Street repairs a top priority for city committee in coming year

By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — Street repairs tops the list of projects recommended by the city's Capital Improvement Program (CIP) Committee, to be undertaken in fiscal year 2017-2018.

The CIP Committee scores and ranks the capital requests submitted and presented by city departments. Its recommendations are adopted by the Planning Board, but are not binding on the city manager, who proposes a list of capital outlays for the approval of the City Council in the course of preparing the annual city budget/

The committee recommended spending $1.6 million for street repairs, the minimum required to keep pace with the deterioration of the some 85 miles of paved roadways in the city and $100,000 more than was appropriated in the current budget. In the 2016-2017 budget, City Manager Scott Myers anticipated that priority would be assigned "several costly road actions." including Court Street, North Main Street, Warren Street and Frank Bean Road, in the next few budget cycles.

The committee also gave priority to repairing the retaining wall on Union Avenue which stretches for approximately 1,000 feet and stands between 4 feet and 12 high across from Irwin Marine. A year ago the committee ranked an engineering study 35th on its list of recommendations, but this year has placed the project in sixth place, with an estimated cost of $95,000.

Other high priorities include three cruisers and mobile data terminals for the Police Department and improvements to the north end of the boardwalk at The Weirs.

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Genesis to buy into downtown, consolidate operations

By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — Genesis Behavioral Health has made a purchase-and-sales agreement with LRGHealthcare to acquire the building at 577 Main St. that houses HealthLink in a transaction anticipated to close in March.

"I'm delighted," said Maggie Pritchard, executive director of Genesis, who said she has been looking for a property where the agency could consolidate all its clinical and administrative operations under one roof, for eight of the 10 years of her tenure. "We have been seeking a facility that best meets the needs of our patients, staff and community for many years. The prospective purchase of this property is an opportunity for Genesis to become more efficient, expand services in Belknap County and contribute to the economic growth and vitality of downtown Laconia."

Earlier this year, Genesis abandoned plans to purchase the privately owned portion of the downtown parking garage when the condition and future of the structure were clouded in uncertainty, and in 2010 failed to secure the Federal Building on North Main Street, which was awarded instead to Lakes Region Community Services.

The acquisition will enable Genesis to combine its two campuses at 111 Church St. and 771 N. Main St., along with leased office suites on Beacon Street West and Water Street, at a single location.

Neither Genesis nor LRGHealthcare are disclosing the terms of the transaction. The property consists of three separate but interconnected buildings with approximately 23,000 square feet of usable space with a current assessed value of $1,335,300.

Pritchard said that the building will be completely renovated "down to the brick," and estimates the cost of the project at approximately $5 million. Genesis is working with Samyn-D'Elia Architects of Ashland, REI Service Corporation of Manchester and Conneston Construction Inc. of Laconia and is committed to employing local vendors to undertake the project. The renovation will be financed with borrowings from the New Hampshire Health and Education Facilities Authority, tax credits from the Community Development Finance Authority, proceeds from the sale of Genesis's properties,

Pritchard said that Genesis expects to begin renovating the building in April and to occupy it by Dec. 1, 2017. "It's an aggressive schedule," she said, "but we can do it."

Kevin Donovan, president and chief executive officer of LRGHealthcare, said that the corporation "has a strong history of partnership with Genesis Behavioral Health and we understand the need for community-based health care for those with mental illness. The sale of the HealthLink Building to Genesis," he went on, "further solidifies our desire to find solutions that meet the growing demands for mental health services in our region."

Meanwhile, Mayor Ed Engler said, "We are so excited to bring additional employees and new customers to the downtown area and that a significant structure located in the heart of downtown Laconia will receive a major facelift. The city is committed to making our Main Street a vibrant center for commerce and this initiative will contribute significantly to that objective."

A private, nonprofit corporation, Genesis Behavioral Health is designated by the state as the community health center serving Beknap and southern Grafton counties and provides mental health care to some 4,000 individuals of all ages each year.

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Sentence reduced for man jailed for having knife while on probation

By BEA LEWIS, for THE LACONIA DAILY SUN

CONCORD — A man imprisoned for violating his probation on a drug conviction by carrying a sheathed hunting knife has had his sentence reduced.

Robert Lilly, 41, of Franklin, was sentenced to 2 ½ to 5 years for the probation violation even though he was criminally exonerated.

Public Defender Steve Mirkin asked for a sentence review hearing which was held in Merrimack County Superior Court on Oct. 21.

In a unanimous decision, dated Nov. 18, the review board reduced Lilly's sentence to 12 months in the Belknap County House of Corrections, and credited him with time served since March 24. He has since been released, a jail spokesman confirmed.

The board concluded that based on the nature of the allegations contained in the probation violation, a lessening of the sentence was warranted.

Under state law, defendants who contest the sentence imposed by the Superior Court have a right to request a sentence review and have 30 days in which to file the application.

The sentencing review board is comprised of a panel of three Superior Court judges appointed by the Chief Justice. The board has three options, letting the original sentence stand, decreasing the sentence or increasing it. It is rare for the board to change the original sanction imposed by the sentencing judge.

Superior Court Judges Marqueirte L. Wageling, Diane M. Nicolosi and John C. Kissinger Jr., made the decision after hearing arguments by Mirkin and Belknap County Attorney Melissa Guldbrandsen.

Lilly was arrested for openly carrying a fixed blade hunting/fishing knife on his belt in November of 2015 when he was spotted by a Gilford police officer who was called to Wal-Mart for an unrelated case. He was charged with being a felon in possession of a deadly weapon.
Because Lilly was convicted of two counts of drug possession in 2014, he was sentenced to 2 1/2 to 5 years in prison, which was suspended pending good behavior.

Following his arrest last winter, Lilly remained free on bail while the felony weapon possession charge was adjudicated. In March, he was found responsible for a probation violation and sent to the New Hampshire State Prison to serve his original sentence.

In June, the knife possession charge was dismissed by the court because the judge determined the prosecution failed to make its case.

State law defines a deadly weapon as any "firearm, knife or other substance or thing, which, in the manner it is used, intended to be used, or threatened to be used, is known to be capable of producing death or serious bodily injury."

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