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.



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.

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.

Belknap House delegation breaks 10-7 in support of Speaker on critical vote

CONCORD — The 18 members of the Belknap County House Delegation — all Republicans — split almost evenly this when the New Hampshire House of Representatives scuttled an amendment to the House rules requiring the Speaker of the House to appoint the nominees of the party caucuses as majority and minority leaders.

The amendment was intended to make former Speaker Bill O'Brien (R-Mont Vernon) majority leader. The Republican caucus split when Representative Shawn Jasper (R-Hudson), with a majority of Democratic and minority of Republican votes, was elected Speaker, although the GOP caucus nominated O'Brien for Speaker. The rift widened when Jasper appointed Republican Jack Flanagan (R-Brookline) as majority leader, prompting O'Brien's supporters to propose changing the rules.
The House voted 260 to 120 to reject the proposal with 111 Republicans voting against and 118 in favor.

Ten members of the Belknap County Delegation voted with the majority: Representatives Russ Dumais and George Hurt of Gilford, Dennis Fields and Brian Gallagher of Sanbornton, Don Flanders and Frank Tilton of Laconia, Valerie Fraser of New Hampton, Dave Russell of Gilmanton, Herb Vadney of Meredith and Pete Varney of Alton. The seven voting in the minority were: Glen Aldrich of Gilford, Guy Comtois of Branstead, Ray Howard of Alton, Shari LeBreche and Michael Sylvia of Belmont, and Bob Luther and Peter Spanos of Laconia. Robert Fisher of Laconia did not vote.