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Truck stolen from stove store in Tilton found in Laconia

TILTON — Police are investigating a burglary at a Rte. 3 stove sales and installation center that occurred sometime late Thursday night.

Angelo Farruggia, the owner of Fire N' Stone, said yesterday about $40,000 in mostly Dewalt-brand tools as well as two pellet stoves that were still in the crates were taken by what appears to be two white males.

Farruggia said it a security tape shows the two first entered his warehouse sometime around 11 p.m. Thursday and exited carrying what they could in their arms. He said it looked like they dumped their haul in a dark colored Dodge Caravan parked on Church Street.

He said at 11:40 p.m. the tape shows his warehouse garage door opening and his 2013 red 3,500-ton dump truck exiting. He said it turned right from Church Street on to Route 3 and was headed toward Laconia.

Farruggia said there were two brand new stoves in the truck bed but he believes the theft of the stoves was an afterthought and whoever burglarized his place was after tools.

"One of (the stoves) weighs 500 pounds," Farruggia said. "I don't think two guys could lift it from the truck."

He said he thinks the two men loaded up the rest of the tools they were unable to carry and loaded them into the back of the truck.

He said the keys were in the ignition of the Chevy which was locked in the garage.

Farruggia said police told him the truck was recovered over the weekend on School Street in Laconia.

He said he was reaching out to the general public because the truck stands out and he thinks that whoever stole it, his tools, and his stoves may have engaged the hydraulic lift in order to get the stoves out.

"I'm hoping someone either saw the truck or heard it," he said.

If anyone has any information please call the Tilton Police at 286-4442.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 September 2013 03:30

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Meredith selectmen all for fast-tracking safety improvements to 1/4-mile stretch of Rte. 104

MEREDITH — Selectmen indicated strong support for proposed safety improvements on Rte. 104 at the Meredith Center Road and Chase Road intersections at a workshop session Monday afternoon.
Bill Oldenburg of the New Hampshire Department of Transportation's Design Bureau and Jon Hebert, DOT preliminary design engineer, presented a road safety audit report which the DOT initiated nearly three years ago in response to local concerns over the one-quarter mile stretch of road.
Those concerns included the lack of a passing option for vehicles which are behind those making a left turn onto Chase Road when headed east on Rte. 104 and the obscuring of left turning vision for those trying to enter Rte. 104 and proceed west from Meredith Center Road.
The report says that eastbound traffic turning right onto Meredith Center Road obscures the view of motorists trying to enter Rte. 104 and proceed in a westerly direction and that the right turn lane is frequently used as a passing lane in an area where the speed limit is 55 miles per hour and which saw nine crashes from 2002 until 2009.
Hebert said the proposed project includes construction of a left turn bypass shoulder at Chase Road and an eastbound offset right turn lane, 12 feet wide with a two foot shoulder and a painted island, into Meredith Center Road which would improve the sight distance for left turning traffic looking west from Meredith Center Road.
The roadway work would start 400 feet west of Chase Road on Rte. 104 and continue east to about 100 feet east of the Meredith Center Road.
One option, which would cost about $425,000, could be accomplished by the spring of 2015 and would be done entirely with state and federal highway funds. A second option, also done completely without any local funding, which would, in addition to other improvements in the first option, add a painted island west of the Chase Road intersection to better delineate the left turn bypass shoulder, would cost about $550,000 and could take up to three or more years to put in place as the entire project might not fall within the existing right of way and would necessitate eminent domain proceedings.
Selectman Lou Kahn said that he was all in favor of the proposed changes and Selectman Herb Vadney said that he thought the town should express its support for the most easily achieved option so that safety concerns could be addressed as soon as possible.
Town Manager Phil Warren said that the board of selectmen will take up the proposal in the near future and that he will draft a letter of support for the proposal for the board's consideration.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 September 2013 03:22

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Proposed fee of $125 to keep chickens in Laconia challenged as too expensive

LACONIA — Potential chicken owners will have to wait at least a month before the Zoning Board of Adjustment decides whether or not to pass on to the City Council for approval a zoning amendment that would allow the birds to be kept in areas of the city where they are currently prohibited.

After holding its first public hearing in City Hall last night, the ZBA asked Planning Director Shanna Saunders to include language in the proposed chicken ordinance that address regulations about keeping chickens in so-called cluster developments.

The next public hearing is scheduled for October 21.

Karen and Tom Barker were the only city residents who attended last night's hearing.

Karen Barker said the primary concern with the ordinance as written is the proposed $125 fee for a special exception to the zoning ordinance for all wannabe chicken owners.

Calling $125 a "burdensome charge," Barker said she thinks dogs are more annoying to neighbors than chickens and it's only $7 annually to register a dog.

Barker said she agrees with the ZBA that the town should know where the chickens are and if the coops satisfy setback requirements and shoreline protection provisions, but she said the fee could be too much.

"One-hundred twenty-five dollars could signify someone who could afford to keep chickens," said Saunders, defending the proposed application fee, adding that the Zoning Task Force spoke extensively about the affordability of keeping chickens.

ZBA member Kate Geraci noted it would take a lot of eggs to compensate for a $125 special exemption fee. The board discussed a fee-waiver process and Saunders said she would look into it and report back.

Member Suzanne Perley said the $125 fee comes as part of the application for all special exemptions that go before the ZBA and anyone who wants to keep chickens will need a special exemption.

If the zoning amendment passes, people who live in residential single-family (RS) areas, residential general areas (RG), and shorefront residential areas (SFR) can keep chickens. The current ordinance essentially restricts them from the most densely populated parts of the city.

Saunders said she has seen a number of special exception requests for chickens come before the ZBA and the board decided to look at an amended ordinance before granting any special exceptions. Right now, chickens are included in the agriculture zoning ordinances but Saunders said, for now, only chickens are being discussed.

Should the ordinance pass the ZBA, which Saunders said is the operative board because it's the one that has fielded all the chicken requests, it would need to be approved by the City Council.

When asked if the Planning Board also has to review and approve the ordinance should it be approved by the ZBA, Saunders said the city is seeking a legal opinion about the Planning Board's role.

As written, the amended ordinance says a lot in a residential area is limited to five chickens — no roosters — and the coop must be at least 20 feet from the property line and 10 feet from the primary residence.

People who own chickens may not sell their eggs or chickens but can give them away. No slaughtering in the city would be allowed.

Chickens may not be kept in front yards and all chickens shall be kept in appropriate coops high enough to prevent the chickens from flying away. The coops must also be constructed so that wild animals can't get in and the chickens are protected from the elements.

Feed must be kept secure and no more than three cubic yards of chicken manure can be kept on the property.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 September 2013 02:12

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Divided Alton School Board rejects Common Core

ALTON — The School Board last night rejected the Common Core State Standards Initiative by a three-to-two vote, but apart from thumbing their noses at the federal government and state Department of Education and reaffirming their belief in local control of schools, the impact of their decision remains obscure.

Terri Noyes, vice-chairman of the board, Krista Argiropolis and Carlos Martinez voted to reject Common Core, while chairman Sandy Wyatt and Stephen Miller favored adopting the new program.

The Common Core State Standards Initiative, which is being put forth by the U.S. Department of Education and a consortium of states and was adopted by the New Hampshire Department of Education (DOE) three years ago, sets standards for measuring mastery of math and English language arts/literacy curriculum at each grade level that emphasize critical thinking and problem solving and are meant to better prepare students for success. New Hampshire is one of 45 states which has adopted the Common Core standards which are being incorporated into classroom teaching in advance of new nationwide assessment tests which students are scheduled to take in the spring of 2015.

"We showed that our community has real concerns," declared State Rep. Jane Cormier (R-Alton), who is married to Martinez, after the vote. As for the practical implications of the vote, she said "who knows?"

Noting that officials of the New Hampshire Department of Education could not answer basic questions about the program, Cormier claimed "they're making it up as they go along" and asked "why should we adopt something when we don't have all the answers?"

Opening the discussion on the issue, Carol Locke, speaking as an Alton resident and principal of Gilmanton School, began by correcting claims that a third of the teachers in Gilmanton left the school rather than teach to the Common Core standards, which were made at a board meeting. In fact, she said only three teachers left, two for teaching positions closer to their homes and a librarian who retired.

Suggestions that teachers reacted against Common Core, Locke insisted "are simply not true," adding "they really don't have concerns." The program is designed to raise standards, she continued. "It's not a bad thing to bring our education up to a higher standard."
Richard Kirby, who teaches sixth grade English and mathematics at Alton Central School, told the board that the Alton Teachers Association welcomes Common Core. "It offers new challenges to students to become problem solvers, critical thinker and technologically literate," he said. "It raises the bar for grade levels and individuals."

Denying the federal government has a legitimate role in elementary and secondary education, Cormier urged the board to "stay true to local education. Parents know best what is good for their children. Local committees know best," she said. She warned against what she called the "propaganda" of expecting all students to perform to the same standards. "Nobody is the same," she said. Likewise, she insisted "we don't learn through assessments."

"Common Core is a big mistake," Cormier declared. "I hope we have some backbone here tonight."

Locke countered that Cormier misrepresented the program. "Assessment is just a tool," she said, explaining that it does not displace learning in the classroom. Moreover, she reminded the board that Common Core is "not that different from the state standards we have now."

Voicing the state motto "live free or die," a woman asked "why would we want to take federal money? Once you let the government in," she continued, "you can't get rid of it. It gets bigger and bigger."

"There's a lot more to it than just what happens in the classroom," said Cormier, who said that the program includes "data mining," which invades the privacy of "pre-schoolers to 20-year-olds. It's a mammoth step towards federalizing the curriculum."

Superintendent William Lander assured the board that "there is no mining of data" and the privacy of students is protected by both federal and state statutes. Expressing his support for Common Core, he said that much time and effort had been invested in designing the curriculum to fit the program, which he would not want to see undone.

Nevertheless, Cormier struck a chord with Noyes who said "I have a fear of losing local control, a large fear. I don't want the federal government telling us how many kids we can have in a classroom."
Argiropolis sounded the same note, charging that "the DOE is eroding local control with all this top-down stuff."

Miller said that he was "fully in favor of Common Core" and wondered why few have spoken against it.

"I won't vote for Common Core," Martinez interrupted, snapping "how's that for taking a stand?"

Miller pointed out that it has been adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia. "We can't develop a standard to compete with Common Core," he said, asking "what will happen if Prospect Mountain applies Common Core? Will that create a remedial situation?"

"This is not a political issue," Miller remarked. "It's an education issue." He said that students at Alton Central School performed below the state average on standardized tests and stressed "in as much as standards are being raised, we have to keep pace."

After the meeting Kirby said that despite the vote of the board, beginning in 2015 his students will have to take the new test — the Smarter Balanced Assessment — which is formatted to measure their progress against the Common Core standards.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 September 2013 01:55

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