LASC auction fails when auctioneer is a no show


LACONIA — An auction of the Laconia Athletic and Swim Club scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday did not take place.

According to attorney Jeff Philpot, who represents Tom and Lori Oakley who own the now defunct swim club, no auctioneer came to the designated site at the designated time, meaning the entire process must begin from scratch.

There were a number of people there, most of whom are friends of the Oakleys. There were five people there but none of them identified themselves as either being an auctioneer or a representative of the three banks that hold first mortgages on the property.

According to Philpot, who referred to a "first bite rule," the people who hold first mortgages are entitled to bid first, with the financier who holds the largest mortgage going first. He said there are three of them, to the best of his knowledge.

The primary mortgage holder is ReadyCap Lending LLC, which purchased the note that was issued on May 7, 2010 to the Community South Bank of Parsens, Tenn. According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Company, or FDIC, Community South Bank failed on Aug. 23, 2013, and was closed by an order of the Tennessee Department of Financial Institutions.

The Daily Sun was unable to reach ReadyCap Lending LLC or the attorney representing them to see why no auctioneer appeared. ReadyCap Lending LLC describes itself as a Small Business Association or SBA preferred lender.

According to Oakley, who was at the attempted auction with Philpot, ReadyCap has employed a maintenance team that winterized the building and took care of some of the utilities.

At Friday's attempted auction, the building had no heat but it did have electricity. The pool had been drained and the parking lot had been plowed.

The Laconia Athletic and Swim Club closed abruptly on Nov. 27, 2015, after 24 years of being in business.

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Laconia Planning Director Saunders resigns for job in Somersworth


LACONIA — Planning Director Shanna Saunders tendered her resignation on Tuesday after accepting the position of planning director in the city of Somersworth.
"It was an opportunity that just came up," Saunders said yesterday, "and I decided to jump."
Saunders joined the Planning Department as assistant planner in April 2004 and in January 2005 was appointed Planning Director when Dawn Emerson left the position to work in Yarmouth, Maine. While attending the University of New Hampshire, where she earned a bachelor's degree in wetland conservation and a master's degree in resource economics, and she worked for the conservation commission in Rowley, Massachusetts, before coming to Laconia.
Saunders said that "getting the planning process on its feet" represented much of her work in the city. In what she described as "a team effort," she said, "I had a lot of help."
She explained that by coordinating the roles of the different departments — Department of Public Works, Fire Department and Laconia Water Works — through the technical review process has led to a more efficient planning process and improved the relationship between city officials and developers and property owners.
Likewise, Saunders said that placing code enforcement under the management and oversight of the Planning Department has been "a huge help and a positive thing." She said that because there "lots of crossovers" between the planning, inspection and enforcement functions, having them under one roof has improved the performance of them all.
Saunders pointed to the development of the downtown riverwalk as a significant achievement of her tenure, noting that the project was originally conceived in the 1980s and the first easement granted in 1996. She said will regret not shepherding this and other projects, like the Winnipesaukee-Opechee-Winnisquam (WOW) Trail and restoration of Weirs Beach, to completion.
Warren Hutchins, chairman of the Planning Board, could not be reached, but Steve Bogert, who has chaired the Zoning Board of Adjustment since 2003, said Saunders "has been an absolute enjoyment to work with." He said that at first he was shocked to receive the email announcing her resignation, but relieved was he read that she is leaving for another position.
"I learned a lot working her," he said. "Ten years is a long time and I'll miss her. I'm glad and honored to crossed paths with her and wish her well."
Saunders said while she will miss Laconia she will not miss the commute from her home in Madbury. During her time with the city, she raised a daughter, who is now a freshman at the University of Connecticut, and a son, now 8 years old, while driving an hour each way to and from work, often after meetings that ran late into the evening. At the same time, her husband commutes to Lawrence, Massachusetts, where he works in information technology.
"I will enjoy leaving work, having dinner and then going back for a planning board meeting," Saunders said.
City Manager Scott Myers said that the job description for the position will be reviewed and upgraded as necessary before advertising for a successor. He acknowledged that with the process of updating the master plan underway "the timing could be better." However, he said that assistant planner Brandee Laughlin is familiar with the responsibilities, consultants are available and, in any event "there is always something going on."

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Push back on budget cuts changing some officials’ minds

LACONIA — Belknap County Convention Chairman Frank Tilton (R-Laconia) says that the pushback against budget cuts to outside agencies which was strongly expressed at Monday night's public hearing on the convention's working budget appears to have had an impact on new members of the delegation who were initially inclined to go along with the cuts.
"Some of them told me they didn't realize how much work they (the outside agencies) do that benefits the county," said Tilton, who said that his view has been modified over the years to he point that he now sees the agencies as partners with the county.
"I think that the proposed cuts send the message that we don't think they're doing a good job," said Tilton, who said that he was disappointed that the convention, which had only 11 of its 17 members present Monday night, only took action on one of the proposed cuts when it restored the UNH Cooperative Extension Service funding to the $152,217 sought by the Belknap County Commissioners in their original budget request.
Former Belknap County Convention Chairman Alida Millham said at Monday night's hearing that she thinks the agencies should be fully funded and viewed as community partners with the county in providing services which benefit the county and help hold taxes down and bring revenue into the county.
Another former county legislator, Fran Wendelboe of New Hampton, said that the proposed cut to the UNH Cooperative Extension Service, is "penny wise and pound foolish," and cited her experience of working for 10 years with the Belknap County 4-H Fair and the cooperation the fair received from the county through inmate labor from the Belknap County House of Corrections.
Also urging full funding for the Extension Service was Sandra McGonagle of Gilford, a former elementary school superintendent who served three terms as a selectman, who said that a bare bones budget would affect staffing and programs provided to the county.
Ken Kettenring of New Hampton, a former director of the state of New Hampshire's Wetlands Bureau, said the Belknap County Conservation District provides needed technical services to the county through volunteer professionals and urged fully funding the district's $92,4000 request. Everett McLaughlin of the Gilford Conservation Commission said the assistance provided the town in the Gilford Brook and Jewett Brook studies have been invaluable.
John Moulton of Meredith, owner of Moulton Farm, who has been at the last three county convention meetings at which the budget cuts have been discussed, said he is a user of the services provided by both the Extension Service and the Conservation District and said the kind of information and services they provide cannot be obtained elsewhere, a sentiment echoed by Aaron Lichtenberg of Alton, who operates the Winnipesaukee Woods Farm.
Randy Eifert of Meredith, chairman of the board of directors of the Belknap Economic Development Council, whose $75,000 request had been zeroed out by a subcommittee and later increased by the full convention to $60,000, said that some of the arguments used to justify the cut weren't accurate.
"We're not a high-risk lender. We've provided gap funding to businesses over the last 24 years and are the only proactive economic development lender in the county," said Eifert, who said that the original goal of the founders of the organization to make it self-sustaining had been modified many years ago at the suggestion of former state Sen. Carl Johnson (R-Meredith) in light of the value being received by the county for the services provided by the organization.
He said that the organization has made over 80 loans, 22 of which are still active, and helped bring over a thousand jobs and millions in private investment to the county and is currently working on a workforce development program with local businesses and industries.
He was supported by state Sen. Jeanie Forrester (R-Meredith), who said that the BEDC has a good track record of major accomplishments.
Deborah Pendergast, former deputy chief of the Laconia Fire Department and currently director of training and emergency medical services with the New Hampshire Department of Safety, spoke on behalf of Genesis Behavioral Health, whose $34,200 funding request had been zeroed out and then restored to $30,000. She said that the agency provides badly needed mental health services to people like a 40-year-old couple whose 19-year-old daughter is addicted to heroin.
She said that nothing brings home the need for its services more than the actual involvement brought about by real life situations which so many people in the county experience.
The county convention will discuss the outside agency budgets when it meets again Tuesday, March 1, at 6 p.m., at the Belknap County complex.

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