County: Pastor at corrections facility is not being censored


LACONIA — County officials say that the pastor of the Bible Speaks Church in Lakeport is still free to conduct Bible study sessions at the Belknap County House of Corrections and deliver his message in the manner he considers most appropriate and is not being censored.
Pastor Robert Horne, in a letter to the editor published in Friday's Laconia Daily Sun, wrote that, after 30 years of conducting Bible study classes for inmates at the county jail, he was not willing to compromise the message has been delivering and would no longer conduct classes with the thought in his mind that everything he was saying was being monitored for its content.
He said that on March 14 he received a phone call from Tamara McGonagle, program director at the facility, in which he maintains that he was told "that we are no longer allowed to tell the truth of the Bible to inmates."
Jail Superintendent Keith Gray said McGonagle's call to Pastor Horne was an invitation to a session to be held at the jail on March 30 at 9 a.m. which would involve others who have ministries at the jail. He said the meeting is designed to address concerns raised by inmates about the content of the classes offered by the various ministries and whether or not they are appropriate in a correctional systems setting.
Horne said that he told McGonagle that he would not attend the meeting. On Friday he said that he decided not to be a part of he meeting as he expected it would be confrontational.
"We were being told we couldn't talk about sin and hell. I don't compromise the Gospel,'' said Horne, who added that he is concerned "we're going from a situation of political correctness to one of religious correctness."
He said that he wouldn't resume the every-other-Tuesday Bible study classes until he has assurances from county officials that he will be able to continue with the same message in the same manner that he has delivered in the past.
An email invitation to March 30 meeting was received by another pastor who has a ministry at the jail, Jim McCool, who confirmed that the invitation was for a discussion along with the jail's chaplain, Deb Hoffman, and McGonagle of appropriate Gospel messages in a correctional facilities setting.
Gray, who was attending a meeting of corrections officials Friday, said that he had not yet read Pastor Horne's letter and would meet with McGonagle and Hoffman on Monday to discuss the situation.
County Commission Chairman Dave DeVoy (R-Sanbornton) said that he was upset by Horne's letter and noted that inmates are free to attend whatever Bible study group they want to and if they don't like the message are free to leave.
He said that he has discussed the situation with Pastor McCool and hopes to make contact with Pastor Horne in order to reassure him that his message is welcome at the jail and that the county appreciates his efforts in working with inmates over the last 30 years.
"I'm not sure that it's a good idea to be asking the pastors to reshape their messages. No one is made to go to the meetings and if the inmates don't like the message, they don't have to go," said DeVoy.

Gilford Village Knolls III ready for site plan review Monday


GILFORD — After many years of looking for a site and an investor, the Gilford Village Knolls III project is ready for site plan review from the town's Planning Board.

The proposed Village Knolls III, which is a 24-unit low-income senior housing project at 43 Potter Hill Road, site plan application will be heard Monday at 7 p.m. by the Gilford Planning Board.

The Village Knolls III is the third of three planned senior affordable housing units in Gilford Village. Both Village Knolls I and II were completed by the late 1980s with Knoll I located at land belonging to the late Milo "Red" Bacon's home and Knolls II on property on Potter Hill Road that abuts Bacon Avenue.

The property for Village Knolls III belonged to the town of Gilford and was sold in 2004 by Bacon as a site for the proposed new library. A capital reserve fund provided $100,000, and $40,000 came from private donations.

While voters at Town Meeting said yes to buying the land, they rejected a $2.25 million bond to build a new library. SB-2 in Gilford went into effect in 2005 and voters again rejected a bond for a new library.

In 2006, Richard and Betty Persons offered to give the town $3 million to build a library 41 Potter Hill Road.

The library was built in 2007 and the Friends of the Gilford Library (a not-for-profit fundraising arm separate from the library) asked the town for $110,000 with the appropriation to be funded only if the town could sell the lot at 43 Potter Hill Road.

In 2008, selectmen agreed to sell the lot to the Village Knolls for $150,000 but a few members of the Budget Committee mounted a petition to stop the sale because they didn't want Gilford to have any additional low-income property. The Village Knolls withdrew its offer.

When selectmen later tried to sell the property at 43 Potter Hill Road for $150,000, there were no takers.

By 2009, selectmen asked voters to sell the property to Gilford Village Knolls; however, the amount was reduced to $110,000 at the deliberative session of Town Meeting.

After losing access to all federal and state money in 2010, Village Knolls head Tony Feruello said he would continue to seek the funding, which has apparently come, at least in part, from the Laconia Area Community Land Trust.

According to the Zoning Board application filed earlier this month with the Planning Board, the project has been approved the the Gilford Conservation Committee and a dredge-and-fill application has been filed with the state.

The site will be regraded to lower the high side and raise the low side, which will create 28-space parking lot. A porous pavement walkway is proposed along the edge of the building and other paved walkways will allow access to Village Knolls II and to Potter Hill Road.

Water will be provided by the Gilford Water District and electricity, telephone and cable services will come underground from Potter Hill Road. The building will get fire sprinklers and the water for this will come from a buried concrete cistern uphill from the building.

The site, according to the application, has been approved by the Historic District and Heritage Commission and is being undertaken by the Laconia Area Community Land Trust using at least some federal funding. No construction start date is known at this time.

Where the buffalo roam: Bolduc Farm has herd for 28 years


GILFORD — The buffalo herd at Bolduc Farm now has 20 of the magnificent creatures roaming its fields on Morrill Street, Armand Bolduc, including seven young calves who were born last year.
"We've had a herd for 28 years now," he said.

The first to arrive came after wildfires in the summer of 1988 displaced many of the buffalo from Yellowstone National Park.
The buffalo were brought to the farm by his late brother Hector, who was the priest at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, across the street from the farm. Hector had purchased the former dairy farm from his parents in the early 1970s.
Bolduc recalls the day he first buffalo arrived.

"One day we were told to expect a delivery. Well, about 9 o'clock at night, an Indian turns up with a cattle trailer saying he was making a delivery. When I asked him what he had in there, he said 'I'm not supposed to tell you what's in there.' So I went to have a look," Bolduc continued, "and he shouts 'Don't open that door!' It was a pair of buffalo. That was a surprise."
Bolduc has had a few adventures with the herd over the years.

"They got loose in snow storm and were walking down Morrill Street, over the bypass to Gilford Village," he said. "I got a bucket of grain and when they saw that they turned around and started galloping after me. You just have to stay far enough ahead of them."

Another time, Big Jack, the breeding bull, wound up on a neighbor's deck.
Bolduc said buffalo meat is very healthy and provides low-fat, low-cholesterol steaks, roasts, stew meat and hamburger. Last year, two of the herd members were harvested. The young bulls are usually the first to be harvested.
During the summer months, the buffalo move from one pasture to another but require lots of hay and grain during the winter months.
"I feed them about 3 every afternoon, and when they see me open the barn door they know they're going to get some hay so they all start trotting over to the feed area," said Bolduc.

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The Bolduc Farm in Gilford has been home to a herd of buffalo for 28 years and currently has 20 buffalo in its fields. They are fed hay daily by Armand Bolduc. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)