Laconia deputy fire chief running for city council in Concord

LACONIA — Shawn Riley, the deputy fire chief who oversees emergency medical services at the Laconia Fire Department, has announced his candidacy for an at-large seat on the city council in his hometown of Concord.

As one of five candidates vying for the two at-large seats, Riley said yesterday that he expects a very competitive race. The most prominent of his rivals in Steve Shurtleff, the minority leader in the New Hampshire House of Representatives, who is seeking his third term on the city council.

Riley, who has lived in the city since he was a student at the New Hampshire Technical Institute in the late 1980s, said that he has no quarrel with the way the city has been been governed and explained "I have always wanted to be part of the process." He noted that his late wife, Stephanie, also spoke often of running for public office.

"Concord," Riley said, "has always been a safe, clean city and a good place raise a family, buy a home and start a business and I'd like to keep it that way."

"I've been thinking about this for a long time and only decided last weekend," Riley remarked. "It feels like the time is right."

If successful, Riley would become the second Laconia firefighter to hold office in another municipality, joining Captain Chris Shipp, who chairs the Board of Selectmen in Moultonborough.

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Positive behavior program in Laconia schools said to be paying big dividends

LACONIA — In September of 2014, said Middle School Vice Principal Jim Corkum, there were an average of four "major" referrals to his office each school day — meaning four times a day he dealt with a reasonably serious school infractions. This month his average is .3 "major" referrals a day — meaning he can typically go as long a three or four days without one.

Corkum and his team of guidance councilors attribute much of this positive change in student behavior to PBIS or Positive Behavior Intervention and Support.

"PBIS is a philosophy," said McKenzie Harrington-Bacote — the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMSHA) coordinator who is in charge of managing a five-year federal grant focused on student behavior.

Laconia School District was awarded the $2.15-million federal grant in 2014 and was one of three New Hampshire School District to receive it. An additional $1.1-million School Climate Transformation Grant followed.

At the elementary level, all three city schools have a PRIDE — or personal responsibility, respect, involvement, discipline free, and excellence — mascot. At Woodland Heights "Mr. Wiskers" is the mascot while "Pride the Panther" fills the same role at Pleasant Street and "Paws" the Tiger inspires Elm Street. These mascots, said Woodland Heights Principal Eric Johnson help the younger students show school pride at assemblies and during sports and other events.

At the Middle and High Schools — it's Sachem Pride and the wall of both schools are plastered with PRIDE posters with set behavioral expectations.

"I want our kids in class, I don't want them here," Corkum said his arms pointing around to his spartan office.

He said part of the behavioral accomplishments have come from redefining what a major or minor infraction is. He noted that if a child forgets a pencil, he or she shouldn't be sent to the office and further, that as part of being good students, someone should offer his or her classmate a pencil to use.

Through a year-long PBIS training program, Harrington-Babcock said teachers and classroom assistants have been trained to handle life's little episodes internally and not refer every issue to the guidance or vice principal's office.

He said the school uses general classroom behavior strategies that have cut the major incidents down to more than half than in previous years.

"The results are keeping their classes more focused and having more students in the classroom at a time," Corkum said.

He also said that through the early intervention program afforded by PBIS, there is more "one-on-one" time for students and school staff — especially for those who don't play sports.

"We make sure there is one teacher or staff member who each student can trust and talk to," Corkum said.

Harrington-Bacote said one of the most important things PBIS does is to provide a structure where the students all know and understand what is expected of them.

Assistant Superintendent Kirk Beitler said positive behaviors have always been taught a part of an education but with PBIS, "they are purposefully taught."

All three agree that perfect behavior from all students is an unrealistic expectation on their part, but one of the benefits of the five-year PBIS grant is that a framework is being created for dealing with the few students who need some extra assistance for a variety of reasons.

Harrington-Bacote said all of the administrators went to a conference last year that included full-days of training, workshops and speakers. Accompanying the grant that allowed for the conference is a partnership with Plymouth State University that allows those teachers who participate in PBIS programming to earn a 20-credit graduate certificate.

She also said that the grant covers the entire school district and there is an additional School Climate Transformation Grant that was made available to only 100 schools in the nation. SAMSHA also provides for a train-the-trainer type grant where people who take the formal training are equipped to train those who remain back home.

Corkum quipped that the goal of the training program is to "push (Harrington-Bacote) out of her job".

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48 boats on Winnipesaukee for Eastern Division bass fishing championship

LACONIA — Just minutes after sunup yesterday a flotilla of 48 bass boats, each with two anglers on board, left Paugus Bay Marinia and took to the waters of Lake Winnipesaukee to open The Bass Federation's Eastern Division Championship tournament, which serves as a qualifying round for the national championship next spring.

The Eastern Division consists of the six New England states, New York and the province of Ontario, each represented by a dozen anglers paired on six boats, who will fish the lake for three days. Each angler has a daily creel limit of five fish, either large-mouth or small-mouth bass measuring at least 12 inches in length. Each day at 3 p.m. the catch is weighed and angers are ranked by the cumulative weight of their catch during the three days. The top two finishers from each of the seven states and one province in the division will qualify for the national championships, joining competitors from six other divisions.

"I drove all night to get here," said Dan Murphy of Wharton, New Jersey, who last weekend landed the biggest fish — a 5.75 pound small-mouth bass — at the "Fishing for Freedom" tournament at Alexandria Bay on Lake Ontario.

With less than a third of anglers weighed in here on Wednesday, Murphy and Mark Anthony of Wolfeboro were among the leaders, but Matthew Allen of Hanover, Massachusetts claimed both the largest catch of five fish together weighing 16 pounds, 11 ounces and the biggest fish, a five pound, two ounce small-mouth bass.

As they checked in, anglers intent on keeping their catch alive and returning their fish to the lake had no time for small talk. They held their catch in bags dipped into tanks of fresh water while waiting for it to be checked and weighed. First the fish were pronounced alive, sparing anglers penalties, then measured, counted and returned to water before weighing. Once weighed the catch was again put into water and promptly returned to the lake.

Kevin Keenan of Paugus Bay Marina said the tournament was a significant event for the region, noting that many of the competitors have spent the entire week in the city to take advantage of the three permitted practice days in advance of the competition.

Amy Perry of Killingworth, Connecticut, whose husband was among the competitors, was keeping a close tally at the weigh-in. When Keenan remarked on her proficiency at handling the truck, trailer and boat — "I'd hire her in a minute" — she replied "I love it. It's a week of fishing, not working! And I do cheer for Connecticut."

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