By Thomas P. Caldwell
BRISTOL — Students from the New Hampton Community School who demonstrated their award-winning skit that they hope to take to the Destination ImagiNation global finals in Knoxville, Tenn., got more than they asked for from the Newfound Area School Board Monday night.
The team is doing fundraising to pay for their trip and lodging and Ann Holloran, principal of the New Hampton and Danbury elementary schools, sought $2,000 from the school district to cover the expenses of the two coaches, Samantha Austin and Holly Cook. Instead, Vice-Chair Vincent Paul Migliore of Bridgewater successfully moved that the school board give $4,000 to reduce the team's fundraising needs, and Groton member Jeff Levesque offered to personally give $100, challenging the others to match the gift.
Helping to offset that non-budgeted expense is an unexpected drop in health insurance costs for the Newfound Area School District. Business Administrator Michael Limanni said the rates from HealthTrust are 10 percent less than budgeted for next year. The insurance carrier had been projecting a 9.6 percent increase.
Those are just some of the good news items reported at the meeting. Among the student accomplishments at the high school, senior David Gibson has been accepted to Harvard University, and seniors Nick Tapply and Devon Fields have been awarded football scholarships to West Virginia Wesleyan College.
Amber Plummer was named Lakes Region Player of the Year in basketball and her teammate, Karissa Bony, was named to the All Lakes Region Team.
The Newfound Regional High School Math Team placed fourth of 18 schools in the Small Schools Division of the Plymouth State University Math Tournament, with Josh MacLean being the highest-scoring freshman in the Lakes Region.
The recognition extended to the staff, with Nancy Cate receiving the Louise Sublette Award for her ideas and hard work in increasing participation in the high school breakfast program. The award was presented by the School Nutrition Association of New Hampshire.
The school board also accepted the superintendent's recommendation for bonuses in recognition of the extra effort put forth by her staff. With one vote in opposition, the school board agreed to give a $5,000 bonus to Lori Lane, director of the After School 21st Century Learning grant program, with $2,500 bonuses going to Limanni and Student Services Coordinator Anne Holton.
Migliore was the lone dissenting vote, saying that, while he recognized their contributions, he could not support the bonuses, "given the message by the voters this year".
That message included the defeat of the article providing pay raises to the teachers, and the Newfound Area Teachers Association is looking to reopen negotiations as soon as possible. Setting a date for the preliminary session proved to be a difficult task, however, given the upcoming vacation week and individual board members' commitments. The board finally settled on two dates for the teachers to consider: April 16 or May 6.
After the initial session, the board is looking to hold Saturday meetings and it suggested May 17 as its first choice and May 10 as an alternate date.
The board had similar difficulty in setting a date for the first meeting of the Bridgewater-Hebron Village School Withdrawal Study Committee, but settled on April 28 at 6 p.m.
Monday's meeting opened with a nonpublic session to discuss staff nominations and, later in the meeting, the board approved those nominations, which included the professional staff, school administrators, and school administrative unit administrators.
Finally, the school board approved the naming of the high school track, "The Mills Oval", in honor of long-time coach Earl Mills and his wife, Nancy.
Last Updated on Friday, 18 April 2014 02:01
LACONIA — A "good intent" call sent firefighters scrambling to two area beaches at 5 p.m. yesterday to rescue a sailboat operator who, in the end, didn't need rescuing.
The man, who was sailing in the narrow strip of open water on Lake Winnisquam along Route 3, was spotted by someone who saw him drop his sail and thought he was in trouble.
Reports came through Lakes Region Mutual Fire Aid that the man was in the water and having trouble hanging on to the side of the boat.
Belmont and Laconia firefighters went first to Leslie Roberts Beach, which is still ice covered and blockaded by chunks of ice that have been blown ashore by the wind.
As the sailor maneuvered unassisted to Bartlett Beach, Laconia firefighters met him there where he told them he was fine. Fire officials said he was appropriately dressed and was never in distress.
The shoreline of Bartlett Beach is open water.
Firefighters don't necessarily recommend water sports while there is still ice on the lake but said for those who must, they should wear live preservers and dress warmly.
Last Updated on Friday, 18 April 2014 01:46
CONCORD — The Health Services Planning and Review Board yesterday approved LRGHealthcare's plan to invest $4.5 million in improvements to the nursing unit at North 4, the section of Lakes Region General Hospital originally constructed in 1969. When completed the project will make the facility compatible with the addition joining the hospital and medical office building, which opened in 2011.
The project will be funded by $3.5 million in donations from the capital campaign launched in 2012 together with $1 million in operating funds. Work is expected to begin in May and be complete by February 2015.
The infrastructure of the old building, particularly the air handling system which lacks the capacity to meet the increased demands, will be replaced and low flow toilets installed throughout the building.
In keeping with the company's commitment to convert the entire hospital to single rooms, which ensures the privacy of patients and reduces the risk of infection, five beds that were lost when the addition was built will be restored in North 4, where the number of beds was trimmed from 20 to 15. Since a unit of 20 beds offers an optimal nurse-to-patient ratio, it is much more efficient to operate. Each of the rooms will have a private shower and lift system, enhancing their efficiency and safety for both patients and staff. Finally the nursing station in North 4 will be reconfigured and reconstructed to match its counterparts elsewhere in the hospital, enabling personnel to move easily from one station to another throughout the facility.
Last Updated on Friday, 18 April 2014 01:42
BELMONT — Smith Orchard was recently named a New Hampshire Farm of Distinction.
The award was presented to owners Rob and Wende Richter by Governor Maggie Hassan and N.H. Commissioner of Agriculture Lorraine Merrill at the N.H. Farm and Forest Expo in Manchester.
The Richters have owned and operated the farm, which offers a variety of apples including McIntosh, Macoun and Cortland, since 1985.
Rob says that he and his wife view themselves as the caretakers of a long tradition of apple growing at the orchard, which still has many of the original McIntosh and Cortland trees planted by Charlie Smith in 1928, when he was entering his senior year at the University of New Hampshire.
He says that the 15-acre field which was planted by Smith, who was a long-time Laconia City Council member, had originally been an open pasture across the road from a large farmhouse on Leavitt Road. The farmhouse burned and was replaced by a smaller home the Smith family built.
Over the years Smith hired crews of workers to pick the apples but by the 1950s, when only the reddest fruit was considered acceptable for sale and there was no wholesale market for the rest, Smith made the novel step of opening his orchard to sell directly to the public, becoming what may have been the very first "pick-your-own'' operation in the entire state.
"He told us he made more selling that way than he did on the wholesale market. And it became very popular with people coming here and picking the orchard clean every year," says Rob.
There's even a story about the tradition of opening the orchard on a Friday. Smith told the Richters that he had so many complaints from local people that out-of-staters were flocking to the orchard and getting the best apples when it opened on a Saturday that he decided to open it a day earlier so that local people would enjoy the first picking.
As the older, full-size trees are lost to old age, (some 200 remain) the Richters are replacing them with dwarf and semi-dwarf trees and now have some 3,000 apple trees.
The smaller trees are easier to take care of and produce larger apples according to Rob, who got his start in the apple business in Madison, Maine, not far from Skowhegan, and was being groomed to take over the management of a large apple orchard there when he tore up his knee two days before the apple harvest started.
He said that he made his living in the corporate world until he moved to Laconia, where one of the first persons he met was Charlie Smith, who once he got to know about his interest in apple growing told him "you should buy this place."
He and Wende eventually did just that and Wende recalls that Smith was very helpful to them, even encouraging them to buy additional nearby land he owned that had a second pond on it so that they would always have a backup water supply for the orchard.
The orchard also sells pumpkins, mums, cider, gourds, cornstalks, and home-grown honey and on busy days provides tractor rides in and out of the orchard.
"We'd like to see this orchard stay like this forever," says Rob, who says that even with "current use" taxation at a lower rate because the land is maintained as open space, the taxes and costs of running the orchard are still so high that he and Wende couldn't continue if it weren't for their Laconia laundry and dry cleaning business.
"A lot of people look at the land and say that it's too valuable to grow apples on. But that's what it's been doing for over 80 years and we'd like to see it stay that way," he says.
Last Updated on Friday, 18 April 2014 01:40
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