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Senator Hosmer tells Rotarians his job is all about serving constituents

LACONIA — "I love serving in the New Hampshire Senate," said Andrew Hosmer of Laconia. "I'm not there to represent a party or an ideology, but to represent the people who elected me."

Hosmer, a Democrat and executive at AutoServ in Tilton who is seeking re-election to a second term, was speaking the Laconia Rotary Club yesterday at the Belknap Mill. He began by recalling the major achievements of the Legislature during his first term, highlighting the bipartisan support they enjoyed.

The budget, which carried the Senate by an unanimous vote of its 24 members, he said increased funding for mental health services as well as restored distribution of proceeds from the rooms and meals tax to cities and towns. The tax credit for businesses investing in research and development was doubled. The gas tax was raised for the first time in more than 20 years with a proviso that all the incremental revenue of $32-million must be applied to roads and bridges.

Perhaps most important, after much debate and negotiation a bipartisan compromise was reached to use federal funds to extend health insurance, including benefits for mental health services and substance abuse treatment, to some some 50,000 people without it. However, Hosmer stressed that at the end of 2016, when the federal government will no longer fully fund the program, it will lapse unless the Legislature can marshal the funds to extend it.

Apart from healthcare Hosmer said that the next Legislature will face a number other challenges, beginning with what he called "a very challenging budget." Pledging to oppose the introduction of a general sales or personal income tax, he said that he believed that a responsible budget could be fashioned without either.

Hosmer said that while there is much discussion of business taxes rising workers compensation rates, which represent "another cost shift to businesses," should not be overlooked. He said that steps should be taken to limit the increases in rates and reform the entire system.

Emphasizing the need to diversify the state's energy portfolio, Hosmer acknowledged that wind farms and Northern Pass are both highly controversial. But, he pointed out that Northern Pass would increase employment by 500 jobs and property values by 60 percent in Franklin, which lies within Senate District 7. He said that more miles of transmission line should be buried to spare the landscape in the North County, but insisted "not diversifying our energy portfolio is not an option."

Hosmer said that he shared the opinion of Mayor Ed Engler of Laconia that the former Laconia State School property on North Main Street represented a valuable asset and significant opportunity for both the state and the city. "It's an economic engine waiting to be tuned up and fired up," he said. He explained that he worked to scuttle legislation that would have hindered sale of the property to the city last year, leaving the option for the city to acquire the property open.

Responding to a question, Hosmer reminded his listeners that he was among the sponsors of a bill to authorize casino gambling as well as an amendment that would have distributed a share of the proceeds to cities and towns. "I think it will come back next year," he said, cautioning that "expanded gambling won't solve everything, but it would have a positive economic impact."

Hosmer has no rival for the Democratic nomination and will face Republican Kathleen Lauer-Rago of Franklin in the general election in November. District 7 consists of the city of Laconia and towns of Belmont,and Gilford in Belknap County and the city of Franklin and towns of Andover, Boscawen, Canterbury, Northfield, Salisbury, and Webster in Merrimack County.

Last Updated on Friday, 29 August 2014 01:32

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2 school buses involved in minor accidents

LACONIA — Superintendent Terri Forsten said yesterday that there were two minor school bus accidents during the first three days of school.

The first was on Wednesday morning when a bus that had just dropped off students at the Laconia Middle School was rear-ended at 7:50 a.m. by a car near the Lakeport Square intersection on Elm Street.

She said the bus had no students in it but had stopped at the railroad tracks. Forsten said the bus appeared to be undamaged but the car that hit it had some front end damage.

Forsten said that now that school is in session, motorists should remember that all school buses, whether they are empty or not, must stop at all railroad crossings.

The second accident happened yesterday afternoon when a school bus with about seven middle and high school students aboard clipped mirrors with another vehicle on Union Avenue near Irwin Marine.

The bus pulled into the marina and the Laconia Police responded as did School District Business Administrator Ed Emond.

No was was injured and Forsten said the students stayed on the bus for about an hour until a second bus could come and take them home. Because the bus's mirror is needed for driving, she said no students could be on it.

Yesterday's mishap set the Elm Street Elementary School schedule back by about 20 minutes because the same bus is used to transport them after its middle/high school run.  Forsten said the School District called all of the parents involved to tell them they were going to be late.

Last Updated on Friday, 29 August 2014 01:00

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Alton man alleged to have swung axe during attempted assault

CIRCUIT COURT — An Alton man was ordered held on $2,000 cash bail after allegedly swinging an ax at a man that he knows.

Police complaints also indicated that Rodney Moody, 22, of 6 Gilmans Corner Road resisted arrest when police arrived and purposely damaged a camper window and a chicken coup, all on Monday. He is charged with one count of attempted second degree assault, resisting arrest and criminal mischief.

According to affidavits obtained from the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division, two police officers responded to a call from a woman who said a male was "going after things with an ax."

When officers arrived, they saw Moody who had a significant amount of blood on his shirt and on his right hand.

The victim indicated that Moody had swung an ax at him and punched a hole with his fist in his camper window.

The two officers spent a "great deal of time" trying to calm Moody to the point where he could be taken into custody. Affidavits said he continued to square off to them and dared them to zap him with a electric stun gun.

After a number of minutes police told him was under arrest and ordered him to lie prone on the ground. They said he refused multiple orders and allegedly told one of the officers he would break his nose.

Following several more attempts to get him to cooperate, one officer zapped Moody with the Taser and he was taken into to custody.

The victims told police that Moody had come into the driveway and was yelling. At one point he allegedly went into the barn and came out with an ax. They told police he swung the ax at their vehicle twice but missed both times.

When the victim tried to calm him down, Moody allegedly swung the ax toward his chest and the ax slipped from his grip and struck a chicken coop.

The victim retrieved the ax to keep it away from Moody. While waiting for police, Moody allegedly broke the door off the chicken coop and punched the window of the camper.

Judge Jim Carroll ordered Moody be held on $2,000 cash-only bail, which he said could be reduced to personal recognizance bail if he obtained a spot in a secure mental health treatment facility, like the New Hampshire State Hospital.

As of 6:30 p.m. yesterday, Moody was still in the Belknap County House of Corrections.

Last Updated on Thursday, 28 August 2014 12:35

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Council gets look at what debt service on new county jail would do to city budget

LACONIA — Councilor Henry Lipman (Ward 3), chairman of the council's Finance Committee, on Monday offered his colleagues an opinion of how construction of a new Belknap County Jail would impact the financial position of the city.

Finance Director Donna Woodaman calculated the annual principal and interest on the city's share of a borrowing of $25 million for a term of 20 years at an interest rate of 4.25 percent. The city would bear approximately a fifth of the total annual debt service, consisting of annual principal payments of $250,000 and interest payments diminishing from a peak of $212,500. In other words, the first full payment would be $462,500 and decrease annually over the term of the borrowing.

In order to budget within the bounds of the city's property tax cap, the council, in borrowing to undertake capital projects, has limited annual principal and interest payments to $3.2-million. "This is blowing through our (cap) number," Lipman said of the city's share of the county's debt to build a jail. He conceded that $25-million is a hypothetical figure, but added "we should at least get it out there what we can finance."

Lipman said that he hoped county officials dealt with the facility in a timely way, explaining that his "biggest fear" is that a political stalemate at the county will stall progress and litigation, which could lead the federal government to impose solution to the problem. He urged the council to invite candidates in the county for the New Hampshire House of Representatives, who comprise the county convention, to share their views with councilors at a future meeting.

NOTE: Although Steve Bogert and Suzanne Perley faced some stiff questioning earlier this month when the City Council considered their reappointment to the Zoning Board of Adjustment, there was no further discussion this week and both were reappointed to new 3-year terms. Councilor Brenda Baer (Ward 4) cast the lone dissenting vote when Perley was reappointed by a vote of five-to-one while the council was unanimous in reappointing Bogert, who chairs the ZBA. . . . . . There were six candidates for the five seats on the reconstituted Downtown Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District Advisory Board. The City Council elected Ken Sawyer of Franklin Savings Bank and Attorney Pat Wood to three-year terms, Breanna Henderson and Charlie St. Clair to two-year terms and Robert Sawyer to a one-year term. Incumbent Warren Clement was not reappointed. . . . . . The City Council has authorized City Manager Scott Myers to order the owner of the property at 153 Church Street at Busy Corner to repair and secure the building and, should he fail to do so, ask the court to allow the city to perform the work and place a lien on the property to recover its costs. The building, at the "V" intersection of Church Street and Union Ave., which last housed a barber shop and a couple of small apartments, was the scene of a fire last winter. The property is owned by SJREJJR Family Trust and the trustee is Jospeh M. Giffiths of 757 Stage Road, Gilmanton Iron Works. The owner  was asked to secure the building in February and sent a violation notice in June, but has not responded to either. 

Last Updated on Thursday, 28 August 2014 12:12

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