Amount of Gunstock payment to Belknap County still up in the air

By ROGER AMSDEN, for THE LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — The proposed Belknap County budget for 2017 projects that there will be $175,000 in income for the county from the operations of the county-owned Gunstock Mountain Resort. But there is no guarantee that the county will receive that money because a memorandum of understanding, which specified that amount of money going to the county, expired at the end of 2016 and has not yet been renewed.
Rep. Ray Howard (R-Alton), who has been representing the Belknap County Delegation in its discussions with the Gunstock Area Commission on a new MOU, told his fellow legislators in budget discussions earlier this month that there is no agreement at this time and recommended that revenue be left out of the budget.
Belknap County Commission Chairman Dave DeVoy (R-Sanbornton) said he felt that the revenue line should remain the budget and pointed out that the delegation would have a lot of leverage over the commission when it comes to them later this year seeking a line of credit to fund its start-up operations for the next ski season. Gunstock can only borrow money with county delegation approval.
Sean Sullivan, chairman of the the five-person board appointed by the delegation to oversee the operations of Gunstock, said that the commission is willing to negotiate the amount to be paid to the county but has made no offer yet and is waiting to get a firm number from the county delegation negotiators.
"We're willing to talk, but we want to hear some specifics from the delegation. We're not going to negotiate with ourselves," said Sullivan. Former Commission Chairman John Morgenstern, who was replaced by Russ Dumais of Gilford in December, had said that the area needed to look at building up its operating fund and capital fund reserves before committing to any new level of funding.
The delegation, meanwhile, has seen members like former Rep. Brian Gallagher (R-Sanbornton) call on Gunstock to increase the amount paid to the county to a $400,000-to-$500,000-a-year level, based on recent improvements and additions to Gunstock's year-round offerings, which have increased profits realized from those operations.
Sullivan points out that Gunstock is looking to recover from a difficult ski season last winter in which the number of skier visits dropped by one-third and income dropped by $2.1 million, with about half of that loss experienced during the Christmas vacation period, normally Gunstock's busiest time of the entire ski season.
Last winter Gunstock was open for 93 days and had 117,648 skier visits, compared with being open 121 days in the winter of 2014-15 and hosting 181,090 skier visits. It was the poorest ski season in recent memory according to Greg Goddard, general manager of Gunstock
Net operating loss for the year was $954,145, compared with a net operating profit of $495,904 for the previous year. Total profit center revenue for all operations, including the summer months, was down from $11,210,774 to $8,824,561, with total operating expenses declining by over $900,000.
The 2017 budget adopted by the Gunstock Recreation Area Commission projects 170,000 skier visits this coming winter with $12.1 million in total revenues, including summer operations, and a net profit of $1.3 million from all operations.

M’boro now looking at ‘orphaned’ roads

By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN

MOULTONBOROUGH — The problem of orphaned streets, those not documented as public highways yet plowed and maintained with public funds contrary to state law, is not confined to Laconia. Walter Johnson, the town administrator in Moultonborough, said Wednesday there are 200 miles of such roads in the town, which are plowed and sanded at public expense

Johnson described these roads as "private" meaning that while they are public thoroughfares they have not been formally accepted by the town as class 4 or 5 roads. State law (RSA 231:59) stipulates that municipal highway funds can only be spent to maintain Class 4 and 5 public highways that have been formally accepted as such by the municipality. Moreover, Primex, the general liability insurance carrier for many towns and cities, including Moultonborough, considers these roads private roads and that by plowing and maintaining them a municipality forfeits its sovereign immunity as well as its coverage for any personal injury or property damage arising from its presence on them.

In October, the selectmen addressed concerns about providing winter maintenance on these 200 miles of roads raised by the director of public works, Chris Theriault. Johnson said that the selectboard agreed to seek a legal opinion from town counsel as well as discuss the liability issues with Primex to determine the extent of any exposure to the town. Once the information is in hand the selectmen will decide "what is in the best best interest of the entire community." He said that In the meantime, he said winter maintenance would continue.

"There is no intention of turning off the faucet and saying you are on your own," he said.

Johnson said that many of the roads in question were built in the course of developing several large subdivisions, including Swissvale and Balmoral, in the 1970s and 1980s.

NH unemployment rate lowest in nation

Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce presents annual business awards

By ROGER AMSDEN, for THE LACONIA DAILY SUN

MEREDITH — New Hampshire has the lowest unemployment rate in the country at 2.6 percent and has added nearly 16,000 jobs in the last year, according to Jeffrey Rose, head of the New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development, who was the guest speaker at the annual awards luncheon and membership meeting of the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce,
"New Hampshire is doing really well and has recovered from the Great Recession" said Rose, who pointed to a record-setting $300 million collected in the state rooms and meals tax last year as evidence of a strong economy.
He said that the state has a good foundation for future growth and looks to work closely with organizations like the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce to promote economic growth and tourism.
Jay Bolduc of T-Bones and Cactus Jack's was elected as president of the board of directors of the chamber and Bob Fitzpatrick of Vista Foods was elected as first vice chairman.
Outgoing president Warren Bailey, who had served his second stint as president during a three-year-period, donned a Donald Trump wig during the ceremony and handed out imaginary cabinet posts to chamber officers. He was presented with a fire extinguisher as a gift in honor of his service, a reminder of a recent incident in which two of his cars were members damaged after he had jump started one of them. He later was presented with the real gift, a granite plaque.
One of the guests at the meeting, Richard Anognost of Anagnost Realty and Development of Manchester, arrived and departed aboard a helicopter which landed on the front lawn of Church Landing, which again hosted the awards luncheon. Anognost's firm played a role in developing student housing for Lakes Region Community College.
One of the highlights of the event was the presentation of awards.
Golden Trowel awards for outstanding renovations and rehabilitations were presented to:
• The Belmont Early Learning Center, for renovation of a warehouse into a childcare facility.
• Gunstock Mountain Resort, for installation of a 4,100-foot-long alpine coaster.
• Watermark Marine, for redevelopment of the former Burger King property.
• Perma City Life, for renovations in downtown Franklin which added three businesses.
• Stephens Landscaping Professionals, for renovation and expansion of its Moultonborough building.
Golden Hammer awards for new construction were presented to:
• Titeflex Aerospace for completion of a 47,000-square-foot expansion at its plant on Lexington Drive in Laconia.
• Laconia Area Community Land Trust for completion of a 32-unit, three-story permanently affordable housing project in Laconia.
• Middleton Building Supply for redevelopment of its retail store and distribution center in Meredith.
• Lakes Region Community College for its $4.3 million, 13,000-square-foot automotive technology building.
• Diversified Marine for its new facility for their marine supply store at the former B. Mae Denny's building in Gilford.
• Double D Development for its two new residential housing buildings, each with 48 units, which has been leased to Lakes Region Community College for student housing.
Environmental awards were presented to:
• The Inter-Lakes School District for energy improvements which saw a giant solar array completed along with a wood pellet heating system.
• Prescott Farm for its Natural Playscape project which opened last May.

01-26 Jeffrey Rose

Jeffrey Rose, head of the New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development, speaks at the annual awards luncheon of the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

01-26 Warren Bailey

Warren Bailey, outgoing president of the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, donned a Donald Trump whig at the chamber's annual meeting. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

01-26 Scott Kalicki

Paul Provost presents Lakes Region Community College President Scott Kalicki with an award at the annual awards luncheon of the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

01-26 chopper

A helicopter carrying Richard Anognost of Anagnost Realty and Development of Manchester, departs from the front lawn at Church Landing in Meredith following the annual awards luncheon of the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

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