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The other guy from Alton who's running for governor

ALTON — Last month, the University of New Hampshire-WMUR-TV poll reported that only two of 10 likely voters knew enough about Walt Havenstein of Alton and Andrew Hemingway of Bristol, the leading Republican candidates for governor, to offer an opinion about them. Even fewer could have identified Jonathan Smolin, a third candidate for the GOP nomination, also of Alton, had they been asked.

Yesterday, six weeks before the primary, Smolin, in his first first media interview, said that so far he has campaigned through social media, chiefly a Facebook page that has drawn 331 likes, and networking, but plans to begin putting up yard signs next week. He said that he has repeatedly approached WMUR-TV, only be shunned.

"Some people are writing to them to complain," he said.

Smolin took part in a candidates forum hosted by the Bedford Republican Committee and said he will participate in a debate at Franklin Pierce University next month. A surgical assistant at Huggins Hospital in Woilfeboro. he said that it is challenge to campaign around a full-time job.

Smolin, who is 48, was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York and attended Bradford College in Bradford, Mass. and New England College in Henniker and has spent the last 20 years in health care, including a stint as director of the Salter School of Nursing in Manchester. With his wife Dianna and two sons, 12 and 13, Smolin has lived in Alton since 2005.

"I think people want an average Joe," Smolin said. "Someone coming from the same place as the majority of people who live here." He described Hemingway as a "career politician who wants to continue his career" and Havenstein as "a wealthy businessman."

On the political spectrum, Smolin stands closer to Hemingway than Havenstein. "I'm more with the libertarian wing of the party," he said.

He is opposed to both a personal income and general sales tax. He favors limited government and would follow the lead of Colorado by legalizing the use of marijuana as well as open the state to casino gambling. While acknowledging the need to reform health care, he supports the repeal of Obamacare. Likewise, he would eliminate Common Core from the public school system and empower local school districts to determine the appropriate curriculum and testing for their students. The state, he suggested, should provide the best high school graduates with a college education "at little or no cost." Smolin said that state government should take initiatives like tax-free zones to attract more business and industry, which would generate more middle class employment.

"I believe in applying common sense to government," Smolin said. "I'm interested in fixing the state, not fixing which party runs the state. I want to get everyone together," he continued, "and don't mind going across party lines."

The primary election will be held on Tuesday, September 9.

Last Updated on Thursday, 07 August 2014 12:50

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Advanced sailing school studetns spend day with Marine Patrol

GILFORD — It was line knots, boat lights and life preserver day for the 12 students in the Advanced Cruising Level 3 Class at the Lake Winnipesaukee Sailing Association school yesterday.

The students abandoned their sailboats for the afternoon and motored across Smith Cove to meet with Marine Patrol Officer Seth Alie — an animated, engaging and often humorous boating safety instructor who does community outreach for the department.

LWSA school program director Anthony Sperazzo said the boating safety portion of the program is reserved for the older and more experienced sailors in school that teaches various levels of sailing to about 235 students annually.

"These students often have parents and friends who have boats on the lake and they need to know about boating safety," he said.

Alie agreed, telling the class that they are the "next generation" of boaters in the Lakes Region and will have to step up and take responsibility for their own safety as well as that of others. "We want them to understand what it is we do."

Sperazzo said the yesterday's class represents the most advanced class taught at the sailing school and most of students are in their middle to late teens.

"Most of these kids have been with us for five or more years," he said. "This level allows these kids to captain their own vessel safely."

Classes at the LWSA range from beginners at age 7 through the Advanced Cruising Level 3 class (ages 13 to 16) that was at Marine Patrol headquarters at the Glendale docks yesterday. The school also has a racing class and holds three to five classes weekly for all different age levels.

There is also a class for very advanced sailors who are being taught how to sail a keelboat owned by a local resident who has volunteered his vessel for instruction.

"We have gotten so much support from the community," said Sperazzo who said the program just got a "sizable" donation yesterday from a local family.

Spreazzo said that there is a scholarship program for children whose family can't afford tuition and members of the association have been very generous.

"I just got a nice letter from a woman yesterday thanking us for her child's class and saying they never would have been able to afford something like that," he said.

He said the community members also volunteer by helping with classes and will bring their vessels to the school for special training sessions like the resident with the keelboat.

He said Pete Crosby, the father of one of the students in the Advanced Cruising 3 Class, is bringing his trimaran — or multi-hulled boat — for day of training.

"We want to reach out to the community to have these kids every skill they can have," he said.

Next week, the class will take a trip to the Winnipesaukee Yacht Club where Al Posnack will teach them navigation and chart reading.

Sperazzo also said the school is enjoying it's new location on Davis Road and "couldn't have found a better spot for the school."



CUTLINE: Students from the advanced sailing class of the Winnipesaukee Sailing Association tour a Marine Patrol boat yesterday as part of a water and boating safety class. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Gail Ober)


Last Updated on Thursday, 07 August 2014 12:49

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Market said to have tightened for nursing home medical staffers

LACONIA — Belknap County Administrator Debra Shackett told Belknap County Commissioners yesterday that the Belknap County Nursing Home is experiencing a heavier than usual turnover in nursing staff and is finding it difficult to fill vacant positions.
''We're having difficulty recruiting in the professional services area.'' said Shackett, who said that the county is ''really struggling'' in dealing with the situation.
Asked by Commissioner Steven Nedeau (R-Meredith) if the problem is unique to the area, Shackett said that she didn't think so. ''All the nursing homes are looking for help,'' said Shackett, noting that it affects private as well as public facilities.
She said that Belknap County Nursing Home Administrator Mathew Logue is doing a staff analysis to determine the nursing home's staffing needs and that as part of that study an evaluation is being done of the county's compensation package for nurses.
''We want to the county to be competitive so we can attract the staff we need,'' said Shackett.
Commissioners also voted to waive a requirement that at least three competitive bids be received for projects of over $5,000 so that a project to replace door locks in the county jail annex cells can move forward.
Dustin Muzzey, facilities manager, told commissioners in a memo that he has reached out to several locksmiths in the area in an attempt to get bids for replacing as many as 11 locks but has had no success.
''Since the lack of properly functioning locks is a major safety concern as well as a high priority repair item and because of the general lock of response from lock vendors I am recommending that we waive the requirement for competitive pricing and hire A&B Locksmith the repair and/or replace the annex locks.'' Muzzey wrote.
He estimated that it would cost $5,500 to $6,000 to replace all 11 locks.

Last Updated on Thursday, 07 August 2014 12:41

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County factions make their arguments before a judge

LACONIA — After squabbling over their respective authority over the county budget for the past two years, yesterday the Belknap County Convention and Belknap County Commission squared off in Belknap County Superior Court, where the lawmakers asked Justice James O'Neill for an injunction prohibiting the commission from spending more than it appropriated to any one of hundreds of line items in the 2014 budget.

O'Neill opened the hour-long hearing by noting that he was acquainted with a number of the litigants and offering to recuse himself from the proceedings. "I don't see a problem," he said and, after he granted a brief recess to weigh his offer, neither did anyone else.

Differences between the convention and commission over their respective budgetary authority have dogged the preparation and adoption of last two county budgets.
The 2013 and again this year the Republican majority of the convention has insisted that the convention can rewrite the budget proposed by the commission by adding or deleting, raising or lowering appropriations for particular line items. And, in the course of managing the budget, the commission may only reallocate funds from one line to another with the approval of the executive committee of the convention.
On the other hand, the commissioners claim that the authority of the convention is limited to itemizing appropriations for 13 purposes, closely corresponding to the departments of county government, specified by the New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration. Within these categories, the commission contends it can distribute funds among different lines without the approval of the convention as long as expenditures do not exceed the total appropriations for the particular purposes.

In July, almost 10 months after the convention resolved to litigate, Rep. Colette Worsman (R-Meredith), who chairs the convention, and the clerk of the convention, Rep. Richard Burchell (R-Gilmanton) filed the suit. Ten Republicans voted to bring suit while four Democrats were opposed. Both Worsman and Burchell were in court yesterday along with Reps. Herb Vadney of Meredith, Frank Tilton of Laconia, Michael Sylvia of Belmont and Dennis Fields of Sanbornton — all Republicans — and two Democrats, Reps. David Huot of Laconia and Ian Raymond of Sanbornton.

Attorney David Horan, representing the convention, reminded the the court of the state statutes authorizing the convention to itemize appropriations "in detail" and to require its executive committee to approve any transfers. The convention, he stressed, resolved to require the commission to submit requests for transfers of more than $300 to the executive committee for its approval.
Turning to the 2014 budget process, Horan said that the convention voted not to fund the annual increase in the employer's contribution to the cost of health insurance, but instead to freeze appropriations for health insurance at 2013 levels. However, shortly after the convention adopted the budget, he explained that the commission shuffled monies from other line items within departmental budgets — "more than 100 of them" — to restore $209,919 of funding for health insurance. "The commission," he remarked, "ignored the appropriations by the convention and this was all done without the approval of the executive committee."
In a brief filed in response, attorney Robert Desrosier for the commission countered that the convention had no authority to bring suit against any party, let alone the commission. The authority of the convention, he claimed, is confined to raising taxes and making appropriations. Moreover, he noted that when the convention voted to file suit in October 2013 it referred to "the legitimacy or lack thereof of the Belknap County Commission's rewriting the 2103 county budget," not the 2014 budget, which is the subject of the current proceedings. "By their own authority," he concluded, "they have no authority to bring this suit."
Nor, Desosier insisted, has the convention addressed the criteria required to warrant the injunction it requested. First, the convention cannot show that its suit is likely to succeed on the merits. He repeated the familiar argument that because the commission may transfer funds within the purposes specified by the DRA, it had not made transfers requiring the approval of the executive committee.
Second, Derosier argued that neither the convention nor the taxpayers would suffer "immediate and irreparable harm" if the commission spent some or all funds for health insurance, since it would not increase expenditures or taxes. The convention, he contended, "has not identified any immediate irreparable harm to the convention as a convention" and "has no authority to stand in the shoes of individual taxpayers."
Finally, Derosier said that the convention cannot show that the public interest would be adversely affected if the injunction were not granted. Funding for health insurance, he explained, is a contractual obligation under the collective bargaining agreements negotiated with the union representing county employees. Without sufficient funding, he said, the commission would have to renegotiate the agreements or layoff employees.
Instead, Derosier concluded that, contrary to the public interest, by granting an injunction the court would join a political dispute between two branches of government. In filing suit, he said the convention engaged in "nothing more than a political grab for power which it does not have by statute. If the Belknap County Commission is acting in a way that the taxpayers do not approve," he continued, "it is the ballot box and not the court that should supply the remedy."

Last Updated on Thursday, 07 August 2014 12:37

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