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State law prohibits County Convention from holding meetings when legislature is in session

LACONIA — A law which prevents county conventions from holding meetings in their home communities on days in which the state legislature is in session could impact a number of upcoming budget review meetings planned by the Belknap County Convention for next month.
''They can't meet here on days in which they meet in Concord,'' County Administrator Debra Shackett told Belknap County Commissioners Wednesday morning. She said that effectively limits the convention to Monday and Friday meetings when the legislature is in session.
Shackett said commissioners had been asked to seek a legal opinion from Attorney Paul Fitzgerald over the statute and he had ruled that there were no exceptions which would permit meetings to be held and that he would put his opinion on writing for the convention.
Fitzgerald was also asked to rule by Convention Chairperson Colette Worsman (R-Meredith) on whether the same 10-day notice period on public meetings that applies to the convention as a whole also applies to subcommittees. Shackett said that he had ruled that the same notice period applies.
The County Convention, which is made up of all the members of the state legislature from Belknap County, controls the appropriations for county government functions.
The convention is in the midst of its review of the 2014 budget proposed by the commissioners and is scheduled to hold a series of four meetings as a committee of the whole, including ones on Wednesday, February 5 and Tuesday, February 11, both of which may need to be rescheduled.
''Hopefully it can be changed,'' Shackett said of the restrictions on meeting dates, saying that it would be difficult for the public and county staff to participate if the convention held meetings in Concord on those days.
In other action the commissioners agreed to award a contract for replacement of the 28-year-old pneumatic control system in the newest part of the Belknap County Jail to Pro Controls of Bow for $56,350. Facilities manager Dustin Muzzey recommended the firm over Control Technologies of Manchester, which had submitted a bid of $58,980. The system is being replaced due to age and condition which make it difficult to regulate temperature and air quality within the facility.
The firm will remove and replace all of the pneumatic control devices and tubing in the 1986 jail addition and install a web enabled controller and replace all pneumatic dampers, control valves and valve actuators with electronic modulating actuators.
The commission approved County Attorney Melissa C. Guldbrandsen's request to hire Adam Woods as a new Assistant County Attorney. Woods currently works as a part-time prosecutor in the Cheshire County Attorney's Office and lives in Concord.
They also approved a grant from the New Hampshire Department of Justice for a grant under the Violence Against Women Act for the Belknap County Attorney's Office which will continue to devote a three-quarter time prosecutor to cases of violence against women.
Deputy Attorney Carley Ahern will serve in that position with three quarters of her $73,398 annual pay ($55,049) paid for that position. The $30,000 in federal funds will be matched by $29,639 in local funds, which include pay and benefits.
Shackett also reported to commissioners that the the attorney representing the commission in its dispute over budget authority with the County Convention, which authorized legal action against the commission, has had contact with the attorney representing the convention to inquire if legal action was pending.
''Attorney Horan told him that he hasn't had any contact with the Convention Chairperson Rep. Worsman in over a month,'' Shackett said.
That prompted Commissioner Steve Nedeau (R-Meredith) to observe ''in other words they still have no idea what they're doing.''

Last Updated on Thursday, 23 January 2014 02:42

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Gilford Police approve new contract

GILFORD — Members of the police union and the town have agreed to a two-year contract that will see a hike of a minimum of 15 cents in the lowest pay grade, but will make employees responsible for 10 percent of their health insurance costs.

Employee contributions will be made on a pre-tax basis.

The maximum pay increase is 2½ percent unless the officer is promoted to a corporal in which case there is a maximum 3½  percent increase. Currently, Gilford Police have no corporals.

The cost drivers in the contract — or the new money needed to fund the contract — is $3,297.31 in the first year of the contract and an additional $3,463.01 in the second year.

These amounts will appear as a single warrant article on the ballot at the the March Annual Town meeting ballot. The amount cannot be altered at the annual SB2 deliberative session.

By year two, the town will see a decrease in the amount it spends on employee health insurance for union police officers of $2,382.90.

Gilford Police are represented by Teamsters Local 633 of New Hampshire.

The contract also contains a new provision allowing officers who have been with the department for five years to cash out unused sick time exceeding 192 hours at a rate of one day for every four days of unused time — or 25 percent.

Officers with 10 years of seniority or more will be able to cash out accumulated sick time at a rate of two days per four earned — or 50 percent.

A final clause says that while it is the exclusive prerogative of the Chief of Police to determine shift staffing levels or to fill vacant shifts with members of the bargaining unit, new language says the selectmen must give their approval.

Last Updated on Thursday, 23 January 2014 01:57

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Correction: 'Beauty & The Beast' matinee is Saturday

GILFORD — The caption that appeared yesterday with a photograph of a rehearsal of Gilford Middle School's production of "Beauty and The Beast, Jr." listed an incorrect date for the matinee performance. The matinee performance will be held on Saturday at 2 p.m. Evening shows will be held tonight, Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. All performances will be in Gilford High School auditorium. Tickets cost $5 and may be purchased at the door.

Last Updated on Thursday, 23 January 2014 12:08

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In primary, Kenney defeated Boothby by 1,000 votes

CONCORD — The final tally in the Republican primary election for the Executive Council in District 1 showed that Joe Kenney carried 63 of 98 districts where votes were cast to top Christopher Boothby of Meredith by an even 1,000 votes, 3,622 to 2,622, with Mark Aldrich trailing in third place with 499 votes.

The 6,743 ballots cast represented approximately 6 percent of the registered voters in the district, even fewer than anticipated, even in a special election in the middle of winter when the campaign was interrupted by the Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and Martin Luther King holidays. By comparison, three-and-a-half times as many voters went to the polls in September 2012 when the late Ray Burton easily defeated Jerry Thibodeau in the Republican primary in District 1, which drew, 23,698 voters to the polls.

Insiders familiar with both campaigns suggested the exceptionally low turnout favored Kenney, who drew much of his support from highly motivated voters on the conservative wing of the GOP, including the Tea Party Republicans and Independents.

The low turnout reflected itself in the 27 towns where the winner was decided by three votes or fewer and the five towns where Kenney and Boothby ran a dead heat. Aldrich carried one town — Benton — and was shut out in 10. Boothby won Dixville 2 to 0 and Hart's Location 3 to 1 while Kenney took Waterville Valley 6 to 4 and Landaff 5 to 4.

Kenney carried 59 towns and all four cities in the district, which includes seven of the ten towns and the city of Laconia in Belknap County. In the county Kenney topped Boothby in Alton 93 to 40, Gilford 141 to 132, New Hampton 34 to 31, Sanbornton 58 to 30, Tilton 38 to 21 and Laconia 265 to 248, while Boothby won Center Harbor 43 to 37 and Meredith 192 to 146.

Elsewhere in the Lakes Region, Kenney ran strong in Moultonborough and Wolfeboro, where his margins over Boothby were 156 to 96 and 207 to 70 respectively. In addition to Laconia, Kenney carried the other three cities in the district — Berlin by 50 to 36, Claremont by 154 to 43 and Lebanon by 58 to 40.

The lone Democrat vying for the seat, Michael Cryans of Hanover, polled 1,767 votes, including 144 in his hometown, almost three times more than the three Republicans put together.

Last Updated on Thursday, 23 January 2014 02:10

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