Shaker officials address drug use

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

BELMONT — For the past three years, Shaker Regional School District Superintendent Maria Dreyer has written letters to orthopedic doctors in Gilford and Concord requesting they reduce the number of pain killers they issue to students who are injured during athletics.
She said nobody in particular has asked her to do this but she took it upon herself because of her fears of opioid dependence in young people. She didn't say if she got any replies but said, as an educator, she felt it was her responsibility to let them know her position.
At Tuesday's School Board meeting, Dreyer was joined by at least two parents and members of the Belmont/Canterbury community who have joined in her anti-drug and alcohol message by creating independent but somewhat overlapping organizations of their own.
Donna Iacopucci is the president of the PTO at Belmont High School and her group has formed "It Takes A Village." She said they have joined sessions at Stand Up Laconia and on April 21 they have a special mini-dinner beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the Belmont High School to attract as many community members as they can to join them.
Iacopucci said Dreyer has made a few donations for some gift cards for a raffle and said the 50-minute movie "The Anonymous People," which is a feature film documenting the 23 million Americans who are recovering from substance abuse, will be shown after dinner. After the showing, there will be a panel discussion with other members of the community.
Darcy Ess, also a parent, is the only "lay" representative to a recently formed a drug and alcohol task force in Belmont that includes Police Chief Mark Lewandoski, Welfare Director Donna Cilley, Dreyer and other members of the anti-drug community.
Ess told the School Board that while she knows their coalition needs a catchy name, she said they are meeting in the morning of April 21 at the SAU offices in Belmont at 10 a.m.
Working together, they are all trying to combat the effects of drugs in the Belmont/Canterbury communities.
Dreyer, who recently received this year's results from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey taken earlier in the year by 82 percent of the Belmont High School student body, said the results were alarming.
She said she if particularly concerned with heroin and opioid and said administrators are starting to see some evidence in Belmont High of increased usage.
The results show that 16.5 percent or 67 of those who took the survey currently use marijuana and 2.7 or 11 of the students admit to trying heroin. She said 2.1 percent or nine students said they have used methamphetamine and 15 or 3.6 percent had said they used ecstasy.
Fifty students, or 12.2 percent, said they had been offered or sold drugs on school property and 13.4 percent said they had taken drugs that were not prescribed by a doctor.
Especially disturbing to Dreyer was that 14.3 percent said they didn't see anything wrong with taking drugs prescribed to someone else and 31.2 percent said they easy or very easy access to prescription drugs.
About half said they don't see anything wrong with using marijuana but Dreyer attributed the decline in the number of student who use it to to widening availability of other drugs and the expense of marijuana relative to opioids.
The School Board encouraged parents and others in the community to become more involved with "It Takes a Village" at the High School PTO or the task forced being formed by key members of the town of Belmont.

ZBA OKs Belknap House

By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — Belknap House, the first shelter to serve homeless families in Belknap County, is anticipated to open its door at 200 Court St. in October.
Leonard Campbell of Catholic Charities said yesterday that with the special exception granted by the Zoning Board of Adjustment earlier this week the Board of Directors is prepared to close on the purchase of the property.
Modeled after the Homeless Center for Strafford County, the facility will operate as shelter for homeless families from Oct. 15 until May 15 and as a hostel from May 15 until Oct. 1. The revenue collected from those staying in the hostel during the warmer months will be applied to budget to operate and maintain the shelter. The shelter will have capacity five or six families while the hostel can accommodate as many as 19 people.
The special exception was required since neither a shelter nor a hostel is a permitted use in the commercial district where the building is located.
The Zoning Board of Adjustment attached three conditions to its decision. The property must be screened from abutting properties, Temple B'nai Israel to the west and a residence on Pearl Street to the south, by either fencing or shrubbery. Families referred to the shelter by the welfare directors of towns in the county would remain domiciled in those towns, which would be responsible for providing any public assistance and services to them as well as schooling their children. Finally, the shelter would be open only to families referred to it by welfare directors in Belknap County.
Campbell described the conditions as "not the least onerous," explaining that all were incorporated in the design and operation of the facility.
Altogether $250,000 has been raised to purchase and renovate the property. Renovations will include installation of a sprinkler system, kitchen and laundry, improvements to the bathrooms and measures to ensure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Currently the Carey House, operated by the Salvation Army, is the only shelter for homeless families in the Lakes Region, but it has capacity for only three families, leaving scant options for the rest, who are often directed to Concord.

No prohibition yet on events, weddings at Timber Hill Farm

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — The owners of Timber Hill Farm and abutter Monique Twomey have still not learned if a judge will issue a restraining order to stop the farm from holding weddings and other like events on Gunstock Hill Road.

Judge James O'Neill dismissed one of two cases filed against the town of Gilford by an Twomey to Timber Hill Farm for actions taken by its Zoning Board of Adjustments relative to agritourism in a single-family residential zone.

The dismissed case was filed by Twomey and asked for the court to issue a restraining order stopping any forward progress by Timber Hill Farm and its wedding venue proposals and to force the ZBA to uphold a previously issued cease-and-desist. O'Neill dismissed this case because the final deadline to appeal the Dec. 1, 2015, decision was not filed within the 30 days allowed by law.

A second suit filed against the town of Gilford by Twomey challenged the second ZBA ruling which was to overturn a decision it made by saying the Planning Board erred in early December when it said that agritourism is not agriculture.

Twomey has requested a restraining order stop the Howes from continuing with their plans until the court cases have all been adjudicated.

The Howes have been granted intervenor status in the second case and have filed a motion to dismiss the case, saying that it is irrelevant now because Gilford's voters chose to allow agritourism as agriculture in all of their zones, with restrictions to be imposed by Planning Board site plan review.

Twomey has objected to this motion to dismiss, saying that the zoning ordinance recently passed by Gilford voters created a new subsection called "Open Spaces Uses" that establishes regulations for agritourism. She argues that this "doesn't change, clarify, modify, or in any way alter the Zoning Ordinance definition of 'agriculture.'" She contends the issue is not moot, or irrelevant, and that the court should be able to render a decision.

The judge will hear arguments on this aspect of the case and has decided to wait to determine whether he will issue a restraining order.

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