Victim of motorcycle crash in Belmont identified as 36 year-old local woman

BELMONT - The woman killed in a motorcycle/automobile crash on Jamestown Road on May 4 has been identified as  36-year-old Nicole Kenneson of Belmont, police report.

Her husband Gary Kenneson, 32, of Belmont was driving the motorcycle when it crashed into the rear of a car driven by Sheila Akerstrom.

Police said Akerstrom had backed out of a driveway, had not seen any lights from either director and had put her car into drive when she was struck from behind.

The crash is being investigated by the Belknap Regional Accident Investigation Team and which is considering a number of factors including sight lines, road alignment, surface conditions, speed and mechanical conditions of both vehicles.

LRGHealthcare lays off 22 in restructuring plan

LACONIA — LRGHealthcare, operators of Lakes Region General Hospital and Franklin Regional Hospital, announced yesterday that it has implemented a staff restructuring plan which has resulted in the layoff of 22 employees.

In a statement released to the media, LRGH said the move was undertaken "to ensure the provision of safe and effective patient care while remaining fiscally responsible."

While "22 people have been separated from their positions," according to Sandy Marshall, director of public relations for LRGHealthcare, an unspecified number of job titles have or will be added to address changing needs. She also said that LRGH would continue recruiting to fill 60 open positions currently posted on its website.

Marshall said the layoffs began occurring several weeks ago. She had no information as to how many of the positions were full-time and how many were part-time.

She said the layoffs were not concentrated in particular departments. "The was done equally across the organization to streamline and find leaner ways to provide quality care," Marshall said.

LRGHealthcare said it was undertaking the staff restructuring in an "uncertain environment," according to Chuck Van Sluyter, LRGH's interim president and CEO. He said an important part of this focus has been to adjust the skill mix of the workforce to meet the changing needs for services.
LRGHealthcare currently has about 1,500 employees, according to Marshall, making it the largest single employer in the Lakes Region. The organization employs the same number of people today as it did at the end of the fiscal year which concluded last September.

The layoffs and staff restructuring come as LRGHealthcare has experience a decline in revenue. At its annual meeting last month the organization reported that in Fiscal Year 2014 it experienced a $2 million increase in operating expenses while revenues declined by about the same amount, resulting in $355,000 in operating revenue, leaving an operating margin of 1.2 percent.

"We understand that these adjustments in the workforce create uneasiness," said Van Sluyter, "but we are confident that they are in the best long-term interest of our patients and the communities we serve. We ask for your understanding as we, like so many other health care organizations, work through this transformation and assure you that these decisions are being made thoughtfully," he added.

No reprieve – 2 multi-alarm brush fires in 2 days

NORTHFIELD – For the second day in a row, area fire crews battled a multi-alarm brush fire – this time on Reservoir Road.

Crews were called there at noon for a fire that Tilton-Northfield Fire Chief Mike Sitar said was burning about 1,000 yards up a hill.

Firefighters from 14 communities were accessing the blaze using special forest fire hose and all-terrain vehicles brought from different parts of the state.

Meanwhile, crews were still monitoring a five-alarm brush fire off Route 140 in Northfield and Belmont that burned 80 acres on Wednesday, threatening a community in Garden Grove.

According to dispatches over the Lakes Region Mutual Fire Aid radio, at 4:30 p.m. yesterday an area near Garden Grove flamed up and crews were ordered to lay in a fixed supply of water.

Belmont Fire Chief Dave Parenti was monitoring his department and the scene of Wednesday's fire from a LRMFA trailer while Sitar commanded the scene at Reservoir Road.

Parenti said one of the challenges faced throughout the state was primarily heat, sun, rough terrain and exhausted fire crews.

He also said the wild fires were not the only things happening. While he spoke, he received a call that a older Belmont woman was having serious chest pains and an ambulance crew from Woodstock that was covering his station was ordered to respond.

Crews from New London spent Wednesday night watching the Route 140 scene so local firefighters could get some rest.

"It's ironic that we had such a hard winter and now we're having such a hard spring," said Laconia Fire Chief Ken Erickson.

He said in general, the area hasn't seen many significant brush fires for about four or five years, meaning there is a lot of fuel from fallen branches, overgrown undergrowth and some slash left over from logging operations.

With no rain expected until Sunday, Erickson said the risk of fires will be even greater in the next few days.

Laconia has crews scattered throughout the area fighting active fires and he said for most of the past two days, the department has been on emergency call-back status, meaning off duty and call firefighter crews are helping to man the station.

He said that all burn permits have been revoked and he cautioned people throughout the area not to burn camp fires and to be especially careful about disposing of cigarette materials.

Like Parenti, he said fighting the brush fires is not the only thing happening for emergency response teams. Since the city responds on average to seven to 10 medical calls daily, he said even though there hasn't been a significant brush fire in the city since Mile Hill a few days ago, city firefighters are equally exhausted.

Erickson said his greatest fear was a building fire some where in the city that could easily spread because of dry conditions everywhere. "The sun and the heat is the same for brush and trees as it is for wooden buildings," he said.

At 5 p.m. Tilton-Northfield and Franklin firefighters experienced Erickson's fear when they were called to a second-alarm building fire at Wyman Gordon on Granite Street in Northfield.

Meanwhile, said Erickson, a large brush fire in Ossipee continues to burn and he noted that as of 2:30 p.m. yesterday it had yet to be contained.