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Skateboard park will remain open with fewer elements

LACONIA — Kevin Dunleavy, director of Parks and Recreation, said yesterday that although several failing elements have been removed from the skateboard park alongside the police station on Fair Street, the park will remain open.

Dunleavy said that time and weather have taken their toll on the wooden elements, some of which have have become unsafe and beyond repair. The original elements were constructed by students of the Huot Technical Center when the skateboard park opened in 2004.

The Parks and Recreation Commission discussed the future of the skateboard park when it met this week and, said Dunleavy, concluded that any further investment in the facility should be to purchase manufactured elements built of precast concrete or sheet metal, which would would be durable and less costly to maintain.

NOTES: After a resident, Josh Youseff, questioned a regulation prohibiting firearms in city parks as contrary to state law, the Parks and Recreation Commission lifted the ban. the rule read that "firearms shall not be used or carried in any manner on park property." Dunleavy said that the city attorney advised the commission that state law trumps municipal ordinances regulating the possession and carrying of firearms and recommended the rule be struck.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 September 2014 01:38

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Mutual Fire Aid budget proposed with 3.42% increase

LACONIA — The proposed 2015 operating budget for Lakes Region Mutual Fire Aid is up by about 3.42-percent, with the bulk of the increase reflected for funding for a newly developed capital improvement program.

According to Chief Jim Hayes, in 2015, $43,750 will be directed into the capital reserve fund. He said in 2014, $20,000 of the operating budget was diverted to capital reserve so the net increase to taxpayers for capital improvements will be $23,750.

He said each of the 35 member communities will pay an equal share — or $1,250 — of the capital improvement request because "the infrastructure has to be there."

"No element of it is used by only one community," Hayes continued.

Hayes said this is the first time the LRMFA has developed a working capital improvement plan. He said the goal is to get on a fixed cycle of repairing and/or replacing equipment to keep the budget somewhat level and not have capital costs spike in any particular year.

Aside from the communication center in Laconia, the LRMFA maintains 11 radio towers and countless radios throughout the membership area that stretches from Waterville Valley on the north, to Moultonborough on the east to Alton and Strafford on the south, and to Andover and Danbury to the west.

One of the concerns voiced year after year by elected representatives of the member communities is that they have no control over the development of the budget.

There is a public hearing scheduled for the proposed LRMFA budget on October 7 at 7 p.m. in the Academic Commons Room at the Lakes Region Community College in Laconia.

"The intent is to give people their legitimate voice," he said. "If there is a legitimate or broad concern then it would be the responsibility of the Board of Directors to address it."

Hayes said that each community has a representative on the Board of Directors — usually the fire chief — and it is that person's responsibility to reflect the needs and concerns of his or her community.

He also noted that the public hearing was a time for concerned members of the community to voice their opinions and hear how the LRMFA budget is developed. He said no motions for changes will be taken from the floor but any legitimate suggestions will be taken into consideration by the Board of Directors.

He also said that the monthly board of director meetings are open to the public. Hayes noted that every elected representative of every membership town was invited to the open house at the communications center this past Saturday and only one attended.

This is the second year the LRMFA has directly billed participating communities for its services. Until 2014, its budget was included in the Belknap County budget, which assessed the 11 county communities for their share. The rest of the members paid directly.

In 2014, the LRMFA left the umbrella of Belknap County and created its own assessment formula for all of the member communities.

Ten percent of the total budget is fixed to each community. In 2015 this will be $3,272 for each of the 35 members. Forty percent of the budget is distributed using an equalized valuation while 50-percent is assessed to communities according to population.

For Belknap County communities this means if this budget is approved by the board of directors that the town of Alton will pay $66,667 for an increase of 3.19-percent; Barnstead will pay $37,793 — an increase of 2.49-percent; Belmont will pay $55,452 — an increase of 2.36-percent; Center Harbor will pay $19,601 — an increase of 6.16 percent and Gilford will pay $79,690 — an increase of 2.29-percent.

The town of Gilmanton will pay $33,561 — a decrease of .12-percent; the city of Laconia will pay $128,848 — a decrease of .28-percent; Meredith will pay $78.053 — a decrease of 2.37-percent; New Hampton will pay $22,237 — an increase of 4.96-percent; Sanbornton will pay $29,488 — an increase of 6.07-percent and Tilton will pay $33,944 — an increase of 3.9-percent.

The proposed operating budget is up 1.4 percent from $1,139,535 in 2014 to $1,155,451 for 2015. The biggest drivers of the increase are technology and Internet services as well as bank charges and insurance.

Proposed labor costs will drop $21,599 or 2.26 percent from $954,479 to a proposed $932,880. LRMFA employes eight full-time people, three-part time people and seven per diem dispatchers. Only the eight full-time employees are eligible for health insurance that is contracted through the New Hampshire Health Trust — formerly known as the Laconia Government Center.

Projected maintenance costs for the LRMFA facility on Communications Drive are up 6.59 percent, most of which is reflected in a 30-percent increase in heating oil cost.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 September 2014 01:07

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Grants available to fund septic system evaluations

MEREDITH — The Lake Winnipesaukee Watershed Association (LWWA ) is accepting applications for grants to defray a portion of the cost of evaluating, repairing or replacing septic systems from property owners on Lake Winona and Lake Waukewan.

The grants, funded by the United States Environmental Protection Agency through the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES), are intended to assist property owners to comply with the septic system ordinance adopted by the town in 2012. The ordinance requires the owners of undocumented septic systems, designated as high risks of failure, to commission a certified or licensed septic system evaluator to conduct an on-site inspection of them within 24 months to certify that they have not failed. Following the initial certification, property owners would be required to have their systems inspected and certified every five years.

The LWWA has extended the period to apply for grants toward the evaluation of septic systems until October 1. To qualify the property must be a single-family home, duplex or seasonal camp within 250 feet of Lake Waukewan in either Meredith, Center Harbor or New Hampton with a septic system more than 25 years old with no record of having been approved by DES. Property owners are eligible to receive a maximum of $250 and there are sufficient funds for 31 evaluations.

Since the program began in November 2013, 12 property owners applied and 10 evaluations have been completed. In Meredith, four systems failed, two passed and one evaluation is pending while another four system were replaced. In New Hampton three systems passed and one evaluation is pending. One system passed in Center Harbor.

This month the LWWA began accepting applications for grants toward the repair or replacement of high risk or failing septic systems within 250 of either Lake Winona or Lake Waukewan. The grants represent one-third of the total cost, not to exceed $4,000, to repair or replace a failing system. With approximately $40,000, there are sufficient funds for ten $4,000 grants.

For more information contact the Lake Winnipesaukee Association at (603) 581-6632 or www.winnipesaukee.org.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 September 2014 01:03

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AG's office says tips still coming in on Miller murder

GILFORD — N.H. Asst. Attorney General Ben Agati said yesterday that the nearly four-year long investigation into the shooting death of Roberta "Bobbie" Miller in her home on Country Club Road is still active and ongoing.

He said as recently as last Wednesday, detectives received another tip that they are following up on.

"This is not a cold case," Agati said, adding that the State Police Major Crimes unit has done a huge number of interviews and continues to do so.

Miller and her dog "Scout" were shot and killed by a shotgun sometime between early October 31 and November 1 when her body was found by a relative.

Miller's death certificate says she died within seconds of a shotgun blast to her head and neck with perforations to her skull, brain, carotid artery and lungs. It also lists her date of death as October 31.

Agati also noted that the $26,000 in cash found in an undisclosed location by police during the course of the investigation was likely not related to her murder. He also said it appears the same shotgun was used to kill the dog and Miller.

Miller was the ex-wife of Gary Miller who once owned two car dealerships in Wolfeboro. The two had a protracted and acrimonious divorce that was finalized in August of 2010 — three months before she was murdered.

One year after her death, Miller's family offered a $50,000 reward for any information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or people who killed Miller.

Anyone with any information is asked to call the N.H. State Police Major Crimes Division at 223-8573 or the N.H. State Police Tip Line at 223-3960.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 September 2014 12:49

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