First snow of the winter hits Lakes Region, Gunstock opens

LACONIA — The first storm of the winter brought a mixture of snow and sleet to the Lakes Region and created hazardous driving conditions but resulted in no major accidents through late afternoon on Tuesday according to local officials.
It also allowed Gunstock Mountain Resort to open five lower mountain trails and to go full bore on snowmaking operations further up the mountain.
"We'll have the Pistol chairlift open today and we're making snow on Gunsmoke trail of the top of he mountain so we can open it on Thursday," said General Manager Gregg Goddard. The area had opened briefly earlier this month but was closed over Christmas due to record high December temperatures which prevented snowmaking.
He said that Gunstock had received about 6 inches of snow by Tuesday afternoon with as much as eight inches at higher elevations.
"With all of the natural snow and what we're able to make we're looking at going into the weekend with lots of trails open," said Goddard.
Opening for the first time this winter is Bolduc Park on the Laconia-Gilford town line which will have its cross-country trails open for vacationing students at 11 a.m. today.
Laconia police reported only one minor skidding accident through mid-afternoon on Tuesday and traced that to cautious driving by motorists.
Laconia Public Works Director Paul Moynihan said that the city received 4 to 5 inches of snow and that crews started applying salt shortly after 1:15 a.m. when they received a call from police alerting them to the need for the roads to be treated.
"We had four salt trucks on the road within a half four. It takes them about four hours to cover all 85 miles of roads in the city. They switched over to plowing at 5 a.m. in the morning and have been at it ever since," said Moynihan late yesterday afternoon.
He said that forecasts called for the snow to end by around 7 p.m. last night.

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Naloxone kits, information to be available at event on Jan. 11

LACONIA — For friends and family members of someone with an opioid addiction, fear of losing that person to an overdose is something they live with every day. There is hope for recovery, though. An event is planned for Monday, Jan. 11, to provide information about treatment and recovery, and to make available Naloxone kits, also known as Narcan, which can save the live of someone in the midst of an overdose.

"We think this is an opportunity to to not only give out the kits, but there are resources available to get help," said Lisa Leary, director of substance use disorder systems integration at the Lakes Region Partnership for Public Health.

The LRPPH, one of several agencies partnering with the state's Department of Health and Human Services, is hosting the Jan. 11 event, which will be held at the Beane Conference Center in Laconia, from noon to 1:30 p.m.

The Partnership for Public Health will also be hosting a similar event at the Bessie Rowell Community Center in Franklin, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 11.

"We hope that anyone at risk of overdose or knows someone at risk of overdose will come," said Leary.

At the event, organizers will have 100 Naloxone kits available, each of which will contain two doses as well as the equipment to nasally administer the life-saving drug. Paramedics will be on hand to provide training for administering the drug. Also at the event will be representatives of groups and agencies, such as peer support groups, health care and health insurance professionals, Stand Up Laconia, recovery counselors and people who are in recovery.

She cautions that Naloxone alone is not enough to save someone from an overdose. The drug is only effective for minutes, and it's possible for the overdose to recur after the Naloxone has worn off. That's why and important part of the training is to call 9-1-1 first, then administer the Naloxone while paramedics are on the way.

Leary acknowledges that there are some who think the availability of a drug like Naloxone, which can reverse the effects of an otherwise-fatal overdose, might encourage users of heroin, since it mitigates the risk of death. But, she thinks that's a common misperception.

"I don't believe people who are addicted to heroin are going to change their behavior based on the availability of Naloxone," she said.

"I would ask, what if it was your son, or your granddaughter, would you not want to have the drug available? This is a chronic disease. Think of someone who has heart disease. Would you not give someone CPR because they didn't follow their diet?" She knows of many people who were administered Naloxone several times before they sought treatment, and have since been in recovery for many years.

For more information on resources for recovery from opiod misuse, visit anyoneanytimenh.org.

Naloxone kits are now also available through Rite Aid pharmacies. A representative of the Rite Aid in Laconia said that kits can be had without a prescription and that most health care plans cover the cost of the drug, though there may be a $7.75 charge for the atomizer, which allows the drug to be administered nasally.

 

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Laconia Housing Authority adopts first-ever strategic plan

LACONIA — Faced with new challenges due to changes in traditional funding sources, the Laconia Housing Authority recently adopted its first-ever strategic plan.
Richard Weaver, executive director of the authority, said the three-year plan has three major goals;
1. Achieving and sustaining financial stability in the face of a changing funding environment;
2. Raising the profile of the authority in the community and communicating more effectively with tenants, government officials and business leaders;
3. Facing and embracing change organizationally and technologically.
“It is essential that Laconia Housing Authority become more strategic about identifying and achieving goals that support its mission,” said Weaver.
He said the plan was created through a deliberative process over several months involving the Laconia Housing Authority Board of Commissioners, staff, and stakeholders from around the region involved in both the public and private sectors.
The completed plan was adopted by the commissioners in October and calls for the agency to reduce its own operational expenses by 2 percent annually for the next three years as well as increasing program revenues by 10 percent by the end of 2018.
It also calls for assuming property management responsibilities at Normandin Square Apartments and Scott and Williams Condominium Association by July 1, 2016. There are 60 units in the building which is currently managed by Stewart Property Management .
Other properties managed by the Laconia Housing Authority include Sunrise Towers, 98 apartments; the Tavern Inn/Stafford House, 50 apartments; Northfield Village, 36 apartments; Perley Pond Townhouses, 35 apartments and Orchard Hill II in Belmont, 32 apartments.
The authority also manages other properties with a total 407 units, making it responsible for 718 apartment units.
“We’re the only public housing authority in the area, with Concord and Rochester the nearest to us,” said Weaver, explaining why projects in Northfield and Belmont are now managed by Laconia.
It is also looking at expanding property management services to projects not owned by the Laconia Housing Authority as well as determining the financial impact of loan refinancing on existing properties and the financial impact of disposing of properties it currently owns.
The plan also calls for exploring the feasibility of a staff or contract grant writer/public relations advisor to seek out and apply for grants and donations on a regular basis. Deadline for completion of this goal is Oct. 1, 2016. It is also looking at becoming a member of the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce.
“It’s very important that we become recognized as a contributing member in the housing services and community development efforts in the region by civic and industry leaders and the general public,” said Weaver.
The Laconia Housing Authority is applying for $500,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds for energy improvements to the Scott & Williams building at 22 Strafford St.
The money would be used to implement the recommendations of a energy audit which found that the four-story building uses more energy than any other building of its type and size in New Hampshire. Improvements are needed to the central heating system, fresh air ventilation and insulation in the basement crawl space. The largest item will be to install a combined heat and electric power system so that the building can generate its own electricity.
“Many of these retrofits were proposed when the building was originally remodeled about 10 years ago, but there wasn’t enough money to complete them. It’s a large building with high ceilings and many windows and can be much more energy efficient with this retrofit,” said Weaver.

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