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Save Gale School Committee encouraged after meeting with Shaker board again

BELMONT — The Shaker Regional School Board agreed to allow the Save the Gale School Committee continue exploring possible uses for the historic but now empty building.

Committee member Ken Knowlton said the board seemed interested in preserving the Gale School with an eye to possibly using the relocated school as a public library.

"The didn't say no," Knowlton said, commenting last week on his appearance before the board. "We are interpreting that they like the idea and want to see more."

"They agreed that the research (done by the Save the Gale School Committee) could continue," confirmed Superintendent Maria Dreyer.

Knowlton said one of the School Board's biggest concerns was moving the school — now located on the edge of Bryant Park, behind the Middle School — only to see it abandoned again in a new location.

The Shaker Regional School District owns the Gale School. It also owns the corner lot near the Middle School that borders on Concord Street — the proposed site for any relocation. Knowlton said his initial idea would be for the library to lease the land from the School District.

Knowlton, former School Board member Pret Tuthill, Diane Marden, and Wallace Rhodes are the core of the Save The Gale School Committee. In the past few months, they have taken a two-pronged approach toward saving the 1890's school, with Knowlton and Tuthill working with the School Board and Marden and Rhodes working with the Library Trustees.

Marden and Rhodes made a similar presentation in September to the Belmont Public Library Trustees at the same time Tuthill and Knowlton were meeting with the School Board. Library Trustee Chair Mary Louise Charnley said last week that the trustees listened to their presentation but haven't had a chance to review or discuss it.

She said now that a librarian has been hired, she expects the trustees to have some kind of public discussion regarding the Save the Gale School Committee proposal at one of their upcoming meetings.

In the committee's mind, relocating the school to the corner lot and making it into the Belmont Public Library is a win for both — the Middle School gets better use of the land behind it and the library gets a chance to expand.

When Knowlton was asked if there was a "Plan B" should the library not want to relocate, he said the Save the School Committee "would cast a wide net" for potential users.

Knowlton said the next step is to go before the Board of Selectmen to update them on the committee's work.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 07 January 2014 12:17

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Plymouth beats Sachems 37-0

PLYMOUTH — The Sachems (2-4) traveled to Plymouth Saturday and only managed seven first downs and 115 total yards in a 37-0 loss.

It was Laconia's second game against an undefeated team in as many weeks. Unlike last week against Mondadnock Regional (Swanzey), the Sachems would not score 37 points.

The Bobcats (6-0), led by senior quarterback Colin Sullivan and running back Jared Kuehl, controlled the tempo from the opening whistle. Kuehl had two scores, one receiving and the other on the ground, while Sullivan threw for two and ran for another.

"We competed well and made them do things that they normally wouldn't have on offense," coach Craig Kozens said of his young Laconia team. "The backbreaker was giving up a touchdown eight seconds before halftime."

Laconia intercepted Sullivan with 23 seconds remain in the half, only to return the favor on the very next play. Eight seconds remained in the half after the pair of picks. The Bobcats would make Laconia pay for the turnover when Sullivan hooked up with Kuehl coming out of the backfield for a 27 yard touchdown. The score increased Plymouth's lead 28 at the half.

Laconia's offense went three and out four times in the first quarter. The second saw Laconia's longest drive of the day, which consisted of nine plays and two first downs. "We could have used Kyle Chiasson" said Kozens. He did not play due to shoulder injury. "He is a key part of the offense and in the secondary."

Laconia would have four possessions on offense in the second half. Plymouth's defense would produce three turnovers.

Laconia will be home on Friday night when they host Lebanon (2-4) in a NHIAA division II North Conference showdown. Game time is at 7 p.m. at Bank of New Hampshire Stadium.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 October 2013 02:14

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LPD focusing on stopping underage drinking

LACONIA — On a recent weekend, a group of youths gathered at the home of a friend to have a party. All of the usual beverages were served and it's likely that up to a certain point, many thought they were having a good time.

But, according to police, by the time the party ended, one young man was treated in the emergency room of Lakes Region General Hospital for excessive consumption of alcohol, the police had arrived at the party, parents were notified, and three of the older youths, ages 18 and 19, were cited for unlawful possession of alcohol.

The above scenario plays out fairly regularly in Laconia. According to Lt. Al Lessard, 77 people under the age of 21 were charged with unlawful possession of alcohol in 2012. So far this year, 45 have been cited.

For those who are convicted, a mandatory minimum fine of $300 will be paid. It's $600 for a second offense.

Three people in Laconia were charged in 2012 with facilitating a house party while so far this year two have been charged with the same offense. A misdemeanor, those convicted of facilitating a house party where drugs or alcohol is made available to minors, can pay up to a $1,200 fine.

Police have taken a multi-pronged approach toward under-aged drinking. There are grants that the Police Department gets annually that allows extra officers to be on patrol during times of anticipated high need — like graduation, prom, home football games and the upcoming holidays.

A group of officers has adopted under-aged drinking as one of its Problem-Oriented Policing (POP) projects, that was articulated at the most recent Police Commission meeting.

Working with the School District and other civic organizations like Stand Up For Laconia and the Lakes Regional Partnership For Public Health, the police have a goal of education the community on under-age drinking and DWI laws, promote a "chem-free" lifestyle and change the perceptions of those who violate drinking laws, and to improve communications between parents, minors, and parents.

Each POP project is lead by a supervisor, in this case Sgt. Mike Finogle, and a team of police officers, a dispatcher, and a civilian employee. Senior Patrol Officer Steve Orton is also a member of the Underage Drinking team.

Not only can under-aged alcohol abuse cause legal problems for those who imbibe more and more scientific research has shown that early alcohol use can have a detrimental effect on developing brains.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, "young adulthood is a period when most people make critical educational, occupational, and social decisions, and impaired cognitive functioning at this time could substantially affect their futures."

The NIAAA conducted its study in 2000 on the neuropsychological performance of young people who were between the ages of 15 and 16 and who were in treatment for alcohol dependence and found that as compared to the control group of student who hadn't consumed alcohol and found they performed worse on a number of verbal and non-verbal memory tests.

A follow up on the same people eight years later indicated that active abusers did worse than the abstainers on with attention tasks and those who had experienced withdrawal symptoms — hangovers or shakes — did worse than those who were light drinkers.

The study also highlighted the development of brain structures and found the hippocampus — which lies deep in the brain and is critical to learning new information and memory — is adversely affected by alcohol use, especially by binge drinking.

"The ... earlier a person developed an (Alcohol Use Disorder) the smaller his or her hippocampi," read the report.

In addition, the NIAAA cited other studies which showed young people may be more susceptible to developing AUDs because the pre-frontal cortex — portion of the brain that controls impulses — continues to develop well into a person's 20s and damage is done in young brains to impulse control leading to poor decision making.

Research showed alcohol had the same effect on adult however the difference in young people was more acute when he or she drank alcohol.

The study also concluded that young people with Alcohol Use Disorders were at a higher risk of other psychiatric disorders including conduct disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and attention deficit disorders.

While the lasting physical and psychological effects of the above weekend party cannot be known at this time, the one thing that is guaranteed is the three young men who were charged with unlawful possession of alcohol as a result of the party will have to face a judge in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division.


CUTLINE - Laconia Police show their support for Stand Up for Laconia with a sign on their front lawn that they also bring to home football games. From left to right are Det. Jeff Wholley, Senior Patrol Officer Robert Sedgley, Chief Chris Adams, Officer Michelle Cardinal and Officer Kendra Neri. Many of those pictured participated in the recent Problem Oriented Policing project that targets underage drinking. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Gail Ober)

Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 October 2013 02:10

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TIF panel recommends spending $400k on WOW Trail

LACONIA — The committee managing the Downtown Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District will recommend borrowing $1,550,000 to fund seven projects, including one section of the WOW Trail and three of the riverwalk, when the City Council meets tonight.

Tax increment financing allows municipalities to delineate TIF districts, then apply a portion of the future tax revenues that accrue from the increase in assessed value generated by new construction, expansion or renovation of property in the district to finance public improvements by either paying cash or servicing borrowings, within that district. There are two TIF districts in the city, one downtown and another in Lakeport, and a third under consideration at The Weirs.

The boundaries of the downtown TIF district enclose an area roughly ringed by Fair Street, New Salem Street, Church Street, Union Avenue and Court Street. The district included 287 properties spread over 145 acres, which together represented a total assessed value of more than $70 million when the district was established in 2004.

The committee recommends investing $275,000 to improve the gateway to downtown at the Main Street Bridge, $400,000 to build the WOW Trail between Main Street and Fair Street, $25,000 to add signage and kiosks to the riverwalk and WOW Trail, $181,000 to connect the Main Street Bridge to the riverwalk at the Landmark Inn, $121,800 to extend the riverwalk through the Walgreen's property, $200,000 to create a pocket park where Water Street joins Pleasant Street and $300,000 to carry the riverwalk from City Hall to Church Street.

In addition, the committee is expected to recommend contributing up to $35,000 toward laying a larger water line to the property formerly housing the Evangelical Baptist Church on Veterans Square to facilitate its planned conversion to a restaurant, which will require installing sprinklers in the building.

The TIF account has a current balance of $311,353. City Manager Scott Myers projects the district to add $173,687 in revenue in 2014 and an additional amount each year thereafter for a total of $4,250,212 during the next 20 years. The committee proposes to borrow $1,550,000 at an estimated interest rate of 4.249-percent over 20 years, leaving the TIF fund with a balance of $2,080,123 when the debt is retired.

The effect of these projects would be to complete the stretch of riverwalk along the north bank of the Winnipesaukee River from the Fair Street Bridge to the Church Street Bridge, except for the crossing of Beacon Street West. Planning Director Shanna Saunders said that the connection would be made when Chinburg Builders completes the commercial development planned at the Beacon Street West Condominiums. Ultimately a second stretch of riverwalk is planned to extend along the southern bank of the river and join the first at the two bridges to form a continuous loop.

The committee estimates that the cost of completing the loop by building 11 segments of the riverwalk along the south bank of the river would approach $2-million. Along with the riverwalk, the committee is considering adding an exterior staircase and security cameras to the parking garage and constructing public restrooms downtown and a footbridge across the river.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 October 2013 01:57

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