Police seek white pickup in Cumberland Farms hit and run

LACONIA — Police are looking for a white double-cab pickup truck that may have a wooden box in the bed whose driver allegedly backed into a gas meter at Cumberland Farms on Court street and caused a serious gas leak.

Police said the incident occurred at 8:52 a.m. Saturday, and both the driver and the passenger got out to examine the damage before they left the lot. The male passenger was wearing a bright green shirt.

Police said according to utility crews the damage is extensive.

At the time of the crash, the pickup had a wooden tool box and tools were placed in a standing position behind the cab.

Anyone with any information is asked to call the Laconia Police at 524-5252 or the Laconia Crime Line at 524-1717.

– Gail Ober

05-07 truck

Rehab center plan shot down

By Michael Kitch


LACONIA — An amendment to a House bill allowing the former Laconia State School property to be leased for a substance abuse and recovery center has been withdrawn by state Sen. Jeanie Forrester (R- Meredith). 

At last night’s City Council meeting, Mayor Ed Engler said the issue was no longer on the agenda, and that after a couple of conversations with the senator, she is “withdrawing her sponsorship of the amendment. As of now, this is a moot subject.” 

The proposal came to light last week when Forrester added the amendment to House Bill 1695. The Senate Finance Committee voted five to one to support the proposal. In the meantime, the proposal was met with puzzlement by Engler, who said he thought nothing was happening with the property.
Alex Ray, owner and founder of  The Common Man family of restaurants, supported the proposal due to his commitment to addressing this issue of substance abuse. 

Forrested insisted last week that “My intent is not to hurt Laconia.” 

The state has been trying to sell the 200-acre property, and offered it to the city of Laconia for $10 million in 2011. In 2012, the city offered $2.16 million for that property, the Robbie Mills Sports Complex and another 10.2-acre property, but the state never responded to the offer, which was withdrawn once an environmental assessment was done. About 75 acres had been found to be contaminated. 

Pat Wood, speaking to the City Council last night, suggested the city form a committee to address the future of the state school property, perhaps exploring joint ventures with the state and private parties.

SB2 change - New law would make deliberative sessions optional if passed this week


CONCORD — Deliberative sessions could become a thing of the past in official ballot, or SB 2, towns and school districts if a bill passes the New Hampshire Senate this week.

The Senate will vote on House Bill 1375 — which as amended by the Senate Public and Municipal Affairs Committee last week would authorize so-called SB 2 towns to do away with the deliberative session, allowing people to vote on warrant articles without the typical discussion and possible amendments made by a small number of people.

Sen. Nancy Siles (R-Hampton), one of the sponsors of the original bill and an architect of the Senate amendment, said yesterday that the bill began as effort to address problems towns and school districts have encountered in calculating default budgets, which are adopted if voters reject the budget recommended by the Board of Selectmen or Budget Committee.

The default budget is calculated by adding or subtracting debt service, binding contracts and other obligations from the operating budget of the prior year then further eliminating any one-time expenditures. Some critics claim that one-time expenditures are rarely eliminated, while others suggest default budgets should reflect reductions in costs achieved by trimming payroll, energy efficiencies and the like.

The original bill, which easily carried the House of Representatives, would have enabled, but not required, towns to adopt a charter for the sole purpose of changing the the procedure for considering, amending and adopting the operating or default budget. This approach met with reservations from both the Department of Revenue Administration and the Secretary of State.

The Senate Public and Municipal Affairs Committee abandoned the notion of a charter altogether and instead chose to offer voters the choice of one of two options. Voters could forbid any amendments to the operating budget at the deliberative session. Or they could scuttle the deliberative session altogether. Or they could choose to do nothing at all.

Finally, whether or not they adopt one of the first two options, voters could require that both the operating budget and the default budget appear on the official ballot. Voters would vote on both budgets and whichever carries would be adopted. If both fail, a special meeting to adopt an operating budget.

All three options would require a super majority of three-fifths, or 60 percent, for adoption.

Stiles said the Senate amendment not only addresses the the budget process as intended by the original bill, but also the recurrent complaint that deliberative sessions are poorly attended and often dominated by a small group seeking to serve a special interest by amending the budget.

The Senate is scheduled to vote on HB 1375 when it meets on Thursday, May 12. Scott Dunn, the town administrator in Gilford, said that as the Senate amended the bill last week the Board of Selectmen have yet to have an opportunity to consider it. No other officials could be reached for comment on the proposal.