Shaker schools seek the public’s help with strategic plan


BELMONT — The Shaker Regional School District intends to host a strategic planning workshop on March 10-11, and district officials hope the public will attend to help brush up the district's planning document.
The 2012-2017 strategic plan lists objectives, such as offering a comprehensive educational experience "that will engage and challenge all students within the district"; and assuring that "the percentage of Shaker Regional School District students accepted to post-secondary education will continue to exceed the state average."
"Vision areas" in the 2012-2017 plan focus on facilities and physical resources; curriculum, instruction and assessment; safety, health and a "respectful environment"; technology; communication; community outreach and partnership; and human resources and personnel.
Many of the facilities-related goals and recommendations were accomplished. These included providing a new gym floor at Canterbury Elementary School; and repairing the roof and replacing the bleachers at Belmont Middle School. Shaker Regional's Director of Building and Grounds Doug Ellis reported that the gym floor at Canterbury Elementary School and the bleachers at Belmont Middle School have been replaced.
The roof at Belmont Middle School was partially replaced, and this job will be finished this fiscal year, Ellis reported. At the Jan. 24 School Board meeting, the board learned that Melanson in Bow put in a bid for $170,000 to complete roof repairs on the gym, fifth-grade unit and memorial building next to the gym, according to records of the meeting. This bid was under a budget of $171,000, and these three roofs will finish off the middle school roofs, the board reported. The bid was accepted by unanimous vote.
Goals and recommendations from the existing plan that await completion include building an auditorium for performing arts at Belmont High School, which Ellis reported is still in the planning stage; and improving the traffic flow at Belmont Middle School by moving or removing the historic Gale School to free up space for a bus loop and additional parking, which also is still in a planning stage.
Last year, voters narrowly voted against tearing down the old Gale School at the annual School District Meeting. No action regarding the Gale School was taken at this year's deliberative session, the first such session to be held in Belmont under the newly implemented SB2 format of School District Meeting.
The existing plan also recommended a host of comprehensive educational programs, including preschool and full-day kindergarten; literacy programs; STEM — science, technology, engineering and math – integration in curriculum; school-to-work and extended learning opportunities; and expanded advanced placement programs.
According to a press release from Superintendent Michael Tursi, Shaker Regional families, staff and community members are invited to update the school district's current "strategic direction." The plan, developed in 2015, "serves as the foundation for educating our students. It is now time to update the eight vision areas as outlined in the plan by adding action steps and timelines," Tursi reported in the press release.
During the two-day workshop, discussions will lead to identifying strategic goals for the next five years, Tursi reported. "The community's input is very important in this process," he reported. The workshop is Friday, March 10, from 4 to 8 p.m. and Saturday, March 11, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at Belmont High School.
The current plan is available on the district website ( under the "District Information" tab. Interested parties are urged to RSVP to register for one or both days, by Wednesday, March 8, to Alicia Sperazzo at 603-267-9223 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Milfoil - Fighting exotic aquatic weed a balancing act for city


LACONIA — Battling an exotic, invasive weed in Paugus Bay is something of a balancing act.

The city plans to use the powerful herbicide 2,4-D to knock back milfoil, a green, slimy plant that chokes shallow water, crowds out native plants, damages habitat, snags fishing lures and clogs boat engines.

At the same time, city officials don't want to diminish the quality of the drinking water the bay provides.

"That ranks as our top concern," City Manager Scott Myers said Tuesday. "No one is knowingly going to jeopardize our water supply."

The city last treated the lake two years ago, and the herbicide was applied in coves well clear of the water department's intake pipe at 988 Union Ave.

Testing revealed no trace of the chemical in the intake area or in the water being treated before being sent out for consumption.

Myers said the weed-fighting effort this summer will be drawn up in a way to again prevent herbicide from getting near the intake point. Divers may be used to hand-pull some of the weeds.

The city has $46,000 to fund the effort, including almost $14,000 in state funds.

Laconia Water Superintendent Seth Nuttelman said that even though no trace of 2,4-D has been found in the drinking water, there are still concerns about the herbicide.

"You're always concerned that if something goes wrong in the process, there could be a problem," he said.

"There's not a lot of documentation where these herbicides have been used in a drinking water source. The water board wants to err on the side of caution."

Nuttelman said it would be best if a flow study could be performed to better understand how herbicides dropped into one part of the bay could flow to another area.

Myers said such a study would cost $170,000 and funding has not been identified to do this.

State lists 150 dams as ‘high hazard,’ many in Lakes Region


ALTON — Shirley Young was sitting at her kitchen table in her home along the Merrymeeting River on March 13, 1996, when she heard the sound of rushing water.

She and her husband, John, who was doing the dishes, looked out their front door and saw a wall of water they correctly surmised came from the failure of a 30-foot-high earthen embankment a local landowner had built to expand a pond.

We stood in the house holding on to each other and we thought we were going down the river,” Young remembered Monday.

There were cars and gas tanks and everything going by our house. The river was full of gravel, dirt, rocks and vehicles.”

But they were lucky. Most of the water went around their house.

Another couple, Larry and Lynda Sinclair, had a different experience. They tried to escape a nearby home, he in a tractor-trailer truck, and she in a pickup.

The woman was swept to her death.

The man's big rig became partially submerged. John Young tossed him a rope and pulled him to safety.

It has been 21 years since that fateful day, but recent events 3,000 miles away have focused new attention on the dangers posed when a structure meant to hold back water gives way.

In Oroville, California, nearly 200,000 people were evacuated recently when severe erosion on an emergency spillway led to major concerns before officials could reduce the reservoir's water level and make emergency repairs. At 770 feet, it is the tallest dam in the United States, and it is classified as "high hazard," meaning people would probably die if it were to fail.

In New Hampshire, the tallest dam is in Littleton and is 193 feet. It is one of 150 dams in the state considered high hazard, including one in Alton, two in Ashland, two in Bristol, one in Gilmanton, two in Loudon, one in Meredith and two in Wolfeboro.

Steve Doyon, administrator of the Dam Safety and Inspection section of the state Department of Environmental Services, said there are no great concerns with Lakes Region dams.

"We inspect them on a routine basis," he said. "We come up with a small list of maintenance issues, like trees or brush, but none of them have any major issues."

Also, many of New Hampshire's dams are relatively small and are "run of the river," meaning they produce power and don't hold back big supplies of water.

One area of concern is a high hazard dam in disrepair in Lincoln. The state has demanded that the town draw up an emergency action plan for repairs.

Alfred Burbank, Lincoln town manager, said the 15-foot dam on the east branch of the Pemigewasset River, affords a level of protection to $20 million in condominiums and private homes, and that, depending on occupancy levels, 200 people or more would be in danger if the structure were to fail.

"It's a granite-faced system and high waters have dislodged huge granite blocks," he said. "If it continues to deteriorate, it will fail."

The town has received bids ranging from $1.2 million to $2.2 million to repair the dam, which has been there since the 1930s but was reconstructed in the 1960s. Bond funding will be used for the project.

02-28 HighHazard dams

Among the high-hazard dams are the Alton power dam in Alton, Squam Lake dam in Ashland, Grist Mill Pond dam in Ashland, Suncook Lake dam in Barnstead, Barnstead Parade dam in Barnstead, Sargent Lake dam in Belmont, Newfound Lake dam in Bristol, Ayers Island dam in Bristol, Campton Pond hydro dam in Campton, Eastman Falls dam in Franklin, Webster Lake dam in Franklin, Franklin Falls flood control in Franklin, Sanborn Pond Grist Mill dam in Loudon, Sanborn Sawmill dam in Loudon, Lake Waukewan dam in Meredith, Crescent Lake dam in Wolfeboro and Wolfeboro sewage lagoon in Wolfeboro.  (Courtesy graphic)