Good crowd on hand to hear from 7 of 8 Meredith Selectboard candidates

MEREDITH — Seven of the eight candidates for the two open seats on the Board of Selectmen fielded questions from voters about traffic congestion, the municipal budget, meeting times, the senior center, economic development, the town library and an aging population when they appeared before a nearly full house at the Community Center on Thursday night.

Rosemary Landry, the first candidate to enter the race, was unable to attend the forum; Bev Lapham, David Bennett, Michael Hatch, Jonathan James, Ray Moritz, Michael Pelczar and Roland Tichy were all present.

The forum was coordinated by Lakes Region Democrats and moderated by the League of Women Voters NH.

Altogether four of the five seats on the board are vacant. Two with three-year terms, opened by the retirements of Peter Brothers and Carla Horne, will be filled by the election on Tuesday, March 10. After the election the three members of the new board will appoint two persons to fill the remaining seats, opened by the sudden, last-minute resignations of Hillary Seeger and Lou Kahn. The appointees will serve until the next town election in March, 2016.

Although the recommendation of the Routes 3/25 Advisory Committee was rejected, most echoed Hatch, a member of the advisory committee, who said "we've definitely got to do something, but I don't know the answer to that question."

All candidates pointed to the shopping center on Rte. 25 as a major bottleneck while James, Moritz and Bennett also stressed closer control of foot traffic across Rte. 3 at the town docks. Only Lapham suggested reconsidering the committee's recommendations, noting that it eliminated left turns in the corridor.

In response to concern about the growth of the municipal budget, James reminded his listeners that the town portion was projected to rise slightly and the Inter-Lakes School District budget accounted for most of the increase in municipal spending.

James, Moritz, Pelczar and Lapham all cautioned against deferring necessary investment in infrastructure. "I can't sit here and tell you I'll hold the line," said Moritz. "I don't think that's possible."

Likewise, Lapham acknowledged that "it is difficult but impossible to restrain spending. It's a balancing act and a real challenge."

Pelczar noted that the need for a new public works facility.

Bennett claimed a small clique approved expenditures without regard for others and called for greater public participation in budgeting to ensure "we live within our means."

Tichy also questioned the expense of projects like the Community Center, Police Station and Fire Station.

Hatch considered the one-percent increase in the town budget "good for a town the size of Meredith."

When a gentleman said that because the Selectboard has been meeting at 4:15 p.m. working people cannot attend all the candidates favored scheduling meetings in the evening at 6 p.m. or 7 p.m.

The decision by the Belknap-Merrimack Counties Community Action Program to withdraw the senior center from the Community Center aroused concern among all the candidates. Calling senior citizens "the backbone of our town," Pelczar said that "we have this beautiful building and we ought to use it." Lapham noted that the center was built to serve the entire community and suggested a way should be found to fund programs for seniors. For Hatch seniors are "a top priority" and 'deserve a place to go and something to do." James described the center as "a baby sitting facility" and was troubled that "seniors have been shoved out the door." Noting the growth of the senior population, Moritz said "they have a right to expect and demand more services."

While the candidates appreciated the need for economic development to expand the commercial tax base, they favored the growth of small businesses and cautioned against significantly changing the character of the town. Tichy spoke of "businesses that bring something to the town," but warned against strip malls and big box stores. Bennett doubted that the town had sufficient housing, population and land to attract a large employer and called for promoting small businesses with light footprints. Pelczar proposed focusing development efforts along Rte. 104, where some firms operate. Noting that Meredith is a destination for retirees and tourists, Moritz anticipated growth in services that support both, which would "maintain the character of what we have."

The Meredith Public Library drew strong support from all seven candidates. James stressed the beauty of the building while Moritz said "a library is central to a vibrant community." Pelczar said "there's no way we can let anything happen to the library." And Tichy echoed "keep it the way it is."

"That's a tough question," remarked Hatch when asked what can be done to attract younger people to town. James said Meredith found itself in a "Catch-22," explaining "we want good jobs, but we don't want to change." Moritz ventured that a sound technological infrastructure could create diverse opportunities for people working from home while Pelczar suggested that the trades — carpentry, plumbing and electronics — represent steady employment at decent wages.

As a tourist destination, Tichy said the town could become home to artists and craftsmen. Bennett brought the forum to a close with laughter by recalling an old friend who was never out of work — digging graves.

Planning Board approves Titeflex expansion plan

LACONIA — The Planning Board this week approved the site plan of Titeflex Aerospace to double the manufacturing space of its facility at 93 Lexington Drive in the O'Shea Industrial Park.
Titeflex, which manufactures flexible hose and rigid tubing for a variety of applications in the aerospace industry, currently occupies 431,000-square-feet on a 9.9-acre lot, but rents space in an adjacent building as well as a parking lot. The new addition will add 46,994-square-feet to the north end of the facility. Beyond the addition, a 37,000-square-foot lot will provide on-site parking for 123 vehicles.
Project manager Brandon Prudhomme said that the addition will enable the firm to bring all its operations under one roof as well as reduce its production costs. "We're looking to do a lot of positive things at once," he explained, adding that with LED and natural lighting energy costs will be trimmed and by recycling all its water discharge will be cut to zero. Prudhomme said that with the additional space and lower costs Titeflex will position itself to increase output and add employment in the future.
The parking area will be surfaced with porous pavement, the first large commercial application of the technology in the city. A filtering media directly beneath the surface will cleanse the water of contaminants before it reaches the groundwater and a network of under drains will disperse rising water during heavy rainfall to prevent flooding.

Large percentage of indictments are drug related

BELKNAP COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT — The following people were indicted by a grand jury convened on February 19.

Michael Moraros, 38, of Tilton was indicted for three counts of second-degree assault and one count of felony criminal threatening.

John F. Swain, 34, of Laconia was indicted for four special felony counts of possession of controlled drugs.

Sean Dillon, 34, of Meredith was indicted for possession of heroin and one count of driving while intoxicated in Gilford.

Matthew Kiver, 38, of Belmont was indicted for two counts of second-degree assault.

Kristle Gifford, was indicted for one class B felony of possession of a controlled drug.

Jeremy Pickering, 34, of Laconia was indicted for one special felony count of possession of a controlled drug.

Angela Libbey, 30, of Meredith was indicted for one count of operating a motor vehicle after being deemed an habitual offender.

Matthew Kenney, 39, of Meredith was indicted for one count of operating a motor vehicle after being deemed an habitual offender and one count of disobeying a police officer.

Cameron Lobo, 25, of Charlton, Ma was indicted for one count of sale of heroin in Laconia.

Kenneth Blankenship, 32, of Tilton was indicted for one count of burglary and one count of disobeying a police officer in Gilford.

Hagan Gorgas, 25, of Belmont was indicted for one count of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.

Nicholas Adel, 29, of Laconia was indicted for four counts of possession of a controlled drug.

Jacobe Swartwood, 25, of Belmont was indicted for one count of possession of controlled drugs with intent to distribute.

Daniel King, 43, of 26 County Drive in Laconia was charged with two counts of exposing himself to a group of juveniles at Opechee Park in Laconia.

Heather Hoyt, 23, on New Hampton was indicted for one count of possession of oxycodone and one count of possession of cocaine in a case investigated by Sanbornton Police.

Edward Chambers, 37, of Pembroke was indicted for one count of driving after being deemed a habitual offender.

Izaish Conway, 19, of Pittsfield was indicted for two counts of sales of heroin in a case investigated by Laconia Police.
Michelle Conley-Rance, 25, of Laconia was indicted for one count of burglary.

Angela M Libbey, 30, of Meredith was indicted for one count of driving after being deemed an habitual offender.

Randy Lee Johnson, 29, of Meredith was indicted for one count of being in possession of a controlled drug – a special felony.

Shawn Cochrane, 44, of Meredith was indicted for two separate counts of issuing bad checks in a case investigated by Laconia Police.

Roberto Roig, 28, of Nashua was indicted for one count of felony level criminal threatening with a deadly weapon and one count of second-degree assault in a case investigated by Laconia Police.

Edward Pawlosky, 27, of Franklin was indicted for one count of theft by deception and one count of theft in a case investigated by Tilton Police.

Robert Gonthier, 39, of Gilmanton was indicted for one count of conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine.

Jonathan Rawlins, 35, of Gilmanton was indicted for four counts of possession of methamphetamine and one count of manufacturing methamphetamine in a case investigate by the N.H. Drug Task Force and Gilmanton Police.

Women argue over handicap space

GILFORD — Police were called yesterday to mediate an argument over a handicap parking space between two women after a phone call from one of them reported an assault. The incident occurred in the Wal-Mart parking lot.

Sgt. James Leach said it appears that one woman parked in a handicap spot and a different woman objected and approached her.

While the reports aren't complete, Leach said the woman in the handicap spot apparently began pulling at the complaining woman's jacket and she called the police.

Leach said when officers arrived, the two women were arguing and the police  spoke with them.

He said no one was arrested but the police are still investigating the matter.