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Cost of maintaining high-mileage cruisers questioned

LACONIA — Police Commission Chair Warren Clements said yesterday that he would like to know how much money in maintenance and repairs it costs the department to keep older police vehicles on the road.

Clements said he was specifically referring to vehicles with 70,000 or more miles on them.

Captain Bill Clary said it's a difficult number to provide because all of the city's vehicle maintenance in managed by employees at City Hall. He said the Police Department doesn't control those particular line items.

"We don't control spending," Clary continued. "The internal budgeting is done at City Hall."

He said the department gets "a bill" (for its records) from the Department of Public Works that includes labor for repairs and maintenance but all the movement of money is handled at the city level. He noted that even in his own annual budget preparation, he leaves those lines blank and they are filled in by city hall finance employees.

He said the department has been doing a better job in recent years of "getting rid of " old cruisers from front-line work sooner than in the past, which has saved the city money in maintenance and repair line item. He said nearly all maintenance and repairs are performed by the Public Works Department.

Clary said the ones in the best shape often get a "second life" for use by detectives as unmarked cars or for special details.

He said the department has seven front-line cruisers that rotate out of primary service when they reach 70,000 miles. He said the average cruiser clocks 30,000 miles annually.

He said two new cruisers will be included in the 2014-2015 budget that he is currently preparing.

In 2013, the department received two new SUVs and one cruiser. The department had ordered two cruisers and one SUV however there was a mix-up with the Ford dealer and the department accepted the two SUVs that were close in price. One of the new SUVs is used regularly by the shift supervisor.
Overall, Clary and other police officials have had good things to say about the new Ford Interceptors, noting they do seem to be saving the department money in its fuel line.

He said Ford has assured the nation's police departments that the company will make these models for 10 years — meaning all the equipment needed for them will be usable for at least 10 years without any retrofitting.

NOTES: Chief Chris Adams said while robberies (armed and unarmed) this year are up to about 15 or 16 he said the overall rates of retail theft are down by about 31 percent. He also said detectives and patrol officers continue to investigate a recent string of arson. . . . . . Sgt. Thomas Swett updated the commissioners on the Police Oriented Project involving retail theft and said the stores that have control over their own placement of goods have been very responsive to working with police. He said local chain retailers have little to no control over where they place their goods, cash registers, and displays. He also noted that police working cooperatively with Vista Foods over the past year has helped them reduce the incidents of shoplifting dramatically. He also said the number of domestic assaults and disturbances are up because management is more proactive about reporting suspicious behavior to police. He also said police officers are engaging in more community policing, which can be as simple as stopping by randomly for a visit or a coffee.

Last Updated on Friday, 22 November 2013 02:32

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Yellow balloon no cause for celebration for some Gilford residents

GILFORD — A balloon was flying over the homes on David Lewis Road yesterday, but several property owners in the quiet, wooded neighborhood were not celebrating. Flown to mimic the height of a proposed cellular telephone antenna tower, the balloon did nothing to ease the concerns of property owners whose lots are 100 feet from the base of the tower.

New Cingular Wireless PCS, doing business as AT&T, and American Tower Corporation, LLC, the construction manager, have applied to erect the 100-foot monopole tower with 12 antennas on the southeast corner of a 48-acre tract owned by the Traditional Cathloics of New Hampshire, much of which consists of the Bolduc Farm managed by Armand and Ernice Bolduc.

"I'm going to fight this tooth and nail," said Kevin Lacasse, whose home at 38 David Lewis Road sits due east of the proposed site of the tower. Eying the balloon drifting above the tree line, he discounted the test since the breeze kept the balloon from reaching the true height of the tower. "It's right in my backyard," he remarked, "where I can look right at it from my hot tub."

The tower would also overshadow a vacant 5.27-acre parcel where Roger Baron plans to build a retirement home. Since the property is intersected by a brook and dotted with wetlands the buildable area is confined to less than two acres in the northwest corner of the lot nearest the proposed site of the tower. "We're not going to let this go," Baron said, asking "is the town going to protect the little guy?"
Although the tower would not be as close to the home of Charles and Winifred Hughes at 48 David Lewis Road, the slope of the land would make it very visible from much of their property. Moreover, to reach the tower a 12-foot wide road would be built within a 50-foot right-of-way from David Lewis Road adjacent to their property line. The Hugheses could not be reached, but Lacasse said they share his misgivings about the tower.
Armand Bolduc said that the tower would be shielded from neighboring by trees, noting that if the trees were in leaf the balloon would be less visible. Furthermore, he said that tower will be disguised to mimic a tree.
Peter and Jane Ellis, who recently closed their vineyard and wine shop on David Lewis Road, said that they canvassed the nine homeowners on David Lewis Road and found three, including Lacasse and the Hugheses, who are opposed to the tower and six who are either in favor or disinterested.
Both Baron and Lacasse said because the tract owned by the Traditional Catholics stretches over 148 acres, there is no need to place the tower so close to neighboring properties. "They want to put it where it least affects their land and affects everybody else," said Baron, who said they should put in the parking lot of the church on Morrill Street. "No one would complain if they put in in the middle of their property," he said.
Baron said that he has spoken with an appraiser who told him that the proximity of the tower would reduce the value of his property. But, but because he could find no cases of towers being sited so close to residences, there was not sufficient data to quantify the impact. Like Baron, Lacasse believes the tower will diminish the value of the nearby properties, including his own, but has yet to receive a formal appraisal.
The Planning Board and Zoning Board of Adjustment will hold a public hearing on the project, which requires a special exception, on December 16. To qualify for a special exception a project must comply with six requirements, among them that it is "not detrimental, injurious or offensive to the neighborhood."


CAPTION: The yellow balloon, tethered by 100 feet of string, floated over 48 David Lewis Road yesterday to simulate the height of a cellular telephone antenna tower that AT&T proposes to erect on a corner of the Bolduc Farm near two homes and a building lot, whose owners seek to forestall the project, which they believe will adversely impact their properties.

Last Updated on Friday, 22 November 2013 02:20

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Car wash burglarized

LACONIA — Police are investigating an overnight burglary at the Laconia Car Wash on upper Union Avenue that was reported to them yesterday morning.

Police said the burglar or burglars broke a window and a door into the office area of the car wash and stole an undisclosed amount of cash.

Anyone with any information is asked to call the Laconia Police at 524-5252 or the Greater Laconia Crime Line at 524-1717.

Last Updated on Friday, 22 November 2013 02:01

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'Everything destroyed' in Laconia garage fire

LACONIA — Fire Chief Ken Erickson said a free-standing garage off White Oaks Road that served as the owner's workshop was destroyed by fire yesterday afternoon.

He said it appears the homeowner had been doing some welding or grinding in his workshop and left to go to a local hardware store around 3 p.m.

Erickson said the garage was fully engulfed in flames and a neighbor called to report the fire. He said Asst. Chief Kirk Beattie could see the plume of smoke from Messer Street and called for a first alarm — bringing help from Gilford to the scene and from Belmont to the city for coverage.

"Everything was destroyed," said Erickson, adding that the homeowner lost a number of tools, an acetylene torch, a grinder and other similar tools.

He said the garage was some distance from the main home and the fire was in no danger of spreading to nearby buildings. There were no injuries.

Erickson said yesterday was a very hectic day for Laconia and noted that Belmont Firefighters covered two separate calls while Laconia was on White Oaks Road, including a cardiac arrest and a car accident in the parking lot of the Laconia Public Library.

He said one was evaluated in the wake of the car accident.


CAPTION – Belmont Firefighters covering the city during a first alarm fire on White Oaks Road and Laconia Police respond to the Laconia Library yesterday afternoon at 4 p.m. for a two-car rear-end type accident. No serious injuries were reported. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Gail Ober)

Last Updated on Friday, 22 November 2013 01:22

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