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Commissioners willing to ask only for HVAC money for jail

LACONIA — Belknap County Commissioners say that they like the idea of asking for a $1 million bond issue for a new HVAC system for the county jail but say they have no idea what the county convention will do given that its chairwoman wouldn't allow separate votes on the three elements of a proposed $2.96 bond issue when the convention rejected it by a 7-9 vote last month.
The idea of bringing the issue before the convention again was raised by Dave DeVoy of Sanbornton during the public input session when the commission met yesterday.
DeVoy, who is a candidate for the Republican nomination for the commission seat currently held by Ed Philpot (D-Laconia), said in a letter published in Tuesday's Daily Sun that he believes that the ''vast majority or maybe the entire delegation would support this bond.''
Philpot , who is not running for re-election, said that he had no idea if Rep. Colette Worsman (R-Meredith), would allow the bond issue for the HVAC system to be brought back because there is no communication between the commissioners and the convention leadership.
Commission Chairman John Thomas (R-Belmont) suggested to DeVoy that he bring up the idea with the chairwoman.
Other elements of the defeated bond proposal, which required a two-thirds majority vote for passage, also included $360,000 for a schematic design for a new county jail and $1.6 million for a three-year lease of a 48-bed temporary housing unit.
County Administrator Debra Shackett, who said it was worth making the effort to try and get funds for the HVAC system, noted that members of the Belknap County Jail Planning Committee and House of Corrections Superintendent Daniel Ward said the top priority was the temporary housing, which would allow the jail more space for inmates as well as for programs which help them adjust to life in the community once their jail terms are over.
Commissioners voted at yesterday's meeting to accept a $3,600 grant from the N.H. State Council for the Arts for establishing a poetry workshop at the Belknap County House of Corrections which would involve both male and female inmates and is seen as an important outlet for many of the inmates which would provide them with a way of expressing feelings that perhaps cannot be expressed in any other manner.
It was noted that many inmates currently draw, keep journals and write poetry on a daily basis to help themselves cope with their feelings and frustrations.
The county will provide $1,800 in cash support for the program, $704 for instructor preparation and planning and $1,096 for composition books and papers, as well as $6,340 of in-kind contributions for managing and supervising the program and providing utilities, including the Internet, and classroom and closet space.
The program is slated to start in November with instructors Timothy Muskat and Linda Kunhardt, locally published poets, teaching four six-week sessions in which there will be scheduled poetry readings for inmates as well as regular classes and writing time.
Commissioner Stephen Nedeau (R-Meredith), citing the county's tight budget constraints, opposed the program at this time but both Thomas and Philpot said they thought it was a good program and offered another way to help inmates adjust and achieve positive growth.
Commissioners also signed an agreement with the State Attorney General's Office which provides a $25,000 grant for the county to fund an ongoing victim services coordinator position and requires a $35,787 local match.

Last Updated on Thursday, 10 July 2014 12:34

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Volunteers clean-up Winnipesaukee River bank

LACONIA — In the past, the small clearing on city-owned property that runs along the Winnipesaukee River off Davis Place has been called a lot of things.

In the 1960s and 1970s it was Shoe Shop Beach — a place where shift workers from the Laconia Shoe Company would come to after their shift and drink. Their pastimes included throwing their beer bottles against a cement abutment.

From the 1980s until recently, some have referred to it as Hobo Beach and Ghetto Beach — a barb directed at users.

Today, and thanks to a crew of residents from the Normandin Square Apartments at 22 Stafford Street led by Shelly Saunders, Jim Michaud, and Bill Sterner — its called the Clean and Sober Beach.

Saunders said she met Sterner this spring while the two of them were walking their dogs. Both complained about how filthy the area was and that's when they came up with the idea of cleaning it.

Saunders used a rake to recover the glass close to the shoreline, Sterner raked the cigarette butts and debris from the area and together with a few of their friends they cleaned the garbage from the area.

"There's 50 years of drinking and breaking bottles down here and we've cleaned up most of it," she said.

In the interim, a small flower garden has been planted with donated flowers, Ann Saltmarsh of the Department of Public Works has given them some recycling containers, and Michaud built a little table that some of the residents use at night for fishing and cutting bait.

"You wouldn't believe the horn pout they catch down here," said Steiner.

The crew even cleaned the path so some of the wheelchair bound residents can go down and get some fresh air.

Saunders and Sterner were there yesterday morning drinking coffee and giving their dogs a little exercise. Saunders and Sterner sat in two of the several donated lawn chairs that stay there neatly stacked in the corner until someone wants to use one.

A kayaker named Nate paddled by and stopped briefly to visit and to get his little dog a treat from Saunders. "I'm so glad they cleaned this area up," Nate said. "It's beautiful."

To date, Saunders said only one chair has been stolen from the area. She noted yesterday that even the people who go down there late at night to drink have started to use the recycling bins.

"I just wish they'd use the ashtrays we put down here," she said, as Steiner walked around and picked up a few stray cigarette butts.

She said that during the day they occasionally have some problems with people going down there to drink and expecting the others to keep and eye on their children.

"We don't come down her to to be babysitters," she said.

She said there have been complaints of trespassing by one of the neighbors but as long as everyone stays off his property, there's not much he can do. As for the local police, she said they occasionally stop down to make sure no one is drinking but as long as there's no alcohol or drugs, she said they are "cool."

"We don't want alcohol or drugs down here," Saunders said. "We just want a nice area that local people can come and enjoy a little bit of nature."

CUTLINE: (beach) Shelly Saunders and Bill Steiner and their dogs "Tobey Omara" and "Sandy" enjoy a little early morning quiet along the Winnipesaukee River in a spot they recently rehabilitated. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Gail Ober)

(beach) Shelly Saunders, gives a treat to a kayaker's dog while two other dogs in the foreground look on. Saunders and Bill Sterner spearheaded a group of residents at 22 Strafford Street that cleaned up the small area next to the Winnipesaukee River. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Gail Ober)

Last Updated on Thursday, 10 July 2014 01:17

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Bronze plaque finally recognizes Belmont Library's historical status

BELMONT — Some 29 years after it was officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Belmont Public Library yesterday had a plaque unveiled on the front of the building which celebrates its historic status.
The plaque was a gift from the Belmont Heritage Commission and was unveiled at a ceremony attended by selectmen, library trustees, Peter Michaud of the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources, State Senator Andrew Hosmer and townspeople.
Linda Frawley, Heritage Commission chairman, said that the the library was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 12, 1985. Research by David Ruell of Ashland in 1984-5 for the Lakes Region Planning Commission, which nominated the structure to the National Register, summarized its distinction as, "significant architecturally, both as one of the best small libraries in the Lakes Region, and as one of the region's best examples of the Colonial Revival style."
Belmont Public Library heritage dates to the 1890s, according to library trustee chairman Mary Charnley at other locations before moving to its current home in 1928.
According to Laconia Democrat news reports of March 1927, town residents voted unanimously to accept the gift of a public building fully equipped and endowed, given by the owners of the Belmont Hosiery Company, George E. Duffy of Worcester, Mass. and Walter E. Duffy of Franklin.
Charnley said," That generous community spirit still exists today, as the Heritage Commission gifted us with a National Register plaque.'' During the ceremony Denis Carignan, who owns a clock and watch repair business, and Pauline Murphy announced that a clock made by Elisha Smith III of Sanbornton which is over 100 years old and has held a place of honor in the library's vestibule since it opened, is being repaired so that it will again be working.
The library was formally dedicated on February 4, 1928 and opened for business the same day. The Journal Transcript of Franklin noted it was " built by Belmont men, supervised by local master builder Eli Perron" and a Tilton mason, and designed by Hanover architects Harry A. Wells & Archer E. Hudson.
That library of nearly 86 years ago, began with 4,000 volumes. Current library director Rebecca Albert, who has served as director of library services at the Tilton School, and as special projects and literacy coordinator for the New Hampshire State Library, today oversees 16,000 volumes, plus collections of audio books, other new media, and programs for all aged residents from the same desk and building made possible by the generous Duffy brothers and other local mill leadership.
"Despite the challenges of serving diverse needs in 2400-square-feet, we provide community resources including computer access, to more than 1500 patrons," says Charnley.

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Ruth Mooney, chairman of the Belmont Board of Selectmen, and Mary Charnley, chairman of the Belmont Library Board of Trustees, unveil a National Register of Historic Places plaque during a ceremony at the library Thursday afternoon. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)


Last Updated on Thursday, 10 July 2014 11:56

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Center section of Union Ave. goes back under the knife

LACONIA — Although cold weather and snow storms lingered into the spring, City Manager Scott Myers said yesterday that the two major public works projects underway — the reconstruction of Union Avenue and the Main Street Bridge — are both on schedule.

Save for curbing and sidewalks, the first phase of the work on Union Avenue, from Messer Street to Walker Street, was completed by the start of Motorcycle Week as planned and this week the second phase of the project, from Gilford Avenue to Walker Street, began. Myers said that work would proceed northward from Gilford Avenue with the aim of finishing the stretch past Laconia High School by the time classes resume in late August.

Myers said that work will begin with the digging of test pits near the intersection of Union Avenue and Lyman Street to assess the stormwater drainage and sanitary sewer pipes. Rebuilding some 250 feet of sanitary sewer pipe will begin before the week is out. Improvement of stormwater drainage, including the replacement of a major drain crossing Union Avenue just south of the high school, will follow mains and natural gas lines. Near the end of the month the construction of a new water main will begin at Gilford Avenue then proceed northward to connect with the new main laid during the first phase of the project in from the Taylor Community. The project, save for the top coat of asphalt on the roadway, is expected to be complete by the onset on cold weather in October.

During the second phase of the work Union Avenue will be closed to southbound traffic but open to northbound traffic during working hours on weekdays. Where Union Avenue joins Messer Street, southbound traffic will be detoured along Messer Street to Bisson Avenue then to Davis Place, rejoining Union Avenue at Normandin Square.

The second of the four phases of the Main Street Bridge project began this month as work began to cut and remove a portion of the deck on Main Street. Although northbound traffic must negotiate a kink in the roadway at the foot of Main Street, the traffic pattern set with the first phase has not changed.

However, when the third phase of the project begins in August the construction area will shift further to the west, triggering a change in the traffic pattern. Beacon Street East will open to northbound traffic, Main Street will remain open to northbound traffic and Beacon Street West will carry southbound traffic across the river. Only the link between Beacon Street West and Beacon Street East will be closed by the construction site.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 July 2014 12:50

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