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Petition, signed by 100 residents, asks Gilford to reverse course on Cat Path

GILFORD — About 100 people signed a petition asking Selectmen to reverse their decision to make Cat Path one way and remove the speed bumps. The petition was submitted last night.

Speaking for the petitioners was Missy Perkins, who lives on Cherry Valley Road and said that many other roads in town would benefit more from the speed bumps. Perkins also said she had seen at least one resident of the road going the wrong way.

Accompanying Perkins was Sue Salmon who said they could use one way limits and speed bumps on their roads as well.

Marc Bourgeoise, who lives on Governor's Island, said people there wish their road was private but said he understands that everyone's tax dollars pay for the road so it's not. He said Cat Path is also public and paid for by tax dollars, adding the speed bumps are "extreme." 

"I think the goal is to make it a private street with tax dollars," Perkins said.

Selectmen John O'Brien and Gus Benevides said the board had been talking about Cat Path for two years, that there had been public hearings about the changes, and that they wished Perkins and the others had come to those hearing.

"The board dragged its feet before we did anything," Benevides said, saying he was hoping more people than those who lived on Cat Path would have made their wishes known before the board took action.

He told them the speed going down the hill was a problem and there were a number of accidents on Cat Path.

As to the speed bumps, Benevides said they are temporary and will have to be removed before winter.

Selectman Richard Grenier said he wished he had voted against the speed bumps and in retrospect, doesn't think they were a very good idea.

Selectmen also said that if there were people going the wrong way on Cat Path it would be a police matter.
Town Administrator Scott Dunn accepted the petition.

In other business, selectmen agreed to close the portion of Belknap Mountain Road from the entrance to the town fields to the corner of Alva Wilson Road for Halloween.

In response to a speed complaint from a resident of lower Belknap Mountain Road, selectmen asked the police chief to evaluate the speeds in the area especially between 7 and 8:30 a.m.

Chief Anthony Bean Burpee said he has a growing list of places for which residents want speed and traffic studies but he agreed that the area in and around Gilford Village along Belknap Mountain Road  is a priority because of all the school children.

Last Updated on Thursday, 09 October 2014 01:13

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State to pay for 2nd psychiatric exam of accused axe murderer

LACONIA — A psychiatrist working for the N.H. Office of Forensics Examiners has determined the former Belmont man who allegedly hacked his mother and brother to death with an ax is competent to stand trial.

Even though Dr. Daniel Comiskey determined Shawn Carter is capable of standing trial and assisting in his own defense, his attorney have requested a second evaluation, which was granted without state objection by Belknap County Superior Court Judge James O'Neill III.

Public Defender Robin Wight wrote that once Comiskey's report was submitted, she and her co-counsel met with Carter and came away with "significant concerns."

Carter's attorneys have obtained the services of Dr. Phillip Kinsler and estimate his services will cost about $5,000, however because he has no money to pay for the second evaluation, Wight and Atty. Eric Wolpin also motioned for the state to pay for Kinsler.

O'Neill approved the expense.

Carter is accused of using an ax to chop his mother and his brother to death in the Sunset Avenue home the three shared along Lake Winnisquam in May of 2013.

Their bodies were discovered by a Belmont Patrol Officer who responded to the home for a well-being check after one of Priscilla Carter's coworkers became concerned when she didn't come to work or answer her phone.

Carter was arrested by Belmont and Tilton Police about four hours after the bodies were found, while driving his mother's car along Rte. 3 in nearby Tilton.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 October 2014 12:56

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Bike Week promoters trying to recover from flow of red ink

LACONIA — Beset with financial problems, the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association has expanded its board of directors, who are seeking to restore the organization to financial solvency and place its operations on a sound footing.

The LMWA was established in 1991 as the Laconia Motorcycle Rally and Race Association at the initiative of then Mayor Paul Fitzgerald and its longtime executive director Charlie St. Clair, with the primary purpose of promoting the oldest motorcycle rally in the United States. The association publishes and distributes the Rally News magazine, solicits corporate sponsors and rally patrons, administers an annual grant from the New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism Development and sells concessions at the event.

The current membership of the board consists of the City of Laconia, Town of Meredith, New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NHMS), Weirs Action Committee (WAC), Laconia Harley-Davidson and three businesses at The Weirs — the Weirs Beach Lobster Pound, Half Moon Enterprises and NASWA Resort.

The board became aware of the financial troubles of the association earlier this year and, according to documents obtained by The Daily Sun, the board was still seeking to calculate their extent when it met in August. Tommy Blanchette of NHMS and a member of the financial sub-committee, reported that "the first priority is to determine the actual balances of accounts, payables, receivables, and long-term debt of the Association."

A balance sheet as of June 9, 2014 listed total liabilities of $214,490.96, of which a note payable to Charlie St. Clair represented $124,859.30. Charges against 13 credit cards accounted for another $46,453.71 and an outstanding balance on a loan from Bank of New Hampshire for another $30,000. However, in August Blanchette told the board that the debt to St. Clair was more than $178,000 while the credit card debt, carried at high interest rates, was $60,000.

After the association's financial issues came to the fore, the membership of the board was expanded. An attorney, Matt Lahey of Laconia, an accountant, Paul Simoneau of Gilford and a marketer, Amy Landers of the Lakes Region Tourism Association were added to the board. Cynthia Makris of the NASWA Resort serves as president of the association.

At the same time, the board agreed to raise the annual membership dues paid by municipalities and businesses, but not the additional three individuals, from $2,000 to $5,000. In June, the Laconia City Council included the increase the 2014-2015 municipal budget and this week Meredith Town Manager Phil Warren advised the Board of Selectmen of the pending rise in dues.

But, when the LMWA met in August Joe Driscoll of the WAC reported that his organization voted not to pay $5,000 but only $3,000. According to the minutes, Makris said that she "believes it is important for each member to be sharing the cost of dues equally." Blachette suggested that it was premature to introduce an increase in dues until the financial statements have been revised and the 2015 budget prepared.

At the same meeting, Blanchette said that retiring the debt to St. Clair should be a priority and that Landers would approach the Belknap Economic Development Council about borrowing at a rate below that charged by the credit cards to lighten the total debt. He also stressed the development of "accounting policies and procedures" as a priority.

The 2014 budget of the association was $432,764. Corporate sponsorships at $211,000 and advertising sales of $100,000 accounted for three-quarters of projected revenues, supplemented by a grant from the state of $30,064, sales during the rally of $35,000, membership dues of $22,000 and donations from Rally Patrons of $16,000. Payroll, salaries, benefits and related expense, of $132,500 from the state, was the largest single expense followed by $60,000 in print advertising, $45,000 in travel, $29,264 in producing the Rally News, and $22,200 in rent.

Blanchette suggested that the 2015 budget should include lowering expenses, retiring debt and collecting receivables. The minutes read "if a budget cannot be created,Tommy stated, then bankruptcy must be visited as a last-resort effort."

This is not the first time the association has run afoul of financial issues. In 2003, when it was called the Laconia Motorcycle Rally and Race Association, three members — the city of Laconia, Greater Laconia/Weirs Beach Chamber of Commerce and Gunstock Recreation Area — resigned their memberships over misgivings about the quality of financial reporting. A year later, after being assured that its concerns had been appropriately addressed, the City Council resolved to rejoin the organization. Neither the Chamber of Commerce nor Gunstock Recreation Area followed the city's lead.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 October 2014 01:58

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Lakes Region Public Access to pull the plug?

LACONIA — "Rather than crash this thing I'm going to try to land it," Denise Beauchaine, station manager of Lakes Region Public Access television, said yesterday after the bookkeeper called to advise her that only enough funds remained to meet one or two payrolls.

Beauchaine said that the station could go dark as early as next week and surely by the week after without an unforeseen — and unlikely — source of funding. She said that even if funds are exhausted she intends to air the Laconia High School football game on Friday and the Putnam Fund performance on Saturday as well as the religious programming over the weekend, whether or not there are funds to pay her.

Beauchaine said that the board of directors of LRPA, chaired by Chan Eddy of Gilford, were seeking to convene an emergency meeting, but had not scheduled a meeting by press time. The station employs four people in addition to Beauchaine, one full-time, one part-time and two contractors., and has an annual operating budget of about $130,000.

Beauchaine explained that LRPA has been drawing from its reserves to sustain operations. since July 1 when member municipalities entered a new ten-year contract with MetroCast Cablevision. Under the new contract each municipality will operate educational and governmental channels (24 and 26), which broadcast only to the municipality where the programming originates, while LRPA would provide public access on channel 25 airing programs from individuals and organizations from the member municipalities. However, the municipalities, which had contributed to funding the operation of LRPA, withdrew their support. and, at the same time, Metrocast withheld its annual $30,000 grant to LRPA, leaving the station without a revenue stream.

As early as February the board of directors of the LRPA anticipated that its funding would be eroded when the new contract was signed and began drafting a new business plan, with the goal of generating $300,000 in income the first year. Sponsorships from between 50 and 100 businesses at between $1,000 and $2,000 a year were projected to provide much of the revenue with fees for service accounting for the balance. However, money ran short before the plan was pursued.

The closure of LRPA will cloud the future of telecasting the WLNH Children's Auction. Laconia City Manager Scott Myers said that the city will be compelled to seek alternative means of telecasting city council meetings, either on the city's website or through an arrangement negotiated with MetroCast. "It's not going to be a quick overnight fix," he said.

Ironically, while preparing the 2014-2015 muncipal budget the City Council trimmed the recommended appropriation for LRPA from $39,500 to $29,500 in order to reduce the increase in the property tax rate. Councilor Bob Hamel (Ward 5), who represents the city on the board of directors of LRPA, agreed to the cut, explaining that the station had embarked on a new business plan.

Last Updated on Thursday, 09 October 2014 12:54

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