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Gilford summer forum canceled for lack of interest

GILFORD — Due to what appears to be a lack of interest on the part of the summer residents, selectmen decided not to have the annual summer town forum this year.

For the past two years, the number of people who have attended the forum has been less than the number of administrators and elected officials who have had to be present.

Selectboard Chair John O'Brien suggested the town skip it this year and "see what happens."

Summer town forum has been held as a way for department heads and elected officials to keep the summer residents abreast of recent developments in Gilford as well as a way to listen to their specific concerns.

In the past, topics as wide-ranging as trash pickup and parking at the town docks to heated discussions about property values have been the norm. In the mid 2000s, the meeting room at Gilford Town Hall was overflowing with residents.

Last year, less than 10 residents attended the forum and none of them had any questions for either officials or department heads.

Finance Director Geoff Ruggles, who is a long-time Gilford resident, said he thinks Summer Town Forum began in the early 1990s when a property revaluation triggered some concerns among the summer residents.

Selectmen reiterated that any town resident is welcome to come to any selectman's meeting or to contact town hall if they have any specific concerns.

In other town business, despite complaints from a few Potter Hill residents, selectmen said covert speed monitoring showed that over a 36-hour time period at some point last week, 183 cars traveled over Potter Hill Road.

Data showed the average speed was 23.79 mph and the fastest speed recorded was 43 mph. Fifty percent of the cars were traveling at speeds of 25 mph or less and 85 percent were traveling at speeds of 36 mph or less. The posted speed limit is 25 mph.

Selectmen said they have asked the Gilford Police to continue to monitor the road.

Department of Public Works Director Sheldon Morgan got approval to paint "SLOW" and "25 MPH" in four spots on the road at a total cost of $160. In addition, selectmen recommended painting the yellow center line throughout the length of the road and repainting the white fog lines on each side.

Selectmen also voted to appoint former selectmen Kevin Hayes and Larry Routhier as temporary alternate members to the Zoning Board of Adjustment.

The temporary appointments became necessary earlier this week, when two of the regular members recused themselves from hearing a special exception request from Arbo Ministries regarding the former Guild Farm on Curtis Road.

The recusals left four members to decide the request and the applicant said it would prefer to have a full board of five members.

O'Brien said Hayes and Routhier have agreed to serve.

Last Updated on Thursday, 26 June 2014 01:09

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Rep. Fields has praise for Belknap Commission & its staff, not so much for fellow lawmakers

LACONIA — Rep. Dennis Fields (R-Sanbornton) praised Belknap County Commissioners and county staff at Wednesday's meeting of the commission and said that he hopes that there will be better relations between the Belknap County Convention and the commissioners in the future.
Fields, one only three Republicans who last week supported the request of the commissioners and the Belknap County Jail Planning Committee for a $3 million bond issue for improvements to the jail and funds for a schematic design for a new jail, also thanked Belknap County Corrections Superintendent Dan Ward for his efforts on behalf of a new facility.
He said that alternatives which were proposed by opponents of a new facility, such as shipping prisoners to other counties, ''aren't a good idea.'' The proposed bond issue, which required a two-thirds majority, failed to garner even a majority, losing 9-7.
''I was very proud of the staff this year and I hope we can get back we can all communicate. I believe it was more the delegation's fault than the commissioners. The way the delegation acted made us all look bad and some of us aren't. The problems we had were more no the delegation than the commissioners.'' said Fields.
He said that he thinks it was wrong to separate one political party from another in deliberations by the county convention and said he would like to see a delegation that does its job in a non-partisan manner.
Fields, who served 11 terms in the legislature in another county before moving to Belknap, said that he decided to run for re-election to what would be his fourth term in Belknap County, where he represents Sanbornton and Tilton, because he thinks that compromise and mutual respect are needed and that he has always liked working with others to improve government.,
''We work best when we work together and sit down and compromise and that's what I would like to see brought back to the county,'' said Fields.

He then proceeded to criticize an idea championed by Dave DeVoy, who is running for the Republican nomination for the seat being vacated by County Commissioner Ed Philpot (D-Laconia), which called for converting a part of the Belknap County complex, currently used by commissioners and county staff, into a women's jail, saying that the plan was ''nonsense'' and would never work.

DeVoy, who lives in Sanbornton, was in the audience at the meeting but did not respond.
Commissioner Stephen Nedeau (R-Meredith) thanked Fields for his comments and said that he too was proud of those who work for the county. ''We have one of the best staffs in the state,''
Commission Chairman John Thomas (R-Belmont) also thanked Fields, who then proceeded to wish him well in the upcoming Republican primary in which Thomas will be opposed by Rep. Richard Burchell (R-Gilmanton), who has been critical of the commission and of the county jail planning process.
County Administrator Debra Shackett, who has been charged by the Jail Planning Committee with contacting the Ricci Greene consulting firm, which developed a conceptual plan for a 180-bed, 94,000-square-foot community corrections facility, said that she has talked with the firm and that a meeting will be scheduled in the near future.

Last Updated on Thursday, 26 June 2014 01:06

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FairPoint will host customers' IT equipment at N. Main Street building

LACONIA — FairPoint Communications, Inc. has announced the opening of a data center serving its commercial customers at the company's property at 762 North Main Street.

The data center provides commercial enterprises and public institutions with a secure off-site facility to house their information technology equipment and computing capacity in a closely controlled environment. Data centers enable these organizations to tailor and arrange their IT systems to meet demand without incurring the costs of adding space or staff while keeping control over their equipment and data. Spaces as small as half a rack or as large as cages of thousands of square feet are available.

The data center offers a secure connection over the largest fiber-core Ethernet network in northern New England and with multiple choices of redundant network connections, customers can configure the optimal connection for their needs.

In a prepared statement Chris Alberding, vice-president of product management, said that "as more organizations seek to reduce capital expenses and adapt to the ever-evolving technology and regulatory landscape, we continue to see the need for data center services."

Jeff Nevins, a spokesman for FairPoint, said that as the facility, which consists of 24,000-square-feet on two stories, will be fully automated and remotely monitored — 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It will not generate employment.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 June 2014 12:52

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Laconia police union rank & file rejects negotiated 3-year contract

LACONIA — The membership of the Laconia Police Association has rejected the proposed three-year contract that was recommended by its team of negotiators and approved unanimously by the Police Commission at its May meeting.

The union's existing two-year contract expires at midnight on July 1 and was approved by the City Council on June 26, 2012.

Although details of the contract itself are not made public until it is accepted by the membership and approved by the City Council, Police Chief Chris Adams said some provisions like health insurance and cost-of-living adjustments are consistent with what commissioners approved for non-union employees in May.

Non-union employees will get cost-of-living raises of 2-percent in the 2014, 2.25-percent in 2015, and 2.5-percent in 2016.

Commissioners also approved the elimination of the more comprehensive health insurance plan previously available to non-union employees, however employees will be given a $250 stipend over the next three years as compensation for higher out-of-pocket expenses.

In addition, the commission voted to contribute $1,000 per non-union employee annually to a Health Savings Account as an offset for higher deductibles. The money can accumulate but an employee cannot take the money with them if they leave or retire.

Commissioners also agreed that non-union employees contribution to the premium will be 8-percent in 2015, 9-percent in 2016, and 10-percent in 2017.

The police department plan for non-union employees is consistent with that offered to other non-union employees who work for the city of Laconia.

Adams said he and union President Jeff Wholley are still communicating. Wholley was unavailable for comment.

On June 12, City Council rejected a three year contract that the union of Laconia firefighters had agreed to. Terms of that agreement were not publicly discussed either.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 June 2014 12:28

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