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Owner says no underground leaks from tanks at former gas station site on South Main Street

LACONIA — After closing the gas station at the corner of South Main Street and Garfield Street, Jeff Pierson, president of Foley Oil Company, said yesterday that he is working with the Department of Environmental Services (DES) to prepare the property for redevelopment.

Contrary to a recent report in The Citizen, Pierson said that there are no failed underground fuel tanks on the site. He explained that in 1993 the existing tanks were replaced in anticipation of stiffer regulations that became effective in 1998. The double-wall tanks, approved and authorized by DES, were equipped with monitoring system that operated 24 hours a day seven days a week and sounded an alarm if the outer wall was breached by groundwater or the inner wall by fuel.

"In 20 years we never had a leak," Pierson said. "We have always been in compliance and to this day there is nothing wrong with the tanks in the ground."

However, Pierson said that when new regulations become effective in 2015 the company would have to invest as much as $100,000 in both tanks and pumps to remain in compliance with state and federal environmental regulations. He said that since sales at the location would not warrant the expenditure he chose to close the station. "This was our choice as a company," he said.

Pierson said that the company will decommission the station by removing the tanks, along with other material tainted by petroleum products during the approximately 50 years the property has housed a gas station and repair shop. "Quite a bit of material will be removed then replaced with clean fill and paved," he said, stressing that the company will fund the work, which will be performed to standards set by DES.
Meanwhile, DES will remove contaminated materials from an area around the property, including a section of Garfield Street, where several other service stations operated in the past. The project will be financed by the New Hampshire Petroleum Reimbursement Program, which draws on four separate funds accrued from surcharges on the sale of petroleum products.

Pierson said that because Foley Oil Company enjoyed an unbroken record of compliance, DES was authorized to share in the cost of remediating the effects of past fueling operations in the vicinity of the station.

Planning Director Shanna Saunders said that Pierson first approached her about a year ago about redeveloping the property, indicating that he would prefer a use that served the neighborhood. He said that the building will be renovated so it is suitable for rent, but otherwise he has no specific plan for the property other than improving it to do justice to its prominent location.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 October 2013 03:10

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Inter-Lakes gets $337K refund from LGC for overpayment of health insurance premiums

MEREDITH — The Inter-Lakes School District has received a refund in excess of $337,000 from the Local Government Center representing excess premiums the district paid for health insurance for its employees for 2010 and 2011, the School Board was told last night.
Assistant Superintendent Trish Temperino said that $337,318.66 was paid to the district in the form of a credit toward its $1.3 million health insurance bill for the current school year. An additional $49,792.71 will be refunded to current and former teachers and other district employees for what they paid toward the cost of their insurance.
Temperino said the amount of the refunds to employees and retiree would vary. Eligible employees still working in the Inter-Lakes District will receive their refunds in this week's pay check. Retirees and other former employees will receive their refund in a separate check.
The amount of the credit/refund is much larger than the district had originally expected. Temperino told the board that the district anticipated a credit of $94,633 for 2011 insurance premiums and had calculated that when preparing the current budget. However, in June the district was informed that there would be a credit — or so-called premium holiday — for 2010 insurance premiums as well, resulting in an additional credit to the district of $240,264.39.
The credit and refunds are being issued under the terms of a state Bureau of Securities Regulations' order that the LGC repay $53.4 million to towns and school districts overcharged by the nonprofit organization, which operates self-funded risk pools for health care coverage and workers compensation insurance.
The Bureau of Securities Regulation found the LGC violated state law by improperly collecting money and retaining unnecessary surplus funds. The organization also improperly transferred assets, subsidizing one insurance pool (workers' compensation) at the expense of another (health), the bureau said, in order to try and build a new business line.
The organization believes the large reserves kept rates stable for members and reduced long-term costs. Critics, however, said the surplus should have been returned to its members rather that used for other purposes, such as funding the start-up of a workers' compensation program.
NOTES: The board set Saturday, June 14, 2014 as the date for the Inter-Lakes High School graduation. The date coincides with the beginning of Motorcycle Week, but the traffic and noise are expected to be much less than the following Saturday when Bike Week crowds typically peak. If snowstorms delay the end of the school year, high school Principal Patti Kennelly recommended the graduation take place on Tuesday, June 17. The graduation ceremonies will take place in Prescott Park, as was the case this year. . . . . . The board approved an online program be used to teach Spanish at Sandwich Central School. Superintendent Mary Ellen Ormond said that the school has had problems in recruiting and keeping qualified teachers for the part-time position. She said that school Principal John Hansen hopes to hire a part-time classroom assistant, fluent in Spanish, who would work with the students and augment the on-line instruction, which is provided by Middlebury College in Vermont. . . . . . Ormond told the board the district's official enrollment as of Oct. 1 was 1,097 students. She expected that enrollment would remain fairly constant for the next five years. The Inter-Lakes District has 189 fewer students than 10 years ago, Ormond noted. . . . . . The board set March 5 as the date for the annual School District meeting.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 October 2013 02:37

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Meredith picks bypass lane for Chase Road & Rte. 104 intersection upgrade

MEREDITH — The Board of Selectmen this week unanimously agreed to proceed with a plan to improve safety on Rte. 104 at its intersections with Chase Road and Meredith Center Road proposed by the New Hampshire Department of Transportation (DOT).

Jon Hebert, a design engineer with DOT, presented two options for managing eastbound traffic on Rte. 104 making turns on to Chase Road, the first a dedicated left-turn lane of 300 feet and the second a lane allowing through-traffic to bypass turning vehicles. In addition, the entrance to Chase Road would be reconfigured to ease the flow traffic turning in and out of the road.

Hebert said that adding a left-turn lane could encounter right-of-way issues, which would likely delay the project, while a bypass lane would be simpler and less expensive to construct. In approving the project, the Selectboard opted for the bypass lane.

At the intersection with Meredith Center Road the eastbound lane of Rte. 104 would be realigned to improve the sight line for motorists turning on to the highway.

The proposal followed a safety audit undertaken by DOT in partnership with the Lakes Region Planning Commission and the town. Hebert expected the project would be put out to bid in September 2014 with work to begin in September 2015. When Selectman Herb Vadney asked if work could be completed before the volume of traffic mounted in the summer, Hebert replied that it was reasonable to expect that work would be completed before July 4.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 October 2013 02:17

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Huot Center/science labs/football stadium project complete at $16.8 M

LACONIA — The Huot Regional Technical Education Center renovation/construction project is 99.99 percent complete and is on-time and on-budget, said School District Business Administrator Ed Emond.

The final cost of the project was $16.8 million, of which $850,000 was raised privately — either through personal gifts or through a number of corporate sponsors. An additional $200,000 of in-kind donations helped a capital fundraising campaign exceed exceed its $1 million goal.

Emond said to date, $550,000 of the $850,000 cash pledges has been received. $85,000 was taken in over homecoming weekend, he reported.

In the meantime, all of the contractors have been paid. The "city pays the bills," Emond said, adding that as money from pledges comes in, it goes to reimburse the city.

Management of the project on the Laconia High School campus was headed by a Joint Building Committee that included members of the School Board and City Council.

The project consisted of building a separate, 32,000-square-foot Huot Center building along Dewey Street, renovating some of the same previously Huot-occupied space (28,000-square-feet) as state-of the art science labs and classrooms now known as the Richard Dearborn Science Center, and building the Bank of New Hampshire Stadium — including Jim Fitzgerald Field, the upper Bobotas field, and a smaller playing field located directly behind the school.

Funding for the project came from a mishmash of combined sources, with $7.125 million coming from State School Building Aid made available through the N.H. Capital Budget in 2012-2013. Another $6.5 million came from a interest-free federal QZAB (Qualified Zone Academy Bond) and $2.375 million was borrowed by the city.  Private donations ranged from the $250,000 donated by the Bank of New Hampshire to multiple $500 and $1,000 donations from local residents and businesses.

City Councilor Matt Lahey was the head of the capital campaign that raised the $1 million and said he wanted to thank the taxpayers of Laconia for supporting the Huot Project. As for the individual donors, large and small, Lahey said they made the project possible.

"What really made it special was the in-kind assistance that helped us built the niceties — like the press box and the concession stand," Lahey said. He also gave special thanks to Emond and City Councilor Bob Hamel who were constant presences during the construction period.

As for the actual balance sheet presented to the most recent Joint Building Committee, $849,691 was contributed or promised by individuals and corporate sponsors and Emond said an additional $52,000 is anticipated, leaving $101,629 in a cash shortfall, after public funding is included.

On the asset side, the project had $36,629 left over in the contingency fund, a $40,000 balance in the professional services account and estimated Public Service of New Hampshire rebates of $25,000 totaling $101,629.

The fund-raising campaign continues said Lahey.

Emond said that there are three granite steps leading up the stadium still available for inscription at $5,000 each. He said that "once the steps are gone, they're gone" and this is the last chance for someone to purchase a step.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 October 2013 02:12

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