‘Incredible connector’ – Debbie Frawley Drake honored by Economic Development Council

LACONIA — "She is everywhere," said Alan Robichaud, who last year retired from the Granite United Way after a long career of community service, as he introduced Debby Frawley Drake, who received the Norm Marsh Leadership Award from the Belknap Economic Development Council (BEDC) at its annual meeting at Lakes Region Community College last evening.

A retiring member of the Board of Directors, Drake has been a stalwart supporter and dedicated member of the organization for much of its 23 year history. Meanwhile, as Robichaud stressed, she always found time and energy to share her talents with the Holy Trinity School, Laconia Area Community Land Trust , Hands Across the Table, Laconia Historical and Museum Society and Lakes Region United Way while remaining engaged in virtual every aspect of civic life.

Robichaud called her "an incredible connector," who has marshaled people and resources to pursue any number of initiatives to better her community. At BEDC, he said, she has been a mainstay of the "200 by 2020 Initiative", the workforce development undertaken in partnership with the Granite United Way and Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce.

Accepting the award to a standing ovation, Drake said simply "I've enjoyed everything I've done to help BEDC" then drew a round of laughter by adding "just don't ask me to be on a committee."

The outgoing chairman of BEDC, Henry Lipman of LRGHealthcare announced that this year the organization intends to assume a "new role as a catalyst, partner, investor and/or owner in property development." What he described as "a new strategic initiative" would aim to transfer ownership of underused and distressed properties in order to put them to higher and better use. He acknowledged that it may be necessary to pay a premium in anticipation that once redeveloped under new ownership the value of the property will appreciate significantly.

Lipman said that the initiative would contribute to both the growth of the local economy and the expansion of the local property tax base.

Randy Eifert of the Cross Insurance Agency, the incoming chairman, said that BEDC will also undertake a public relations and marketing campaign designed to strengthen the presence of the organization in the region. In particular, he emphasized the importance of winning support among elected officials, enrolling more incorporators and attracting more investors/members.

Treasurer Sean Sullivan of Denoncourt, Waldron & Sullivan, reported that in 2014 the BEDC went from red to black, turning an operating loss of $7,600 into net income of $27,000 with income of $282,000 and expenses of $255,000. He said that BEDC added four loans to its portfolio earning additional interest income of $6,5000 and has total assets of $2.5 million.

Senate passes bill to reimburse FRM victims

CONCORD — A bill to establish a fund to provide restitution for those defrauded by Financial Resources Mortgage, Inc. (FRM) carried the New Hampshire Senate by a voice vote yesterday.

A similar bill introduced by then Senator Peter Bragdon (R-Milford) last year was referred to interim study by the Senate. Senator Kevin Avard (R-Nashua) introduced Senate Bill 155 in February.

The bill would designate 50-percent of the proceeds from penalties and fines collected by the Bureau of Securities Regulation in excess of its budgetary needs and 50-percent of the undesignated funds from settlements secured by the Department of Justice to the fund to make restitution to victims defrauded by the Meredith firm.

Scott Farah and Donald Dodge, the principals of FRM and its afiliate C L& M, Inc. were sentenced to prison for their part in defrauding more than 150 investors of some $23-million over nearly a decade before the firm imploded in 2009.

Laconia police make three arrests on drug charges

LACONIA — Two Laconia residents are facing drug trafficking charges following their arrest yesterday, Laconia police report.

Ernie Clark, 45, and Jennifer E. Downs, 25, both of 1 Dixon St., #3, in Laconia, were two of three people arrested on drug crimes over the past two days, the department announced in a statement released to the media.

Clark and Downs were at their residence when they were detained by state Probation and Parole officers for probation violations. Based on evidence found by Probation and Parole, as well as evidence from an ongoing investigation, and evidence from a search pursuant to a search warrant, both are being charged with drug crimes.

Clark was booked at the Laconia Police Department and charged with possession of a narcotic drug with intent to distribute and sales of a narcotic drug. Laconia police said they expected to charge Downs with three counts of sales of a narcotic drug.

Police identified the third person arrested as Connor Garfinkle, 19, of 736 Union Ave., #9, Laconia. Garfinkle was at his residence when he was detained on a probation violation by NH Probation and Parole. A charge of possession of a narcotic drug was filed by the Laconia Police Department on Wednesday. He was arraigned Thursday and ordered held on $3,000 cash bail at the Belknap County Jail.


County lawmakers to take up agreement with new Teamsters' unon affiliate when they meet on Mon.

LACONIA — The Belknap County Convention will take up a collective bargaining agreement with the newest union representing some Belknap County employees when it meets Monday night at 6 p.m. at the Belknap County complex.
The three-year contract with the Teamsters Local Union 633, which represents 21 workers from several different county departments, calls for a $28,890 increase in wages and payroll associated costs in the 2015 budget, increasing the total contract costs from $517,017 to $545,906.
The 2016 cost impact would be $25,300, when costs rise to $571,205 and 2017 it would be around $26,000, when contract costs will be $598,061.
The contract was approved by the previous Board of Commisioners just before they left office and its cost impact figures were first presented to the convention when it met earlier this week.
The new union was granted certification by the state Public Employee Labor Relations Board last summer and was organized to represent mainly support staff employees, many of whom were not eligible for membership in the State Employees Association, which represents employees in the Corrections Department, Sheriff's Department and Nursing Home.
County Commissioners plan to start negotiations with the other unions in the near future and had sought to leave funding for a vacant human resources director position left in the 2015 budget in order to have funds to put on the table during those negotiations. But the county convention removed the $100,000 from the administration budget.