Newfound freshmen making news friends & overcoming old fears

LACONIA — Some 26 incoming freshman at Newfound Regional High School in Bristol took part in an aerial adventure at Monkey Trunks, next to Funspot, yesterday.
The students, who spent the morning taking on the challenge of the high ropes adventure course, are taking part in the Newfound Bridge Academy, a voluntary program for eighth graders transitioning to the high school.
Amy Yeakel, who is charge of the extended learning opportunities program at the high school, said that one of the benefits of the program, which serves abut 50 students during two four-day sessions in July, is that it provides an opportunity for students, many of whom have attended school up to this point in different communities, to get to know one another.
New this year to the school district are students from Hill, who had previously attended the Jenny Blake Elementary School and the Franklin Middle School. The district serves students from six other communities, Bristol, New Hampton, Alexandria, Bridgewater, Hebron and Danbury.
''On Wednesday we were at Wellington Sate Park on Newfound Lake in Bristol and the students did some GPS work, which helps them learn survival, skills,'' said Yeakel.
She says that the goal of the program is to reach the children at a crucial time in their lives and help them get ready to be able to make good decisions, which lead to becoming responsible adults.
Topics which are covered include note taking strategies, homework tips, test taking suggestions, anti-bullying, stress reduction, and general orientation to the high school building and associated logistics. Yeakel says that the Monkey Trunks experience helps the students develop confidence in their abilities to handle stressful situations and to provide positive support for one another.

''One of the girls had a real fear of heights. But we persuaded her to put on a helmet and harness and watch other members of the group. After a little while she overcame her fear and wanted to get out on the ropes and zip lines with the other kids,'' said Yeaklel.
Casey Kasey, a 13-year-old from Bristol, said that the Monkey Trunks course was ''fun, but challenging,'' while Mason King, 14, from New Hampton, said that from his standpoint the aerial adventures was ''a really good fun time.''

City & LRGHealthcare agree to 2 more years of ambulance service agreement

LACONIA — The City Council this week approved a two-year contract between the city and LRGHealthcare to continue the partnership begun in 1997 that City Manager Scott Myers said enables the Fire Department to operate "the best emergency medical service delivery system in the state."

Under the agreement LRGH bears a significant portion of the costs of operating the ambulance service in return for keeping all of the revenue generated. Covered expenses include the salary and benefits of the deputy chief of Emergency Medical Services and four senior firefighter/paramedics as well as $127,000 per year, which represents about half the cost of the four most junior firefighters. In addition, LRGH funds up to 1,000 hours of overtime, based on the average rate of senior emergency medical technicians (EMT)-paramedics to ensure sufficient personnel for special events, like Motorcycle Week, and periods of peak demand.

LRGH also pays for the ambulances, along with the equipment, medications and supplies they carry., the fuel they burn and the maintenance they require. There are currently four ambulances in the fleet, the oldest purchased in 1997 and the newest in 2012 at a cost of $252,000. Recently purchases of three hydraulic lift stretchers, one hydraulic tail gate lift, three cardiac compression devices,three EKG monitors and three medical pumps totaled some $175,000

Noting that the contract does not include the purchase of an ambulance, Myers explained that ambulances are replaced on a five-year cycle and since the last was acquired in 2012, the next would be bought in 2017, the year the agreement expires.

For its part, LRGH sets the rates, bills the fees for ambulance service and keeps the proceeds. In 2014, LRGH paid the city $813,549 in direct costs for the ambulance service. At the same time, LRGH billed $1,154,228 for these services, but, collected just $612,646 and spent $167,551 doing so. In other words, Myers said that LRGH effectively contributed $368,454 to the city.

In 2014, there were 2,646 calls for emergency medical services, representing two of every three calls for service to which the Fire Department responded, and  213 occasions when three ambulances were deployed simultaneously and 510 times when two ambulances were deployed simultaneously. Altogether 1,841 patients were transported, of whom 1,402 received advanced life support measures.

10-year-old wins Colonial student art competition

LACONIA —  A 10-year-old who created a diorama showing the Colonial Theater in its heyday was the winner of the an art contest sponsored by the Laconia Historical and Museum Society.

Emma Juliet Fabian said she wanted to create an old-fashioned feel for her diorama and ''show it the way it was'' when the theater was the pride of downtown Laconia after it opened in the early 20th Century.

Unable to locate red velvet material which would have replicated the color of the seats in the theater, she used a fuschia colored material which gave them a bright pink color and also used material for the headpiece of her mother's wedding outfit for curtains.

Fabian was honored for her creation in a ceremony held at the Laconia Public Library Tuesday evening.

Brenda Kean, executive director of the Historical and Museum Society, said that the idea for the contest, in which the organization worked with the children's librarian, was to celebrate the theater restoration project being undertaken by the Belknap Economic Development Council, with financial support from the City of Laconia. BEDC recently purchased the theater and accompanying buildings for $1.4 million and has announced plays to spend another $13 million on the restoration effort. The city will lease the 800 plus seat theater space for use as a public auditorium upon completion of the project, which is expected to take several years.

"Most kids have never been inside the theater so we provided photos of the interior so they could see what it looked like and create an original piece of art. This is going to be huge for Laconia and we wanted to let children have a sense of participation,'' said Kean.

All participants received certificates of merit and were eligible for entry into prize drawings.