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Belknap Commission will try to get firms to reduce outstanding 2014 legal bills

LACONIA — Belknap County Commissioners held their first meeting yesterday with newly-sworn in commissioner Hunter Taylor of Alton on board and wasted no time putting his legal background to use, naming him to work with law firms which are owed $60,000 by the county to try and lower those bills.
''I'm willing to do that,'' said Taylor after commission Chairman Richard Burchell of Gilmanton said that he would ''never sign a request for a (inter-operating budget) transfer after the line item was expended,'' and said that from his standpoint ''some of the bills were drawn with a heavy hand".
The county rang up nearly $100,000 in legal bills in 2014, largely due to a dispute over budget authority between the Belknap County Convention and the former members of the commission, and has expended nearly all of the $40,000 which was appropriated last year for legal expenses.
Commissioners yesterday also approved a $40,000 contract with Kevin Warwick, president of Alternative Solutions Associates, Inc., for development of a plan of programs for a community corrections (rehabilitation) facility in Belknap County.
Warwick serves as a consultant to Sullivan County's Department of Corrections and is a recognized national leader in establishing community-based programs and was recommended to the commission as a consultant by Belknap County Corrections Superintendent Dan Ward. Burchell and DeVoy are both familiar with Warwick and his work, having met him during a visit to the Sullivan County (Claremont) Community Corrections Center.
Also working with Warwick on the study will be Ross Cunningham, former superintendent of the Sullivan County House of Corrections who is now the assistant superintendent of at the Merrimack County House of Corrections.
DeVoy pressed Ward to try and have Warwick complete the study within 90 days and Ward said that Warwick was concerned that the study be thorough and that he didn't want to cut corners.
The study will also build upon the Ricci Greene Associates study completed for the former commissioners with an eye to a stand-alone facility for a community corrections center.
Ward said that a grant of between $6,000 and $10,000 mat be available from the National Correctional Institute to help reduce the costs of the study.
Taylor said that physical facility was not as important as the programs and that it was essential to get started as soon as possible on the study.
Ward also announced that Captain David Berry, a 20-year veteran with the Belknap County House of Corrections, has resigned effective in two weeks and will be leaving to become the Sullivan County Corrections superintendent.
Ward said that he was looking to fill that position internally and was also preparing to hire a new community corrections officer from a field of five candidates.
Commissioners also discussed the possible relocation of the Restorative Justice program headed by Brian Loanes from the Belknap County Courthouse to office space in the administrative wing of the Belknap County complex, where it could work more closely with case managers from the Department of Corrections.
Loanes said that he would develop a proposal to present to the commissioners when they meet next Thursday.
Commissioner also discussed the reimbursement of administrative costs from the Belknap County Home with Nursing Home Administrator Mathew Logue, who said that there was an online system run by the Department of Health and Human Services which even takes office costs into account for private nursing homes.
''It's been reported that we lose revenue if we don't have administrative support costs in our budget. I want to make sure we're capturing all of our costs and being reimbursed properly,'' said DeVoy.

Last Updated on Saturday, 31 January 2015 01:37

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Gilford town administrator running for selectman in neighboring Gilmanton

GILMANTON — Gilford Town Administrator Scott Dunn will be one of two candidates for the selectman's seat left vacant when Brett Currier decided not to seek a second term.

Dunn, who moved from Gilford to Gilmanton about six months ago will be challenged by call-fire Michael Jean.

The filing period for 2015 candidates closed at 5 p.m. and both were unavailable for comment last night.

The other contended race will be between Road Agent Paul Perkins and Road Committee and current Budget Committee member Raymond "Mickey" Daigle.

Long-time elected Road Agent Paul Perkins has easily survived the past three elections. In 2006 he defeated Israel Willard by a vote of 502 to 47. In 2009 he defeated Richard Emmons, who was also employed by the highway department but a vote of 391 to 42.
In 2012, Perkins defeated Tony Botten by a vote of 610 to 210 in an election that saw a 38-percent turnout largely attributed to the controversial funding for the Gilmanton Year-Round Library.
Daigle is well-known in Gilmanton and has operated a trucking business for years. If elected, he will resign his position on the Road Committee.

The race is being held against a back drop of the selectmen's bid to made the Road Agent a Selectboard-appointed position.

Currier and Selectman Steve McCormack supported the warrant article that, if passed, would make the position an appointed one in 2016. Selectman Don Guarino voted against it.

Currier said the reason for the switch is that selectmen field complaints about the roads but are powerless to do anything about them.

Last Updated on Saturday, 31 January 2015 01:24

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5 more people want to join Meredith Selectboard

MEREDITH — The first candidate to file for election to the two open seats on the Board of Selectmen — Rosemary Landry — kicked off a parade as within days five others threw their hats in the ring — Bev Lapham, Ray Moritz, Michael Hatch, Jonathan James and Roland Tichy — before the filing period ends at 5 p.m. today. Voting will take place March 10.

A lifelong resident of Meredith, Hatch, a veteran of the United States Navy who worked in the construction industry, has been following politics and engaged in campaigns since he was a sophomore in high school. He recalled that as teenager he met Governor Hugh Gregg and on returning home told his mother "I can be governor. He had on a red checkered shirt and the same kind of jeans I wear!" His support of George H.W. Bush in the New Hampshire Primary earned him a flight on Air Force One and a visit to the Oval Office.

Hatch said that he was at Town Hall on Wednesday where City Clerk Kerri Parker asked him if he was running for selectman. He told her no, but agreed that if by Friday there was still only one candidate for the two seats, he would file. Then, after talking with some friends, he decided to run without waiting until the end of the week.

"I'd like to keep Meredith Meredith," Hatch said. "Let's improve it without spending lots of money." He served on the 3/25 Advisory Committee, but was not disappointed when the plan drew scant popular support and was scuttled by the selectmen. "If it's not better, don't do it," he declared. "Listen to the people."

Lapham moved to Meredith 26 years ago after leaving a career in banking to own a small business, Village Canvas Company, which is now operated by his son. Ever since he has been an active volunteer, as a Rotarian, director of both the Greater Meredith Program and Chamber of Commerce. He led the volunteers who financed and built the boardwalk between Scenic Park and Hesky Park and most recently chaired the created the Sculpture Walk.

Lapham said that "running for selectman has been on my mind for some time and when I saw the vacancies I decided it was time for me to step up." Noting that the town has been well governed by its selectmen and well served by its volunteers, he stressed that "I want to basically maintain the positive momentum and not the change the direction." Lapham said that if elected he intends to continue his work as a private volunteer while fulfilling his duties as a public official. "Let's try them both," he remarked.

James came to Meredith as a 14-year-old. He served in the United States Coast Guard, worked at the Spaulding Youth Center and most recently was director of buildings, grounds, housekeeping and security at the Tilton School. In Meredith he has served on the now defunct Water Board and Zoning Board of Adjustment as well as a trustee of the trust funds.

James said he considered running for selectman a year ago, before Hillary Seeger filed for the single open seat. Describing himself as "a realist in a fantasy world," he said "I try not to be an extremist, but instead to listen to everyone's point of view." James said that apart from overseeing the responsible management of the town, he had no particular agenda or priorities. However, he said that with the rejection of the traffic plan for 3/25 corridor, the Selectboard would "still need to work on a better situation for pedestrians" and questioned the wisdom of holding major events "at one of the worst intersections in the state."

Calling himself "a high-tech vagabond," Moritz who served as chief executive officer of several companies, made Meredith his home in 1995 and retired there in 2006.He is treasurer of the Lakes Region Visiting Nurse Association, a director of the Windy Water Conservancy, the successor to the Waukewan Shore Owners Association, and volunteers with the Executive Service Corps, a group of experienced professionals who offer expertise and advice to nonprofit organization for little or no cost.

"We all need to to participate and do our share," Moritz said of his decision to seek election. "I have the time, energy and , I think, the ability to contribute." Although schooled as an engineer, he said that financial management became his strong suit, a talent he believed was appropriate for a selectmen. Moritz said that recently "I see the potential for divisiveness on our Selectboard," adding that he believes the town has followed a sound course and that dissension among the selectmen and a change of direction would not be in the best interests of the community.

The sixth candidate, Roland Tichy, a business consultant, could not be reached before press time on Thursday.

The two opens seats currently are held by Carla Horne and Peter Brothers but neither is running for re-election.

Last Updated on Friday, 30 January 2015 12:52

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Pucks drop today for 260 teams competing in Pond Hockey Classic

MEREDITH — The sixth annual New England Pond Hockey Classic gets underway at the top of Meredith Bay this morning with 250 teams with 1,800 players competing in non-stop daily action over the weekend — on 24 different rinks
Established in the fall of 2009 by recent college graduate Scott Crowder, the tournament was a vision to partner his two passions, the sport of hockey and the Lakes Region of New Hampshire. Crowder, grew up in a hockey family, the son of former Boston Bruin and college hockey coach Bruce Crowder, he spent much of his time between the ice rinks in the winter and the waters of Lake Winnipesaukee in the summer.
Graduating with a degree in Sport Management and Marketing from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, he was confident with his education, prior knowledge of the hockey community and familiarity of the Lake Region that a big time pond hockey tournament could flourish in the area.
Planning for the first New England Pond Hockey Classic began in October of 2009, just three short months before the puck was to drop. By the time registration closed, the NEPHC had 77 teams signed up to compete with even more on the wait list.
Doubling in size the 2011 NEPHC saw 152 teams compete with over 100 teams on the wait list. Seeing the success of the event in N.H., Crowder quickly looked for another hockey market with cold winters to host a PHC. 2012 saw 175 teams compete in New Hampshire and an inaugural event on Lake Champlain in Colchester, Vt. which had 57 teams take to the ice.
''This is an ideal place for this kind of hockey event,'' says Crowder, noting that the proximity to the Boston area draws lots of teams and players attracted to the old time style hockey in which teams compete outdoors without a goalie. ''It's become one of the premier pond hockey events in the whole country'' says Crowder.
Last year the tournament switched from having rinks surrounded by snowbanks to using hard plastic boards which are assembled by crews and anchored with brackets and spikes to keep them in place and Crowder says the response was overwhelmingly positive.
''The players loved it and we decided that it's a worthwhile investment. It also makes the surfaces in other tournaments in Vermont, Montana and New York City consistent.'' said Crowder. The only other major tournament which uses the plastic boards is in Minnesota.
This year teams will be coming from as far away as Washington, D.C., Florida and Colorado to play here says Crowder, who say that the hospitality of the Lakes Region continues to be one of the big attractions.
''This event has an economic impact on the area of around $2 million. Not only do the players come here, but their friends and families also show up for the whole weekend,'' says Crowder.
Play starts at 8 a.m. this morning in eight different divisions and games run until around 4:30 in the afternoon. The same schedule holds on Saturday and on Sunday playoff games start at 9 a.m. and run until 12:45 p.m. Finals in all divisions get underway at 2 p.m., with an awards ceremony held at 2:45 p.m.


Pond Hockey 1
Scott Crowder started the New England Pond Hockey Classic on Meredith Bay in 2010 with seven rinks and 77 teams. This year will see 250 teams and 1,800 players taking part in the play on 24 rinks. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Pond Hockey 2..
Workers in the New England Pond Hockey Classic set up 24 rinks on Meredith Bay for the Sixth Annual New England Pond Hockey Classic which gets underway today and will continue through the championship games Sunday afternoon. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Last Updated on Friday, 30 January 2015 12:38

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