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Hamel or Tardif shapes up as interesting choice for Ward 5 voters

LACONIA — "I'd rather look at the horizon than in the rear-view mirror," said City Councilor Bob Hamel, who did not expect to be challenged in his bid for a fifth term in Ward 5. But, earlier this month Tom Tardif appeared in the rear-view mirror when a recount of the 47 ballots cast in the primary election awarded him three write-in votes, enough to be offered a place on the general election ballot in November.

Ward 5 is one of three contested city council elections. David Bownes and Richard Beaudoin are vying to succeed Matt Lahey, in Ward 2 and Tony Felch seeks to unseat Armand Bolduc, in Ward 6. Perhaps nowhere is the contrast between the candidates sharper than in Ward 5.

During his four terms Hamel has come to play a pivotal role on the council where his support has been essential to the success of any major initiative. A champion of the property tax cap who was initially skeptical of major investments in the schools, he supported the construction of the Middle School, applying a sharp pencil to the project while cautioning against cheapening the building. When the School District turned its attention to the Huot Regional Technical Education Center and the High School, Hamel touched the brakes. Then, when he judged the timing and financing was right, he became an enthusiastic supporter of the expansive project, which included the expansion of the Huot Center, renovations to the high school and construction of new playing fields, including Bank of New Hampshire Stadium.

"I'm pretty proud of being part of these projects," Hamel said yesterday. The investment in the schools, he called "an investment in the community." He explained that the programs at the Huot Center will develop the workforce local manufacturing firms require to thrive as well as provide students with the skills to pursue successful careers. Moreover, he said that "when people are looking for a place to live and raise a family, one of the first things they look at are the schools."

Hamel stressed that the council has undertaken these major projects while budgeting within the limits of the tax cap. He expected that the reconstruction of the Central Fire Station will be next project on the agenda, adding that once it is complete all the major municipal buildings will have been ugraded. "Then we can think about doubling what we spend on roads," he said.

Apart from the public projects, Hamel said that the city has enjoyed a significant amount of private investment, including Walgreen's and CVS downtown, Dunkin' Donuts, Dairy Queen and MacDonald's on Union Avenue and townhouses and condominiums at The Weirs. "I'm seeing light at the end of the tunnel," he said. "There are people investing in Laconia."

Hamel said that he intends to ensure that "we take care of what we've got by keeping buildings in good repair and maintaining our infrastructure. We must spend the taxpayers' money wisely,"

For Tardif, who served as a city councilor from 1988 to 1990 and as mayor from 1990 to 1992, the race is the first he has entered since losing a Republican primary for Belknap County Commissioner to Frank Tilton by a two-to-one margin in 2008. He said after his friend Dave Gammon went to the length of petitioning the Superior Court to order the recount, he felt he should declare his candidacy. "I've bought signs," he remarked. "It broke my heart, but I bought signs."

"It's time for change," Tardif said, describing the incumbents as "almost career councilors.. We need a true conservative and I think that is what I am." Going a step beyond the tax cap, he said that he would not vote for any expenditures that increased the burden on property taxpayers. "The economy is not changing and it could get worse," he said. "people are still hurting."

Tardif said that, unlike Hamel, he would not have voted this week to authorize the School District to borrow $1.8 million to fund further renovations at the High School. Acknowledging that the loan bears no interest, he said that the debt service amounts to $78,000 worth of fat in a budget already full of it. "Likewise, he said that he was opposed to a "Pay-As-You-Throw" trash collection program, which Hamel supported, and also opposed the mandatory recycling program because it requires households to recycle or forego trash collection. "It's the penalty that concerns me," he said. "Trash collection is the responsibility of city government."

While Tardif called Hamel "a good guy," he observed that "sometimes Bob asks all the right questions, but votes with the group."

Tardif doubted that his past as the head of the controversial Straight Arrow ticket of a quarter century ago would haunt him. "I don't think they know me," he remarked, declaring "I'm not ashamed of anything I did as city councilor or mayor." He said that his administration built a park house, paved Union Avenue and North Main Street, bought a fire truck and ambulance "and the tax rate didn't go up."

"What I say I'll do, I do," Tardif said."If I say I'll do the job, I'll do the job."

Last Updated on Thursday, 17 October 2013 02:15

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Hillsborough Co. inks deal to take Belknap's overflow prisoners

LACONIA — Belknap County Commissioners Wednesday approved an agreement with Hillsborough County for housing local prisoners at their Department of Corrections in Manchester.
The one-year agreement is designed to help Belknap County deal with crowding at its correctional facility in Laconia. It calls for Belknap County to reimburse Hillsborough at the rate of $57.50 per day per prisoner but also makes Belknap liable for all expenses associated with hospital or health care services as well as security services associated with outside medical services.
County Administrator Debra Shackett said that it was an ''after the fact agreement'' as prisoners have already been transferred to Hillsborough County from the overcrowded Belknap County House of Corrections, which has a capacity of 120 but has had as many as 151 inmates in recent months.

''We've already received our first bill for the month of September and that was for $15,000'' said Shackett.
She said that eight or nine Belknap County inmates are currently being held in Hillsborough County. ''We have 14 out in three different counties,'' said Shackett, who added that other inmates have been transferred to Grafton and Carroll county facilities.
Shackett said that the county currently has bills for $31,000 for inmates being held out-of-county.
She said that House of Corrections Superintendent Dan Ward was working closely with Belknap County Sheriff Craig Wiggin to arrange for the transportation of prisoners back to Belknap County ''as soon as we have space.''
She said that the logistics of such moves are being looked at to try and ensure that as much as is possible those prisoners who are being brought back won't have to be subsequently transported out of the Belknap County facility.
County Commissioner Stephen Nedeau (R-Meredith) asked how many inmates were on work release or monitored by ankle bracelet and was told that there are 12 in each category and that is the maximum amount allowed by regulations.
''We have as many people out there as can be supervised,'' said Shackett.
County Commissioners, who last week requested the transfer of $52,000 to cover the Corrections Department cost overrun, will try again next week when the Belknap County Convention meets, to win approval of that request.
The convention's Executive Committee passed over the request, declining to act until they had an opportunity for study.
The convention is scheduled to meet next Tuesday at 3 p.m. at the Belknap County complex.
Commissioners also received a letter from the town of Gilford regarding the Lakes Region Mutual Aid appropriation, which will be dropped from next year's county budget.
The letter pointed out that as a result the Gilford municipal budget will increase by $78,162 since it will be paying Mutual Aid directly, and that the county budget will decrease by $554,037.
Gilford selectmen requested that commission reduce the county tax rate so that it would be commensurate with the increase in municipal tax rates caused by the change.

Last Updated on Thursday, 17 October 2013 02:12

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Taylor Community parnters with Genesis to offer rehab services on Laconia campus

LACONIA — The Taylor Community and Genesis Rehab Services (GRS) have partnered to create full rehabilitation gyms in both the Taylor Home and Ledgeview residential building in Laconia, complete with a dedicated rehab team of professionals. Services will be provided in residents' rooms, around the campus neighborhood and in the new rehab gym.

The new clinic/homecare team is based out of the Taylor Home Rehab Clinic. It will provide preventative, outpatient clinic and in-home physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy to residents in independent living.

Liz Pomeroy, vice president of Health Services and Organizational Development at Taylor Community said she began looking to provide rehabilitative support services for residents about a year ago. She said wanted to be able to provide the list of services, including fall prevention, strength building, improving balance, helping residents remain at home, remain maximally independent and return home more quickly if they required hospitalization or short-term stays a a skilled nursing facility.

Pomeroy added that she listened to resident feedback and worked with many local community service partners to explore these types of services for all three levels of Taylor Community living: independent, assisted living and nursing.

Genesis is a nationally recognized leader in rehabilitative services. "Together, we believe we will broaden the choices our residents have for providers; build a stronger infrastructure for service delivery to them in their own homes and community; build deeper relationships and enhanced opportunities with larger community providers like LRGH, and CNH VNA and Hospice, and continue to provide the highest quality retirement living option in the Lakes Region," said Pomeroy.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

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In Sanbornton, Ober calls out Nickerson for serial resignations she says he then takes back

SANBORNTON — Selectmen Karen Ober has called out Selectman Dave Nickerson for resigning during a non-public meeting on September 25 that she was unable to attend.

As of yesterday, Nickerson had recanted his resignation and is still a selectman.

According to minutes of the meeting, Nickerson apparently sent a RSA 91-A Right To Know request to Chair Guy Giunta — the contents of which led to a non-public session called under RSA 91-A (c) — the portion of the Right-to-Know law that allows for a non-public session if the discussion could effect the reputation of someone who does not sit on that board.

During the non-public meeting, Nickerson and Giunta apparently disagreed on the topic leading to Nickerson's resignation. Minutes made public only indicate the meeting was held to weigh a matter that was discussed on September 4. There were two non-public meeting held on Sept. 4 and minutes of both indicate the board discussed each of two finalists for the position of town finance director. Minutes say the meeting ended without a quorum and without a vote.

Upon Ober's return, she said she heard "through the grapevine" about the meeting and Nickerson's resignation so she listened to the tape of the entire meeting so she could better understand what happened.

In a statement read aloud by Ober of October 2 and entered into the record verbatim, she chastised Nickerson for resigning, saying that she "wanted to point out that this is the sixth time you have resigned and then changed your mind."

She said his frequent resignations appear to occur when he disagrees with either herself or Giunta or both.

"It seems like this is happening way more frequently, this behavior," she continued.

Ober said Nickerson's behavior has affected many board decisions and she was almost happy she was not there on September 25 so the argument couldn't be blamed on her.

She said she was concerned with the way town employees are being treated and, in her opinion, the role of all the selectmen is to help town employees and department heads become better at what they do.

She said she has witnessed over the past two-and one-half years an increasingly hostile attitude by some elected officials to town employees and that it's wrong. She said Nickerson had told her that the problem was with the department heads so she attended workshop sessions with the Local Government Center and Primex to better understand where the problems were.

"Dave, you said I was wrong, that it was only for department heads. That's not true," she said, adding treating employees with respect and dignity begins at the top, with selectmen, and they are the ones who must set the example.

"Our situation here every Wednesday gets increasingly more volatile... with obviously orchestrated complaints by a lot of 'wannabe DPW Directors.'" She said she and her husband (former selectman Steve Ober) get phone calls on their private cells from people who didn't get their private numbers from her and e-mails at their private e-mail accounts again from people to whom she didn't give her e-mail address, saying someone is putting out information including her family's private contacts.

"This is being done intentionally and it's deliberate, it's a set up, and it needs to stop," she said.

Ober went on to say that at this point the selectmen needs to figure out a way "around this insanity" and said she was in favor of having some kind of outside assessment done because she doesn't think anybody in the town has the skills to (stop the infighting in Sanbornton.)

Sanbornton has a town administrator form of government as opposed to a town or city manager type. In the former, all department heads answer to the governing body, in the latter, department heads answer to a town manager who answers to selectmen.

"We need to become more effective as a board and we need to conduct town business and we need to work for the best of the town," Ober said.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 October 2013 03:51

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