LFD supports addict access to Narcan by Rx

LACONIA — Deputy Fire Chief Shawn Riley said yesterday that he applauds Gov. Maggie Hassan for signing HB 271 that will allow Narcan, a common opiate antidote, to be sold by prescription.

Riley said he supports family members of opiate addicts being able to access the drug with the guidance and permission of their family practitioners and this access may help those people get their loved ones into treatment.

He said people who administer Narcan to an overdose victim must remember two things — that the victim will be in immediate withdrawal once the Narcan takes effect and that, when all is said and done, the victim will still be an opiate addict.

Riley said Narcan prescriptions are one more tool in the toolbox used to fight heroin and opiate addiction and he is grateful for all the governor has done for addiction in the state.

What Riley hopes to see is that if people should have to administer Narcan to someone, that they still call 911.

He said the victim should still be seem immediately by a trained EMT or paramedic because sometimes the heroin dose will last longer than the Narcan and the person could still die, that sometimes the heroin is laced with fentanyl and is more powerful than one shot of Narcan, and that there is also the possibility that the victim may have suffered a stroke or be in cardiac arrest — something Narcan won't help.

Riley said there are three ways Narcan can be administered — by nasal inhalation, by muscular injection, and intravenously. AS for what first responders will do, he said it depends on the circumstance and the patient.

He said yesterday that if loved ones get a Narcan prescription from their physician to make sure they are trained in how to use it. He said anyone who gets a prescription and is unsure, can come to the Fire Department and trained personnel will work with them.

CAPTION: Laconia Fire Department Deputy Chief Shawn Riley demonstrates a Narcan inhaler and how it is used. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Gail Ober)

Site for Pumpkin Festival tower moved to west edge of Veterans Square

LACONIA — The city's Special Events Review Committee this week granted a permit to organizers of the New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival, which will be held on Saturday, October 24, between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. with the condition that a number of outstanding issues will be addressed when the committee meets again next month.

Karen Gifford, executive director of the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, said yesterday that since Ruth Sterling of Sterling Design and Communications, who managed the event in Keene, is managing the event in Laconia, organizing the event consists primarily of transposing the arrangements applied in Keene to Laconia.

Last month the City Council approved a temporary traffic order that will apply between midnight on Friday and midnight on Saturday. Canal Street, Hanover Street and Veterans Square, together with sections of Main Street and Pleasant Street will be closed to through traffic. In addition, Veterans Square will be closed to eastbound traffic on Friday, the day before the event, when a tower, 35 feet high with capacity for between 900 and 1,000 pumpkins, will be erected. Portions of the municipal parking lots at City Hall, Main Street and Beacon Street West will be used by vendors or for activities.

A loop described by Veterans Square, Pleasant Street and northern stretch of Main Street will define the center of the festival. Pumpkins will be displayed on the tower, which is the centerpiece of the festival, and on racks, three to five feet high, lining all the closed streets and, if necessary the grassed areas downtown, including Rotary Park and Stewart Park.

Sterling touted "pumpkin bowling," in which sugar pumpkins are bowled at regulation ten pins, as a popular attraction for children and suggested a ferris wheel would offer festival goers a unique perspective of the city. Gifford said that the WOW Trail intends to stage a 5K run and cycling event, beginning at 8 a.m. on the morning of the festival.

In 2013, when the festival took place in Keene, the world record was set for the most simultaneously lighted pumpkins at 30,581. Sterling told the committee that the goal of the festival will be to top that record.She explained that the process of lighting the pumpkins will begin around 4 p.m. and all will be lit by 6 p.m. or 6:30 p.m. and counted within just five minutes at 7 p.m.

Gifford said she has approached the Belknap Cunty 4H Club about using the fairgrounds in Belmont, which has space for 1,500 cars, for parking as well as the firms at O'shea Industrial Park. She said that a decision to operate a shuttle from remote parking areas is being considered. Meanwhile, she said the Hobo Railroad intends to ferry people to the festival from Tilton and Weirs Beach.

While the festival will be held downtown, Gifford said that a number of businesses at the Weirs that would otherwise have closed for the season intend to remain open to cater to the anticipated crowds. She said that Half Moon arcades and other attractions will be open and several hotels and motels have already taken reservations for the weekend of the festival The M/S Mt. Washington still be cruising Lake Winnipesaukee.

"It's an opportunity for people to enjoy a weekend around the festival," Gifford said, adding the event has been marketed to some 600,000 by a mailing from the Lakes Region Tourist Association.

Gifford said that it remains to provide the committee with detailed plans of the spaces set aside for vendors in the Main Street and City Hall parking lots, along with the locations of trash receptacles, dumpsters and porta-potties. Planning Director Shanna Saunders expected other issues would arise in the course of organizing the event.

CAPTION: The schematic, which is subject to change, depicts the proposed layout of the Pumpkin Festival. The yellow "Ws" mark welcome centers at the major gateways to the downtown and the green grassed areas where pumpkins will be displayed.

Four local schools have graduation rates around 90%

LACONIA – With five years of data to consider, it appears that high school graduation rates within the Lakes Region are dropping, meaning fewer students are graduating from high school within the standard four-year time frame.

Records obtains from the N.H. Department of Education show the only schools district in the area that has a higher graduation rate in 2014 (the last year data is available) than in 2010 was the Newfound Regional School District, which went from an 80.17-percent graduation rate in 2010 to an 85.15-percent rate and the Winnisquam Regional High School that went from 88.36 percent in 2010 to 91.53 percent in 2014.

In addition, the Prospect Mountain School District has seen a consistent improvement in graduation rates during this time. In 2010, 87.50 percent of the graduated on time — a percentage that would gradually rise over the next five years, reaching 91.55 percent for the Class of 2014.

The state determines graduation rates by taking the number of students who entered the freshman class and tracks the same group of students through their senior year. The total number of students who graduate is divided by the number of students who started freshman year. Each cohort is adjusted by the students who move into to the district or out of it. The graduation rate does not count students who later earn a GED or a HiSet, which is the new equivalency test.

The highest average graduation rates in the Lakes Region are at Gilford High School, although there has been a slight drop there over the past five years. In 2010, of 155 students who began as freshman, 148 of them graduated in four years, giving the school a 95.48-percent ranking — one of the highest in the state and above the state average of 86 percent. In 2014, 119 of the 130 student cohort graduated, dropping Gilford's average graduation rate to 91.54, which is still higher than the state average.

Franklin appears to be the area school that struggles the most with its graduation rate. In 2010, Franklin High School graduated 87 of the 129 students who were in that class, or 67.44 percent. In 2011, 2012, and 2013 the school gradually improved its graduation rate averages to 80.95 percent in 2013 but dropped back to 63.55 percent in 2014.

Laconia saw a 5-percent drop in its graduation rate in 2014. In 2010, 86.16 percent of the students in that class graduated on time, in 2011 it was 82.68 percent, in 2012, 86.71 percent graduated and in 2013 the graduation rate dropped to 77.85 percent — dipping below the state average.

For the past five years, Belmont High School has ranged from a graduation rate of 91.42 percent in 2010 to a low of 85 percent in 2014. Of the 128 students in the 2010 group, 117 graduated on time, while in 2014, of the 100 students in the original class, 85 of them graduated.

At Inter-Lakes, 108 students made up the 2010 group and 100 of them graduated on time for a percentage of 92.59. In 2014, 83 students of the 93 students who comprised the cohort graduated, or 89.25 percent.

So what happened to the students who didn't graduate? There is no clear answer. For New Hampshire Dept. of Education record keeping purposes, the state records two things — the student either drops out or earns a GED before October of the graduating year. The statistics do not include students who returned after October to finish high school as part of an adult education program or who earned a high school equivalent after then or about 7-percent of the overall students in the state.