City entered March $36,805 over winter road budget

LACONIA — With half-a-dozen heavy snowfalls in February, the Department of Public Works had overspent its winter maintenance budget by the end of the month.

Altogether the department spent $115,214 in February bringing total expenditures for the season to date to $442,805, $36,805 more than the $406,000 budgeted. The DPW has spent $331,000 for purchases of sand and salt as well as vehicle costs, $86,375 for over-times and $28,430 for outside contractors.

City Manager told the City Council this week that he would seek to defray the overage with unspent funds from the public works budget before drawing on the winter maintenance reserve account, which has a current balance of $95,310.

'Initiative & courage': Gilford salutes officer who saved couple in burning home

GILFORD — Police Chief Anthony Bean Burpee and selectmen last night presented Officer Curtis Mailloux with a Meritorious Service Award and an extra days' pay for his actions on February 8, when he ran into a smoke-filled building twice to rescue two elderly occupants.

Mailloux, said Bean Burpee, acted above and beyond the call of duty and exemplified the two most important qualities in a police officer — initiative and courage.

While members of the Gray and Mailloux family looked on — Mr. and Mrs. James Gray, Sr., the couple Mailloux saved were unable to attend, Bean-Burpee said "common initiative and physical and moral courage" are the two qualities exhibited by Mailloux that night.

He said police officers are dedicated to saving lives and making live better for those who need it and Mailloux exemplified both of those dedications that night.

After Mr. and Mrs. Gray were removed from the home, they and Mailloux were taken by ambulances to Lakes Region General Hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation, treated and released.

Also watching Mailloux receive his award was a number of members of the Gilford Police Department and Fire Departments as well as Belmont Patrol Officer Derek Gray, who is Mr. and Mrs. Gray's grandson and Barnstead Police Chief Joseph McDowell, who is a Gilford resident.

For his part, Mailloux simply said "thank you."

Rescue crews search Lake Opechee for possible missing snowmobile, find nothing

LACONIA — Firefighters from Belmont, Gilford and Laconia and city police scoured a portion of Lake Opechee Tuesday evening after a caller from Driftwood Drive reported a snowmobile had disappeared around 8:30 p.m.

The caller said he or she saw lights and then didn't see any.

Fire Chief Ken Erickson said four firefighters went on to the ice off Driftwood and four others entered on to the ice from Franklin Street in Lakeport.

He said police used flashlights to look around the shore.

After about an hour, Erickson call off the search saying they found no significant open water except for that around the Lakeport Dam.

"It kind of leaves a bad feeling in the pit of your stomach," said Erickson, referring to when they leave a search without really knowing what happened. "We just pray that nobody calls and says their loved one went snowmobiling and didn't return."

Shaker board accepts direction from voters on kindergarten & science teacher

BELMONT — The Shaker Regional School Board voted Tuesday night to implement the three changes request by voters who attended last Friday's Annual School District meeting.

The first was full-day kindergarten, which was petitioned on to the ballot and will be added in the 2015-2016 school year at a cost of $403,000.

Superintendent Maria Dreyer explained that there was not enough space for all-day kindergarten and universal preschool at Belmont Elementary School. As of yesterday she said she had 40 kindergarteners who has registered with Belmont and four who had registered with Canterbury — a school building with plenty of space.

Dreyer said the school still needs two classrooms for special education and that is not negotiable. By adding three additional classrooms for kindergarten, the school would forgo the computer lab, the Title 1 classroom and the readiness classroom.

Belmont Elementary Principal Sheila Arnold said Title 1 would still continue as part of general education and readiness would be handled in the first grade.

Arnold and Canterbury Principal Mary Morrison assured the school board and the one or two parents who attended the meeting that they would get it done.

Voters also elected to keep and fund the Belmont High School science teacher who had be eliminated from the budget proposal because of declining enrollments and extremely small classes at upper levels.

One of the concerns of the board was building interest in science in the middle school years to increase participation at high-level (honors and Advanced Placement) science classes.

Dreyer said she would move around some of the STEM ( Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) classes and combine students to make core classes a little bigger so a few science teachers could dedicate some time to teaching more advanced classes.

Gretta Olson-Wilder suggested sending a survey to middle school students and ask what kinds of science interests them and then matching those students to the science teachers who are trained to teach that discipline.

Richy Bryant said he was concerned about the seeming lack of interest in science.

"How do we spark that enjoyment for it?" he asked.

Middle School Principal Aaron Pope said he would like to start offering additional science themes to his STEM curriculum to create some interest as the students move on.

Both he and High School Principal Dan Clary said that for some reason students start to loose interest in science around eighth grade. The student representative from the middle school said he agreed but thinks some of it may be that some of his fellow students don't always see eye-to-eye with the science teacher. He added that VLACS (a program administered by a computer-based charter school) provides on-line programs to students in nearly all disciplines.

Pope said the standards are rigorous in the middle school and he believes as students get used to having more expected from them, they will gain better interest in science in their later years.

As to supporting the preservation of the historic but empty Gale School building, Bryant of Belmont and Bob Reed of Canterbury volunteered to work with the Friends of the Gale School Committee to look for grants and other financial assistance. Voters had tabled a request for funds to demolish the building, which sits on a perch behind the middle school, on the edge of Bryant Park.

In other news, the School Board announced they had renewed Dreyer's contract for another two years. She will earn $120,000 for 2016 to 2017, with the right to negotiate her 2017-2018 contract.