City, school leaders find way to boost Laconia teacher pay

LACONIA — City and school leaders have identified a funding mechanism for a 5-year teacher contract containing significant salary hikes.
In a work session Friday afternoon, four City Council members and three members of the School Board discussed a plan under which the city would fund a reserve account to be used to cover the difference between what the contract costs and money available under the property tax cap.
Councilor Henry Lipman presented the plan. Also present were councilors Ava Doyle, Brenda Baer and Robert Hamel, along with School Board members Michael Persson, Aaron Hayward and Mal Murray. The group is to meet again next Friday, before the proposal is formally considered by the council on June 5.
Also present was School District Superintendent Dr. Brendan Minnihan. He supports the new proposal.
“This is a brilliant idea that takes the stress off the City Council and the School Board and creates a lack of tension,” he said. “Teachers and staff would have a level of certainty they haven’t seen in years.”
Lipman predicted the plan would win City Council support.
“It allows us to solve this problem in a less contentious way,” he said. “There should be enough votes to pass it.”
Money from the sale of two city properties is expected to bring in nearly $1 million. Some of that money could be used for the account, which could be replenished in years when there is sufficient revenue growth under the salary cap formula.
Last year, the School District made $1.7 million in budget cuts, and this year nearly $900,000 in cuts are anticipated. Teachers, who are among the lowest-paid in the region, are working without a contract. Yearly salary step increases for experience have not been granted in four out of the last 12 years.
The tentative contract, approved by the teachers' union and the School Board, would ultimately put Laconia teacher salaries at or above most other districts in the area, but the plan requires City Council approval.

Earlier discussions had centered around whether the City Council would override the tax cap to fund a School District budget increase of at least $850,000.

A tax-cap override is a non-starter for most council members.
Growth provided under the tax cap inflation factors will provide $508,000 in additional money that could be applied to pay raises in the school district in the first year of the new contract. The district now estimates it wouldn need no more than $200,000 in additional money to fund the new contract. 
The city is selling the Lakeport Landing marina along Union Avenue to Irwin Marine for $508,000 and the former Lakeport Fire Station to the present owner of Lakeport Landing for more than $475,000, less certain expenses.
City Manager Scott Myers said no use has been designated yet for this money, beyond holding it in reserve.
Participants in Friday’s meeting suggested an approach in which the current tentative contract before the council would be withdrawn and replaced with a new contract that would utilize the reserve fund proposal.

  • Written by Rick Green
  • Category: Local News
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Not forgotten - WWI monument gets makeover in time for Memorial Day


LACONIA — Nearly 600 Laconia residents, both men and women, served the country in what would later become known as World War I. When the war ended, the city was moved by their service and in 1919 erected a monument with each of their names on one of three large bronze plaques, mounted on a wooden frame on the lawn in front of the recently constructed Public Library.
After nearly a century had passed, though, the monument was beginning to look its age. Also, in the years since 1919, several other veterans  monuments had been erected across North Main Street, in a small park known as Veterans Square. The World War I monument was looking out of place on the library lawn.
“It just didn’t look good,” said Ray Peavey Jr., commander of American Legion Post 1, in Laconia. The wooden frame was beginning to look like it might soon be unable to hold the weight of the plaques, and the bronze plaques were bowed. That didn’t sit well with Peavey, a veteran of the Marine Corps and the Navy Seabees, and whose grandfather had served in the Navy during World War I. So, he contacted Kevin Dunleavey at the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, and they agreed that if Peavey could raise $5,000, the city would help with installation.
It took Peavey two years to collect the funds. A few large gifts helped get much of the way there, including a significant contribution from the Laconia Public Library Board of Trustees. The Legion Post contributed, as did the VFW Auxiliary. Peavey augmented those with many smaller efforts, such as T-shirt sales and meat raffles. With enough money finally in hand, the plaques were removed last winter and spent a few months being reconditioned by Charlie Beede, of Beede Monument Services on Meredith Center Road. And, this week, the plaques were mounted on three vertical granite slabs, which the Department of Public Works anchored into the ground with several yards of concrete – good for another century at the least.
“It makes sense to get it done,” said Peavey, noting that 2017 is the 100-year anniversary of the U.S. involvement in World War I. “And it came out nice. It looks wonderful,” he added.
The reconditioned monument, as well as the others at Veterans Square, will serve as the backdrop to remarks on Monday morning following Laconia’s Memorial Day parade. When the ceremonies are over, though, Peavey and the Legion will have more work to do. He wants to ensure that there is enough in their account to maintain the monuments as needed as the years go by, and to further develop Veterans Square. The names of local veterans have never been engraved onto the Civil War monument, and the Legion would like to add a monument for veterans of conflicts since the Vietnam War.
“We’ve got a lot going on,” Peavey said.
Contributions toward those efforts can be deposited into the Veterans Memorial Restore Fund at Bank of New Hampshire, or contact Peavey at the Legion Post at 603-524-9728.

05 26 World War I monument

Laconia’s World War I monument has been restored and moved to Veterans Square. Shown here, from left, are Charlie Beede of Beede Monument Services, Kevin Dunleavey of Laconia Parks and Recreation, Brenda Chamberlain of the American Legion Auxiliary, Herman Chamberlain of the American Legion, Argee Whittier of Laconia Parks and Recreation, and Earl Beale of the American Legion. (Adam Drapcho/Laconia Daily Sun)

  • Written by Adam Drapcho
  • Category: Local News
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Belmont police make forgery, drug-related arrests



BELMONT — A local woman has posted a $1,000 cash bond after police arrested her on a warrant out of Merrimack County.

Heather Lowrey, 24, of 24B Arlene Drive, Belmont, was wanted on a violation of probation charge for failing to appear in court in a case that originated with forgery charges in Franklin. Belmont police arrested her on May 12, and cash bail was set at $1,000 cash on May 16. She posted bail the following day.

Court records show that Lowrey originally was indicted on five counts of forgery in January, 2015, and was released on $10,000 personal recognizance bail. She pleaded guilty to one count of forgery in April of that year and received a suspended sentence, contingent on drug treatment and counseling, as well as restitution of $1,004. The four other forgery charges were dropped.

In July, 2015, she was charged with six counts of violating probation, and served time in the Merrimack County House of Corrections to satisfy restitution.

Lowrey faced another probation violation charge in March, 2016, for failure to appear in court, but the warrant was withdrawn.

A new warrant was issued on six counts of violating probation on Jan. 3, 2017, with $5,000 personal recognizance bail set on Jan. 6. She failed to appear at a hearing on Feb. 6, leading to the latest warrant.

In other activity, police arrested Richard Cox, 45, of 40 Roller Coaster Road, Laconia, on May 19, on a charge of wrongful conduct after an accident after he allegedly failed to report striking and damaging a MaineOxy truck. Lt. Richard Mann said the company discovered damage to its truck and, during their investigation, police received a tip that led them to Cox.

Police on May 22 arrested Anthony Enciso, 26, of 6 Linda Drive, Belmont, on Class C misdemeanor drug charges, following a motor vehicle stop during which the officer allegedly saw apparent drug paraphernalia in the car. Mann said Enciso had two bags of marijuana in the vehicle.

Other recent arrests include Joshua N. Atwood, 28, of 17 Plains Court, Franklin, Dustin L. Reinholz, 30, of 14 Hill Road, Tilton, Kevin W. Nelson, 40, of 20 Cherry Street, Belmont, and Jillian D. Moulton, 29, of 416 Union Avenue, Laconia, on warrants; Christopher A. Ladnay, 32, of 133 Laconia Road, Belmont, Troy Glen Cairns, 22, of 99 Four Rod Road, Rochester, and Thomas Michael McNeil, 29, of 675 E. 4th St., South Boston, Massachusetts, on charges of driving after revocation or suspension; and Jeremiah R. Goodbread, 40, of 189 Oak Hill Road, Northfield, and Jacob T. Sullivan, 21, of 33 Bryant Road, Wolfeboro, on charges of displaying false stickers. Police also arrested a juvenile on a charge of driving while intoxicated.

Mann said police also responded to some minor accidents and a tree blocking the road.

  • Written by Tom Caldwell
  • Category: Local News
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