BELMONT — The Shaker School Board last night directed Superintendent Maria Dreyer to hold official talks with Gilford Superintendent Kent Hemmingway about creating a joint football program for high school students in both districts.
The direction from the board came after the Friends of Belmont Football met with the board to tell them about the efforts that the group has been making to raise money for the program as well as the progress they have made so far in creating interest among Belmont Middle School and Belmont High School students in playing football at the high school level.
Gilford High School currently has a football team, while Belmont High does not.
Eric Shirley, one of the key figures in the two-year-old Friends of Belmont Football told the board that the group has so far raised about $10,000 for the program. He added that the group is also taking steps to become an officially recognized charity.
Shirley said he was confident that Belmont could provide between 10 and 15 high school students toward a co-operative Belmont-Gilford program.
Shirley said that a similar co-operative arrangement with Winnisquam High School in Tilton appeared unfeasible, largely, he said, because the Winnisquam athletic director is opposed to the idea.
Shirley said that he had met a couple of months ago with Hemingway to discuss the possibility of a Belmont-Gilford venture. He said during that meeting Hemingway said that such an undertaking would require that the Shaker District pay $15,000 a year toward the Gilford program in order for Belmont students to play. Shirley said the came away from the meeting feeling the Hemingway might be open to negotiating a lesser amount. He told the Shaker board that a fee of around $500 per Belmont team member seemed reasonable.
He further suggested that Belmont could enter into a two-year pilot program with Gilford under which Belmont High freshmen and sophomores would play only on the Gilford jayvee team and then become fully integrated with the Gilford program in three to four years.
The two schools have shared a varsity-level ice hockey program for a number of years.
"We are looking for a way for our kids to succeed," Shirley said. "We are here to see if we can get a plan forward."
Dreyer told the board that the arriving at an agreeable money figure was just one of the issues that would need to be worked out. For example, she noted that Gilford's position has been that Belmont's participation in the program would need to be officially funded by Shaker District, and as at this time there is no line item in the School Budget for a high school football program.
Dreyer said she would come back to the Shaker Board with recommendations after she has a chance to meet with Hemingway.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 January 2014 02:21
LACONIA — City Manager Scott Myers told the City Council this week that after city and state officials reviewed the bids for the Main Street Bridge project the process of awarding the construction to R.M. Piper, Inc. of Plymouth, the low bidder, is underway.
Myers explained that the cost of construction is approximately $3.3 million, of which the state will bear 80 percent and the city 20 percent. However, since the state will contribute only to the cost of replacing the existing structure, there are three elements the city has chosen to add to the project that are not eligible for matching funds, but must be funded solely by the city.
These are the widening of the approach along Beacon Street West, overlooks or "bump outs" on either side of the bridge and decorative lighting to closely match the vintage street lights downtown. The council approved the widening early last year and it was included in the design and accounted for in the bids.
The overlooks and lighting have been discussed but not approved. Four overlooks were proposed, two on each side of the bridge, extending four feet from the deck of the bridge. They will be trapezoids, tapering in length from 14 feet to 6 feet and covering about 40 square feet. A light will be placed at each overlook. In addition, there will be lights at each of the four corners of the bridge.
The widening was estimated to add between $50,000 and $55,000, the overlooks $10,000 and the lighting $15,000 — $75,000 to $80,000 altogether — to the cost of the project. However, the bid prices were $23,500, $6,800 and $18,750 respectively for a total of $49,050.
While there was unanimous support for funding all three elements, on seeing photographs of how the bridge would look, Councilor Armand Bolduc (Ward 6) expressed strong misgivings about painting the railings on the bridge black. He reminded the council that the black railings on the Elm Street Bridge soon showed signs of wear and required a fresh coat of paint. Both Myers and Paul Moynihan, director of public works, assured the council that the black paint was a suitable finish for the railings, for which the state is bearing the cost.
Bolduc was insistent, but was the lone dissenter when the council voted to approve the three elements, along with the black railings.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 January 2014 02:15
LACONIA — A claim by Belknap County Convention Chairperson Colette Worsman (R-Meredith) that the amount appropriated for wages in the 2013 Belknap County administrative budget account was overspent by $63,000 last year brought immediate challenges from Belknap County commissioners and her fellow representatives, none of whom publicly supported her contention, at Monday's night convention meeting.
''We had a clean audit. You mean to tell me that our auditors aren't doing their job?'' shot back Commission Chairman John Thomas (R-Belmont).
Rep. David Huot (D-Laconia) did a quick computation of the amounts appropriated and the amounts actually expended last year which he said showed that the administration salary account was actually underspent by $31,000.
Huot said that he used the budget form which the county is required to submit to the N.H. Department of Revenue Administration to obtain his information and asked how Worsman had obtained her total since her total wasn't on that form.
''You only find it on my spreadsheet, not on any others,'' said Worsman, who earlier in the meeting had circulated her own budget spreadsheet.
At one point during the discussion she said that making the computations was a confusing issue but persisted on saying that there was ''a clear movement of salaries.''
County Administrator Debra Shackett said that she was at a loss to understand how Worsman could come up with the number that she did and said that the money had been spent exactly as appropriated.
Shackett said that part of her salary, 30 percent, is paid for from the nursing home budget, as are parts of other salaries in the administration and finance departments.
''We do it this way because it is in the best interest of the county.'' said Shackett, who said that apportioning the salaries allows the county to recoup state funds through the nursing home budget.
She explained that the county has been apportioning salaries that way or the last five years and that it was recommended by auditors in 2009. A change in the budget format last year resulted in the accounts being moved to different lines but the practice hasn't changed.
Shackett had explained the process for allocating salaries at the start of the discussion of the administrative, finance and IT budgets and said that in past years the salary allocations had been tallied and adjusted at the end of the year but now adjustments are done weekly.
Rep. Robert Greemore (R-Meredith), who chairs the Administration, Finance and IT subcommittee, said that the allocation process was confusing and Rep. Richard Burchell (R-Gilmanton) suggested that a budget footnote might make it easier to understand. He was supported by Rep. Tilton, who said ''explanations in writing are good.''
Several times during the meeting, representatives asked Shackett for information which she said she would have been happy to provide if she had known what the subject of Monday night's meeting was going to be.
''What is she going to do, use a crystal ball?'' asked Commissioner Thomas, who said that there was no written agenda for what was going to be discussed and as a result all of the county department heads attended the meeting, even though only the outside agencies and administration, finance and IT budgets were discussed.
Shackett and Commissioner Ed Philpot (D-Laconia) said that many of the issues discussed Monday night could have been resolved at last year's budget review hearings if members of the convention had asked them questions.
''We weren't allowed to explain any of these,'' said Philpot.
There was also a discussion of the dispute over line item budget authority, an ongoing battle in which the convention has voted to file a lawsuit against the commission but has yet to do so.
Rep. Tilton said that the convention doesn't like the way the commissioners used the contingency line item and that he wanted to see the convention zero out that line and create a contingency fund.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 January 2014 02:11
LACONIA — After allegedly backing her car into two people then losing control on entering the new Weirs roundabout and striking a retaining wall on Monday night, a Meredith woman was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated.
Dylan Anderson, 20, of 120 Pinnacle Park, Meredith was released on $1,000 personal recognizance bail following her arraignment in 4th Circuit Court — Laconia Division yesterday.
According to a police report, officers were dispatched to a disturbance at 63 Endicott Street East (Route 11-B) at 9:14 p.m. They were told that Anderson, who was driving a black Volkswagen Jetta had hit two people as she backed out of the driveway of a residence. Witnesses said that the two who were struck had tried to stop Anderson from leaving, believing she was impaired.
Anderson drove northbound on Endicott Street East toward Meredith, but lost control at the roundabout, crossed into the southbound lane and collided with the retaining wall just west of the roundabout.
Anderson, along with the two allegedly hit by her car, were treated for minor injuries at Lakes Region General Hospital.
The incident remains under investigation.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 January 2014 02:01
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