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Hathaway House owner lambasted by city commission

LACONIA — "I'm the elephant in the room," Greg Nolan of Cafua Management Company, LLC, the Dunkin' Donuts franchisee that owns the Hathaway House, told more than three dozen residents at a public hearing convened by the Heritage Commission last night in an effort to spare the Victorian landmark from demolition. "I'm here to listen," he added.

He got an earful, beginning with Dorothy Duffy of the commission who recounted the company's failure to fulfill its repeated assurances to maintain, improve and preserve the building charged that "the owners of Dunkin' Donuts and the Hathaway House have lied to the citizens of Laconia for the last five years."

Charlie St. Clair, whose parents owned and operated a clothing store in the building, described developers like Cafua as "a plague of locusts," noting "in five years they'll be gone, but we'll still be here. They just don't care."

In November, Cafua formally applied for a demolition permit to raze the historic building. Since the Hathaway House is more than 700-square-feet in area and 75 or more years old, as well as visible from a public right-of-way, the application was presented to the Heritage Commission for review. The commission refused to endorse the application and scheduled the public hearing in an effort to preserve the building.
St. Clair claimed that although Cafua has offered the building for sale or lease the company has not responded to prospective buyers. Susan Hodgkins, a real estate agent representing an interested party, said that she began inquiring in October, but had not spoken to Nolan until last week and still has received no information about the property.
After a handful of speakers lamented the loss of many commercial and residential building of historic and architectural value in the city, Daylon Brock challenged the commission and the community to preserve the building by making viable use of it. "What are you going to do with the Hathaway House after you save it?" he asked. Noting that "the Lakeport Association paid $80,000 for a rusted boxcar," he said that the money would have served as a down payment on the Hathaway House. "Come up with a plan for it," he said.
"It's very nice to talk about the good old days," Brock continued, "but nobody wants to talk about the future. This is 2014." He said that he had heard "a lot of naive nostalgia for a lifestyle that has passed," conceding that perhaps those were better times, but reminding his listeners of "the relic to Jim Crow that stood in front of the Goss Reading Room."
Echoing an earlier speaker who cautioned the commission against charging Nolan with dishonesty, Maggie Stier of the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance said that "confrontation will probably not move this process forward." Instead, she urged the commission to work with the owner to either put the historic building to some viable use or, failing that, transfer ownership to some organization or individual who would. "Give Dunkin' Donuts a graceful way to hand off the building," she said. "Try to come to a win-win situation."
The ordinance provides for the Heritage Commission to meet with the owner within 10 days to seek agreement on an alternative to razing the building. Without an agreement to preserve the building, the owner may proceed with demolition while the Heritage Commission, with the consent of the owner, can photograph and document the building as well as encourage the owner to salvage any of its important architectural features.

Following the hearing Pam Clark, who chairs the commission, and Nolan, who was accompanied by his attorney, were discussing how to proceed.

Last Updated on Thursday, 23 January 2014 04:28

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Belmont Crash sends one woman to LRGH

BELMONT — A woman was taken by ambulance to Lakes Region General Hospital in Laconia after being involved in a head-on traffic accident on Route 106 early Wednesday evening.

The Belmont Fire Department described the unidentified woman's injuries as non-life-threatening.

According to a media release issued by the Fire Department, the accident occurred at 6 p.m. at the intersection of Route 106 and Peggy Drive. The accident forced the closing of Route 106 for a short time.

The woman who was taken to the hospital was the only occupant of a small gray vehicle which collided head-on with a mini van carrying two people. The occupants of the mini van — both women — suffered what authorities termed minor injuries. Both refused to be transported by ambulance to the hospital.

The small vehicle sustained heavy front-end damage and its air bag deployed. The mini van had damage to the the left-front and driver's side of the vehicle and rescue personnel had to force the driver's door open.

The Laconia Fire Department sent a second ambulance to the scene.




Last Updated on Thursday, 23 January 2014 02:08

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State law prohibits County Convention from holding meetings when legislature is in session

LACONIA — A law which prevents county conventions from holding meetings in their home communities on days in which the state legislature is in session could impact a number of upcoming budget review meetings planned by the Belknap County Convention for next month.
''They can't meet here on days in which they meet in Concord,'' County Administrator Debra Shackett told Belknap County Commissioners Wednesday morning. She said that effectively limits the convention to Monday and Friday meetings when the legislature is in session.
Shackett said commissioners had been asked to seek a legal opinion from Attorney Paul Fitzgerald over the statute and he had ruled that there were no exceptions which would permit meetings to be held and that he would put his opinion on writing for the convention.
Fitzgerald was also asked to rule by Convention Chairperson Colette Worsman (R-Meredith) on whether the same 10-day notice period on public meetings that applies to the convention as a whole also applies to subcommittees. Shackett said that he had ruled that the same notice period applies.
The County Convention, which is made up of all the members of the state legislature from Belknap County, controls the appropriations for county government functions.
The convention is in the midst of its review of the 2014 budget proposed by the commissioners and is scheduled to hold a series of four meetings as a committee of the whole, including ones on Wednesday, February 5 and Tuesday, February 11, both of which may need to be rescheduled.
''Hopefully it can be changed,'' Shackett said of the restrictions on meeting dates, saying that it would be difficult for the public and county staff to participate if the convention held meetings in Concord on those days.
In other action the commissioners agreed to award a contract for replacement of the 28-year-old pneumatic control system in the newest part of the Belknap County Jail to Pro Controls of Bow for $56,350. Facilities manager Dustin Muzzey recommended the firm over Control Technologies of Manchester, which had submitted a bid of $58,980. The system is being replaced due to age and condition which make it difficult to regulate temperature and air quality within the facility.
The firm will remove and replace all of the pneumatic control devices and tubing in the 1986 jail addition and install a web enabled controller and replace all pneumatic dampers, control valves and valve actuators with electronic modulating actuators.
The commission approved County Attorney Melissa C. Guldbrandsen's request to hire Adam Woods as a new Assistant County Attorney. Woods currently works as a part-time prosecutor in the Cheshire County Attorney's Office and lives in Concord.
They also approved a grant from the New Hampshire Department of Justice for a grant under the Violence Against Women Act for the Belknap County Attorney's Office which will continue to devote a three-quarter time prosecutor to cases of violence against women.
Deputy Attorney Carley Ahern will serve in that position with three quarters of her $73,398 annual pay ($55,049) paid for that position. The $30,000 in federal funds will be matched by $29,639 in local funds, which include pay and benefits.
Shackett also reported to commissioners that the the attorney representing the commission in its dispute over budget authority with the County Convention, which authorized legal action against the commission, has had contact with the attorney representing the convention to inquire if legal action was pending.
''Attorney Horan told him that he hasn't had any contact with the Convention Chairperson Rep. Worsman in over a month,'' Shackett said.
That prompted Commissioner Steve Nedeau (R-Meredith) to observe ''in other words they still have no idea what they're doing.''

Last Updated on Thursday, 23 January 2014 02:42

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Gilford Police approve new contract

GILFORD — Members of the police union and the town have agreed to a two-year contract that will see a hike of a minimum of 15 cents in the lowest pay grade, but will make employees responsible for 10 percent of their health insurance costs.

Employee contributions will be made on a pre-tax basis.

The maximum pay increase is 2½ percent unless the officer is promoted to a corporal in which case there is a maximum 3½  percent increase. Currently, Gilford Police have no corporals.

The cost drivers in the contract — or the new money needed to fund the contract — is $3,297.31 in the first year of the contract and an additional $3,463.01 in the second year.

These amounts will appear as a single warrant article on the ballot at the the March Annual Town meeting ballot. The amount cannot be altered at the annual SB2 deliberative session.

By year two, the town will see a decrease in the amount it spends on employee health insurance for union police officers of $2,382.90.

Gilford Police are represented by Teamsters Local 633 of New Hampshire.

The contract also contains a new provision allowing officers who have been with the department for five years to cash out unused sick time exceeding 192 hours at a rate of one day for every four days of unused time — or 25 percent.

Officers with 10 years of seniority or more will be able to cash out accumulated sick time at a rate of two days per four earned — or 50 percent.

A final clause says that while it is the exclusive prerogative of the Chief of Police to determine shift staffing levels or to fill vacant shifts with members of the bargaining unit, new language says the selectmen must give their approval.

Last Updated on Thursday, 23 January 2014 01:57

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