying to Burchell, ''you have crossed the line. This person is on Workmen's Compensation,'' which led to a move by Burchell to discuss the situation in a non-public session. County Administrator Debra Shackett told the commissioners that if they were to discuss an employee in private that person would have the right to be present and have a representative present as well.

Burchell said ''we're not discussing terminating her'' and suggested the employee would not have to be present.
But he received no support from the other commissioners for a non-public session.
DeVoy said that the position has not been filled in a year and that the employee was on leave for six more weeks, which mean there was no urgency.
''We won't hire another person,'' he said, which prompted Burchell to say, ''then the problem is not solved,''
Burchell also differed with his colleagues on the status of a new labor union composed of 20 mid-level mangers at the county, which was last year certified as bargaining unit by the state Public Employee Labor Relations Board.
He suggested that the commissioners hire a lawyer with a background in labor relations as a first step towards a possible decertification of the union, which he said was ''cobbled together'' and lacked a commonality of interest.
Last week the convention unanimously rejected a three-year contract with the new union, The deal with Teamsters Local Union 633 had been approved by the previous county commissioners as one of their last acts in office in late December.
Burchell's point of view was opposed by Commissioner Taylor, who pointed out that ''the burden is on the employer to overturn certification,'' indicating it could be a long, costly process.
He said that there was no crisis at the current time which required such action and said that he would rather negotiate a new agreement with the union than mount a legal challenge to its existence.
In other action the commissioners received proposals for health insurance from two providers, Health Trust and New Hampshire Interlocal Trust; approved a request for proposals from architectural firms for design of a community corrections facility and received a written proposal for changes in rule making authority for the county.

Last Updated on Thursday, 02 April 2015 01:12

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