LACONIA — The board of directors of Lakes Region Public Access television, faced with the prospect of going out of business at midnight on Wednesday, October 22, elected to throw a Hail Mary pass at an emergency meeting held Saturday morning at the station's studio at Laconia High School.
Directors voted unanimously to send out bills to member communities requesting the original amounts that would have been paid rather than those adopted as part of a new business plan the board had hoped to implement earlier this year.
''We really needed more time to put this together. I pushed for a shorter schedule and I was wrong,'' said Chan Eddy of Gilford, chairman of the LRPA board of directors.
It is expected that the bills, with a cover letter from Eddy explaining the stations' financial problems, will be mailed to member communities today.
LRPA has an annual operating budget of about $130,000 and employs five people: station manager Denise Beauchaine as well as one full-time and one part-time worker and two contractors.
LRPA has been drawing from its reserves to sustain operations since July 1, when member municipalities entered a new 10-year contract with MetroCast Cablevision. Under the new contract each municipality will operate educational and governmental channels (24 and 26), which broadcast only to the municipality where the programming originates while LRPA would provide public access on channel 25, airing programs from individuals and organizations from the member municipalities. However, the municipalities, which had contributed to funding the operation of LRPA, withdrew their support. and, at the same time, MetroCast withheld its annual $30,000 grant to LRPA, leaving the station without a revenue stream.
At Saturday's meeting Beauchaine said there was only $14,000 left in LRPA's checking account and that $4,000 plus an additional $1,000 cable tax is required for each pay period.
Former LRPA board chairman Ken Curley of Northwood said ''time is running out and we haven't gotten any support from some of the towns,'' and added he hoped that sending out the bills would generate enough funds to help the station get to the point where it can get through until the new business plan can be implemented.
As early as February, the board of directors of the LRPA anticipated that its funding would be eroded when the new contract was signed and began drafting a new business plan, with the goal of generating $300,000 in income the first year. Sponsorships from between 50 and 100 businesses at between $1,000 and $2,000 a year were projected to provide much of the revenue with fees for service accounting for the balance. But the plan has never been implemented.
''I have to take responsibility for this. We needed another year to put it together,'' said Eddy, who said that the board of directors are as individuals too busy to be able to market the new plan to potential sponsors and donors.
Laconia City Councilman Bob Hamel, a member of the LRPA board, said ''we all kind of knew this was coming when LRPA was left out of the new contract. We lost a tremendous amount of money and now we have a real mountain to climb. We need someone full-time to work getting the new plan into place but don't have the funds to hire anyone.''
The impending closure of the station has already caused concern over how the popular WLNH Children's Auction will be handled this year. Binnie Media, new owner of the local radio station, had a cameraman at Saturday's meeting from WNIN-TV.
Beauchaine said she had been approached by Binnie Media over what it would cost to get LRPA TV through December, when the auction is broadcast.
She said that it costs about $10,000 a month to operate the station and said that the potential funds which would be available if all communities paid the bills which were sent out would be about $129,000.
Eddy said that the station would also be appealing to local banks to help them weather the current storm and help stabilize the revenue stream until the new business plan can take effect.
Last Updated on Monday, 13 October 2014 11:07
BELMONT — Police have charged a Laconia Road man with four counts of felonious sexual assault for allegedly having sexual contact with a girl who was 13 when the assaults began.
Police said Steven Price, 64, was taken into custody at his home without incident and later released on $10,000 personal recognizance bail
The woman making the allegation said the assaults began when she was 13 and continued for a number of years.
Police declined to release any further information.
Last Updated on Saturday, 11 October 2014 12:46
LACONIA — The Personnel Committee of the Belknap County Convention has voted unanimously to reinstate Belknap County Nursing Home Administrator Mathew Logue to the position he was fired from by the Belknap County Commissioners in late August.
The decision was announced yesterday afternoon by two of the three committee members, Rep. Colette Worsman (R-Meredith) and Rep. Robert Greemore (R-Meredith), who met yesterday at the Belknap County Complex to approve minutes of the two and a half hour non-public session held Monday night at which the decision was made and in which Rep. Richard Burchell (R-Gilmanton), who was not present yesterday, also joined the unanimous vote.
The committee also voted to enter into the record a three-page copy of its decision but did not reveal its contents until asked by County Finance Director Glen Waring what the decision was as they sought to close the meeting.
Worsman then read the decision to those who were at the meeting, most of whom were nursing home or county employees, most of whom were already aware of the decision due to the circulation of a communication from Burchell earlier in the day which said that the decision had been to reinstate Logue without loss of pay.
Logue was terminated by commissioners effective September 13 and had been notified by the commissioners in a letter sent to him on August 27. He subsequently appealed the termination to the Personnel Committee, which heard testimony for nearly six hours at a hearing on Monday, October 6.
According to the committee's statement, their deliberations focused on the issues of dishonesty, neglect of duty, willful in subordination and lack of cooperation, which witnesses called for the county commissioners had testified to on Monday.
At Monday's hearing County Administrator Debra Shackett had testified that there were at least two times in which Logue was untruthful with her, in February of this year when he had told her that all of the personnel evaluations except one had been completed, and in May of this year when she inquired about developments in a situation with an employee identified only as Employee A and he had told her that it was being handled with meetings every other week.
She said that she was shocked to discover a month after Logue had told her that evaluations had been completed except for one that none had been delivered to the Human Resources Department.
Shackett also said that in August, when she talked to Employee A, whom she had questioned Logue about earlier, the employee told her that no meetings had been held regarding her situation.
Employee A testified behind closed doors at Monday's hearing.
The committee said that Logue had credibly and persuasively testified that he had delayed submitting evaluations because some were due shortly after he assumed his duties in December of 2012 and he wanted more time and in other cases he had evaluations. They also found his testimony credible in the situation with Employee A.
The committee also noted ''although the commissioners presented credible evidence that Mr. Logue neglected important duties when he failed to submit his budget, staff analysis and employee evaluations in a timely, the Personnel Committee found Mr. Logue's testimony credible and more persuasive.''
The committee also sided with Logue on charges of willful insubordination for failure to sign a disciplinary letter and said that despite evidence that he had failed to cooperate with the county administrator, the Human Resources director and Finance director on several occasions that some of the delays came as a result of his ''sincerely held beliefs regarding the proper administration of the nursing home.''
After Worsman read the letter, Waring said from his seat in the audience that the report ''was not worth the paper it was written on,'' and there was a general clamor of discontent from the audience.
''It's a circus. I've never seen anything like this in my 40 years here,'' said Deborah White of Belmont, the longest tenured employee at the Belknap County Nursing Home.
''I'm ashamed of them,'' she said of the committee members, adding ''If I were them, I wouldn't show my face in public.''
Fellow employee Carolee Sliker of Laconia, who has been at the nursing home for 16 years as dietary manager, said ''I'm appalled that after the amount of evidence brought forth on Monday that they came up with a decision like this. It's a disservice to our residents, their family members and staff to bring him back. They should not be putting the nursing home in jeopardy for political reasons.''
Sliker said that she and more than 40 other nursing home employees had signed a petition which was circulated last week asking that Logue not be reinstated. County Administrator Shackett confirmed that she had received the petition Friday and that it had 43 signatures.
Belknap County Commissioner Steve Nedeau (R-Meredith) said he was ''disgusted'' with the decision. ''Evidently they (the committee members) didn't go to the same hearing I was at Monday.''
Thea Aloise of Gilford, whose husband, Dana, is a resident at the nursing home, said that she thinks the committee had no intention of listening to what the county officials had to say at Monday's hearing. ''I think it was pre-determined before they ever started.''
Last Updated on Saturday, 11 October 2014 12:27
LACONIA — After getting a complaint that an apartment house at 2 Center Street was without water and sewer service, city fire officials condemned the property after being unable to reach the owner.
Fire Chief Ken Erickson said when fire officials went to the house yesterday as many as four adults and six children were told to vacate the premises. He said none of them admitted to living there but the adults said they were staying there.
He said all will be allowed back in to retrieve their belongings.
He said to the best of his knowledge, none of them needed emergency assistance from the city although the city manager and the welfare department were notified.
Two men who didn't want to be identified said they were staying in an upstairs apartment and that there had been no water for a few days. A posting on the inside of the front door shows the Water Department shut off the water on August 29 due to non-payment. The outstanding bill is $552.35.
One of the men said he was going to get his property out of the house by asking a friend with a truck to help him.. The two left the street riding bicycles and wearing backpacks.
Laconia on-line assessing records show the two-apartment home is owned by John J. Suldenski of Northfield. The Daily Sun called a number listed to a John J. Suldenski in Northfield but it was not in service.
Erickson said the health inspection revealed that there was no running water and there was human waste was in the toilets and bathtubs.
Hallways on the first and second floor were crowded with stuff but a person could get though. The stairs on all three levels were free of clutter.
Erickson said there were working smoke detectors in the building but one of them needed a battery.
The rear part of the outside of the home was cluttered with garbage and children's toys. The lawn is unmowed and there is a dead tree that Erickson said is dangerously close to the side of the house.
This summer, the fire department condemned a multi-family home near the corner of High Street and Union Avenue because of a variety of code violations including broken windows and non-working smoke detectors.
CAPTION: (Center Street) Two of the adult residents of a house on Center Street leave their apartment yesterday afternoon after it was condemned by the fire department for not having any running water.
CAPTION 2: (Center Street) Garbage piled up in a hall way inside the a condemned home on Center Street.
Last Updated on Saturday, 11 October 2014 12:13
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