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Jenkins and VanTassel seek to replace retiring Giunta on Sanbornton Selectboard

SANBORNTON — After serving on the Budget Committee for 12 years, Jeff Jenkins is seeking a three-year spot on the Board of Selectmen. He faces former town highway superintendent Johnny VanTassel who is making his first bid for public office.

The slot on the board they both seek is being vacated by Guy Giunta.

Jenkin said yesterday that as a member of the Budget Committee, he was charged with managing the overall amount to be raised by taxes and ensuring that amount remained reasonably constant.

"As a selectmen, I'll have to deal with the big picture—- like employee issues and things like that," he said.

Both men have identified the roads in Sanbornton as their top priority but have a slightly different approach to the job.

When asked, Jenkins said he thinks the town should spend more money on improving roads but noted he wouldn't agree to it until their was some kind of long-range plan for the entire town.

VanTassel was the highway superintendent and a long-time employee of the town of Sanbornton before becoming the highway superintendent in neighboring Northfield. He said he's familiar with the roads, the infrastructure and knows what needs to be done.

VanTassel's goals for his three-year term are to have a long-term and a short-term plan for the maintenance and repair of the roads and some of the town's red-list budgets.

When he was asked if the town spends enough money on its roads, he said "yes" but would like to see some kind of infrastructure plan.

"We need to use (the money) wisely and got the most out of it," VanTassel said.

"I would like to see more roads finished to the point where they can be maintained at a reasonable cost," he added.

VanTassel said the "town has pulled out all the stops" and purchased or leased some very good equipment for the roads and was working on a maintenance plan when he left to take the job in Northfield.

Both men said they are mindful of the overall budget and the taxpayers acknowledging that with little to no commercial property in town, it is very difficult to raise property taxes.

VanTassel described himself a the kind of person who likes to listen to people and try to help them. He said he has worked in both the private sector and the public sector and can appreciate the needs of both. 

Jenkins said through his time in the military and his later career with the N.H. Department of Transportation he feels he is a problem solver. Jenkins is a private consultant and contract administrator to a number of municipalities — work he continues today.

Both men serve on the Road Privatization Committee with Jenkins as a voting member due to his role on the Budget Committee and VanTassel and a non-voting adviser because of his former job as the Sanbornton road superintendent.

Both agreed the work of the committee is still incomplete and neither would offer an opinion on whether or not the town should subcontract the road work or continue to have a department of public works.

VanTassel and Jenkins will be participating in a candidate's night tonight at the Sanbornton Public Library at 7 p.m. Voting in the race for Selectboard will take place on Tuesday, May 13.

Last Updated on Friday, 02 May 2014 12:26

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Vandal who likes word 'Lakers' has been 'tagging' property around city

LACONIA — City police said they have seen an increase in the amount of graffiti or "tagging" within the downtown area in the past two months.

Police said someone or some people have been spray painting the word "Lakers" on the side of building in the colors of blue, red, and black. In some cases, the letters CWB has been painted over the word Lakers.

In other places, indecipherable words in red and black have recently been spray painted on other walls and buildings.

On March 15, some one reported graffiti at 320 Messer Street. On April 18, the side of the building at the Lake Opechee Inn was defaced.

On April 19, the Leavitt Park House was targeted and on April 24 and 26 taggers targeted the side of the Laconia Parking Garage.

The side of a building on Rowe Court was tagged on April 27 and as recently as yesterday, police found new graffiti on the side of the top level of the city parking garage.

Tagging or defacing someone else's property is illegal and is punishable.

Anyone with any information is asked to call the Laconia Police at 524-5252 or the Greater Laconia Crime Line at 524-1717.

Last Updated on Friday, 02 May 2014 12:21

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New Hampton woman nearly victim of phone scam; Rite Aid clerk saves the day

NEW HAMPTON — A local woman nearly fell victim last week to what police call the "grandmother" scam — or when fraudsters pose as grandchildren in trouble and call an unsuspecting elderly person looking for money.

In this woman's case, she said she received a phone call last Friday from someone pretending to be her grandson. He told her that he had been in a car accident in Las Vegas, that the person he hit was in the hospital, and that a lawyer needed $35,000 to represent him in court.

The woman said she got a second call from someone pretending to be an attorney who gave her a name and a phone number. She said she and the fake attorney haggled on the phone and he finally agreed to have her send $150 through Western Union at the Laconia Rite Aid.

When she went to Rite Aid, the clerk stopped her and told her it was a scam. After learning that it was a scam, the woman called her daughter who lives in Washington State who said her grandson was fine and hadn't recently been in Las Vegas.

Area police said local residents, primarily the elderly, are routinely targeted by these kinds of scams.

Gilford Det. Sgt. Chris Jacques leads most of the investigations into these types of incidents in his community and said there are some things victims or near victims can do.

Initially, he said it should be reported to the local police. He said if the victim didn't loose any money, as in this case, the police likely won't investigate it themselves but will enter any phone numbers or names given to the potential victim into a data base that is monitored by federal fraud agencies.

"Once a number or or a name pops up enough times, the fraud unit usually begins an investigation," he said.

Jacques also said that no one should send any money to a foreign county. In the New Hampton woman's case she was asked to send the money to the Dominican Republic.

He said there are also websites where victims and potential victims can record any potential fraud information. He recommended those targeted by internet scams should go to www.IC3.gov which is a clearing house site operated jointly by the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Bureau. For phone calls, he said the home page of the Federal Trade Commission has links to help people report scams.

"If its a popular enough e-mail address it will raise alarms," he said.

Det. Sgt. Thomas Swett of Laconia said city police have been working to educate drug store employees and bank employees to take notice when customers come in asking to wire money to different places under unusual circumstances.

He said he was grateful that the team at the Laconia Rite Aid was able to stop this woman from loosing any money and noted that once the money is gone it is almost impossible to recover it.

Last Updated on Friday, 02 May 2014 01:05

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Briarcrest Estates' residents close on $10 million purchase of their park

LACONIA — The residents of Briarcrest Estates, organized as the Lakemont Cooperative, Inc., have purchased the manufacturing housing from its owners Mark and Ruth Mooney for $10-million in a transaction that closed yesterday in Concord.

The acquisition was financed by TD Bank, which underwrote 80-percent of the purchase price, with the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund lending the balance. The manufactured housing park became the 108th in the state to convert to cooperative ownership with assistance and funding from the Community Loan Fund since 1984 when residents in Meredith purchased their park.

With 241 units, Briarcrest is the third largest cooperatively owned in the state.

Last July the Mooneys accepted a $10 million offer from Hometown America. But, state law requires park owners, upon receiving an offer, to "consider any offer received from the tenants or a tenants' association" and to "negotiate in good faith with the tenants concerning a potential purchase." Tenants representing a minority of the 241 units formed the Lakemont Cooperative and presented a matching offer. The Mooneys, with the support of a majority of tenants who prefer commercial to cooperative ownership, asked the Belknap County Superior Court to approve the sale to Hometown America, but in January withdrew their suit.

"That was the turning point," said Jim Cowan, president of the Lakemont Cooperative.

"I was very doubtful about a positive outcome," said Joe McCarthy, secretary of the cooperative. "The board was met with some pretty stiff resistance from other residents and the owner, but with determination and persistence we stuck together and prevailed. I rank the experience of the last eight months as one of the most gratifying achievements in my seven decades on this planet," he continued, thanking his fellow board members and the Community Loan Fund for their support and assistance throughout the process.

Cowan said that seven members of the board of the cooperative will be elected at the annual meeting in June. Four members will be elected for two-terms and three for one-terms in order to ensure an experienced quorum. He said that he intends to seek re-election as president.

As a cooperatively owned park, residents own not only the building they live in but also the land it sits on, which provides them with the common benefits of home ownership, including conventional mortgage terms, appreciation in value and access to equity loans. At the same time, they are protected against excessive increases in rents as well as the sale closure of the park, said Community Loan Fund officials

Last Updated on Thursday, 01 May 2014 12:56

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