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Lawmakers still unwilling to transfer funds to pay commissioner's legal bills

LACONIA — The Executive Committee of the Belknap County Convention last night turned down a request from the Belknap County Commission to transfer $33,000 from one 2014 budget line to another in order to pay the county's unpaid legal bills, which now amount to some $31,673.
It was the second time in two weeks that the committee has turned down such a request. Most of total has been accrued in the lengthy legal battle between the convention and the commissioners over the control of line items in the county budget.
Two weeks ago the committee voted 6-3 to deny a request for a transfer of $28,000 to pay the county's legal bills.
Last night the newly-constituted Executive Committee, which was selected last week from newly-elected county legislators and is still chaired by Rep. Frank Tilton (R-Laconia), was presented with an updated request, which includes new bills for legal advice and representation for the county commissioners.

Tilton asked what authority the commissioners have to "encumber" funds to defend the commission. Commissioner Steve Nedeau (R-Meredith) cited a state law which he said allows the commission to defend itself in court even if there has been no appropriation made by the county convention for that purpose.
Tilton said that the convention had last year appropriated funds to pay the court costs Register of Deeds Barbara Luther had incurred while defending her office in a suit brought by the commissioners but the commissioners had never paid them.
Nedeau said that situation was different.

He also said that he and other commission members still disagree with a temporary injunction obtained in Superior Court by the convention which limits the ability of the commissioners to transfer more than $300 between budget accounts without the approval of the Executive Committee.
Tilton noted that there were more costs coming as a result of the commission's December 11 filing of an appeal of the Belknap County Convention Personnel Committee's reinstatement of Belknap County Nursing Home Superintendent Mathew Logue, who had been fired by the commission in late August.
He also noted that one pending legal bills was for over $6,000 and was incurred by the commissioners when they went to court following Judge James O'Neil's ruling in August and sought a court order for a special meeting of the Executive Committee to deal with the need for an emergency transfer of funds. The motion was denied.
''I feel very uncomfortable doing anything right now,'' said Rep-elect George Hurt (R-Gilford), who moved to deny the request and was supported by three other members of the committee with Rep. Don Flanders R-Laconia) abstaining.
The committee did approve several other transfers, including a request for a $2,000 transfer from the nursing home's furniture and fixtures accounts to operating supplies for the home which it had originally denied. The committee reversed the action after it later earned that the funds were for rubber gloves needed by food service workers when distributing meals and a degreaser for the kitchen.
Also approved was a $950 transfer from the nursing home's chaplain service to replace toner cartridges on printers which are needed to be able to print out medical prescriptions from doctors for nursing home patients, $12,770 from three different accounts for food costs for the nursing home, $352 to pay for copies of new state laws for the county attorney's office, $500 for cable and Internet service for the nursing home, $16,619 for transfers between Medicare accounts, $1,500 for dietary department wages and $20,000 for additional medical services and supplies for inmates at the Belknap County House of Corrections and $500 for anticipated snow removal costs by the nursing home maintenance department.

Last Updated on Thursday, 18 December 2014 01:07

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Local officials dismissive of Calif. real estate company's labeling of Laconia as 'dangerous'

LACONIA — "There are three kinds of lies," quipped Mark Twain, "lies, damned lies and statistics" and Movoto Real Estate, an online brokerage headquartered in San Mateo, California, which this week ranked Laconia the second most dangerous place in New Hampshire," relishes the third.

The report is getting plenty of play on social media and WMUR-TV, earlier in the week, made it the subject of a story.

Like David Letterman, the Movoto Real Estate Blog fancies top ten lists — most affordable, most costly, most caring, most proud, most hairy, most "holiday-tastic and most stressed out — compiled by statistical sleight-of-hand.

After acknowledging that New Hampshire is the safest state in the Union, Movoto reported there are places in the state that are "downright dangerous". These they found by surveying 20 municipalities with more than 10,000 people, using the FBI's uniform crime report for 2012, calculated the number of murders, violent crimes, property crimes and total crimes per capita. Then each municipality was ranked in each category of crime with a score of 1 to 20. The four categories were weighted, the first three at 30 percent and total crimes at 10 percent, and the weighted scores averaged into the "Big Deal Score," with the municipality scoring the lowest crowned the most dangerous. Got it?

Somersworth topped the list, followed by Laconia. Both cities reported high numbers of property crimes and total crimes while Laconia posted the third highest number of violent crimes, mostly assaults and rapes. Movoto concluded that "residents had a 1 in 21 chance of being the victim of a crime."

The other "dangerous places," in order are Manchester, Claremont, Rochester, Keene, Lebanon, Concord, Nashua and Portsmouth — all cities.

Police Chief Chris Adams discounted the list. "Yes, we have our issues," he said, "but Laconia is a very safe place. Stranger on stranger crime is very rare. Shootings and stabbings are very, very rare," he continued. "People can walk the streets of the city in safety," he insisted.

Mayor Ed Engler was equally dismissive. "I would imagine one could make a statistical case that there is a 'most dangerous' part of Bedford," he said, but that doesn't make it any less ridiculous to use 'Bedford' and 'dangerous' in the same sentence. Do all of our communities have more crime than we would like? " he asked. "Of course. But that is not say that any of us would label any part of New Hampshire as 'dangerous'."

When WMUR featured the list, one viewer commented on the station's website "I live in Laconia and I would walk down any street any time of day. Another asked simply: "Pfft. How do you see this as worthy of publication, WMUR?"

Movoto applied the same criteria and analysis to compile a list of the ten "safest places" in New Hampshire. Exeter topped the list, followed by Londonderry, Durham, Hanover, Berlin, Hudson, Hampton, Milford, Derry and Portsmouth, which attained the curious statistical distinction of ranking at one and the same time as the tenth most dangerous and tenth most safe place in the state.

Movoto's analysis recalls a report in The Onion minimizing the loss of 142 lives in a plane crash by pointing out that they were 80 times more likely to have perished in an automobile accident and 11 times more likely to have died crossing the road.

"Facts," said Twain, "are stubborn things, but statistics are more pliable."

Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 December 2014 12:57

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Local businesses & organizations helping to provide books for children in foster care all over Granite State

LACONIA — Foster children throughout New Hampshire will receive books this holiday season through a literacy promotion initiative ''Foster a Love of Reading'' developed through N.H. Foster and Adoptive Parent Association and children's book publisher Educational Development Corporation (EDC).
"Children's books change lives," says Carol Varney, of Belmont, who works directly with EDC, a Tulsa-based distributor of Usborne and Kane Miller children's books, and who spearheaded the initiative.
Using EDC's "Literacy for a Lifetime" matching grant program, Varney was able to secure a 50 percent match from the publisher for all monies raised resulting in over $9,000 worth of award-winning books being distributed statewide to every child in N.H.'s foster care system.
"I was very encouraged when my first contact resulted in a Gold Sponsorship of $1,000 from Granite State Credit Union," Varney said. Additional $1,000 Gold Sponsorships also came in from Bank of New Hampshire, Danconia Media of Weare, and the Concord Rotary Club. Other supporters at various levels included Penny Pitou/Milo Pike Foundation, Northeast Delta Dental, Northland Restaurant in Berlin, Merchant Motors, Benson Auto, AutoServ and Andrew Hosmer, Kelley Potenza of Danconia Media, Centerpointe Church, Kiwanis of Laconia, Irwin Motors, Mr. Mac of Manchester, Merrimack Lioness Club, Casella Waste Systems, and other private donors.
Working with Kathy Companion of NH's DCYF Foster Care program and Denise Christianson of the N.H. Foster and Adoptive Parent Association, Varney was able to ensure that age-appropriate books were obtained for each child in both home-based foster care as well as those in center-based care including the Sununu Youth Development Center. Upon receipt of the large shipment, the books then needed to be sorted by age group and geographical location. This was accomplished with the assistance of volunteers at Workplace Success in Laconia, a Belknap-Merrimack Community Action employment preparation program affiliated with the DHHS NH Employment Program.
Program volunteers, aided by additional community volunteers, sorted and packed boxes of books which were then delivered to DHHS Foster Care staff, who in turn transported them to local offices where foster parents received them for the children in their care.

Helping pack children's books at the Lakes Region Family Center in Laconia Monday for shipment to foster care system offices throughout the state were representatives of local organizations which contributed, including Betty Ballantyne of Irwin Automotive Group, Meredith Horton of the Laconia Kiwanis Club, Tiffany Benton of the Bank of New Hampshire, Penny Pitou of the Penny Pitou/Milo Pike Foundation, Denise Caristi of the Granite State Credit Union and Carol Varney, local representative of Usborne and Kane Miller children's books. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 December 2014 01:32

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Police looking into unattended death on Harvard St. - 51

LACONIA — Police said an unidentified 26-year-old woman was found deceased in a house at 32 Harvard Street early Monday morning.

Police said they are investigating because it is an unattended death but said there doesn't appear to be anything criminal or suspicious.

"This appears to be accidental," said Capt. William Clary yesterday.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 December 2014 01:16

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