Local K-9 units to benefit as BOW WOW Fest sets ambitious fundraising goal for May 2 event

LACONIA — The 5th Annual BOW WOW Fest, which will be held rain or shine on Saturday, May 2, has set an ambitious goal of raising $3,000 this year for the support of police K-9 units in Laconia, Gilford and Belmont.
''That's more than double what we raised last year'' says Claire Hebert-Dow, community relations coordinator for Melcher and Prescott Insurance, a long-time supporter of the BOW WOW Fest, who says that last year $1,350 was raised and split between the Laconia and Gilford police departments.
She says that the idea for the BOW WOW Fest started with a front page newspaper photo of a dog named "Boo" and her owner walking along the WOW Trail.
''I thought we have a WOW Ball, why not a BOW WOW event?'' says Hebert-Dow, a member of the board of directors of the WOW Trail, who says the event annually attracts between 100 and 140 dogs and was a fundraiser for the New Hampshire Humane Society in its first year.
''The Humane Society decided they wanted to be vendors and they'll be here again this year in that capacity,'' she says, noting that or the last three years proceeds have gone to police K-9 units.
She is counting on the presence of ''The Hulk'', 173-pound Pit Bull Terrier who has become a national figure since his appearance on ABC's ''Good Morning America'' to help draw a record turnout for the BOW WOW Fest.
''We're very happy to support this even, which is important to both our quality of life and our economy.'' says Chris Volpe, CEO of Melcher and Prescott. ''We're especially happy to participate in an event supporting the Gilford, Laconia and Belmont police departments.''
The festivities begin with registration from 8:45 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the Elm Street entrance to the trail at Lakeport Square. The registration fee is $10 and another $5 gets you a T-shirt with all monies. dedicated to the K-9 unit of the Laconia Police Department. Additional T-shirts are on sale for $10 with all proceeds to benefit the WOW Trail.
After the dogs are blessed at 10:05 a.m., the parade will begin. Costumes will be judged as the pets and their owners take to the trail, headed for downtown. From 11:15 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. there will be talent judging with prizes awarded.
Dog must be leashed with an up-to-date rabies vaccination. Owners should be dressed for inclement weather and prepared to clean up after their dogs.

Proceeds from the 5th annual BOW WOW Fest which will be held on Saturday, May 2 will be used to provide support for K-9s at local police departments. Gathered at the Lakeport end of the WOW Trail to promote the event are Adam Van Steenburg of the Gilford Police Department, with German Shepherd "Ike"; Ann Saltmarsh of the Laconia Department of Pubic Works; Annie Boissoneau of the Lake Opechee Inn and Conference center with "Keenan", a golden retriever; Chris Volpe, of Melcher and Prescott, a long-time supporter of the BOW WOW Fest and the WOW Trail; Michelle DuPont of the Lakes Opechee Inn and Conference Center with "Diamond", a golden retriever who is "Keenan's" sister; Mike Armstrong of the Laconia Police Department with "Titan", a Czech Shepherd; back row, Claire Hebert-Dow of Melcher and Prescott, a BOW WOW Fest organizer, and Evan Boulanger of the Belmont Police Department with "Vido", a half German shepherd, half Belgian malinois. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Belmont sees progress at LRPA-TV, will pay balance

BELMONT — Selectmen voted unanimously Monday night to pay $7,500 to Lakes Region Public Access television, which represents the balance of the money set aside for the cable programming provider in its 2014 budget. A $15,000 expenditure was approved in November of last year but the town withheld half in anticipation of the station adopting a new business model.

Town Administrator Jeanne Beaudin said the agency is making progress toward executing that new business plan under the guidance of part-time and temporary director Shane Snelling.

She said Meredith, Northwood, Gilford, and now Belmont have all contributed the money they initially agreed to contribute in 2014 and LRPA has come to an agreement with Belknap County for $5,000 annually for recording their meetings. Laconia is also a paying member of the consortium.

Beaudin, who represents Belmont on the LRPA Board of Directors, said Snelling is conducting interviews with potential station managers who have a specialty in marketing. She said there are internship possibilities with Binnie Media and that Snelling is reaching out to the Multi-Media Arts Program at the Huot Technical Center at Laconia High School.

"It's important for us to continue to support them," she said.

She also said Snelling in also talking to some of the communities that used to be members of LRPA like Franklin and has had some decent feedback.

Over Burchell's objection, commission puts Shackett in charge of hiring for county finance department

LACONIA — Belknap County commissioners voted 2-1 Thursday morning to put County Administrator Deborah Shackett in charge of the Finance Department and to give her the authority to hire workers without prior approval of the commissioners.
The actions comes in the wake of two recent resignations from the Finance Department, Director Glen Waring who left in March and assistant finance director Marie Mora who left earlier this month. That left only one person, who is in charge of payroll, in the department.
The county has been advertising to fill the finance director's position by reclassifying it to an account manager position but as yet has not filled it.
Both Commission Chairman Dave DeVoy (R-Sanbornton) and Commissioner Hunter Taylor (R-Alton) supported the move, which was opposed by Rep. Richard Burchell (R-Gilmanton).
Taylor pointed out that Shackett had previous experience at running the Finance Department and would have the same ability to fill positions in the department without commissioner approval as is the current practice for the county Corrections Department and the Nursing Home.
Burchell said that it was ''a gradual retreat'' from positions the commission had previously taken regarding its authority in directing the operations of county government.
He has been at odds with his fellow commissioners ever since late January and was removed from his position as chairman of the commission by them at a stormy meeting on March 2.
When he and DeVoy took office in early January it was announced at the first meeting that commissioners would not be delegating their authority to appointed employees and that all department heads would report directly to them. Burchell said at that time that the Administration Department headed by Shackett would serve in a support role.
Burchell split with his fellow commissioners in February over the proposed county budget. He proposed his own idea for a budget, which among other things would have achieved savings by eliminating the county administrator's position.
He has long been at odds with Shackett and in an e-mail to members of the Belknap County Convention seeking support for his proposed reorganization of county government was critical of both Shackett and Waring.
But his proposal drew no support from his fellow commissioners, who said that he appeared to be pursuing a personal grudge that they wanted no part of.
Commissioners learned yesterday that there will be another employee leaving the county. Angela Bovill, administrative assistant in Shackett's office, who has been hired by the town of Gilford as administrative assistant to Town Administrator Scott Dunn.
DeVoy said that he expects that Shackett will have a list of proposed members of a Criminal Justice Committee ready for the next meeting of the commission on May 6. The committee will review the county criminal justice system in preparation for the anticipated creation of a new community corrections facility.

She is aiding Corrections Department Superintendent Dan Ward and Belknap County Sheriff Craig Wiggin in finding people who will serve on the committee.