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In Laconia, Shaheen pledges to work for middle-class families

LACONIA — With her race to hold her seat in the United States Senate against the challenge of Republican Scott Brown tightened to a toss-up, Democrat Jeanne Shaheen stopped here yesterday after her campaign whisked through Berlin, Littleton and Plymouth earlier in the day.

More than a hundred supporters crowded the American Legion hall to share the chili whipped up by their hosts, the Laconia Professional Firefighters, and the fiery rhetoric to match from Shaheen and her traveling companion Gov. Martin O'Malley of Maryland.

Dave Lang, president of the Professional Firefighters of New Hampshire, urged everyone to think like firefighters and prepare and respond to the "next call" on election day, Nov. 4, by telling family, friends and neighbors how much is at stake and being sure to go to the polls.

Recalling her tenure in the New Hampshire Senate and three terms as governor, Shaheen vowed to serve middle-class families and small businesses as she has throughout her career. She charged that Brown, who served in the Senate from Massachusetts, has "worked for the big guys — international corporations, Wall Street banks, and oil companies. She said that while she backed legislation to expand credit to small enterprises, Brown voted to grant subsidies of $19 billion to banks and $20 billion to oil companies.

She said that she wants to strip corporations of rewards for outsourcing jobs overseas, but Brown serves on the board of directors of a firm that does just that. She stressed her support for raising the minimum wage and ensuring women equal pay for equal work, both of which Brown opposed.

O'Malley, who as a recent college graduate worked with Shaheen on the presidential campaign of Gary Hart in 1983, underlined that "there is a really clear choice here." Echoing a recurrent refrain in Democratic campaigns, he said that large corporations and special interests have the best lobbyists money can buy, and added: "They don't need to buy your senator as well." He described Shaheen as not the senator from, but the senator for New Hampshire and rallied his listeners to vote next week.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 October 2014 01:26

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At Huot Center forum, Hassan says substance abuse is ‘full-community challenge’

LACONIA — Gov. Maggie Hassan told a group of high school students yesterday that the state has received a grant for a prescription drug monitoring program that was passed into law two years ago but never funded by the Legislature.

Hassan said she is working with other New England governors to create a program that will allow individual states to share the information in a regional effort to stop "doctor shopping."

She also said there is a need for more mental health services, and with the Medicaid expansion, more people, including young people, could have access to mental health services before they turn to drugs to make them feel better.

"This is a full-community challenge, and it will take a full community to address it," Hassan said.

Hassan made her comments as the guest of honor at a round table discussion hosted at the Huot Technical Center yesterday attended by a panel of local anti-drug and mental health advocates from Laconia and Franklin.

Hassan also spoke briefly about spice or synthetic cannibinoids.

In August, she declared a state of emergency after 41 people in Manchester suffered "serious medical reactions," half of them requiring treatment in hospitals, from using spice.

Prior to the discussion, students had prepared a number of questions for the panel, including one student who wanted to know where, other than the public library, older teens could go and "hang out" in a drug-free environment.

Police Chief Chris Adams fielded that one by telling them that there is a new room at the Boys and Girl's Club on North Main Street that has activities for older students like ping-pong, pool and television. He noted that recently the older teens have been one of the target groups for the club.

"We lost the teen population, and we really want to get it back," he said.

Student Sophia Joyal told Hassan about Freedom Found – an ad hoc group of students who are not necessarily members of one of the many cliques at school - who meet regularly for outings, who stand up to bullying, and who help out some of the grass roots programs like Stand Up Laconia.

Hassan replied that Freedom Found was a "great name" for an organization. "Democracy is when people take actions," she said, adding that New Hampshire is a state that cherishes its freedoms.

She told the students and their adviser, guidance councilor Phil Reed, that their model is one that other communities and the state should follow.

"We're always looking for the best practices that don't cost a lot of money," Hassan said.

Also joining Hassan, were two parents who lost their children to drug overdoses. She assured them that the funds for the N.H. Drug Task Force will be included in her budget.

Hassan also had a personal message for the students. She said she hears a lot of casual discussion between young people about drugs, but that the discussion isn't a causal topic.

"(Drug abuse) is a serious public health and public safety issue," she said. "It strains families, hurts productivity, and undermines safety."

Joining Hassan were state Sen. Andrew Hosmer, a representative from the Department of Corrections, Franklin City Manager Elizabeth Dragon, Clare Persson from Stand Up Laconia, and representatives from various local health and mental health agencies including the Lakes Region Partnership for Public Health and mental health agency Genesis.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 October 2014 01:22

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Laconia PD proposing 'Spice' ban

LACONIA — The Police Department is asking the City Council to adopt an ordinance prohibiting the possession and sale of synthetic cannabinoids, commonly known as "spice," K2" and a number of other names, within the confines of the city.

"Spice" can be any one of dozens of chemical compounds fashioned to mimic the effects of marijuana.However, toxicologists claim that comparing the effects of spice to marijuana is like comparing an air rifle to an assault rifle.

Although marketed as incense, spice is smoked and ingested with dire health effects. In August, Governor Maggie Hassan declared a state of emergency after 41 people in Manchester suffered "serious medical reactions," half of them requiring treatment in hospitals, from using spice. Likewise, that same month three people in Concord using spice were hospitalized within 24 hours.

The proposed ordinance, modeled on those adopted by other municipalities would make it illegal to sell, barter, give display, possess or transport any material or mixture containing synthetic cannabinoids. The specific chemical designations of the illicit compounds are set forth in the ordinance. Those found in violation of the would be liable to a fine of $500 for each and all illicit material would be seized and destroyed by the Police Department.

The ordinance would take effect immediately upon its passage.

The council will consider the proposed ordinance when it meets on Monday, Oct. 27, beginning at 7 p..m.

Last Updated on Saturday, 25 October 2014 12:59

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Economic Development Council looks to invest in downtown real estate

LACONIA — The Belknap Economic Development Council is considering targeting distressed downtown buildings and using its own money — coupled with that of other public and private investors – to purchase, rehabilitate, and resell them as a way of spurring development in the downtown area.

The new project was announced yesterday morning at a breakfast meeting at the Belknap Mill hosted by the organization's board of directors for community stakeholders.

The BEDC is using the services of Jack Dugan — the longtime chair of the Monadnock Economic Development Council — who used a similar approach in downtown Keene that led to its revitalization.

"We want to take distressed properties and turn them into more productive properties," said Henry Lipman who is the chair of the BEDC.

According to Vice Chair Randy Eifert, the BEDC has seen a drop off in the number of small businesses coming to it for short-term business loans.

Traditionally, the BEDC served as a sub-prime lender — meaning it provided loans, using USDA Rural Development money, to businesses who did not immediately qualify for traditional lower interest bank loans.

When the then BCEDC was founded in the 1980s, Lipman explained that many banks had failed in the wake of the savings and loan crisis and money for capital projects from traditional banks had dried up.

Fast forward to today and banks are awash in money and most business people with a viable plan can qualify for corporate loans at more favorable rate than that offered by the BEDC.

Eifert said the BEDC has about $800,000 in capital and would consider "(holding) its nose and overpaying to get a hold of the right piece of property."

Using the Keene model, ideally the building would be rehabilitated using BEDC money that could be used to attract additional community development money and private investment, put to a productive purpose, and resold on the private market with the proceeds going to purchase yet another distressed building.

Should a building be in the downtown TIF or Tax Increment Financing District, the increase in taxable value would be used of offset any infrastructure costs needed for the project.
The newest project of the BECD would be augmented by the three already stated goals of the — to retain and attract young talent to the Lakes Region, to support creative entrepreneurs, and to enhance workforce development programming.

Last Updated on Saturday, 25 October 2014 12:50

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