Attorney reviewing Gale School proposal

BELMONT — Members of the Shaker Regional School Board have asked the district's legal counsel to review a draft request for proposals that would seek bids for building removal and site cleanup at the Gale School property.
School Administrative Unit 80 Superintendent Michael Tursi declined to release the draft document until the district's attorney has had a chance to review it, but he said it calls for the relocation of the historic school building and complete cleanup of the building site.
The school district had hoped to move the building to property at the corner of Memorial and Concord streets, and then to turn it over to the nonprofit Save Our Gale School Committee for $1, but attorney James O'Shaughnessy ruled that out, saying the $71,000 expenditure of district money that voters had authorized to move the building could legally be used only for school district purposes, and not for historic preservation.
Residents interested in saving the school have been meeting for years to determine a way to preserve the historic structure, including looking at ways it might be renovated to serve the school district, but they have not come up with a workable plan.
The school board has been trying to divest itself of the building since 2001, calling the building dangerous and saying it would cost too much to renovate it. Citizens have consistently advocated for its preservation, deflecting every attempt to raze the building.
Tursi said the current proposal stipulates that the building would have to be moved to another site, but the district would have no control over what the buyer does with it after that. The new owner might still tear it down.
The school was built in 1894 and later was named after Napoleon B. Gale, who had left $10,000 to the town. The school ceased operations in 1985 when the new Belmont Elementary School opened.

Point of no return for county jail

Belknap County faces Aug. 15 stop-work deadline


LACONIA — A shutdown of work on the 18,000-square-foot Community Community Corrections Center will have to take place by the middle of August if inmates are to remain in the current jail.
That was the conclusion reached by the Jail Planning Committee when it met Tuesday morning at the Belknap County complex to weigh options available to Belknap County Commissioners in the event a $229,5000 supplemental appropriation they are seeking is not approved by the Belknap County Delegation.
The request includes $136,500 for the Corrections Department and $93,000 for the Sheriff’s Department. It now looks like the delegation will take that request up when it meets on May 22 to hear a request from the county-owned Gunstock Mountain Resort for a revenue anticipation note.
Belknap County Corrections Superintendent Keith Gray has said that without the four additional corrections officers cut from his budget by the delegation he will not be able open the corrections center and operate it safely.
The supplemental appropriation proposal calls for hiring three corrections officers on July 1 and another on Sept. 1.
Dave DeVoy, (R-Sanbornton), chairman of the county commission and also the chairman of the Jail Planning Committee, said, “the drop-dead date is Aug. 15,” after having been told by Andre Kloetz of Bauen Construction that is the date that work has to start on removing a women’s bathroom in the old wing. The space will then be filled with a new air exchange system. Once that occurs, the old wing of the jail would no longer have sufficient bathroom facilities for female inmates.
He asked Kloetz about the last possible date for keeping prisoners in the old section of the jail due to written concerns brought forward by Commissioner Hunter Taylor (R-Alton), who suggested that renovations may need to be put on hold in order to avoid putting the county in a situation where women prisoners would need to be transferred to another county jail.
Superintendent Gray has said that without the new officers, parts of the current jail would need to remain in use and that female prisoners would have to be transferred to another county, which would cost $34,500 a month.
DeVoy said at Tuesday’s meeting that, from his perspective, if the center does not open he would prefer that all of the staff remain in the old facility. That would mean that work would also have to be put off on two of the office spaces slated for renovation.
He said he still hopes to be able to hold an open house prior to the May 22 vote to which local selectmen would be invited as well as state legislators.
DeVoy said that he is certain that at least six members of the county delegation will support the supplemental appropriation and is looking to convince three more to support it.
He said that he wants to open the corrections center this fall and is willing to wait until Oct. 1 to hire new officers, which he said would cost $74,000 instead of the $136,5000 sought by Superintendent Gray.
But he said that he is not sure that the other commissioners will support his position, and that stopping work on the facility is very much a possibility if the supplemental appropriation is not approved.

05-11 county jail work in progress

Leftover, unsecured drugs can be deadly

05-10 Stand Up Sachems 1 Karen Bobotas

Adviser Jessica Conrad sits with students from the Stand Up Sachems group during an assembly at Laconia High School on Wednesday morning. (Karen Bobotas/for The Laconia Daily Sun)



Laconia High School students hear first-hand stories of overdoses


LACONIA — High school drug counselor Jessica Conrad was wearing a T-shirt with a “22” on the front Wednesday at an assembly for freshmen and sophomores.
The students listened silently when she explained the significance of that number.
On Oct. 22, 2010, her brother-in-law, who was in pain from a back injury, took some fentanyl left over from medical treatment of a late grandparent. He was also drinking beer. He never woke up.
“He was 25 years old and had his whole life ahead of him,” Conrad said. “That was something that never needed to happen. It wasn’t his intention to die. That’s something that impacted his whole family for the rest of our lives. He will never be there to be an uncle to my little girl.”
She wishes the leftover fentanyl had been disposed of so that her brother-in-law never would have had access to it.
Secure storage of medication and proper disposal of old drugs were two themes of Wednesday’s assembly by Stand Up Sachems, a student group that seeks to fight substance abuse.
Secure drop boxes are provided at police departments to allow people to discard medication safely. The Laconia Police Department also provides lock boxes for people to keep their medication secure.
Fentanyl is responsible for most of New Hampshire’s overdose deaths, which stood at 163 in 2012 and totaled nearly 500 last year, including at least a dozen in Belknap County, according to a report by the New Hampshire Drug Monitoring Initiative. Carfentanil, a related but much more powerful synthetic opioid, now poses an even greater threat.
Belknap County had 494 of the state’s 6,084 opioid-related emergency department visits last year.
Participants in the high school assembly also sought to impress upon young people that a spur-of-the-moment decision to take an illicit drug can have deadly consequences. They also showed a short film, “If Only,” about two teenage boys who experiment with and become addicted to drugs.
The protagonist gets prescription drugs from his mother’s medicine cabinet, and brings them to a party where they are placed in a bowl with other drugs brought by partygoers.
After the film, Jacob Filgate, a senior, had the rapt attention of the students when he talked about his sister’s addiction to heroin and the time when she nearly died of a drug overdose before being saved by a medical intervention.
“That’s when she realized that she had to get help,” he said. “But you know, guys, I can tell you my story and everything. You can feel bad for me. It’s whatever. But you guys, you’re all going to experience this. You’re all going to see drugs, alcohol. You guys have to be the one to say ‘No.’ It’s not going to make you any cooler, going to a party and doing drugs, drinking. What are you going to get out of it? Nothing. It doesn’t do anything for you. You guys, be the strong ones and say ‘no’ to it.”