Sheriff wants officers regularly patrolling Gunstock on weekends

GILFORD — A recent increase in the number of weekend calls at the Gunstock Mountain Resort has prompted Belknap County Sheriff Craig Wiggin to call for weekend patrols at the county-owned recreation area.
''Gunstock has kept us busy this summer, and there's a need for an increased presence on weekends,'' Wiggin told Belknap County Commissioners when they met Wednesday morning.
He said that during the annual SoulFest event, which drew thousands to the resort last week, his department responded to 45 calls.
Wiggin said that there was also an increase in calls on other weekends in the campground area and that some of those calls were for domestic violence situations and fights, as well as assaults. There were also a number of responses for lost children.
''It is in our best interest to have a detail there every weekend,'' Wiggin told the commissioners, pointing out that the it is actually less costly to patrol the area on weekends than to pay the cost of call-outs for each incident the department responds to.
Wiggin said that he was looking to have a conversation with Gregg Goddard, Gunstock's general manager, about the situation and to try and work out some arrangement which would allow his department to have working space at Gunstock.
County Commissioner Steven Nedeau of Meredith, who worked as an officer with the Sheriff's Department, observed that at one time the department regularly patrolled Gunstock on weekends.
''We used to have people burning picnic tables back then,'' said Nedeau.
County Administrator Debra Shackett observed that the large number of calls were also a function of increased activity at Gunstock during the summer months, which is good for the area's economy, but also has an impact on law enforcement and emergency responses by the Gilford Fire Department.
Commissioners also heard an update on the Belknap County Nursing Home from Mat Logue, home administrator, who told them that revenues and admissions were up over last year due in large part to short term stays for physical, occupational and speech therapy.
In the first six months of the year there were 46 admissions compared to 12 in the same period last year with 43 discharges this year compared to 10 last year. Last year there was only one admission from Lakes Region General Hospital but this year there have been 23 from the hospital, mostly for short-term stays.
The Belknap County Convention earlier this year approved a $200,000 supplemental appropriation for the nursing home to continue to provide the skilled nursing care which is reimbursed by Medicare at 14 percent above costs and is expected to generate an additional $200,000 net gain in nursing home revenue over the next year.
Logue said that as of yesterday all of the beds at the home were occupied and that the average for the year to date is seven empty beds a day.
He said that the nursing home expenses are currently $200,000 under what was budgeted for this time and that the nursing department is working to fill several vacancies.
Commissioners also approved the transfer of funds into three budget line items which will exceed the amount budgeted for them:
— $4,500 for the Belknap County Convention, for legal costs and meeting costs;
— $5,500 for the Finance Department to cover increased health insurance costs;
— $10,500 for Department of Corrections salary account.