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Council approves spending $275k on downtown 'gateway'

LACONIA — The City Council last night authorized the expenditure of not more than $275,000, drawn from the Downtown Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Fund for improvements to what has been dubbed "Gateway Plaza" on the north side of the Main Street bridge over the Winnipesaukee River.

The plan consists of adding four elements to the existing space. Planting beds edged with granite curbing, each with two shade trees, would be placed in front of Sawyer's Jewelry to the west and near the entrance to the parking garage to the east. In addition, to the planting bed there would be a brick island with planters and benches on the west side of the foot of Main Street. A green space, ringed with shade trees and lined granite seating, would front the Grace Capital Church, accented by circular brick plaza, 20 feet in diameter, at the corner of Main Street and Beacon Street West. Finally, a brick island with planters and would lie along Beacon Street East overlooking the Winnipesaukee River.

The Main Street Initiative, which had expressed misgivings about an earlier, more extensive and expensive proposal, endorsed the project.

In response to a question from Councilor Henry Lipman (Ward 3), Planning Director Shanna Saunders said that the Downtown TIF Advisory Board would be presenting a more comprehensive proposal for improvements in the near future. She stressed that the plan for the Gateway Plaza must be incorporated into the design for the reconstruction of the Main Street bridge and submitted to the New Hampshire Department of Transportation by next week.

NOTE: City Manager Scott Myers reported that the volume of recyclables collected at the curbside in the two weeks between August 5 and August 16 represented $23.1-percent of the total tonnage of solid waste , compared to 24.8-percent for the prior two-week period. He noted that together with half the 30.85 taken to the remote sites, recyclables topped 30-percent of the total solid waste stream. "We're seeing really strong compliance across all areas of the city," he said, adding that after the first few weeks of the new collection regimen the number of violations has diminished significantly.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 August 2013 03:53

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Tilton man charged with trying to bite Laconia officer attempting to restrain him

LACONIA — A Tilton man spent Sunday night in jail after allegedly trying to bite a police officer who was booking him for driving while intoxicated.

Joseph M. Buckley, Jr., 51, of Dublin Drive is charged with one count of resisting arrest, one count of assault on a police officer and one count of driving while intoxicated.

Police affidavits obtained from the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division said Buckley was stopped by police at 7:19 p.m. after a man called to report an erratic driver on Weirs Boulevard.

Police stopped him by Laconia House of Pizza and said Buckley voluntarily took a field sobriety test. The arresting officer said he swayed when he got out of the car and needed to hold on to it for support.

After Buckley was arrested and taken to the Laconia Police station, he allegedly became irate and refused to fill out an administrative license suspension form. He also refused to answer any questions related to his arrest or identify.

When told he was being transported to the Belknap County House of Corrections, he stood up but allegedly resisted the officer's attempts to handcuff him.

A struggle ensued and after the officer took him to the floor and got the handcuffs on his left hand, he allegedly began to thrash and kick. After numerous warnings the officer deployed pepper spray.

Buckley allegedly yelled, "Did you just spray me, bitch," and grabbed the officer's right forearm and tried to bite her. When he tried to flip her onto her back, a second officer assisted getting his other hand into the handcuffs.

As the two were escorting him to a cruiser he became combative and continued to struggle. Police said he pulled away from them and fell to the floor and hit his lip.

He was seen by an EMT and taken to Lakes Region General Hospital by an for treatment for a cut lip and then taken to jail.

Judge Jim Carroll ordered him held on $3,000 cash bail $10,000 personal recognizance bail. Buckley posted $500 yesterday and is free provided he post the remaining $2,500 by tomorrow at 4 p.m.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 August 2013 03:44

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Loudon woman wins canoe in prep for 'Hands Across the Water' event on Sept. 7

LACONIA — A Loudon woman who won a Guide 147 canoe from Old Town Canoes and Kayaks and Irwin Marine when she registered online for LakeFest says that she and her husband are looking forward to taking part in the ''Hands Across the Water''' event which will be held at Weirs Beach next month.
''We already have a kayak and will be bringing that to the event,'' said Denise Byrne, who showed up Sunday at Irwin Marine along with her husband, Rich, to claim her prize.
Tom O'Brien, president of the New Hampshire Lakes Association, said that organization's plan to have more than 2,000 canoes and kayaks assemble and paddle together on Saturday, September 7 to form the world's largest raft and set a new Guinness World Record.
''We gave away the canoe as a promotion in order to get people to register and show up for LakeFest,'' said O'Brien, who said that he is heartened by the response from lake associations all over the state which are planning to send teams to the gathering.
He said that the canoes and kayaks will be launched from a number of shoreline access points, public and private, roughly between Awka Marina to the west and Pendleton Beach to the east. Once all of the boats are assembled the 3,000 to 4,000 participants will raise their paddles, and then join hands and raft together for at least 30 seconds.
He said the event will break the current world record, set in upstate New York last summer, when 1,925 canoes and kayaks gathered at 4th Lake at Inlet, New York in a ''One Square Mile of Hope'' fundraiser for the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
A blast of the horn from the MS Mount Washington cruise ship will be sounded at 10 a.m. as the signal for the participants to paddle out to a designated area, 1,000 feet by 1,000 feet, just off from Weirs Beach, which will be surrounded by support boats..
''We're working with volunteers from paddling groups and from lakes all over the state,'' said O'Brien, who said that the goal of the event is to raise awareness of the spread of invasive aquatic weeds such as water milfoil, which he said is already costing more than $1 million a year statewide to combat.
Proceeds from the event will benefit the association's efforts to combat invasive species, something that the organization, which administers the statewide Lake Host program, which coordinates the voluntary inspection of boats in lakes all over the state for invasive aquatic species, is very familiar with.
Now in its 12th year, the Lake Host program awards payroll grants to local groups which carry out its educational programs at boat ramps open to the public on lakes, ponds, and rivers throughout New Hampshire.
O'Brien said the rafting event will be followed by an on-land celebration which will be set up at Endicott Park at Weirs Beach and hopefully will draw between 1,000 and 2,000 people.

CAPTION:
A Loudon woman won a Guide 147 canoe from Old Town Canoes and Kayaks and Irwin Marine when she registered online for LakeFest, which will see an attempt made on September 7 at Weirs Beach to set a new Guinness World Record for largest raft of canoes and kayaks. Denise Byrne, second from right, is shown with Bill Irwin of Irwin Marine, left; her husband, Rich, and Tom O'Brien, right, president of New Hampshire Lakes. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Last Updated on Monday, 09 September 2013 09:17

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LRGHealthcare welcomes expansion of Medicaid as important to fulfilling mission to provide superior care for all

LACONIA — Senior executives of LRGHealthcare welcome both the introduction of Medicaid managed care and the expansion of Medicaid enrollment, which they believe offer opportunities to improve the quality and control the cost of care while placing the corporation on a sound financial footing.

Tom Clairmont, president and chief executive officer, said yesterday that the changes in the offing will strengthen the ability of his company to pursue its mission of providing superior medical care to all members of the community. He explained that expanding Medicaid enrollment and establishing insurances exchanges would increase appropriate access to health care by reducing the numbers without insurance.

"It will put people on an equal footing by ensuring their access to primary care physicians," Clairmont said, "not just to the emergency room." He recalled that when Healthlink opened in 1993, it provided access to 3,500 families and reduced visits to the emergency room by half.

This spring LRGHealthcare entered agreements with the three managed care providers that will administer the state's Medicaid program — Boston Medical Center Health Plan, Inc., Centene Corporation and Meridian Health Plan. Henry Lipman, senior vice-president for Financial Strategies and External Relations, described managed care as the essential infrastructure for administering an expanded Medicaid program. "By contracting with all three managed care companies we're offering the maximum choice," he said.

At the same time, LRGHealthcare is one of 13 hospital companies participating in the health care exchange, through which those earning between 139-percent and 400-percent of the federal poverty level can purchase subsidized health insurance from private carriers. Currently Anthem is the only carrier participating in the exchange with three different plans, but Harvard Pilgrim, perhaps along one or more of the managed care companies, will join by 2015.

Lipman estimated that expanding Medicaid to enroll those with incomes of 138-percent of the federal poverty level would add approximately 6,000 patients to the rolls of LRGHealthcare. He anticipated that the corporation would serve another 3,000 or 4,000 who receive insurance through the exchange.

Andy Patterson, senior-vice-president for Provider Relations and Contracting, said that "we're seeing many of these patients already." However, he said that much of this population, rather than undergoing a regimen of continuing care, is seen only when their conditions become acute, requiring costly treatments and interventions. With insurance, Patterson said, these patients will have access to continual care, reducing the need for acute care, costly treatments and repeated visits.

Lipman said that extending access to this population would "bend the cost curve," stressing that utilization of services is a primary driver of rising costs. He noted that to reduce excessive utilization the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has begun penalizing hospitals with high readmission rates and said that LRGHeathcare is among those not to have been penalized. Patterson attributed the success to "embedded care coordinators," nurses who closely monitor the care and progress progress and care of discharged patients to forestall further costly hospital stays. He added that managed care of Medicaid patients would further ensure that services are provided in a coordinated manner.

Expanding and ensuring access, Clairmont emphasized, ensures continuous and preventative care, which enhances the quality of care in the best interest of the patients and reduces the cost of care in the best interest of the hospitals. Lipman pointed out that reducing the cost of serving of the Medicaid population, lessened the pressure to shift costs to those with private health insurance, which raises premiums for employers and individuals in the private market. "Expanding Medicaid is the right thing to do from a public health perspective and an economic perspective," he said.

In 2011, in response to reductions in Medicaid reimbursement rates and a projected operating loss of $4-million, LRGHeathcare closed a dozen primary care offices to some 3,500 Medicaid patients, who were referred to two community health centers and two rural health clinics. Lipman said yesterday that changes in the offing would render the reshuffling of the Medicaid population a thing of the past.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 August 2013 03:28

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