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New director takes over troubled Newfound after-school program

by Thomas P. Caldwell

BRISTOL — Autumn Fabricant, the new director of the Newfound Area School District's Project Promise, is enthusiastic about the grant-funded after-school program that will be operating on a tighter budget and stricter oversight as a result of problems in previous years.
Project Promise operates on two grants from the N.H. Department of Education, one for the New Hampton Community School which is in its fourth year of a five-year grant; and the other, in year one of its third five-year grant, covering the remaining schools except for the Bridgewater-Hebron Village School. Superintendent Stacy Buckley, who joined the district last year, discovered that, although the BHVS did not qualify for grant funds, money from the grants had been used for the after-school program at that school for the past 11 years and now the Department of Education is asking for reimbursement.
In a presentation to the Newfound Area School Board on June 26, Buckley noted that there is no sustainability plan for either program, and funding for the large grant has decreased, resulting in expenditures exceeding revenue. In order to bring costs in line, Buckley has proposed reducing staff hours to eliminate overtime and benefits. She arranged with the Tapply-Thompson Community Center in Bristol to operate a Friday program for students so the district could operate its program just four days a week, although the district will be paying a stipend to the TTCC.
Meanwhile, the district has encumbered $144,976 from the unexpended fund balance for the 2013-2014 fiscal year for the reimbursement to Project Promise for the spending at the Bridgewater-Hebron Village School.
At the school board's Aug. 11 meeting, Fabricant introduced herself and said she has been working to rebrand the program so it is seen as more than just child care. She said she took part in a focus group to determine what people wanted out of the program and they identified several goals, including that it be purposeful in enrichment, engaging, active, and that it reinforce academics. A personal goal, she said, is to see that there is a youth voice at all levels.
Another important aspect of the program is to determine how the community can be involved.
Addressing the superintendent's concerns about sustainability, Fabricant noted that parents will pay a higher fee than last year — $8 per day instead of $5 — although there is a sliding scale to accommodate those who qualify for free or reduced school lunches.
Fabricant also is working on staffing to see that it is sufficient to meet the program needs. She said there will be a site coordinator at each school, plus one other staff member present for four days a week to provide continuity.
Buckley noted that they have been studying best practices for obtaining volunteers or low-cost staff members by tapping into colleges and work-study programs. School Board Chair Ruby Hill of Danbury also suggested recruiting those interested in sports and recreation which she said would fill a component that has been lacking in the after-school program.

Last Updated on Thursday, 14 August 2014 12:03

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Paul Normandin Remembered for People Skills, Political Savvy (542)

LACONIA — Attorney Paul L. Normandin, who died yesterday at his summer camp on Lake Winnisquam at the age of 83, is remembered by his friends and colleagues as a distinguished attorney with unparalleled people skills who excelled at solving problems and running political campaigns.

"He was very skilled and was in great demand for his advice on how to handle issues in a campaign and nuts-and-bolts things like where to campaign door-to-door,'' recalls state Rep. David Huot, a Laconia Democrat, whose father, J. Oliva Huot, was a Laconia mayor and later a U.S. Congressman.

Huot said that Normandin campaigned for John F. Kennedy in 1960 and was a delegate to the Democratic convention in Los Angeles which nominated Kennedy.

''He was on the City Council around the time my dad was Mayor and a close friend to the family,'' said Huot, who said Normandin was one of the key players in Democratic politics in New Hampshire during the 1960s, an era of great success for Democrats which saw former Laconia mayors leading the way.

Among them were Tom McIntyre, elected to the U.S. Senate in 1962, Huot's father, elected to Congress in 1964, Bernie Boutin, who ran Kennedy's New Hampshire campaign and became head of the General Services Administration in the Kennedy administration, and Hugh Bownes, Democratic National Committee member in 1964 who later became a federal judge.

Laconia City Councilor David Bownes said that some of his fondest memories as a youngster were of the Democratic Party gatherings attended by his father, Normandin, Ollie Huot and Bernie Boutin.

''I have a picture from when I was around 10 years old of my dad, myself and Paul at a baked bean supper at the old Opechee Park Clubhouse. Paul was a charming kind man who was a great friend to me and my family.''

Normandin graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 1952 and joined the Normandin, Cheney and O'Neil, law firm, which his father F.E. Normandin, had started in 1914, in 1955 after graduating from Boston University Law School.

He served as Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of New Hampshire from 1961 to 1965 and also served two terms in the state Legislature.

''He was a mentor to me.'' said Bob Dietz, an attorney with Normandin, Cheney and O'Neil, who described Normandin as ''skilled as an attorney, but also skilled as a human being. You could always count on him to do the right thing.''

Carroll Stafford, former president of Laconia Savings Bank (now the Bank of New Hampshire), said that Normandin ''was a great guy and a very knowledgeable person. He was chairman of the board of directors when I was president and we worked together for 25 years.''
''He was also a good politician, well-liked by everybody and just a great person.'' said Stafford.

Normandin, who retired recently, had an active trial practice for many years and later focused his practice on the areas of probate, estate planning, real estate law, business planning and banking.

He was also president of the Laconia Historical and Museum Society, a member of the Laconia Fire Commission, served as a member of the Gunstock Area Commission for 11 years and was a recipient of the Laconia Chamber of Commerce coveted Jim Irwin Community Recognition Service Award.

His obituary can be found on Page 18.

Last Updated on Friday, 15 August 2014 12:43

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Police report two cases of synthetic marijuana overdose

LACONIA – Police and ambulance crews have twice been called to assist people who have smoked "spice" -- or synthetic marijuana -- in the past few days.

A supervisor said both calls came on Tuesday night and both involved women. He said one woman reported hallucinations and another was sickened by the substance commonly sold as incense.

He said neither person had any of the substances on them and no arrests were made.

"I know both were sick enough to call for emergency medical assistance," he said.

Police want residents to understand that smoking spice or incense is dangerous to a persons health and is illegal.


Last Updated on Friday, 15 August 2014 01:25

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Boat, trailer stolen from Laconia marina last week

LACONIA – Police are investigating the theft of a white-hulled speed boat and a trailer from Lakeport Landing Marina last week.

Police said the boat was reported stolen to them on Saturday, and video surveillance footage obtained from the marina showed a late-model white Toyota Tundra with a tonneau cover and no front plate towing away the boat and its trailer last Thursday night at 10:59. Two men were in the truck.

Police said there was a black canvas tarp covering the boat and the trailer had no registration plate.

Police described the boat as a black 2007 27-foot Donzi with a white hull equipped with a 425hp engine.

Anyone with any information is asked to contact the Laconia Police at 524-5252 or the Greater Laconia Crime Line at 524-1717.

Last Updated on Friday, 15 August 2014 01:09

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