Fire destroys house in Gunstock Acres (340) photo

Gail Ober – Laconia Daily Sun

GILFORD — A fire that swept through a chalet type home on Mountain Drive early Sunday morning left nothing in its wake except a chimney and a few smoldering piles of rubble.

Deputy Fire Chief Brad Ober said it appeared the fire had been burning a while before a neighbor noticed and reported it. He said that when the first firefighters arrived, the front wall of the home was already beginning to collapse.

Ober said the owner, who is listed in the Gilford assessment website as Joseph Trevorah, was traveling in Florida in a motor home and was planning on returning sometime next month. Ober said that Trevorah said he had told his plow person to wait until he was returning before cleaning the driveway, but Ober said there wasn't enough snow to hamper any firefighter efforts.

He said it was brutally cold and the wind was blowing up the mountain directly into the faces of the firefighters. He said once the water hit the flames, the steam practically obscured what firefighters could see.

Chief Steve Carrier said water was shuttled from a dry hydrant on Tate Road, but water lines, nozzles and other apparatus were freezing. Ober said that once mist and water gets on firefighters outer clothing, it also freezes and becomes very difficult to move around.

Although there was some icing, there were no slips or falls that resulted in any serious injuries.

The building is assessed by Gilford at $133,000 and Ober said it is a total loss.

As late as Monday morning, puffs of smoke could still be seen coming from under the collapsed debris from the roof. It appears that none of the three family cars that were parked off to the side of the home were damaged.

Fire destroyed this home on Mountain Drive in Gunstock Acres early Sunday. The owner was away at the time, and while the fire caused no personal injuries the bitter temperatures made fighting the fire very difficult. (Gail Ober photo/The Laconia Daily Sun)

Fire destroyed this home on Mountain Drive in Gunstock Acres early Sunday. The owner was away at the time, and while the fire caused no personal injuries the bitter temperatures made fighting the fire very difficult. (Gail Ober photo/The Laconia Daily Sun)

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Resign! Alton residents protest school leadership

Alton residents rallied in protest of budget cuts and more at the Alton School Board meeting Monday night. (Courtesy Photo)

Alton residents rallied in protest of budget cuts and more at the Alton School Board meeting Monday night. (Courtesy Photo)


ALTON — A petition calling for the resignation of the superintendent of schools in Alton as well as the Alton Central School principal and special education director was presented to the Alton School Board Monday night.
The petition, signed by 242 people, was presented to the board by Linda Wilman, former principal of Alton Central School, following a show of support for Alton teachers by a half dozen people carrying signs at the entryway to the school before the meeting got underway.
The petition read that what was being presented to the board was a “Letter of No Confidence” in Superintendent Dr. Maureen Ward, Principal Cris Blackstone and Special Education Director Jennifer Katz-Borrin.
It charged them with “Public untruths, attack on the Children in Need food program, removal of students’ academic projects, personnel management including dismissal and hiring practices, hostile management style, budget cuts, and unfair and unreasonable demands on the teachers’ time.”
It further read “The parents and families of Alton are extremely upset and unhappy with the deterioration we have observed in our school community. We are stating that the teachers of Alton Central School have endured very poor working conditions, along with a rock bottom climate and culture which the named administrators have created. The lack of leadership, and inability to make sound decisions which affect our community are constant and numerous.”
School Board Chairman Stephen Miller said the board will discuss the concerns raised by the petitioners when it meets on April 4.
“Anytime the community expresses concerns it also concerns us and we want to address the issues they raise,” said Miller.
He said that much of the dissatisfaction can be traced to cuts in the teaching staff due to declining enrollment. At the deliberative session of the Alton School District Meeting on Jan. 30, voters added $250,000 to the proposed school district budget and urged that the board use the money to continue programs and retain teachers who are being cut, including Sarah West, the school district’s 2016 Teacher of the Year nominee.
Andrew McLeod, chairman of the town’s budget committee and a father of children in the Alton school system, said he signed the petition and faults the school board for what he says is a lack of communication with parents.
“It’s difficult to tell what the school board wants to cut. They say that we’ve had drop in the number of students, but the number they used of 491 shows enrollment is up, not down,” said McLeod. “The school board does not communicate in a way that makes people with children in the school system feel comfortable. We need a higher level of communication than we presently have.”
McLeod said that he doubts that the petition will result in any resignations but said that he hopes it sparks a conversation between the school board and parents.
Superintendent of Schools Ward was hired last June by the school board and signed a one-year contract which runs until July 1 of this year. In December, the school board hired Pamela Stiles, assistant superintendent of Kearsarge School District, as the new superintendent starting July 1 and agreed to pay her $115,000 a year for the first two years of her contract.
Ward will remain as a part-time consultant with the school district.

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Drug dangers - Laconia high schoolers see more risk from alcohol and cigarettes than prescription drugs, according to survey


LACONIA — In preparation for seeking a federal grant to curb substance abuse among young people, Stand Up Laconia this week held the first of three workshops aimed at identifying the drugs that pose the greatest risk to youth as well as why their use is prevalent and how to curb their appeal.

The workshops are facilitated by Staff Sgt. Rick Frost of the New Hampshire National Guard Counter Drug Task Force, who emphasized that the grant is directed at those between the ages of 12 and 18. About three dozen people participated in the first workshop, which consisted of reviewing data collected from responses of students to questions about how they perceive the risks and how often they have used different drugs.

Earlier this month, 409 students were surveyed at Laconia High School. Eighty-seven percent said smoking cigarettes or taking prescription medications without a doctor's prescription posed a moderate or great risk. Seventy-two percent said that five or more alcoholic drinks once or twice a week pose a moderate or great risk. But only 41 percent responded that smoking marijuana once or twice a week posed comparable risks.

Likewise, two-thirds of students responded that their peers would find it wrong or very wrong if they smoked cigarettes or drank alcohol and 84 percent would feel the same if they used prescription medications without a prescription. Only 44 percent expected their peers to disapprove strongly of smoking marijuana and 30 percent expected no disapproval at all.

Ninety percent of students reported they had not smoked a cigarette, 77 percent they had not drunk alcohol, 78 percent they had not smoked marijuana and 94 percent they had not taken prescription medications without a prescription in the past 30 days. While 82 percent said they had never smoked a cigarette and 90 percent said they had never misused prescription medications, 48 percent said they had drunk alcohol and 60 percent had smoked marijuana, most of them before turning 17.

After weighing the data, Stand Up Laconia workshop participants chose alcohol, heroin, marijuana and prescription medications as their highest priorities. The grant competition requires that prescription medications be included on the list. These results will provide direction for the next session when the group will address the local conditions encouraging the use of these drugs.

Kelly Gapsa of the Lakes Region Partnership for Public Health said that Stand Up Laconia is applying for a grant awarded to community coalitions by the Drug-Free Communities Program administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration. The grant would provide annual funding of $125,000 for five years. The application must be submitted by March 18.

Gapsa explained that the grant application must "incorporate the voice of the community", which the workshops are intended to capture. She stressed that whatever the outcome of the grant application, the process of prioritizing the drugs presenting the most severe risks, determining the local conditions for their popularity and accessibility and developing strategies to diminish their use would provide Stand Up Laconia with a valuable tool for addressing substance abuse in the city.

Clare Persson, who chairs Stand Up Laconia, said the organization is in its fifth year, meeting monthly without fail, and while the grant represents a significant opportunity, it is "just a piece of all we are doing to address substance abuse in our community." She noted that the grant is extremely competitive, as only 70 will awarded.

The next workshop will take place on Monday, Feb. 22, from 6 to 7:30 p.m., and the next monthly meeting will be on Thursday, Feb. 25, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Both meetings will be held at the Huot Technical Center.

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