$250,000 each: commissioners opt for half loaves for 2 non-profits seeking grant sponsor

LACONIA — Faced with having to decide between competing applications for the $500,000 Community Development Block Grant for which Belknap County is eligible in the current round of funding, Belknap County Commissioners opted yesterday to support half a loaf for each of two applicants.
After a brief discussion about grant proposals from the Boys and Girls Club of the Lakes Region and Genesis Behavioral Health, Commissioner Ed Philpot of Laconia moved that the commission support two grant requests of $250,000 each.
Genesis, which is a regional mental health agency, serving Belknap and southern Grafton Counties, wants the grant so that it consolidate its offices, currently located on Church Street and North Main Street in Laconia, in the former Southern New Hampshire University building at 22 Airport Way in Gilford, next to Laconia Municipal Airport.
Maggie Pritchard, Genesis executive director, told the commissioners two weeks ago that the property is available for $550,000 and it will take $1.9 million to renovate it.
The Laconia Boys & Girls Club recently purchased the St. James Episcopal Church building on North Main Street in Laconia for $700,000 and has so far paid $190,000 of that amount and says that it would use the grant to pay off the $510,000 balance.
The club is also looking to raise $1.5 million for renovations to the building and grounds through a capital fund drive.
Philpot noted that although the amount is only half of what was being sought, both organizations are eligible for CDBG block grants in the next round of funding which opens in January.
In other action the commission approved a request from Register of Deeds Barbara Luther that it approve her appointment of Judy McGrath as deputy register for a two-year period. Commissioners approved the appointment for 2013 but not to the January 2 date sought by Luther. Nor did they approve Luther's request that it retroactively approve her appointments of McGrath to the same position made in 2009 and 2011.
Luther's request included a reference to a state law which gives the Register of Deeds authority to appoint deputies for a two-year term but requires that those appointments be approved by county commissioners.
Luther and the commissioners have been at odds in recent years over changes sought by the commission in the way her office was run,
Last year Luther submitted to commissioners a bill for $5,200 for legal fees she incurred defending her office in a court action brought by commissioners in 2011 to compel her office to comply with a change in accounting procedures which had been recommended in an audit.
The commission has not paid the bill even though the Belknap County Convention, siding with Luther, placed a line item for $5,200 in the county budget earlier this year for that purpose.