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Jail panel will ask for $3 million

LACONIA — The Belknap County Jail Planning Committee Tuesday night overwhelmingly supported a plan to ask the Belknap County Convention for a $2.96 million bond issue so that it can start work on three major priorities at the county jail.
The committee wants $360,000 so that it can begin work on a schematic design plan for a new jail, $1 million for replacing the HVAC system at the current jail. and $1.6 million for a three-year contract for installation of a 48-bed temporary housing unit at the jail.
The decision by the committee came after a discussion of priorities during which Belknap County Corrections Superintendent Dan Ward said that while it will be tough for the committee to ask for all three elements, they are all badly needed.
''Temporary housing is going to be our new norm. We're definitely going back to having to ship inmates again this year. Our inmate population was up to 102 this morning,'' said Ward.
He said that the schematic design ''keeps us moving'' on the process of designing a new facility while the HVAC system is needed to improve air quality for both inmates and staff in the three or more years it will take before a new facility can be built. He said the temporary housing will enable the county to keep inmates in the county, where they can continue to receive needed services, while at the same time providing additional program space during the construction period.
Maggie Pritchard of Genesis Behavior Health, a member of the committee, at first had suggested that the bond be split into two parts, the schematic design and the HVAC upgrade, followed by the temporary housing, but Ward said that it would be better to address all three issues and was supported by Belknap County Commissioner Ed Philpot (D-Laconia), chairman of the Jail Planning Committee, who said that it would actually be cheaper to borrow everything at one time.
Architect Gary Goudreau said that it would take 4-6 months to produce a schematic design, which committee members are hoping will produce major savings over the conceptual design estimate cost of $42.6 million received last year for a 94,000-square-foot, 180-bed facility. Last month Philpot said that some of the ideas brought forth by Goudreau at that meeting raised the hope of bringing the cost of the project to below $30 million.
Ward said that it would take between 30 and 45 days to install temporary housing at the site and that all of the needed utilities are located on site.
County Administrator Debra Shackett said that Ken Ricci of the Ricci Greene consulting company which handled the conceptual design phase of the project has offered to meet with the committee at no cost to assist in finding ways to move the design process along. He is being invited to the next meeting.
Shackett also produced cost comparisons for other recent county jail projects in New Hampshire which showed that Grafton County 's 150-bed jail completed in 2012 cost $31 million, Merrimack County's 237 bed, 112,000 square foot jail completed in 2005 cost $24,800,000 and the state is currently looking at 224-bed, 113,000 square foot women's prison will cost $38 million.
Alida Millham of Gilford, former chairman of the Belknap County Convention, circulated a memo she had composed which summed up the county's jail situation and said that she was concerned that the community corrections aspect of the plan has not received the attention that it deserves and should be the centerpiece of the project.

Last Updated on Thursday, 01 May 2014 12:29

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It's official, Laconia school year will end on June 13

LACONIA — Superintendent Terri Forsten announced Tuesday that the last day of school is officially June 13 and graduation is scheduled for June 7.

Two weeks ago Forsten told the School Board that she thought the district had enough teaching hours planned to satisfy the N.H. Board of Education requirements but wanted to wait to see if any more days were lost in April to the weather.

Typically, the school year is based on 180 days however Forsten explained that the state board allows an alternate calculation and the district will meet the required number of instruction hours by June 13.

While seemingly good news for the students, some superintendents from schools who send students to the Huot Regional Technical Educaiton Center at Laconia High School have said they want the center open until June 20.

Most area schools lost four to five days from their planned calenders due to snow fall and Gilford, Winnisquam Regional and Shaker Regional have extended the last day of school until either June 19 or 20 depending on the number of days they lost.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 April 2014 02:20

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School board delays 2014-2015 budget decision

LACONIA — Although the proposed 2014-2015 budget was scheduled for a vote at last night's School Board meeting, members voted unanimously not to discuss it or vote on it.

When asked why, Budget and Personnel Committee Chair Scott Vachon said members of his committee had not had enough time to get details about the administration's proposed budget.

A budget presentation had been scheduled for last night's meeting as well and a hand-out of the PowerPoint given to The Daily Sun before the meeting started was taken back by school officials. Board members said that so far only the members of the Budget and Personnel Committee had reviewed a copy of the PowerPoint presentation, meaning only three of the seven members had it, so it is not yet a public document.

The School Board is scheduled to present its budget to the City Council on April 28 and Vachon said he was going to ask the city for an extension of the presentation date.

Little is known about the proposed budget except that a tax cap calculation presented to the Budget and Personnel Committee in early March showed a tax cap ceiling of $36.3 million, up 3.8 percent from last year.

The maximum amount the school district can raise through taxes is a net increase of $554,000 over last year's budget.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 April 2014 01:15

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Plymouth man arrested in Bristol after police chase

FRANLKIN — A homeless Plymouth man faces a host of charges for allegedly stealing a car yesterday and leading police on a car chase that began in Boscawen and ended in Bristol.

According to state police, Shaun Michael Cook, 36, allegedly stole a green 1996 Chevrolet Blazer yesterday morning from Queen Street in Boscawen.

He was spotted on Route 3 at 8:18 a.m. near Route 127 by a N.H. State Trooper and Franklin Police. Attempts to stop the car were unsuccessful. The driver increased his speed and police pursued the vehicle along Route 3A through Hill.

At 8:29 a.m. Bristol police used a "tire deflation device" that caused the front tires of the car to slowly deflate, bringing the car to a stop about one-half mile down the road.

Cook is charged with receiving stolen property, felony reckless conduct, felony parole violation, disobeying a police officer, and driving after suspension.

He also faces charges of false imprisonment, criminal threatening, and simple assault stemming from a recent incident in Plymouth.

Cook is scheduled to appear in the 2nd District Court, Plymouth Division this morning.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 April 2014 12:54

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