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Executive Council re-match: Cryans again challenging Kenney for District 1 seat

LACONIA — While the special election to replace the late Ray Burton as Executive Councilor in District 1 captured headlines in March, the rematch between Republican Joe Kenney of Wakefield and Democrat Mike Cryans of Hanover next month has been vastly overshadowed by races for U.S. Senate, governor and Congress.

In March, Kenney won the seat, topping Cryans by 1,267 votes when voters cast their ballots on town meeting day, leaving the balance between the two parties on the five-member council unchanged with three Democrats and two Republicans.

Cryans, who has served on the Grafton County Commission for the past 18 years, said during a visit to Laconia last week the stakes are higher this time around. Democrat Deborah Pignatelli of Nashua, who served on the council from 2004 to 2010 and from 2012 to 2014, chose not to seek re-election, creating an open seat in District 5. Diane Sheehan, a Nashua alderman, is seeking to hold the seat for the Democrats against the challenge of Republican David Wheeler of Milford, who held it from 2010 to 2012. Cryans explained that the Democratic majority on the council will hinge on the outcomes of the races in District 1 and District 5.

Cryans said that the special election in March was run in unique circumstances. Campaigning was interrupted and voters distracted by the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's holidays. At the same time, without competition from other races, Cryans raised some $140,000 or the special election, almost three times more than he has raised for the rematch. "I don't need the $140,000," he remarked.

The result reflected the turnout. The election, falling on town meeting day, skewed the turnout in favor of townships, especially those with controversial issues on their warrants. Cryans won 90 percent of the vote in Hanover and 73-percent of the vote in Lebanon, but the turnout in both towns was just a sixth of what it was in the presidential election of 2012. He also ran well in Plymouth, Berlin and Conway, where turnout was also low. College students represented a significant share of the difference. On the other hand, Kenney ran strongest in the southeastern reaches of the district where relatively large numbers of voters cast ballots. Noting that this year's race lacks the prominence of the special election in March, Cryans hoped a larger turnout would lead to a different result.

Cryans, who runs 10 miles a day and has clocked more than 82,000 miles in the past 24 years, said "I don't want to lose two road races in a row."

The issues in the election, Cryans said, echo those of March. He described energy issues, both the Northern Pass project and wind power, as "very thorny." He acknowledged that Northern Pass offered the prospect of additional jobs and revenue, but insisted that the transmission lines must be buried. "We can't just close our doors," he remarked, adding that high energy costs are among the challenges facing the state. Decisions on locating and wind farms, he said, must be left to municipal governments. Cryans expressed concern about the responsibility and cost of dismantling wind farms in the event the dynamics of energy markets rendered them uneconomic and suggested a decommissioning process should be established.

Cryans said that he is especially troubled by the rapidly aging demographic in the North Country and the dearth of economic opportunity for young people. He favors increased investment in education at both the university and community college systems to prepare youth for the challenging employment market. "I believe government is for the most vulnerable and least fortunate," Cryans said.

District 1 sprawls across more than two-thirds of the land area of the state, reaches into seven of its 10 counties — Coos, Carroll, Grafton, Belknap, Strafford, Sullivan and Merrimack — and includes four of its 13 cites — Laconia, Berlin Claremont and Lebanon — 109 of its 221 towns and most of its unincorporated places.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 October 2014 01:44

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EEE virus found in Sanbornton horse

SANBORNTON — A horse in an unspecified Sanbornton location has been diagnosed with Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus, said Health Officer Bill Tobin yesterday morning. The town was notified of the diagnosis on Thursday evening.

The mosquito-born virus has become increasingly prevalent in New England over the last 10 years. This is the first instance that EEE has been observed in Sanbornton.

The N.H. Department of Health and Human Services said on Friday that since September there have been 18 mosquito batches, three animals, and three humans within the state that tested positive for EEE, including the horse diagnosed on Thursday. Two of the humans, an adult who lived in Manchester and an adult who lived in Conway died.

On Friday morning, selectmen held an emergency meeting with Tobin, select town officials and first responders. Information about EEE will be posted on the Sanbornton town website at www.sanborntonnh.org.

Tobin said town officials have also informed the Winnisquam Regional School District, Sant Bani School and the Montessori House of Children about the issue.

EEE is transmitted through the bites of infected mosquitoes. State health officials encourage all residents to take precautions against mosquito bites by using effective repellents, wearing long sleeves and long pants, and removing standing water from property to prevent mosquito breeding grounds.

Tobin said all horse owners should confirm their animal's immunizations and watch for strange behavior. Any unusual behavior in horses, donkeys or mules should be reported immediately to the DHHS Bureau of Infectious Disease Control at 271-4496 and to a veterinarian.

The DHHS said symptoms in humans usually occur about four to 10 days after being bitten and can include high fever, severe headaches, a stiff neck and a sore throat. People exhibiting similar symptoms should contact their medical provider.

Last Updated on Saturday, 18 October 2014 12:01

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Selectboard's 2015 budget proposal calls for 3.6% increase in tax burden

GILFORD — Selectmen have recommended a gross town budget for 2015 of $12,314,072 — down from $13,338,829, or 7.68-percent from 23014.

Town Administrator Scott Dunn said the biggest reason for the decrease is because in 2014 the town approved $2,052,636 in special warrant articles — $1.213 million of which was for the addition and upgrade for the Police Station at Town Hall.

Dunn said this year, selectmen have recommended $446,000 in warrant articles that includes items for the Police, Fire and Public Works Departments.

Without the warrant articles, the operating budget is up from $11,286,193 to $11,868,072, or 5.1 percent.

In his presentation to the Budget Committee, Dunn said the main drivers of the increase are a net increase in the road improvement budget of $198,000 and an additional $119,749 in state-mandated increases the town must make as an employer to the state retirement fund.

Selectmen factored in a 2.5 percent merit pay increase for those employees who qualify or a total of $311,989 for an increase of $22,311 over this year. The proposed 2015 budget also included full funding for an 18th police officer that was funded for 9 months of this year's budget.

The long-term debt budget is up $87,598 for 2015 in anticipation of the first bond payment for the police station project.

He said health insurance increases are budgeted at a 3 percent increase.

Dunn said the net budget amount to be raised by local property taxes recommended by selectmen is up 3.57 percent, to $7,739,073.

As of this writing, the selectmen plan on using a minimum of $805,257 or 3 percent of the town's undesignated reserve fund to offset the amount to be raised by taxes. Dunn said the balance in the fund is $4.5 million which doesn't include any money that will be added to the account at the end of this year.

Dunn said selectmen factored in a growth of 1.5 percent in total taxable property valuation. Although the exact 2014 valuation amount won't be available until early November, Dunn said the town expects it to increase about 2 percent.

The Budget Committee is in the process of reviewing individual department budget requests in subcommittees and is scheduled to review the entire budget on October 23 at 6:30 p.m.

Last Updated on Friday, 17 October 2014 01:35

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BHS bomb scare called in on holiday

BELMONT — Local police and the state police bomb squad responded Monday to a bomb threat phoned into the high school.

Police said there was no school that day and the building was closed.

The property was searched and no explosive devices were found.

The incident was reported to the FBI, which continues to investigate.

Last Updated on Friday, 17 October 2014 01:30

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