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$4.5 million renovation project on drawing boards for Lakes Region General Hospital

LACONIA — LRGHealthcare plans to invest $4.5 million in improvements to the nursing unit at North 4, the section of Lakes Region General Hospital originally constructed in 1969, which will make the facility compatible with the addition joining the hospital and medical office building opened in 2011.

The project will be funded by $3.5 million in donations from the capital campaign launched in 2012 together with $1 million in operating funds.

The infrastructure of the old building, particularly the air handling system which lacks the capacity to meet the increased demands, will be replaced and low flow toilets installed throughout the building.

In keeping with the company's commitment to convert the entire hospital to single rooms, which ensures the privacy of patients and reduces the risk of infection, five beds that were lost when the addition was built will be restored in North 4, where the number of beds was trimmed from 20 to 15. Since a unit of 20 beds offers an optimal nurse-to-patient ratio, it is much more efficient to operate. Each of the rooms will have a private shower and lift system, enhancing their efficiency and safety for both patients and staff. Finally the nursing station in North 4 will be reconfigured and reconstructed to match its counterparts elsewhere in the hospital, enabling personnel to move easily from one station to another throughout the facility.

LRGHealthcare has applied for a certificate of need, required by the state of all major investments in medical facilities, and once it is approved expects to begin work in May and complete the project by February 2015.

Last Updated on Thursday, 13 March 2014 12:28

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Most county reps support repeal of death penalty

CONCORD — The bill to repeal the death penalty, which carried the New Hampshire House of Representatives by a vote of 225 to 104 yesterday, drew bipartisan support from the 18 members of the Belknap County Delegation.

Only three members of the delegation, all Republicans, opposed repeal — Reps. Richard Burchell of Gilmanton, Bob Greemore of Meredith and Stephen Holmes of Alton.

Another eight Republicans — Reps. Guy Comtois of Barnstead, Dennis Fields of Sanbornton, Charles Fink and Michael Sylvia of Belmont, Don Flanders, Bob Luther and Frank Tilton of Laconia and Herb Vadney of Meredith — joined with the four Democrats — Lisa DiMartino of Gilford, Ruth Gulick of New Hampton, David Huot of Laconia and Ian Raymond of Sanbornton — in support of repeal.

Republicans Jane Cormier of Alton and Colette Worsman and Democrat Beth Arsenault of Laconia were absent and did not vote.

Last Updated on Thursday, 13 March 2014 12:16

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Catholic Church puts St. Helena building at The Weirs up for sale

LACONIA — St. Helena Mission Church, where Catholic services were held on weekends throughout the summer months for half a century, was closed last September and put up for sale in December.

Father Marc Drouin, pastor of St. Andre Bessette Parish, said yesterday that the church was built in early 1960s on land donated in 1954 as a mission church of Our Lady of the Lakes Parish in Lakeport. In the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s mass was held at St. Helena four or five times in the course of a weekend as vacationing families and seasonal residents filled its pews. In those days, he said, there were between seven and nine priests spread among the three parishes in the city and they were assisted in the summer months by the Benedictines from St. Anselm's College in Manchester.

Drouin said that regular attendance began falling in the 1990s, particularly at St. Helena, as the conversion of motels and cottages to condominiums slowed the turnover of summer visitors and increased the number of seasonal residents, many of whom worshiped at the larger churches in the city. As the number of parishioners dwindled in 2010 the three parishes ultimately became on, which today is served by two priests, and a year later the Our Lady of the Lakes church building was offered for sale.

Drouin explained that last year the pastoral and finance council undertook a study of St. Helena and found it in need of repairs estimated to cost about $200,000. He said that the council concluded that what he called "a 24-hour church," where mass was held of Saturdays and Sundays for 12 weeks between Memorial Day and Labor Day, did not warrant the investment. The parish petitioned the bishop to sell the property.

"There are always emotions around the closing of a church because so many of the significant parts of our lives are spent there," Drouin said, recalling that the decision to close St. Helena was comprehensively explained to parishioners in the Parish Bulletin.

The property at 326 Endicott Street East, less than a mile from Weirs Beach, consists of the 5,200-square-foot building, which sits on a three-acre lot, almost two thirds of which are paved. The church is not heated. It is listed by the Portsmouth office of the CBRE Group, Inc., the largest real estate firm in the country, at $349,000, much less than its assessed value of $885,700.

The church is in the single-family residential district, where a variety uses, including assisted living facilities, hotels, motels and cottages, are permitted and with by special exception educational institutions, campgrounds, greenhouses, marine dealers and greenhouses are also allowed.

Last Updated on Thursday, 13 March 2014 12:11

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Jesseman Tops Field in Tilton

TILTON — Incumbent Joe Jesseman and Jonathan Scanlon captured the two seats on the Board of Selectmen at yesterday's election. Jesseman topped the poll with 158 votes, just four more than Scanlon's 154, while Peter Fogg ran third with 145 votes and Wayne Brock trailed the field with 101.

Last Updated on Thursday, 13 March 2014 01:36

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