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School Board sees budget going up 2.74% next year

GILFORD — The School Board has approved a $24,775,536 school budget, an increase of 2.74 percent ($677,164) over last year's budget and which includes a warrant article which calls for approval of $111,798 for the first year of a new three-year collective bargaining agreement with the Gilford Education Association.
Also included in the budget are a 3 percent raise for support staff, amounting to $73,858 and 2.75 percent for administrative employees, $27,746, which coupled with FICA and retirement costs of $20,321 add $121,925 to the proposed budget.
The board also identified two major projects that it wants to complete next year, a new $200,000 telephone system and $105,000 for auditorium seating.
Superintendent of Schools Kent Hemingway said that the three-year contract with teachers reflects $156,186 in health insurance savings in the first-year of the contract. Voters will be asked to approve a warrant article for $111,798 to fund the first year on the union contract when they vote next March. Increases in subsequent years are $257,911 in 2015-16 and $260,323 in 2016-17.
He said that there is good news in the form of budget reductions, including a $115,000 proposed premium holiday from the Local Government Center, a $33,270 reduction for life and disability insurance, a $13,306 decrease in worker's compensation insurance and lower heating oil costs amounting to $10,225.
Hemingway said that the staff reductions this year include an elementary school special education teacher at a cost of $64,527, a Gilford Middle School teacher at a cost of $42,287, part-time support staff at $11,48 coupled with $58,613 in benefit savings.
He said that staffing continues to reflect declining enrollment in Gilford schools, which has seen the number of students drop for 1338 in 2007 to 1194 this year, a drop of 144, or more than 10 percent. During that time certified staff have dropped from 132.2 to 119.6, a 10 percent drop while support staff have declined from 89 to 81.1, a 9 percent decrease.
The school board will make presentations on its budget to the town Budget Committee on Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. at the Gilford town office with a budget hearing scheduled on January 14 at Gilford High School.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 November 2013 02:42

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Sheriff warns of scam involving jury duty

LACONIA — The Belknap County Sheriff's Department recently became aware of a scam in which random calls have been placed to individuals at their homes and their cell phones telling them they have ignored multiple notices to appear for jury duty.

In some cases, the caller instructs them to report to their local Superior Courthouse immediately, however other callers have been told they can resolve the problem by paying a fine, encouraging them to give their credit or debit card information over the phone.

Yet others, he said have been contacted through e-mail.

"This is clearly a scam, as the courts in New Hampshire do not deal with people who fail to appear for jury duty in this manner" said Sheriff Craig Wiggin. "In an extreme case where the court issued a warrant for contempt, the individual would be contacted by a member of the Sheriff's Department."

Wiggin said he was not aware that this has occurred here, but it has happened in other parts of the states.

Anyone who has received a call or e-mail of this nature in Belknap County is asked to contact the Sheriff's Department at 527-5454.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 November 2013 02:32

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Laconia deer hunter rescued from North Country woods

LANCASTER — A Laconia man was able to sleep in a warm bed Saturday night after his hunting companion reported he hadn't returned by dark and a search party located him lost in the woods of this North Country town.

New Hampshire Fish and Game Officers said Norman Colburn, 68, had told his friend that he would be hunting for deer near the beaver ponds near Sugar Camp Road. When he hadn't return by 6 p.m. and the weather started getting bad, Colburn's buddy called the Fish and Game Officers.

Conservation Officer Chris Egan said its was hovering around 34 degrees, snowing, windy, and getting dark. He said he feared that if Colburn was lost, he would develop hypothermia.

Egan said conservation officers used lights, sirens, and air horns beginning in the area Colburn was last seen. Pittsburg Police and a U.S. Border Patrol Agent assisted in the search.

At 10:30 p.m., Egan said Colburn responded when he heard them calling for them. They said he was about one mile from where he was last seen.

Egan said Colburn was cold and wet but other than a few scratches on his face he was unharmed. Colburn was carrying a small pack, a light, a radio and a Global Positioning Sensor but the radio was not working properly.

He told the officers he was preparing to "settle in for the night" when he heard them calling for him.

He told conservation officers he had begun to shiver, which is one of the first signs of hypothermia. He was assisted to an All-Terrain Vehicle and transported to Back Lake Road where he declined medical treatment.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 November 2013 02:11

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Police find man holding snorting straw & drugs unresponsive in Gilford El parking lot

GILFORD — Police charged two Alton residents with a variety of drug possession charges after finding the driver of their car unresponsive in the Elementary School parking lot Saturday morning.

Affidavits obtained in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division said Shane Mitza, 38, of Mount Major Highway is charged with one count of possession of alprazolam — an anti-anxiety drug — and one count of possession of suboxine. He was held on $5,000 cash bail after his appearance in court yesterday.

Tracy Mitza, 38, of the same address, was charged with one count of possession of alprazolam and one count of marijuana possession. She was released on personal recognizance bail and was given a court day in December.

Police said they responded to a call at the Imagination Station and found Mitza slumped over the wheel with a "snorting straw in his hand and a pill container on his lap."

During the investigation, police said they found a bottle with blue pills and Mitza told them they belonged to his father. Mitza's wife, Tracy, told police they were alprazolam.

In arguing for cash bail in court yesterday, Gilford Prosecutor, Sgt. Eric Bredbury said Mitza is on bail while awaiting trial for in Belknap County Superior Court for sale of narcotics.

He also noted Mitza was in the parking lot of a posted safe school zone and Bredbury said police are still reviewing the video cameras at the school to see if he will face additional charges for driving while after being deemed an habitual offender while in the school parking lot.

Affidavits said Mitza is a habitual offender with prior convictions for forgery in 2008, and a variety of misdemeanor convictions from 2002 until 2007.

Public Defender Kate Geraci asked for personal recognizance bail saying Mitza was the caregiver for his wife and two children and also helps care for his father.

She said he was recommended for Recovery Court. "He wants to get the help that he needs," Geraci said, noting he won't get it if he's locked up in the Belknap County House of Corrections.

She also said he is reporting court ordered supervision and will agree to any additional bail restrictions if freed.

In ordering cash bail, Judge Jim Carroll said he was "significantly aware" of the challenges Mitza faces but that he also has real concerns for his own well being as well as that of the people he cares for.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 November 2013 02:08

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