Contractor hired for Gilmanton Academy rehab

GILMANTON – Town Clerk Tax Collector Deb Cornett said yesterday that a contractor had finished with the clean-up and drying of the Academy building since it was flooded by a broken sprinkler pipe on January 4.

She said the historic building is structurally sound and will be ready for repairs caused by the water.

Cornett said selectmen decided Thursday night to hire Conneston Construction, Inc. from Laconia as the contractor for the repairs. CCI, she said, uses several independent contractors who reside in Gilmanton and have a connection to the Academy Building.

Selectmen Chair Brett Currier said the town does not have an insurance estimate yet but will do a walk through of the building with someone from CCI before the adjusters do the walk through with selectmen. He said if CCI and the adjusters are on "the same page" the town will go forward and hire them to do the work.

Because it's an emergency repair, Currier said selectmen will waive the normal bidding requirements. Should CCI be unable or unwilling to do the work for the insured amount, he said the town would likely have to look elsewhere.

"We know CCI and they work with a lot of local contractors," he said.

Town Administrator Arthur Capello said a temporary modular building will be set up in the parking lot by the end of next week and the town should be up and running for business by the end of January.

Cornett said her office will continue to operate from the public safety building and she will be open Wednesday, Thursday and Friday next week to accept filings of candidates for the open positions for the March 10 election.

The Clerk Office will process for off-road vehicle registrations, hunting and fishing licenses, tax payments, dump stickers, vital records and notary services. People who need to make any motor vehicle transactions will need to go to Alton, Gilford, Belmont or Laconia until further notice.

She said she has posted the addresses for the above four communities on the Gilmanton website.

'Best Drink of Water in New Hampshire' goes dry

ALTON — Four years after NH2O was named the Best Drink of Water in New Hampshire, Deanna O'Shaughnessy and Tim Morgan, the principals of Chamberlain Springs, have shut down their bottled water operation at Sunny Slope Farm.

The company has struggled financially since it began in 2005 as an effort to generate the revenue to secure the future of the 282 acres, which has been farmed since the 18th century and owned by O'Shaughnessy's family since 1937. In 2012, threatened with losing the very property, O'Shaughnessy and Morgan sought to protect, they escaped foreclosure when family and friends raised $53,000 to stave off the bank. A year later the company gained another infusion of capital from an investor in Boston and partnered with Newfound Business Associates.

O'Shaugnessy said yesterday that Arthur Casey of Bristol, a retired businessman who wife Cheryl manages Newfound Business Associates, assessed the company's financial condition and concluded it would have to raise the price of its bottled water to turn a profit. She said that NH2O was already priced near the top of the market, fearing a higher price would be "the kiss of death," particularly since the 32 Hannaford stores distributing the product added 40 percent to the wholesale price.

"We had to try something," O'Shaughnessy said. She said that with the higher price the volume of sales shrunk and Hannafords, the largest seller of NH2O, began taking the product off its shelves.

Meanwhile, O'Shaughnessy said that Chamberlain Springs bottling license was nearing renewal, which would require extensive testing of both the well water and bottled water. "I call it the 'full Monty'," she remarked, estimating the cost of the testing at $5,000. She said that the company had nearly exhausted its stock of plastic and glass bottles, which would require an expenditure of $6,000 to replenish. Finally, although the company restructured its commercial loan from Profile Bank, O'Shaughnessy said that a note will fall due in May. She said that she had had some discussions with the bank, but had no assurance a satisfactory arrangement could be reached.

O'Shaughnessy said that despite closing the business, she intends to renew the "large groundwater extraction permit" granted to Chamberlain Springs by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services in 2009. She said the permit represents an investment of four years and $1.1 million. "We put everything we had into that," she remarked, "and we'll keep it as long as I'm alive. Hopefully our children will make something of it."

The permit allows Chamberlain Springs to draw 223,200 gallons of water a day from 585-foot deep well at the farm. O'Shaughnessy that in the five years NH2O was bottled and sold, the company drew 39,000 gallons of water from the well.

O'Shaughnessy expressed her gratitude to all those — family, friends, partners and customers — for their support and patronage.

Franklin & Hill residents welcome at SAU 18 strategic planning sessions - 82

By Thomas P. Caldwell

FRANKLIN — School Administrative Unit 18 is urging residents of Hill and Franklin to get involved in the development of a new strategic plan, with two all-day sessions scheduled, on Friday, Jan. 23, and Saturday, Jan. 24.
The last strategic plan for SAU 18, which serves the Franklin and Hill school districts, was adopted in 2009.
The planning sessions will take place in the SAU office at Franklin High School from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days.
For more information, contact Superintendent Robert McKenney at 603-934-3108.