Forrester Joins GOP Governors Race

03-30 Jeanie Forrester announces Jeanie Forrester

By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN

MEREDITH – "There are three things Jeanie is afraid of," Keith Forrester told the enthusiastic crowd nearly filling the Wicwas Grange last evening. "Me with a mic, what I'm going to wear and what's Keith going to say."

But, when it comes to running for governor, Jeanie Forrester has no fear. "I'm a real conservative with real experience, " declared the Republican state senator serving her third term. "and a firm believer that all politics is local." Promising to run "a full-bore, grassroots campaign," she repeatedly struck its dominant theme by pledging "I will break from the past. I will be a governor for the people."

A native of Michigan, Forrester said she came from a "blue collar background," adding that her father worked in a factory and her mother waited tables. She recalled on her favorite Christmas she received "homemade clothes and pop tarts." Working as a secretary and studying at night, she was the first in her family to earn a college degree. After graduating from the University of New Hampshire, she became a aide to Governor John H. Sununu. She has served as a town administrator in Tuftonboro and New Durham and as the executive director of Main Street Programs in Meredith and Plymouth. She and her husband are co-owners of a small environmental firm.

Forrester is serving her third term in the Senate, where she represents 27 towns in Belknap, Grafton and Merrimack counties as well as chairs the Finance Committee. serves on the Capital Budget Committeee. representing where she chairs the Finance Committee.

Forrester committed herself to limited government, personal responsibility, the right to bear arms, the life of unborn children and steadfast opposition to general sales or personal income tax.

Then Forrester turned her fire on the culture of the State House. Recalling the first of her three terms in the Senate, she said that the first vote she cast was the lone dissenting vote on a bill the Meredith town clerk advised her would adversely affect municipalities. "Whenever the politicians go after our communities," she said, "I will be with the people 100 percent of the time."

An opponent of the Northern Pass project, Forrester said she was warned that the energy lobby, but was not deterred. Instead she championed and shepherded legislation to curb the power of eminent domain and protect private property. As governor, she said, "New Hampshire will no longer be the energy doormat of New England. I will put the ratepayers first.

"It's time to take power away from Concord," Forrester said, "and empower our communities and protect them from the overreach of state government." .

Forrester said that after working for five years at Odyessy House, a drug treatment facility, she is prepared to tackle the scourge of addiction. "Now is the time to stand up for parents like Judy Tilton," she said eying the mother who lost a son to fentanyl a year ago. "I grieved with you then and I grieve with you now," she said.

Forrester called for teaching children about the risks of drugs "early and often," pledged to open "a tip line" with a $5,000 cash reward for information leading to the conviction of dealers, and promised that those selling drugs that kill others will be tried for murder and sentenced to life without parole. "We will lock you up and throw away the key," she said.

Forrester drew a spirited response not only from her longtime, predominantly Republican supporters, but also from the likes of Tilton selectmen, Pat Consentino and Katherine Dawson, who held signs in the front row.

"Any question or concern we've had over the years," Consentino said, "we pick up the phone. She listens, does everything she can and follows up to make sure the problem got fixed." Dawson said that she comes to their meetings just to ask "is there anything you need from me?"

Forrester is the fourth candidate to enter the Republican gubernatorial primary, joing Executive Councilor Chris Sununu, Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas and Representative Frank Edelblut of Wilton.

03-30 Forrester announces crowd

A close call - Gilmanton Year-Round Library may close – but just for April

GYRL 30Mar16237347 DS

Children's Librarian Pam Jansury leads "Old MacDonald Had A Farm" with instruments and singing during Story Time at the Gilmanton Year-Round Library Wednesday morning. (Karen Bobotas/for the Laconia Daily Sun)

 

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

GILMANTON — The Year Round Library is very close to raising the $47,500 needed to stay open for all of the next year.

With $41,228 raised so far, board member Jenn MacLeod said that if the library is forced to close, it will likely do so on April 2 and possibly reopen by May 1. She said the GYRL board will be meeting at 7 p.m. Friday to determine if they would close and when.

"We're one month shy of the $47,500. Hopefully, we'll make it," said librarian Tasha LeRoux-Stetson.

The Gilmanton Year-Round Library had petitioned two separate warrant articles on to the ballot portion of the annual Town Meeting earlier this month. The first would have provided the library with two consecutive years of operations money for some long-term planning. The second was to raise and appropriate $47,500 for this year only. Needing a simple majority, the second one failed by less than a handful of votes.

According to the library's website, there will also be a "community conversation" on Thursday, April 7, at 7 p.m., at the library. The goal of the meeting, it says, is "to begin the discussion of how to best fulfill the mission of the GYRLA." Organizers hope to develop a long-term strategy not just for funding but also to involve the community and make the library a valued resource for everyone in Gilmanton.

Those who wish to donate to the cause can do so online at www.gyrla.org.

MacLeod said that all of the library board members are genuinely touched by the generosity of the people who have made donations to them so far.

"We are so grateful," she said.

She said the library was where her two younger children went for story time and met the children who would be their friends in kindergarten and grade school. MacLeod said story time is for play and socializing, but to also learn early literacy skills, coloring and motor skills.

GYRL 30Mar16237407 DS

Head Librarian Tasha LeRoux Stetson checks in books while Children's Librarian Pam Jansury holds Story Time upstairs at the Gilmanton Year-Round Library on Wednesday morning.  (Karen Bobotas/for the Laconia Daily Sun)

To stay or move is the question for Meredith's library

Meredith Public Library 2016

By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN

MEREDITH — With a beloved but cramped building in urgent need of costly repairs, the trustees of the Meredith Public Library are faced with a dilemma and have turned to the general public for guidance in overcoming it.

This week the trustees hosted the second of two public meetings to sound out residents about the future of the library, which boils down to a choice between "rejuvenating" the existing building on Main Street or building a library at another site.

"We need to know where we are going, what we're going to do," Duncan McNeish told some 50 people gathered at the Community Center.

With a generous donation from Benjamin M. Smith, the library bearing his name was was dedicated in 1901 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985, when the citation described it as "not only Meredith's finest public building, but also one of the Lake Region's most attractive libraries." In 1988, a 4,000-square-foot addition more than doubled the floor space of the original building to 7,800 square feet.

Last year, the library counted 5,292 cardholders, a number representing 85 percent of the 6,241 residents of the town reported by the census in 2010.

McNeish explained that in 2011 a routine inspection found the building failed to comply with fire and safety codes, a judgment subsequently confirmed by the New Hampshire State Fire Marshall's Office, which led to the closure of space on the upper level in 2013. In 2012, assessments of the building by two architects versed in historic construction and renovation found that the library needed extensive repairs costing between $300,000 and $500,000. Altogether, between 2008 and 2015, the library and the town spent $419,710, of which state grants represented $100,000, on repairs and maintenance without overcoming the major the major shortcomings of the building, such as replacing the rear staircase and installing a sprinkler system.

Two years ago, the trustees formed a Library Master Plan Committee and hired Thomas Ladd, a library consultant, to project the amount of space the library would require to offer anticipated services in the future. Ladd concluded that 13,855 square feet, nearly twice the size of the existing library would be needed together with parking for between 34 and 69 vehicles.

McNeish said that in light of the condition of the library and the need for space and after canvassing public opinion the trustees decided to explore the costs of renovating and expanding the old, or building anew, and hired Lavallee Brensinger Architects of Manchester.

Ron Lamarre of Lavallee Brensinger sketched a vision of a future library, emphasizing that because it would serve diverse, changing and unforeseen needs, from providing information instantaneously to staging events, hosting meetings and connecting people, the space should be open to to reconfiguration. He estimated a three- or four-acre lot would be needed for a new library to match the projected need for space and parking.

Lamarre suggested a new 14,000-square-foot library could be built for $4.2 million, excluding the cost of acquiring the site, while the cost of renovating and expanding the existing library would be $5.6 million, with additional costs to comply with the requirements of maintaining a historic building.

McNeish said that the trustees have considered several properties, including the nearby First Baptist Church and Humiston Building, so far without success.

Jack Carty pointed to the town's aging demographic and stable population while suggesting that the library could potentially contribute to the effort to revitalize the center of the village. However, before offering an opinion, he said he would need more information.

"What abut the future of Meredith?" asked Jonathan James, a selectman, who referred to the committee that was recently formed to address demographic and economic issues facing the town. Noting the aging population, he asked "What can be done to change that?" and offered that "The library could be part of the puzzle."

Rhetta Colon, who recently chaired the board of trustees, agreed that it is important to ask what can the library do for the community, but, mindful of the urgency of the situation, she said "That building is falling apart," and encouraged the trustees to find a site either inside or outside the village.

Without consensus among the residents, Miller Lovett, a trustee, reiterated that the trustees have yet to reach a decision to "stay where we are or get to a new place" and indicated the board may next approach the Board of Selectmen.