Talk of cuts to BEDC, Genesis, UNH and more put off by county

By Roger Amsden
LACONIA — The Belknap County Convention plowed through the proposed county budget in a two-and-a-half-hour work session Monday night before a virtually full house but put off until its next work session in two weeks any prolonged discussion of budget cuts proposed to outside agencies.
Last week, the convention's subcommittee on outside agencies recommended withholding the entire funding of $75,000 in the 2016 budget from the Belknap Economic Development Council and the entire $34,200 for Genesis Behavioral Health.
It also significantly reduced appropriations for the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension Service, cutting the request for $152,217 by $35,000; the Belknap County Conservation District, cutting $43,000 from the $92,400 request; the Community Action Program Belknap-Merrimack Counties, cutting $35,000 from the $89,905 request, and Greater Lakes Region Child Advocacy Center, which saw a $550 cut in its $11,000 request. It also eliminated a first-time request for $5,000 by the Court Appointed Special Advocates program.
Representatives of the agencies affected by the cuts were at Monday's work session but were not able to speak during the meeting. Rep. Frank Tilton (R-Laconia), chairman of the Belknap County Convention, said that the cuts will be discussed at the next work session of the convention which is scheduled for Feb. 16 at 7 p.m.
He said the next work session will not be a public hearing but invited the affected agencies to provide more information to the members of the convention.

"It will be useful to get more detail out to us," he said, noting that summaries of the scope of the agencies' work would be useful. "It's not a public hearing, but we can ask questions," said Tilton, indicating that the agencies might be called on for comment by legislators at the work session.
Tilton said that there will be time for public comment at a yet-to-be-scheduled public hearing on the budget which will be held once the convention has finalized the budget.
State Rep. Guy Comtois (R-Barnstead), the owner of Sticks and Stones Farm, said he is opposed to the proposed cut to the UNH Cooperative Extension Service, noting for every dollar the county puts in, UNH nearly triples that amount.

"It would be a huge blow to the agency," said Comtois.
A show of hands on further discussion on the Extension Service cut saw only two legislators opposed to reconsidering it with 15 favoring revisiting it. A similar show of hands on reconsideration of the cut to the Belknap County Economic Development Council showed a slim majority favoring reconsideration,
The convention adopted several budget changes made by the commissioners which included reducing a number of the group health insurance lines in several department budgets, reflecting changes in department's personnel and new insurance coverage for about 20 members of the Teamsters union who switched to a new point of service plan.
It also approved adding wages for two employees in the Sheriff's Department and wages for receptionists at the Belknap County Nursing Home.
Other changes included adding wages for converting eight part-time positions in the nursing home to three full-time positions and for changing a part-time cook's position at the county home to a full-time position.
The bottom line of the budget proposed by the commissioners calls for spending $35,235,571, $13,764,301 of which would be raised through local property taxes, some $72,872 less than last year.

Reproducing the Roar - Gilford man building reproduction of Edsel Ford's custom speedster

GILFORD — Steve Pierce of One-Off Technologies has been building hot rods, customs and promotional vehicles over the last 40 years and his latest project, a reproduction of Edsel Ford's 1934 Model 40 Special Speedster, has taken him nearly 3,000 hours of work already, but won't be completed until next year.,
Recognized as one of the leading interior trimmers in the country, Pierce has taught himself nearly every phase of the coach building craft with his work winning awards at auto shows all over the country.
His projects have included cars that competed for the Most Beautiful Roadster Award as well as an art deco Delahaye, which was heralded in the 1930s as the world's most beautiful automobile. And there were three-award winning vehicles for Gilford auto collector Dick Metz, including a 1932 Ford Highboy Roadster named "Oh Boy" which took third place at the Detroit Autorama in 1999 and won the first-ever Sam Radoff's Yosemite Sam's Sculpture Excellence award the same year.
Others that he built for Metz included a 1966 Ford F-100 pickup, which was customized by Pierce with a fiberglass trunk and body and includes matching accessories and won awards as the best radical pickup at the Autorama, and a 1955 Ford Courier, a light duty sedan delivery truck, that has won awards as the best truck at a half dozen different shows, including Boston's World of Wheels and the Detroit show.
He also building a car for himself that he can drive year-round, a 1932 Ford reproduction hot rod with a fiberglass body, which is powered by a 1968 Ford 302-cubic-inch engine. The car features a five-speed stick shift, a shift-on-the-fly transfer case and, most unusual for a hot-rod, is a four-wheel drive vehicle.
Pierce says that one of the more interesting cars he worked on was the art deco Delahaye. He served as he chief technical officer for the project, building a custom tailored rolling chassis for the vehicle, which is powered by an all aluminum BMW V-12 which is connected to an all aluminum C-5 Corvette rear-mounted transaxle and front suspension.
He says that when he first started building hot rods in 1976, people from all walks of life were having him build them, but over the years they have become too expensive for the average working man and and that the craft now is geared toward an upscale market.
Pierce, who has immersed himself in automobile history, said Edsel Ford, the only son of Henry Ford, was probably America's first hot rodder and at the age of 7 was driving around Detroit streets and being ignored by local police, who knew who his father was.
In 1934, Edsel, who was by then the president of Ford Motor Company, had a sleek roadster based on European styles built as his own personal roadster. Known as the Model 40 Special Speedster, it had custom touches, including an alligator-style hood with louvered side panels, low-mounted headlamps molded into the body, an enclosed radiator with a concealed cap, a starter button on the instrument panel, no running boards, and long, low proportions.
Following Ford's death in 1943, the car changed hand several times and in 1958 was sold for only $603. Several years ago after a complete restoration, it sold for $1.76 million at the Pebble Beach and is now on display at the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan.
Pierce said he decided in 2009 to build a reproduction of the car and was able to obtain full-size drawings from a Detroit firm, which he used to build a template to work from. He said that the wheelbase of his vehicle will be 122 inches, 10 inches longer than the original, which allows him to make the driver's seat larger and more comfortable.

"I've stretched out the cockpit and widened the body," said Pierce.
He said the roadster will be powered by a 362-horsepower Ford V-10 Triton truck engine which will be coupled to a five-speed stick transmission. The car's aluminum body has already been built and Pierce will be spending the next year working on the interior and painting the car.
"I'm building it as a spec car" said Pierce, who plans to trailer the car across the country in the  summer of 2017 and sell it at the annual Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance auction in August.
"I'll drive it up and down the Pacific Coast Highway with my wife before going to the auction,'' said Pierce, and after that he'll turn his attention to his own hot rod.


Steve Pierce with the reproduction 1934 Ford Model 40 Special Speedster.

Steve Pierce stands beside a 1934 Ford Model 40 Special Speedster reproduction that he's building at One Off Technologies in Gilford and will be ready to take part in the 1917 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)

An actual 1934 Speedster. (Photo courtesy

An actual 1934 Speedster. (Photo courtesy

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Free the Nipple case tossed, toplessness is not a crime

Judge: Constitutional issues not relevant to demonstrators’ case

By Gail Ober

LACONIA — The case against two women who went topless at Gilford Beach on Labor Day weekend as a statement about gender inequality and body shaming has been dismissed, but only because there are no state laws prohibiting it.
Judge Jim Carroll of the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division said in his five-page ruling dismissing the violation against Heidi Lilley of Gilford and Barbara McKinnon of Rumney that the town cannot make something a crime that the state doesn’t define as one.
“The Court finds that the township lacked authority for a criminal prosecution which is neither prohibited by the [c]riminal [c]ode nor by statute or enabling legislation,” Carroll wrote, rendering the enforcement of the Gilford Town Beach ordinance impossible unless the state makes exposing the entire female breast a crime.
Lilley and MicKinnon are both active participants in Free the Nipple, a campaign stemming from a 2014 movie of the same name, which is an equality movement that says women should be treated the same way as men when is comes to exposing the top parts of their bodies. The campaign also addresses what it calls the U.S. “body-shaming mentality.”
Free the Nipple came first to New Hampshire at Hampton Beach last summer when women and men set a day to come to the beach topless. While covered extensively by the media, turnout on the part of demonstrators and those who came to either gawk or show support was literally washed out by a cold summer rain.
Lilley and McKinnon brought the campaign to Weirs Beach on Labor Day weekend because Laconia is the only community in New Hampshire that has an ordinance that prohibits toplessness in public. Although six or seven women went topless at Weirs Beach on Sept. 6, city police declined to take the bait and, absent any citizen complaints, the event was unremarkable.
When the city cleared the beach to set up for the fireworks display that evening, the women decided to go to Gilford Beach. At least three complaints were filed, Gilford Police responded and all of the women covered their breasts when asked to do so. Police issued two complaints for a violation of the town beach ordinances.
Lilley and McKinnon had mounted a three-way argument in their motion to dismiss the violation.
First, they argued Gilford’s ordinance was a violation of their First Amendment rights of freedom of expression and the Fourteenth Amendment right of equal protection under the law. Second, they argued it was discriminatory under state law, and third that, since it was not prohibited by state law, local governments cannot exceed that authority.
While prevailing on the last argument, they struck out on the first two.
As to federal and state constitutional protections, Carroll said a specific New Jersey case cited by the state was applicable here because prohibiting toplessness “met constitutional muster since it gave a person of ordinary intelligence fair notice of the nature of the prohibited conduct,” and that it took into consideration the customs and mores of the applicable society – in this case – Gilford Beach.
He agreed with the New Jersey justices who said that toplessness is not a substantial level of “constitutionally protected conduct.”
Carroll said the ordinance against toplessness at the beach was to be considered under “strict scrutiny” in that it has a specific purpose and the town had compelling reason to pass it.
He said the “compelling interest” is that Gilford Beach is a town resource that is to be enjoyed by “young and old, men and women, families and single persons” while preserving appropriate standards that allow the town to maintain its local values and mores.
Carroll eschewed Lilley’s and McKinnon’s argument that the right to be topless is the same thing as the right to marry. He said marriage is a basic civil right while toplessness is not.
As to Lilley’s and McKinnon’s argument that their conduct “involved expression and politic speech and has artistic value,” Carroll said appearing topless doesn’t rise to that occasion.
When deciding if Lilley and McKinnon were victims of discrimination as defined under state law, Carroll said they weren’t because they weren’t denied access to the beach but rather their conduct was regulated while they were there.
Reached for comment, Lilley was not happy with the ruling and said she would need to consult with her lawyer to see what the next step would be.

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