LACONIA — The Belknap County Convention delved into the minute details of the county budget for more than three hours last evening in a contentious session which ended with the legislators asking that County Administrator Debra Shackett prepare a budget spreadsheet which would show the dollar impact of level-funding wages of county employees at rates currently being paid.
Goal of the convention majority as expressed by Convention Chairman Colette Worsman (R-Meredith) is to back out of the raises which the County Commissioners included in their proposed budget of a 1.6 cost of living increase for county employees and 3 percent step raises for eligible employees.
Convention members said they wanted to see the impact on the county budget, which Rep. Frank Tilton (R-Laconia) called a ''working document'' before they meet for further deliberations today with a plan of finalizing the proposed $ 26.6 million budget next week.
Convention Vice Chairman Rep. Robert Greemore (R-Meredith) asked that Shackett include the hiring of three additional guards at the County Jail and the switch from a part-time to a full-time employee in the Restorative Justice Program in those budget calculations.
Leading the charge for holding the line on county employee pay raises was Rep. Herb Vadney (R-Meredith), who chaired the convention's Public Safety Subcommittee.
Vadney said that it was the job of the convention to smoke out those parts of the budget where he maintained those preparing the budget ''always add a little extra for every line item,'' something he said ''is seldom mentioned and always done.''
He apologized later for his statement after being confronted by Belknap County Attorney Melissa C. Guldbrandsen, who said "There's been an accusation here that this budget was padded and I adamantly deny that. There's not an ounce of padded money in this budget and I'm offended that there is an accusation that I've padded added this budget. I am cautious and I watch the bottom line very carefully.''
She said that there was a chance that she might have to return to the convention later this year looking for contingency funds due to expenses that she can't control such as investigation of deaths, autopsies and other medical expenses.
Vadney apologized for his ''harsh words'' and said he was overreacting to his concerns about the budget.
He was also criticized by Shackett for his statement. She said his comments were a slap in the face to every county employee who worked on the budget.''
Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 February 2014 02:35
LACONIA — For most children, a sleep-over at a friend's house is a rite of passage — the ability to spend the night away from home.
For some children in Laconia, a sleep-over can be life-saving.
"We know we have a pattern of students who are homeless and a percentage of them are couch-surfing because of problems in the family," said Middle School Principal Eric Johnson.
On Feb. 17, the Laconia Middle School will host the community as they view "Inocente," an award-winning film that spotlights one girl's attempt to combat her homelessness with her art.
Trying to address some of the problems within families is Stand Up Laconia, a growing coalition of adults and students who want to come together to create positive change for students.
Clare Persson, who is the chair of Stand Up Laconia, said the many of the students she knows don't want to live in a city that is tagged as a place where drug abuse and alcoholism seems rampant. She said many of the kids that Stand Up Laconia and Freedom Found at the high school level is to give some support to the youngsters who don't want to do drugs or drink.
"These kids see a lot, and they're up against a whole different thing than when we were young," she said.
She said her organization isn't necessarily on the front lines addressing acute homelessness, but rather is one of those entities that can help mitigate it by encouraging students not to make some of the choices their parents made.
"These kids are sick of Laconia being associated with drug abuse and alcoholism," Persson said.
She said her organization is there to support these students.
"Quite a bit of it is just poverty," said Johnson, who said he sees a lot of single parents who are working and just scraping by and who suddenly find themselves without a home and forced to stay with friends and family.
For the Middle School, ground zero is often the guidance office and the nurse's office. He said he has had children who often move three or four times in one school year — often from neighboring school districts.
He said his guidance staff stays in very close contact with the guidance staff in other area school districts to better help coordinate students whose families are moving in or out of the district.
"It comes in waves," he said. "We'll go a month or two and have none, and then we'll get six or seven students who are in transition."
Working together, Stand Up Laconia and the staff and students of the Middle School have put together the Care Closet — a place where students who are struggling financially and/or couch surfing can get items they otherwise would be unable to afford.
Johnson said the Care Closet is open to all students who are struggling financially.
He said the closet is stocked with personal hygiene items and clothes that are donated by the staff and the faculty.
He added that are left in the school's lost-and-found for more than four weeks go in the Care Closet.
"It's all confidential and coordinated through the nurse's and the guidance offices," said Johnson. He said the goal is to help these children without calling attention to their circumstances.
Johnson said the number of Middle School students who are struggling and tacitly homeless is "staggering."
"People would be surprised if they knew," he said, adding that 69 percent of the students at Elm Street Elementary Schools and about 70 percent of the students at Woodland Heights Elementary School are eligible for the free-and-reduced lunch federal programs that the school district uses as an indicator for poverty.
The "Inocente" program begins at 5:30 p.m. with a dinner on Feb. 17 at the Laconia Middle School and the 30-minute film at 6 p.m. The goal is to bring all of the agencies — including the school district and Stand Up Laconia — together and learn what a girl like Inocente would find if she were to come to Laconia.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 February 2014 02:18
LACONIA — In a compromise that spared three businesses and a church the hassle of changing their street addresses, the City Council last night unanimously agreed to designate the cul-de-sac at the end of Primrose Drive South in the O'Shea Industrial Park as Aavid Circle.
In November, Aavid Thermalloy, LLC asked the council to change the name of the entire street to Aavid Drive in recognition of the firm's decision to return its headquarters from Concord to Laconia, where it began almost 50 years ago, bringing 50 jobs to the city and investing $500,000 in its facility. Acknowledging that changing the name of the street would impose costs on neighboring firms, Norman Soucy, vice president and general manager of Aavid, assured them that Aavid would reimburse all out-of-pocket costs and offered any administrative assistance they might need.
Nevertheless, Amatex Corporation, Baron Machine Company and Fastenal Company balked, explaining that they have operated on Primrose Drive South for many years and having to change their addresses would be a distraction.
A divided City Council encouraged the companies to resolve their differences and return with a consensus proposal. All three firms, along with John Sanborn, pastor of the Faith Alive Christian Fellowship at 72 Primrose Drive South, endorsed the compromise in letters to the council.
Soucy thanked the council and his neighbors for their parts in affecting the change and said that since returning to Laconia the company has hired six engineers as well as additional sales staff. In addition, Aavid recently announced it has entered a partnership with General Electric to commercialize GE’s patented Dual Piezoelectric Cooling Jet technology.
Aavid Circle, along with a directional arrow, will be added to the street sign at the corner of Lexington Drive and Primrose Drive South.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 February 2014 02:24
ALTON – Two men were injured and charged with operating their snow machines while intoxicated after they collided on Lake Winnipesaukee on Saturday.
Multiple Fish and Game officers responded to Roberts Cove in Alton at 3 p.m. on Saturday for a report of a snow machine accident. Responding officers found that two acquaintances from Walpole, Mass. had crashed into one another, causing injuries to both men. Timothy Clifford, 57, and Bruce Buccelli, also 57, were both transported to a local hospital due to their injuries and later arrested and charged for DWI.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 February 2014 01:56
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