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Gilford School Board reaches agreement with union

GILFORD — The school district and the Gilford Education Association have agreed on and the union membership has ratified a 3-year collective bargaining agreement that will add $111,798 to the salary and benefits portion of the 2014-2015 school budget.

If approved at annual Town Meeting, the agreement will be in effect from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2017 and affects 121 education professionals including teachers, guidance counselors, specialists and other professional staff.

Budget increases total another $257,911 in 2015-2016 and an additonal $260,323 in 2016-2017.

The contract amounts will appear on the SB-2 Official Ballot in March. According to state law, the voters can vote up or down on the dollar amount of the contract but the amount cannot be changed during the annual deliberative session part of the annual meeting.

According to Superintendent Kent Hemingway and School Board Chair Sue Allen, the new contract represents an average 3 percent annual raise for the next three years.

"Where the collaboration happened is with the health care benefits," Hemingway said, noting that every dollar increase in health care costs not only costs the taxpayers and employees money but represents money that leaves the community.

Savings of $156,056 in the first year in the benefits line represents what both described as a unified approach to the rising costs of health care.

Hemingway said the union and the administration jointly embarked on a health care review in preparation for the recent contract talks and all parties agreed and realized that rising health care costs were the single biggest driver of school budget increases.

He said the biggest change is the elimination of the current $1 mail-in prescription program employees have enjoyed.

The other significant health care change was an agreement to provide a Matthew-Thornton HMO plan on the menu of health care options. Hemingway said the Blue Cross Anthem plan is still available for employees who want to pay the additional cost but the basic insurance program is a different model.

Allen said the school district agreed to pay about 95-percent of the costs of the new base health plan in exchange for the HMO-type base plan.

Last Updated on Thursday, 31 October 2013 02:38

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Art gallery opens at Historic Belknap Mill

LACONIA — Lending voice to its tag line "Where Art and History Come to Life," the Belknap Mill Society yesterday added a gallery, featuring the work of juried artists, to the offerings of the oldest unaltered textile mill in the United States.

David Stamps, president of the society, said that when vacant space on the second floor failed to attract a tenant, Peter Ellis suggested moving the administrative offices upstairs and opening a gallery downstairs. He said that Ellis and Tom Tardif designed and outfitted the 1,000-square-foot space.

Recalling the mission of the mill — "Education-Art-History-Humanities" — Andre Paquette, vice-president of the board and acting executive director, explained that the gallery will feature the works of juried artists in a variety of mediums — oil, watercolor, charcoal, digital drawings, collage and ceramics — that will be offered for sale. The society will receive a commission from each sale, which will be applied to the support of the mill.

At the opening works by eight artists were on display, including Roger Gagne's images of Canterbury Shaker Village, watercolors and oils by M.L. John, Jeri Ryan Bothamley, Lorraine Gateriewictz, Liz Wilson, Carole Groenke, digital drawings by Marian Federspiel and ceramics with pre-Columbian and Egyptian motifs by Devitt Liptak.

Paquette said that artists are welcome to apply to show their work at the gallery simply by calling the mill at 524-8813 and requesting an application.


CAPTION : The Belknap Mill Society yesterday opened a gallery showcasing the juried work of local artists. On hand for the ribbon cutting were, from left, Peter Ellis, a trustee of the society, artist Roger Gagne, David Stamps, president of the society, artist M.L. John, Karmen Gifford, executive director of the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, potter Devitt Liptak and Mary Rivers, also a trustee. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Michael Kitch)

Last Updated on Thursday, 31 October 2013 02:29

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Citizens Bank grant makes funds available for downtown Laconia facade improvements

LACONIA — A tripartite partnership of the Main Street Initiative, Belknap Economic Development Council (BEDC) and Citizens Bank Foundation yesterday announced a program that could lead to an investment of $70,000 to enhance the facades and signage of commercial properties within the downtown loop described by Beacon Street East and Beacon Street West.

In September, the Citizens Bank Foundation, which was established in 2012, launched its "Citizens' Growing Communities" initiative by awarding $70,000 in grants, including $35,000 to the Main Street Initiative for the Beacon Street Loop Facade Improvement Program. "A good bank gives back to the communities it serves and the to the people who live there," said Kathleen Reardon, senior vice-president and director of public affairs of Citizens Bank. "Strengthening the economic health and vitality of our local communities is a priority at Citizens," she continued. "We believe our grants will help enhance the character and overall well-being of these neighborhoods, support small businesses and spur additional investments in these communities."

Anticipating the next day's headline, John Moriarty, president of the Main Street Initiative, said "downtown takes another giant step forward." He said that "the facade improvement program will help local property and business owners grow their businesses and will contribute to the strength of downtown." He said that the program was another step toward "putting downtown Laconia on the map where it belongs" as "the kick-ass place to do business and have fun."

Property owners or commercial tenants inside the loop may apply for grants in amounts up to $5,000, which must be matched dollar-for-dollar. Carmen Lorentz, executive director of the BEDC, said that the Main Street Loan Program administered by the BEDC, which lends up to $10,000, may be able to assist applicants with the necessary matching funds. Applicants must provide proof that the property is insured and the taxes are current. Religious and political organizations are not eligible for funding. Applications must be submitted by 4 p.m. on Valentine's Day, Friday, February 14, 2014, awards will be announced In March and projects must be completed by July 31, 2014.

A committee of three, consisting of Lorentz, Shanna Saunders, city planning director and Christine Grenier, vice-preisdent of Citizens Bank, will score the applications according to five criteria, including its aesthetic and economic impacts, as well as a set of design guidelines accompanying the application package..

Application packages are available from the Main Street Initiative at www.LaconiaMainStreet.org or the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce at 383 South Main Street.

Last Updated on Thursday, 31 October 2013 02:24

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$100k cash bail holding assault, gun theft suspect

LACONIA — The man who allegedly entered a couple's apartment Tuesday, beat them, tied them up, and stole money and a gun was ordered held on $100,000 cash-only bail after his appearance in circuit court yesterday.

Kenneth Dukette, 22, of Dewey Street is charged with burglary, criminal threatening (use of a deadly weapon), simple assault, first degree assault, kidnapping, two counts of felony criminal restraint, felony theft by unauthorized taking, and armed robbery for his alleged actions Tuesday afternoon.

"This is beyond the pale," said City Prosecutor Jim Sawyer while making his argument for $100,000 cash-only bail. "It's like something out of a movie."

Dukette's attorney Justin Littlefield had argued that $100,000 cash-only bail was punitive and that his client should be released on $50,000 cash or corporate surety. He said if his client posted bail, he would live in Gilford.

According to affidavits obtained from the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division, Dukette, who had covered his face with a white cloth, went into the victim's apartment at 1166 North Main Street and then his bedroom just before 4 p.m. and began hitting him with his fists. At some point he allegedly hit him in the head with the butt end of what the victim told police looked like an Uzi submachine gun.

A second man, said police, was holding a silver revolver and pointing it at the head of the victim's girlfriend. His face was covered by a mask, said police. Dukette allegedly ordered the victim to give him the combination of his gun safe, threatening that "he would shoot both of them."

The male victim knew Dukette but told police he didn't know who the other man was.

The victim also told police he opened the safe after which Dukette ordered him and his girlfriend to their knees where they were both handcuffed and then bound together with a cell phone cord. The victims were forced into the bathroom.

Affidavits said the victim told Dukette he didn't have a Para Ordnance 1911 (a Canadian manufactured handgun) but Dukette found the gun and $440 in a desk door. He allegedly took both.

The victim told police Dukette was "very angry that he had been lied to" and that he put the loaded gun he had just found to his face and told him he was going to shoot him for lying to him.

Dukette and the second man left the apartment and got into a car that the victim described as black with a temporary, paper license plate. The victim told police he thought the car belonged to Dukette's girlfriend. Affidavits said police dispatchers were able to identify the owner of the car as Dukette's girlfriend.

Capt. Matt Canfield said police immediately issued a county-wide Be-On-the-Lookout-For alert for Dukette and the car. He said yesterday that multiple police officers participated in the arrest and since the call came during a shift change, a few officers and all supervisors stayed until Dukette could be apprehended.

At 5:55 p.m. Senior Patrol Officer Bob Cameron spotted the car on Highland Street and followed it out Gilford Ave. to the Gilford line. Canfield said multiple officers, including police from Gilford surrounded the car took Dukette into custody at gun point.

Police said they saw an Uzi-like long gun and a black handgun on the front passenger floor. The barrel of the long gun had what appeared to be blood on it. Both were Airsofts (weapons that propel plastic spheres via a discharge of compressed air).

Police got a search warrant for the car and affidavits said gloves — one set with blood on them — a black sweatshirt, two cell phones, and prescription bottles with the victim's name on them were recovered. Police also found some cash but Canfield said he didn't know if it was the same cash as that taken from the victim.

Canfield said the Para Ordnance gun was not recovered and the second man described to police by the victim was not in custody as of 5 p.m. yesterday.

In court yesterday, Sawyer used the severity of the allegations as justification for the $100,000 cash-bail request.

"If convicted, he faces decades in jail," Sawyer said, arguing that alone was enough reason for Dukette to flee the area as well as present a danger to the general community.

In addition to the new charges, Dukette pleaded guilty to second-degree assault for stabbing a man on May 30, 2010.
Records obtained from the Belknap County Superior Court show Dukette pleaded guilty to stabbing a man who had previously dated his girlfriend at the time.

The victim in that case said Dukette pulled a knife on him during a verbal argument at an apartment on Pleasant Street and he tried to stop Dukette from stabbing him by grabbing him in a bear hug. He said Dukette stabbed him twice in the back.

Charged initially with one count each of first-degree and second-degree assault, Dukette pleaded guilty to second-degree assault on November 17, 2010 in exchange for having the state drop the first-degree assault charge.

He was sentenced to 12 months in the Belknap County House of Corrections with all but 60 days suspended.

One of the conditions of his release was that the balance of the sentence could be brought forward for five years after the date of his conviction. He was also ordered to pay $4,605.48 to Lakes Region General Hospital.

Police ask anyone with any information on the North Main Street incident to call 524-5257.

Last Updated on Thursday, 31 October 2013 03:03

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