Ashland asks to turn historic school into town library


ASHLAND — Trustees of the Ashland Town Library are asking voters to approve a petitioned warrant article which calls for spending $800,000 to purchase and renovate the former Ashland Elementary School as the town's new library.
It will mark the second time that the issue has come before voters. Two years ago, a proposed $950,000 bond issue was opposed by the budget committee and lost 149-299 as it would have exceeded the budget committee's recommended budget by more than 10 percent.
This year, the budget committee voted 6-3 against the the warrant article but selectmen voted 3-1 on Jan. 25 to place it on the ballot with necessary language informing voters that passage of the article would exceed the 10 percent limit.
The building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was built in 1877-78 and served as a school until 1990. It is currently owned by the Tri-County Community Action Program, which purchased the three-story brick building from the Ashland School District in 2008, paying $1 plus a $44,000 reimbursement to the school district for the demolition of the former high school building.
Community Action then spent $1.25 million for restoration and improvements to the school, bringing the building up to code, installing new heating and cooling systems and a zoned sprinkler system, and putting in energy-efficient lighting and windows, as well as building a handicapped entrance and installing an elevator to provide access to all floors.
The current library is housed in a two-story clapboard building owned by the town and managed by the Scribner Trustees. Library Trustee David Ruell says that, with 1,245 square feet of space, all shelving is full and adding new materials requires dispensing with older, still-valuable materials. Although the library has a ramped entrance, it is not fully handicapped-accessible, with the second floor inaccessible for someone in a wheelchair, and it has only on-street parking.
The school, by contrast, has a dedicated parking lot with space for 15 vehicles. With 7,920 square feet of space, it would give the library six times the amount of room for its collections, activities and storage.
Ruell says that one of the big advantages of moving the library into the historic building is that the new Ashland Elementary School is located on adjacent land and is a short, safe walking distance from the elementary school so students could use the library for in-school visits and after-school activities.
In addition to the main circulation area on the first floor, there would be three office spaces that could serve as rooms for study and tutoring. There would be triple the current space for a children's room, the Scribner Library has room for only 12 children and when the library holds a reading program, they have to remove the furniture from the room. There also would be a computer lab with space for laptop users.
Plans also call for a young adult area on the second floor, with space for the storage of historical records and volumes. The main collection also would be on the second floor, along with the library's audio-visual collection, work tables, and comfortable seating.
The third floor has a large space with original woodwork, blackboards, and a divider that could accommodate large and small community and governmental functions.
Ruell says that TCCAP has reduced the sale price by $150,000 from two years ago and that trustees would apply $25,000 from a capital reserve fund towards library shelving, which would reduce the amount of bond issue to $775,000.
He says that library trustees are planning open houses for the public from 5 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 1 and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 5.
The bond issue will appear on the town ballot on March 8 as article 4 and requires a three-fifths vote for passage.

Ashland voters will be asked to approve a bond issue to purchase the former Ashland Elementary School from the Tri-County Community Action Program and renovate it for use as the town library. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)

Ashland voters will be asked to approve a bond issue to purchase the former Ashland Elementary School from the Tri-County Community Action Program and renovate it for use as the town library. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)

02-19 ashland school

The Ashland Town Library has only 1,245 square feet of usable space and all of its shelves are full. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)

The Ashland Town Library has only 1,245 square feet of usable space and all of its shelves are full. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)

02-19 ashland town library

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Laconia man arrested for lewdness in Gilford supermarket

02-25 A. Olisky

GILFORD — Police have arrested a Laconia man for allegedly exposing himself to a 17-year-old in the Hannaford Brothers Supermarket on Tuesday.

Anthony Olisky, 52, of 49 Franklin St. faces two separate Class A misdemeanor charges for indecent exposure and lewdness.

According to a media statement by Chief Anthony Bean Burpee, a 17-year-old was in a stall in the Hannaford's bathroom. When he exited the stall, he told police that a man, later identified as Olisky, was standing in there with his genitals exposed.

The boy ran back into the stall and reported to police that a man stood outside his stall and masturbated. The boy said he could look through the crack between the door and the partition and could see what the man was doing.

Olisky allegedly left the bathroom and shopped for groceries. The 17-year-old then reported what happened to the store manager.

Olisky was detained by store loss prevention personnel until police could arrive. He was released on $1,600 personal recognizance bail and is schedule to appear in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division on April 7.

Bean Burpee said Olisky does not have a criminal record.

– Gail Ober

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Tilton man charged with arson after car fire

LACONIA — A Tilton man is being held on a total of $7,000 cash-only bail for allegedly throwing a Molotov cocktail on an woman's car while it was parked in a friend's driveway in Belmont Monday.

According to police, Shawn McKenney, 26, of 377 West St. had been in a relationship with the alleged victim and knew she was dating a man who lived on Concord Street in Belmont. Belmont Prosecutor Dave Estes said in the 4th Circuit Court yesterday that he likely knew where she would be.

When he drove by the house and saw her car, McKenney allegedly went to the Circle K gas station, bought some gas and rummaged around for a glass bottle and a rag and made a Molotov cocktail.

McKenney is alleged to have returned to Concord Street and thrown the device onto her car. She was in the house and called emergency crews who quickly extinguished the fire.

Police said witnesses noticed a passing driver discarded a burning gasoline container. Shortly after, a Tilton Police officer located McKenney's car and noticed a fresh burn mark on an interior door panel. McKenney clothes also showed signs of recent exposure to fire.

Belmont police interviewed McKenney in Tilton on Monday and were able to get a warrant for his arrest based on the conversation.

In court Tuesday, Estes argued for a minimum of $5,000 cash bail. He said McKenney had recently been arraigned in the Sixth Circuit Court, Franklin Division for a domestic assault on a different person with whom he had been involved.

McKenney's public defender argued for personal recognizance bail, saying his client said he has multiple mental health diagnoses including bipolar disorder and depression. He suggested to the court that McKenney be released and get some mental health counseling.

Attorney John Bresaw argued that McKenney has no criminal convictions, is not a flight risk and has lived in the area for his entire adult life, right now with his mother.

Bresaw went on to say McKenney's primary care physician said McKenney has recently been taking prescription Prednisone and it may have caused him some mental health issues. As for his mental health diagnoses, Bresaw said McKenney isn't currently being medicated.

After consideration, Judge Jim Carroll said that the nature of the crimes were too serious and the potential danger to the community is so great that McKenney should be held in jail.

Bail was set a $5,000 for the Class B felony of making a Molotov cocktail and $2,000 for the Class A misdemeanor of arson. Under state statute, if the damage is less than $1,000, that the target is not a dwelling and doesn't mean to cause personal injury and if the intent of the alleged arson wasn't to defraud an insurance company, arson is a misdemeanor.

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