Jail workers contract would provide first raise in 4 years


LACONIA — Corrections officers at the Belknap County House of Corrections could see their first pay raise in four years when the Belknap County Delegation votes on a two-year contract with unionized employees there. The delegation will meet on Monday, April 4, at 6 p.m., at the Belknap County Complex for the vote.
All 21 members of the Belknap County Corrections Officers Union last week voted for the contract, which provides a 1.4 percent pay raise in each of the two years, as well as step increases, which could increase total compensation by 4.4 percent each year for eligible workers.
It also provided for health insurance changes, going from an HMO plan to a "site of service" plan. Belknap County Commission Chairman David DeVoy (R-Sanbornton) said that change will save the county $3,000 per employee, even though the county will pick up the entire cost of the health insurance premiums. Currently, employees pay 5 to 6.5 percent of the premiums for the HMO plan.
There is also an incentive bonus of $1,000 in the first year for employees who make the switch to the site-of-service plan, which provides for $1,000, $2,000 and $3,000 deductibles on single, two-person and family plans.

DeVoy said that the contract, if approved by the Belknap County Delegation, will save the county $64,000 in health insurance costs over the next two years.
The proposed contract is similar to the collective bargaining agreement between Teamsters Local 633 and the county, which was approved by a 10-5 vote by the County Delegation last August.
DeVoy said contract talks were being held this week with the new union representing the Belknap County Sheriff's Department. Last week, employees of the department voted unanimously to switch from the State Employees Association to the Teamsters Union.
County Commissioners will take formal action when they meet at 3:30 p.m. today to approve the contract with House of Corrections employees. Both DeVoy and fellow commissioner Hunter Taylor (R-Alton) are members of the county's negotiating team.

Where to graduate? I-L considers request to move ceremony to field

MEREDITH — In what could become nearly an annual event nearly as regular as graduation itself the senior class at Inter-Lakes High School this week again petitioned the School Board to move the ceremony from Prescott Park to the gridiron at the school.

As of yesterday, the online petition had gathered 180 signatories, including about 90 percent of the class of 2016.

"Would you rather be under a tent with your feet in the mud at Prescott Park," asked Mark Billings, who chairs the School Board, "or sitting in the sunshine on the artificial turf field at the high school?"

The petitioners noted the shortcomings of the parking lot, particularly during or after a rain, and restroom facilities, which are inadequate and inconvenient, at Prescott Park . But, above all they stressed that the field, where "championships were won and individual accomplishments were achieved," holds "an abundance of great memories." Moreover, the field lies between the two schools where many graduates spent most of their young lives.

Billings said the board has two concerns about changing the venue: the risks of damaging the artificial turf and of running afoul of inclement weather. He said that the field was laid at significant expense nine years ago with expectation that it would last at least 15 years. He said that to spare the artificial turf, the cost of raising a tent is prohibitive. In the event of rain, the ceremony would have to be moved indoors, but the capacity of the gymnasium is limited. He allowed that the ceremony could be scheduled for Friday with the following Saturday or Sunday as rain dates.

"I fully understand the reasons for the students' request and the passion with which they have pursued it," Billings said. He anticipated that the board will address the request and make its decision when it meets on April 12.

Speed table to be installed on Gilford portion of Summit Ave.


GILFORD — After hearing from two of the directors of the Governor's Island Association about speeding problems, selectmen voted to put an asphalt speed table, which is a wider type of speed bump, on the flat portion on Summit Avenue on the Gilford side of the bridge.

Speaking for the association was Cary Corkin, who said speeding along Summit Avenue was and has always been a problem. He said he appreciates the amount of time the Gilford Police spend patrolling in the area but said it's just not possible to have them patrol all of the time.

"We would like to modify (the road) rather than burden the police department," said Bill Jacobson, who accompanied Corkin and lives in the first house after the bridge.

Summit Avenue begins in Laconia but the bridge is the border between the two communities. After it turns into Gilford, there is a flat area that transects Edgewater Drive, which circles the island. Summit Avenue itself goes over Governor's Island, is quite steep and narrow in many parts, and reconnects to Edgewater Drive on the northwest side of the island.

The single asphalt speed table on the flat portion of Summit Avenue is not recommended by Gilford Public Works Director Peter Nourse. He said that having a speed table just below the hill coming down Summit Avenue toward the bridge is a recipe for disaster.

He said he was absolutely against having any kind of speed bump or speed table on the portion of Summit Avenue that is on the northeast side of the island, and selectmen agreed.

Nourse also said that one thing his crews notice is that usually the same cars and the same license plates are primarily the ones speeding. He also said that speed tests done in the past show 64 percent of the people obey the 25 mph speed limit set for all of the island.

After Police Chief Anthony Bean Burpee said he does spot patrols in the area, which have the effect of slowing traffic down for a few weeks, those who are inclined to do so will likely start speeding again.

Nourse said an asphalt speed table would cost about $5,000 and that his plows should be able to plow in the area without too much damage to it or the equipment.