Firefighters rescue 2 men from Lake Winnisquam

LACONIA — In what Fire Chief Ken Erickson called "an absolutely spectacular job," firefighters rescued a snowmobiler from the waters of Lake Winnisquam on Sunday evening after two machines went through thin ice near the middle of the lake.

Two snowmobilers — Terry Threlfall and Andrew Grant , both of Belmont — drove on to the lake at Ahern Park and traveled south before the ice failed off Shore Drive around 7:30 p.m. Threlfall managed to escape the water and reach the shore where he met residents of 350 Shore Drive, who reported the incident, then returned to the lake to help his companion. When firefighters arrived they could hear the two men calling for help.

Four Laconia firefighters in ice rescue suits and tethered by ropes went on to the ice. They encountered Threlfall and directed him to the operations post some 300 feet from shore where Lt. Jeff Desrosiers was managing the rescue. Firefighters Chris Beadoin and Kevin Pierce could hear but not see Grant, who was in the water shouting. Erickson said that Beaudoin and Pierce broke through thin ice then swam some 200 feet across a stretch open water to reach Grant, who was 1,470 feet from shore. They placed him in a harness, pulled him on to firm ice, put him in a sled and ferried him to land.

Erickson said that Grant had been in the water nearly an hour and keeping himself afloat by clutching his helmet to his torso. He was suffering from hypothermia and while still shaking from cold had stopped shouting and was not coherent when rescued.

Gilford Fire Rescue transported him to Lakes Region General Hospital where a helicopter was prepared to take him to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. However, his condition improved and he remained at LRGH.

"This was one of the most significant ice rescues I've ever been part of," said Erickson. He explained that Beaudoin and Pierce were so far from shore that their flashlights could barely be seen, while several relay points and rescue ropes were required to keep them tethered.

"This is what we train for," he said, "and the training paid off. They did a great job."

The snowmobiles sank in at least 130 feet of water.


Public Access TV board fires station manager to cut costs

LACONIA — The board of directors of financially challenged Lakes Region Public Access TV fired station manger Denise Beauchaine Friday afternoon.
''The primary reason is that we couldn't afford her anymore. Her compensation was about half of our budget,'' said Chan Eddy of Gilford, chairman of the LRPA-TV board of directors.
Beauchaine, who has been station director for a little over 10 years, was paid around $40,000 a year.
Eddy said that Shane Selling, who has served as a consultant on technical issues with LRPA-TV, has been named interim program director and will handle the position part-time while members of the board of directors will take over some of the responsibilities handled by Beauchaine.
Beauchaine said that she was presented with written notification of her dismissal Friday afternoon by Eddy and Trish Laurent, another member of the board of directors. She said the letter said that the board had met Tuesday night and voted unanimously to terminate her as of the end of the business day on Friday.
She said that she was presented with a check to pay for her services through Friday but refused to accept it and is looking at discussing her firing with an attorney to see what her options are. She said that she will be at Monday's meeting of the Belknap County Convention, filming it along with Bob Daniels.
The board of directors of Lakes Region Public Access television, faced with the prospect of going out of business at midnight on Wednesday, October 22, elected to throw a Hail Mary pass at an emergency meeting held in mid-October.
Directors voted unanimously at that meeting to send out bills to member communities requesting the original amounts that would have been paid rather than those adopted as part of a new business plan the board had hoped to implement earlier this year.
At the time Eddy said that the board had been wrong to push for an early implementation of it's plan and in November the board changed its emphasis to include more of its traditional funding rather than relying on obtaining corporate sponsorship.
As early as February, the board of directors of LRPA anticipated that its funding would be eroded when new community franchise agreements were signed with MetroCast Cablevision and began drafting a new business plan, with the goal of generating $300,000 in income the first year. Sponsorships from between 50 and 100 businesses at between $1,000 and $2,000 a year were projected to provide much of the revenue with fees for service accounting for the balance. But the plan has never been implemented.
In November the Laconia City Council agreed to pay $20,000 and the selectmen of Belmont and Meredith approved funding of $7,500 and $17,991 respectively. Alton and Northwood also made payments last year.
LRPA-TV has asked Gilford to contribute $21,393 toward the operation of MetroCast Channel 25, which provides public access programming. But Gilford Selectmen have not agreed to pay and has asked the directors of LRPA-TV for a detailed operating budget along with an assurance that the operations of the station have been "streamlined".
The selectmen also requested evidence that LRPA-TV had sought and obtained financial support from at least one or more of the members of the municipal consortium that negotiated the renewal of the franchise agreement with Metrocast that have not made payments to LRPA-TV in recent years. Those municipalities are Franklin, Deerfield, Gilmanton, New Durham, Northfield and Tilton. Finally, the board asked LRPA-TV to demonstrate that it had solicited one or more corporate sponsors, in keeping with the business plan the station developed earlier this year.
LRPA had an annual operating budget of about $130,000 and employed five people: station manager Beauchaine as well as one full-time and one part-time worker and two contractors.
LRPA has been drawing from its reserves to sustain operations since July 1, when member municipalities entered a new 10-year contract with MetroCast. Under the new contract each municipality will operate educational and governmental channels (24 and 26), which broadcast only to the municipality where the programming originates while LRPA would provide public access on channel 25, airing programs from individuals and organizations from the member municipalities. However, the municipalities, which had contributed to funding the operation of LRPA, withdrew their support. and, at the same time, MetroCast withheld its annual $30,000 grant to LRPA.

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Bridges Out of Poverty workshop focuses on the 'hidden rules'

LACONIA — Granite United Way is presenting a workshop designed to assist social service organizations, law enforcement agencies, health care providers and agencies and private employers deal with the challenges facing those members of the community living in poverty on Wednesday, January 14 from 8:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. at the Beane Conference Center on Blueberry Lane.

The facilitator of the workshop, Prudence Pease of Tunbridge, Vermont, a mother of eight children who spent 18 years on the welfare rolls before becoming a judicial officer, said that the program is based on "Bridges Out of Poverty: Strategies for Professionals and Communities," the collaborative effort of Dr. Ruby Payne, Philip DeVol and Terie Dreussi.

Pease explained that program explores the culture of poverty, or what she called "the hidden rules" that mark the behavior and guide the choices of those whose lack of resources focuses their attention and energies on meeting immediate needs for food and shelter day-by-day. She stressed that the poor have "a different way of understanding."

The first step toward increasing the resources and improving the outcomes of the poor, she said, is to understand "why they make the choices they make."

What Pease called the "Bridges" program traces poverty to personal behaviors, community conditions, exploitation and political structures and prescribes an approach employing individual, community and institutional resources to address it. Emphasizing that poverty is "the lack of resources," not simply the lack of money, Pease said that the program underlines the development of nine resources, both individual and social, in moving people along the continuum from the instability of poverty to the stability of self-sufficiency.

"Bridges changes the lives of people and communities," Pease said.

The fee for the workshop is $25, which includes a copy of "Bridges Out of Poverty," a workbook and lunch.

The workshop is a part of Granite United Way's Financial Stability Partnership initiative, the stated goal of which is to reduce poverty in Belknap County by 20 percent by 2020.