Teamsters' union contract before county convention on Monday

LACONIA — A collective bargaining agreement between Teamsters Local 633 and the Belknap County Commission which will come before the Belknap County Convention for funding Monday night will have a $14,586.67 impact on this year's county budget and will save the county more than $26,000 next year.
The two-year contract was approved by commissioners two weeks ago and ratified by a majority vote of the 23 employees covered by the contract last week.
The agreement provides for pay-scale step increases for employees, which are based on individual performance reviews, as well as a 1.4 percent cost of living increase retroactive to April 1 of this year. In return, the employees agree to move to a less expensive health insurance plan which provides an option for dental insurance.
County Commission Chairman Dave Devoy (R-Sanbornton) said that the contract reduces health insurance costs and provides flexibility for the commissioners to change insurance carriers. Employees will change to a so-called "site of services" plan which he says will help the county keep from reaching the Affordable Care Act "Cadillac tax" threshold, which is a penalty on expensive health insurance plans that is due to kick-in in 2018.
A cost summary of the contract shows health insurance costs for the covered employees dropping from $336,433 this year to $322,543, a $13,890 decline, and from $356,881 next year to $300,400, a $56,481 decline.
In March the Belknap County Convention unanimously rejected a three-year collective bargaining agreement with the Teamsters local, which would have added $25,581 to the 2015 county budget.
The convention is scheduled to meet at 6 p.m. Monday evening at the Belknap County Complex. It will be preceded by a meeting of the convention's Executive Committee at 4:30 p.m. Commissioners are asking for the transfer from the Jail Planning account in the Department of Corrections' 2015 budget in order to fund a pilot program at the House of Correction which would provide assessment services to determine treatment needs of jail inmates.

Federal lawmakers salute Laconia police for Pumpkin Festival reiot help provided to Keene

LACONIA — The four members of the New Hampshire Congressional Delegation congratulated Chief Chris Adams and his staff for assisting Keene Police with the disturbances at the October 18, 2014 Pumpkin Festival.

The recognition was recognized at the Laconia Police Commission meeting yesterday afternoon.

"The Laconia Police Department displayed tremendous courage during the events of October 18, 2014 when responding to the rioters in Keene," wrote Sen. Jeanne Shaheen on behalf of herself, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, Rep. Annie Kuster and Rep. Frank Guinta.

"Your department's participation helped to diffuse this dangerous situation and was recognized by the New Hampshire law enforcement community when they nominated and selected your department for this award," she continued.

Various news agencies reported that students from Keene State College as well as other New England universities and colleges were drinking at gatherings in some of the off-campus housing sections of the city. Their parties spun out of control and police in riot gear responded with tear gas to quell the disturbance.

Media reports at the time indicated that 80 students were initially arrested and 16 more were identified by video cameras in the area. One-hundred seventy students were disciplined and college officials reported that two students were expelled, one withdrew, nine were suspended and many others paid fines and made restitution.

In other police business, Adams said National Night Out at Wingate Village was a great success despite the storm that blew through early in the event.

The annual Citizen's Academy is scheduled to begin on September 16 and there are openings, said Adams. Anyone who is interested should call the Laconia Police at 524-5252. The academy meets once a week for three hours for 10 weeks.

Capt. Bill Clary said about 25 people have been charged in the recent "drug roundup" conducted by police last week. He said that the department switched some schedules around and there was almost no overtime used.

After learning that three supervisors and six patrol officers were participating in a training class in Concord co-sponsored by the N.H. State Police and the Dept. of Homeland Security, Commissioner Armand Maheux said he would like some kind of accounting as to why officers go to the training and if they're getting anything out of it.

Adams and Prevention, Education and Control Officer Eric Adams are presenting their drug prevention program to the governor and Executive Council at the next meeting. Adams said there is some discussion about making Laconia's program a model for the rest of the state.

'Long day' ahead for northbound traffic through downtown

LACONIA — Main Street and Beacon Street East will soon be closed to traffic for what City Manager Scott Myers described as "a long day, from daybreak until early evening" when a water sealant membrane and two coats of asphalt are laid on the Main Street Bridge.

Although the work has yet to be firmly scheduled, Myers indicated that Monday, August 31 appeared the most preferable day to undertake the project. said that

Myers explained after the membrane, a liquid asphal product, is laid the one-an-a-half inch base course of asphalt and one-inch finishing cost of asphalt must be laid without interruption to ensure that there are no cold joints in the paving.

Acknowledging that ideally the work would be done at night, Myers said that because it is a relatively small project of approximately 250 tons of asphalt, the asphalt plant would only operate at night at a significant cost. Other expenses would include the cost of lighting the site and overtime wages. He said that neither the sate nor federal government, which are bearing shares of the cost of the project, would authorize their portion of these additional expenditures.

"We have not taken the closing southbound access to downtown lightly," Myers emphasized. He said that downtown merchants considered that closing the street on Monday, the weekday when trade is lightest, would have the least impact trade on their businesses. He said that a traffic pattern routing traffic to downtown by way of Church Street and Fair Street would be posted for the day of the closure.

Rift between Motorcycle Week Assoc. & 'Harley shop' now out in the open

MEREDITH — Simmering out of sight for some time, the rift between Anne Deli, president of Laconia Harley-Davidson, and the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association (LMWA) boiled over this week when Deli told the Board of Selectmen that the town was wasting its money by paying dues to the association.

Deli appeared before the board to speak against a proposal to levy licensing fee on transient vendors to defray municipal expenses incurred during the annual rally, which is centered at Weirs Beach. Urging the board to reject the proposal, she asked "does Meredith really want to put one more nail in the coffin of Motorcycle Week."

Her remarked prompted Nate Torr, chairman of the board, to ask if the town was wasting money by paying $5,000 in annual dues to belong to the LMWA, which Deli earlier had described as "insolvent".

Deli replied that Laconia Harley-Davidson left the association last year and this year, for the first time since she and her husband acquired the dealership in 2008, did not place an advertisement in the Rally News, the magazine published twice each year by the LMWA to promote the rally. She explained that the company received no significant return from either its membership in the association or advertising in the magazine.

Selectman Bev Lapham asked Deli if she could quantify the return on the investment in the LMWA and Rally News. "Yes," she replied, "based on sales and number of people (who visit their property)."

She said that she had spoken to Jeff Rose, Commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development (DRED) about whether the rally is important to the state. "Everybody says yeah, yeah, yeah, but it's going down like that," she said, dropping her hand toward the floor.

Deli told the board that her staff counted about 40,000 visitors to the dealership during the rally and estimated that between 80,000 and 100,000 attended the rally in 2015 — "a lot less than what's reported". When Jonathan James suggested that an aging demographic has contributed to the diminishing crowds, Deli replied "people come if there are things to do. There are not enough things to do."

Deli said that this year 1.2 million were drawn to the 75th Black Hills Motorcycle Classic in Sturgis, South Dakota, adding that a friend who attended told her what he loved about the rally was "organized chaos and people watching. The less there is to do, the less people there are, the less people watching there is. It's just a spiral." .

Ray Moritz wondered why if Deli is concerned by shrinking attendance, she left the organization formed to promote the rally. "A different marketing strategy should be put forth," she responded. "The magazine is probably not the right vehicle anymore." She explained that Laconia Harley-Davidson has pursued a digital marketing campaign, using an e-mail list of more than 20,000 addresses.

Reacting to Deli's remarks, Charlie St. Clair, executive director of the LMWA, recalled in 2008, when Deli and husband Steve, bought the dealership, they tried to take control of the Rally News. "She didn't think it was the wrong vehicle then," he said. This year, the first since the Deli's left the association and dropped their advertising, St. Clair before and after the rally he regularly fielded calls from employees of dealership asking for copies of the Rally News. "That's a fact," he insisted.

St. Clair noted that when Herb and Linda Johnson owned what was then called Meredith Harley-Davidson they not only belonged to LMWA but also contributed $20,000 a year as a corporate sponsor of the rally. The Delis, he noted, have never sponsored the event. "We listen to our major sponsors like Progresive Insurance, Sysco, Budweiser , Pepsi, Hot Leathers, Bank of New Hampshire and Amsoil," he noted. "They love the magazine."

Cynthia Makris of the Naswa Resort, president of the LMWA, told The Daily Sun didn't at all agree with what "she (Deli) has to say about us". She recalled that last December, Deli invited some 40 Motorcycle Week "stakeholders" to a meeting at Church Landing in Meredith in an attempt to wrest control of the rally from the association. No one from the LMWA or The Weirs was invited and only Mayor Ed Engler and Vicki Routhier from the Bank of New Hampshire attended from Laconia, she said.

Engler said yesterday that about 20 people attended the meeting. He said that there was no consensus support for forming a new organization to displace the LMWA and promote the rally. Likewise, a proposal to take a vote of no confidence in the leadership of the association — specifically St. Clair and Jennifer Anderson, the director of the LMWA — also died for lack of consensus.

Makris, whose family has taken part in 80 of the 92 rallies, said "I'm very proud of the LMWA and the work Charlie and Jenn do." Calling the Rally News "a signature piece of Bike Week," she said it provides a program and schedule of all the events during the rally in a readily accessible format"

Makris resented suggestions that the association is insolvent and said that financial issues facing the association have been addressed. "We're turning things around and have begun planning for the 95th and even begun thinking about 100th," she said.