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Emergency budget transfer needed to sustain county operations

LACONIA — County operations could be cut back in the coming days unless the Belknap County Convention's Executive Committee approves the transfer of some budgeted funds, County Commissioner Ed Philpot warned yesterday.

"We start to shut down operations," Philpot said regarding the ramifications if the funding transfers being sought by the County Commission are not approved.

With appropriations for wages of part-time employees expended, the County Commission is seeking to transfer funds appropriated for full-time employees and other purposes to maintain staffing of the nursing home, county jail and sheriff's department. In a letter dated Sept. 18 the commissioners urged state Rep. Frank Tilton, who chairs the Executive Committee, to convene a meeting "early next week, so that we may request transfers to continue operating the County without severe impact to the delivery of service."

Already the commissioners have authorized County Administrator Debra Shackett to re-designate part-time employees as full-time employees temporarily to ensure sufficient personnel at the nursing home. The county jail is in lockdown, with no public visitors and minimal movement of inmates.

The impending fiscal crisis follows the ruling last month by Superior Court Justice James D. O'Neill, III of Belknap which prohibits the commissioners from transferring more than $300 from one line item to another without the approval of the Executive Committee.

In August, prior to the court order, Tilton scheduled a meeting of the Executive Committee on Sept. 15. Soon afterward he was informed that two of the three commissioners as well as the county administrator would be unable to attend and was asked to convene another meeting as soon as possible.

When the commissioners met three days later, on Sept. 18, they approved a list of requested fund transfers, stressing that without them staffing issues, particularly at the nursing home, would arise within a week.

"It wasn't urgent on Monday" (Sept. 15), Tilton said yesterday, and he wondered how it became urgent three days later. "I read that in the newspaper," he remarked. "That's how I get my information from the county." However, he said that in light of the court decision "it was obvious they were going to have requests for transfers. Had there been anything on the table when we met on the 15th," he continued, "we could have discussed it, but there was nothing on the table."

Shackett said that "there has been a crisis coming since the judge issued his order, but did we call in a panic earlier? No."

Tilton has scheduled a meeting of the Executive Committee for Monday, Sept. 29. He stressed that if the committee receives the information it requires "at least a day before the meeting" it will make a decision when it meets.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 September 2014 12:29

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Hearing on appeal of dismissal of nursing home administrator postponed

LACONIA — A public hearing on the dismissal of Belknap County Nursing Home Administrator Mathew Logue, which was scheduled to be held Monday evening by the personnel committee of the Belknap County Convention, has been postponed until October 6 at 10 a.,m.
Logue had requested the hearing after having been terminated two weeks ago by the Belknap County Commissioners..
The members of the county personnel committee are Representatives Colette Worsman (R-Meredith), who chairs the convention, Bob Greemore (R-Meredith) and Richard Burchell (R-Gilmanton), the clerk.
The notice of the hearing reads that Logue's request for a hearing "is related to a negative employment action taken against him by the Belknap County Commissioners" and was made in accord with RSA 28:10-a, the state statute bearing on the discharge or suspension of county employees.
Logue was hired by the commissioners to run the home in December 2012, after a nationwide search. For the six months prior to accepting the position he had been serving as administrator at the Wolfeboro Bay Care and Rehabilitation Center. For 15 years he had been employed by National Healthcare in the Ft. Myers, Florida area.
He succeeded Courtney Marshall, who died in September of 2012 at his home in Grantham after an apparent heart attack. Marshall served as Belknap County Nursing Home administrator for five years.
Charlotte Flanagan of New Hampton, who had overseen staff development, infection control and quality assurance at the county nursing home since 2007, is serving as interim administrator.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 September 2014 01:07

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Geary indicted on 4 felonies for lemonade stand incident

HAVERILL — A Grafton County grand jury has indicted a former Laconia man for two felony counts of indecent exposure, two felony counts of attempted felonious sexual assault, two misdemeanor counts of simple assault and one count of public urination for his alleged actions at a lemonade stand in Holderness on June 7.

Christoper Geary, 45, formerly of 9 Harrison Ave., is already serving a three- to six-year prison sentence after pleading responsible for two probation violations for having contact with police.

To date, Geary, a registered sex offender, had not been charged in connection with the allegations that he approached two young girls who were operating a lemonade stand on Route 175 and exposed himself.

The indictments claim that Geary took a substantial step toward felonious sexual assault when he asked the two girls to touch his penis after allegedly exposing himself to them.

He faces two felony counts of indecent exposure for allegedly buying a cup of lemonade, emptying it, and peeing in the cup in front of the two girls.

The two counts of simple assault stem from allegations that he attempted to grab the two girls.

They ran away from him and were able to tell their father, who then called police.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 September 2014 12:03

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Laconia Airport not likely to find replacement before manager departs

LACONIA — Outgoing Laconia Airport Authority Manager Diane Terrill said her departure on Oct. 17 for an airport manager position in Naples, Fla., was "not an easy decision."

"I love this airport, I love this community," said Terrill, who answered questions at a media conference yesterday morning about her role in her 24 years with the airport.

Terrill, who became Laconia Airport manager in 1999, said of all the accomplishments during her 25-year tenure the one she is most proud of is the $16-million in infrastructure improvements that were done to the airport under her guidance. That project involved the reconstruction of the airport's 5,800-foot runway.

She also said she was pleased with the relationships she has enjoyed with the two fixed based operators, the small aircraft service businesses, based at the Laconia Airport.

"It's an important asset, education center and economic center," Terrill said.

Laconia Mayor and Chairman of the Laconia Airport Authority Edward Engler said that while the board is seeking a full-time manager, it is "not likely we will have a replacement before she goes."

He said the board is working on an interim plan that could involve a consultant until a permanent manager can be hired.

The average operations budget for the Laconia Airport is $300,000 annually and the facility is self-sustaining. The primary income is from a surtax on fuel sold at the airport, and the lease and rental fees for hangars and for the fixed-base operators.

Both Terrill and Engler said the airport is an asset to the Lakes Region, while its location is such that it has very little negative impact on the area's residents. Terrill noted that having an airport that can accommodate jets that can fly from coast to coast is a real economic advantage to the Lakes Region, and many business leaders who have interests in Lakes Region businesses make very good use of it.

Terrill said there's very little air traffic noise, adding that a commercial airline at the airport is not feasible for the foreseeable future, mostly because of the costs of security now required by the federal government.

The airport has a capital master plan – about 95-percent of which is financed by the FAA and the state of New Hampshire.

Engler said the board is in the beginning stages of creating an operational master or business plan.

Right now, Terrill said there are several ongoing smaller infrastructure projects, such as the fencing around some of the property, some navigational aids and some equipment purchases.

As for her future, Terrill will be working on a noise reduction plan for the Naples (Fla.) Municipal Airport and will become the third manager for that facility.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 September 2014 12:55

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