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Trustees nix idea of converting Gale School to library

BELMONT — After deliberating in a non-public session held several weeks ago, the Library Trustees voted unanimously against supporting the Save the Gale School Committee's bid to use the old building as a public library.

According to Chair Mary Louise Charnley, the trustees went into a non-public session on October 15 because the topic involved the lease and or purchase of real-estate.

She said that included in the reasons not to support the idea were concerns about heating and supplying electricity to such a large building should it be moved and used as a library and whether or not locating a public library on school property was a viable idea.

"A public library must be available to everyone in a community," she said, noting that school districts typically need to control access to their campuses.

The Save the Gale School Committee had recommended relocating the historic Gale School from its perch above and behind the Belmont Middle School to a corner lot on Concord Street that currently belongs to the Shaker Regional School District. During a recent presentation to the Shaker Regional School Board, members Ken Knowlton and Pret Tuthill had suggested some kind of long-term lease from the school of the corner lot to the library should the committee's recommendation be accepted.

Gale School Committee member Diane Marden said last week she was disappointed with the Belmont Library Trustees decision.

She said "Plan B" is to go to the Belmont Board of Selectmen.

With plans to eventually move town offices into the Belmont Mill, members of Save the Gale School Committee have said that the town may need some space in the future for the senior center, a day care and other non-profit activities and the Gale School could be suitable for some of those needs.

She said committee members are also researching different options and grants for preserving the Gale School but reiterated that she thought its use as a public library would have been a "perfect fit."

The Save the Gale School Committee has also commissioned a report from an architect who noted that aside from the foundation, the circa 1894 building is in very good condition.

"The wood walls and posts supporting the floor and roof framing are plumb or very near plumb and do not show any visible signs of structural overstress or movement," wrote Alex Azodi of Omega Structural Engineers.

The N.H. Division of Historical Resources weighed in in August of 2013 that the school is architecturally and historically significant.

Discussions surrounding the potential restoration, relocation, and reuse of the school have occurred on and off for at least the past 10 years. The building belongs to the Shaker District but its historical significance is centered around the town of Belmont.

According to previous news reports, the Gale School was used by the school district until the 1970s when it was converted to unheated storage. Depending on who is asked, estimates to demolish the building could run between $40,000 and $100,000.

Aside from the August presentation by the Save the Gale School Committee, the School Board has discussed the school once this year. Although no decisions were made, members encouraged Superintendent Maria Dreyer to explore options and made some suggestions that removing the bell tower and possibly incorporating it some future town project.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 November 2013 12:21

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Bandit brandishing knife holds up Lakeport market

LACONIA — Police continue to investigate an armed robbery that occurred at the P&P Market on Elm Street Sunday afternoon.

Police said that at 3:57 p.m. a while male with a light brown goatee entered the store wielding a 10-inch fixed-blade knife. He demanded and received an undisclosed amount of money.

Police released three photos of the man to the media yesterday that were obtained from the video surveillance cameras in the market.

The bandit is described as wearing a brown hooded-sweatshirt with a red T-shirt underneath, a black coat, blue jeans, and white sneakers. Police said he is about 35-years-old.

Anyone with any information is asked to call the Laconia Police at 524-5252 or the Greater Laconia Crime Line at 524-1717.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 November 2013 01:45

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Budget Committee endorses Gilford Fire Department plan as proposed

GILFORD — In a nearly 180-degree turnaround from last year's discussions, the Budget Committee last week endorsed without much comment the recommended Fire Department budget for 2014 of $1,682,083.

The total proposed budget is $21,491 or 1.3 percent higher than last year, most of which is reflected by a 3-percent raise for staff and the replacement of some protective clothing for firefighters that Chief Steve Carrier said is replaced every seven years.

The operations portion of the proposed 2014 budget is down about 3.3 percent or $6,300. Carrier said he had reconfigured his call roster to try and keep overtime down. Overtime represents about 16 percent of the wage line.

Carrier said he didn't anticipate any major equipment purchases except the purchase of a new ambulance that is part of the town's overall Capital Improvement Program budget and will appear as a separate warrant article. The ambulance is expected to cost $205,000 — all of which will come from the ambulance revenue account except $59,000 that is in an old capital reserve ambulance account.

He is also asking for a "rehab" of Engine 2. Carrier said he wanted to stay away from the work "refurbishment" because the "rehab" is not a complete overhaul but is painting the truck, adding an updated light bar, and possibly replacing the radiator.

Carrier noted the Engine 4 — the subject of so much controversy during last year's budget-building cycle — is operating well and can be used as the first attack engine for the month that Engine 2 is being rehabilitated.

The Budget Committee also recommended about $50,000 worth of work on the Fire Station. The request includes the second floor carpet, window replacements, and the complete replacement of the three bay doors on the ground level behind the station that were used by the Public Works Department when it was located there.

Carrier said efforts in the past to replace individual panels on the bay doors have been expensive and he's not sure if any replacement panels are still available.

He said that along with the new roof, he hopes the repairs will be more energy efficient.

The Budget Committee also approved without any comment a Police Department budget that includes the addition of an 18th officer. The total recommended amount is $2,434,959.

Selectman Gus Benavides said the last police officer position added to the ranks was in 2003, when the department added a School Resource Officer.

In order to allay any confusion, Benavides, who is the selectman's representative to the committee, reminded the Budget Committee that two years ago selectmen had recommended reducing the number of officers from 17 to 16 but the Budget Committee had overruled them and added back the money for the position.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 November 2013 01:41

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Standoff with suicidal man ends at 3:30 a.m.

GILFORD — After a four-hour armed standoff, law enforcement officials were able to convince an armed Cherry Valley Road man to give his handgun to police and be taken to the hospital for an evaluation.

Police said the incident began Saturday at 11:25 p.m. when the man called Gilford Police and told them he was suicidal.

Local police, along with members of the Belknap County Special Operations Group, responded while troopers from the New Hampshire State Police closed Cherry Valley Road.

The standoff took place in the Cherry Valley Condominiums at 663 Cherry Valley Road. Sgt. Christopher Jacques said the police had a plan for evacuating some of the surrounding units but police were able to make contact with him via telephone so there was no evacuation.

"It was a combination of physical entry and speaking with the individual," Jacques said, describing how police took the man into custody.

Jacques said there was a child in the apartment with the distressed man. He said the child was older than six but was still young enough to be considered a child. The child was uninjured.

At 3:30 a.m. the man allowed an officer into the apartment and he was taken to Lakes Region General Hospital for evaluation. Jacques said no criminal charges had been filed.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 November 2013 01:23

Hits: 385

 
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