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Article calling for placement of modular classroom on Gilmanton School campus remains on warrant

GILMANTON — Voters at Saturday's deliberative session of annual Town Meeting had a lot of things to say about adding a temporary two-room modular building to the Gilmanton School campus but the $133,661 warrant article that calls for a $95,448 expenditure next school year will go a March 11 vote as presented. The balance of $38,213 would be spent over four subsequent school years.

The article calls for the 5-year lease/purchase of a used modular that will cost $26,732 annually. An additional $68,716 was added to the amount to be raised and appropriated this year for installation and hookup.

The Gilmanton School Board supports the article while the Budget Committee does not.

Budget Committee Chair Brian Forst said the vote against supporting the modular was not unanimous. He said that committee members recognized the need for additional space, however he said they wanted to see multiple options presented instead of just one calling for the modular unit.

Forst added that there were some concerns about a lease-to-buy contract for a used, albeit reconditioned, building.

Superintendent Jahn Fauci said yesterday the modular is completely reconditioned and a corridor will be built as a connector from the main school to it.

School Board minutes from January say the modular comes with white boards and other school-related fixtures but will need to be furnished and hooked up to utilities. The district estimates it will use about $3,000 annually in electricity and heat.

The modular has no bathrooms. While the exact plan for its use is not complete because it has not yet been approved by voters, minutes suggest one room will be used for administration and the other room will be used for a classroom for older students.

As of January, Gilmanton School has 403 students — up from the 398 reflected in the December minutes.

The smallest classes are in fourth, fifth and sixth grades while the largest classes are kindergarten at 51, first grade at 48, and 50 in second grade.

The population of Gilmanton, according to the 2010 census was 3,777 people — up 717 from the 3,060 recorded in 2000 or 23-percent — suggesting the town is one of the fastest growing communities in the Lakes Region.

School administrators told the Budget Committee in January that in this school year, two teachers have been moved to "rolling" classrooms — meaning they do not have classrooms of their own but must use a cart to bring their teaching materials to the students.

As to the future, Forst said he will be serving as the Budget Committee representative to the recently formed Space Needs Committee that is comprised of members of the community, two school board members, school administrators, two teachers, two parents, and a member of the Planning Board. It is tasked with performing a historical evaluation of the population of the district as it relates to the school system and incorporating demographic studies to help administrators develop a long-range plan for Gilmanton School.

"We need to start long-term planning now," said Forst yesterday. He noted that in 10 years the contract for sending high school students to Gilford expires and while 10 years seems like a long time — it's not when it comes to planning for education infrastructure.

Next year's budget, said Fauci, factors in 163 Gilmanton students who will attend Gilford High School at a cost of $17,425 each. He said dollar amount per student is about the same as it was last year and down almost $1,000 per student from the initial budget planning figures given to Gilmanton by Gilford. This school year there are 140 students from Gilmanton.

He said the budget was reduced by about $170,000 meaning the final proposed budget for school year 2014-2015 of $9.6 million is up about $5,000 from the current year's budget.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 February 2014 12:44

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30-year-old visitor found dead in Laconia apartment; drug overdose suspected

LACONIA — Police confirmed yesterday that they are investigating a possible fatal drug overdose that was reported to them at 3:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Capt. Matt Canfield said the victim was a 30-year-old male from Massachusetts who he declined to identify other than to say he was visiting at a Union Avenue apartment.

He said the investigation into what could be the second fatal drug overdose in as many weeks in the area continues. No further details could be released yesterday.

Local police are dealing with a recent spike in the use of heroin and opiates in the Lakes Region. In the past two weeks Belmont has seen two overdoses — a fatal one and one that was nearly fatal.

Canfield said an autopsy will be performed and toxicology results will be sent to the state lab determine the exact cause of death.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 February 2014 12:40

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Pickerel Caught in Sandwich Wins 35th Great Rotary Fishing Derby

MEREDITH — An 11-year-old ice fisherman from Tamworth landed what proved to the be the winning catch in the 35th annual Great Meredith Rotary Fishing Derby and took home the $15,000 prize Sunday afternoon.
Brady King landed his winning 4.25-pound, 25½-inch pickerel around 8:30 Saturday morning in Bear Camp Pond in Sandwich, a shallow 145-acre pond not far from King's home which has an average depth of only nine feet and is located about a half mile from Rte. 25 in East Sandwich.
''That's a pretty big fish for a pond that small, but he's landed other good sized pickerel from there before.'' said his father, Chris King, who was all smiles as he watched Gov. Maggie Hassan congratulate his son, who held up his winning catch for photographers as long as he could before his hands became too cold and asked his father to hold it for a while.
''He held it so tight that it was starting to thaw out from the heat of his hands,'' said his father, a self-employed electrician who was joined at the awards ceremony by his wife, Heidi, and daughter, Kailey, 7.
King said that his son was going to be saving the money to help pay for college.
This marked the second year that a new system has been in place for determining the winner of the derby. Previously the winner was the fisherman who landed the largest tagged rainbow trout from about a half dozen bodies of water where the tagged trout were stocked.
The winner is now determined by a drawing of the names of the 14 fishermen who land the largest of seven different eligible species on Saturday and Sunday.
Second prize of $5,000 went to Mark Smart, a stone mason from Moultonborough, who qualified for the drawing by catching the biggest cusk, a 30-inch, 8.82 pound fish, from ''The Broads'' section of Lake Winnipesaukee on Saturday.
A cusk, which are actually relatives of cod and reputed to be among the best fish for making chowder, was also the qualifying fish for the third-place winner, Skyler Sherman of Manchester, who won $3,000 with his 31-inch, 8.88-pound cusk landed from Lake Winnipesaukee Sunday.
The biggest fish in the derby was landed by John D'Agata of Gilford, a 31 1/2 inch, 10.72 pound lake trout that he caught Saturday. He fished all weekend with his daughter, Madeline, 8, who landed the fourth-place lake trout on Saturday,which measured 29 inches long and weighed 7.35 pounds.
The D'Agatas took home $850 for their efforts and also caught 10 cusk over the weekend.
Derby Chairman Betsy Donovan said that the event was well-attended and that ticket sales prior to the weekend topped 2,000 for the first time in six or seven years. The final unofficial tally for ticket sales as of Sunday afternoon was 5,358, about 1,000 more than last year.
''We had good weather and a real nice turnout,'' said Donovan, who will be handing over the chairmanship to Belknap County Sheriff Craig Wiggin for next year's derby.
''It was a really good weekend. Coupled with last weekend's big turnout for the Pond Hockey Tournament it's been a couple of good weeks for businesses in Meredith and the surrounding area,'' said Selectman Peter Brothers, who was working at Derby headquarters over the weekend.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 February 2014 12:34

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Lawmakers taking dead aim at county wage & benefit increases

LACONIA — Belknap County workers will feel the brunt of cuts being considered by the Belknap County Convention to the proposed 2014 budget, which will see a decrease of $732,855 from the $26.57 million budget proposed by county commissioners if the budget currently under consideration by the convention is adopted.
The budget currently being considered would reduce the total amount to be raised by taxes from $14,445,359 to $13,712, 804, a decrease of 1.3 percent from the $13,889,467 raised last year,.
Once the $533,000 no longer contained in the budget as a result of the county no longer funding Lakes Region Mutual Fire Aid, the net change in the proposed budget is 2.7 percent above last year.
The cuts under consideration include a commission-proposed 1.6 percent cost of living pay increase as well as 3 percent "step" increases for eligible employees as well as reductions in health insurance, longevity and retirement benefits, the last three of which are viewed by the commissioners as contractual obligations.
The convention tackled the budget for the second straight day yesterday afternoon at the Belknap County complex in another marathon session which saw sometimes heated discussion over issues of who controls the line items in the county budget and whether or not the county should hire three additional corrections officers at the county jail.
The corrections officer proposal, which would have added about $120,000 in wages and benefits to the Corrections Department budget for an additional community corrections officer and two additional corrections officers was hailed as a ''complete package'' by Rep, Frank Tilton (R-Laconia), who pressed county commissioners to agree to support the proposal which had the support of many of the more fiscally conservative members of the convention for its potential in allowing more prisoners to be released into community programs.
But Commission Chairman John Thomas (R-Belmont) and fellow commissioner Ed Philpot (D-Laconia), pointed out that they would first have to find $82,000 within the Corrections Department budget to make up for cuts in benefits and wages that the convention was considering.
The commissioners said they would either be left in the position of not bringing on the new prison employees or having to reduce the benefits they are contractually guaranteed to provide, resulting in a lawsuit that the county would be certain t lose.
Rep. Ruth Gulick (D-New Hampton) moved that the convention adopt the budget as proposed by the commissioners and add the funds to hire the three new guards but that motion was defeated 14-3.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 February 2014 02:24

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