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PSU breaks ground on 'transformative' ALLWell North Building

PLYMOUTH — Plymouth State officials yesterday hosted a ceremonial ground breaking for the university's $32 million Active Living, Learning and Wellness (ALLWell) North building and said that the new structure is a major step in advancing PSU's position as a national leader in health and wellness education and in opening new avenues for innovation and regional economic development.
"This is a transformative moment for Plymouth State University," says President Sara Jayne Steen. "ALLWell North will be the largest classroom on campus at almost 108,000-square-feet and provide much-needed classroom and research space for our health and wellness programs as well as expanding recreational and athletic opportunities for students and the region."
The new facility will have as its centerpiece a 200-meter indoor competition-sized track, accompanied by seating for more than 6,000 people.
Because of its large event venue capacity and increased campus visitation, a third-party economic development report estimated that the building will generate more than $4 million per year in local economic impact. Approximately 250 jobs will be created during construction, and 17 new permanent jobs will be created.
''This is a perfect facility at a perfect location,'' said Jeff Rose, Commissioner,of N.H. Department of Resources and Economic Development, who added that the new facility will play a key role in helping supply skilled people in the state's workforce, particularly in the health field and the tourism industry.
Steen said that some of the fastest growing majors at PSU are in the health fields, including Exercise and Sport Physiology, Health Education and Promotion, Physical Education, Athletic Training and Adventure Education.
She said that increased enrollment comes at a time when the state's aging population will demand a marked increase in the number of Bachelor and Master's-prepared allied health professionals. Increased demand for trained professionals in Outdoor and Adventure Education are also anticipated in the state's tourist economy.
John Clark, athletic director at PSU, said the indoor track will serve as the starting point for the re-establishment of a PSU's men's varsity track and field program and the addition of women's varsity track and field beginning in fall 2015.
''It's going to be one of the finest tracks in New England,'' said Clark, who said that having an indoor practice facility will help PSU attract top-notch student athletes. He said that it will also be a magnet for college and high school track meets which will bring competitors from all over the state or the area.
Julie Bernier, PSU Provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. said "Successfully preparing future health and wellness professionals requires a synergy between academic and experiential learning.'' She said that the new field house, double the size of the current one in the Physical Education Center, features retractable mesh partitions to allow the space to be further divided into as many as four smaller spaces for simultaneous uses including instruction, community programming, recreation, training and fitness activities.
The track at the new facility will be named for George Davis, PSU class of 1963, who said that the new track and field programs will involve 50 young men and 50 women, 80 of whom wouldn't be attending PSU without the new track.
Davis, who enjoyed a 42 year career as a track and field coach at both high school and college level, said he was deeply moved by the decision to name the track after him. ''It's a dream of most people involved in track and field to have this kind of honor.''
The building is the second facility in a comprehensive plan that began with the opening of the PSU Ice Arena in 2010.
Construction is expected to last 15 months with occupancy scheduled for fall 2015. Harvey Construction of Bedford is the general contractor. Rist-Frost-Shumway Engineering of Laconia, is providing engineering services for the project. Architects are Sasaki Associates, Watertown, Mass., which also designed the PSU Ice Arena.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 August 2014 12:30

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Planning Board gets first-hand look at Arbo Ministries property

GILFORD — Members of the Planning Board gathered yesterday at the Curtis Road site of the proposed "home business" of Arbo Ministries.

The board had decided at its last meeting to walk the property and see for themselves if 12 cars could be adequately parked there and whether or not they could safely exit on to adjacent Route 11-A (Cherry Valley Road) from a driveway that wraps around the back of the house. Accompanying the board yesterday afternoon were Arbo Ministries's engineer Jon Rokeh and Gilford Planning Director John Ayer.

Barbara and David Arbo had asked for a change of use for their property that would allow them to hold prayer retreats for small groups about 24 times a year. They told the Planning Board at its regular meeting last week that most of the meetings would be smaller and the largest ones — a maximum of 35 people traveling in no more than 12 cars — would likely be only quarterly events.

Arbo Ministries had initially asked the Zoning Board of Adjustment for a special exception to operate a church in what Gilford classifies as a "limited residential zone".

When neighbors pushed back, Arbo Ministries scaled back its proposal and went to the Planning Board for a change of use. Although the application is still before the ZBA, it has been tabled until October with the thought that a smaller-scale version can be accomplished at the planning level.

Arbo Ministries agreed that if the Planning Board grants a change of use, it would not run with the property, should they sell in in the future. Conversely, if the property was to get a special exception from the ZBA, the exception would run with the property.

At August 19 meeting, many neighbors thanked the Arbos for reducing the scope of the plan. One woman who has small children who use the school bus and fears visitors to Arbo Ministries will drive up Curtis Road to see the view, still opposed the plan.

After walking the site and learning that Arbo Ministries would be holding events primarily on Saturdays, most members were not troubled about the school bus stop. As to driving up Curtis Road to see the view, Arbo Ministries said they would tell visitors to enter the property through the Curtis Road entrance and exit on to Route 11-A.

Some members, however, are still bothered by the exit onto Route 11-A via an old driveway that has a valid state permit.

Member Jerry Gagnon said the sight lines for exiting on to Route 11-A are poor, especially for a car turning west and crossing the east-bound lane, and even though the Arbos have already trimmed back much of the overgrowth, he said he like to see more trees removed.

Members held no formal discussions and made no decisions. Discussion will on the proposed change of use will be September 8 at 7 p.m. at the next regularly scheduled Planning Board meeting.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 August 2014 11:54

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LPD using $50k added by council to start Prevention, Enforcement & Treatment position

LACONIA — Police Chief Christopher Adams said yesterday that his department is creating a trial position that will be designed to improve communications between the department and other agencies and organizations regarding illegal drug prevention.

The trial program called Prevention Enforcement Treatment (PET) is being made possible because of $50,000 added to the Police Department's current operating budget by the City Council, specifically to address the use of controlled substances, with an emphasis on heroin use.

"This is not an enforcement position," said Adams. "This is community outreach."

To begin the program, Adams said the department is taking one existing officer from patrol duty and giving him or her four months to get the outreach program up to speed.

Because of staffing, he said he'd like the program to begin in October, giving the department time to get through the rest of the summer with a full patrol staff.

Adams said he wants the officer chosen for the position to work with the city prosecutor and help represent the city at the Belknap County Recovery Court, to work with the Belknap County Department of Corrections and to help coordinate the Police Department with all of the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) — like Horizons Counseling Center, Genesis Behavioral Health, and various other outreach programs that concentrate on drug prevention and treatment.

He said the PET coordinator will also work with the Lakes Region General Hospital and the School District.

"In those four month, we'll get a picture of what the program will look like and return to the City Council," he said.

Ideally, he said the internal candidate would be someone with good outreach and coordination skills who can create a working pilot program in four months. He said the PET Coordinator would not be in uniform but would be a sworn police officer.

He said if the program is something the City Council likes then they will $36,000 of the $50,000 extra money to hire an additional patrol officer for the second half of this fiscal year that ends in June of 2015. For 2016, Adams said he would like to keep the PET Coordinator and get an additional patrol officer to permanently replace the person who takes over at PET Coordinator.

Adams said that there are some training and equipment purchases that are specifically drug related the department will make with the $14,000 not set aside for personnel.

He said should the PET Coordinator position not work out or not be what the City Council had in mind, then the department would return the $36,000 to the city at the end of this fiscal year.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 26 August 2014 11:56

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Deputies find 13 pot plants growing in South End greenhouse

LACONIA — Members of the Belknap County Sheriff's Department arrested a Grant Street man Monday afternoon and seized 13 mature marijuana plants from a temporary greenhouse in the backyard.

Klifford Owens, 51, is charged with one felony count of manufacturing a controlled drug.

Owen's son, 22-year-old Dustin Owens, also of Grant Street, is charged with one count of felony criminal mischief and resisting arrest for repeatedly kicking one of the Sheriff's Department cruisers that was at his home.

Sheriff Craig Wiggin said yesterday that he doesn't really know why, but Dustin Owens starting kicking the passenger side of the cruiser, creating several large dents in the door and breaking off the mirror.

Wiggin said he estimates the damage to be at least $2,000. He said the damaged cruiser was one of the 2007 Ford Crown Victorias but said he needs to get another year of use out of it before it can be replaced.

Police also seized some growing equipment and some other paraphernalia from the home.

Klifford Owens was released on $25,000 personal recognizance bail and Dustin Owens was released on $5,000 cash bail.

The search warrant affidavits were sealed, however Wiggin said the investigation is ongoing.


CUTLINE: Belknap County Sheriffs allegedly seized 13 mature marijuana plants from this green house behind a home on Grant Street in Laconia on Monday afternoon. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Gail Ober)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 August 2014 01:41

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