Drug & Alcohol Task Force changes name to Gilford — From Good to Great

GILFORD — School Board chair and president of the Gilford Drug and Alcohol Task Force, Rae Mello-Andrews said Tuesday night that the task force is changing it's name to "Gilford — From Good to Great".

School Board member Jack Landeau said he didn't understand why.

"I know the connotation is negative but the focus is on drugs and alcohol," he said.

Mello-Andrews said the group is hoping to attract more people from the community to participate. She said they "batted around" the name change for a few months.

The next meeting of Gilford — From Good to Better is scheduled for October 8 at the High School.

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Committee seeks to clarify noise ordinance, stretch loudspeaker hours

LACONIA — In the wake of several controversies arising from complaints about excessive noise and licensing outdoor sound systems, the Government Operations and Ordinances Committee last night drafted changes to the noise and licensing ordinances, which will be presented to the City Council later this month and to a public hearing next month.

The noise ordinance, chapter 167 of the city code, stipulates that is unlawful for any person or corporation to make "any loud, unreasonable noise or any noise which would annoy disturb, injure or endanger the comfort, repose, health, peace, safety, convenience, welfare and prosperity of a reasonable person" within the city limits.

The committee suggested two major additions to the ordinance. The first, which would apply to apply to residential and commercial properties throughout the city would specify that a noise "plainly audible," in the judgment of the police, within 50 feet of the property line of the property where it originates, particularly between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. on Friday and Saturday and between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. on Sunday through Thursday would represent a violation. City Manager Scott Myers explained that the ordinance closely echoed ordinances in Manchester, Nashua and Portsmouth.

The second change would apply to persons "yelling, shouting, hooting, whistling or singing in the street, particularly between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. , would also constitute a violation. Myers said that Portsmouth had a similar ordinance to address unruly crowds spilling out of bars and clubs at closing time.

The committee also proposed extending the hours for the operation of outdoor sound equipment. Currently, outdoor loudspeakers cannot be operated later than 9 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The committee recommended extending the hours to 10 p.m. and 11 p.m., respectively, and allowing loudspeakers to operate until 11 p.m. on the weekday night before federal holidays.

The committee will also recommend stiffening the penalties of repeated violations of the noise ordinance, which currently provides for a fine of not more than $250. At the suggestion of Councilor Ava Doyle (Ward 1), who chairs the committee, a graduated schedule of fines — $100 for the first offense, $250 for the second and $500 for the third — will be proposed. "A fine of $250 per night could be chump change for a business doing well," Doyle remarked.

Joe Driscoll, an innkeeper at The Weirs who has complained of noise from music venues on Lakeside Avenue, told the committee that the ordinance would only be as effective as the enforcement. He noted that while the Planning Board may impose restrictions or conditions, as it did in approving the plan to offer live music at the Tower Hill Tavern, the police are responsible for enforcement.

Driscoll also suggested that if an individual or business applied for frequent or recurring loudspeaker permits to operate an outdoor sound system, abutters and neighbors should be notified and offered an opportunity to comment. The committee agreed and asked Myers to address the issue in the recommendation to be presented to the council.

The committee intends to forward its recommendations to the City Council at its meeting on September 28 together with a request to schedule a public hearing during the City Council meeting on October 13.

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Contract for Belmont scenic trail awarded to Conway firm

BELMONT — Town Land Technician Rick Ball said yesterday that the contract for Phase 1 of the Winnisquam Scenic Trail has been formally awarded to Nelson Communications System, Inc. of Center Conway.

The recreational trail, which will run primarily along side the railroad tracks from the Agway store on Rte 3 to the Roberts Town Beach, a distance of 1.5 miles, was projected by engineers to cost $726,278. The lowest construction bid, however, was $825,290 and came from general contractor Nelson Communications Service, Inc. of Center Conway.

Ball said yesterday that he has requested that 80 percent of the shortfall ($68,029) come from the N.H. Department of Transportation, which manages the Transportation Enhancement Program grant fund. Ball said the Selectboard agreed to spend $17,007 for its 20-percent share.

Ball said there is a three-month construction time allotment and Nelson Communications is ready to go. He said that at some point over the next few days, the necessary bonds and insurances will be provided and a pre-construction meeting will be scheduled with the N.H. DOT.

He said construction could begin as early as October.

The trail has been 12 years in the making and is part of the scenic corridor railway trail system. A separate not-for-profit group called the Belmont Regional Alternative Trail System raised money for years, initially starting with two phases. As construction costs rose, the town shifted its focus to Phase I and was given approval to go out to bid in August.

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