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Belknap County lawmakers agree to transfer funds

LACONIA — At a meeting that stretched for two-and-a-half hours last night, the executive committee of the Belknap County Convention last night approved requests of the Belknap County Commission to transfer more than $600,000 within the budget to maintain operations of the nursing home, county jail and sheriff's department. Only a request to transfer $2,000 to fund the salary , benefits and associated cost of the county administrator was denied.

"This was a circus," exclaimed Paula Child of Gilford, who said her husband is a resident of the nursing home. She rose to speak after the committee voted to adjourn the meeting, surprised that Representative Frank Tilton (R-Laconia) failed to offer members of the public an opportunity to speak. "I'm appalled at what I've seen here," she continued. "Appalled. You gave them a budget. Let them use it." Child was especially troubled by the committee's discussion of funding the wages of nurses at the nursing home. "Do any of you," she asked the committee, "have a license to run the nursing home?"

The meeting was convened to consider the requests for transfers prompted by the preliminary injunction issued by Justice James D. O'Neill, III of Belknap County Superior Court last month, which prohibits the Belknap County Commission from either spending in excess of any line-item appropriation of the budget adopted by the convention or transferring more than $300 from one line item to another without the approval of the Executive Committee.

While county officials anticipate more requests for transfers during the balance of the fiscal years, which ends on December 31, the most controversial issue promises to arise over health insurance for county employees. In adopting its budget, the convention declined to fund the annual increase in the employer's contribution to health insurance premiums. The commission held that it was bound by the its collective bargaining agreements with the State Employees Association (SEA) , which represents county employees, to fund the increase. Consequently, the commissioners transferred $237,654 from more than 100 lines in the budget to do so.

The commission's action prompted the litigation leading to the court order. As it happens, the Local Government Center, in the course of its settlement with political subdivisions, has granted the county a credit against its health insurance premium in 2014. Consequently, the commission is confident that applying the credit will enable the county to fully fund its share of health insurance without exceeding the amount appropriated by the convention.

However, Representative Colette Worsman (R-Meredith), who chairs the convention, served notice that what she called a "rebate" should be treated as an unanticipated revenue and not applied to offset expenses for health insurance.

Worsman was echoed by Representative Herb Vadney (R-Meredith) who insisted that any one-time money should be treated as a windfall and placed in a holding account, which could only be spent with the approval of the convention. Anything else, he suggested, "is not a proper use of money." Vadney called the discussion over transfers "playing in the weeds," stressing that health insurance is the paramount issue. "We want to know what's happening," he said.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 30 September 2014 01:29

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Stolen car found torched in Gilford

GILFORD — Police from two communities are investigating a car fire over the weekend in the woods off Boyd Road.

The car, a 2010 Volvo CV C70, is not a common car. The vehicle had been reported stolen over the summer from Bay Street in Laconia and city police had been investigating the theft.

Gilford police Lt. Kris Kelley said the car fire was first noticed by Gilford Fire Chief Steve Carrier who was off duty and hiking. He apparently saw the black smoke coming from the area of Ramblin' Vewe Farm.

He said Gilford firefighters extinguished the fire that was reported around 7 a.m. Sunday, but an attempt at a K-9 search for the driver was thwarted by the number of first responders who arrived to put out the fire. He said the scent was indistinguishable at that point.

Kelley said the Laconia Police had made contact with the driver around 4 a.m. but he sped away.

Laconia Police Sgt. Mike Finogle confirmed Laconia officers made contact with the car around 4 a.m. while it was behind the Sacred Heart Church on Union Avenue, but he said the driver sped away toward Strafford Street.

Because of safety concerns, Finogle said no pursuit was made.

He said the car found burned was the same car.

Both departments said the investigation is active and ongoing.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 30 September 2014 01:36

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18 year-old to serve a year in jail for Main St. robbery


LACONIA — An 18-year-old Meredith man received a suspended 3½- to 7-year prison yesterday for robbing a mentally challenged man on Main Street in July.

Christopher Skinner was also sentenced in Belknap County Superior Court to serve 12 months in the Belknap County House of Corrections for initially lying to police about his identity.

All of the prison sentence was suspended, dependent on his behavior, but he will serve the 12 months in jail. He was credited with 77 days for time already served.

Judge James O'Neill III initially rejected a more lenient plea of 12 months for the robbery and an additional 12 months suspended for lying to police.

In rejecting Skinner's first plea, O'Neill said he wanted to see some kind of prison sentence, whether it was suspended or not. Should Skinner commit any crime after his release from the house of corrections, he could serve the entire suspended State Prison sentence.

O'Neill said robbery occurred "in the very shadow of this courthouse," and 12 months in the house of corrections was too lenient. The judge also learned there was a witness and the victim, though challenged, was capable of testifying.

Assistant Belknap County Prosecutor Adam Wood told O'Neill the early morning of July 8, Skinner and another man came up behind the victim who was walking near the Landmark Inn. Skinner tried to grab the victim's backpack and demanded all of the money in his pockets.

When the victim told him he didn't have any money, Skinner told his friend to "get the Glock."

Wood that the friend ran away and there never was a gun. An employee of the Landmark Inn witnessed the robbery and called police.

Wood and Skinner's attorneys, who were from the University of New Hampshire School of Law, had initially agreed to the more lenient plea because of Skinner's age, the fact that he had no criminal record, and that he agreed to plead guilty almost immediately after he was indicted.

Skinner told O'Neill that he was sorry for what he did, that he knew it was wrong, and that he wanted to put this part of his life behind him.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 30 September 2014 01:14

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Lakes Region Chamber to hand out 6 Community Hero Awards this year

LACONIA — The Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce will hold its third annual Community Hero Awards on Wednesday Oct. 15, at 5 p.m. at the Winnipesaukee Playhouse in Meredith.
Karmen Gifford, chamber executive director, said that two new awards are being added this year. One is a public service award to an individual who demonstrates a commitment to leadership and charity in public service. The other is a student leader award given to someone under the age of 25 currently enrolled in school whose studies and extracurricular activities show entrepreneurial spirit, peer leadership and a commitment to public service.

''We expanded the award categories to six this year and the community at large submitted over 65 names for consideration,'' said Gifford, who pointed out that the nominees come from many of the 18 communities served by the chamber, stretching all the way from Franklin to Moultonborough.
Nominees for the awards are as follows:
James P. Irwin Award for community leadership, a pioneering attitude and spirit of progress in the community: Debbie Frawley Drake, Rusty McLear, Paul Gaudet Sr., and Sandy Cleary.
J. Bart Conners Award, for an individual who exemplifies outstanding dedication and commitment to the mission of the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce: Penny Raby, Christine Harris, Bill Quigley and Donna Keeley.

The Hurst Award given to a citizen of the Greater Franklin area demonstrating excellence in community leadership, passion for the betterment of the community, commitment to business and community development and avid volunteers serving the Franklin area: Michael Mullavey, Fred Caruso, Lynne and Bill Burns and Jeff and Beverly Brewer.

The Young Professional Award recognizing an individual living and working in the Lakes Region demonstrating a strong community engagement, demonstrating leadership development and an inspiring role model for young professionals: Calise Houle, Beth San Soucie, Kyril Mitchell and Chris Walkley.

Public Service Award to an individual who demonstrates a commitment to leadership and charity in public service: Dominic Decarli, Laura Brusseau, Chris Adams and Ken Merrifield.

Student Leader Award to someone under the age of 25 currently enrolled in school whose studies and extracurricular activities show entrepreneurial spirit, peer leadership and a commitment to public service: Joshua Allen, Olivia Conley, Samantha Mackes and Meredith Fay Ellis.

All 24 nominees will be honored at the Hero Awards with one nominee from each category presented with an award.

Business sponsors for the event include Metrocast Business Services, Franklin Savings Bank, LRGHealthcare, Bank of New Hampshire, Public Service of New Hampshire, Meredith Village Savings Bank, Beck & Bellucci, The Winnipesaukee Playhouse, Corner House Inn and Annie's Cafe and Catering.

Family, friends, teachers, co-workers and fellow students are invited to share in the recognition ceremony. Registration is $20 per person and is available on line at LakesRegionChamber.org or by calling the chamber at 524-5531. Doors open at 5 p.m. and the awards ceremony, at which chamber president Warren Bailey and Gifford will preside, will start promptly at 6 p.m.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 30 September 2014 01:09

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