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Trying to predict future enrollment, Shaker board to pay for another study

BELMONT — The Shaker Regional School Board voted Tuesday night to pay $8,000 for a demographic study similar to the one they have been doing every other year for the past eight.

The vote gave administrators the ability to contract with Peter Hoffman who will have the study completed at the earliest in March or April of 2014.

The board has some discussion about having a different economist do the study but Business Administrator Deb Thompson said the others she contacted in the past charged nearly twice as much.

The most recent demographic study performed by Hoffman and released in 2013 predicted a "bubble" or swell in the Belmont Elementary School enrollments beginning in 2014. He based his predicting in part of higher birthrates in Belmont that seem to buck the state-wide trend of declining birthrates.

"Enrollment could consistently exceed the school's core capacity starting in 2014, approaching or exceeding 500 student for at least few years while dropping off staring in 2017," wrote Hoffman.

His predictions prompted a discussion at the school board level about possible class shifting and the possibility of finding space for three additional class rooms.

Last night Superintendent Maria Dreyer noted that the "bubble is upon us" but with Belmont Elementary enrollments at 448 students the school is at its maximum capacity but it appears nowhere near the 500 number predicted by Hoffman.

School Board Chair Heidi Hutchinson said she would like to see at least one more demographic study done. She also said she would like some current data from the administration about how many Belmont/Canterbury students are enrolled in private schools.

Dreyer said that it would also be good to know how many Shaker students were being home schooled but she said due to a change in the reporting requirements at the state level the most recent information she has is from last year when there were 41 students from 26 families being home schooled.

Last Updated on Thursday, 11 September 2014 12:28

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Dollar Tree store planned for site of old Aubuchon business at Court & Fair

LACONIA — The Planning Board this week unanimously approved plans to further redevelop the lot at the corner of Court Street and Fair Street where fire destroyed a large building housing six businesses a year ago.

Mike McCarthy, the principal of Faircourt Plaza Condominiums, plans to construct a 8,991-square-foot building toward the rear of the 2.7-acre property, which will be home to Dollar Tree, a discount variety store selling items for $1 or less. Headquartered in Chesapeake, Virginia, Dollar Tree, Inc. owns and operates nearly 5,000 stores in 48 states and Canada.

The building will be one of five on the site, joining the Cross Insurance Agency, Advanced Auto Parts and two existing buildings at the northwest corner of the lot facing Fair Street, — one of 4,742-square-feet and another of 6,594-square-feet — offered as either retail or office space.

Meanwhile, on a larger scale, Dollar Tree, Inc. is engaged in a bidding war with Dollar General, the largest of the three national chains of discount variety stores, to acquire the third — Family Dollar, which has operated on Main Street in Laconia for many years. In July, Family Dollar agreed to a cash offer of $8.5 billion, or $74.50 per share, from Dollar Tree, with 4,891 stores and annual sales of $2 billion the smallest of three chains. Dollar General, the largest of the trio with 11,338 stores in 40 states and annual sales of $4.5 billion, has since trumped Dollar Tree with a cash bid of $9.2 billion, or $80 per share. This week, after the directors of Family Dollar, which has rebuffed offers from Dollar General in the past, again recommended that shareholders accept the offer from Dollar Tree, Dollar General appealed directly to shareholders with what has become a hostile bid.

Last Updated on Thursday, 11 September 2014 12:14

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County Home administrator fired; Logue appealing to 3-lawmaker panel

LACONIA — The Belknap County Commission last week terminated Matthew Logue as the administrator of the county nursing home and this week he formally requested a public hearing into his dismissal before the county personnel committee, which consists of the chairperson, vice-chairperson and clerk of the Belknap County Convention.

Logue was hired by the commissioners to run the home in December 2012, after a nationwide search. For the six months prior to accepting the position he had been serving as administrator at the Wolfeboro Bay Care and Rehabilitation Center. For 15 years he had been employed by National Healthcare in the Ft. Myers, Florida area.

The members of the county personnel committee are Representatives Colette Worsman (R-Meredith), who chairs the convention, Bob Greemore (R-Meredith) and Richard Burchell (R-Gilmanton), the clerk. The public hearing has been scheduled for Monday, September 22, beginning at 6 p.m. at the Belknap County County complex.

"We are having a hearing and following the RSAs (state laws)," Worsman said yesterday.

The notice of the hearing reads that Logue's request for a hearing "is related to a negative employment action taken against him by the Belknap County Commissioners" and was made in accord with RSA 28:10-a, the state statute bearing on the discharge or suspension of county employees. The law provides that an employee with at least one year of service cannot be terminated or suspended "except for dishonesty, intoxication, immoral behavior or other misconduct, neglect of duty, negligence, willful insubordination, lack of cooperation, inefficiency, incapacity or unfitness to perform his duties, or for the good of the institution to which he is assigned."

Before discharging an employee the commissioners must prepare a statement of the grounds and reasons for their action and present to the employee not less than 10 or more than 30 days before the effective date of dismissal.

County Administrator Debra Shackett said Wednesday only that Logue was terminated "for cause."

The statute entitles employees like Logue, who are not members of a union, whose discipline is prescribed by the collective bargaining agreement, to request a public hearing before the county personnel committee, which may uphold or reverse the decision of the commission. Employees may appeal decisions of the committee tot he New Hampshire Supreme Court.

If the county personnel committee reverses the decision of the commission or if the employee successfully appeals to the Supreme Court, the employee shall be reinstated without loss of compensation and reimbursed for legal costs and reasonable attorney's fees as determined by the county personnel committee.

In the meantime, Charlotte Flanagan of New Hampton, who had overseen staff development, infection control and quality assurance at the county nursing home since 2007, has been appointed interim administrator.

Last Updated on Thursday, 11 September 2014 12:09

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WEEKEND - 50+ steamboats participating in this weekend's Lee' Mill Meet - 750 words

MOULTONBOROUGH — The 42nd annual Lee's Mills Steamboat Meet is both the largest and oldest in the country and steamboats from as far away as Maryland, Virginia, Ohio and Canada have already arrived already for the annual meet, which runs through this weekend and will see 50 or more steamboats participating.
It didn't start out as much back in 1972 when enthusiast David Thompson decided to hold a steamboat meet on Lake Winnipesaukee. Only four boats showed up.
But over the years the meet has continued to grow in popularity and continues to attract a loyal following of steam boaters, many of whom return year after year.
Typical of those steam enthusiasts is Charles Roth of Glen Gardner, New Jersey, who has been showing up for about 20 years and who showed up this year with his latest boat, the Rachel Z , which he built himself four years ago, building both the hull and the boiler.
Roth, now 81, refers to himself as a steamboat aficionado, and says that steam boating is akin to a disease.
A former product design engineer, Roth says he started out building model steamboats before going on to something bigger. The Rachel Z is his fourth boat and he says that when he first brought it to the meet it had a boiler and a steam engine but no plumbing.
''There was plenty of help around and we got it up and running within a few days,'' says Roth.
Another boat owner, Al Dunlop of Lake George, New York, says that he first brought his steamer Aurora Borealis to the meet in 1997 and that it made its first run under power on Winnipesaukee.
''I had made the whole thing, the hull, the bat itself and used a casting set to make the engine.'' says Dunlop, who recalls that his boat had four plastic lawn chairs for seats which were set atop plywood floors that spanned the deck area.
Like many of those bringing their boats to the meet, Dunlop has an engineering background, having worked at Bell Labs for 25 years before retiring in 2001.
Among the regulars at the meet is David Thorpe of Meredith, whose 25-foot fantail steamboat "The Wicwas" was first launched in September of 2002.
Thorpe is both a mechanical engineer and electrical engineer with decades of experience in high tech manufacturing. He not only machined the original engine for his steamboat from metal castings, but also built a second engine himself, which now powers the vessel.
Thorpe says that the hull, engine and deck were complete when he first launched the boat, but the boat lacked seating and canopy when he showed up at his first meet.
Over the next three years he put those elements in place and a few years ago added a Windermere Kettle, a popular item with English steam boaters of the late 19th century which hold a few quarts of water and which has an internal coil through which steam is passed, bringing the water rapidly to a boil.
Thorpe and his wife, Marge, are again hosting visitors from England aboard the Wicwas, John and Brenda Win from Abingdon on Thames, the home of the MG Motor Car company.
Winn, who has attended the Lee's Mills event about a half dozen times, is the head of the Steam Boat Association of Great Britain, and says that Thorpe is the go-to-guy when it comes to steamboats. ''His boat is technically superb. He understands steam,'' says Winn.
Winn said that English steamboating's most popular spots are along the Thames River and at Lake Windermere in England's Lake District.
He noted that Thorpe's engine has different sized pistons for low pressure and high pressure steam movement and that one of his adaptions to his system has proved so popular that 14 other boaters are now using the same valve.
The meet will run through Sunday and will feature a big parade of steamboats on the lake Sunday morning at 10 a.m.
Spectators are welcome and can get a chance to talk with the boat owners and maybe even get a ride. Visitors are asked to park their cars well off the road in order to allow access for the steamboats, which are trailered in, as well as for emergency vehicles.
Lee's Mills can be reached from either Rte. 25 or Rte. 109 by following signs to the Loon Center, which is a short distance away from the public docks at Lee's Mills.

Last Updated on Friday, 12 September 2014 02:34

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