Sale of Laconia State School property remains in state budget as House & Senate negotiate

CONCORD — As members of the House of Representatives and Senate thrash out their differences over the 2016-2017 state budget, Governor Maggie Hassan's proposal to sell the former Laconia State School property on North Main Street has been endorsed by both chambers.
When the governor broached the sale of the property in February, Ed Engler, the mayor of Laconia has said that he would advocate for acquiring the property if it were offered to the city for its appraised value or less. Yesterday he reaffirmed his commitment to pursue the acquisition of the property when, as the law stipulates, it is offered to the city.
The governor directed the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) to sell the property and included $2 million in proceeds from the transaction, the apparent selling price of the property, among the revenues in her proposed budget. Although some members of the House have opposed selling the property in the past, the provision was included in the budget adopted by the House in April. The Senate, where the proposal to sell the property originated in 2011, concurred.
The terms of the proposed transaction are stipulated in House Bill 2, the companion bill to the budget, which directs the commissioner of the DAS to execute the sale. The transaction would be subject to the requirements of RSA 4:40, the statute governing the sale or lease of state property, which stipulates that it must be first be offered to the municipality or county where it is located. But, the transaction would be exempt from the review and approval of both the Council on Resources and Development, a panel representing executive departments and agencies, and the Long Range Capital Planning and Utilization Committee, consisting of four members of the Senate and four members of the House of Representatives, as the law requires.
In 2012 an appraisal prepared for the state by the Bureau of Right-of-Way of the New Hampshire Department of Transportation placed the value of the site at $2.16 million. In April, 2012 the Laconia City Council offered to purchase the property, together with the Robbie Mills Sports Complex, an abutting 10.2-acre parcel owned by the state and leased to the city for 99 years, for $2.16 million. The state did not respond to the offer.
The property consists of 202 acres bounded by North Main Street to the east, Meredith Center Road and Eastman Road to the north and Ahern State Park to the west and south and divided roughly in half by Right Way Path. Among the 26 buildings on the site, the appraiser found less than a handful salvageable and estimated the cost of demolishing the rest at more than $2 million.
An initial assessment of the site by Credere, LLC of Westbrook, Maine in 2010 indicated that there were typical but significant environmental concerns, most of them confined to the 75 acres housing the buildings. Soils and groundwater are likely contaminated by petroleum products and possibly other hazardous materials while asbestos, lead paint and other contaminants are present in the buildings.

McCormack offically hired as Laconia's interim superintendent

LACONIA – After a brief non-public session, the School Board last night announced that Dr. Philip McCormack will be the interim superintendent of Laconia Schools beginning on June 26.

McCormack will work up to 29 1/2 hours per week and will be paid $80 per hour- the standard rate for interim superintendents in New Hampshire.

McCormack retired as superintendent of the Inter-Lakes School District in 2012, and before coming to Inter-Lakes worked for 11 years as the superintendent of the Keene School District. He was called from retirement by the N.H. School Boards Association to take over for the late Marie Ross in the Newfound Regional School District after she became ill in October of 2012 and died later early the next year.

Currently, McCormack is an adjunct professor at Plymouth State University working with graduate students in education administration. A Holderness resident, he is also a member of the Pemi-Baker Regional School District School Board.

McCormack replaces Superintendent Terri Forsten who will be the new superintendent in the Concord School District.

County now expects $300k more in Medicaid money than budgeted

LACONIA — Belknap County Commission Chairman Dave DeVoy (R-Sanbornton) says that the county has learned that it will receive $1,280,686 in Proshare Medicaid revenue from the state this year, nearly $300,000 more than the county anticipated it would receive in the budget which was passed by the county convention in March.
DeVoy recalled that he and fellow Commissioner Hunter Taylor (R-Alton) were sharply criticized during the budget process when they increased the Proshare revenue estimate from $750,000 proposed by the previous commissioners to $1 million.
''I was pretty confident when I looked at the history and saw that we had averaged nearly $1.2 million in Proshare funds over the last several years that we could safely increase our estimates,'' said DeVoy.
The county commissioners will meet this morning at 9 a.m. at the Belknap County Complex where they will take up several items, including the cost projections for the proposed community corrections center and a private-pay rate increase at the Belknap County Nursing Home.
DeVoy said commissioners were recently made aware of a communication from Nursing Home Administrator Mathew Logue which calls for a $10 per day hike in those rates, from $290 to $300, and that commissioners were not informed of the proposed rate hike.