County official testifies nursing home administrator lied & was insubordinate

LACONIA — The Belknap County Convention's Personnel Committee heard testimony yesterday on last month's firing of Belknap County Nursing Home Administrator Mathew Logue, who had been on the job since he was hired by the Belknap County Commission in December of 2012.
Attorney Mark Broth of the Drummond Woodsum law firm of Manchester, Portsmouth and Portland, Maine, who represented the commission at the hearing, said in both his opening and closing remarks that Logue was fired for willful insubordination, lack of cooperation and inability to perform his duties in a timely manner and that he was ''untruthful and unreliable in dealing with county officials.''

Logue is exercising his right to appeal his termination by county officials and he asked that the hearing be held in public.
Logue, who represented himself at the hearing, defended himself by saying that the evaluations of his performance by County Administrator Debra Shackett were ''completely subjective'' and saying that he felt as though he was in a situation in which no matter what he did it would be viewed as either too much or not enough.
''I don't think I was treated fairly. It was a difficult time. This was more challenging than everything I've ever done before. I did the best I could in this environment and have no regrets,'' said Logue after he concluded his testimony.
County Administrator Shackett testified that Logue, who had 20 years experience as an administrator at private nursing homes, 15 of which were in Florida, had no experience working with public nursing homes with a unionized workforce and that she had expected — when he was hired on her recommendation to the commission — that there would be a long learning curve for him.
She said that at a performance evaluation in March of 2013 that she had written that she expected him to develop working relationships with Human Resources Director Norm O'Neil, Finance Director Glenn Waring and herself and said that she expected him to develop a updated staffing plan for each division of the nursing home.
She said that when she completed his six-month evaluation in June of 2013 she said that she had hoped he would improve and granted a six-month extension for his period as a probationary employee but was uncomfortable about his relationship with the county delegation, citing a 30-minute conversation that he had had with County Convention Chairperson Colette Worsman, after she had told him that he was not empowered by the commission to speak for it on issues regarding the county home.
Shackett testified that she never received the updated staffing plan that she had sought and when she did receive information from him about the nursing home in August of this year, it turned out to be a compilation of information culled from websites with staffing recommendations that had been prepared by Diane Roberts for the county in 2010, rather than the analysis which she had sought.
Asked about the report that he had submitted in August by Broth, Logue said that it contained information he had been asked to provide. When Broth asked him if he understood the difference between data and analysis, Logue said that he did not.
Shackett also testified that Logue had not complied with her request to submit his budget recommendations by September 20 of 2013 and that when he did submit them a week later they were last year's budget numbers, not those he had developed himself. Logue maintained that he had not been provided with the proper budget software until August of 2013 which led Broth to ask him why he had not sought assistance much earlier as he had testified earlier that the budget was his top priority.
Shackett also testified that there were at least two times in which Logue was untruthful with her, in February of this year when he had told her that all of the personnel evaluations except one had been completed and in May of this year when she inquired about developments in a situation with an employee identified only as Employee A and he had told her that it was being handled with meetings every other week.
She said that she was shocked to discover a month after Logue had told her that evaluations had been completed except for one that none had been delivered to the Human Resources Department.
Shackett also said that in August, when she talked to Employee A, whom she had questioned Logue about earlier, the employee told her that no meetings had been held regarding her situation.
Employee A testified behind closed doors at yesterday' hearing as a witness for the commissioners.
Shackett also testified that Logue had been suspended for one week without pay in July of this year for willful insubordination for failure to sign a letter suspending an employee for one day for excessive incidents of being late to work.
Logue said that he felt that no policy had been developed which provided for consistent treatment of employees charged with being frequently late and that he favored working with employees to improve their performance rather than ''docking them on a technicality".'
Shackett said that she had recommended that Logue's probationary period be extended for six months with the goal that he would be successful in his job but that hadn't worked and that she had recommended to commissioners in late August of this year that he be fired. Commissioners agreed and terminated his employment in early September. Logue subsequently appealed his termination to the county personnel committee, whose members are Collette Worsman, convention chairperson; Bob Greemore, vice-chairperson and Richard Burchell, clerk of the Belknap County convention.
Worsman said that the public hearing on the appeal is the first time anyone can remember the process taking place in the county. She said the committee, which was assisted at the hearing by Attorney Lauren Irwin of the Upton and Hatfield law firm of Concord, planned to deliberate on the testimony in a non-public session and issue a ruling as early as Tuesday.

Listening to testimony at a hearing on an appeal of the termination of Belknap County Nursing Home Administrator Mathew Logue, (inset) are attorney Lauren Irwin, legal counsel for the Belknap County Convention's Personnel Committee and committee members, all state representatives, Colette Worsman, Bob Greemore and Richard Burchell. (Roger Amsden.for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Residents invited to 'Re-imagine Laconia on Wednesday

LACONIA — The Planning Department, in partnership with the Ortaon Familty Foundation and New Hampshire Listens, will host a community conversation at which residents will be asked to "Reimagine Laconia" in anticipation of preparing a new Master Plan.

The event will be held at the Belknap Mill on Wednesday, October 8 beginning with registration and refreshments between 5:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. and closing at 8:30 p.m. Everyone is welcome.

The goal of the conversation is to sound residents on their values and priorities with respect to the city's natural beauty and cultural character, infrastructure and transportation, housing diversity and business prosperity and historic, social and cultural resources. Participants will also be asked to identify local assets of significance to the economic future of the community.

Those taking part will be divided into small groups of 10 or 12 . A neutral facilitator will guide the discussion within each group and designate one member to report its findings. Each group will address four questions in segments lasting about 15 minutes. The session will begin with "How do you imagine Laconia today?" with participants explaining what distinguishes Laconia from other nearby communities and identifying those features they cherish and those they would change.

During "What do we know about Laconia?", participants will be provided with data about trends underway in the city and invited to measure their impact on the future. The framing question for the session is, "What is important for Laconia to grow and thrive for a successful future?" and in answering it groups will be expected to apply the results of their earlier discussion, together with the data they have reviewed, to offer broad themes. Finally, in responding to "How would you re-imagine Laconia?", each group will rank the themes they have selected in order of importance then measure the progress toward its preferred vision of the city. Once each group has tackled the four questions it will identify the major goals, values or ideas that emerged in the course of its conversations.

In closing each group will present a brief report of its findings. along with any concerns or recommendations, ensuring that both common ground and divergent views are expressed.

The key recommendations and comments will be forwarded to the City Master Plan Advisory Team and incorporated into their preparation of the Master Plan.

County jail prisoner drinks diluted bleach, needs ER care

LACONIA — A man awaiting trial at the Belknap County House of Corrections was rushed to the Lakes Regional General Hospital yesterday after drinking bleach.

Superintendent Daniel Ward said the man, who he didn't identify, drank the diluted bleach kept in a spray bottle in the shower stall.

Ward said he didn't know how much bleach the man drank but he knows the bottle was filled in the morning and was empty after the man drank it.

He said the bleach bottle is one-tenth bleach and nine-tenths water and the man is expected to survive.

Ward said yesterday's incident reflects one of the cost items that are unpredictable when it comes to budgeting. He said the jail had to call 911, will have to pay for an ambulance, and the cost of the emergency room.

As of 8 p.m. a guard said the man was not back at the house of corrections.





Belmont, Gilford & Laconia proposing to split the cost of an animal control officer

BELMONT — Selectmen last night approved a proposed $20,500 budget item for 2015 for a contribution to a joint effort with Gilford and Laconia for a part-time animal control officer.

Chief Mark Lewandoski said the proposed request will eliminate the $5,500 the town typically pays the N.H. Humane Society and a $1,600 line in the Police Department budget for the town's own animal control officer meaning the net 2015 cost to Belmont will be $13,400.

He said the combined effort will also save the town money in overtime.

According to the support paperwork presented to selectmen from Lewandoski, the joint venture will cost the three communities a maximum of $40,100 total — not including the amount of money each community spends annually with the Humane Society.

The animal control officer will be a part-time employee who works no more than 28 hours a week so he or she won't qualify for health insurance under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

If the person chosen is a certified police officer, he or she will be paid $20 per hour. If a civilian is selected, the job will pay $15 per hour.

Lewandoski said Laconia has most of the needed equipment, including an animal control van that costs $6,000 a year to maintain. He said there are a few small equipment purchases that will be made to get the program running.

Expenses will be assessed to each community based on the historic number of animal calls fielded by each department. Laconia has the most and Gilford and Belmont have less than Laconia but about the same as each other.

Gilford Police Lt. James Leach said his department supports joining with Belmont and Laconia because it don't have an animal control officer.

He said having someone dedicated to animal control in the three-town area will be a big advantage because of all of the paperwork and followup animal calls require.