LACONIA — Rep. Dennis Fields (R-Sanbornton) praised Belknap County Commissioners and county staff at Wednesday's meeting of the commission and said that he hopes that there will be better relations between the Belknap County Convention and the commissioners in the future.
Fields, one only three Republicans who last week supported the request of the commissioners and the Belknap County Jail Planning Committee for a $3 million bond issue for improvements to the jail and funds for a schematic design for a new jail, also thanked Belknap County Corrections Superintendent Dan Ward for his efforts on behalf of a new facility.
He said that alternatives which were proposed by opponents of a new facility, such as shipping prisoners to other counties, ''aren't a good idea.'' The proposed bond issue, which required a two-thirds majority, failed to garner even a majority, losing 9-7.
''I was very proud of the staff this year and I hope we can get back we can all communicate. I believe it was more the delegation's fault than the commissioners. The way the delegation acted made us all look bad and some of us aren't. The problems we had were more no the delegation than the commissioners.'' said Fields.
He said that he thinks it was wrong to separate one political party from another in deliberations by the county convention and said he would like to see a delegation that does its job in a non-partisan manner.
Fields, who served 11 terms in the legislature in another county before moving to Belknap, said that he decided to run for re-election to what would be his fourth term in Belknap County, where he represents Sanbornton and Tilton, because he thinks that compromise and mutual respect are needed and that he has always liked working with others to improve government.,
''We work best when we work together and sit down and compromise and that's what I would like to see brought back to the county,'' said Fields.
He then proceeded to criticize an idea championed by Dave DeVoy, who is running for the Republican nomination for the seat being vacated by County Commissioner Ed Philpot (D-Laconia), which called for converting a part of the Belknap County complex, currently used by commissioners and county staff, into a women's jail, saying that the plan was ''nonsense'' and would never work.
DeVoy, who lives in Sanbornton, was in the audience at the meeting but did not respond.
Commissioner Stephen Nedeau (R-Meredith) thanked Fields for his comments and said that he too was proud of those who work for the county. ''We have one of the best staffs in the state,''
Commission Chairman John Thomas (R-Belmont) also thanked Fields, who then proceeded to wish him well in the upcoming Republican primary in which Thomas will be opposed by Rep. Richard Burchell (R-Gilmanton), who has been critical of the commission and of the county jail planning process.
County Administrator Debra Shackett, who has been charged by the Jail Planning Committee with contacting the Ricci Greene consulting firm, which developed a conceptual plan for a 180-bed, 94,000-square-foot community corrections facility, said that she has talked with the firm and that a meeting will be scheduled in the near future.