Storm temporarily knocked out dispatch for some local police departments

LAKES REGION – Some area police departments that depend on the Belknap County Sheriff's Department for dispatch services experienced interruptions yesterday morning when two of the communication system's towers lost power.

Det. Sgt. William Wright said the early-morning storm blew down some trees at 7 a.m. that caused power losses to transmitter towers on Pinnacle Hill in New Hampton and on Flag Hole Road in Franklin.

"There was no damage to our equipment, but the towers did lose power," Wright said. He said these two towers do not have emergency generators.

Wright said the four Belknap County police departments that do their own dispatching – Laconia, Gilford, Belmont and Meredith – weren't affected, but most of the more rural departments were.

He said there was not a "complete interruption" to service because of the upgrades the Sheriff Department has performed over the last two years as part of a federal Homeland Security Grant.

He said the department is still installing the microwave simulcast system as part of the grant that provided the department with new dispatch consoles and Pinnacle Hill tower.

He said the system was restored within about two hours.

Wind farm windfall for Groton in question

by Thomas P. Caldwell

GROTON — Selectmen are continuing to look into the claim by Grafton County Commissioner Martha Richards that the Groton Wind Farm is boosting the town's county property tax assessment from $109,000 last year to $316,909 this year.
Selectmen have been largely silent on the claim, and the Grafton County Commissioners' Office has not confirmed Richards' figures, which she presented during the Sept. 30 meeting of the Alexandria Board of Selectmen. Alexandria was discussing the Spruce Ridge Project in which EDP Renewables hopes to build an array of wind turbines along ridges in Alexandria, Groton, Hebron, and Orange.
If Richards is correct, Groton will be picking up a much larger share of the county budget which, in turn, will lower the tax assessments for most other towns in Grafton County, many of which have gone on record as being opposed to the Groton Wind Farm.
At their Oct. 7 meeting, the Groton Board of Selectmen said they have been in touch with the N.H. Department of Revenue Administration, which sets the tax rate, and with legal experts looking into the effect of HB-1549 which was adopted July 28 and was effective upon passage. The new law, which Governor Maggie Hassan has signed, clarifies the assessment of renewable generation facility property that is subject to a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreement.
"The DRA assessed the Groton Wind Farm as of May 1, assessing it at full market value," said Selectman Christina Goodwin. "The bill that took effect in July would change that process to take the PILOT agreement into consideration."
PILOT-affected facilities are to be taxed at their equalized value under the new law, having the effect of lowering the assessment.
As of Tuesday, the town did not know whether the new law would apply to this year's taxes. The wind farm assessment also could change as a result of Groton Wind's appeal of the May assessment. The DRA is just beginning the process of setting 2014 tax rates for the towns.
Selectman Kyle Andrews said, as it stands, the DRA has assessed the town at about $77 million and the wind farm at $126 million.
The county tax assessment will be based upon the town's net assessed valuation, and that is the number the selectmen are waiting to see. The town's net assessed valuation in 2013 was $77,378,166.
If Richards' numbers prove to be true, Groton's PILOT agreement will more than cover the increase in county taxes. The agreement calls for Groton Wind to pay the town $528,000 the first year, increasing by 2.5 percent each year thereafter. Selectmen, however, were reluctant to say that the town will come out ahead, not knowing the final numbers and how they would affect the other portions of the tax rate: local school and state education assessments.
Andrews did note that the town anticipated a higher assessment because of the wind farm, "but I'm not sure we expected it to be that much," he said.

Correction: Bike Week Association receives grants from the state

CORRECTION — An article in Wednesday's edition of the Laconia Daily Sun about the financial problems facing the Laconia Motor Cycle Week Association contained two errors.

The first mistakenly suggested that the budget for payroll, benefits and associated costs of $132,500 included expenses "from the state." In fact, the association receives a grant from the state and incurs no expenses to it.

The article also implied that in 2003-2004 the city of Laconia withdrew from the association for a year. Although the city briefly suspended its membership, it has belonged to the association without interruption since it was established in 1991.

Motorcycle cruising on Rte. 104 hit by merging car

MEREDITH — An unidentified 44-year-old Northfield man was taken by helicopter to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center yesterday after the motorcycle he was riding collided with a car that apparently pulled out in front of him at the intersection of Rte. 104 and Meredith Center Road.

The crash happened at 8:33 a.m. and traffic was slowed through Route 104 and Meredith Center Road.

Det. Crp. John Eichhorn said yesterday that man suffered serious injuries to his lower extremities a well as internal injuries during the crash. He said he is expected to survive.

He said the 28-year-old driver of the car was uninjured.

Eichhorn said police have ruled out alcohol or drugs but said the cause of the accident remains under investigation.