Woman charged with taking bag from fire truck

LACONIA – A local woman is being held on $500 cash bail after allegedly stealing a firefighter's bag from a ladder truck which had been sent to what turned out to be a false alarm at the Laconia Parking Garage at 12:30 a.m. yesterday.

Police said Jasmin Sanchez, also known as Jasmin Braley, 34, whose last known address was 6 Spring St., was stopped by police walking down Main Street wearing polka-dot pajama bottoms, a firefighter's sweatshirt, and hat, and carrying the bag with the firefighter's name on it.

After setting bail Monday, Judge Jim Carroll ordered Belknap County Jail to ask the N.H. State Hospital for a mental health evaluation.

Affidavits obtained from the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division, said police went to the Landmark in on Saturday, after getting a report that a guest (later identified as Sanchez) was screaming at staff and throwing things out her fourth floor window.

Police talked with Sanchez, who allegedly admitted to using heroin. She was taken to the Lakes Region General Hospital for mental health evaluation and drug exposure, according to affidavits.

She was released from the hospital a short time later.

At 12:30 a.m. Monday, police and firefighters responded to an alarm at the Laconia Parking Garage. When they arrived they found human feces under the pulled fire alarm, the affidavit stated.

While dealing with the fire alarm, a firefighter saw a woman, who police identified as Sanchez, throwing trash cans at the ambulance. The firefighters saw Sanchez take a bag off of one of the fire trucks.

Sanchez is charged with one count of receiving stolen property. Police said the case is still under investigation and additional charges could be forthcoming.

Carroll also ordered her not to enter the Landmark Inn.

Home Builders Insititute to hold job training program at Huot Center

LACONIA — The Huot Technical Center at Laconia High School will be the venue for job training and placement program offered by the Home Builders Institute, the vocational affiliate of the National Association of Home Builders.

Elizabeth Fischer, the program manager, said yesterday that she was very excited by the prospect of working with the staff of the Huot Technical Center and Laconia Adult Education to provide the comprehensive program to underemployed and unemployed men and women, especially veterans of the armed forces. She said that classes will be conducted after school hours, during the late afternoon and early evening, and taught by instructors associated with the HBI. The program will run for 10 or 12 weeks.

Funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, the program consists of training in all aspects of general construction and property maintenance, including carpentry, plumbing, masonry, landscaping, painting and electrical work. All graduates receive a pre-apprenticeship certificate to present to prospective employers along with a set of hand tools and protective equipment.

Fischer said that the Home Builders Institute and its forerunner, the Manpower Development and Training Department of the NHAB, have been providing educational and training services to the construction industry in partnership with the Department of Labor since 1947. She said that employers in the construction industry in New Hampshire and elsewhere report a paucity of qualified workers, including entry-level and semi-skilled personnel. The training program, Fischer said, is intended to address the shortage of qualified workers and expand the opportunities for those seeking a career.

Fischer said that registration for the program closes on Dec. 31, and she anticipates classes will begin in the middle of January.

For more information contact Elizabeth Fischer, HBI Program Manager at the New Hampshire Home Builders Association, 119 Airport Road, Concord, NH 03301 or call (603) 296-5272 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Gilford selectmen hope to award police station bid today

GILFORD — Selectmen are scheduled to meet today to work with the two lowest bidders for the Police Department expansion project.

Town Administrator Scott Dunn said he has invited the two lowest bidders to meet with the board at 4 p.m., and for each bidder to rework his or her proposal to meet the $1.213-million budget.

"We want to see what adjustments each contractor will make to get to no more than $1.213-million," Dunn said.

Three companies submitted bids for the long-awaited police station expansion. However, all three bids were greater than the $1.213-million approved by voters last March.

The two lowest bidders are Gary Chicoine Construction of Weare with a bid of $1,365,048 and Turnstone Construction with a bid of $1,476,700.

When announcing today's meeting, Dunn said he was confident that one of the two companies will submit an acceptable bid and the contract can be awarded today.

A part of the project, the town has received a $169,000 federal grant through the Department of Homeland Security for a central command/operations center and an emergency generator. Dunn said the federal grant must be expended by September 2015, so it is imperative the project begin as soon as possible.

After two previous attempts, the expansion project was approved by at least a 60 percent of those voting in the ballot session of annual town meeting. Because the project will be funded through long-term debt, the project needed a super-majority to pass.

Mill's focus on the arts seen by some as reason for financial slide

LACONIA — The troubles besetting the Belknap Mill Society began not long after the departure of longtime executive director Mary Boswell in 2006 and within five years the financial challenges facing the organization appear to have become insurmountable.

Last month Christine Santaniello, who became president of society last spring, announced that it no longer has the financial capacity to own and maintain the mill and was seeking partners in an effort to transfer ownership of the building while ensuring the society would be able to maintain its presence and educational mission.

Filings with the Internal Revenue Service reveal that the society operated more than $59,000 in the red in 2013. Santaniello has indicated that there are sufficient reserves now on hand to support operations for approximately six months. And the society has an outstanding debt of some $40,000 owed to the Belknap Economic Development Council.

Boswell, who is now the executive director of the Historical Society of Frederick County in Maryland, said that when she left the society was on a sound footing, but at the same time acknowledged that nonprofit corporations were facing ever stiffer financial challenges. Reductions in funding by federal and state governments, she said, led to increasing competition increased competition for scarce resources, which required nonprofit corporations to mount more professional and aggressive fundraising campaigns. In particular, she noted that foundations and donors came to expect nonprofit corporations to develop stable revenue streams and, while willing to contribute to capital projects, became reluctant to fund operating expenses.

After Boswell departed the society hired an office manager but not until November, 2007 was Suzanne Lee, a former fashion designer with an art gallery in Meredith, named executive director. However, after eight months she left and John Moriarty, who had served as a trustee since 2004, became acting executive director in June, 2008 and by the end of the year was appointed executive director.

Moriarty, who served until June, 2011, said that he was hesitant to discuss his tenure in detail, but, referring to a report in The Daily Sun on the financial troubles of the society, said "I don't disagree with what I have read in the newspaper." Although that report included a statement by David Stamps, who served as treasurer of the society from 2011 to 2014, that the organization has been operating at a loss for "many, many years," Moriarty said "I don't believe there were operating losses."

While the recession hastened the erosion of the society's financial condition, the society wrestled with redefining its mission, a process that ultimately sowed dissension and bred turnover among the trustees. During her brief spell, Lee envisioned the mill as the hub of visual arts arts community. She told the press that "this building should be the center of the resurgence of culture in Laconia."

Moriarty pursued and broadened this theme. The mill hosted an evening of rock 'n roll with four bands, along with other musical performances, and exhibitions of visual arts. "The mill is reasserting itself as the cultural center of the Lakes Region," he said. At the same time, Moriarty began exploring the synergies to be found in associating the mill with the Colonial Theater, the restoration of which was high on the agenda of city officials.

Some, including former trustees like Paul Morin, whose family owned the mill when it was producing hosiery, questioned this diverse programming, which they believed diluted the essential character of the mill and original mission of the society. as a landmark of the city's industrial heritage. Their misgivings were all the greater as the financial circumstances of society failed to improve but continued to weaken.

In 2011, several former trustees returned to the board in an effort to right the ship. Moriarty stepped down. A dormant membership drive was renewed. A grant writer was engaged. A development plan was prepared and a strategic plan was begun. A new logo was introduced along with a fresh tag line — "where arts and history come alive." An executive director was hired.

But, said Stamps, "it was too little, too late."

Following another reshuffling of the board of trustees, Santaniello became president and quickly convened a finance committee composed of trustees with extensive experience of financing nonprofit corporations. "We are not the problem,," she insisted. "We have taken our responsibilities very seriously."

"We can't put the fingers in the dike," Santaniello said. "Without money, there is no mission. We're not looking for a short-term fix, but a long-term solution."

The City Council has invited the public to contribute to the discussion about the future of the mill when it meets on Monday, December 8, beginning at 7 p.m.
Santaniello said that she will outline the challenges facing the mill and looks forward to hearing the response from the public.