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Public Access TV board fires station manager to cut costs

LACONIA — The board of directors of financially challenged Lakes Region Public Access TV fired station manger Denise Beauchaine Friday afternoon.
''The primary reason is that we couldn't afford her anymore. Her compensation was about half of our budget,'' said Chan Eddy of Gilford, chairman of the LRPA-TV board of directors.
Beauchaine, who has been station director for a little over 10 years, was paid around $40,000 a year.
Eddy said that Shane Selling, who has served as a consultant on technical issues with LRPA-TV, has been named interim program director and will handle the position part-time while members of the board of directors will take over some of the responsibilities handled by Beauchaine.
Beauchaine said that she was presented with written notification of her dismissal Friday afternoon by Eddy and Trish Laurent, another member of the board of directors. She said the letter said that the board had met Tuesday night and voted unanimously to terminate her as of the end of the business day on Friday.
She said that she was presented with a check to pay for her services through Friday but refused to accept it and is looking at discussing her firing with an attorney to see what her options are. She said that she will be at Monday's meeting of the Belknap County Convention, filming it along with Bob Daniels.
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 in mid-October.
Directors voted unanimously at that meeting 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.
At the time Eddy said that the board had been wrong to push for an early implementation of it's plan and in November the board changed its emphasis to include more of its traditional funding rather than relying on obtaining corporate sponsorship.
As early as February, the board of directors of LRPA anticipated that its funding would be eroded when new community franchise agreements were signed with MetroCast Cablevision 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.
In November the Laconia City Council agreed to pay $20,000 and the selectmen of Belmont and Meredith approved funding of $7,500 and $17,991 respectively. Alton and Northwood also made payments last year.
LRPA-TV has asked Gilford to contribute $21,393 toward the operation of MetroCast Channel 25, which provides public access programming. But Gilford Selectmen have not agreed to pay and has asked the directors of LRPA-TV for a detailed operating budget along with an assurance that the operations of the station have been "streamlined".
The selectmen also requested evidence that LRPA-TV had sought and obtained financial support from at least one or more of the members of the municipal consortium that negotiated the renewal of the franchise agreement with Metrocast that have not made payments to LRPA-TV in recent years. Those municipalities are Franklin, Deerfield, Gilmanton, New Durham, Northfield and Tilton. Finally, the board asked LRPA-TV to demonstrate that it had solicited one or more corporate sponsors, in keeping with the business plan the station developed earlier this year.
LRPA had an annual operating budget of about $130,000 and employed five people: station manager 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. 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.

Last Updated on Monday, 30 March 2015 10:29

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Bridges Out of Poverty workshop focuses on the 'hidden rules'

LACONIA — Granite United Way is presenting a workshop designed to assist social service organizations, law enforcement agencies, health care providers and agencies and private employers deal with the challenges facing those members of the community living in poverty on Wednesday, January 14 from 8:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. at the Beane Conference Center on Blueberry Lane.

The facilitator of the workshop, Prudence Pease of Tunbridge, Vermont, a mother of eight children who spent 18 years on the welfare rolls before becoming a judicial officer, said that the program is based on "Bridges Out of Poverty: Strategies for Professionals and Communities," the collaborative effort of Dr. Ruby Payne, Philip DeVol and Terie Dreussi.

Pease explained that program explores the culture of poverty, or what she called "the hidden rules" that mark the behavior and guide the choices of those whose lack of resources focuses their attention and energies on meeting immediate needs for food and shelter day-by-day. She stressed that the poor have "a different way of understanding."

The first step toward increasing the resources and improving the outcomes of the poor, she said, is to understand "why they make the choices they make."

What Pease called the "Bridges" program traces poverty to personal behaviors, community conditions, exploitation and political structures and prescribes an approach employing individual, community and institutional resources to address it. Emphasizing that poverty is "the lack of resources," not simply the lack of money, Pease said that the program underlines the development of nine resources, both individual and social, in moving people along the continuum from the instability of poverty to the stability of self-sufficiency.

"Bridges changes the lives of people and communities," Pease said.

The fee for the workshop is $25, which includes a copy of "Bridges Out of Poverty," a workbook and lunch.

The workshop is a part of Granite United Way's Financial Stability Partnership initiative, the stated goal of which is to reduce poverty in Belknap County by 20 percent by 2020.



Last Updated on Saturday, 10 January 2015 12:33

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Commissioners hope to copy Sullivan County model of 'community corrections'

LACONIA — New Belknap County Commissioners Richard Burchell (R-Gilmanton) and Dave DeVoy (R-Sanbornton) say that they are eager to get moving with plans to develop a jail plan for the county which mirrors the approach taken in Sullivan County (Claremont), where officials ditched plans for a new $38 million county jail in 2008 and opted instead to build a $5.6 million community corrections facility.
''We were very impressed when we toured their facility and talked with the people running the programs,'' said DeVoy, who noted that among the people he and Burchell talked to was Kevin Warwick, president of Alternative Solutions Associates, Inc., who serves as a consultant to Sullivan County's Department of Corrections and is a recognized national leader in establishing community-based programs.
The 72-bed Sullivan County Community Corrections Center is a 20,000-square-foot facility which was built adjacent to existing county jail in Claremont in 2009. The center has 32 treatment beds, 16 work release beds and 24 beds for female offenders.

Sullivan County also spent $1.3 million on renovations at the county jail, which holds up to 100 inmates.
The corrections center provides work-release opportunities and a focus on treatment and programming for inmates close to release, and is designed to better help inmates transition back into the community.
The project, which is the first of its kind in the state, represents a new direction in the handling of inmates for the county as it concentrates efforts and resources on re-entry instead of incarceration, according to Sullivan County officials, who first discussed plans to improve facilities and programming in 2005, following a study that revealed more than 80 percent of inmates booked into the county jail required some form of treatment programming.
More than $1.3 million in grants were received by the county between 2019 and 2012 which helped pay for the programs offered at the community corrections center.
In a meeting held by Sullivan County Commissioners last October to consider the sustainability of the funding for the programs in light of the non-renewal of the Second Chance Act program, Warwick provided information which showed only a 17 percent recidivism rate for Sullivan County for those who has completed the TRAILS (Transitional Re-entry and Inmate Life Skills) program compared to 51 percent for the New Hampshire Department of Corrections and 52 percent for Carroll County.
Warwick also pointed out that the average prison population has been consistently lower than projected since the center opened, with 100 actual in 2009 compared to an estimate of 123, 99 actual in 2010 compared to an estimated 128, 105 in 2011 compared to an estimated 132, 110 in 2012 compared to an estimated 138 and 106 in 2013 compared to an estimated 143.
Belknap County Commissioners said at Thursday's meeting that they would like to see Warwick serve as a consultant to the county and have urged Belknap County House of Corrections Superintendent Dan Ward to have him on a list of possible consultants which will be presented to them when they meet on January 20.

Last Updated on Saturday, 10 January 2015 12:27

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Sandwich School asking for 1 more teacher; 4th & 5th grade class of 27 would be split

SANDWICH — When the Inter-Lakes School Board meets next week it will consider a request from John Hansen, principal of the Sandwich Central School, to hire a teacher to cope with the excessive number of pupils enrolled in the current fourth and fifth grade classroom.

Although enrollment has shrunk steadily across the district during the past five years, 27 pupils are enrolled in those two grades. Hansen said that the total number — 13 in the fourth grade and 14 in the fifth grade — is a third more than the ideal of 18, which has posed challenges for the teacher, Mary Beaudoin, and crowded the 900-square-foot classroom.

Hansen said that a handful of parents expressed concerns and the situation was discussed with parents at a meeting in December. To lighten the teacher's responsibilities the sixth grade mathematics teacher is instructing the fifth grade pupils. Moreover, for about six weeks a special educator taught reading and language arts to fourth, fifth and sixth grade pupils. Hansen said that steps have also been taken to ease the pressure on the limited space by offering instruction in other rooms. He estimated that all the pupils are together in one room for about half the school day, conceding that even half the day with the 27 pupils, teacher and para educator in the same room was trying for all.

Hansen said that since discussing the situation with the school board last month he has interviewed several prospective teachers and, if the board approves his request, is prepared to move fairly quickly. He said that the fourth and fifth grade class would be split into two classes with pupils in each grade in both classes.

In November, 2005 a committee projected future enrollment in the district. Hansen remembered that enrollment at Sandwich Central School was forecast to reach the "high 50s" and remarked "we've got 72 in kindergarten through sixth grade right now." He suggested the recession contributed to the rising enrollment as house prices in the town fell to within reach of homebuyers and some young families returned to Sandwich to live with their parents.

Ironically, not so long ago the School Board was concerned that the declining enrollment at Sandwich Central School may not warrant the cost of operating the school and contemplated asking the Sandwich property taxpayers to pay a surcharge in return for keeping the school open.

Last Updated on Saturday, 10 January 2015 12:22

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