1,728 county residents signed up for insurance through ObamaCare

LACONIA — According to data compiled by the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), at least 1,728 residents of Belknap County enrolled in health insurance plans offered by the federal marketplace established by the Affordable Care Act between October 1, 2013 and April 19, 2014.

HHS collected data from 29,684 zip codes in the 36 states with federal or state marketplaces. The agency reported enrollment for nine of the eleven municipalities in Belknap County: Laconia, 453; Meredith, 319; Gilford, 251; Tilton-Northfield. 235; Belmont, 218; Sanbornton, 113; New Hampton, 77; and Center Harbor, 62. Fewer than 50 enrolled in Barnstead and no data was reported for Alton and Gilmanton.

In May HHS reported that in New Hampshire 64,901 residents were eligible to enroll in a plan offered on the marketplace and 40,262 had selected a plan by April 19.

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Addicted to Percocet, Gilmanton woman says Recovery Court program turned her life around

LACONIA — Less than two years ago, Nicole Center was arrested on a drug charge and it looked like she might end up serving jail time and becoming virtually unemployable because she would have had a criminal record.
But today, thanks to the Nathan Brody program at Horizons Counseling Center in Gilford and the Recovery Court program at the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia division, she has turned her life around.
''The detective who arrested me saw that I had drug problem and really needed help,'' says Center, who says she has now been sober for 13 months and was recently promoted to a manager's position at DeAngelo's sandwich shop in Concord.
Not only that, she's also engaged and says that her relationship with her nine and half year old son, Calvin, has greatly improved.
''I was present in his life, but I was never really a part of it until the last few years. Now I'm able to show him the love and care he needs and he's proud of me.'' says Center.
''I can't say enough good about the programs that I've been involved in. They taught me how to live and take care of myself. I now know that I am a valuable person and that's something I didn't think I would think of myself as. And I'm engaged and I never thought that would happen. My life is completely different now,'' says Center.
She said that she was addicted to the pain killer percocet and knows that she has continually work on her addiction problem, one day at a time. In addition to working 50 hours a week, she now attends twice weekly meetings as part of the Recovery Court program as well as five AA or NA (Narcotics Anonymous) meetings a week.
''I just wish there was help for more people in my situation. The local Recovery Court program really needs funding and support from the community,'' she says.
Center attended an open house Wednesday at the Horizons Counseling Center marking a celebration of Recovery Month at which Judge James Carroll of the Laconia Circuit Court and Belknap County Attorney Melissa C. Guldbransden were honored for their efforts in making the Recovery Court work.
The Recovery Court initiative brought together the county Department of Corrections, the Public Defender's Office, the County Attorney, the county Restorative Justice Program and the District Court in a cooperative effort to engage offenders with substance use and co-occurring mental health disorders in an intensive treatment and skills building program. The program is geared toward supporting recovery and engendering responsibility and accountability through community service, education and employment.
Jacqui Abikoff of Horizons Counseling Center, noted that 14 people have taken part in the Recovery Court program since it started and said that she still remembers Judge Carroll said early on that despite the lack of funding that those involved would ''find a way to do it.''
Carroll said after he was presented his award that he was accepting it ''on behalf of the team'' and praised those who had made the Recovery Court program work.
Guldbransden, who said that she was initially very skeptical about the program, said that she was was pleased to see how it had improved the lives of people in the program.


CAPTION pix slugged Nicole Center:
Nicole Center of Gilmanton says that her participation in the Recovery Court program has helped change her life. ''I now know that I am a valuable person'' says Center, who is a manager at DeAngelo's in Concord and recently became engaged and says that she has developed a healthy relationship with her nine and a half year old son. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun).

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Electric Co-op say use-rate going up 29% on Oct. 1 because of natural gas prices

PLYMOUTH — The New Hampshire Electric Cooperative (NHEC), which serves some 14,000 customers in 10 of the eleven municipalities in Belknap County, yesterday announced that the Co-op Power rate, which represents the actual cost of electricity used by members, will increase 29 percent on October 1.

The rate will increase from 8.97 cents to 11.6 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh). For typical customers using 500 kWh per month the increase will add approximately $12.47 to their monthly bill. A slight drop in the Regional Access Charge, which also takes effect on October 1, will lessen the full impact of the rate increase. Moreover, the NHEC anticipates "a substantial reduction" in the Co-op Power rate when the summer pricing period begins in May.

Seth Wheeler, spokesman for the NHEC, said that the seasonal fluctuations in rates is part of a repetitive pattern likely to persist for at least two and perhaps three years. He explained that because nearly half the electricity in New England is generated by natural gas, wholesale electricity prices are driven by natural gas prices. Although the supply of natural gas has grown with the tapping of sources in Pennsylvania and New York, pipelines lack the capacity to meet winter demand in New England where much of the supply flows first to residential customers. As the price of natural gas for winter delivery climbs, the price of wholesale electricity rises with it.

Steve Kaminski, vice-president of power resources and access at NHEC, said that "these high winter wholesale costs will be working their way into the energy prices of most all the region's electricity suppliers over the next few months. "

In fact, earlier this week Liberty Utilities, with about 43,000 customers in Salem and the Upper Valley, announced it plans to double its energy charge from 7.73 cents per kWh to 15.4 per kWh, on November 1, which will add some $50 to the monthly bill of the average residential customer. John Shore, a spokesman for the company, attributed the rate increase to the projected rise in the price of natural gas.

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Gilford finds it will take $5,300 to bring power to a $4,545 sign that tells motorists how fast they are travelling

GILFORD – An electronic message sign that indicates how fast a vehicle is driving has been installed on Rte. 11-A near the intersection of Alvah Wilson Road but it's not the original sign the town purchased.

The initial purchase, completed in April of 2014, was a electrically operated speed sign that cost $4,545; however, when the town learned that Public Service of New Hampshire was going to charge them $5,300 to run the necessary power line to a transformer that was two poles away.

The solar-powred sign that was installed yesterday was purchased for about $300 more than the first one.

The electrical traffic sign is for sale at a discounted rate of $4,100 or best offer, Town Administrator Scott Dunn told Selectmen Wednesday night, but nobody seems to want it.

Dunn told selectmen that he contacted the company that sold the town the sign and asked them if they would sell it on consignment for them but was told no.

"They want to sell brand new units still in the box," said Dunn.

Selectman John O'Brien said he would like to see a speed sign on Rte. 11-A on the other side of the Gilford village as well and wondered if there was a pole with a transformer where the town could install it.

Selectman Gus Benevides said he only wanted one sign and would need to know the costs of electricity and installation.

Department of Public Works Director Sheldon Morgan said that PSNH charges about $250 to connect it to a meter and Lt. Kris Kelley said that once installed, it would use about the same amount of electricity as a 40-watt light bulb.

Both Morgan and Kelley said they were working on a way to retrofit the electrical sign with a solar panel. Selectmen Richard Grenier said he has a solar panel that he thinks will work.

"Do we keep it, do we reduce the price, or do we keep trying to settle this?" asked Benevides.

Grenier said he favored tabling the matter until he, Morgan and Kelley could see if they could retrofit it and the other two agreed.

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