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GOP primary result foreshadows change at Belknap County Complex

LACONIA — The outcome of the Republican primary elections last week foreshadows significant changes in the composition and character of both the Belknap County Commission and Belknap County Convention, which have been at each other's throats for the past two years.

Richard Burchell of Gilmanton, who as a member of the convention was a harsh critic of the commission, ousted fellow Republican and incumbent commissioner John Thomas in District 2, representing Barnstead, Belmont, Gilmanton and Tilton. Without a Democratic opponent in the general election, Burchell is assured of a seat on the commission.

Burchell will join incumbent Steve Nedeau of Meredith, a Republican, and the winner of the election between Republican Dave Devoy of Sanbornton and Democrat David Pollak of Laconia. Although both Republicans, Burchell and Nedeau have been on opposite sides of the fence for two years, which leaves the balance of power among the commissioners hanging on the contest between Devoy and Pollak.

Together Burchell and Devoy, both tightfisted, would form a fiscally conservative majority on the commission. Both sided with the convention in its dispute with the convention over the county budget, which appears to have been resolved when the Belknap County Superior Court affirmed the authority of the convention to prepare and manage the budget. As commissioners Burchell and Devoy would likely drive a harder bargain with the State Employees Association (SEA), the union representing county employees, especially over the employees' share of health insurance premiums, which has been a priority for the majority of the convention. Burchell believes the commission should hire a professional negotiator to deal with the SEA rather than expect county administrative staff, who enjoy the same benefits as union members, to negotiate contracts fair to both employees and taxpayers.

Both Burchaell and Devoy are critics of the process the commission has followed in planning for the county jail. But, while Devoy claims that the problems at the jail can be addressed for $2-million or less, Burchell, who is reluctant to cite a specific figure, believes that a larger investment will be necessary.

Should Pollak top Devoy, the commission would have a more centrist character.
Pollak, a professor at Lakes Region Community College, describes himself as "a good listener" and, in light of the wrangling at the county complex, touts his experience as a referee.

Pollak, who has visited several county jails and spoken with their superintendents, said "I'm not in a place where I can say this is the number." Instead, he suggested there are three options: renovate the existing facility, rehabilitate existing space and add new space and reduce the cost of the plan before the jail planning committee. He stressed that the county should work closely with the municipalities to determine what they can afford without compromising their capacity to to invest in required capital projects. Pollak said next week he is meeting with Hunter Taylor of Alton, an associate of Burchell and critic of the current plan who has closely studied the cost of constructing correctional facilities.

The primary ensured that the composition and character of the convention will also change with the general election. Six of the 13 Republican members of the convention chose not to seek re-election: Burchell, Colette Worsman and Bob Greemore of Meredith, Stephen Holmes and Jane Cormier of Alton, and Charles Fink of Belmont. Cormier, Holmes and Fink were serving their first term in the New Hampshire House of Representatives and the voting records of all six were among the most conservative of its 400 members.

Five of the seven incumbents likely to return — Frank Tilton, Don Flanders, Bob Luther of Laconia, Herb Vadney of Meredith and Dennis Fields of Sanbornton — are more experienced or more pragmatic legislators. Among the winners of GOP primaries is Brian Gallagher of Sanbornton, a veteran of the state budget office, Dave Russell of Gilmanton and George Hurt of Gilford are former state representatives and Russ Dumais of Gilford is a former selectman. The other two — Glen Aldrich of Gilford and Ray Howard of Alton — are more conservative and likely to align themselves with Mike Sylvia of Belmont and Guy Comtois of Barnstead, the most conservative of the remaining incumbents.

All five Democrats on the covention — David Huot and Beth Arsenault of Laconia, Lisa DiMatrino of Gilford, Ruth Gulick of New Hampton and Ian Raymond of Sanbornton — are defending their seats. The best chances for Democrats to gain seats are in Laconia, where Tom Dawson, a former State Fire Marshall, is running for one of the four seats; in Barnstead, where Bruce Marriott came within 252 votes of defeating Comtois in 2012; and in Belmont, where selectman Ron Cormier and George Condodemetraky are competing with Sylvia and Shari Lebreche, who gained her place on the ballot with a write-in campaign.

The general election will be held on Tuesday, November 4.

Last Updated on Saturday, 13 September 2014 12:45

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After 5 year suspension, Gilford psychiatrist may reapply for medical license

CONCORD — A Gilford psychiatrist may reapply for his medical license after agreeing to a five-year suspension that is retroactive to February 2009 when he voluntarily surrendered the license.

According to a settlement agreement made public yesterday by the state Board of Medicine, Gregory Bahder can ask for his license back provided he provides proof of 18 months of psychotherapy and is favorably recommended by his treating physician. In addition, he must complete a professional boundaries education class, and that agrees to a 10-year contract with the N.H. Professionals Health Program that will allow them to randomly test him for drugs and/or alcohol for at least the first 12 months of the contract.

Bahder voluntarily surrendered his license in February 2009 after he engaged in sexual activity with a female patient following her treatment for cocaine dependency while she was incarcerated at the Belknap County House of Correction.

He agrees that if a disciplinary matter were held, the evidence supporting professional misconduct would include that he had four sessions with the female inmate in late 2007 and into early 2008 and that before her release the two exchanged personal phone numbers.

Bahder also agreed that the evidence would support that in June 2008 and in November 2008 he met with his former patient in Manchester and engaged in sex with her in exchange for money. During the November get-together, the two purchased crack cocaine and smoked it together in a motel room.

Should Bahder's license be reinstated, he must submit four semi-annual progress reports, continue treatment with his own physicians and psychotherapist, and provide a copy of the settlement agreement to any current or potential employer for two years after he gets his license back.

He also agrees that for as long as he practices in New Hampshire he will be associated with a practice that has no less than three other licensed physicians.

In 2010, a jury in the Hillsborough County Superior Court acquitted him of four counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault after his arrest in Bedford in 2009.

It is unlawful in New Hampshire for a doctor to have a sexual relationship with a patient within a year of the time treatment ends.

In all the above matters, Bahder was represented by Atty. Mark Sisti.

Last Updated on Saturday, 13 September 2014 12:03

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Putnam Fund hosting free Doo-Wop & 60's British pop concert tonight

LACONIA — An evening of Doo Wop, featuring the Bel Airs and Rockin' Daddios, spiced with the songs and stories of "Swinging London" in the Sixties from Julie Grant, will fill Laconia High School Auditorium with music and memories tonight.

Presented by the Laconia Putnam Fund, the show opens at 7 p.m. with admission free on a first come, first seated basis.

The premier doo-wop quintet in New England, the Bel Airs stir images of girls with beehive hairdos, saddle shoes, bobby socks and poodle skirts with five-part harmonies that have enlivened county fairs, town concerts and car shows across the the region. Twice voted the best doo-wop group in the New Hampshire, the Bel Airs strive to echo the sound of the original recordings of the classic artists, including the Drifters, Cadillacs and Chiffons as well as Elvis, Frankie Lymon and Del Shannon.

The Rockin Daddios — Angelo Gentile, Bo Guyer and Jim Rogato — will will gild their own selection of golden oldies like "Book of Love," "Blue Moon," and "Teenager in Love," hearkening back to those less troubled, more innocent years.

Julie Grant, who began singing professionally at the age of three, signed her first record contract at 15 and was soon performing alongside the likes of the Yardbirds, Hollies and Rolling Stones. "The Stones opened for me a couple of times," she remarked, "then the tables turned." She recalled that her bass player sheepishly told her he was taking a job with an American guitar slinger by the name of Jimi Hendrix.

Grant, who lives in Gilford and works as an agent for the Mohegan Sun casino, will be sharing stories of what she remembers as "wonderful years" and her songs, including her hit with Carole King's "Up on the Roof" from 1962.

Last Updated on Friday, 12 September 2014 12:47

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Meredith hosts annual 9-11 observance

MEREDITH — Police Lt. Keith True, one of several speakers at a Patriot Day Commemoration of the 13th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on America, which was held at Hesky Park here yesterday said that he had observed the same faces attending every one of the ceremonies since the first one in 2002.
''Some of those who entered the first grade in 2001 are now serving their country. If we continue to support each other we can still have the kind of country that we have always wanted for our children,'' said True, who urged those in attendance to never forget what happened that day and the nearly 3,000 people who lost their lives during the attack.
Meredith Deputy Fire Chief Andre Kloetz said that recent events in Iraq and Syria serve as a reminder of how brutal America's enemies can be.
He said that the loss of 343 firefighters and 72 law enforcement officers in the collapse of the World Trade Center towers was a loss of unprecedented magnitude and that the bravery of the first responders should always be remembered.
He said that he was honored to call himself an American citizen and that while America is not a perfect nation it has always responded to protect those who are being persecuted around the world.
Ralph Ascoli, whose sister Debbie Mannetta was among those killed when the towers collapsed, said that he still feels her loss every day but in recent years has turned his attention to trying to help those first responders who developed lung cancer due to their exposure to asbestos while fighting the fires and digging through the rubble in the days following the attack.
''We should remember those who rushed into the buildings when others were rushing out of the buildings. They went in to help to help those inside without regard for their own safety,'' said Ascoli.
Other speakers included State Senator Jeanie Forrester, Carla Horn, chairperson of the Board of Selectmen and American Legion Service Officer Bob Kennelly, who as commander of the Legion organized the first September 11 commemoration.

CAPTIONS:
Meredith ceremony at Hesky Park marked the 13th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks. A giant American flag is held aloft over the gathering by the Meredith Fire Department's aerial ladder truck. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)

Meredith Fire Department Second Deputy Chief Tom Jolsin sounds the bell for fallen firefighters at a ceremony honoring those who lost their lives in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on America. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

 

Last Updated on Friday, 12 September 2014 12:44

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