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Shaker superintendent wishes Gale School donor had approached board

BELMONT – Shaker Regional Superintendent Maria Dreyer says she wishes the Save the Gale School Committee had told the School Board about a possible benefactor before they made their latest plan to save the old school public.

Describing what Ken Knowlton said was a "generous offer" for all the on site work to be done by an anonymous benefactor should a new site be located, Dreyer described it as "lovely," but said the person should have approached the board.

"The School District owns the building," she said yesterday. "Wouldn't the right thing to do would have been to come to the board?"

Dreyer reiterated the most-often-asked questions relating to saving or demolishing the old school: Where's it going to go, and who's going to move it?

"Who's going to abate the asbestos?" she asked.

She said the members of the School Board "do care" about what happens to the Gale School but that their obligation is "to educate our children safely and expeditiously."

At the request of the School Board, Facilities Manager Doug Ellis has obtained three quotes to demolish the school, but save the bell and the bell tower. On Monday, Ellis said the estimates range between $42,500 to $63,630, and all of them include asbestos removal.

He said the board hasn't reviewed the bids and has not voted on whether to include a warrant article on next year's town meeting ballot to tear down the school.

Knowlton sent a letter that ran in the Daily Sun yesterday that said an anonymous benefactor has offered to donate all the site-work when and if another site is found.

When asked, he declined to identify the benefactor, but said he believes the person has the resources to make good on his promise.

He also said the committee was evaluating a different spot for relocation, but declined to say where.

The school was built in 1897 and was used by the school district until the 1980s when it was abandoned. It was named after Napoleon Gale who donated money for schools and the town's library.

Most recently, the Save Our Gale School Committee suggested that it be moved to Concord Street and used as a town library, but the Library Trustees said no.

The committee also approached the town government to see if it would sponsor an application for a historic preservation grant. However, selectmen said they already had enough building projects on their hands and were not in a position to assume another.

The problem, said Dreyer, is that because of its size, location and condition, the school district can't use the building. While getting estimates for its demolition, she said the district learned there would be some asbestos abatement needed as well.

She said that while no one would like to see it destroyed, there is no money – in either the school district's or the town's budget – to move it to a different location and restore it.

Dreyer also said that before the School Board asked Ellis to get quotes on demolishing it, she and School Board member Donna Cilley – who serves as a liaison to the Save Our Gale School Committee – invited all of the members to a meeting but no one came.

Dreyer said that in recent years the most compelling argument the board has heard from the voters is to reduce costs and keep the school budget as lean as possible. She said over the past few budget cycles, Shaker Regional, as well as other school districts in the area, have delayed much-needed infrastructure and building improvements and repairs to keep the tax burden as low as possible.

At Shaker, she said the board believes any available building resources should be spent on improving the school facilities that are in use now.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 December 2014 01:11

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Selectmen decline to fund Gilmanton Year-Round Library

GILMANTON — Despite a request by one of the budget members of the Gilmanton Year-Round Library, selectmen chose not to include its annual budget request in the selectman's operating budget.

Like in previous years, the $46,000 request for 2015 will be a special warrant article.

According to minutes from the late November meeting, Anne Kirby came before the board and asked them to include next year's request in the operating budget. Kirby noted the request was $46,000 for 2015 which is down by $6,000 from last year.

Kirby said she was under the impression that selectmen would include the year-round library in its operating budget if the warrant article passed in 2014.

Selectmen Brett Currier said the article passed by 17 votes in 2014 and that, in his opinion, does not constitute a landslide. He said that he fears that by adding the $46,000 to this year's operating budget could lead to future year-round library requests growing out of control.

Selectman Don Guarino agreed, noting the vote in 2014 was very close and it was only fair to have the town vote on it again by special warrant.

The Gilmanton Year-Round Library opened as a private library in 2009 and is largely funded through donations and in-kind contributions. Each year the library has asked the town to fund some portion of its operations and with the exception of two of those years, the voters have agreed.

Now in its sixth year of operation, Kirby made the point that the operating budget requested from the town through special warrant articles, has remained flat, whether or not those warrant articles have passed. She noted that the library Board of Directors has been very fiscally responsible in spending the funds they get.

Both Currier and Guarino said they needed to see an overwhelming number of people support a warrant article before they would recommend it becomes part of the regular operating budget.

Both also made it clear that there is nothing wrong with the library and neither selectman personally has anything against it. Currier said that as a selectman he feels he needs to be a fiscally responsible as possible.

Kirby said she timed her request so the directors could prepare a petitioned warrant article in a timely manner if selectmen declined to include it.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 December 2014 01:21

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Liberty Hill cleanup 65% completed

GILFORD — Last week worked stopped for the winter on Liberty Hill Road, where since April crews have been involved in a multimillion-dollar environmental cleanup project, removing and treating soil contaminated by coal tar dumped on the site nearly 60 years ago.

The project, which is estimated to cost approximately $17 million, is being undertaken in two phases during this construction season and the next. John Shore, a spokesman for Liberty Utilities, said that favorable weather conditions this year quickened the pace of work, enabling the contractor to complete 65-percent of the project.

This year 47,000 cubic yards of clean soil and 29,000 cubic yards of contaminated were excavated by Charter Environmental Inc., of Boston, the contractor engaged by Liberty Utilities. More than 1,700 truckloads of contaminated soil were taken to the facility operated by the Environmental Soil Management Companies in Loudon where it underwent thermal treatment to remove the contaminants. About 13,000 cubic yards of treated soil were returned to the site where along with stockpiled clean soil it will be used as backfill. Altogether 93,000 cubic yards will be excavated, of which approximately 45,000 cubic yards will be treated off-site.

Work began at the southern end of the site with the supporting infrastructure, including a water treatment system, to the north. Next year the site will be flipped as the northern portion is excavated. Work will resume in the spring and, if weather conditions remain favorable, the project will be completed in early autumn.

In the 1950s the coal tar, a by-product from a manufactured gas plant in Laconia, was dumped in a sand and gravel pit on the south side of lower Liberty Hill Road, which was subsequently reclaimed and divided into house lots. However, it was overlooked until 2004, when in the course of litigation it came to the attention of KeySpan, the corporate successor to the original gas company. KeySpan was itself acquired by National Grid in 2007, which was acquired by Liberty Utilities in 2012. GEI Consultants, Inc. of Woburn, Mass., has designed the remediation plan and managed the remediation process for all three of utilities.

CAPTION: This aerial photograph of the 4.5-acre Liberty Hill Road site was taken on Dec. 19. The blue area to the right is a retention pond, where contaminated water is captured and held before undergoing treatment at the adjacent facility. The excavated portion of the site to the left site is carpeted with mats to control erosion. (Courtesy photo/Liberty Utilities).

Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 December 2014 01:28

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Bieniarz Award goes to Kathy Calvin for service to schools

LACONIA — Kathy Calvin became the 27th recipient of the Debra Bieniarz Memorial Award, bestowed annually in recognition of uncommon service on behalf of children and youth in the Lakes Region. The award is given in honor of of the late Debra Bieniarz, who during her nine years with the Laconia Police Department enhanced, enlivened and enriched the lives of young people.

City Council Armand Bolduc (Ward 6), acting as Mayor Pro-Tem, presented the award when the City Council met last night.

"I was surprised," Calvin confessed. "It has taken my breath away." She said that she was eager to contribute because "Laconia is a community I enjoy." She noted that "here the superintendent of schools was a T-ball coach," a reference to former superintendent Bob Champlin. "When I was a kid I didn't even know who the superintendent was, He was a remote figure. Now people are involved and the kids need these opportunities."

Calvin has been a mainstay of the Lakes Region Scholarship Foundation, serving as a trustee, vice-president and president from 2001 to 2009 and as an advisory trustee ever since. In addition, she was among the founders of the Laconia Educational Endowment Foundation.

An active member of the Kiwanis Club of Laconia, Calvin participates in in the KARES reading program in the school system as well as the annual Bicycle Rodeo. At Laconia High School, she works closely with the Key Club and is a staunch supporter of the Band Boosters. She has served as a director and volunteer with the Salvation Army and for many years has enthusiastically and courageously taken the Turkey Plunge.

Each year a committee, consisting of a city councilor, police officer and school board member, selects the honoree from among nominations submitted by members of the community.

After accepting the congratulations from family and friends, Calvin remarked "would you know, I'm going to count money for the Salvation Army tonight."

Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 December 2014 01:29

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