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Budget Committee endorses Gilford Fire Department plan as proposed

GILFORD — In a nearly 180-degree turnaround from last year's discussions, the Budget Committee last week endorsed without much comment the recommended Fire Department budget for 2014 of $1,682,083.

The total proposed budget is $21,491 or 1.3 percent higher than last year, most of which is reflected by a 3-percent raise for staff and the replacement of some protective clothing for firefighters that Chief Steve Carrier said is replaced every seven years.

The operations portion of the proposed 2014 budget is down about 3.3 percent or $6,300. Carrier said he had reconfigured his call roster to try and keep overtime down. Overtime represents about 16 percent of the wage line.

Carrier said he didn't anticipate any major equipment purchases except the purchase of a new ambulance that is part of the town's overall Capital Improvement Program budget and will appear as a separate warrant article. The ambulance is expected to cost $205,000 — all of which will come from the ambulance revenue account except $59,000 that is in an old capital reserve ambulance account.

He is also asking for a "rehab" of Engine 2. Carrier said he wanted to stay away from the work "refurbishment" because the "rehab" is not a complete overhaul but is painting the truck, adding an updated light bar, and possibly replacing the radiator.

Carrier noted the Engine 4 — the subject of so much controversy during last year's budget-building cycle — is operating well and can be used as the first attack engine for the month that Engine 2 is being rehabilitated.

The Budget Committee also recommended about $50,000 worth of work on the Fire Station. The request includes the second floor carpet, window replacements, and the complete replacement of the three bay doors on the ground level behind the station that were used by the Public Works Department when it was located there.

Carrier said efforts in the past to replace individual panels on the bay doors have been expensive and he's not sure if any replacement panels are still available.

He said that along with the new roof, he hopes the repairs will be more energy efficient.

The Budget Committee also approved without any comment a Police Department budget that includes the addition of an 18th officer. The total recommended amount is $2,434,959.

Selectman Gus Benavides said the last police officer position added to the ranks was in 2003, when the department added a School Resource Officer.

In order to allay any confusion, Benavides, who is the selectman's representative to the committee, reminded the Budget Committee that two years ago selectmen had recommended reducing the number of officers from 17 to 16 but the Budget Committee had overruled them and added back the money for the position.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 November 2013 01:41

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Standoff with suicidal man ends at 3:30 a.m.

GILFORD — After a four-hour armed standoff, law enforcement officials were able to convince an armed Cherry Valley Road man to give his handgun to police and be taken to the hospital for an evaluation.

Police said the incident began Saturday at 11:25 p.m. when the man called Gilford Police and told them he was suicidal.

Local police, along with members of the Belknap County Special Operations Group, responded while troopers from the New Hampshire State Police closed Cherry Valley Road.

The standoff took place in the Cherry Valley Condominiums at 663 Cherry Valley Road. Sgt. Christopher Jacques said the police had a plan for evacuating some of the surrounding units but police were able to make contact with him via telephone so there was no evacuation.

"It was a combination of physical entry and speaking with the individual," Jacques said, describing how police took the man into custody.

Jacques said there was a child in the apartment with the distressed man. He said the child was older than six but was still young enough to be considered a child. The child was uninjured.

At 3:30 a.m. the man allowed an officer into the apartment and he was taken to Lakes Region General Hospital for evaluation. Jacques said no criminal charges had been filed.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 November 2013 01:23

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After repairning damage caused by 2nd fire, Pitman's ready to reopen on Thurs.

LACONIA — Pitman's Freight Room, a live entertainment venue that has apparently been targeted on two separate occasions by a firebug, will reopen this weekend with live shows scheduled for Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Owner Dick Mitchell said yesterday that he replaced about 30-feet of wall on the outside of the building on New Salem Street and 15-feet of wall on the inside. He said they heating and air conditioning system were replaced as well.

"It's a real pain in the butt," Mitchell said yesterday referring to the fires. "It's like someone standing on your fingers when you're trying to get up."

He said he can't be angry at the person or people who have set the fires because he doesn't know who they are.

"Both of our fires were set the same night as the dumpsters at (nearby) Hector's (restaurant)," he said.

"I just wished they'd go away or get caught," he said, noting that security cameras and new smoke alarms have been installed and are working.

There have been two suspicious fires at Pitman's and both appear to have been set it the exact same place. The first was September 28 and the second was on October 30. These are two of some recent suspicious fires in the same area since September 22 when a three-alarm blaze gutted an industrial complex on the corner of Fair and Court Streets.

Firefighters were able to extinguish both of them and both of them caused most of the damage to the exterior of the building.

He said autumn is one of the best times of year for the Freight Room. He said the winter keeps people inside and in the summer, people often go to the Weirs, so the fall and spring are some of their busiest times.

Mitchell said there is a real desire and need for a live entertainment venue in downtown Laconia like Pitman's, which also serves as an occasional incubator for local talent looking for exposure.

"I know it's not a new idea, but it's one we like for downtown Laconia," he said.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 November 2013 01:20

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Meredith commander tells Veterans Day gathering Legion needs new members to survive

MEREDITH — Griggs-Wyatt American Legion Post Commander Bob Kennelly told those attending a Veterans Day ceremony here yesterday that the the Post needs more members in order to survive.
''We won't have a viable legion post unless more people join. We're losing our World War II and Korean War veterans and starting to lose some who served in Vietnam. We want to make sure it survives as a viable organization and need people who have ties to the service to step up and join us,'' said Kennelly, who said that there are support organizations like the auxiliary and the Sons of the American Legion are open to non-veterans.
''It's always been our tradition to come together to take care of our veterans and we need a strong Legion Post in order to do that.'' said Kennelly.
A Korean War veteran, Kennelly turned the microphone over to another Korean War veteran, Master Sgt. Elliott Finn, who gave a history of Veterans Day, pointing out that it was originally known as Armistice Day and first celebrated in 1926 to mark the end of World War I, which was concluded with an armistice at 11 a.m. on November 11 in 1918.
It was designated as a day to honor all veterans in 1954 according to Finn, who said that the purposes of Veterans Day and Memorial Day are often confused.
He said that Memorial Day honors military personnel who died in service to their country. Veterans Day thanks all men and women who have served honorably in the military during times of war and peace.
He said that American leaders have known throughout the nation's history how important it is to honor veterans and quoted General George Washington, the first American president , who said "The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive veterans of early wars were treated and appreciated by our nation."
Following the traditional Veterans Day ceremony in front of the library, the Legion Color Guard and those taking part in the ceremony walked to the site of the POW-MIA Memorial at Hesky Park, where they were greeted by Bob Jones, one of those who helped found the weekly POW-MIA vigil which marked its 25th year in August.
Jones said that the Meredith site, which is the state's original POW-MIA memorial is the best site in the state to observe Veterans Day, along with the N.H. Veterans Cemetery in Boscawen and the N.H. Soldiers Home in Tilton.
He introduced Karen Thurston of Gilford, head of the Blue Star Mothers of New Hampshire, who revived the statewide organization, which provides support and recognition for the mothers of members of the armed forces, in 2004 when her son was deployed overseas.
She said the organization now has 137 members and last year helped lay 1,000 wreaths at the New Hampshire Veterans Cemetery last year. It will take part in the Wreaths for Boscawen event on Dec. 14 of this year.


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Master Sgt. Elliott Finn, a Korean War veteran, speaks at the Veterans Day ceremony in Meredith on Monday. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 November 2013 01:13

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