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Robbie would have loved Boys & Girls Club

LACONIA — Robbie Mills would have loved to be a member of the Boys and Girls Club of the Lakes Region but instead he is the club's inspiration, remembered every day, but especially during the annual billiards tournament held in his memory.

The son of Wendy Mills and Robert LaPierre, Robbie was murdered on Aug. 1, 1998 in Laconia by two young men who demanded that Robbie surrender the new BMX bicycle that the then 14-year old had scrimped, saved and borrowed to buy so that he could go to an after-school job.

Robbie's death shocked and saddened the community but it also galvanized many people in Laconia, some of whom, in Robbie's name, went on a year later to found the Belknap County Teen Center which in time became the Boys and Girls Club of the Lakes Region.

The club is currently in the midst of a $2.4 million capital campaign to purchase and renovate the former St. James Episcopal Church property and to transform it into the club's first real and permanent home.

On Feb. 1, Robbie's parents, many friends and dozens of pool players from throughout New Hampshire as well as Maine and Vermont came to the Funk Monkey Club in downtown Laconia to honor Robbie and to help make sure that the club born out of the tragedy of his death will not only live but thrive.

While vying for trophies and other prizes, the participants in the seventh annual Robbie Mills Pool Tournament also helped raise several thousand dollars for the Boys and Girls Club's capital campaign.

Robbie, his mom said, would have been proud of that generosity. More than likely, she added, he also would have been among the competitors.

A fan of NASCAR racing, Robbie played basketball, football, baseball. He liked to ride his bike and, his mom noted, he liked to play pool. After Robbie's death, family friends organized a pool tournament to raise awareness and funds for a safe, friendly place where local youths could go to after school.

In 2004, the Belknap County Teen Center was reorganized as the Teen Center of the Lakes Region and in 2007, the center joined the Boys and Girls Clubs of America as New Hampshire's seventh Boys & Girls Club.

Despite the name changes and relocations, the one constant in those formative years was the Robbie Mills Pool Tournament, which since 2008 has been held at the Funky Monkey.

"Every dollar helps the club," said Wendy Mills. "The Boys and Girls Club is amazing. They support the kids and they keep them involved. They teach them how to play sports, how to dance, even how to cook. Robbie definitely would have been a member."

To make a donation to the Boys and Girls Club of the Lakes Region's capital campaign, contact the club at 528-0197. Financial contributions can be made online at www.lakeskids.org.


Cutline: Wendy Mills lines up the seven ball during the seventh annual Robbie Mills Pool Tournament that was held Feb. 1 at the Funky Monkey Dance Club and Billiards in Laconia. The memorial tournament honors Robbie Mills, who is the son of Wendy Mills and Robert LaPierre, and it is a fundraiser for the Boys and Girls Club of the Lakes Region. Looking on while Wendy Mills eyes her shot are, left to right, Tony Felch, president of the New Hampshire Billiards League, which organized the competition; Cheryl Avery, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of the Lakes Region; Jon Rich, vice president of the NHBL; and Mike Baron, owner of Baron's Billiards and one of the founders of the Robbie Mills Pool Tournament. (Courtesy photo)

Last Updated on Saturday, 08 February 2014 02:14

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5 homeowners think Paugus Woods settlement is just a good start

LACONIA — An attorney for the five people who have been told they can sell their homes at the Villas at Paugus Woods back to developer Brady Sullivan Properties, LLC at cost has said that while the negotiated settlement between the developer and the Attorney General's Office is a step in the right direction, it does not fully address his clients' legal concerns.

Attorney Darrin Brown said yesterday that on behalf of his five clients, he may have to file a motion to intervene in the AG's suit in order to get the financial justice his clients are entitled to.

Brown said yesterday that settlement between the AG and Brady Sullivan announced earlier this week was about a  2011 suit filed by the Attorney General Office against the Brady Sullivan company and Brady Sullivan Paugus Woods, LLC over a violation of the Land Sales Disclosure Act — RSA 356-A.

That suit came after eight homeowners complained about poor quality modular home construction and the N.H. Fire Marshal discovered some of the modular components of their homes were not bolted together. Inspectors also found that some of the foundations under the modular units were not built such that the units could be supported. Other complaints coming from the subdivision off White Oaks Road were about electrical systems, ventilation and air-handling systems.

Brown was hired by five of the original eight complainants in Paugus Woods and in 2013 filed five separate lawsuits in Belknap County Superior Court against the developer for violations of the Consumer Protection Act as covered by RSA 358-A. The individual claims are for breach of contract and shoddy workmanship and ask for damages and legal fees.

The attorney said the rescission, or offer to buy back the five homes at their original selling price, is a positive step toward making his clients whole, but the conditions of the settlement also include the five dropping their individual lawsuits and agreeing not to talk to anyone, including the media, about the settlement — or, in other words, accepting a gag order.

Brown also said that some of the residents have invested money into their homes and the settlement does not include the value of those improvements nor does it include his legal fees — which are included in the 2013 individual suits.

"The offer is not compliant with the consent decree (in the 2011 AG v Brady Sullivan) suit, is prejudicial to (his clients), and seems unfair," Brown said.

Brown, however, said his clients consider the decree to be a promising development and are open-minded about continuing the dialogue with Brady Sullivan.

He said he will file a motion to intervene of behalf of his five clients in the 2011 suit should Brady Sullivan decide against further negotiation.

He said his clients are open-minded, but Brady Sullivan can't combine the five individual lawsuits of 2013 with the one brought forward by the AG in 2011 into one consent degree.


Last Updated on Saturday, 08 February 2014 01:39

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Appraiser with expertise in historic buildings will look at Hathaway House on Tuesday

LACONIA —Pam Clark, who chairs the city's Heritage Commission, said yesterday that the commission will meet at the Hathaway House on Tuesday with Maggie Stier of the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance, who will be accompanied by an appraiser experienced in assessing, evaluating and relocating historic buildings.

Clark said the purpose of the meeting was to determine whether preserving the Hathaway House on another site is a "viable project."

After a public hearing on the future of the Hathaway House in January Clark, together with City Manager Scott Myers, met with Greg Nolan of Cafua Management Company, LLC, the owner of the building. In September, Cafua applied for permit to demolish the Hathaway House. The upshot of the meeting was agreement that the interests of both the owner of Hathaway House and those seeking to preserve it, hinged on relocating the building.

The entrance to the Dunkin' Donuts outlet that Cafua owns runs within feet of the front door of the Hathaway House, effectively foreclosing prospects to convert the building to a either a residential or commercial use at its current location.

Nolan, Clark said, has agreed to "provide a reasonable window of opportunity to explore the possibility of relocating the building." She said that Nolan assured her that "there is no imminent time frame for demolition" and should the company decide to pursue that course the Heritage Commission will be given ample notice."

Last Updated on Saturday, 08 February 2014 01:28

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In Laconia, Medicaid Commission hears downside of managed care, a blizzard of paperwork

LACONIA — When the Governor's Commission on Medicaid Management, the panel convened to oversee the introduction of managed care of the state's Medicaid program, met here last week commissioners for the first time heard from providers of the administrative burdens and clinical issues arising from the transition.

Since December 1, when the managed care program began, 110,526 Medicaid patients have enrolled in one of three managed care organizations (MCOs) — Well Sense, N.H. Healthy Families and Meridian. The enrollment includes those receiving physical and mental health benefits. The program is scheduled to be extended to those receiving long-term care — the developmentally disabled and elderly — and those treated for substance abuse in December, 2014, though the target is unlikely to be met.

The commission began meeting in May, well in advance of the start of program, but Katie Dunn, director of the Medicaid program at the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), said that the concerns expressed were the first the commissioners had encountered.

Ken Norton, executive director of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness)-NH, agreed that two months into the program "some of the real life problems are coming to the surface."

Christine Thompson, a nurse at Genesis Behavioral Health in Laconia, described managed care as "the most time cumbersome and time-consuming process ever." In particular, she said that she spent some two hours on the telephone, much of it on hold, when seeking prior authorization for a specific medication only to have an unhelpful three-minute conversation with a representative of the MCO. "it's getting to be ridiculous," she said. "We're not giving our clients what was promised."

Maggie Pritchard , executive director of Genesis, said that because the MCOs are not familiar with the treatment plan of clients, they require excessive documentation for granting prior authorization for medications and services, including in the case of one patient 32 pages of records. Such requirements may lead to delays in providing clients with the medications they need, compromising their care, as well as impose burdens on staff. Pritchard feared the MCOs may require prior authorization for every contact with clients, which she said would "reduce care and increase paperwork."

Eugene Friedman, the chief financial officer of Genesis, said that as a result of such incidents the agency not only incurs an unnecessary cost but also forgoes a valuable revenue. He explained that that when clinical staff are engaged in resolving operational problems they are not providing the clinical services, for which the agency is reimbursed.

Prior to managed care, Friedman explained, Genesis billed New Hampshire Medicaid, but since must also bill the three MCOs, each with a different billing procedure. Moreover, reimbursements have not been timely, placing pressure on the agencies cash flow. He advised other providers to "have your line of credit in order."

Noting that reimbursement rates have not risen but fallen, Pritchard added that Genesis "has drawn on its credit line more than ever" since the advent of managed care.

Clyde Terry , chief executive officer of Granite State Independent Living, echoed Friedman's concerns about the increased administrative overheads managed care imposes on the already strapped budgets of providers. Likewise, as a provider of long-term care to the developmentally disabled he feared that the MCOs may question the necessity of many of the services his agency provides. He urged the commission expand the definition of "medical necessity" to include those personal services that enable the developmentally disabled to live with independence and dignity.

Two parents of autistic children told the commission of their ordeals in securing medications. Denise Colby recalled she spent eight weeks getting approval from Well Sense for an oral steroid that costs $450 a month out-of-pocket. Meanwhile, it took the MCO nearly as long to approve an appointment with an specialist to address her son's eating disorder. "I have a 5-year-old son who weighs 32 pounds and only eats Goldfish crackers," she said, "and he could not get the help he needed. It has been one headache and heartache after another."

Another man said that he encountered similar obstacles in seeking authorization for medications for his autistic daughter, whose mood swings, he remarked with a mix of empathy and levity that drew laughter from his listeners, placed a strain on the household.

Mary Vallier-Kaplan, former vice-president of the New Hampshire Endowment for Health who chairs the commission, and Donald Shumway, chief executive officer of Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center, the co-chair, urged anyone, — providers, parents and patients — with similar experiences to share them with the commission and call the hotline at DHHS (1-800-852-3344, extension 4344).

Last Updated on Saturday, 08 February 2014 01:24

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