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Sanbornton lawmaker sponsored2 environmental laws signed by governor

SANBORNTON — In a visit to the Durand Lake Recreation Area in Randolph recently, Gov. Maggie Hassan was joined by lawmakers from both parties and representatives of environmental organizations to sign into law three bills aimed at safeguarding the natural environment from oil spills.

State Rep. Ian Raymond (D-Sanbornton), who sponsored two of the bills, explained, "Many in New Hampshire are not aware that we have an aging interstate oil pipeline running through one of the most beautiful areas of our state."
The pipeline, built in 1941, connects Portland, Maine, which handles the largest volume of oil of any port on the Eastern Seaboard, with refineries in Montreal. The pipeline stretches for 236 miles and passes through the North County towns of Gorham, Jefferson, Lancaster, Randolph and Shelburne.

In 2008, the Portland Pipe Line Corporation announced that it was studying a plan to expand the capacity and reverse the flow of the pipeline to carry crude oil from the Alberta tar sands to Portland in order to reach the world market.

Raymond said that the prospect raises the risk to the environment because oil from the tar sands is very abrasive and must be diluted with chemicals as well as pumped at higher temperatures and pressures than conventional crude oil. Moreover, he stressed that because of its composition, tar sands oil resists traditional techniques applied to spills and leaks.

"Unlike conventional crude," he said, "it sinks in water, forming a tar-like coating on the river or lake bottom that is almost impossible to clean up." The chemicals in the oil, he continued, "vaporize, forming a toxic cloud that has a lower flash point than conventional crude," which poses a risk to first responders.

The three bills, all signed into law, establish a committee to study the safe delivery, by pipeline, rail or truck, of oil and gas — both natural gas and propane — through the state. The bills also require pipeline operators to submit oil-spill response plan to the state Department of Safety, and require the Public Utilities Commission to apply annually to the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration for authority to inspect pipelines.

Two of the three bills carried the New Hampshire House of Representatives and Senate by voice votes, while the third, requiring spill response plans, passed the Senate by the narrowest of margins — 13-11 — and the House by vote of 186 to 104.

"Prevention is the key," said Raymond, who described the bills as "the first step in having the state take control and play a more active role in oversight of the transportation of these volatile fuels."

CAPTION: State Senator Jeff Woodburn (D-Dalton), N.H. Governor Maggie Hassan and Rep. Ian Raymond (D-Sanbornton) were in Randolph, N.H. recently for the ceremonial signing of three bills relating to the safe delivery of oil and gas through the state. Raymond is holding a N.H. Audubon Society photo thanking the legislators for their work on the bills. (Courtesy photo)

Last Updated on Friday, 26 September 2014 01:24

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1,728 county residents signed up for insurance through ObamaCare

LACONIA — According to data compiled by the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), at least 1,728 residents of Belknap County enrolled in health insurance plans offered by the federal marketplace established by the Affordable Care Act between October 1, 2013 and April 19, 2014.

HHS collected data from 29,684 zip codes in the 36 states with federal or state marketplaces. The agency reported enrollment for nine of the eleven municipalities in Belknap County: Laconia, 453; Meredith, 319; Gilford, 251; Tilton-Northfield. 235; Belmont, 218; Sanbornton, 113; New Hampton, 77; and Center Harbor, 62. Fewer than 50 enrolled in Barnstead and no data was reported for Alton and Gilmanton.

In May HHS reported that in New Hampshire 64,901 residents were eligible to enroll in a plan offered on the marketplace and 40,262 had selected a plan by April 19.

Last Updated on Friday, 26 September 2014 01:12

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Addicted to Percocet, Gilmanton woman says Recovery Court program turned her life around

LACONIA — Less than two years ago, Nicole Center was arrested on a drug charge and it looked like she might end up serving jail time and becoming virtually unemployable because she would have had a criminal record.
But today, thanks to the Nathan Brody program at Horizons Counseling Center in Gilford and the Recovery Court program at the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia division, she has turned her life around.
''The detective who arrested me saw that I had drug problem and really needed help,'' says Center, who says she has now been sober for 13 months and was recently promoted to a manager's position at DeAngelo's sandwich shop in Concord.
Not only that, she's also engaged and says that her relationship with her nine and half year old son, Calvin, has greatly improved.
''I was present in his life, but I was never really a part of it until the last few years. Now I'm able to show him the love and care he needs and he's proud of me.'' says Center.
''I can't say enough good about the programs that I've been involved in. They taught me how to live and take care of myself. I now know that I am a valuable person and that's something I didn't think I would think of myself as. And I'm engaged and I never thought that would happen. My life is completely different now,'' says Center.
She said that she was addicted to the pain killer percocet and knows that she has continually work on her addiction problem, one day at a time. In addition to working 50 hours a week, she now attends twice weekly meetings as part of the Recovery Court program as well as five AA or NA (Narcotics Anonymous) meetings a week.
''I just wish there was help for more people in my situation. The local Recovery Court program really needs funding and support from the community,'' she says.
Center attended an open house Wednesday at the Horizons Counseling Center marking a celebration of Recovery Month at which Judge James Carroll of the Laconia Circuit Court and Belknap County Attorney Melissa C. Guldbransden were honored for their efforts in making the Recovery Court work.
The Recovery Court initiative brought together the county Department of Corrections, the Public Defender's Office, the County Attorney, the county Restorative Justice Program and the District Court in a cooperative effort to engage offenders with substance use and co-occurring mental health disorders in an intensive treatment and skills building program. The program is geared toward supporting recovery and engendering responsibility and accountability through community service, education and employment.
Jacqui Abikoff of Horizons Counseling Center, noted that 14 people have taken part in the Recovery Court program since it started and said that she still remembers Judge Carroll said early on that despite the lack of funding that those involved would ''find a way to do it.''
Carroll said after he was presented his award that he was accepting it ''on behalf of the team'' and praised those who had made the Recovery Court program work.
Guldbransden, who said that she was initially very skeptical about the program, said that she was was pleased to see how it had improved the lives of people in the program.


CAPTION pix slugged Nicole Center:
Nicole Center of Gilmanton says that her participation in the Recovery Court program has helped change her life. ''I now know that I am a valuable person'' says Center, who is a manager at DeAngelo's in Concord and recently became engaged and says that she has developed a healthy relationship with her nine and a half year old son. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun).

Last Updated on Friday, 26 September 2014 01:08

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Electric Co-op say use-rate going up 29% on Oct. 1 because of natural gas prices

PLYMOUTH — The New Hampshire Electric Cooperative (NHEC), which serves some 14,000 customers in 10 of the eleven municipalities in Belknap County, yesterday announced that the Co-op Power rate, which represents the actual cost of electricity used by members, will increase 29 percent on October 1.

The rate will increase from 8.97 cents to 11.6 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh). For typical customers using 500 kWh per month the increase will add approximately $12.47 to their monthly bill. A slight drop in the Regional Access Charge, which also takes effect on October 1, will lessen the full impact of the rate increase. Moreover, the NHEC anticipates "a substantial reduction" in the Co-op Power rate when the summer pricing period begins in May.

Seth Wheeler, spokesman for the NHEC, said that the seasonal fluctuations in rates is part of a repetitive pattern likely to persist for at least two and perhaps three years. He explained that because nearly half the electricity in New England is generated by natural gas, wholesale electricity prices are driven by natural gas prices. Although the supply of natural gas has grown with the tapping of sources in Pennsylvania and New York, pipelines lack the capacity to meet winter demand in New England where much of the supply flows first to residential customers. As the price of natural gas for winter delivery climbs, the price of wholesale electricity rises with it.

Steve Kaminski, vice-president of power resources and access at NHEC, said that "these high winter wholesale costs will be working their way into the energy prices of most all the region's electricity suppliers over the next few months. "

In fact, earlier this week Liberty Utilities, with about 43,000 customers in Salem and the Upper Valley, announced it plans to double its energy charge from 7.73 cents per kWh to 15.4 per kWh, on November 1, which will add some $50 to the monthly bill of the average residential customer. John Shore, a spokesman for the company, attributed the rate increase to the projected rise in the price of natural gas.

Last Updated on Friday, 26 September 2014 01:08

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