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AutoServ opens state-of-the-art collision center on Rte. 140 in Tilton

TILTON — A ribbon cutting ceremony was held at the new AutoServ Collision Center on Rte. 140 Wednesday afternoon which was attended by town officials and representatives of the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce.
Tom Cavanaugh, fixed operations director for AutoServ, says that the center will feature the latest state of the art technology in welding, painting and auto frame repairs, including the only aluminum workshop in the area, where specialized tools and equipment will be used in making auto body repairs.
Located across Rte. 140 from Kentucky Fried Chicken, the center will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. and also will offer off-hour appointments.
All estimates are free and no appointments are needed unless scheduled for off hours according to Cavanaugh.
He said that other benefits available for customers include the ability to file a claim with their insurance company and have AutoServ write the estimate and follow through with the insurance company until the repair is completed.
A 24-hour towing service is available and on-site rentals are available.
''We work with all insurance companies and are the approved shop for many insurance companies which makes it a lot easier for our customers, who will have the peace of mind of knowing that all our repairs are guaranteed,'' said Cavanaugh.
He said that the company is proud that its entire facility is completely compliant with all environmental standards.
AutoServ Collision Center works with the following insurance companies to offer customers a direct repair option: MetLife, Farmers, AIG, Bristol West, MMG, Zurich, Mount Washington, AAA Insurance, Innovation Auto, 21st Century, Allstate, Ohio Mutual.

Last Updated on Friday, 14 February 2014 01:06

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Temps running hot as county budget talks near end

LACONIA — Tempers flared and accusations flew around the meeting room as the Belknap County Convention met Tuesday evening for its second straight day of deliberations on the proposed 2014 county budget.
One of the hotly disputed issues dealt with administrative pay and an effort by County Convention Chairman Colette Worsman to adjust line items in the budget to reflect the salary of County Administrator Debra Shackett, who gets $106,720 a year and whose salary is split 70/30 between the Administration and Nursing Home budgets..
Shackett questioned the numbers Worsman was using and asked how she was calculating them and charged that Worsman was presenting the wrong information to the convention in an attempt to cut her pay.
Worsman denied that she was trying to cut Shackett's pay, but said she was basing her calculations on the $86,720 listed in last year's budget when the convention's Republican majority voted to cut the administrator's pay by $20,000. The ounty commissioners later restored the pay cut by transferring funds from other accounts.
Rep. David Huot (D-Laconia) pointed out that the convention has no control over setting salaries, saying ''we don't have the right to monkey with that.''
Other Democrats weighed in, with Rep. Lisa DiMartino (D-Gilford) asking Worsman why she was attempting to cut Shackett's pay, asking ''do you think she is overpaid?'' and Rep. Ruth Gulick (D-New Hampton) asking ''why are we going through every line and punishing people who don't deserve it?''

Worsman made no reply.
County Commissioner Ed Philpot (D-Laconia) stated emphatically that the convention does not have the authority to set salaries and said that the commissioners would continue to pay Shackett the salary they had agreed on.
It was the third attempt Worsman has made to cut Shackett's pay. In 2012 she attempted to cut the administrator's pay to $89,164, the same amount as County Attorney Melissa Guldbrandsen makes, but that motion failed on a 11-7 vote.
County Convention Clerk Jane Cormier (R-Alton) defended Worsman, saying that ''there's no way to get to the bottom line unless we do separate salaries'' prompting Huot to say that, while the administrative salaries being apportioned between departments does make for difficult accounting, that ''it doesn't make any sense at all'' to follow the procedure Worsman was using.
Later in the discussion Shackett told Worsman that she was indeed, trying to cut her salary and the audience, composed largely of county employees, broke out in applause.
Commissioners and the convention members also clashed over the legal services line item in the administrative budget. Commissioners had asked for $40,000 and that sum had been reduced to $30,000 by the convention's subcommittee. Worsman, with support of Rep. Frank Tilton (R-Laconia,) moved to reduce that number to $10,000, with Tilton maintaining that the actual expenditures for 2013 were less than $10,000.
That touched off a discussion of the legal action that the convention has voted to take against the commissioners in their year-long dispute over line item budget authority. No legal action has yet been filed and when Rep. Ian Raymond (D-Sanbornton) asked for an update on the suit, Rep. Worsman said she wasn't prepared at this time to talk about in a public session.
Raymond said that the county has already spent $7,554 defending itself against the potential pending lawsuit.
When Worsman made the motion to reduce the legal services line to $10,000 Rep. DiMartino said that with a possible lawsuit pending ''that would be foolish'' but Tilton said that the commissioners had chosen to use funds from the contingency line to pay for legal bills rather than coming to the county's Executive Committee to to seek a transfer, so it was appropriate to hold that line to $10,000.
Commissioners pointed out that transfer requests which had been made were denied by the committee, which is why the contingency line was used.
The motion to reduce the legal services line to $10,000 passed by a 10-7 vote.
Other cuts which the convention is considering in its proposed ''working budget'' total up to $732,855 from the $26.57 million budget proposed by County Commissioners.
County Commissioner Steve Nedeau (R-Meredith) said that the cuts under consideration — which include a 1.6 percent cost of living pay increase as well as 3 percent salary-scale "step' increases for elegible employees, as well as reductions in health insurance, longevity and retirement benefits — will have a devastating affect on the morale of county employees and increase turnover.
''We're going to suffer and people won't want to come here to work.'' said Nedeau.
The convention will meet next Tuesday at 5 p.m. at the Belknap County complex to finalize the 2014 budget.

Last Updated on Thursday, 13 February 2014 11:59

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Sled dogs will start running this morning

LACONIA — Jen Lyman of the Lakes Region Sled Dog Club said she expects the Laconia Classic to begin as scheduled at 10 a.m. this morning.

She said the club will likely use about 20 snowmobiles to pack down the 15-mile course and then bring a groomer in from the Belknap Snowmobile Club.

"It'll be slow going tomorrow but Saturday and Sunday will be perfect," she predicted.

Lyman said that depending on when it stops snowing today and whether or not the area gets any sleet will be the final determinant of how the trails are packed and what time today's race will begin.

The start/finish line is in the open field just north of the intersection of Old North Main Street and Parade Road, directly across the road from the entrance to the old State School property.

The six-dog race is scheduled to begin today at 10 a.m. with the three-dog race at noon and the unlimited race at 1:30 p.m.

Should the trail require some additional packing or if there are white-out conditions this morning, Lyman said the race could be delayed a half-hour or so.

She was optimistic that the bulk of current snow storm would be finished by tomorrow morning and that the trails would be ready.

On Saturday, the six-dog race would begin at 9:30 a.m., the three-dog race will begin at noon, and the second leg of the unlimited race will begin at 1 p.m.

Sunday's six-dog race begins a 9:30 a.m., the three-dog race starts at noon, a special one-dog race for juniors begins at 12:30 and the final run of the unlimited race is at 1:30 to 1:45 p.m.

Governor Maggie Hassan is expected to participate in the festivities leading up to the start of Sunday's unlimited-class race.

She said so far there are 35 entries but with yesterday's snow she is hoping for more.


Last Updated on Thursday, 13 February 2014 11:53

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Massive lower Liberty Hill cleanup project will start next month

GILFORD — A decade after toxic coal tar was first discovered beneath house lots off Lower Liberty Hill Road, work to remove it is slated to begin next month.

Speaking to a public meeting last night Jim Ash of GEI Consultants, Inc., who has overseen the remediation of the site for a since the contamination was reported, said the project will proceed in two phases over the next two construction seasons. Altogether 93,000 cubic yards of soil, of which between 40,000 and 45,000 are expected to be contaminated and require treatment, will be excavated.

In the 1950s the coal tar, a by-product from a manufactured gas plant in Laconia, was dumped in a sand and gravel pit on the south side of lower Liberty Hill Road, which was subsequently reclaimed and divided into house lots. However, it was only discovered by KeySpan, the corporate successor to the original gas company which was itself acquired by National Grid in 2007, in the course of litigation in 2004. Of the four house lots — 69, 77, 83 and 87 — directly affected by the old dump, National Grid has acquired and demolished three in anticipation of excavating the site and dealing with the contaminated soils.

Ash estimated that 28,000 cubic yards would be removed and 27,000 cubic yards returned in 2,800 truckloads in the first phase and 12,000 cubic yards removed and 27,000 returned in 1,200 truckloads in the second phase. Altogether 2,000 truckloads of contaminated soil will be hauled from the site and an equal number carrying clean soil will return. A cubic yard of soil weighs approximately 1.33 tons.

Preparations will begin in March, weather permitting, Ash said. The site will be fenced and the vegetation cleared. A roadway and wash facility for the trucks will be built, together with a water treatment system. All groundwater removed from the soil before it is transported will be treated to standards set by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services and the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Air, noise and vibration monitoring systems will be erected. He expected these preparations would be complete within five to six weeks.

Ash noted that the thresholds for air pollution as well as noise and vibration levels at the perimeter of the site are "very conservative" and will be monitored around the clock. If the thresholds are breached, the contractor will be directed to change or suspend operations until specified levels are restored.

Throughout the course of the project Liberty Utilities will post a weekly update on its website — www.lowerlibertyhillsite.com. The company will also maintain a hotline — 603-216-3600 — and respond to questions and comments from the public within one business day.

Last Updated on Thursday, 13 February 2014 02:11

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