Pilot 'community corrections' program approved

LACONIA — Belknap County Commissioners have approved a pilot program for a comprehensive substance abuse/behavioral health assessment and treatment and offender case management program as a first step towards a planned "community corrections" center.
The program was developed by a committee of county agency representatives working with consultant Kevin Warwick, whose firm was hired to develop programs for a community corrections facility for the county, and calls contracting with a private community-based treatment contractor at a proposed cost of $46,564 for six months of services provided by equivalent of 1.5 full-time workers.
Commissioners said yesterday that they are looking at paying for the program through the use of some of the $400,000 remaining in the jail planning fund in the Department of Corrections budget.
The program, as outlined by Warwick and Jacqui Abikoff, Horizons Counseling Center executive director, would provide early intervention and screening assessments which would classify and target offenders appropriately and identify low risk offenders, who could be considered for alternative programs and move out of the jail, as well as high risk offenders, who would be targeted for intensive treatment services at the jail.
Warwick said that currently the assessments are not done early enough in the process to help provide information to the courts resulting in decisions on treatment being made by judges rather than clinicians.
He said that currently 70 percent of those incarcerated at the Belknap County Jail have been there previously and unless intensive treatment is provided they will be back.
''Many have serious substance abuse problems and only get two hours of treatment a week. In many cases they need at least 200 to 300 hours of service over a nine-month period,'' said Warwick.
He said that Sullivan County, where he served as a consultant for their community corrections facility, has experienced a decrease in repeat offenders from 65 percent to 18 percent, resulting in substantial savings to the cost of housing prisoners.
The plan calls for a three track system to identify the treatment and transitional needs of offenders, an intensive treatment program for those serving a minimum of 90 days who have been identified as high risk, which would see 12-15 hours a week of treatment; a second track for short-term offenders identified as low risk and a third track for pre-trial inmates.
Abikoff said it is important to realize that addiction is a disease and not a behavior and said that she does not initially see any large increase in the numbers served over the 10 or so which currently take part in the Recovery Court program, which she said has already resulted in savings of about $350,000 over three years even though the program has received no county funding.
Warwick said that initially there might be a 10 percent reduction in recidivism, which could increase in a few years to a 30 percent reduction.
Warwick said that another New Hampshire county which 56 people in its drug (recovery) court program has realized a savings of $1 million a year in jail costs.
Members of the committee which came up with the pilot program included Acting Corrections Superintendent Keith Gray, Belknap County Attorney Melissa Guldbrandsen, Public Defender Jesse Friedman, Restorative Justice Director Brian Loanes, Sheriff Craig Wiggin, Department of Corrections Program Director Tamara McGonagle, and Abikoff.
Guldbrandsen, who could not be present for yesterday's meeting, sent a memo to the commission expressing her support for the pilot program in which she said ''the financial benefits of supporting this program should be clear to the county.''
The Belknap County Jail Planning Committee, which is headed by Commission Chairman Dave DeVoy (R-Sanbornton), is working on a proposal for a 64-bed community corrections facility which is estimated to cost $7 million.
Warwick recently told the committee that the cost of staffing the new facility with six new employees is estimated to add $454,193 in first year costs to the current Belknap County Corrections Department budget. That number doesn't include program provider costs.
DeVoy says he he is hopeful that grant funding will be available for the program provider positions, which are estimated at $60,000 a year per provider, which would add $240,000 a year to staffing costs, pushing the total increase in staffing costs to around $700,000.

The other woman running for president: Carly Fiorina campaigns in Laconia

LACONIA — Speaking to a packed house at the Belknap Mill last evening, Republican presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina closed by riffing on two national icons — both women standing tall — she called "Lady Liberty and Lady Justice." The first resolutely facing the world as a beacon of hope and the second bearing the sword of a warrior and the scale of a judge.

Both images inform Fiorina's campaign as both a candidate and a woman. She began as a secretary in small real estate agency and became chief executive officer message of the largest technology company in the world, a career she said, "is only possible in this nation." She explained that the country was founded on the "radical idea" that everyone has potential "to live a life of dignity, purpose and meaning" and it is role of leaders "to unlock the potential of others."

Noting that polling data indicates that nearly half of Americans believe the federal government is corrupt and eight of 10 believe the country is ruled by a professional political class, Fiorna claimed that weight of government bureaucracy and the political class is crushing individual initiative. "That's why I'm running for president," she said.

"Leaders challenge the status quo," Fiorina said. "That's what leaders do." She said that "we don't lack for good ideas" for securing the border, simplifying the tax code, lifting regulatory burdens, or balancing the budget, but nothing has been done for years. "The answer is always we need more money," she said, adding "it's called ineptitude and corruption. We have got to challenge the status quo."

Fiorina said that she would reduce federal spending by introducing "zero based budgeting," requiring every agency to justify every dollar spent. She said that the government spends the money of its citizens, who are entitled to know how it is spent.

The Environmental Protection Agency, she claimed, is "in the process of destroying industry after industry" and "has to be reined in," beginning with rescinding every regulation adopted during the Obama Administrations. 

She spoke of "building the strongest military in the world," particularly by sharpening "the tip of the spear" — the combat forces that project American power. The world, Fiorina said, wants and needs "American leadership" and she would assure both allies and enemies that "America is back in the leadership business."

Fiorina echoed another woman, Margaret Thatcher, who as prime minister of Great Britain declared "I will not manage the decline of a great nation," then  in her own words added "I will lead the resurgence of this great nation."

Zoning board endorses changes to city's demolition ordinance as it pertains to historic structures

LACONIA — The Zoning Board of Adjustment this week endorsed amendments to the demolition ordinance drafted and recommended by the Heritage Commission and unanimously agreed to refer the proposed to the City Council for its approval.

Pam Clark, who has chaired the Heritage Commission since it was established nine years ago, described the ordinance as a "demolition delay" ordinance, adding that it is modeled on similar regulations in other municipalities, both in New Hampshire and other states. Enacted in 2005, the ordinance is intended to protect and preserve historic buildings slated for demolition by providing time to explore alternatives and, if demolition proceeds, to document the structure and preserve any salvageable remains.
The amendment, which has been more than a year in the drafting, would apply the ordinance to a greater number of properties than hte current law and provide more time to explore alternatives to demolition. The ordinance applies to buildings at least 50 years old and demolition of more than 700-square-feet of floor area, which in the judgment of the code enforcement officer qualify as "significant buildings".
To qualify as "significant" a building must satisfy at least one of the four following criteria. First, it must possess features and qualities that would qualify it as "a historical, cultural or architectural landmark" by national or state standards. Second,it must be constructed to an uncommon design or with unusual materials that could only be reproduced with great difficulty and at great expense would also qualify. Third, buildings of such architectural value or historic importance that their demolition would adversely impact the public interest would qualify. And finally the preservation of the building must contribute to protecting and preserving a place or area of historic interest.
The remainder of the ordinance prescribes the process triggered when an application is made to demolish a building. First, the code enforcement officer shall determine if the building qualifies as "significant". If it qualifies, the applicant must be informed within five business days that the application for a demolition permit must be reviewed by the Heritage Commission at its next regularly scheduled meeting before the building can be razed.
If the commission determines the building to be demolished is not significant, the applicant shall be informed and the demolition may proceed. On the other hand, if the commission determines the building is "significant" it shall schedule a public hearing at its next monthly meeting, of which the applicant will be informed within two business days. In addition the date, time and place of the hearing will be noticed by signage on the building and in the local newspaper.
If an alternative to demolition cannot be agreed at the public hearing, the commission and applicant shall meet within 10 days. If still no agreement about the future of the building can be reached, the commission may petition the City Council to defer issuance of the demolition permit for another 60 days to allow time to pursue alternatives, including acquisition or relocation of the building.

Clark told the ZBA that initially the commission sought to petition for a delay of 180 days, but found there was no precedent for such an extended period in New Hampshire.

When all options have been exhausted, the owner of the property may proceed with demolition.

With the consent of the owner the commission shall photograph the building and encourage salvage of its significant features.
Clark said that the commission had been asked to consider allowing a property owner to request that a building be exempt from the ordinance, but rejected the notion. She noted that properties are not exempt from other requirements of the zoning ordinance or building code.
Planning Director Shanna Saunders explained that although an intern has compiled of survey of older buildings, it does not represent a registry and bears no relation to the demolition ordinance. The application of the ordinance, she stressed, would be triggered only by applications for demolition permits. Clark said that the commission had reviewed only two properties — the Putnam house and Hathaway house — during her tenure.

New 9-hole disc-golf course at Bolduc Park named in memory of Chris Daigle

LACONIA/GILFORD — Bolduc Park unveiled its new Chris Daigle Disc Golf Course Tuesday morning in a ceremony attended by Laconia and Gilford officials and the parents of the former standout athlete at Laconia High School for whom the course is named.
Jeff and Lorraine Daigle said that their son, Chris, was an avid disc golf player who played practically every day in Florida and had expressed the hope that their would more disc golf courses developed in New Hampshire so he could play at them when he made his planned move back to his home state.
They said that at a family gathering held in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, just before his sister Lynn was to be deployed in Afghanistan, he insisted that the family find a disc golf course and play a game.
''It was the last time we were together as a family,'' his father, Jeff, recalled yesterday, saying that Chris' untimely death at the age of 34 about two years ago left its mark on the family.
''It's been a difficult couple of years for us.'' he said, recalling that Chris had been involved in sports all of his life.
An energetic child, Chris had played youth sports and became a standout tailback for the Laconia High School, where he was a member of the 1995 NHIAA Division III state championship team, and was also a catcher for Laconia High School and later in college at New Hampshire Technical Institute in Concord.
After his move to Florida he became involved in youth sports there as a baseball umpire and a football referee.
Daigle said that it was ''unbelievably healing for us'' to see the disc golf course and thanked Bob Bolduc, owner of Piche's Ski Shop who developed Bolduc Park, which straddles the Laconia-Gilford boundary, about 20 years ago as a non-profit public recreation area. The park has a nine-hole golf course as well as cross-country ski trails and now offers one of the few disc golf courses in the Lakes Region.

'Every organization takes on the personality of its leader. He was the driving force to get this done,'' said Daigle, praising the determination Bolduc showed in making the disc golf course a reality.
Bolduc said that Eric Petell of Meredith Village Savings Bank helped design the course and thanked sponsors who helped make the course possible.
Bolduc said that he is proud of the volunteers who help run Bolduc Park and noted that the new recreation opportunity was built at no cost to taxpayers.
Also attending the ceremony were Gilford Parks and Recreation Director Herb Greene, Gilford Town Administrator Scott Dunn and Laconia Mayor Ed Engler.
Engler congratulated the Daigle family for their efforts on behalf of the disc golf course and said that the course offers ''an amenity we have been lacking'' noting that in his travels through the Midwest he saw a disc golf course in virtually every community.
Bolduc Park will hold its first annual Chris Daigle Disc Golf Tournament this weekend as well as its 22nd annual Bolduc Park Golf Tournament. Play gets underway in both tournaments on Friday and winds up on Sunday with a 4 p.m. barbecue.

The first annual Chris Daigle Disc Golf Tournament will be held at Bolduc Park on August 21-22-23. Shown at a ceremony unveiling the Disc Golf course are Herb Greene, Gilford Parks and Recreation Department director. Ed Engler, Laconia Mayor; Roberto Pabon of Meredith Village Savings Bank; Tom Messmore, vice president of Bolduc Park; Scott Dunn, Gilford Town Administrator; Eric Petell of Meredith Village Savings Bank; Lorraine Daigle; Jeff Daigle, Jeff Moses of Bolduc Park and Bob Bolduc of Piche's Ski Shop and founder of Bolduc Park. (Roger Amsden for The Laconia Daily Sun)