Gilford crash victims visited by Recycled Percussion’s Justin Spencer


GILFORD — As the state police accident reconstruction team works on determining the cause of the crash that left a father and his 2-year-old daughter in critical condition at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, people from around the state, including Justin Spencer of Recycled Percussion have joined to support them.
Spencer, who is a Manchester native, posted to his Facebook page that he was heartbroken by little Arianna and her father, Brent Stranger, both in comas and in critical condition as they struggle to survive the Jan. 2 crash.
“The family wanted to me to share this so they could tell their story, and (theirs) is a story is of resilience, love and heartbreak,” wrote Spencer.
Stranger, his wife, Sarah Kunst, and their children, 2-year-old Arianna and 1-month-old Aiden, were driving toward their home in Alton when their Ford Focus collided with a Ford Econoline van being driven by James Willingham of Pine Street in Laconia who was headed toward Laconia.
Police at the time said the driver’s side bumper of the van opened the driver’s side of the Ford Focus “like a can opener.” Stranger and his daughter, who police said was in a car seat, were on that side of the car.
Police also said Monday that they got a call after the accident from someone who said they saw a white van swerving but didn’t call police at the time. Chief Anthony Bean Burpee said the caller was likely feeling some remorse about not calling earlier, but he said the person never came in to police to make a statement. He said police don’t know if this was the van involved in the crash or not.
Bean Burpee said the New Hampshire State Police took a series of photos, measurements and mathematical information at the scene but have yet to completely analyze the results to determine who, if anyone, was at fault.
He said police have not been able to speak with Stranger since he is in a coma, but they have spoken with Willingham.
Beyond that, he said there is no new information.
In a separate statement released by Deb Kunst, she thanked the community for their thoughts, prayers and support.
She said both Stranger and Arianna are extremely critical and both remain on life support at Dartmouth. She also asked that people ignore some of the statements made about their conditions on social media, as many of them are not true.
She said they have both undergone multiple surgeries and are still fighting for their lives.
Kunst said they family wanted to thank the police, fire, ambulance crews, the staff at LRGHealthcare, and the teams of doctors at Dartmouth Hitchcock who have helped the family in so many ways.
She said a GoFundMe page has been set up by family friend Kim Martin and is titled “Sarah and Brent.” As of noon on Monday, people had donated $15,900 to the fund to help the family offset medical costs.


01-10 Recycled Percussion hospital Facebook

Recycled Percussion’s Justin Spencer visited the family from Gilford who were involved in a serious crash Jan. 2 and posted this photo on Faceboook. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help them at (Screenshot photo)


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County commissioners defend administrator Shackett, say she does work of three people


LACONIA — Belknap County Commissioners defended County Administrator Debra Shackett against criticism brought by an Alton legislator during budget discussions by the Belknap County Delegation Monday morning.
Delegation Vice Chairman Ray Howard (R-Alton) said that he was concerned that money was taken out of the 2016 budget for the 2015 salary account and that it was "a slap in the face that we weren't informed." He said that it was "a poor job performance by administration," adding that "in the private sector some of us would be looking for a new job."
He was referring to a budget transfer request of $84,492 for the entire salary account, which had been sought by Belknap County Commissioners after County Administrator Debra Shackett found that she had miscalculated the number of paydays remaining in the year due to the transfer ordered by auditors of five of the seven days in the first payroll of 2016 to the 2015 budget.
Commissioner Hunter Taylor (R-Alton) later defended Shackett and said that she has been trying to do the work of three people, as the county is the only one in the state which lacks both a finance director and a human resources director.
The commissioners have requested $65,540 in the 2017 budget to hire a human resources director, a request Delegation Chairman Herb Vadney (R-Meredith) suggested is "a want rather than a need,"
Taylor answered, saying, "We're putting the entire load on the County Administrator. We're understaffed. We have less administrative staff than Coos or Carroll counties, which are smaller and doing less business than we are. This is not a want, this is a need."
Commission Chairman David DeVoy (R-Sanbornton) said that the continued problems with the transfer requests are the result of placing too much on Shackett's shoulders. "She needs some help."
Delegation Chairman Vadney has set an ambitious goal of completing work on the proposed $28 million county budget in what would appear to be record time.
He told his fellow legislators Monday morning when they met at the Belknap County complex that it should take three weeks, not four months, to complete work on the budget.
"We're asking people to do more with less. We're going to do the same and streamline our process," said Vadney, said that rather then break down into subcommittees examining each part of the budget, he wanted to have the whole delegation work together on the entire budget.
"We need wise spending and good accounting and a very clear picture of where we need to go. We need the county to be well run and avoid building reserves unnecessarily. We need to concentrate on things we need, not things we want," said Vadney.

Belknap County’s surplus fund dwindles; cuts or tax hike is inevitable


LACONIA — The Belknap County's surplus money, known as the fund balance, which has been used in recent years to reduce the amount to be raised be property taxes to pay for county government, appears to be headed for extinction.

As of Monday, it was on the endangered species list, projected to drop from its current $2.43 million to only $571,157 next year. Since 2004, the county has averaged using $2.5 million a year from the fund balance to hold the line on tax increases.

The issue came up during a meeting of the Belknap County Delegation Monday dealing with the proposed 2017 budget at the Belknap County Complex when newly elected Rep. Norman Silber (R-Gilford) asked for an explanation of the history of the fund balance, which stood at $4.637 million in 2003 and peaked at $8.234 million in 2010 before dropping to $2.43 million in 2016.

The fund balance is made up of revenue which exceeds the amount budgeted and operational savings from spending less than the budgeted amount.

Belknap County Commission Chairman David DeVoy (R-Sanbornton) said that in 2015 the county realized $1.32 million in excess revenue and $1.238 million in operational savings but will have only $74,00 in excess revenues this year and $250,000 in operational savings.

“We have nothing to return to the fund balance. We're up against the wall,” said DeVoy, who pointed out that last year the delegation chose to increase the fund balance used to reduce taxes from the $1.775 million recommended by the commission to $2.380 million, which he said further depleted the fund balance.

This year's proposed $28,034,331 will see the amount to be raised by taxes revert to the $13,837,174 raised in 2015, which is about $875,000 more than was raised last year. In order to achieve that, the commissioners have agreed to use $2,183,657 in surplus funds, which will reduce the projected amount remaining available in surplus funds to about $571,000.

The proposed amount to be raised by taxes is 6.31 percent higher than last year's budget, which raised $12,963,440, a 6.74 decrease from 2015.

DeVoy said that the county is facing about $1 million in increases due to contractual obligations in next year's budget.

DeVoy and Commissioner Hunter Taylor (R-Alton) noted that Belknap County's amount to be raised by taxes has dropped by 10 percent since 2008 while every town in the county and the city of Laconia have seen increases of at least 8 percent in the same time period.

Rep. David Huot (D-Laconia) said that Carroll County, which had a $2 million budget problem last year, is looking at legislation which would establish a revenue stabilization fund and Taylor said that Grafton County, which had suffered a significant loss in revenue to its county home, had increased taxes by 8 percent in an effort to rebuild a surplus in the general fund.

Taylor said that 44 percent of the revenue raised by taxes by the county goes to the Health and Human Services budget account, which is the money the county pays to the state for the care of elderly in private nursing homes and which the county does not control.

Legislators agreed that would be increasing in the near future as the county's elderly population increases.