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Retiring Alan Robichaud honored by Granite United Way

LACONIA — Alan Robichaud, long-time community advocate, organizer and a leader in the efforts of non-profit organizations to improve the lives of citizens in the Lakes Region, was presented with the Captain Ralph Bristol Award at the annual meeting of the Granite United Way's Central Region yesterday at Church Landing.
Robichaud, who will be retiring this coming summer, has most recently served as community development director of what until last year was the Lakes Region United Way, and was credited by his boss, Jack Terrill, senior vice president of community impact for the Granite United Way, with having been a committed community builder with an exceptional set of skills which helped develop civic engagement and community collaboration.
Over a long career in social services, Robichaud has won numerous honor, including the ''Heart of Your City'' award from Citizens Bank and WMUR-TV in 2012, the George "Pete" Harris award from Genesis Behavioral Health, a Good Scout Award from the Daniel Webster Council and the Norm Marsh Award from the Belknap Economic Development Council in 2007.
''He has not sat back on his laurels but has continued to play a role in organizations like the Financial Stability Partnership, Better Together and the 200 by 2020 Initiative, as well as the Lakes Region Partnership for Public Health,'' said Terrill.
Robichaud is the former executive director of the Belknap County Citizens Council for Children and Families as well as the executive director of the N.H. Developmental Disabilities Council and administrator for the Division of Mental Health and Developmental Services, among other positions.
Robichaud got to present one of the awards at the meeting, the Sara Allen Award, an honor given to an agency or initiative that takes important steps to either ensure their services are sustainable or enhance the effectiveness of those services, which went to the Lakes Region Partnership for Public Health.
The third major award, The Nighswander-Chertok Award, which acknowledges an organization for fundraising campaign design excellence and development of a giving culture that utilizes best practices to encourage individual and corporate community investment, was presented to ALF Noyes Test Inspection of Belmont, which last year increased it's United Way contribution by 38 percent. That award was presented by Cindy Bodah of the Bank of New Hampshire, who chaired the Central Region's United Way campaign,
This year's meeting marked the second since the merger of the Lakes Region United Way with Granite United Way, a change which has benefited both organizations according to Patrick Tufts, president and CEO of Granite United Way who said that the organization raised over $7 million last year.
More than $1 million of that came from the Central Region according to Scoop Welch of Granite United Way. Terrill said that two companies from the area, the Bank of New Hampshire and LRGHealthcare, were Granite Award winners with contributions of over $100,000.
Granite United Way was formed in July, 2010 with the merger of Heritage United Way of Manchester, United Way of Merrimack County of Concord, Upper Valley United Way of Lebanon and North County United Way of Littleton. In 2012 United Way of Northern New Hampshire of Berlin joined the group and Lakes Region United Way joined last year.
Tufts said that the strength of the organization is that decisions on how money is raised and spent are made at the local level on that it has been an exciting year of growth for the organization.

Alan Robichaud (left) was presented with the Ralph Bristol Award at the annual meeting of the Granite United Way held at Church Landing in Meredith yesterday. Here he is congratulated by United Way Vice President Jack Terrill. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 June 2014 06:53

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Runaway boy was at friend's house

BELMONT — A 12-year-old boy's family is breathing a sigh of relief now after he ran away and stayed out of contact with them for almost 24 hours.

Lt. Richard Mann said the boy's grandmother called them at 4:24 p.m. Friday to tell he had run away and she had no idea where he was. She reported he had run into the woods near Wildlife Boulevard around 3:30 p.m.

Mann said on-duty Belmont Police looked for the boy without any luck until about 5 p.m. when they called for additional support from their own department as well as a K-9 from the Gilford, a bloodhound from the Rochester Police and some members of the Department of Fish and Game.

He said the police and the dogs searched the wood in the area but both dogs tracked the boy's scent to Rte. 106, where it went dead. Mann said it rained very hard Friday evening and throughout Saturday morning and officials feared the boy would wander into one of the many ponds in the nearby woods.

Mann said the boy came home at 7 a.m. Saturday and told his grandmother that he had stayed at a friend's home that was about one or two miles away.

Last Updated on Monday, 19 May 2014 11:57

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Rep. Worsman will not seek 3rd term in N.H. House

MEREDITH — Representative Colette Worsman, who has represented Meredith in the New Hampshire House of Representatives since 2010 and chaired the Belknap County Convention since 2012, yesterday announced that she will not seek a third term.

In a prepared statement, Worsman, a Republican, said "I believe in term limits, which allow for fresh ideas and renewed energy to serve you." She prefaced her remark by explaining "in order to dedicate myself to you, I chose to give freely of a tremendous amount of time and energy."

Later Worsman, who owns and operates a construction contracting firm with her husband Glenn, said that "it's important for working people to serve in the Legislature, but for someone working full-time it requires a lot. It's time to pass the baton," she continued, adding "the sacrifice was worth the investment in the lawmaking process."

Worsman served two three-year terms on the Board of Selectmen in Meredith, but in 2012 lost her bid for a third term by more than 200 votes. Meanwhile, in 2010 she was elected to the first of her two terms in the House, where she held a seat on the Finance Committee. During her first term she was a loyal and enthusiastic member of the Republican majority led by the controversial Speaker Bill O'Brien and called the "balanced budget" adopted under his leadership her proudest achievement as a lawmaker.

Worsman's second term in the House, when the Democrats regained their majority, was overshadowed by her leadership of the Belknap County Convention, which put her at loggerheads with the Belknap County Commission. This year and last Worsman, in an unprecedented show of force, not only significantly reduced but also effectively rewrote the county budgets proposed by the commission, sparking a bitter dispute between the convention and commission over their respective budgetary authority. Along with helping to squeeze the state budget, she counted "holding taxes down in Belknap County" as her major accomplishment.

A staunch conservative, Worsman did not shy from putting herself in the minority, sometimes a small minority. She was among only seven members of the House to vote in favor of legislation requiring that evolution be taught as a political theory and one of five to require all legislation refer to the Magna Carta. "I never considered myself a politician," she said. "I look back at what I've done as a service."

Worsman likened her decision to "taking a sabbatical" and declined to rule out either retiring from or returning to the political arena in the future. "I'm taking time off and playing it by ear," she said.

In the meantime, in her statement she urged "a fellow citizen who possesses strong conservative values and who believes in small government, privacy protection, personal responsibility and personal freedoms to pick up the banner I lay down. I cannot overstate," she closed, "the need for wisdom and steadfastness in upholding the N.H. U.S. Constitutions, or the need for personal and unselfish commitment to work for your constituents."

Worsman is one of four representatives elected commonly by Meredith and Gilford voters. She is currently joined by Herb Vadney (R-Meredith), Bob Greemore (R-Meredith) and Lisa DeMartino (D-Gilford).

Last Updated on Monday, 19 May 2014 11:51

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Unofficial dog park closed

LACONIA — Normally, if you want to keep someone or something out, you lock the gates, but at Woodland Heights Elementary School, where for some years dog owners have let their pets loose on the fenced and gated playing field, the administration has removed the gates to keep the canines out.

Principal Dennis Dobe said yesterday that the gates were removed — even from the outfield that borders deep woods — to discourage residents from letting their dog roam free in the enclosure. He explained that although the field was never intended as a dog park, "we've worked hard to accommodate people," including installing dispensers with bags for pet waste. He said that while responsible dog owners picked up after their pets, others did not, posing a risk to the school children and athletic teams that regularly use the field. However, he said "the situation has been out-of-hand for a long time" and had become a "health and safety issue."

"You can't co-mingle," Dobe remarked. "It was a difficult decision, but it needed to be done."

Kevin Dunleavy, director of Parks and Recreation, said that management of the field falls to the School District, which owns the property, while his department maintains the field and approves its use for youth sports. He noted that a city ordinance stipulates that "it shall be unlawful to intentionally permit any dog to run at large within the city of Laconia; to this end, the owner shall keep the dog on a leash or within an enclosure whenever the dog is not on the property of the owner."

Dunleavy said that while dogs are welcome in city parks, they must be kept on a leash and their owners must pick up after them.

Bob McCarthy, who regularly took his dog to the field, was troubled by the decision to remove the gates. He said that it followed on heels of his wife's complaint that the rubbish bins around the field were not being emptied, suggesting that the move to dispel dogs from the field was taken in reprisal.

Dobe flatly denied any connection between the two, describing it as "a coincidence." He conceded that responsibility for emptying the bins has been "ambiguous," which has caused problems, but insisted that the closure of the informal dog park and the emptying of the rubbish bins were two separate, unrelated issues.

Also coincidentally, people interested building a "Happy Tails" dog park on a tract of city-owned land in the South End are meeting tonight (Tuesday) at the Community Center at 6:30 p.m. The meeting is open to all Lakes Region residents.

Happy Tails seeks to lease four or five acres at the southeast end of the parcel located between the dead end of Spruce Street and the Lakes Business Park to house a parking area, access paths and two fenced dog parks, one of 1.3 acres divided in half for small and large dogs and another 40 feet by 20 feet for puppies.The park would be larger than most dog parks in the state and the play pen for puppies would be unique.

Last Updated on Monday, 19 May 2014 11:43

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