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Steen outlines new programs in ‘State of University’ address

PLYMOUTH — Noting this week that the "higher education landscape is shifting," Plymouth State University President Sara Jayne Steen asserted that the University is "nimble enough to make significant decisions" in order to deliver on the promise of its historic mission to New Hampshire. PSU has the talent and the resources to make innovative and enduring efforts in providing access to excellent educational opportunities, on campus and online, for a diverse population of students who seek to be successful in the global marketplace.

Steen's remarks came during her annual "State of the University" address on Wednesday afternoon.

"PSU offers outstanding undergraduate and graduate programs," she told an audience of faculty, staff, students and visitors. "That means hands-on learning with exciting research and creative opportunities that often involve service and engagement with our wider communities."

According to the National Study of Student Engagement (NSSE), a higher rate of PSU students have professional experiences as an element of their education compared with their peers (94 percent to 86 percent) as evidenced, Steen said, by the more than 800 PSU students who participated in internships or a program capstone experience last year with regional businesses and community agencies. She also noted that more than 560 course sections from across the University involve service learning. "The region should be better for PSU's presence."

Steen reminded the audience that PSU's regional impact is central to its mission, and that PSU has a direct impact on the economic health and cultural opportunities in the White Mountains and Lakes Region and throughout rural New Hampshire. She noted several strategic partnerships that leverage university resources to promote community growth and investment while at the same time providing increased engagement for students. These include joining with the Mount Washington Observatory to sponsor a professor who will lead Meteorology students in research projects using observatory data. Students in the Department of Language and Linguistics assisted local agencies in creating a Tourism Development toolkit to make them more welcoming and to entice Québécois visitors to stay longer in northern New Hampshire. The Enterprise Center at Plymouth is now open, with the College of Business Administration (COBA) students and the Grafton County Economic Development Council assisting 18 firms in the building and others through online programming. And the Museum of the White Mountains continues to attract visitors as its board and staff work with researchers and residents alike to preserve and promote the history, culture and legacy of the region.
New academic programs also reflect the region's priorities. A nursing program was added two years ago in response to a pressing need for health care professionals. The first Doctor of Education graduates from 2012 are now having an impact as leaders in local schools. And construction begins this spring on ALLWell-North, a multi-use health science facility that will provide much needed space for recreation and athletics as well as additional classroom and research space for several health and wellness disciplines.

"These initiatives sound diverse, but they are focused in mission," Steen said. "They reflect both short-term and long-term strategic thinking." Each contributes substantively to the future success and growth of the University. The future, however, is not without its challenges. Some of the shifts in the higher education landscape include increased financial pressures on students in a difficult economy, potential shifts in federal funding guidelines and a projected long-term demographic decline of high school graduates throughout New England, unlike other areas of the country and globe.
"Those institutions that will thrive by staying ahead of the confluence of these current challenges in higher education are thinking in focused, strategic ways with data-driven goals. Our PSU colleagues have been and are moving forward in an integrated manner to meet those challenges."

Last Updated on Friday, 28 March 2014 12:36

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Hill School Board exempts two missed days - 411

by Thomas P. Caldwell

HILL — With two unexpected school closings adding to the four snow days the district has experienced so far this year, the Hill School Board last week elected to exempt those two emergency days from the makeup calendar.
Hill schools closed Dec. 18 when the fuel oil ran out and the school could not get an immediate delivery. The superintendent called off school again on Feb. 7 due to a frozen pipe. With the snow days that had occurred prior to the meeting, that left just two snow days on the calendar and, with a storm moving in that evening, officials were concerned about being able to hold to the June 19 final day of classes.
Dr. William Compton, who is serving as the interim superintendent for School Administrative Unit 18, said he would like to get Hill back in line with the Franklin School District, and he suggested a way to do that. He said that RSA 189.1, which requires 180 days of school, offers a choice of using school hours instead of days. The requirement for an elementary school is a minimum of 900 hours of instruction. He noted that Hill's calendar contained approximately 1,000 hours and, with the closings so far, the district still has 993 hours available within the existing calendar.
Dr. Compton recommended that the board vote to exempt the two emergency days which still leaves Hill "well beyond 900 hours" and allows the district to realign with Franklin, with four snow days still available.

Curriculum Coordinator Tracy Bricchi pointed out that making sure the district ends the same day as Franklin also allows the teachers to participate in a professional development day that Franklin holds the day after classes end.

The school board also discussed participation in Franklin's Class Day Parade, an annual, community-building end-of-school event in which the students and staff of all Franklin schools march up Central Street to a crowd of parents and friends. In a poll of Hill parents, 15 indicated support of the event, two were opposed, and five were undecided.
Chair Shelly Henry said that, when one looks at the cost of transportation to Franklin and the loss of class time, it did not make sense to her. She noted that Hill students already do a Halloween walk and other local events, and board member December Fortin suggested that they might do a town parade, perhaps on Memorial Day.
The board directed Principal Jay Lewis to look into the cost of participating in the Class Day Parade.

Last Updated on Friday, 28 March 2014 12:27

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Eclectic Ellacoya Barn & Grill to be at Taste of the Lakes Region on Sunday

GILFORD — Among the 20 restaurants taking part in the 24th annual Taste of the Lakes Region at Church Landing in Meredith on Sunday, March 30, will be the Ellacoya Barn & Grill, which has developed a reputation for an eclectic, wide-ranging menu and has in recent years been adding space for its loyal customers.

''We've added an upstairs function room and a downstairs addition made with beams and wood from a barn from the 1700s, as well as a new entrance,'' says Ken Choice, who has managed the Route 11 restaurant for the last nine years.

Choice, who was born in New Mexico and started cooking when he moved to Texas at the age of 14, has also worked in Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey before he moved to New Hampshire and worked for the Common Man in Meredith before becoming manager of Ellacoya.

''It's less corporate and more creativity is involved. We want to make our menu unique, just like the building, and we always have lots of fun,'' says Choice.

''We have a lot of steaks and seafood and our all-American burgers and pizza and more than 90 percent of our food is made from scratch. We create our own dishes and sauces and have weeknight specials to keep our customers coming back. The idea is that you can eat here seven nights a week and never have the same dish,'' says Choice.

Monday features $5 burgers, Tuesday at a $10 pizza and wine specials, Wednesday is half off Mexican items and Thursday features a $14.95 prime rib dinner.

He said that aside from the burgers the most popular item on Ellacoya's menu are its fish tacos.

''I didn't realize they were that popular until the kitchen staff told me and I checked out the total and I was amazed,'' says Choice, who adds that the menu is full of other items such filets, strip steaks and sirloins, as well as chicken, pork and shrimp scampi.

The Laconia Altrusa Club's Taste of the Lakes Region has raised nearly $300,000 for the club's charitable activities since it started 24 years ago.

This year it will be held from 4-7 p.m. Tickets cost $25 per person and can be purchased at Hart's Turkey Farm in Meredith or in Laconia at Hector's Fine Food &Spirits or at the Coldwell-Banker Residential Brokerage. Because there is a cash bar at the event, no one younger than 21 will be admitted.

Last Updated on Friday, 28 March 2014 12:17

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Credit card theft case in Tilton takes mysterious twists & turns

TILTON — The victim of a credit card theft from last year said this week he is getting frustrated by the lack of information forthcoming from the police regarding his card and its ultimate use.

Mike Gagne said he had bought some cabinets at Lowe's Department store and had received an in-store Lowes reward card worth $2,000 for later use.

He said a Lowe's subcontractor was doing some installation work at his Tilton home when one of the contractor's employees allegedly stole the card, apparently in May.

Gagne said he discovered the theft and reported it to the Tilton Police sometime in August of 2013 and the case was referred to the Merrimack County Sheriff's Department. Gagne said he was told the theft investigation was being handled by a different agency because someone who had connections to the Tilton Police Department had a conflict on interest in the case.

In addition, although the theft occurred in Tilton, Belknap County Attorney's office referred the matter to the Granfton County Attorneys Office.

Sheriff Scott Hilliard confirmed last week that his department conducted the investigation into the theft and on December 19, 2013 a Grafton County grand jury indicted Richard H. Miner, 35, whose last known address was Park Street in Northfield, for one count of theft by unauthorized taking and one count of conspiracy for receiving stolen property for allegedly conspiring with one or more people to dispose of the card.

Miner has been arraigned in Belknap County Superior Court and the case has been assigned a Belknap County docket number.

"All of a sudden I was told that the theft was in conflict with the Tilton Police and the (Richard) Miner investigation," said Gagne.

Gagne also said he was shown videos taken by Lowes of the people who used the card. He said he was told the card was used once for $30 at Lowes in Gilford and then the balance was used at a Lowes Home Improvement Store in Littleton.

He said he was told the person who used the card ordered roofing materials to be delivered to a job site in Tilton.

He also said he was shown the pictures of the people who used the card and said Richard Miner was not one of them, although he said he was told the Merrimack County Sheriffs Department was able to get Miner to confess to the theft of the card from his house.

Since Miner's indictment, Gagne said he hasn't heard anything from any agency.

"I'm just frustrated that nobody has ever sat down with me," he said, noting that since Miner's indictment he hasn't heard from anyone in law enforcement.

He said the only other thing he's learned is that the card was sold for 30-cents on the dollar.

Tilton Police Chief Robert Cormier said he turned the case over to the Merrimack County Sheriff's Department because the was an apparent conflict within his department but declined any further comment.

Hilliard said the his department's involvement with the theft ended with the indictment of Miner for theft and conspiracy.

Additional sources told The Daily Sun the investigation into how and where the card was used is being conducted by the N.H. State Police.

Gagne said he would just like to know who actually used the card and if anything is going to be done about it.

"All I know is Richard did not use the card," he said.

Last Updated on Friday, 28 March 2014 11:59

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