Small elevator control room fire empties high rise

LACONIA — Firefighters from three communities responded yesterday at 10 a.m. to a report of a fire in the elevator shaft at Sunrise Towers at 25 Union Avenue. The call indicated there was smoke coming from an exhaust fan.

Asst. Fire Chief Kirk Beattie said first responders found a small fire in the control room for the elevators, put it out with a fire extinguisher and vented the area. He said it appeared to be some oil that had burned in a drip pan.

He said both elevators were shut down and the Laconia Housing Authority was working with an elevator company to get them operating as soon as possible.

Chief Ken Erickson said Sunrise Towers is a high risk property that is seven stories high and when a fire is reported crews from Belmont and Gilford automatically respond to a general fire alarm. They were released from the scene within minutes of arriving.

Erickson said most of the residents self-evacuated when the general alarm sounded and damage was estimated to be about $10,000.

Laconia Police produce short film about suicide prevention

LACONIA — Lt. Rich Simmons presented a short movie about suicide prevention to the Police Commission yesterday, made by a team of police and local mental health agencies working with the Huot Technical Center at Laconia High School.

Simmons involvement in the project came when he and a team of officers, civilians, detectives and dispatchers created a police-oriented project and presented it to local mental health agencies to illustrate the role of the police in suicide prevention and how the department could help get the word out about local agencies that could help suicidal people.

He and a few members of the original team — Lt. Allan Graton, Master Patrol Officer Ben Black, K-9 Officer Michael Armstrong, Dispatcher Marnell DiLorenzo, Patrol Officer Rick Bassett and Chaplin Mark Drouin — joined forces with the media arts program at the Huot Center, Dave Bouchard of Genesis Behavorial Health, Tammy Levesque former of the Lakes Regional Partnership for Public Health, and Deb Baird and Elaine Demello from the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

The short film highlights things each agency can do for someone who is suicidal or a close friend or family member who has a loved one who is suicidal. It can be viewed on the Laconia Police Department YouTube page via a link on the Laconia Police Department Website.

It includes phone numbers of agencies that can help and explains how the police can direct someone to immediate assistance. The department is also able to take weapons from people who are having problems for temporary storage until the crisis has passed.

In other business, the Police Commission voted unanimously yesterday to give Chief Chris Adams and Capt. William Clary each a three-percent raise.

Adams has been chief for four years and an employee of the department for 21 years. Clary has been captain for eight years and an employee of the department for 26 years.

"This is a good thing," said Police Commission Chair Warren Clement, who added that the city of Laconia is lucky to have two outstanding and dedicated employees like Adams and Clary.

Clement also noted that Clary hadn't had a raise in about six years.

Beginning the 2016 fiscal year or July 1, 2015 Adams will earn $107,863 however is raise is retroactive to June 1 of this year. Clary will be earning $93,892.

Downtown biz owner seeks restoration of Business Rte. 3 signs along Union & Court

LACONIA — The City Council has referred the proposal presented by downtown business owner Charlie St. Clair to erect signage designating Court Street and Union Avenue, from one end of the city to the other, as Business Route 3 to the Department of Public Works (DPW).

St. Clair noted that the corridor is designated as "Business 3" on Google maps.

Since the 1990s St. Clair has sought to add the signage along the stretch of roadway through the city, which prior to the construction of U.S. Route 3 and NH Route 11 Bypass was designated at Route 3 but since has been designated as NH Route 11A and NH Route 107. He contends that visitors unfamiliar with the area would be more likely to travel into the city knowing that they would ultimately be routed back to U.S. Route 3. Motorists are directed to business route in other parts of the country and the state, he said, particularly where bypasses circumventing downtowns have been constructed.

Authority over signage within the so-called "urban compact zone," the area where the city maintains, manages and polices state highways, rests with the city. However, the New Hampshire Department of Transportation (DOT) has jurisdiction at the beginning of the bypass on Route 3 in Belmont and at the junction of Route 3 and Route 107.

In the past St. Clair appealed to city officials, who have consulted with the DOT. In March, 2007 when city and state officials discussed the issue, representatives of the DOT explained that the agency's policy is to minimize the number of designations for a single roadway, but indicated they would consider signage directing motorists to Route 3.

Now St. Clair has urged city officials to circumvent the DOT by confining the signage within the urban compact zone. He has suggested erecting 19 signs at seven locations along the corridor defined by Court Street and Union Avenue between the Belmont town line near the entrance to the bypass to the east and McInyre Circle, where Union Avenue, Lake Street and Lakeshore Road intersect at the Gilford town line, to the north. Signs would be erected at the east end of Court Street, the Court Street Main Street intersection, the intersections of Union Avenue with Church Street, Gilford Avenue, Messer Street and Elm Street and at McIntyre Circle.

The council has asked the DPW to report on the cost of making or buying the signs as well as erecting them. Councilor Brenda Baer (Ward 4) suggested that the cost of the signage could be met by the Downtown and Lakeport Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funds.