$1.99 gas appears inevitable

LACONIA — As crude oil prices have tumbled to their lowest level since 2009, prices at the pump have slid sharply, teasing motorists with the prospect of falling below the threshold of $2 per gallon for the second time this year.

In January, after plummeting 50 cents in a month, prices at the pump briefly dipped below $2 a galllon.

Yesterday the average price of regular unleaded gasoline in New Hampshire as reported by GasBuddy.com touched $2.34 a gallon, after dropping 9 cents in the past week, 27 cents in the past month and $1.12 in the past year. The average price in New Hampshire was the lowest among the six New England states.

"The day's coming when we'll be below $2," said David DeVoy, who owns and operates the Gilford Mobil Mart at McIntyre Circle in Gilford along with the Bosco Bell and Bluebery Station in Barnstead. "But, I don't know when."

This week AAA reported that he national average price of regular unleaded AAA has fallen 96 cents during the past year and for the past 14 straight days to $2.47 a gallon and expected prices for Labor Day weekend would be the lowest since 2004.

In Laconia, Shop Express, at the corner of Union Avenue and Gilford Avenue, yesterday reported the lowest price for self-serve of $2.16, followed by Cumberland Farms at Weirs Beach and Court Street and Irving at Union Avenue and Messer Street at $2.17 and the Oasis Gas and Mini Market at $2.19. Prices at the remaining stations ranged between $2.21 at Premium Mart on Court Street and $2.29 at Citgo on Union Avenue.

The lowest prices in the immediate area were $2.11 at BJ's and $2,13 at Irving, both near Exit 20 on I-93 in Tilton and $2.14 at Penguin Fuels at the D & D Country Market and Deli in Belmont.

Last month the price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil fell to $38.25 a barrel, its lowest price in six-and-a-half years then rebounded $10 percent only to slide 8 percent yesterday to close at $44.25.

The slowing Chinese economy has put downward pressure on commodity prices, including oil. American stockpiles are as much as 90 million barrels above the five-year seasonal average. And Iran is expected to re-enter the world market if sanctions if the nuclear accord succeeds and economic sanctions are lifted. With shrinking demand and increasing supply, crude oil prices are projected to remain relatively low and even, some expect, approach new lows.

Meanwhile, DeVoy said "the market is pretty crazy." He said that he no sooner dropped his price at the pump to $2.19 in Gilford and $2.17 in Barnstead than he took a delivery priced at $2.20 a gallon. "I was expecting the price to keep falling, but it shot up," he said. "The day is coming," he repeated, "but I expected it to happen sooner."

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9 totally renovated math rooms a measure of Sachem Pride

LACONIA — High School Principal Jim McCollum practically danced through the newly renovated math wing yesterday morning while his students hunkered down in their first block classes.

He pointed excitedly to new tables, matching red chairs, the new drop ceilings and the humungous white boards built to hold the most complex calculus problem. He said the newly renovated wing represents both a commitment to education and to school pride.

"To me, when kids come in here they recognize this as a serious place where they are respected," he said.

The math wing — located on the third floor of the oldest building on campus —  holds nine classrooms and the renovation represents the final phase of a second $1.8-million Q-ZAB (Quality Zone Academy Bonds) grant awarded to the school district in 2013. School Business Administrator Ed Emond said yesterday the bulk of the money was spent on new science labs in the high school in the area that was made available by the construction of the new Huot Technical Center. He said the math wing was renovated with the unused contingency money from the science lab renovations.

The hallway and the nine classrooms have all been repainted white and given red trim. The drop ceilings, said McCollum, vastly improve the acoustics in each room.

Veteran math teacher Marc Corriveau said for him the elimination of the traditional desk and chairs and the addition of small tables with mobile chairs means he can reconfigure his classroom so students can work in groups on high-level calculus problems.

"I like the space and the setup," he said.

McCollum said some of smaller rooms were combined into two room making all of the math classrooms standard for the class size.

He also wanted to call attention to the "Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports System" and the district-wide PRIDE posters that are placed in every classroom and in some of the hallway.

On each is a list on one side of things that create pride and success including "P"ersonal responsibility, "R"espect, "I"ntegrity, "D"etermination and "E"mpathy while classroom behaviors, expectations and attitudes that reflect each one are listed opposite them.

He said each teacher is in the process of personalizing their classroom to make for a better learning environment.

McCollum said he is very grateful to the School District and the city residents for providing the High School with the tools educators need to teach the city's children.

"We're trying to improve young people's lives," McCollum said, saying he sleeps well at night knowing that the city and the district support the high school's mission.

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Co-op members warned of 'pay or else' scam

PLYMOUTH — Amid ongoing, reported attempts to defraud its members, New Hampshire Electric Cooperative is again warning of a telephone scam that threatens disconnection of electric service if an immediate payment is not made.

The co-op has been made aware of several attempts in recent days to scam members, it reported in a statement sent to media outlets yesterday. Though the most recent attempts appear focused on commercial members in the hospitality industry, such as restaurants and hotels, residential members have been targeted as well. After a rash of similar scam attempts last May, the co-op is urging its members to recognize when they are being targeted and avoid becoming a victim.

The caller, claiming to represent the utility, typically warns the member that their account is past due and that their electric service will be disconnected if a payment is not received that day. In a number of reported cases, the caller ID is "spoofed" to show the co-op's phone number. The member is then directed to make a payment either via credit card, wire transfer, or to a specific account number at a payment location, usually a supermarket or other retail location that accepts utility bill payments.

The co-op stressed that it does not call members threatening immediate disconnection, nor to demand immediate payment. The utility sends a written notice at least 14 days in advance to warn of a disconnection if an account is delinquent. Further, the co-op does not perform disconnections on weekends, holidays or after 3:30 p.m. on weekdays.

Those customers who suspect they may have received a scam call should hang up immediately and call the co-op at 1-800-698-2007 to confirm the caller's identity. They should also report suspected scam calls to their local police department.

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