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Laconia Master Plan process will be altered some after input from council

LACONIA — After her sketch of the process for preparing a new Master Plan for the city met with a cool reception from the City Council this week, Planning Director Shanna Saunders acknowledged the legitimacy of the concerns and indicated she was addressing them.

In her presentation to the council, Saunders outlined "Re-imagine Laconia," the public outreach initiative that will be undertaken through October. The Orton Family Foundation of Middlebury Vermont and Denver, Colorado has underwritten this phase of the process by awarding the city $75,000 worth of in-kind technical services to pursue its "Heart & Soul" approach to fostering community engagement.

The Carsey Institute of the University of New Hampshire, which administers the New Hampshire Listens program, has contributed similar services valued at $25,000. Saunders explained a variety of tactics would be applied to encourage as many people — residents and visitors alike — to express their values and visions for the city and suggest measures for enhancing and realizing them.

Councilor Henry Lipman (Ward 3), who chairs both the council's Finance Committee and the Belknap Economic Development Council, said that while he appreciated the process "we have to be grounded in the reality of today's economy and the demographic we have to work with." He stressed the importance of assigning priority to the challenges posed by a sluggish economy and aging demographic . "The world is moving too fast," he remarked, fearing the process Saunders described would not ensure "that what we come up will be relevant. It's too slow to be relevant."

"What he (Lipman) was trying to say had some validity," Saunders said afterwards, adding that she had since had several conversations about the questions he raised. In particular, she said that because the economic and demographic issues are not contingent on the results of the public outreach effort, work on the economic development component could proceed parallel with it. The values and visions of the public, she noted, bore more directly on the section of the Master Plan dealing with land use and would inform the recommendations for planning and zoning.

Meanwhile, Saunders said that staff of the Planning Department and members of the Planning Board have recruited the "core" of the Master Plan Advisory Team, a sub-committee of the Planning Board that will play a major role designing and executing the public outreach campaign. There are two members from the Planning Board — the chairman, Warren Hutchins, and Hamilton McLean — and two from the Zoning Board of Adjustment — Suzanne Perley and Michael Foote. Joe Driscoll, Jr., who resides at The Weirs, John Moriarty, president of the Main Street Initiative, and Dorothy Duffy of the Lakeport Association represent the "three villages," which are also represented by three business owners: Jeff Thurston of Thurston's Marina, Ruben Barrett of Burrito Me and Michelle Dupont of the Opechee Lake Opechee Inn and Spa. Sal Stephen-Hubbard of the Laconia Area Community Land Trust and Mark Warren, pastor of the Grace Capital Church represent the non-profit community. Kevin Dunleavy, director of parks and recreation, and Seth Nuttleman, superintendent of the Laconia Water Works also serve on the committee.

Saunders said that when the school year begins she expects to add students from Laconia High School to the panel. Moreover, she emphasized all willing volunteers are welcome to join the team and noted that all its meetings are posted and open to the public.

Saunders said that she expects to begin work on the Master Plan this summer and complete the first four chapters of the plan — community character, land use, economic development and housing — in a year and aim to finish the other chapters — transportation, natural resources, cultural and historic resources and community facilities and services — by December 2016.
When Saunders addressed the council this week, Lipman expressed misgivings about the timeframe she outlined and he expected the City Council to revisit the issue at a future meeting.
State law recommends that municipalities revise their master plans every five to 10 years. The city last adopted its master plan in May 2007.

Last Updated on Friday, 18 July 2014 01:20

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3 teens said resonsible for Barnstead bombs

BARNSTEAD — Police say they have learned that three juveniles ages 14 and 15 were responsible for the three explosive devices found on Halfmoon Bay Drive this past June.

Police said after interviewing a number of area residents and following up on many leads they were able to determine the three explosive devices were a juvenile prank and there is no further danger to the public.

After consulting with the Belknap County Attorney, Barnstead Police determined they would deal with the teens through the family court system in Belknap County.

Last Updated on Friday, 18 July 2014 01:16

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Kim Lacasse: Unsung Hero recognized

LACONIA — Kim Lacasse, administrative assistant at Woodland Heights Elementary School, was presented with the 14th annual Annette P. Schmitt Unsung Hero Award in a gathering held at C.J. Avery's restaurant on Thursday evening.
Lured to the meeting by her husband, Scott, on the pretext that they were coming to see a car show at the Lakeport eatery, an obviously surprised Lacasse was ushered in to an upstairs meeting room where she was greeted with a round of applause by friends, family and co-workers and presented with the award by local attorney Bud Martin.
The award is presented annually by the Annette P. Schmitt Trust and the Granite United Way and honors someone who has worked behind the scenes on behalf of children and families in the Lakes Region.
Martin said that Lacasse, who lives in Gilford and is an avid auto racing fan, was described by those who nominated her as someone who is ''unstoppable in providing families and children with the support they need'' and who has made a huge difference in the lives of many children.
Lacasse is member of the board of directors of the Santa Fund of the Greater Lakes Region, to whom she will give the $1,000 donation which comes with the prize, and is involved in the WLNH Children's Auction as a member of Pub Mania's Dream Team Supreme, and is credited with starting the Polar Express Movie Night for students, organizing the efforts of parents to transform the school gym into a winter wonderland.
Lacasse said that she was surprised and honored by the award and was told by Jack Terrill, senior vice president of community impact for the Granite United Way, that her name will be engraved on the perpetual plaque of previous winners of the award.
Among those present for the presentation was last year's winner Claire Persson of Laconia and Janet Brough, also of Laconia, who is administrative assistant for the Superintendent of School's office in Laconia.
The award is given in memory of Schmitt, a woman from the Hanover and Lebanon area who at her death awarded a large portion of her estate to improving the lives of children and families in the Lakes Region.
The award has been given consecutively since 2002 in honor of individuals who give unselfishly of their time on behalf of children and families in Belknap County.

PHOTO CAPTION: ix slugged Kim Lacasse

Kim Lacasse of Gilford, administrative assistant at Woodland Heights Elementary School in Laconia and a member of the board of directors of the Santa Fund of the Greater Lakes Region, is presented with the Annette P. Schmitt Unsung Hero Award by Bud Martin at C.J. Avery's in Lakeport. (Roger Amsden/ for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Last Updated on Friday, 18 July 2014 01:06

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Police say woman helped 2 men held at knife point escape

LACONIA — A Jewett Street man is being held on $50,000 cash bail for two counts of attempted robbery and two counts of kidnapping after an incident at his home Wednesday night.

Police affidavits obtained from the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division said Matthew Cullen invited two men to come to his apartment at 20 Jewett St. to do some drinking.

The two men, who later flagged down a police officer near the Public Library at 10:26 p.m. Wednesday said they went into house and then Cullen allegedly flashed a leatherman-style knife at them and ordered them upstairs.

The victim's told police that once upstairs, Cullen allegedly continued to hold the two at knife point while demanding their drugs. He allegedly went through one victim's bags and then dumped the second victim's bag on the floor.

A female, later identified as Cullen's girlfriend, arrive home and is said to have gotten between Cullen and the two men. She opened a window and told the two victims to go out of the fire escape.

One man made it down the wooden fire escape while the other jumped off it, causing himself injury, said police.

Police interviewed the girlfriend and she told a story that was consistent with what the two victims has said. She described the knife and said she was the one who had them escape through the window and the fire escape.

Police learned the man was Matthew Cullen.

At 12:28 a.m., two other police officers were sent to an area on Main Street for a 911 hangup call. The number used in the call, said police, belonged to Matthew Cullen's brother but they were unable to locate anyone.

At 1:04 a.m. police were sent to Cumberland Farms store on Court Street after Matthew Cullen's brother called police again and told them his brother was at the store. He warned police that his brother was intoxicated.

Two officers made contact with Cullen in the store but after he was searched for weapons, he allegedly became combative and refused to be taken into custody.

After being warned several time to stop resisting, Cullen was sprayed with pepper spray and he began to comply with police.

Police allegedly found two cartons of Marlborough cigarettes in Cullen's waistband.

He was charged with two counts of attempted robbery, two counts of kidnapping, one count of resisting arrest and one count of shoplifting.

Cullen was represented by public defender yesterday. The attorney preserved Cullen's rights to hold a bail hearing in the immediate future.

He was ordered held on $50,000 cash-only bail and ordered to have no contact with either victim or his girlfriend. He must stay out of Cumberland Farms store and sign a waiver of extradition.

Last Updated on Friday, 18 July 2014 01:09

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