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Fire victim identified

LACONIA — The N.H. State Fire marshal's Office has identified the man who died in Tuesday's apartment building fire here as 74-year-old Paul Blakely.

Located in the center portion of the building at 64 David Place, Blakely's 2-story home was one of six units that were either totally destroyed or badly damaged as a result of the fire.

Chief Ken Erickson the Fire Marshal and his department are still investigating the cause of the blaze that killed Blakely and left many others homeless, including building owner Lloyd "Red" Wylie Jr.

The fire, that was reported at 10:45 p.m. went to four alarms, took nearly 12 hours to completely extinguish and brought firefighters from a far away as Concord, Franklin and Holderness to the city.

Last Updated on Saturday, 01 March 2014 12:46

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At Lakes Region Community College, Shaheen touts energy efficiency bill

LACONIA — United States Senator Jeanne Shaheen visited Lakes Region Community College yesterday, taking the opportunity to pitch a bill to promote energy efficiency, which she co-sponsored with Senator Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican.

Speaking to facility managers attending a class offered by the college's Energy Services and Technology program, the only one of its kind in New Hampshire, Shaheen said that "this year we have a real shot at getting this passed."

Shaheen explained that she introduced the bill last year, but it encountered a series of procedural pitfalls that kept it from reaching the floor. She said the the bill — the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act — has gathered support from senators on both sides of the aisle as well as from diverse business, labor and environmental organizations. "We count 62 votes," she said, "so we have a filibuster proof bill." The bill, she noted. will be the first energy bill to come to the floor of the Senate for a vote since 2007.

The bill would strengthen building codes to make new residential and commercial properties more energy efficient while fostering programs at universities to train personnel in the design and operation of energy-efficient commercial buildings. The Department of Energy would be directed to partner with the private sector to promote research, development and marketing of energy-efficient technology and processes with industrial applications. The federal government, the largest user of energy in the country, would be required to introduce measures to reduce energy consumption, including incorporating energy-efficient standards into new federal buildings. Likewise federal agencies that underwrite , insure, purchase or securitize home mortgages would be required to include energy efficiency in the appraisal process.

Shaheen emphasized that the bill imposes no mandates and bears few costs. She said that a recent study projected that the legislation would generate 190,000 jobs, spare consumers $16-billion annually and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by the equivalent of removing 22 million cars from the road.

As if to underline the bipartisan support the bill enjoys, as Shaheen was touring the college, the office of her Republican counterpart, Senator Kelly Ayotte, issued a statement explaining that her "Better Buildings Act" has been added to the Shaheen-Portman bill. Noting that tenants consume half or more of the energy used in commercial buildings, Ayotte's bill would create a "Tenant Star" certification to recognize those achieving energy efficiencies in leased space.


CAPTION: Facility managers from the four corners of the state studying the operation and maintenance of energy systems at Lakes Region Community got a surprise visit from United States Senator Jeanne Shaheen yesterday. Shaheen briefed the class on her legislation to promote energy-efficiency in both the public and private sectors, which promises to be the first energy bill to reach the Senbate floor for a vote since 2007. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Michael Kitch)

Last Updated on Saturday, 01 March 2014 01:26

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Belknap Convention will return to budget deliberations on Tuesday

LACONIA — The Belknap County Convention will resume its contentious discussion of the 2014 budget next Tuesday at 5 p.m. at the Belknap County Complex.
At the conclusion of Monday's meeting, convention members agreed to cancel a meeting scheduled for today (Thursday) in order to allow county Administrator Debra Shackett to prepare new spreadsheets reflecting the changes made to the budget at Monday's meeting.
Among the new numbers will be a reduction in the amount of the undesignated fund balance to be applied to reduce the amount of the taxes to be raised from $2 million to $1.5 million.
Monday night Rep. Jane Cormier (R-Alton) made a motion for that reduction, which was originally coupled with setting an amount to be raised by taxes of $13,885,116. But Rep,. Frank Tilton (R-Laconia) said the amount to be raised by taxes was yet to be determined and should not be included in the motion.
Cormier agreed to drop that part of her motion and stick with the $1.5 million to be used from the fund balance and the motion passed 9-3.
Commission Chairman Colette Worsman (R-Meredith) said that, even though the reduction in the amount of the fund balance used raises the 2014 burden by $500,000, it is important to keep in mind that there is a county jail project down the road will which cost ''$10, 15, 20 million'' and for which the county will have to borrow and needs to protect its credit rating.
The latest convention working budget compiled by Shackett and distributed by e-mail to members of the convention yesterday shows a total budget of $25,636,339, down by $76,000 from that which had previously been under consideration, while the total county appropriations show an increase of $426,000, from $13,551,598 to $13,977,790.
The current working budget is $2 million less than was actually spent last year ($27,639,073), while the amount to be raised by taxes is $88,000 more than last year ($13,889,467).
Among the cuts the convention has already made in the commission's proposed $26,570,000 budget for 2014 is a reduction of $500,000 for health insurance benefits for county employees, from $3.1 million to the same level as last year, about $2.6 million.
Rep. Tilton supported the health insurance benefit reduction by saying that commissioners have not made any progress in increasing the share of health insurance paid by county workers and have an opportunity between now and July 1, when health insurance rates for county employees are scheduled to increase by 13.42 percent, to make whatever changes they will need to make.

Shackett said that commissioners will be faced with the difficult task of finding over $800,000 in the budget to offset cuts which she said the convention made to contractual obligations for county employees in order to avoid layoffs or benefit cuts, which would have to be negotiated with unions in order to avoid breaking contracts and facing legal action as a result.
Rep. Bob Luther (R-Laconia), who voted against several of the cuts that the Republican majority made, said that the convention members who think they have the power over how the money they appropriate is actually spent should pause to reflect on how much power they actually have.
''How the people at this table think they have authority over spending that money is beyond me. If you had any authority over spending how the Register of Deeds legal fees we appropriated money for haven't been paid? You can't tell them (the commissioners) how to spend that money'' said Luther.
He also described a motion made by fellow Republican Rep. Herb Vadney (R-Meredith) to reverse an earlier decision by the convention to support the upgrading of a position in the Restorative Justice Department to full-time as ''not worth making'' and criticized a motion made by Rep. Michael Sylvia (R-Belmont) to cut two cruisers from the Sheriff's Department budget as ''false economy'' which would cost the county more money than it would save.

Last Updated on Saturday, 01 March 2014 01:18

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2 men charged with growing pot in Barnstead

BARNSTEAD — Two people have been charged with the alleged marijuana growing operation discovered by the Belknap County Sheriff's Office who originally went to follow up on an eviction notice at the home.

David McNeil, 29, and Ashley Witham, 27, were arrested by the Northwood Police Department February 27 on an outstanding warrant issued by Belknap County.

Each has been charged with one count of manufacturing a controlled drug and possession of a controlled drug.

Both were released on $10,000 personal recognizance bail and are scheduled to appear in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division on April 3.

Sheriffs found seven marijuana pots plants in the 10 Barnstead Road apartment, along with equipment for growing marijuana and some drug paraphernalia. Working with the Barnstead Police, the sheriffs executed a search warrant and later and arrest warrant for McNeil and Witham.

Acting Barnstead Police Chief Joseph McDowell said his department has a proactive approach toward unlawful drug use within the community.

"If you're going to be involved in drug activity, you're going to get caught," said McDowell.

Last Updated on Saturday, 01 March 2014 01:13

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