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Laconia told new cable TV franchise deal as good as it gets

LACONIA — Katherine Miller, the attorney represented the consortium of a dozen municipalities that negotiated the renewal of the cable television franchise agreement with MetroCast, told the City Council this week that by bargaining together the members of the consortium were able to obtain more favorable terms than most communities in New Hampshire are able to negotiate with their cable operators.

City purchasing agent Jon Gardner, who was party to the negotiations, credited Miller for the success the consortium achieved. Apart from the city, the consortium included the city of Franklin and towns of Alton, Belmont, Gilford, Gilmanton, Meredith and Tilton in Belknap County as well as Northfield, Deerfield, New Durham and Northwood.

Miller said that the cable industry is going through "a transition time" marked by rising costs for programming. "MetroCast is feeling a squeeze on their costs," she said, adding that subscribers were also feeling pinched." She noted that neither the content of programming nor the cost of service, the two issues of greatest interest to subscribers, are open to negotiation.

Under the 10-year agreement, MetroCast will continue to provide the city with Internet service connecting municipal facilities at a discounted rate not to exceed $75 per megabit a month and annual rate increases not to exceed 5 percent. Miller said the discount is "unique in my experience." The expense of this institutional network will born by the company, not its subscribers. The company also agreed to to pay property taxes for its use of public rights-of way.

The current agreement specifies that 10 new subscribers per mile are required for MetroCast to extend its system without cost. The new agreement changes the requirement to five subscribers, who pay for a year's service in advance, per half- mile, which enables the system to expand in smaller increments and less time.

The three local access channels, which have been provided by Lakes Region Public Access (LRPA), will now be managed directly by the municipalities, which may contract with LRPA or another provider. Metrocast, which has paid LRPA $30,000 per year, will instead provide grants to support the local access channels to the municipalities. The payments will consist of 75 cents per subscriber plus up to $2,500 for the capital costs of equipment or facilities. The cost of these payments will be reflected in charges to subscribers in any way. Gardner said that Laconia, with 5,378 television subscribers, will receive a grant of a little more than $4,000.

Last Updated on Thursday, 27 March 2014 12:51

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Belknap delegation divided on beginning of life

CONCORD — Although a bill declaring that life begins at conception failed in the New Hampshire House of Representatives Tuesday by a margin of more than two-to-one — 214 to 95 — it won a narrow majority of nine-to-seven among the 16 voting members from Belknap County.

Eight Republicans — Reps. Richard Burchell of Gilmanton, Guy Comtois of Barnstead, Jane Cormier and Stephen Holmes of Alton, Don Flanders, Bob Luther and Frank Tilton of Laconia and Bob Greemore of Meredith — were joined Democrat David Huot of Laconia in support of the bill. Two Republicans — Charles Fink of Belmont and Colette Worsman of Meredith were absent and did not vote.

The remaining four Democrats in the delegation — Reps. Beth Arsenault of Laconia, Lisa DiMartino of Gilford, Ruth Gulick of New Hampton and Ian Raymond of Sanbornton — and Republicans Dennis Fields of Sanbornton and Michael Sylvia of Belmont voted against the bill.

Last Updated on Thursday, 27 March 2014 12:46

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'Personalized learning' at heart of Inter-Lake's new strategic plan

MEREDITH — The first formal presentation of an Inter-Lakes School District Strategic Plan, which has been nearly two years in the making, stressed that personalizing each student's education while focusing on effective communication and critical and creative thinking inspires learning and maximizes successes.
The plan was unveiled Tuesday evening before the Inter-Lakes School Board when it met at the Inter-Lakes Elementary School and it identified five core values: Personalized Learning, the Arts, Wellness, Involvement and Resources.
Kathleen Hill, I-L school district curriculum director, and Patricia Kennelly, I-LHS principal, co-chairs of the personalized learning committee, said that it was important that teachers and students be provided with resources and training to participate in continuous, anywhere, anytime learning and that a mentoring system be developed that supports students in a variety of venues and helps them develop different competencies.
School Board member Mark Billings, also a member of that committee said that he and other members of the committee believe personalizing education ''is transformational. It changes the one size fits all model we've had for too long and gets to the individuality of each student.''
As part of the change, an assessment system would be used which is based on a demonstration that competence exists and would include student self-reflection that identifies strengths and weaknesses as well as specific feedback for improvement.
Board member Howard Cunningham asked if there was any timeline on when the strategic plan would be implemented and Hill said that it currently was like looking down from a hot air balloon at the objects on the ground and was going to take a lot of work to move from generalities to specifics on how how it would be implemented.
Christina Gribben, guidance director and co-chair of the the Arts Committee, said that while the school district has a wide variety of arts offerings they are not consistently integrated throughout the curriculum.
The committee urged that the district sponsor an annual Arts Celebration Week which would conclude with a district-wide show of performance, language and fine arts and that extended learning opportunities be provided through internships in the arts involving local artists and arts organizations.
Wellness was seen as encompassing safety of students and staff in reacting to emergency situations as well as health education and implementing a comprehensive training program for all staff and contracted employees was rated a top priority.
When it comes to involvement, the district is being asked to develop a district-wide program to recruit, train, support and recognize volunteers which will be known as a Volunteer Improvement Program and will be headed by a VIP leader,. The district will also seek to involve families in the district's curriculum, instruction, assessment and educational programs.
The discussion of resources, led by Allan Hale, school district technology chair, and Kay Mulcahy, Inter-Lakes Elementary School assistant principal, touched on aggressive recruitment of well qualified teachers and prompted a discussion of developing a Master Teacher Program which would reward accomplished teachers with a greater scope of responsibility at the building level and higher pay.
John Edgar, Meredith director of Community Development and a member of Personalized Learning Committee, said that developing a program for exceptional teachers was ''central to a lot of elements of the strategic plan'' and that it would need further development down the road.
The school board welcomes public comment on the strategic plan and will take it up again when it meets in May and may set out priorities for implementation when it meets in August.

Last Updated on Thursday, 27 March 2014 12:42

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Tilton cop has been paid $24k not to work, so far

TILTON — It's been just over five months since Det. Cpl. Matt Dawson has been collecting a paycheck but not working at the Police Department.

Dawson earns $30.48 an hour, meaning he has been paid about $24,380 since he placed on paid leave.

Selectboard Chair Pat Consentino said yesterday that the issue is a personnel matter and she is not able to publicly address it.

Last Updated on Thursday, 27 March 2014 12:38

Hits: 1612

 
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