PSU Dedicates Open Lab, key part of new integrated clusters model

PLYMOUTH — Plymouth State University dedicated its new "Open Laboratory" Monday in honor of long-time New Hampshire Executive Councilor Ray Burton, a 1962 graduate of what was then Plymouth Teachers College, who was remembered by all those who spoke as a dedicated public servant with a special allegiance to the North Country.
Located in Lamson Learning Commons, the lab offers students, faculty, community and business partners a technologically advanced space to collaborate and learn and is an important milestone in the university's transformation to an integrated clusters learning model.
"Integrated clusters allow us to provide the type of education, beginning at the freshman level, that integrates the learning process in such a way as to create opportunities to interact with our communities," said Donald L. Birx, PSU president. "Using open laboratories, we can work across disciplines and with community members to solve problems and challenges that give students insights into how education is relevant to the needs of the world."
He said that Burton, who provided 40 years of public service to the North Country as an Executive Councilor and Grafton County Commissioner, was a "role model for public service,"' and that it was fitting that the open lab should be named for him.
Governor Maggie Hassan said that Burton, who died on Nov. 12, 2013, at the age of 74, was one of the most dedicated and caring public servants the state has ever known and that his "unwavering commitment to service made our democracy and our state stronger."
Burton's long-time friend, Duane Baxter, chairman of the Raymond S. Burton Legacy Fund, and Reta Presby, who along with her husband, Wayne, own the Cog Railway and formerly owned the Mount Washington Hotel, donated $250,000 to establish what will be known as The Raymond S. Burton '62 Open Laboratory.
Baxter said that Burton was "a truly selfless public servant who believed in the power and value of practical experience. And he loved Plymouth State."
In June the university announced a multi-year reorganization plan that it said will prepare students for an active role in the revitalization of the region's economy. "Currently the University has 24 undergraduate academic departments organized under three colleges (Arts and Sciences, Business Administration and Education, Health and Human Services) and a graduate studies program for master's and doctoral students. The new structure is based on an integrated liberal arts education that gives the students the ability to think critically and link across multiple disciplines. It will be organized into seven interdisciplinary academic clusters, and feature open labs and collaborative partnerships with community and industry to provide students with integrated learning, research, and service opportunities."
Unlike the traditional program framework at most colleges, this new model focuses on innovation and entrepreneurship, will create opportunities for Plymouth State University students, faculty and community partners to work together on real-world challenges and projects.
"The landscape of public higher education is changing, and in addition to traditional degrees, employers seek graduates who can collaborate to solve problems, develop products, think innovatively and lead their organizations," said Birx. "Over the next few years, Plymouth State will evolve as an integrative university where students have significant opportunities to work with regional industry partners, and gain exposure to multiple disciplines."
The University System of New Hampshire Board of Trustees voted unanimously to support the strategic vision and infuse $10.6 million of USNH internal borrowing funds.
Beginning in September of 2017, all degree programs at Plymouth State University will be organized within the following academic clusters:
Arts and Technology
Education, Democracy and Social Change
Exploration and Discovery
Health and Human Enrichment
Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Justice and Security
Tourism, Environment and Sustainable Development
A significant feature of this new model is the concept of open labs. Open labs will place students and faculty in teams with community and business leaders on projects to create innovations and new discoveries. Plymouth State has a strong tradition of partnerships that will be enhanced by the new vision and open labs.
"For years, Plymouth State University has partnered with local businesses to involve students in real-life environments," said Robyn Parker, dean and faculty member in the current College of Business Administration and cluster development leader. "For example, each year a group of students works with the Common Man restaurant to develop new ice cream flavors. Students from various disciplines work in teams to research, design marketing materials, create business plans, manage budgets, develop and test their products, and introduce their ice cream flavors." Going forward, all Plymouth State students will have opportunities to participate in projects such as this.
Students will graduate from Plymouth State University with traditional undergraduate and graduate degrees, but once this model is implemented, students will also be able to earn certificates in various specialty areas within each cluster.

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New Hampton Thanksgiving fight lands man in jail

NEW HAMPTON — A Thanksgiving Day brouhaha between neighbors on Kelley Pond Road led to a host of charges against one man who allegedly tried to stab someone during the argument.

The argument began, according to police affidavits, when Scott Batchelder, 52, of 115 Kelley Pond Road, learned that one of his neighbors verbally chastised his granddaughter because she allegedly spat on him.

After learning of the scolding, Batchelder, who police said was intoxicated, went to his neighbor's house and started an argument with the people who were at his neighbor's home.

During the argument, Batchelder allegedly found himself surrounded by people and grabbed one of the males at the home and threatened to stab him with a knife he had on him.

At one point, said police, Batchelder held the knife to the man's throat but was able to get away.

Batchelder left after someone in the neighbor's home allegedly fired a gun in the air to settle everyone down. But before he left, affidavits said he was going to come back and kill one of the women in the house and her children.

While trying to arrest Batchelder, he allegedly struggled with two officers and kept his hands on the bars of the cruiser so they couldn't get him into handcuffs.

After futilely trying various pressure points and strikes with a baton, police used a Taser on him and Batchelder was down long enough for them to get one hand in handcuffs. He allegedly continued to struggle so police employed the Taser a second time and were able to get him in cuffs and into the cruiser.

He is being held on $25,000 cash or corporate surety in the Belknap County House of Corrections.

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Belknap House Readies for January Opening

LACONIA — The opening of Belknap House, the Court Street emergency shelter for homeless families, has been slowed by the discovery first of lead paint and then asbestos during the renovation, but the board of directors this week announced the appointment of an executive director and family support coordinator in anticipation of opening in January.

Colleen Garrity, president of the board, said that the shelter will have space to house six families, consisting of as many as 19 individuals. Only families referred by the welfare director of either the city of Laconia or one of the ten towns in Belknap County will be housed at the shelter, which will be a "dry" facility without either alcohol or drugs. The originating municipality will be responsible any costs or services associated with sheltering the families.

Belknap House will operate as a shelter in the cold weather months from October to May and as a hostel during the remainder of the year. Garrity said that the annual operating budget for the facility is expected to fall between $110,000 and $120,000. She said that fees from the hostel are projected to contribute some $40,000 towards the operating budget.

Don House, vice-president of the board, said after the property was acquired in April, renovation began in June. That's when the lead paint was found, prompting a round of fundraising to meet the cost of addressing the contamination. When work began in September, asbestos was discovered in the insulation. The contaminants have been removed and the renovation has included measures to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, plumbing and electrical work and fire alarm and sprinkler systems. Altogether the renovation represents an investment of more than $175,000, Garrity said.

Karen Welford of Laconia, who was among the founders of Better Together, will be the executive director with responsibility for overseeing and managing all aspects of the operation of Belknap House as well as for pursuing partnerships with local businesses, governments and civic organizations. She has extensive experience in child and family services and most recently served as director of the family resource center at Lakes Region Community Services and as a trainer at the New Hampshire Childrens Trust. She has also worked as director of the early intervention field services at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and director of professional development and quality for the New Hampshire family-centered early supports and services system. Welford is an adjunct professor at Plymouth State University and a consultant to state agencies and nonprofit organizations in New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

A self-described "community foot soldier, " Emery worked at the family resource center at Lakes Region Community Services as well as with Parents and Children Together and Upstream. She serves on the boards of Neighbors in Need and Stand Up Laconia and, as a recovery coach, is also a director of Navigating Recovery, a program to assist those seeking to overcome substance abuse. For many years she served on the board of Lakes Region United Way. Her job will be to assist families overcome the challenge of homelessness and place them in transitional or permanent housing.

This week the board will host an orientation session for those volunteering to staff the shelter. The orientation will take place on Thursday, Dec. 1, at the VFW Post 1670 at 143 Court Street between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. Garrity urged anyone interested in learning about the shelter and volunteering to operate it to attend. She said that the shelter will operate around the clock — 24 hours a day, seven days a week — from October until May, In particular, she said that volunteers are needed to host family activity and child care programs.

Belknap House is also launching its second annual appeal this week with an emphasis on encouraging contributors to enroll in a monthly giving program. And the annual Christmas Tree Sale, in partnership with the Laconia Kiwanis Club, is underway on Court Street, featuring fresh trees cut from Freedom Firs of Canaan, Vermont.


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