Defending Division III champs skate to 4-1 win, face top seed Wednesday

By ROGER AMSDEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — The Belmont-Gilford Bulldogs (13-6), defending Division III champions, skated to a 4-1 win Saturday over Kearsarge/Plymouth at the Laconia Ice Arena.
The victory advances the Bulldogs to the semifinal round of the hockey playoffs where they will meet top-ranked John Stark/Hopkinton (14-3-1) Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at the Everett Arena in Concord.
Trailing 1-0 after the first period, Belmont-Gilford evened things up at 1-1 on a breakaway goal by Ethan Becker and went ahead with just 33 seconds left in the period on Caleb Drouin's goal.
Dylan Treamer's goal early in the third period extended the lead to 3-1 and Drouin added an empty net goal late in the game to iced the victory.
Belmont-Gilford goalie Bailey Defosie stopped 16 of the 17 shots on goal by Kearsarge/Plymouth. The Bulldogs outshot their rivals 49-17 and Kearsarge-Plymouth goalie Richie Caron made 45 saves.
In Wednesday's other game at the Everett Arena at 5:30 p.m,. number three ranked Kennett, which beat Sanborn 6-0 Saturday, will face the second-ranked Berlin-Gorham Mountaineers.
The winners of Wednesday's games will meet in the finals at the Verizon Center in Manchester at 12:15 p.m. Saturday.

Belmont-Gilford Bulldogs senior Dylan Treamer celebrates as the puck slips past the Kearsarge-Plymouth Cats goalie in the NHIAA quarterfinal game at the Laconia Ice Arena on Saturday, March 12, 2016.  (Alan MacRae/for the Laconia Daily Sun)

Belmont-Gilford Bulldogs senior Dylan Treamer celebrates as the puck slips past the Kearsarge-Plymouth Cats goalie in the NHIAA quarterfinal game at the Laconia Ice Arena on Saturday, March 12, 2016.  (Alan MacRae/for the Laconia Daily Sun)

Moultonborough rejects community center at Town Meeting

BY MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN

MOULTONBOROUGH — Voters at Town Meeting on Saturday overwhelmingly rejected the proposal to construct a community center at a cost of $6.5 million as 348 ballots were cast against and 220 in favor. A two-thirds majority was required for passage.

After a resident asked the four selectmen who voted to recommend the project to explain their votes, Selectmen Paul Punturieri and Russ Wakefield spoke, followed by their colleague Josh Bartlett, the lone member of the board to vote against the recommendation. Chris Shipp, who chairs the board, and Jean Beadke were waiting to speak, but discussion was cut short when Joe Cormier moved to "call the question." The rules specify that "the Moderator shall have the right to refuse to recognize a motion to 'Call the Question' if, in the Moderator's opinion, the voters have not yet had an adequate opportunity to discuss an issue." Nevertheless, Moderator Jerry Hopkins granted the motion and debate ended.

Shipp, seconded by Punturieri, offered a motion to reconsider, which he withdrew upon being advised by legal counsel that the vote would have to be reconsidered immediately. Shipp said yesterday that "I didn't want to hijack the debate but to preserve it," explaining that he found it "unfortunate" that discussion was curtailed, "I made the motion solely because there had been no debate," he said, adding that he was "frustrated."

Punturieri, writing on the blog "Moultonborough Speaks," said "our one day of democracy was hijacked by a coordinated group of citizens who did not want any discussion of Article 2 to occur." Opponents of the project, he continued, "clearly did not have the courage to put out their 'facts' for a fair debate. Instead, they took a much less honorable way, which was to win at any cost." The "real losers," he said were those who came to the meeting expecting a debate, but "left feeling cheated and needing a shower to wash away the funk left behind."

In an email to Punturieri, shared with The Laconia Daily Sun, Cormier insisted "there was no conspiracy on 'Call the Question.' I went to the meeting to cast my ballot. That's it. I had no intentions of 'speaking' to any article. My plan was to vote, get the heck out, and go home to greet family."

Although there was consistent support for the project among younger residents, most of them with children, it met with stiff opposition from those who insist that the scope and cost of the project is unwarranted in a town where the general population is aging and the school enrollment is declining. Opponents claimed that the demographics of the town render a community center unnecessary while supporters counter that investing in the amenity will draw younger residents and foster a more balanced demographic.

With little debate voters approved the 2016 operating budget of $7,594,327, approximately $100,000 less than the 2015 budget, which was recommended unanimously by both the Board of Selectmen and Advisory Budget Committee. Likewise, articles to raise $400,000 for a new fire truck and $815,000, also recommended unanimously by the selectmen and budget committee, carried.

Voters also approved an article to appoint rather than elect the Road Agent and authorize the Board of Selectmen to search for and hire a qualified person with appropriate design, engineering, personnel  and financial skills.

Regional fire service not on agenda in Tilton-Northfield

By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN

SANBORNTON — Debate about a warrant article to add two full-time firefighters at Town Meeting this week was colored by remarks by Dave Nickerson, the outgoing chairman of the Board of Selectmen, which were unfounded.

Nickerson, who was the lone selectman to vote against recommending the warrant article, said that the Tilton-Northfield Fire & EMS Department was in the process of building a new station and has been offered land to build it on. He indicated that Sanbornton was invited to join in a regional fire service.

"The door is open to talk to Tilton-Northfield before jumping into hiring two firefighters," he said at the meeting. "There is an opportunity here."

The warrant article, which failed by just four votes a year ago, was rejected by nearly 100 votes, as 191 voted against and 95 voted in favor.

Pat Clark, the outgoing chairman of the Tilton-Northfield Fire District Commission, said that a Facilities Committee was formed and funded by voters at the district meeting in 2015 to develop a plan for the district. The committee has met for the past year, he said, but has reached no final decisions and, more particularly, has made no formal overtures to town officials in Sanbornton.

Chief Michael Sitar of the Tilton-Northfield Fire & EMS Department, who serves as an adviser to the Facilities Committee, echoed Clark's remarks. He said the committee has toured the department's facilities, inventoried its vehicles and equipment, reviewed its call volume and staffing arrangements and explored a number of properties for a new station without making any firm decisions.

In its report issued this month, the committee concluded that "there are no obvious, simple or easy solutions to our needs and that we would need more than a year to complete our task." The report makes no mention of considering the expansion of the department to include another town.

Sanbornton Fire Chief Paul Dexter declined to comment on Nickerson's remarks. However, he noted that the Sanbornton Fire Department, which, apart from a full-time chief, is staffed exclusively by call and per diem firefighter/EMTs, would be a much more attractive partner in a regional department with rather than without the two full-time fire fighters he requested.

Dexter said he was disappointed voters rejected his request, but more disappointed by the decision to withhold a 2 percent cost-of-living allowance (COLA) to town employees, including the 19 volunteer firefighters. He said members of the call company are paid $15.39 an hour and the COLA represented an increase of 31 cents an hour and would have added $3,000, or less than one-tenth of 1 percent, to the department's budget.

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