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Main Street Bridge project bids opened; city's decision to wait seems to have paid off

LACONIA — After the bids to reconstruct the Main Street Bridge over the Winnipesaukee River were opened yesterday, City Manager Scott Myers said that he was "comfortable that the project could be undertaken within the time frame and financial parameters we anticipated."

When the project was first put to bid in March, all eight bids were approximately 35-percent above the estimate of $2.3 million prepared by Dubois & King, Inc., consulting engineers, with the lowest bid at $3.15 million. Moreover, the New Hampshire Department of Transportation (DOT), which was expected to contribute 80 percent of the cost, found itself strapped for funds and capped its share at a flat dollar amount, doubling the cost born by the city to $1.6 million.

At the time, Myers proposed two options. The city could accept the low bid, award the contract and start work this year. Alternatively, the project could be delayed a year, when federal funds would become available through the Municipal Owned Bridge Rehabilitation and Replacement program would become available. The DOT projected the cost to rise by 10 percent to about $4.1-million and agreed to increase its share by $800,000, leaving the city to contribute a little more than $1 million.

The City Council chose to defer the project and the bids received yesterday confirmed the wisdom of its choice. There were four bids, half as many as were submitted in March. Beck & Bellucci, Inc. of Franklin bid $3,897,120, New England Infrastructure, Inc. of Hudson, Massachusetts $3,693,361, R.S. Audley, Inc. of Bow $3,314,177 and R.M. Piper, Inc. of Plymouth $3,299,304.

Bob Durfee of Dubois & King stressed that each of the bids will be evaluated before determining the low bidder and recommending a contractor to both the City Council and DOT. He estimated the contract would be awarded in four or five weeks.

Meyers said that the DOT has estimated the cost of the project, including design and engineering, at $4,027,721, to which the state will contribute $3,062,326, or 76 percent. However, the DOT will pay only to reconstruct the bridge to its original design. Therefore, in addition to the balance of the estimated cost of $965,394 the city will also bear the cost of modifications it requested, primarily widening the approach to the span from Beacon Street West as well as improvements to the "Gateway Plaza" at the foot of Main Street.

Meyers said that to match financial projections the bids for the construction work, including the modifications requested by the city, were expected to fall around $3,456,000. "Since two of the four bids are below that number, the raw numbers look favorable," he said, adding that he would have an opportunity to study the numbers more closely in the coming weeks.

Last Updated on Friday, 20 December 2013 01:41

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Police want 2nd-hand shop under pawnshop law

LACONIA — Police are looking to put some more teeth into the city's pawnshop ordinance by adding secondhand merchandise dealers to the list of businesses that must report daily to them.

Only secondhand dealers who buy merchandise from the general public would be included.

The proposed ordinance, that must be approved by the Laconia Licensing Board and approved by the City Council, stemmed in part from a Problem Oriented Policing (POP) project on non-retail crime.

"The more strict it is, the better protected everybody is," said Patrol Officer Lindsey Legere who along with Det. Dan Carson spoke yesterday to the Police Commission about non-retail theft and how to prevent it.

The non-retail theft category for the purposes of the POP project includes thefts from cars, homes, and other personal business, burglary, and robbery.

The proposed ordinance would stiffen the record keeping requirements for pawnbrokers and secondhand dealers by requiring them to record the date and time of the purchase; the amount of money or loan and interest rate on each exchange; the name and address of seller or pledger; the type of article, the brand name, serial number, and model number of the item, if applicable; and the color and finish including any other identifying marks and engravings.

As it applies to jewelry, if passed, the new ordinance would require the type of metal, the kind of stones, and the karat weight (if known) of each item.

All records would be kept on file for seven years and property must be maintained in its original condition for the 14-day waiting period. All property would be kept on the store premises.

Police are also recommending that each seller or pledger present a valid drivers license or other form of government identification. All identification must be issued within the last five years and the dealer must record the information on the record sheet and attach a copy of it to the transaction record.

Many of the above provisions already exist under the state laws that govern and regulate pawnshops and second-hand dealers and police said the modeled their proposed ordinance after ones already in Manchester and Nashua.

Capt. Bill Clary said the proposed ordinance will be presented to the Licensing Board sometime in January and will likely undergo a legal review by the City Attorney before it moves forward to the City Council.

NOTES: Outgoing Mayor Mike Seymour stopped by to thank the Laconia Police and the Police Commissioners for all the help they had given him during his two terms.

He said the mayor doesn't have much of a direct impact on the police but the police have a direct impact on the mayor, saying his desk was the "last stop."

"During my four years, I'm proud to say not one issue has come from the Laconia Police Department," Seymour said, adding that the majority of the feedback he got was about how good the city Police Department is.

"I deeply appreciate and honor you for the work you have done," he said.

Last Updated on Friday, 20 December 2013 01:35

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Selectmen talking about sewer system on Governor's Island

GILFORD — Selectmen agreed to seek a request for quotes (RFQ) for installing a sewer system on Governor's Island — the last area in town's shorefront on Lake Winnipesaukee without one.

Selectboard Chair Kevin Hayes said the first quote for an installation was done in 1975 which was revisted in the 1990s.

"With new technology the original 1975 plan is likely obsolete," Hayes said, giving advanced pump and pressure line technology as examples of what is likely outdated equipment.

He also noted the lake is a resource that belongs to all the residents and its degradation would negatively effect property values and tourist income.

Resident Mike Brien said he was concerned because some people on the island have invested a lot of money in new septic systems.

Brien also said he has gotten conflicting information in the past about who would pay for such a project if it were to be built.

He also noted that previous town sewer projects and discussions about Governor's Island involved residents paying betterment fees as well as to hook up to the new system.

Hayes reiterated that an RFQ was simply to ask interested engineering firms to submit quotes about how much a system would cost.

When Brien asked if there was federal money available, Hayes said there likely was but without a plan, it was impossible for the town to apply for it.

After Brien said that communications between the Governor's Island Association and the residents was not a good as it should be, selectmen said they would also send letters to individual residents asking for their opinions.

Also last night, selectmen approved $161,000 in budget transfers that included adding $125,000 to the legal line item that was initially budgeted at $37,000.

To date, the town has spent $111,445 in legal fees including at least $80,000 during the period of time that led up to the resignation of former Police Chief Kevin Keenan.

A memorandum from Town Finance Director Geoff Ruggles to selectmen and made available last night said he projects the town this year to overspend the legal line by $99,000.

Selectmen also transferred $7,000 to the Public Works Administration to cover a projected shortage there. Other departments with projected shortages included the Gilford Public Library at $7,000, the Town Administration at $14,000, and the Laconia Business Park revenue sharing account for $7,000.

Funds taken from accounts where there are projected overages are the Solid Waste Department — $38,000; the Highway Department budget — $30,000, the Police Department budget — $20,000 and the Fire Department budget — $15,000 each.

There were also savings in the Parks and Recreation Department, the Welfare Department, the Finance Department, and cemeteries.

Ruggles said he anticipates non property tax revenues will be up about $445,000 with the increases in the areas of motor vehicle registrations of abut $97,000, bond proceeds of $158,000, and insurance and other refunds for a total of $181,000.

He said final tax payments are due on December 27 because the bills didn't go out until November 25 when the N.H. Department of Revenue Administration set the town's tax rate.

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 December 2013 02:45

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Court Street store held up again

LACONIA — City police are investigating an armed robbery that occurred at 10 p.m. Tuesday night at the Premium Mart on Court Street.

Police said a man wearing a black hooded sweatshirt entered the store and brandished a handgun, demanding cash.

A Be-On-The-Lookout Alert heard by someone who spoke with The Sun said the man was described as big, wearing a backpack, and possibly some kind of Halloween mask.

Capt. Matt Canfield said the suspect fled on foot with an undisclosed amount of money. He said a Gilford Police K-9 officer and dog along with city police conducted a search of the area.

Premium Mart owner Dave LeClair said yesterday the robber made the clerk go into the office.

He said this is the third suspicious incident in four days at his store.

He said he saw footprints going around his building on Sunday morning, noting he had plowed the parking lot at 4 a.m. and he noticed the footprints when he returned within a few hours to finish cleaning the lot.

LeClair also said that someone tried to pry open his door Monday night into Tuesday with what he thinks was a crowbar.

"I just replaced the door, (Tuesday), he said.

LeClair said Premium Mart has security cameras and police are reviewing the tapes.

City Police verified that this is the second armed-robbery of Premium Mart this year and there have been at least 10 armed-robberies in the city since January.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

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