Belmont Police will spend $31k on new dispatch console

BELMONT — Selectmen authorized the police chief to spend $31,400 with Ossipee Mountain Electronics for a new dispatch console.

At this year's annual Town Meeting, voters approved up to $45,000 for the new equipment.

Chief Mark Lewandoski said he has been working with two electronics suppliers over the past six months to determine what would be the best fit for Belmont's limited-space dispatch room as well as something that will last the department for the next 25 or 30 years.

He said the console the department uses now was a hand-me-down from the Laconia Police Department.

Lewandoski said it would be an ergonomic system that could be moved should the department ever get a new or upgraded building. He also noted that should the day come when the town needs a second dispatcher, this system can be expanded.

He said he preferred the one from Ossipee Mountain because it is a three-screen touch-screen system that only uses one keyboard and one mouse. He said it enables a police dispatcher to touch the screen and connect with the Fire Department if necessary.

"We won't have to replace this again in another five years," Lewandoski said.

In other business, selectmen also agreed to apply for an Emergency Management Performance grant for the purpose of updating the town's emergency operations plan.

Fire Chief Dave Parenti said the plan should be updated every five to seven years and the town is two years overdue.

He said the funding comes in the form of a matching grant but the match will come in the form of employee hours needed to complete the plan. Parenti said that should the town get the grant, he would create a committee of himself, the fire chief, and a few representatives of the town to create and update the new plan.

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Detailed look at 3 roundabouts plan draws big crowd in Meredith

MEREDITH — The main Community Center meeting room filled to overflowing last evening when the Rte. 3/Rte. 25 Advisory Committee presented its recommendation for addressing traffic congestion along the north-south, eats-west corridor between Lake Street and Pleasant. Street at a workshop hosted by the Board of Selectmen..

Carla Horne, who chairs the Selectboard, reminded the crowd that purpose of the meeting was to provide information, not provoke debate, about the plan and asked residents to confine their questions to technical issues. She said that a public hearing will be held on the merits of the proposal on Monday, January 26, after which the selectmen will either reject or accept the recommendation of the committee.

Selectman Lou Kahn, who chaired the committee, noted that efforts to address the traffic through town have been underway, if sporadically, since 1975 and included two proposals by the New Hampshire Department of Transportation (DOT), one a six lane highway along the lakefront, which the town rejected. The predecessor to the committee, which included representatives of nearby towns, met 26 times from 2006 to 2009, but failed to agree on a recommendation.

Kahen explained that the committee, composed exclusively of "stakeholders" from Meredith, was convened when the DOT announced it had received $4 million in federal funding for the project. The panel, he said, met nine times to consider all the alternatives, among them options weighed and scuttled in the past.

The DOT, Kahn noted, preferred a 2-lane roundabout at the junction of Rte. 3 and Rte. 25, which traffic models indicated would have the most significant impact on congestion. However, the committee rejected this option because it would damage the properties on all four corners of intersections and hinder the movement of crosstown traffic between Main Street and Rte. 25. Furthermore, the expanse of pavement required would be "just plan ugly".

Instead, Kahn said the committee chose "a system of roundabouts" — at Lake Street, the primary junction and Pleasant Street — explaining each has an effect on the others." Together they would facilitate "a steady, slow, moving flow of traffic," which he claimed would be an improvement. At the same time, he said "it will make the town much more attractive," picturing landscaped and lit roundabouts connected by roadway divided by a tree lined median strip. "This is a gift from the federal government," Kahn declared, "which you all love I know."

Gene McCarthy of McFarland Johnson of Concord, project manager for the DOT, said the plan offered "a very efficient way of moving traffic." There would be some 2,000 feet of roadway without a traffic signal and, with the roundabouts and median strips, no left turns, which impede the flow of traffic. He stressed that the roundabouts are designed to accommodate large trucks and emergency vehicles and the 20-foot width of the travel lanes either side of the median strip will enable emergency vehicles to navigate through traffic.

McCarthy characterized the impact on abutting properties as minimal. Ten parking paces would be lost at Bay Point and six at Mill Falls to the central roundabout. Scenic Park would be spared by widening Rte. 25 between five and 10 feet on the north side of the road. There would be pedestrian crossings at each leg of all three roundabouts, so no one would have to cross more than one lane of traffic at a time.

"Are we doing this for the townspeople of for the people coming through here?" asked the first questioner. "And is it worth it?"

McCarthy replied that "community character is driving this as much as traffic."

Kahn said that the plan would significantly improve the movement of traffic in nine months of the year. "We're not only getting rid of a traffic light but also a helluva lot of ugly pavement," he said, adding that the improvements "will dress up the lakefront."

Nancy Winter of Pleasant Street, who said her grandson was struck where Pleasant Street joins Rte. 25, expressed concern at the speed of traffic coming down the hill. McCarthy said that because roundabouts have a calming effect on traffic, speeds would diminish along the entire corridor.

"Roundabouts don't work with bumper-to-bumper traffic," said Bob Ambrose, who expected heavy traffic in the summer months, especially on weekends, would clog the roundabouts and increase the congestion.In addition, he raised concerns about shrinking Rte. 25 between Pleasant Street and the intersection with Rte. 3 to a single lane.

Ambrose was echoed by Dave Connor, who travels east to west in the morning and west to east in the evening daily. "I'm a little disappointed," he said, anticipating that the plan was more likely to increase than decrease congestion.

"This is not a capacity project," said McCarthy, conceding "we haven't widened the corridor. Have we added capacity? No."

Horne urged those interested to visit the DOT website at, which includes the proceedings and documentation that led to the Advisory Committee's recommendation.


CAPTION: At the podium, Gene McCarthy of McFarland Johnson, project manager for the Rte. 3/Rte. 25 improvement project in Meredith, fields a question about the proposed system of three roundabouts recommended by the Advisory Committee from Bob Ambrose before a full house at the Community Center. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Michael Kitch).

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48% of Children's Auction proceeds come from Pub Mania

LACONIA — The NH1 Children's Auction concluded Saturday with an appearance by Governor Maggie Hassan, who announced that this year's even raised $486,575 to be distributed to local not-for-profit agencies, the second highest total ever recorded.
Last year the event raised $510,801 with a major contribution of $90,000 coming from the Lakes Region Home Builders and Remodelers Association through a home the organization built to raise funds for the auction.
Nearly half of the money raised this year, some $235,595, was raised by the annual Pub Mania event hosted by Patrick's Pub & Eatery in Gilford, which far surpassed the $177,545 raised last year at the event,.
Total funds raised by the Pub Mania event, which has been held for six years, now total over $797,000, according to Allan Beetle, Patrick's co-owner.
"The Children's Auction is a truly amazing event that brings people to action on behalf of others" said Beetle. "Pub Mania brings out that spirit. Our goal is to make an impact in our community and to have lots of people participate with us in that effort".
Inspired by Laconia Athletic & Swim Club's long-running "Cycle Mania" fundraiser, Patrick's reserves bar stools to teams that commit to filling the stool with a different team member each hour of the event. With 30 teams and 24 people per team, the event has 720 "Culinary Athletes" participating. Each participant raises funds for their respective teams, with teams enjoying a healthy competition for three coveted awards: Top Dollar Award, Feeding Families Award and Outstanding Team Award.
The top three teams raised over $60,000, total, including Supreme Marine's Dream Team with captain Matt Resca, Café Déjà Vu team, captained by Benda Ferland and Tony Felch, and newcomer Team BPS, captained by Randy Remick and Keith McBey, who raised the most money of any single team this year with a total of almost $25,000.

"Team BPS had a blast this year and we're looking forward to next year. Who knew you could have this much fun helping kids and families. Hats off to all of the Pub Mania teams" exclaimed team captain Randy Remick, president of Bonnette, Page & Stone.

The team from Laconia Country Club's 19th Hole, captained by Lucy Jacobsen, which raised almost $11,000, was also the winner of the Feeding Families Award, bringing 3,361 food items to the food pantry. In addition to the money raised, the Pub Mania teams also delivered over 5,551 food items over the past year for the food pantry at St. Vincent de Paul Society in Laconia.
For the first time in it's 33-year history of the auction, which was started on WLNH radio in 1982 by Warren Bailey, the 5-day-long event was televised beyond the Lakes Region by WBIN-TV in Concord, which is owned by Binnie Media which also now owns WLNH.
WBIN broadcast live for two hours a day for the first four days of the auction and featured interviews conducted by Charlie Sherman, NH 1's special correspondent, and Shari Small, news anchor and reporter.
NH1 News also contributed $5,000 to meet the production costs of Lakes Region Public Access TV, which has been covering the auction since the 1990s and broadcasts the event in its entirety.

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