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Selectmen Say Ambulance Fund Can't Be Used for Police Department Purchases

BELMONT — Selectmen expressed sympathy for a suggestion by a former town official that a portion of the ambulance billing funds received by the town go to buy safety equipment for the Police Department but say that fund is restricted to Fire Department and ambulance use only.
At a public hearing last evening former Belmont Town Administrator Donald McLelland pointed out in about half of all emergency responses it is the Police Department that is first on the scene and that as long as regular budget items for the Fire Department are being paid for from the Fire/Ambulance Equipment and Apparatus Fund that consideration should be given to other departments which respond to emergencies and whose budgets bear the costs of responding.
His comments came during a hearing held by selectmen on a proposed warrant article which would use $93,945 from the fund, which had a balance as of the end of October of $345,367, for a number of routine expenses.
The warrant article calls for spending $40,000 for overtime coverage, $26,745 for medical and supply expenses, 12,500 for billing fees, $6,000 for fuel, $5,000 for vehicle repairs, $1,200 for training expenses, $1,000 for telephone expense, $1,000 for office supplies and $500 for conferences and dues.
''My only concern is that thought should be given to opening up the fund for safety equipment for the police,'' said McLelland.
But long-time Selectman Jon Pike recalled that when selectmen tried in the past to use the money from the fund for safety vests for police the town's legal counsel ruled it out.
Town Administrator Jean Beaudin said voters would have to approve a change in the purpose of the fund in order for it to be used by other departments and that in the past the public had not supported any change.
Pike said that over the last 20 years or so ambulance coverage has expanded so much that what the town now has is ''basically an ambulance company with a fire department attached.''
Fire Chief David Parenti said that the fund, also known as the Comstar Special revenue Fund, collects about $200,000 a year from ambulance billings and uses about $90,000 to $100,000 a year for routine department expenses with the rest going for capital expenses.
Parenti and selectmen also discussed the $54,354 contract with Lakes Regional Mutual Fire Aid for dispatch services for the Fire Department.
In 2013, the Lakes Region Mutual Fire Aid budget was $554,000 for the 11 Belknap County communities. That bill was apportioned to each individual county taxpayer based on equalized taxable property value and included in the county portion of an annual tax bill. Last year Belmont's share of the bill was $34,381 — some $20,000 less.

The difference is because the agency allocates expenses to member communities based on a formula that takes both property value and population into account, not just property value. Because Belmont has little lakefront property to tax, is ratio of population to property value is relatively high for the region.
Pike said he would like towns to have more oversight over the LRFMA budget and Parenti, who is one of the directors of the LRFMA, said that after the budget is developed in September a public budget hearing, at which all 36 member communities will be invited, will be held in October.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 07 January 2014 02:55

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LRPA TV continues streaming Channel 25 programming

LACONIA — Lakes Region Public Access (LRPA) television will continue to stream MetroCast channel 25 over its web site for another month. The service is free of charge and available to anyone with on line access via computer, mobile device or web-connected television.
"We experienced a surprising volume of traffic during the LNH Children's Auction. There were viewers from as far away as the United Kingdom and Holland watching in real time.", said Executive Director Denise Beauchaine in announcing the decision. "LRPA's board wants to look at our web-based viewer numbers for the month of January. If those numbers stay strong, we will retain the streaming service."

LRPA can be seen over MetroCast Channel 25, at lrpa.org — click channel 25 live stream, or on your smart phone. Download the Live Stream App for Android or IQF.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 07 January 2014 02:51

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Governors Island man indicted for marijuana growing operation

LACONIA — A Belknap County grand jury has indicted a former Governor's Island man for manufacturing marijuana and hashish in his home on Blueberry Hill Lane.

Corey LaPlante, 28, is also charged with one count of possession of methylone — a stimulant.

The cases against LaPlante are being prosecuted by the State Attorney General's Office and the arrests are the result of N.H. State Police investigation.

According to police affidavits, LaPlante and his girlfriend, Janelle Noftle, were running what police described as a sophisticated growing operation out of a three-car garage on the property. Police said there was lights, commercial-grade fans, a water system, and a separate electrical panel LaPlante said he installed.

Asst. N.H. Attorney James James Vara said police found three to five pounds of hashish and a table that served as a production area. His affidavits also said police found about 100 marijuana plants and $33,000 in cash.

Vara also said six guns — three handguns and three long guns — were found in the house and two of them were loaded and near the cash.

Noftle was arrested at same time. Her case has been bound over to the Belknap County Superior Court. As of yesterday, she has not been indicted.

During their arraignment, both were ordered held on $30,000 cash-only bail. As of yesterday, neither one is in the Belknap County Jail.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 07 January 2014 02:49

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Flooded electrical room closes Belknap County Superior Courthouse

LACONIA — The Belknap County Superior Courthouse was evacuated and closed yesterday when water was found in the electrical room in the basement of the addition to the courthouse constructed in 1974.

Dustin Muzzey, the county facilities manager, said that because of the proximity of the water to the electrical panel the Fire Department was called and, after finding that pumps were controlling the water at manageable levels, concluded that there was no need to shut off the power. By then the courthouse had been evacuated and closed for the remainder of the day. Muzzey said that the courthouse would reopen on schedule Tuesday morning.

Muzzey said that the extremes of freezing and thawing created hydraulic pressures beneath the foundation that caused groundwater to find the path of least resistance, which he suspected was a a fault or crack in the foundation. "It's not uncommon in these conditions," he said.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 07 January 2014 02:49

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