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Woman who writes the payroll checks in city Employee of the Year

LACONIA — Honored as "Employee of the Year" at the annual Christmas luncheon for city personnel and volunteers yesterday, Gail Denio, who administers the city's payroll from the Finance Department, admitted she is popular among her colleagues — "on Fridays."

Denio has lived in the city for the past 38 years and and worked at City Hall for the last 17. In presenting the award, City Manager Scott Myers said that "she has worn many hats," always with a professional demeanor and helpful and friendly manner.
She started in personnel then moved to finance, where she managed accounts payable before administering payroll.

"I appreciate the award," Denio, said. "It is especially nice that people thought enough of me to nominate me for it." She stressed that that she could not have earned it without the help and cooperation of her fellow employees. "I am very grateful for what they do to make my job easier," she said, explaining that she relied on members of other departments to provide her with the information she needs to cut the paychecks on time.

Apart from her job, Denio also serves on the Planning Board. The City Charter provides for the city manager to appoint one administrative official to the board. Denio is serving her second term and said she has enjoyed contributing to the life of the community.

More than two dozen employees who have served the city for five years or more were also recognized for their length of service, topped by Director of Public Works Paul Moynihan, who has been with the city for 35 years. Captain Bill Clary and Lori Marsh of the Police Department celebrated a quarter of a century of service and Robin Moyer of the Police Department and Joan Bernett of the Water Department two decades of service.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 December 2013 01:16

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Meadowbrook outlines another round of improvements

GILFORD — Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion at Meadowbrook is planning a multimillion-dollar expansion program to add facilities and increase the capacity of the outdoor music venue.
Meadowbrook President R.J. Harding and land survey engineer Steven Smith outlined the key points of the project at the Planning Board meeting Monday evening. Meadowbrook expects to present a formal site plan application in January, Smith said.
As envisioned, the three-phase project will include improvements to parking areas, new concessions and amenities, improvements to the backstage area, as well as the addition of about 450 parking spaces. Harding said that once completed, Meadowbrook will have a capacity of 9,500 to 10,000 concertgoers. Currently the venue can accommodate 8,300 people. Harding estimated the cost of the entire project at about $5 million.
Smith said that Meadowbrook hopes to start work on Phase 1 of the project in the spring. That phase will involve improvements to the backstage area, where trucks load and unload equipment for the various performances. Dressing rooms for performers will also be constructed. In addition there will be expansion to the concession area and construction of a building for use by the Police Department and other public safety personnel.
Smith said Meadowbrook hopes to complete work on the first phase before the 2014 concert season starts in late spring. Work on others phases should take place after the concert season ends in the fall, with the balance of the work scheduled for the spring of 2015.
The second phase will involve regrading lawn parking areas. While Phase 3 will consist of building a two-story building that will include a VIP lounge. It also calls for improvements to the VIP lawn parking areas.
In addition to Planning Board approval, Smith said Meadowbrook will also need to apply for state permits.
Meadowbrook opened in 1996 with a temporary stage and room for about 4,500 concertgoers. The venue's permanent stage and covered pavilion were constructed in 2002 and added on to last year.
Over the years it has hosted concerts by a variety of popular music performers. It has also staged concerts by the Boston Pops Orchestra, as well as a live broadcast of Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion" on National Public Radio.

NOTES: The Planning Board voted to place six proposed zoning amendments on next March's local election ballot. One proposed change would require a 25-foot buffer along wetlands where virtually all construction and excavation would be prohibited. Two amendments seek to change the buildable area requirements regulations for excavation in steep terrain of new and existing lots. Another would amend the frontage requirements for certain lots. One amendment would rezone about 35 acres on the north side of Lake Shore Road — or Route 11 — from industrial to commercial. The land involved includes the Walmart Plaza and from there east to Lily Pond Road. An amendment to change the definition of a street will be scheduled for a second public hearing.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 December 2013 01:02

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Gilford boards learn cell tower issue is quite complicated

GILFORD — The Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) and Planning Board, meeting jointly last night, decided to continue consideration of a proposal to erect a cell tower at the foot of David Lewis Road that has aroused the ire of several nearby property owners.
According to federal law, the ZBA has another 150 days to grant the special exception the project requires. To grant a special exception the ZBA must find, among other things, that the cell tower will not have a detrimental impact or pose a nuisance to the neighborhood.

John Morgenstern, chairman of the Planning Board, said that the board was treating the meeting as an informational opportunity in advance of holding its first public hearing on the proposal in January.
New Cingular Wireless PCS, doing business as AT&T, and American Tower Corporation, LLC, the construction manager, have applied to erect a 100-foot monopole tower with 12 antennas on the southeast corner of a 148-acre tract owned by the Traditional Catholics of New Hampshire, most of which is a farm worked by Armand and Ernie Bolduc, who raise buffalo and tap maples on the property.

The tower would be topped by a beacon specified by the Federal Aviation Administration to alert aircraft The site would include an equipment shelter, 12-feet by 20-feet, and emergency diesel generator within a 50-square compound surrounded by chain link fence six-feet high and topped with barbed wire. A 12-foot driveway leading from the southwest corner of David Lewis Road would provide access to the tower.
The tower would stand 100 feet from the property line of two adjoining lots, one a house lot at 38 David Lewis Road owned by Kevin Lacasse and the other a vacant 5.27-acre parcel reached from Stark Street owned by Roger Baron. Although the tower would not be as close to the home of Charles and Winifred Hughes at 48 David Lewis Road, the slope of the land would make it very visible from much of their property. Moreover, to reach the tower a 12-foot wide road would be built within a 50-foot right-of-way from David Lewis Road adjacent to their property line.
Will Dodge, an attorney representing AT&T, explained that the tower is intended to expand voice and data coverage in the immediate area by reducing the extent of zones where coverage is frequently intermittent or altogether lacking. He claimed that set in a wooded area the tower would be visible from only a few locations and would not be seen from public roads. Radio frequency emissions, Dodge said, would be "well, well below" the recommended threshold to ensure public safety.
Neither Baron nor Lacasse were persuaded. Calling the tower "very offensive," Baron said "there is no doubt in my mind that it will devalue my property." He told the boards that an appraiser could not measure the precise impact because she could not find comparable circumstances where a cell tower was erected so close to a residential neighborhood. Baron also presented photographs of cell towers that caught fire, asking how the Gilford Fire-Rescue Department would deal with a 100-foot tower ablaze.
Lacasse said that the tower would reach at least 30 feet above the tree line, dismissing claims that the trees would screen the structure from view. Apart from occasional noise when it was running, the generator he said would emit exhaust fumes on to his property. He also expected that the tower would become a target for vandalism and attract "all kinds of riff-raff." He urged the board to "come to the defense of the little people in Gilford" by rejecting the proposal and "have them look for another location."
Steve Nix, acting as chairman of the ZBA, sought clarification of the relationship between local land use ordinances and the federal telecommunications law, which stipulates that zoning ordinances cannot be used to prohibit telecommunication service. Dodge said that AT&T has equipment on other towers in the area, but cannot provide the coverage it needs without the proposed tower. He said that the federal law provides that each provider of cellular service is entitled to fill in the gaps in its coverage, not simply to ensure that competing providers together provide adequate service to a given area.
The ZBA will return to the proposal when it meets in January.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 December 2013 02:38

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If Winnisquam union deal approved, teachers with more than 10 years experience will no longer get both 'step' & cost-of-living pay hikes each year

TILTON — Automatic pay scale step increases for teachers with more than 10 years of experience will be a thing of the past in the Winnisquam Regional School District if a new collective bargaining agreement is approved at the annual school district meeting next March.
''There was a perception that teachers are getting double raises because they received both the step increases as well as cost of living increases and we wanted to deal with that,'' said Winnisquam Regional School Board Chair Michael Gagne.
Advancing steps that equate to years of experience are built into the union salary schedules of almost all school districts and teachers typically move up the ladder, one year at a time, until there are no more steps available to them. A teacher moving from one step to the next will typically see an increase in pay on the order of 2 or 3 percent, plus the value of each step will often be adjusted upward by the terms of an agreement, adding another 2 or 3 percent to base pay.

The Winnisquam School District currently has 41 steps but that will be reduced to from to 11 in the first year of the agreement and 10 the following year.
Gagne said that the agreement which was recently reached between the Winnisquam Regional School District and the Winnisquam Regional Teachers' Association also increases the starting salary for teachers by $5,000 over a three-year period.
He said that in the first year of the three-year agreement, the base pay for new teachers will increase to $34,000 and that it will increase in subsequent years to $35,205 and $36,191. Currently starting pay for a new teacher is $31,152.
'We wanted to attract more teaching candidates and retain staff by making the district's salaries competitive with those of nearby school districts,'' said Gagne.
In the first year of the new contract teachers will be advanced two steps because they are working without a contract this year. The step increases in the first year will be 3 percent of base salary for each step through step 15 and 1.94 percent of the base salary for steps 15-41.
The total "new" cost of the package agreed to will be $559,674 for the 2014-2015 school year.
a 7.25 percent increase in the district's teacher salary account.
In the second year of the contract steps 1-11 will see a three percent increase in value and those still in that experience range will also move up one step. Those with no more steps to ascend to will receive a three percent cost of living increase. Total salary increase will be $347,569 for 2015-2016, a 4.2 percent increase in the salary account.
In the final year of the contract steps 1-10 will receive a 3 percent increase in value and teachers who are no longer able to step up will receive 2.5 percent cost of living increases. Total increase will be $270,592, a 3.13 percent increase in the salary account.
A teacher on step 5 currently making $36,420 will see a salary increase to $40,129 next year, $42,598 in 2015-16 and $44,877 in 2016-17.
By contrast a teacher on step 15 currently making $47,322 will see an increase to $49,599 next year, $51,357 in 2015-16 and $52,641 the following year.
The teacher currently on step 5 will see an increase of $8,467 over the life contract while the teacher on step 15 will only see an increase of $5,319, more than $3,000 less than the teacher with 10 years less experience.
A major focus of the new contract according to Gagne and Brenda Lawrence, president of the Winnisquam Regional Teachers Association, was the "promotion of professional growth among our existing staff". The contract increases the number of teaching days from 188 to 189 in the first year and then adds another day in the second year. There is also an increase in monies made available for professional development, from $90,000 to $110,000 per year.

A new health care benefit was also added to the contract for retiring teachers. If the agreement is approved, they will be eligible to receive a $6,000 health care allowance annually for a period of five years, or until they become eligible for Medicare, whichever comes first.

"This new benefit encourages our existing staff members to remain in the district long term," said Gagne and Lawrence. "The benefit also makes retirement a reality for some of our existing staff members, with potential savings to the district, long term."

Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 December 2013 02:12

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