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Laconia Fire Department among busiest in N.H.

LACONIA — With close to 4,000 emergency calls among a total of 9,697 requests for service, the Laconia Fire Department remained one of the busiest in the state, according to the annual report Fire Chief Ken Erickson issued yesterday.

The 3,896 emergency calls represent a 62 percent increase in the past five years. Medical emergencies and rescue operations accounted for 68 percent of all emergency responses, while fires, both the 380 reported fires and 125 actual fires, represented 13 percent of the calls for service.

There were 1,635 simultaneous or consecutive emergency calls, more than double the number in 2000.

"The Laconia Fire Department responds to more multiple calls than most of neighboring departments respond to all calls," said Erickson.

Despite the increase in multiple calls, he said that emergency recalls, which averaged close to 300 a year, fell to 62 last year. Erickson attributed the decline to the additional firefighter on each shift funded by the Staffing Adequacy for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant which has expanded the department's capacity to respond to simultaneous calls and manage significant emergencies.

The 54 structure fires, 60 outdoor fires and 11 vehicle fires were the fewest since 2010. Erickson described 15 of the fires as "significant," with a four-alarm blaze in a multifamily apartment building on Davis Place that took the life of one resident as easily the most severe. The death was the first fire-related fatality in the city in 20 years. Altogether 17 individuals were displaced by that fire.

Erickson estimated the value of property lost to fire at $926,000, while noting that firefighters spared another $885,000 in property value from destruction. Along with the 125 actual fires, firefighters responded to more than 250 reported fires, or seven a week. The 411 alarm activations represented 10 percent of all calls.

The department responded to 2,422 medical emergencies, 118 vehicle collisions, seven entrapment rescues, 11 pedestrian accidents, 16 water or ice rescues and 72 other incidents and transported 1,841 patients -- 179 of them at high risk -- to Lakes Region General Hospital.

Erickson noted that drug overdoses, sudden deaths and cardiac arrests jumped 50 percent in 2014, with abuse of opiates contributing to a large share of the increase. He said that overdoses of heroin likely caused a dozen deaths and are suspected of contributing to another seven. At the same time, firefighters spared the lives of 25 people with timely administration of Narcan, which was used 46 times, double the number of occasions in 2013.

Firefighters also responded to 243 situations where downed wires, gas leaks, fuel spills, carbon monoxide structural failure threatened persons or property, and another 471 incidents requiring their assistance.

Meanwhile, department personnel also inspected 42 multifamily buildings, issued 1,253 permits and conducted 806 inspections of alarm, sprinkler, furnace, chimney and piping installations. And, in addition, spent more than 5,500 hours in training and education.

Erickson said that during the first quarter of 2015 the department has answered more than 1,000 emergency calls, a pace that would take the emergency call volume past 4,000 for the year. Measured by the number of firefighters and number of residents, he said that Laconia firefighters are among the busiest in New Hampshire.

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 07 April 2015 12:02

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N.H. Mutual adds wealth management subsidiary

MEREDITH — New Hampshire Mutual Bancorp, the holding company formed by Meredith Village Savings Bank (MVSB) and Merrimack County Savings Bank (MCSB), both mutual financial institutions, added a subsidiary this week — MillRiver Wealth Management, which combines the wealth management and investment services of the two banks.

In 2013, investment services at the two banks came together under the direction of Senior Vice Preisdent Paul Provost. With the formation of the new subsidiary the proprietary investment and trust services of MCSB will be extended to MVSB. Provost said that MillRiver was formed in response to clients of both banks who asked for a wider range of services and products. MillRiver, he continued, "gives our customers exactly what they've asked for while proviing opportunities for operational efficiency."

Founded in 1869, MVSB operates 11 offices in the Lakes Region and has total assets of more than $750 million. MCSB was founded two years earlier in Concord and has eight offices and total assets of more than $700 million.

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 07 April 2015 11:35

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Gilford rethinks grade weighting

GILFORD — Parents filled the elementary school library Monday night to see if the School Board would reconsider a policy that takes away weighted grades for honors courses.

The policy, that began this year for incoming freshman, allows for a weighted score for Advanced Placement courses, but takes away the weighted grades for honors courses.

"Weighting honors courses played a significant role in my senior being accepted to nine of nine colleges," said one parent who is concerned for her freshman daughter not being given the same consideration.

GPA weighting was discussed because 25 parents from Gilford and Gilmanton petitioned the school for a reconsideration of the policy.

The woman, who asked not to be identified, said she works for a different school district in the guidance department where she works closely with scholarship administrators, both locally and college affiliated, and said she fears that not giving a weighted score for honors classes could also affect much needed scholarship money.

She also noted that with the University of New Hampshire receiving 20,000 applicants annually and schools like Boston University and Northeastern getting 50,000 applicants annually, a high grade-point-average (GPA) will help the admissions staff in making their decisions.

She also said that 63 percent of Gilford students last year went to college and 50 percent of them went to UNH.

Suzanne McKenna said the colleges her daughter applied to used the GPA as a measure of accomplishment and she feels giving colleges the most accurate picture of student effort and accomplishments is important.

On March 3, 2014, the School Board stopped giving a weighted grade for honors classes. Before then, honors classes were given the same weight as AP classes – a system that High School Principal Peter Sawyer and Superintendent Kent Hemingway didn't support.

Minutes from the meeting of Feb. 3, 2014, where the changes were discussed, said Sawyer supported eliminating honors grade weighting because he said most schools make their decisions on their own weighting scale for the five core subjects of math, science, social studies, English, and modern language.

He also said colleges who use class rank do so only to evaluate how the applicant fares against other students from his or her high school.

Former School Board member Kurt Webber said in 2014 that he was against weighting any classes except for Advanced Placement because he wants students who only took the most rigorous classes to be rewarded.

When the matter was voted on by the board in 2014, it was a unanimous vote to remove the weighting for honors classes.

But parents who attended Monday's night's meeting said the new system for incoming freshmen will deter students from taking honors classes which, though not as rigorous as AP courses, are still harder than other classes taken by their peers.

One parent said some of the freshman students are not taking honors classes in their sophomore year because there is no reward for taking harder classes and the down side is getting a worse grade because of the difficulty of honors classes.

Former School Board member Derek Tomlinson, who no longer has children in school, said he felt that honors courses should not be rewarded at the same level as AP courses, as it was before, but there should be some recognition for the students who take honors classes.

Tomlinson said he would also like to see it addressed as quickly as possible. He noted that the freshmen have already picked their classes for next year and he would prefer that it be made retroactive or "just like it never happened."

"Overall rank is important," he said. "And we're all ranked at some point."

Board members ultimately decided, by a vote of 5 to 2, to return the policy to the Policy Committee and have a second public forum at the committee level. That meeting is scheduled for April 15 in the Gilford Elementary School at 7 p.m.

The vote was 5 to 2 because for the purposes of the high school and grade weighting, two representatives from the Gilmanton School Board participated in the discussion and vote.

Yesterday, both Sawyer and Hemingway said they are working on some suggestions to bring to the Policy Committee for discussion.

Members Jack Landow and Chris McDonough are the Policy Committee members.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 07 April 2015 11:11

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Correction: Boys & Girls Club of Lakes Region maintains its original name

The Boys & Girls Club of the Lakes Region will maintain its identity separate from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central New Hampshire. The club will continue to operate as the Boys & Girls Club of the Lakes Region, a subsidiary of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central New Hampshire.

A press release issued last week by the Boys & Girls Club of Central New Hampshire, which was printed in Saturday's paper, indicated that the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Concord and the Boys and Girls Club of the Lakes Region would be operating under the same name.

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 07 April 2015 10:58

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