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Jail Planning Committee struggling to secure place on convention's agenda

LACONIA — The Belknap County Jail Planing Committee has been allotted 15 to 20 minutes of time during the public input session of a Belknap County Convention meeting scheduled for May 27 at 5 p.m. for a discussion of the county jail, according to Convention Chair Colette Worsman (R-Meredith).
But the committee requested earlier this week that it be placed on the agenda so that it could discuss the urgent needs of the jail with the convention and has renewed its request that it be placed on the agenda, noting that it is not asking to add to public input but is asking for the delegation's input and decision.
The jail committee met Tuesday night and despite reluctance expressed by its chairman County Commissioner Ed Philpot (D-Laconia) about committee members attending the May 27 meeting reached a consensus that it should bring its plan for a $2.96 million supplemental appropriation to the convention and have County Corrections Superintendent Daniel Ward make the presentation.
The committee wants $360,000 so that it can begin work on a schematic design plan for a new jail, $1 million for replacing the HVAC system at the current jail and $1.6 million for a three-year contract for installation of a 48-bed temporary housing unit at the jail.
Worsman said that she is allotting one hour of the meeting for public input and that the goal of the meeting is to have the delegation talk about the jail with its constituents. ''This will provide an opportunity for the public to speak to the delegates about what they want,'' said Worsman.
She said that county officials, including Ward, had not been invited to the convention meeting to give any presentations but would be welcome to speak during the public input session.
County Administrator Debra Shackett e-mailed Worsman on Wednesday asking that the committee be placed on the agenda ''to explain our next steps and discuss the possibility of borrowing money to address the most urgent needs at the jail as well as continuing to plan for a new facility. We would also be available to answer any questions about the process to date.''
Worsman replied ''Yes, as always everyone is welcome to attend our meetings. If the Jail Planning committee would like to add their input that would be great. I will be placing 1 hour for public input on the agenda beginning with the Planning Committee. Please be sure it is limited to 15-20 minutes as I am certain most of us are well aware of their efforts to date. I also want to ensure there is time for other public input. Secondly this meeting is not scheduled for additional appropriation so that is not part of this meeting.''
Shackett replied that the committee preferred to be placed on the agenda before the public input session. ''Will you please add The Jail Planning Committee to your agenda, as a separate item, and prior to "public input"? It should answer a lot of questions for the public and will be very much appreciated.''
She also asked if Worsman preferred a different approach of scheduling a separate meeting to consider the Jail Planning Committee's recommendation for improvements to the jail. She said it would involve a bond issue and not necessarily any additional appropriation for 2014.
Philpot told his fellow commissioners at last week's commission meeting that he felt that inn the wake of the convention's rejection by a 9-7 vote of a collective bargaining agreement for employees of the Belknap County Nursing Home that he felt that bringing any request for a supplemental appropriation before the convention would be an exercise in futility.
The Jail Planning Committee meets again on May 20 at 6 p.m. at the Belknap County Complex and will consider its response to being limited to only speaking at the public input session.
The committee has been looking at ways to bring the cost of a new facility to below $30 million for a proposed 94,000-square-foot, 180-bed community corrections facility, which carried a conceptual design estimate cost of $42.6 million.
The current facility has a capacity of 110 inmates in what was designed as an 87 inmate facility.

Last Updated on Saturday, 10 May 2014 01:10

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Only 4 Belknap County reps supported reconsideration of 2 casinos legislation

CONCORD — When the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted 192 to 172 this week not to reconsider its earlier vote to scuttle a bill to introduce casino gambling, 14 of the 18 members from Belknap County stood with the majority.

Only Reps. Lisa DiMartino of Gilford, Ruth Gulick of New Hampton and David Huot of Laconia — all Democrats — and Republican Dennis Fields of Sanbornton, voted to resuscitate Senate Bill 366. The same four representatives were the lone members of the county delegation to vote in favor of the bill the week before when it failed by the single tie-breaking vote of the Speaker Pro-Tem.

The other 12 Republicans — Richard Burchell of Gilmanton, Guy Comtois of Barnstead, Jane Cormier and Stephen Holmes of Alton, Charles Fink and Michael Sylvia of Belmont, Don Flanders, Bob Luther and Frank Tilton of Laconia, and Bob Greemore, Herb Vadney and Colette Worsman of Meredith — and two remaining Democrats — Democrats Beth Arsenault of Laconia and Ian Raymond of Sanbornton — voted not to reconsider.

Last Updated on Saturday, 10 May 2014 01:04

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Lawmaker split on economic development fund

CONCORD — The 18 members of the Belknap County Convention in the New Hampshire House of Representatives split evenly over a bill to establish an economic development fund at the N.H. Department of Resources and Economic Development, which carried the Senate on a voice vote and the House by a two-to-one margin.

Senate Bill 241 authorizes the Division of Economic Development, led by Carmen Lorentz, former executive director of the Belknap Economic Development Council, to accept grants and contributions from both private parties and public institutions to fund its mission of fostering economic growth. The bill was introduced in response to suggestions from members of the business community. There is no expectation of seeking appropriations from the general fund.

All five Democrats — Beth Arsenault and David Huot of Laconia, Lisa DiMarinto of Gilford, Ruth Gulick of New Hampton and Ian Raymond of Sanbornton — and four Republicans — Richard Burchell of Gilmanton, Dennis Fields of Sanbornton and Don Flanders and Frank Tilton of Laconia — voted with the majority in favor of the bill.

Nine of the 13 Republicans — Guy Comtois of Barnstead, Jane Cormier and Stephen Holmes of Alton, Charles Fink and Michael Sylvia of Belmont, Bob Greeemore, Herb Vadney and Colette Worsman of Meredith and Bob Luther of Laconia — voted with the minority against the bill.

Last Updated on Saturday, 10 May 2014 01:00

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Case & Keg Celebrating Grand Reopening after Expansion, Renovation

LACONIA — Ricky Patel, who along with his wife, Patty, have owned and operated the Case & Keg for nearly five years, will celebrate the grand reopening of their Union Avenue convenience store with a ribbon-cutting ceremony with representatives from the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce and local officials Friday morning.
''We spent eight months on the project but never closed the store at all and worked right through it,'' said Patel. ''It was a big investment but we said we want to do it once and do it right.''
The store has doubled it's display space and now offers more than 500 craft beers, an expanded wine selection as well as eight cases of fine cigars, a ''Beer Cave'' with a large supply of 30-packs and keg beer, convenience store staples from milk and bread to a wide variety of foods.
Patel says the beer selection is the largest in the Lakes Region and is probably second statewide to that of a Nashua store.
During the open house, which will last into the afternoon, there will be wine and beer tasting, food and snacks as well as discounts on all craft beer, cigars and wine.
''We want to show our appreciation to our loyal customers. They've helped make our business a success,'' says Patel.
He and his wife moved here five years ago from Warner-Robins, Georgia, where Patel's family ran a convenience store, in which he worked from the age of 15.
He said that he moved to the Lakes Region after finding out that the Case & Keg, which had been owned by Jeff Morin, was for sale and saw it as a good business opportunity for he and his wife, whom he had just married.
They took over the store on June 17, 2009 and two years later bought the Laconia Spa, where he has also invested in improvements to that downtown Laconia landmark.
''We had a store front next door which we leased as a deli and then as a restaurant. But both businesses closed so we decided to use the space ourselves,'' says Patty. The hard-working couple have two daughters Jiya, who is 4, and Mahi, 2 and try to take the weekends off so that they can enjoy time with them.
''We've been working 10 hours a day recently. It's been pretty hectic but our customers tell us how much they like the changes and that makes it all worth it,'' says Patty.


CAPTION: pix slugged Case & Keg
Patty and Ricky Patel with their four-year-old daughter, Jiya, in the recently expanded Case & Keg convenience store which celebrates a grand-reopening Friday. The couple, who moved to Laconia from Georgia five years ago, also own the Laconia Spa. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)

Last Updated on Friday, 09 May 2014 03:36

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