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Alton Central educator is N.H. Teacher of the Year

ALTON — Elizabeth Lichtenberg, a fourth grade teacher at Alton Central School, who is the 2015 New Hampshire Teacher of the Year, says that she was overwhelmed when she found out at a school assembly yesterday that she had received the honor.
She was interviewed by the selection committee in August but says that she had completely put the honor out of her mind. ''When I didn't hear from anyone I thought that was over,'' said Lichtenberg, who had no idea that yesterday's assembly was being held in her honor.
Students cheered wildly when the award was announced and after the ceremony gathered around her to give her hugs and congratulations.
Lichtenberg has been a part of the Alton community for five years. The selection committee says it recognized her innate ability to develop authentic relationships with her students.
''Her generous and optimistic demeanor welcomes students into the learning environment where she prides herself on providing the individual guidance, motivation, and nurturing each student needs to find success. Elizabeth puts great pride in ensuring the students are having fun, but requires that her students take risks as she makes every effort to facilitate growth and change by working closely with both students and parents. Her efforts in the classroom extend beyond the classroom doors as she connects her community to her classroom through a rich student centered curriculum. Her commitment to her students and their families, her school, and her community are remarkable.'' the committee said in a written announcement of the award.
Lichtenberg, who prefers to be called Liz, wrote in her application, "Each day I work to create an environment where my students feel an ownership over their own learning, make connections, and become intrinsically motivated because they can see how what they are learning and doing makes a difference in their community."
Her former principal, Sydney Leggett, wrote in her letter of recommendation, "Elizabeth Lichtenberg is an exceptional teacher and leader in our community at Alton Central School who inspires children, other teachers, and parents to be and do their best."
Lichtenberg, who grew up in Columbus, Ohio, says that she was motivated to become a teacher by her fourth grade teacher, Julie Keifer, who helped develop her passion for writing and reading and was until recently her long-time pen pal.
She began her teaching career in San Diego, California, before moving to New Hampshire and taught in Portsmouth for two years before moving to Alton.
And, while San Diego is said to have an ideal climate, Lichtenberg says that she prefers New Hampshire. ''San Diego is too crowded. I like the open space here and the people are wonderful. Alton Central School is the most amazing school I've ever been in. There are lots of people here who do exactly the same things I do and are equally deserving of this award,'' said Lichtenberg.
She said that because Alton is so big and spread out over so much territory that the school plays a central role in town. ''The school is our community. It's the gathering place for everyone in town,'' says Lichtenberg.
This year is her first year as the Gifted, Talented and Enrichment teacher for Alton Central School and she says that one of the reasons she was considered for the Teacher of the Year award is her willingness to work with everyone.
She and her husband, Aaron, who is a farmer, operate the Winnipesaukee Woods Farm, and raise vegetables at the former John Rogers farm on Hoyt Road in Gilford.
''We farm about one and a half acres and sell our produce at the Thursday night Farmer's Market in Laconia.'' she says.
Lichtenberg becomes New Hampshire's candidate for National Teacher of the Year award. In early December, she and other finalists for the 2015 NH Teacher of the Year will be invited to a "Leadership in Education Banquet" to celebrate their accomplishments along with other distinguished educators in the state.
Hannaford Supermarkets partners with the Department of Education to sponsor the New Hampshire Teacher of the Year program.

CAPTION: teacher of year

Elizabeth Lichtenberg, a teacher at Alton Central School, has been named the 2015 New Ham[shire Teacher of the Year. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 September 2014 12:38

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Skateboard park will remain open with fewer elements

LACONIA — Kevin Dunleavy, director of Parks and Recreation, said yesterday that although several failing elements have been removed from the skateboard park alongside the police station on Fair Street, the park will remain open.

Dunleavy said that time and weather have taken their toll on the wooden elements, some of which have have become unsafe and beyond repair. The original elements were constructed by students of the Huot Technical Center when the skateboard park opened in 2004.

The Parks and Recreation Commission discussed the future of the skateboard park when it met this week and, said Dunleavy, concluded that any further investment in the facility should be to purchase manufactured elements built of precast concrete or sheet metal, which would would be durable and less costly to maintain.

NOTES: After a resident, Josh Youseff, questioned a regulation prohibiting firearms in city parks as contrary to state law, the Parks and Recreation Commission lifted the ban. the rule read that "firearms shall not be used or carried in any manner on park property." Dunleavy said that the city attorney advised the commission that state law trumps municipal ordinances regulating the possession and carrying of firearms and recommended the rule be struck.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 September 2014 01:38

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Mutual Fire Aid budget proposed with 3.42% increase

LACONIA — The proposed 2015 operating budget for Lakes Region Mutual Fire Aid is up by about 3.42-percent, with the bulk of the increase reflected for funding for a newly developed capital improvement program.

According to Chief Jim Hayes, in 2015, $43,750 will be directed into the capital reserve fund. He said in 2014, $20,000 of the operating budget was diverted to capital reserve so the net increase to taxpayers for capital improvements will be $23,750.

He said each of the 35 member communities will pay an equal share — or $1,250 — of the capital improvement request because "the infrastructure has to be there."

"No element of it is used by only one community," Hayes continued.

Hayes said this is the first time the LRMFA has developed a working capital improvement plan. He said the goal is to get on a fixed cycle of repairing and/or replacing equipment to keep the budget somewhat level and not have capital costs spike in any particular year.

Aside from the communication center in Laconia, the LRMFA maintains 11 radio towers and countless radios throughout the membership area that stretches from Waterville Valley on the north, to Moultonborough on the east to Alton and Strafford on the south, and to Andover and Danbury to the west.

One of the concerns voiced year after year by elected representatives of the member communities is that they have no control over the development of the budget.

There is a public hearing scheduled for the proposed LRMFA budget on October 7 at 7 p.m. in the Academic Commons Room at the Lakes Region Community College in Laconia.

"The intent is to give people their legitimate voice," he said. "If there is a legitimate or broad concern then it would be the responsibility of the Board of Directors to address it."

Hayes said that each community has a representative on the Board of Directors — usually the fire chief — and it is that person's responsibility to reflect the needs and concerns of his or her community.

He also noted that the public hearing was a time for concerned members of the community to voice their opinions and hear how the LRMFA budget is developed. He said no motions for changes will be taken from the floor but any legitimate suggestions will be taken into consideration by the Board of Directors.

He also said that the monthly board of director meetings are open to the public. Hayes noted that every elected representative of every membership town was invited to the open house at the communications center this past Saturday and only one attended.

This is the second year the LRMFA has directly billed participating communities for its services. Until 2014, its budget was included in the Belknap County budget, which assessed the 11 county communities for their share. The rest of the members paid directly.

In 2014, the LRMFA left the umbrella of Belknap County and created its own assessment formula for all of the member communities.

Ten percent of the total budget is fixed to each community. In 2015 this will be $3,272 for each of the 35 members. Forty percent of the budget is distributed using an equalized valuation while 50-percent is assessed to communities according to population.

For Belknap County communities this means if this budget is approved by the board of directors that the town of Alton will pay $66,667 for an increase of 3.19-percent; Barnstead will pay $37,793 — an increase of 2.49-percent; Belmont will pay $55,452 — an increase of 2.36-percent; Center Harbor will pay $19,601 — an increase of 6.16 percent and Gilford will pay $79,690 — an increase of 2.29-percent.

The town of Gilmanton will pay $33,561 — a decrease of .12-percent; the city of Laconia will pay $128,848 — a decrease of .28-percent; Meredith will pay $78.053 — a decrease of 2.37-percent; New Hampton will pay $22,237 — an increase of 4.96-percent; Sanbornton will pay $29,488 — an increase of 6.07-percent and Tilton will pay $33,944 — an increase of 3.9-percent.

The proposed operating budget is up 1.4 percent from $1,139,535 in 2014 to $1,155,451 for 2015. The biggest drivers of the increase are technology and Internet services as well as bank charges and insurance.

Proposed labor costs will drop $21,599 or 2.26 percent from $954,479 to a proposed $932,880. LRMFA employes eight full-time people, three-part time people and seven per diem dispatchers. Only the eight full-time employees are eligible for health insurance that is contracted through the New Hampshire Health Trust — formerly known as the Laconia Government Center.

Projected maintenance costs for the LRMFA facility on Communications Drive are up 6.59 percent, most of which is reflected in a 30-percent increase in heating oil cost.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 September 2014 01:07

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Grants available to fund septic system evaluations

MEREDITH — The Lake Winnipesaukee Watershed Association (LWWA ) is accepting applications for grants to defray a portion of the cost of evaluating, repairing or replacing septic systems from property owners on Lake Winona and Lake Waukewan.

The grants, funded by the United States Environmental Protection Agency through the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES), are intended to assist property owners to comply with the septic system ordinance adopted by the town in 2012. The ordinance requires the owners of undocumented septic systems, designated as high risks of failure, to commission a certified or licensed septic system evaluator to conduct an on-site inspection of them within 24 months to certify that they have not failed. Following the initial certification, property owners would be required to have their systems inspected and certified every five years.

The LWWA has extended the period to apply for grants toward the evaluation of septic systems until October 1. To qualify the property must be a single-family home, duplex or seasonal camp within 250 feet of Lake Waukewan in either Meredith, Center Harbor or New Hampton with a septic system more than 25 years old with no record of having been approved by DES. Property owners are eligible to receive a maximum of $250 and there are sufficient funds for 31 evaluations.

Since the program began in November 2013, 12 property owners applied and 10 evaluations have been completed. In Meredith, four systems failed, two passed and one evaluation is pending while another four system were replaced. In New Hampton three systems passed and one evaluation is pending. One system passed in Center Harbor.

This month the LWWA began accepting applications for grants toward the repair or replacement of high risk or failing septic systems within 250 of either Lake Winona or Lake Waukewan. The grants represent one-third of the total cost, not to exceed $4,000, to repair or replace a failing system. With approximately $40,000, there are sufficient funds for ten $4,000 grants.

For more information contact the Lake Winnipesaukee Association at (603) 581-6632 or www.winnipesaukee.org.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 September 2014 01:03

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