Rep. Gallagher: Gunstock should pay county $400k-$500k a year

LACONIA — State Rep. Brian Gallagher (R-Sanbornton) told members of the Belknap County Convention's Executive Committee last night that he thinks Gunstock Mountain Resort should be paying substantially more to the county in years to come.
Citing numbers which showed that Gunstock, which is owned by Belknap County, paid $318,000 in 2008 and $322,000 in 2009 as part of its previous memorandum of understanding with the county compared to $175,000 in its current agreement, Gallagher said he thinks the county-owned recreation area should be paying as much as $400,000 to $500,000 a year.
''I think we should look at the 2008 and 2009 numbers as a baseline and factor in the increase in value of Gunstock.'' said Gallagher, who said the county should be paying at least double what it currently pays. The resort does not pay property tax.
The current memorandum of understanding expires on Dec. 31, 2016, and Convention Chairman Frank Tilton (R-Laconia) said that the original agreement provided for supplemental payments to the county when Gunstock enjoys a good year.
He said that one of the reasons for reducing the amount paid to the county was to enable Gunstock to make capital investments which would allow it to remain competitive with other ski areas and add new year-round attractions envisioned in its master plan.
"We were trying to help with their four-year development plan,'' sad Tilton.
Rep. Guy Comtois (R-Barnstead) said that the real issue that should be discussed by county legislators was "Why are we not talking about why we do not sell it?''
He maintained that the county should sell the ski area to private owner and get out of the ski and recreation business altogether. "We should sell it. It's just wrong. We should get out of competing with private business.''

Brenda Kean to leave Laconia Historical and Museum Society

LACONIA — "No way are we going to fill her shoes," said Pam Clark, president of the Laconia Historical and Museum Society, of the departure of executive director Brenda Kean, who has been named activities director at the Taylor Community.

Kean, whose passion for history led her to join the board of society in 2006 when she was vice president of banking services at Franklin Savings Bank, became its executive director in 2012. She completed the transcription of journals of Jeremiah Smith Jewett of Laconia, a railroad surveyor, general store owner, postmaster and Methodist minister who kept a daily record for more than 40 years in the 19th century, stretching to some 3,000 handwritten pages. Kean also played a key role in the preservation and restoration of the drapes from the Moulton and Lakeport opera houses and designed many exhibits at the Laconia Public Library, including an upcoming exhibit of the city's forgotten schools..

Clark said Kean also developed a strong cadre of volunteers, which will ease the transition arising from her departure. While Clark has taken on many of the responsibilities of the executive director, she said she has been able delegate others to colleagues on the executive committee and other volunteers.

Clark said the executive committee will meet on Tuesday, Dec. 15, to discuss whether to seek a full-time or part-time successor.

"We're looking at al our options," she said, adding that several people have expressed an interest in the position.

Clark said anyone seeking information is welcome to contact her at 527-1278 or 387-1285 or by writing to to the society at P.O. Box 1126, Laconia, NH 03247.

Laconia counselor to stop practicing pending rape trial

CONCORD – A Laconia alcohol and drug counselor whose license has been suspended for allegedly raping a client has agreed not to practice until his case has been adjudicated.

Jay Bernier, whose practice is at 206 Fair St. in Laconia, is accused of having sex with a woman who is or recently was a client of his.

After an investigation that was conducted by the Merrimack County Sheriff's Department, Bernier was arrested on Oct. 27 and charged with two counts of felonious sexual assault.

His license had been temporarily suspended by the state Board of Licensing for Alcohol and other Drug Use Professionals and its order said he courted the woman in 2014 and on or about Nov. 6, after she called him and told him she needed help, he allegedly performed a sexual act on her in his Laconia offices.

By agreeing to not practice until given permission by the board, Bernier is not admitting any fault nor is he admitting that any of the allegations against him are true.