Elks planning pot-luck fundraiser on Saturday for 'Mikey' Bird

GILFORD — The Laconia Lodge of Elks No. 876 is hosting a fundraising event on Saturday, March 28 to benefit former state president Michael "Mikey" Bird, who survived a sudden cardiac arrest he suffered while clearing snow on Thanksgiving Day. Friends, family and members of the local lodge will gather at 5 p.m. for a $5 potluck dinner, gift certificate bingo and a 50/50 raffle. All proceeds will be used to pay medical bills.

Prizes for the gift certificate bingo are being donated by Lakes Region businesses. Businesses who wish to donate are urged to call Elk member Robert Cunningham (or wife Diane) at 528-1248.

Cunningham said Bird remains an active Elks' member, though he suffers from stroke-like symptoms as a result of the extensive life-saving care he received last fall. A veteran of the Vietnam War, bird is also a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion.

The local Elks Lodge is located at 17 Sugarbush Lane in Gilford, just a few yards off Rte 11-A, between the Laconia Bypass and Gilford Village.




Gilford school superintendent proposes dropping number of administrative team members by 1

GILFORD — Many of the 45 to 50 parents of children in the local school district expressed some trepidation last night about elimination the position of middle school vice principal.

The parents who spoke compared the elimination of the position to the elimination of the Gilford Elementary School vice principal about eight years ago and said there primary concern is that teaching staff won't get the administrative support for education and disciplinary issues.

Most parents wanted the administrative team to continue the way it currently is, and there was even some support for bringing back an assistant principal at the elementary, which isn't likely to happen.

"I didn't move to Gilford to save money," said one woman who declined to be identified. "Do we have to make these cuts."

The "cuts" are really a proposed restructuring of the 10 people who make up the administrative team for the School District. For fiscal year 2015-2016, there will be no reduction in the number of people on the team nor will there be any reduction in the budget.

Right now, the administrative staff includes a superintendent, a business administrator, a special services director, a technology director and a curriculum director at the SAU level.

In addition, there is a principal and vice-principal at the high school, a principal and a vice-principal at the middle school and a principal at the elementary school.

With the sudden resignation of the Gilford Middle School principal and with declining enrollments projected throughout the district, the School Board already decided to move the high school principal to the middle school and advertise for the vacancy.

Last night, Superintendent Kent Hemingway recommended converting the positions of district-wide curriculum director and the middle school vice principal to two positions that would coordinate both curriculum and student supervision.

Hemingway said he would like to keep one person at each of the two upper buildings as much as possible, saying he's not a fan of moving administrators from building to building.

He said those two individuals are already employed at the school and he expects them to stay on with their new job responsibilities. Any proposed cuts to the administrative team would come in fiscal year 2016-2017, when Hemingway is recommending the administrative team be reduced from 10 to 9 "point something," meaning, at this point, he just doesn't know.

Hemingway told the parents that the teachers and the teachers' union have already been appraised of the changes and more meetings with both would likely continue.

As of last night, the School Board hadn't made a final decision on Hemingway's proposals.

Full steam ahead on jail plan

LACONIA — Belknap County Commissioners voted last evening to seek proposals from architectural firms to develop a schematic plan for a proposed 64-bed "community corrections" facility which is recommended by a consulting firm hired in January by the commissioners.
Commission Chairman Dave DeVoy said that he hopes to bring a bond issue for around $7 million to the Belknap County Convention for approval before the year ends in order to build the new facility, which is modeled on a similar one built in Sullivan County (Claremont) in 2008.
DeVoy said that the yearly payment on a bond issue of that size would be around $550,000, which the county could handle without a tax increase as bonds which are currently costing $600,000 a year in principal and interest payments will be retired in the near future.
''The taxpayers won't feel the pain'' said DeVoy, who acknowledged that increased staffing is a major issue but hoped that the commission ''can reshape things around here and make up the difference.''
Questioned by Rep, Mike Sylvia (R-Belmont) on whether the cost of the schematic design would be included in a proposed bond issue, DeVoy said that he anticipated that there would be sufficient funds for the design in a newly created account in the 2015 budget for jail planning. Over $400,000 has been set aside.
Commissioners made the decision after hearing from Kevin Warwick and Ross Cunningham of Alternative Solutions Associates, Inc., the firm the county hired for $40,000 to develop a program for a community corrections facility that emphasizes rehabilitation.
The plan they presented would see 30 treatment beds, 20 for men and 10 for women, and 34 work release beds, 24 for men and 10 for women. The new facility, which would be built next to the current jail and connected to it through a newly created control room. It would contain 22,327-square-feet and a suggested addition which would include a small 2,500-square-foot gym, 1,500-square-feet of administrative space — all of which would bring the total space to just over 27,000-square-feet.
The facility would be of heavy commercial grade construction and would provide residential minimum security treatment as well as group space for programs.
Staffing requirements would be five correctional staff and a supervisor while program staff would entail three clinicians, two case managers, a full-time administrative assistant and half-time clerical person. But some of those positions would not require new hires as the estimated number of beds being used in the current facility would drop into the mid 40s, which would allow the transfer of some current staff to the new facility.
The consultants recommended that the county look at contracted workers from firms currently providing services for inmates to serve as program staffers, which could result in saving money and could prove to be a more effective model.
Other key considerations include a control room replacement for the current facility with a complete security system for a cost of $350,000, as well as upgrade to the HVAC system for the existing jail — with an eye to also having it handle the community corrections facility as well.
The consultants recommend that the work be completed on the new facility before any renovations are undertaken in the current jail.
Commissioner DeVoy wondered if it would be possible to undertake an upgrade of the HVAC system in the current facility as soon as possible and the consultants said that was a question which the architectural firm which is chosen would be best positioned to answer.

Cunningham, who was superintendent of the Sullivan County Corrections Department when they built the facility in 2008, said the county spent $5.8 million on the community corrections center and $1.3  million in upgrades to the existing jail. He cautioned that those costs came at a time when the economy was in recession and would have been much higher in a stronger economy.