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Newfound superintendent asked to keep an eye on class size at Bridgewater-Hebron Village School

By Thomas P. Caldwell

BRISTOL — The Newfound Area School District, which leases the Bridgewater-Hebron Village School from an independently created political entity, will be keeping closer tabs on the student population to avoid crowding at the facility.
The Bridgewater-Hebron Village District, which built and outfitted the school which is physically located in Bridgewater, had become concerned that the Newfound district's open-enrollment policy was allowing too many students from outlying towns to choose attendance in Bridgewater, resulting in larger-than-intended class sizes.
Village District Commissioners Terry Murphy and William White attended the Dec. 9 meeting of the Newfound Area School Board to see that the Newfound district adhered as closely as possible to the covenant between the entities. "We're not asking — and would not want — to force students currently attending the Bridgwater-Hebron School to leave," said Murphy. "We just want to address this issue at the preschool level, before students start attending the school."
The agreement, in which the Bridgewater-Hebron district leases the school for $1 per year to the Newfound district, specifies that classroom enrollment should not exceed "the average number of students per classroom in the relevant grade at all schools in the sending town(s)".
The 10-year agreement, renewed for another 10 years in 2009, provides for a mandatory service area comprising the towns of Bridgewater, Hebron, and Groton. Students from those towns are guaranteed placement at the school, unless they choose to attend another school. The Newfound district has the option of allowing attendance by students from the other towns — Alexandria, Danbury, Bristol, and New Hampton — if space remains to accommodate them without exceeding the limits established in the agreement.
To arrive at that number, the district divides "the total number of students in the relevant grade in all schools in the sending town(s) by the total number of classrooms used for the relevant grade in all schools in the sending town".
The concern, Murphy said, is that, in the past, previous superintendents have filled the classroom with students from other towns without sufficient thought as to what would happen if more students moved into the mandatory service area. Currently, the enrollment exceeds that average number in two classrooms at BHVS.
School Board Chair Vincent Paul Migliore of Bridgewater said he wanted to put the issue on the agenda in order to ensure that, in the future, the superintendent keeps the agreement in mind when approving attendance by students outside the mandatory service area. He successfully offered a motion that would direct the superintendent to annually review the contract in April or May to ensure compliance with the required averages.
The towns of Bridgewater and Hebron had formed the village district in 1999 when the Newfound district was experiencing crowding at the elementary level, recognizing that school district voters were unlikely to approve a new building project while still paying for the high school, built a decade earlier. The two towns agreed to build and equip the school and then to lease it to the school district, maintaining it on a landlord-tenant basis. The school district became responsible for staffing and curriculum decisions.
Murphy noted that, after the Newtown, Conn., tragedy, the Bridgewater-Hebron Village District has spent $47,000 to install security cameras and to make other security improvements, and it faces the replacement of the roof next year. "The 25-year roof lasted 15 years," Murphy said, noting that the district is looking into litigation against the supplier.

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 December 2013 01:33

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Wetlands disturbance issue puts Laconia Airport safety fence project on hold

GILFORD — A $700,000 perimeter fence project at Laconia Municipal Airport is in a holding pattern following the denial of the airport's application for a wetlands disturbance permit issued by the state Wetlands Bureau of the Department of Environmental Services.
The project calls for installation of a 15,800-foot-long, eight-foot high chain link fence around the airport and was the primary recommendation of the study performed last year by the USDA Wildlife Service, according to airport manager Diane Terrill.
She said that the fence would have barbed wire outriggers and four-foot chain link fabric which would be buried at a 45 degree angle below ground to prevent undermining of the fence by burrowing mammals such as beavers and woodchucks.
She said that the major objections from the wetlands bureau appear to relate to the 3,080 feet of the fence that impact wetlands around the airport.
''It's a highly technical document and I'm no wetlands scientist. But we didn't expect this outcome and were looking to react appropriately. From our standpoint it's an issue of human safety and we think that should be the priority,'' said Terrill.
She said that the Laconia Airport Authority is working with Steven Smith and Associates to amend its permit application and address the objections raised by the Wetlands Bureau and hasn't yet settled on what it will propose for a solution.
Terrill said that one suggested path forward is just building whatever portion of the fence is allowed.
''But to not enclose the airfield completely would be negligent. This is more than a permitting issue, it's also about public safety,'' she said.
The fence will impact wetlands along the south side of the property next to Route 11, around the east end of the property adjacent to Gunstock River and along the north side if the property adjacent to Meadowbrook Lane. The total length of fence that impacts wetland is 3,080 linear feet of conventional wetland and 2,096 linear feet of prime wetland. Seven different areas of wetland impact would be necessary to complete the fence installation.
Cooper-Terrill said the fence is designed to keep wildlife from straying on to the runway and potentially causing a collision with the aircraft that are landing or taking off. She said burrowing animals like rabbits, moles and mice are often preyed upon by larger animals like bobcats and coyotes, which also can stray on to the airport's runways to chase their prey.
She also said Canadian geese, turkey and ducks are a significant problem but not one that can be addressed by a fence.
A report completed last year indicated "aggressive harassment" like pyrotechnics, propane cannons, and electronic scarecrows can be utilized to reduce birds in the area.
It is not the first time that the airport and the Wetlands Bureau have been at odds over issues regarding wetlands around the airport.
In April of 2006, when wetlands issues imperiled an $8.1 million federally-funded runway extension and repaving program at the airport, the N.H. Wetlands Council issued a declaratory ruling sought by the Wetlands Bureau and the airport that in the case under consideration issues of public safety superseded the need for preservation of prime wetlands.
The project affected 13 acres of wetland and as a result an agreement reached between the Wetlands Bureau and the airport some 143 acres of non-runway access property on airport authority land was placed under permanent conservation easement.

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 December 2013 01:22

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LHS junior's essay wins N.H. Constitution Day contest

LACONIA — High School junior, Andrew Emanuel, has been recognized statewide for his literary and musical achievements. As the award winner for New Hampshire's Constitution Day Essay Contest, he met Associate Supreme Court Justice Carol Ann Conboy during a recent recognition event.

For an AP American Studies assignment, Emanuel was asked to write a short essay regarding whether or not the government reserves the right to invade people's privacy by reading personal e-mails, text messages, and tapping into phone calls.

Emanuel took the stand in his essay the right to one's privacy is protected by both the Constitution and ethically, therefore there is very limited right for the government to take these freedoms away. To make the argument as sound as possible, he provided evidence from both sides of the spectrum, as it gave him an opportunity to refute the opposing argument. Through his opposition paragraph, Emanuel provided the viewpoint that the government invading our privacy can be done at a steep cost, and should not be taken advantage of.

In reaction to winning the award Emanuel stated, "I was incredibly surprised because I'm not usually one to win these types of things. It was a great confidence booster for my writing."

Emanuel traveled to the Supreme Court of New Hampshire on November 11 to read his essay to a small group of people. Some of those in attendance included the five runners up for the high school contest and six individuals who participated in the middle school contest. During the event Emanuel was congratulated by various individuals, including Justice Conboy. Emanuel also received congratulatory letters from U.S. House Members Carol Shea-Porter, District 1 and Ann McLane Kuster, District 2 and from U.S. Senators Kelly Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen.

In addition to his literary achievement, Emanuel was selected for N.H. All State for Symphonic Band for the clarinet. This event will be held in the April of 2014. Musical achievements are held in highest esteem by Emanuel, and during his career as a musician with the Laconia High School Band, under the instruction of Debbie Gibson, he has been selected for All New England Band Ensemble during both his sophomore and junior years, for the Lakes Region Music Festival as both a freshmen and sophomore (concert band) and for the jazz band (1st tenor saxophone) this school year. He attended Drum Major Academy in the summer of 2013, and played at the Shrine Bowl in 2012 and 2013.

“Winning the essay and the musical achievements have given me a better idea of what I want to do in the future,” said Emanuel. “I am now definitely aiming to pick a career that is more humanities focused."


CAPTION — Statewide Constitution Day Essay winner Andrew Emanuel is congratulated by Associate Justice Carol Ann Conboy of the New Hampshire Supreme Court. (Courtesy photo)

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 December 2013 01:19

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Barnstead ambulance involved in crash on way to Concord Hospital

BARNSTEAD — Four members of the town's Fire Department and the seriously-ill patient they were taking to Concord Hospital escaped serious injury Tuesday night after a car collided head-on with the town's ambulance just before 8 p.m.

Police Sgt. Joseph McDowell said yesterday that the ambulance was headed south on Route 28 toward Concord when one of the drivers headed northbound apparently lost control of his or her car and skidded into the southbound lane.

The driver of the ambulance was able to take some evasive action but a collision still resulted, sending the ambulance off the side of the road. McDowell said it was precariously perched on the side of the road but fortunately didn't roll over.

In a media statement, Chief Mark Tetreault said crews continued to provide care to the patient until an ambulance from Pittsfield Fire Department could transport the patient to Concord Hospital.

He said the driver of the ambulance was later taken to Concord Hospital for evaluation.

McDowell said the roads were slippery at the time with recently fallen snow. He said the accident was reported by a Carroll County Deputy Sheriff, who was transporting a prisoner. He said the sheriff helped until police and other rescue crews could get there.

The N.H. State Police are investigating the crash, said McDowell, who explained that since the ambulance belongs to the town, the town's police cannot investigate it.

Tetreault said the 2011 Ford/PL Custom ambulance has serious damage but he does not think it will be a total loss. He said Barnstead has a second reserve ambulance that will be "pressed into service" in the interim.

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 December 2013 01:11

Hits: 469

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