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Billings urges Inter-Lakes board to put money away for capital improvements

MEREDITH — The Inter-Lakes School Board is being urged to commit itself to recommend putting money every year into a capital reserve fund to help soften the impact large-ticket expenditures can have on the district's budget and taxes paid by district residents.
Board member Mark Billings advised such a course of action during Tuesday evening's School Board meeting.
Billings, of Meredith, noted that the district is facing three capital improvement projects which are especially costly. One is a four-year phased replacement of the roof of Inter-Lakes Elementary School, which has a price tag estimated at $600,000. The second is repaving of a road used by school buses at the elementary school, as well as repairs and resealing of high school parking lot, at an expected cost of $145,000. The third is a proposal to spend $120,000 to replace the seats in the Inter-Lakes Community Auditorium at the high school.
Billings said that the district is putting more effort into planning further ahead for capital projects. He said district administrators are currently working on a 10-year capital improvement plan.
He said that putting $75,000 a year into a capital reserve account would help to prevent budget spikes that could otherwise occur due to big-ticket capital projects. Placing money in a capital reserve account requires approval of voters at the annual School District Meeting.
"Our first commitment is to our people," Billings noted. "But we have $20 million worth of facilities and the more we focus on maintaining and preserving our facilities we will save money in the long term."
NOTES: The board gave initial approval to district policies dealing with summer activities, safe-school measures, and advance placement courses. While there were little discussion on any of the policies, board member Carol Baggaley raised concern with a provision of the advance course policy that would allow a student to take an advance placement course regardless of that student's grades in the subject and whether the student satisfied the prerequisites for the course. Superintendent Mary Ellen Ormond said while teachers and school counselors have an important role in advising students what courses they should take, that if a student's parents wanted their child in a certain course then the school should defer to the parents' wishes. But Baggaley felt that was unfair to high-achieving students in advance placement courses. Ormond noted that Tuesday's vote was on a first reading of the policy and that the policy could be amended before being presented to the board for a second reading. The board must approve a policy twice before it is adopted. . . . . . The board voted to accept $3,300 in donations to support the Inter-Lakes Middle Tier and High School Theater Companies. The donations came from Meredith Village Savings Bank, Meredith Dental, Dr. Edward DeTolla, and the Inter-Lakes PTO. The board also voted to accept a $1,167 donations from the New Hampshire Electric Co-op Foundation to help pay for sixth graders at Sandwich Central School to visit four power plants in the state.

Last Updated on Thursday, 14 November 2013 01:48

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3 cars involved in crash at Union Ave. & High Street

LACONIA — Six people including two children were taken to Lakes Region General Hospital last night after a three-car collision at the intersection of High Street and Union Avenue around 6 p.m.

Fire Lt. Jay Ellingson said none of the injuries were life-threatening. One adult refused transport.

Police closed Union Avenue and rerouted traffic around the area.

Police Capt. Matt Canfield said it initially appears that a car coming down High Street tried to make a left onto Union Avenue and collided with a car headed east on Union Ave. The crash sent one of the cars into a minivan that was headed west on Union Avenue.

Taking a left turn from High Street is difficult because there is not much visibility beyond the downward slope on the western portion of Union Avenue. Also, when a car comes up Union Avenue headed east, it's hard to know what lies beyond the crest of the hill.

Ellingson said all three of Laconia's ambulances and one from Gilford were needed to transport the victims. He said Stewart's Ambulance covered Laconia during the transport.

Canfield said the accident is under investigation.

 

CUTLINE: Two of the three cars involved in a crash that sent six people to the hospital sit on Union Avenue last night. All of the cars were towed. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Gail Ober)

Last Updated on Thursday, 14 November 2013 01:45

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Tamworth man charged with armed robbery of $396 from Lakeport market

LACONIA — A Tamworth man accused of an armed robbery at a Lakeport convenience store has been held on $50,000 cash bail after appearing in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division yesterday.

Affidavits obtained from court yesterday said Joseph W. Desbien, 41, of Union Hall Road #1 was initially arrested Tuesday at 8:20 p.m. in an apartment on Union Avenue because he was wanted on an open warrant for possession of heroin.

Police said they learned Desbien was at the apartment and during his subsequent interrogation admitted he robbed the store.

Complaints said Desbien entered the P&P Market at 3:57 p.m. on Sunday and threatened the clerk with a knife. He allegedly robbed her of $396.62 from the cash drawer and is charged with one count of armed robbery.

A probable cause hearing is scheduled for both cases for later this month.

Last Updated on Thursday, 14 November 2013 01:41

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Change of use from church to pub gains approval from planning board

LACONIA — A plan to convert the former Evangelical Baptist Church at Veterans Square into a pub and restaurant took a step forward Tuesday night when the Planning Board granted conditional approval of a request from David and Maureen Kennedy of Hampton for a change of use of the building from a place of worship to an eating and drinking establishment.
Kennedy, who is close to finalizing the purchase of the building, is working on plans which will see a dining room established on the upper level of the building and a cafe which will serve as a hub for small ''faux shops'' selling baked goods and Irish-themed articles on the lower level.
The restaurant will be the Kennedy's second, both housed in churches. The Holy Grail Restaurant and Pub in what what was St. Joseph's Church on Main Street in Epping has twice been chosen as the state's finest Irish pub by New Hampshire Magazine.
He plans to add a second story to a triangular addition at the rear of the church building for the kitchen, offices, utilities and storage.
Because the building occupies the entire lot, he is faced with reaching agreement with abutting property owners on access issues such as a walkway from the city parking lot at the rear of the property and perhaps a shared dumpster.
Members of the Planning Board were sympathetic to the problems faced by Kennedy, who told the board that he has not yet reached any formalized agreement with his neighbors and that the site plan he is developing will be influenced by the agreements he reaches.
At least two abutters, the Laconia Congregational Church and Kevin Campbell, said they were willing to work with him.
Linda Tunnicliffe and John Walker of the church said that the church is constructing a brick walkway as part of its Community Way Project which will link the church and its parish house with a second floor covered elevator and bridge. The parish house is located next to the former Evangelical Baptist Church and extending the walkway in that direction is seen as a way of helping provide access to the new restaurant from the municipal parking lot used by the Downtown Farmers Market on Thursday nights.
''It would be the right solution for everyone,'' said Tunicliffe as she showed drawings of what the completed project will look like and said that the new restaurant would be ''a beautiful addition to downtown.''
Kennedy said that he was trying to work out an agreement with other restaurants in the area which might involve a shared dumpster.
He has also agreed to pay half of the cost, $35,000, of bringing a new 10-inch water line to the lot which will allow him to install a sprinkler system in the building and the City Council recently agreed to pay half of the cost, up to $35,000 using funds from the Downtown TIFF District account, for the water line.
The planning board has also agreed to waive the development impact fee of $6,900 for the restaurant due to the capital outlay it is making for the water line project.
Keith Hall of Kramer and Hall Goldsmiths, which is located across the square at the Laconia Railroad Station, said that he is concerned that the private parking spaces next to his business will end up being used by customers of the new restaurant and hoped that signs will be put up to indicate that they are not public parking spaces. He also said that he believes a rear entryway into the new restaurant would be desirable.
Planning Board Chairman Warren Hutchins said that the completed site plan will have a number of conditions to deal with, including parking and walking improvements, as well as lighting and compatibility of the architecture of the second floor addition with existing architecture in the downtown area and a possible entryway at the rear of the building.
John Moriarty of the Main Street Initiative reminded Planning Board members that the 34-lot municipal parking lot which will be used for parking and the dumpsters was created by a special assessment on downtown businesses in 1985 and that it should be borne in mind that it was intended to serve all of the surrounding businesses.
With that said, Moriarty said to Kennedy ''we really welcome you to the city and want this project to be successful.''
City Planning Director Shanna Saunders said that "the project has been fast tracked by the city and that Kennedy hopes to have the business up and running by next summer.

Last Updated on Thursday, 14 November 2013 04:32

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