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Laconia Library patrons now have free access to over 200,000 movies, etc. through download service

LACONIA — The Public Library recently added more than 200,000 movies, television shows, educational programs, instructional manuals, music albums and audiobooks to its collection, all of which can be downloaded by its cardholders 24 hours a day, seven days a week at no charge.

Librarian Randy Brough said that the library is the second in the state to partner with Hoopla Digital, the service that provides the content to 387 public libraries — and more than 4,000 branch libraries — in the United States and Canada. Since Hoopla Digital was introduced last month, Brough said that about 80 cardholders have enrolled and he expects that number to increase significantly as more residents learn about the service.

Michael Manning, a spokesman for Hoopla, said that the firm has partnerships with movie studios, book publishers and recording companies to make their output available to public libraries. He said that e-books will be added to the inventory in the new year. The content can be downloaded via a browser as well as by mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. No advertisements or commercials accompany the content.

"When I was a kid the newest thing libraries had was the latest issue of a magazine," Manning said. "Now when a popular band releases an album, you can download it for nothing the day it's released with your library card." He said that content is added to the inventory everyday, including between 10 and 20 movies a week.

Brough said that whatever Hoopla offers is automatically added to the library catalogue. Cardholders can access the service with their library card number and a PIN, consisting of the last four digits of their card number. He pointed out that there is no waiting list for the material. Nor is there a risk of failing to return it on time and incurring a late fee since the content disappears automatically after a specified period of time — three days for movies and television shows, seven days for music and 21 days for audiobooks.

Last Updated on Thursday, 18 September 2014 12:50

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Humane Society denies charges brough in lawsuit by former executive director

LACONIA — The New Hampshire Humane Society Board of Directors said yesterday that it denies all of the allegations made against it in a wrongful termination suit filed by former Executive Director Maria Di Maria.

Di Maria, according to the suit filed Tuesday in the Belknap County Superior Court, was fired from her job on December 12, 2013. She has been in the position for just over four years.

Among her claims are that the Board of Directors fired her when she complained that contract veterinarian Dr. Brenda Stowe was not following the Humane Society's mission statement of finding "forever" homes or shelter for lost, abandoned and unwanted animals.

Di Maria also alleges Stowe falsified birth records of some kittens and performed neutering or spaying procedures on some cats that were not fully anesthetized.

In her suit she claims that some of the board members along with the business manager conspired to get her fired after she made known her concerns.

In a written statement made yesterday, the board of directors said they "(wish) to express its full support of our employee Dr. Brenda Stowe, who upon investigations of the allegations, we believed to have served to exercise the organization's mission with exemplary judgment and compassion."

Di Maria said that one point during her tenure, she was accused of being the reason a local insurance agency could not obtain "Directors and Officers" liability insurance from their, at the time, current underwriter. She said she later learned a different underwriter had offered to underwrite the policy.

Di Maria said she had obtained "D & O" insurance after learning the first underwriter was no longer insuring humane societies and that she bought the policy from a different insurance company.

One week after Di Maria's dismissal, two of the members of the board that voted to fire her, former President Bill Phenix and Vice President Joseph Thornton resigned for unknown reasons.

Last Updated on Thursday, 18 September 2014 12:46

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Fratello's adding deck for outdoor seating

LACONIA — Twenty-two years after the red brick landmark in Lakeport that last housed Indian Head Bank became Fratello's Italian Grille the restaurant is about to undergo a change.

Chris McDonough, who with his brothers Mark and Mike owns the restaurant and its companion in Manchester, presented plans to the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) this week to replace the solarium with an indoor dining room and add an outdoor deck. He told the board that the solarium has become difficult to heat in the winter and cool in the summer and demand for outdoor dining in the warmer months has grown.

The 740-square-foot solarium will be replaced with an enclosed room of the same dimension, crowned by a tower with a faux copper roofed tower overlooking Union Avenue. The deck, with 575 square feet of space, will line the north side of the building, above the main entrance.

This week the ZBA unanimously granted the variance required to extend the deck into the setback from Union Avenue, but the deck will be no nearer to Union Ave. than the existing building.

Last Updated on Thursday, 18 September 2014 12:34

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Gilford DPW union agrees to new contract

GILFORD — Selectmen and the union representing the employees of the Department of Public Works have agreed on a three year contract that will run from April 15, 2014 through March 30, 2018 if the cost items are approved.

The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) represents the DPW employees.

Under the new agreement, DPW employees will continue to be eligible for merit raises between zero and 4 percent annually, based on performance evaluations, and will continue to contribute 10 percent of the premiums for their health insurance.

The estimated additonal costs to the taxpayers for the cost provisions of the new contract are zero in 2015, $7,602 in 2016, and $7,942 in 2017. The cost items need to be approved by a majority of those voting in at the 2015 annual town meeting.

Town Administrator Scott Dunn said other terms or changes include clarifications on who is eligible to be a member of the bargaining unit; the elimination of a merit raise upon completion of a probationary period; some amendments to procedures on promotions and transfers; and a one time 15 cent hourly wage increase to take effect in 2016.

The union also agreed to adopt the town of Gilford's policies on the Family Leave and Medical Act, vacations, sick leave, and bereavement leave.

Last Updated on Thursday, 18 September 2014 12:31

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