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Committee exploring privatization of Sanbornton public works will get to work in Nov.

SANBORNTON — Five of the seven people commissioned by selectmen to form a Public Works Privatization Exploratory Committee met with the board last night and agreed to serve.

The five who were there last night are Jeff Jenkins, Curt McGee, Andy Sanborn, Fire Chief Paul Dexter, who will serve as a citizen, and Ralph Rathjen. The two members who weren't at last night's meeting are Mark Thurston, who had said he'd be late, and Bill Whalen who, according to Town Administrator Bob Veloski was unable to attend. Public Works Department Director Johnny VanTassel and Veloski, will be advisers.

Selectmen Dave Nickerson spoke initially for all three selectmen when he told the new committee the goal was to see if privatization "is a good idea or is it a bad idea."

He said the selectmen would like to see a recommendation from the committee after it finishes its work. "The good, the bad, and the ugly," Nickerson said.

When some people started taking about possible future uses for "the campus" area near old Town Hall and uses for the new DPW Building, Jenkins said he thought this committee should narrow its focus to just the immediate task at hand.

"If we get too wide, we get talking about a small committee talking about the whole town budget," Sanborn said, agreeing with Jenkins that the task must be a specific one and limited to the DPW only.

Sanborn also noted that $1 million, which is the annual operating budget of the highway portion of the Department of Public Works, is "a whole lot of money" and he feared there may be some attempts to influence the committee's work in one direction or another.

Nickerson told him that was why there would be no selectman's representative on the committee.

"That's why we wanted business people and that's why we're staying out," he said. "If it starts to get political, put a kibosh on it."

Speaking informally among themselves, the newly appointed committee members said the first thing they need to do is to create a mission statement. All agreed the first meeting would be on November 5 — a Tuesday — at 7 p.m. and they would do the organizing a scheduling at that time. The first meeting will likely be at the town offices although there are other spaces in town including a conference room at the DPW where the committee can meet if there is a conflict with the town office meeting room.

Melanie VanTassel said as a courtesy she would like to see town employees kept abreast of the committee's work because she said some of them were upset to read about the formation of the committee in Wednesday's Daily Sun.

Selectmen Karen Ober said the earliest the selectmen expect any recommendations is in 2015 and should any changes be adopted at the May 2015 Annual Town Meeting it would be 2016 before they could be implemented.

In other Sanbornton news, resident and former Selectman Evelyn Auger spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting and said she was "bothered a lot" by a story in Wednesday's Daily Sun about disharmony among selectmen. She said it occurred three weeks ago and while it was news, the board has already put it in the past.

She also took exception to having two of Selectman Karen Ober's spoken statements printed verbatim in the minutes of the meeting so that they end up in the newspaper. She also said when she was a selectman she often thought about resigning and at one point went so far at to bring a resignation letter to a meeting.

"Sanbornton has already gone through the fire 10 years ago. I know, I was in the battle and I have the scars to prove it," she said.

Sanborn took the opportunity to suggest the board put a video camera in selectman's meetings and air them on Lakes Region Public Access so they wouldn't be dependent on the newspapers to get the news to residents.

Last Updated on Thursday, 17 October 2013 02:28

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Police arrest man for allegedly robbing friend at knife point

LACONIA — Police apprehended Paul Mullaney, 27, on Tuesday afternoon  — six days after he allegedly robbed one of his friends at knife point.

Mullaney, who is considered a transient, was wanted by city police for related to an incident reported on October 9.

He was ordered held on $20,000 cash-only bail after his video arraignment in court yesterday morning.

According to affidavits obtained from the 4th circuit Court, Laconia Division, the victim came to the Laconia Police Station at 10:30 p.m. on October 9 and told police Mullaney had robbed him of some money.

The victim told police the two had been together for a while earlier in the evening and during that time, he gave Mullaney $85 and dropped him of at the Cumberland Farm convenience store on Court Street. He said Mullaney called him about five minutes later and asked the victim to pick him back up.

After the victim picked up Mullaney, he said Mullaney pulled a four-inch knife while the two were in the parking lot of the former Little Caesar's Pizza store off Court Street. He told police that Mullaney apologized for robbing him, but said he wanted the money for drugs.

Mullaney stayed off police radar until Tuesday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. when Belknap County Deputy Sheriff E. Justin Blanchette spotted and arrested him.

Blanchette brought Mullaney to the Laconia Police Department where he was processed and brought to the Belknap County House of Corrections.

According to a representative at the call center for the N.H. Circuit Courts, Mullaney has numerous prior convictions for a host of misdemeanors and one felony-level burglary. Other prior convictions include DWI, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, operating after suspension, criminal mischief, criminal trespassing, and at least three simple assaults.

Last Updated on Thursday, 17 October 2013 02:23

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Hundreds arrive in city for model railroad convention

LACONIA — Hundreds of model railroad enthusiasts from all over New England are arriving in the Lakes Region today for a four-day convention called ''Tracks to Lakeport.''
Convention headquarters are the Margate Resort, where dozens of clinics and presentations are scheduled throughout the weekend for model railroad hobbyists, who will be able to operate their scale models on a number of modular layouts.
Those attending will get to learn a lot of New Hampshire railroad history and visit historic stations and railroad museums around the Lakes Region.
Among those making presentations over the weekend will be Dwight Smith, founder of the Conway Scenic Railroad, who worked in the Boston and Main Railroad's traffic department in the 1950s and 1960s.
Smith will speak in the Gunstock Room at the Margate at 8:30 a.m. Saturday on "Where the Heck are Those Freight Cars Going" and at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, again in the Gunstock Room, on "Shortlines of NH 1950s-1960s"
Other local speakers will include Dr. Bruce Heald, speaking at 7:30 p.m. tonight at Blackstones Lounge on the history of the MV Mt. Washington, and Marty Cornellisen of the Alton Historical Society, who will present A Trip on the Lakeshore Railroad through Old Photographs at 9:15 p.m.
Warren Huse will speak at 9:15 p.m. Friday in Blackstones Lounge on the history of the Laconia Car Company.
Rail fan excursions will include:
Friday, October 18,
Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad "Train to Lakeport", departs Meredith Station at 1 p.m. and returns at 3 p.m.
Saturday, October 19
Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad "Fall Foliage Special" departs the Meredith Station at 11 a.m. and travels north, passing by Lakes Waukewan and Winona., arriving at Common Man Inn in Plymouth at 12:20 p.m. for a buffet lunch. Returns to Meredith at 3:30 p.m.

The event is hosted by the Seacoast Division of The Northeastern Region of the National Model Railroad Association.


Last Updated on Friday, 18 October 2013 10:54

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Hamel or Tardif shapes up as interesting choice for Ward 5 voters

LACONIA — "I'd rather look at the horizon than in the rear-view mirror," said City Councilor Bob Hamel, who did not expect to be challenged in his bid for a fifth term in Ward 5. But, earlier this month Tom Tardif appeared in the rear-view mirror when a recount of the 47 ballots cast in the primary election awarded him three write-in votes, enough to be offered a place on the general election ballot in November.

Ward 5 is one of three contested city council elections. David Bownes and Richard Beaudoin are vying to succeed Matt Lahey, in Ward 2 and Tony Felch seeks to unseat Armand Bolduc, in Ward 6. Perhaps nowhere is the contrast between the candidates sharper than in Ward 5.

During his four terms Hamel has come to play a pivotal role on the council where his support has been essential to the success of any major initiative. A champion of the property tax cap who was initially skeptical of major investments in the schools, he supported the construction of the Middle School, applying a sharp pencil to the project while cautioning against cheapening the building. When the School District turned its attention to the Huot Regional Technical Education Center and the High School, Hamel touched the brakes. Then, when he judged the timing and financing was right, he became an enthusiastic supporter of the expansive project, which included the expansion of the Huot Center, renovations to the high school and construction of new playing fields, including Bank of New Hampshire Stadium.

"I'm pretty proud of being part of these projects," Hamel said yesterday. The investment in the schools, he called "an investment in the community." He explained that the programs at the Huot Center will develop the workforce local manufacturing firms require to thrive as well as provide students with the skills to pursue successful careers. Moreover, he said that "when people are looking for a place to live and raise a family, one of the first things they look at are the schools."

Hamel stressed that the council has undertaken these major projects while budgeting within the limits of the tax cap. He expected that the reconstruction of the Central Fire Station will be next project on the agenda, adding that once it is complete all the major municipal buildings will have been ugraded. "Then we can think about doubling what we spend on roads," he said.

Apart from the public projects, Hamel said that the city has enjoyed a significant amount of private investment, including Walgreen's and CVS downtown, Dunkin' Donuts, Dairy Queen and MacDonald's on Union Avenue and townhouses and condominiums at The Weirs. "I'm seeing light at the end of the tunnel," he said. "There are people investing in Laconia."

Hamel said that he intends to ensure that "we take care of what we've got by keeping buildings in good repair and maintaining our infrastructure. We must spend the taxpayers' money wisely,"

For Tardif, who served as a city councilor from 1988 to 1990 and as mayor from 1990 to 1992, the race is the first he has entered since losing a Republican primary for Belknap County Commissioner to Frank Tilton by a two-to-one margin in 2008. He said after his friend Dave Gammon went to the length of petitioning the Superior Court to order the recount, he felt he should declare his candidacy. "I've bought signs," he remarked. "It broke my heart, but I bought signs."

"It's time for change," Tardif said, describing the incumbents as "almost career councilors.. We need a true conservative and I think that is what I am." Going a step beyond the tax cap, he said that he would not vote for any expenditures that increased the burden on property taxpayers. "The economy is not changing and it could get worse," he said. "people are still hurting."

Tardif said that, unlike Hamel, he would not have voted this week to authorize the School District to borrow $1.8 million to fund further renovations at the High School. Acknowledging that the loan bears no interest, he said that the debt service amounts to $78,000 worth of fat in a budget already full of it. "Likewise, he said that he was opposed to a "Pay-As-You-Throw" trash collection program, which Hamel supported, and also opposed the mandatory recycling program because it requires households to recycle or forego trash collection. "It's the penalty that concerns me," he said. "Trash collection is the responsibility of city government."

While Tardif called Hamel "a good guy," he observed that "sometimes Bob asks all the right questions, but votes with the group."

Tardif doubted that his past as the head of the controversial Straight Arrow ticket of a quarter century ago would haunt him. "I don't think they know me," he remarked, declaring "I'm not ashamed of anything I did as city councilor or mayor." He said that his administration built a park house, paved Union Avenue and North Main Street, bought a fire truck and ambulance "and the tax rate didn't go up."

"What I say I'll do, I do," Tardif said."If I say I'll do the job, I'll do the job."

Last Updated on Thursday, 17 October 2013 02:15

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