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3-car fire lights up Laconia night

LACONIA — Fire destroyed one car, damaged two others and an apartment house, at Cleveland Place in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Firefighters dispatched at 3:21 a.m. arrived to find the engine compartments of two cars — a 2011 Chevrolet Malibu and 2004 GMC Envoy, facing one another, on fire, with flames licking at a 1997 Ford Ranger pick-up truck parked nearby. The intensity of the fire and proximity of the building prompted Lieutenant Lisa Baldini to report a structure fire, which drew crews from the Weirs Beach Station as well as Gilford and Belmont.

An attack line was stretched to the vehicles and a firefighter entered the building to determine if the fire had spread.

Residents of the closely knit neighborhood stood clustered around a young woman who wept as she said that she had just bought the car from a local dealer. She said the car was not insured since she spent all of her money to buy it. "I don't know what I'm going to do," she said, wiping tears from her cheeks.

Witnesses said they heard a loud pop which was attributed by police to the right front tire exploding. Others said they were awoken by the sounds of police and fire responding to the blaze and many were standing outside wrapped in blankets to protect themselves from the cool morning air.

One woman mentioned that at around 10 p.m. a young person had been going around the neighborhood seeing if he or she could set off car alarms. She said she had no idea if the earlier incidents and the fire were related.

Fire Chief Ken Erickson said that the fire originated in the engine compartment of the Malibu and spread to the other vehicles. He described the Malibu as a total loss and said that the SUV and the truck were also damaged. In addition the heat from the fire damaged the vinyl siding of the building at 14 Cleveland Place.

Erickson said that the cause of the fire is "undetermined," but noted that the Malibu had not been driven since 5 p.m. on Tuesday. The Laconia Police Department has asked anyone with information about the fire to contact the police at 524-5252.

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 June 2014 12:16

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Legislation that clarifies property taxation of recreatiional vehicles awaits Hassan's signature

CONCORD — Legislation that clarifies the taxation of recreational vehicles kept on campgrounds throughout the year is on its way to the Governor Maggie Hassan's desk after the Senate and House reached agreement last week.

Senate Bill 333, sponsored by Senator Jeanie Forrester (R-Meredith), which originally would have exempted all recreational vehicles sited on campgrounds from property taxation, carried the Senate 24 to 0. However, officials from Laconia were quick to inform lawmakers that the city would lose about $10 million in assessed property valuation and more than $200,000 in property tax revenue.

The bill was amended by the House Municipal and County Government Committee to safeguard the city's tax base. As amended by the committee and passed by the House the bill exempts only those recreational vehicles with a maximum width of eight-feet, six-inches, registered as motor vehicles, bearing a current number plate and located at a campground from property taxation. In other words, so-called "park models," wider than eight-feet, six-inches that cannot be transported without a special permit, and unregistered recreational vehicles less than eight-feet, six inches in width, would be taxed as real estate.

Before April 1 each year campground owners would be required to provide municipal assessors with the name and address of the owners of recreational vehicles at their campgrounds and to identify those exempt from property taxation. Campground owners would not be responsible for the payment of any taxes imposed on recreational vehicles at their facilities.

City Manager Scott Myers said that the amendment mirrors the practice the city has followed since 1999 when the New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled that trailers meeting certain criteria should be taxed as real estate. He said that the amendment addresses the major issues of concern to both the city and campground owners.

Forrester recommended that the Senate concur with the House version of the bill, which it did.

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 June 2014 01:26

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In Laconia, Frank Guinta says N.H.'s middle-of-the-pack business climate must improve

LACONIA — Frank Guinta, the Manchester Republican seeking to regain the seat in the First Congressional District he lost to Democrat Carol Shea-Porter in 2012, visited with Scott Kalicki, president of Lakes Region Community College, and the staff of the advanced manufacturing program yesterday.

Guinta said that in attractiveness to operate a business, New Hampshire ranked 27th among the 50 states, noting that "if you're not in the top 10, you might as well be last." He said that the aging population, business taxation, energy costs, regulatory climate and diminishing workforce were all factors in the relatively low ranking. "We've got to turn that around," he said.

Keith Fletcher of LRCC said that the advanced manufacturing program has grown quickly, thanks in large measure to the 22 firms represented on the advisory board. Many of these firms have enrolled employees in the program. Moreover, Tom Goulette, vice-president of Academic and Community Affairs, pointed to the rising enrollment in the manufacturing program at the Huot Technical Center at Laconia High School, which with the college provides a pathway to a career in the manufacturing sector.

At the federal level, Guinta said that nine agencies spend some $18 billion on 47 different job training programs. "It's very convoluted and bureaucratic," he said, "and that's the problem." If elected, he said he would proposed consolidating all the programs and funding in one agency, most likely the Department of Labor, which he said would reduce the administrative overheads and stretch the dollars for the programs. "Efficiency creates more dollars for the intended purpose" he said. "it's something I plan on working on."

"Our economic needs are critical," Guinta said, "especially in this part of the state."

Guinta, a former mayor of Manchester, was elected to Congress in 2010, which he said branded him as a member of the Tea Party. "I wasn't a Tea Partier when I was mayor," he said. "I wasn't a Tea Partier when I sat in the New Hampshire House of Representatives. And I was not a member of the Tea Party Caucus in Congress." Instead, he said "I'm a conservative Republican."

Guinta said that as a mayor he sought to identify problems and find solutions. "This time one of the things I will do more strongly is to focus on what I can accomplish," he said, stressing that he remains a conservative with a firm commitment to limited government and fiscal responsibility. "It's very important to know what you can achieve and what you can't," he remarked.

Guinta is locked in a primary contest with Dan Innis of Portsmouth, former dean of the Peter T. Paul School of Business and Economics at the University of New Hampshire turned hotel owner, for the GOP nomination.

 

CAPTION: Frank Guinta, one of two Republicans seeking the nomination in the First Congressional District, visited Lakes Region Community College yesterday, where he discussed the importance of developing a skilled workforce with Keith Fletcher (black) and Dan Brough (orange) of the advanced manufacturing program and Scott Kalicki, president of the college. (Laconias Daily Sun photo/Michael Kitch).

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 June 2014 01:13

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Forrester votes against hospital tax deal

CONCORD — Senator Jeanie Forrester (R-Meredith), who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, was among the handful of Republican senators who declined to support the agreement over the Medicaid Enhancement Tax (MET), which carried the Senate by a voice vote yesterday.

"I had real concerns about the impact of the agreement on the next state budget," Forrester said, explaining that she anticipated it would add between $60-million and $100-million to the state's liabilities.

The agreement, negotiated with 25 of the 26 hospitals in closing days of the legislative session, provides for the state to increase reimbursements to hospitals uncompensated care, lower the rate of the MET and apply all revenues from the tax to Medicaid services. In return, the hospitals will withdraw their challenge to the constitutionality of the MET and drop all claims lodged in state and federal courts for tax refunds.

Forrester, who was named to the committee of conference appointed to reconcile differences between the Senate and House of Representatives, withdrew from the panel in the midst of its deliberations. "It was hard for me to vote for something I might have to fix later," she said.

"It was a complex issue," Forrester said, comparing the deliberations to those around the expansion of Medicaid last year. "We worked long and hard." She said that reducing the rate of the MET and applying the revenue to health care were positive features of the compromise. "But," she said, "I believe it will cause problems down the road."

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 June 2014 01:02

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