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Laconia to lay off two teachers to stay within tax cap

LACONIA  — Superintendent of Schools Terri Forsten said yesterday that the Laconia School Board needs to reduce its proposed budget by about $300,000 to satisfy the terms of the city's tax cap of $36.3-million.

To do that she said two teachers have been laid off and the district is potentially looking at not replacing some retiring employees.

The School Board had been slated to present their 2014-2015 budget to the City Council on April 28. City Manager Scott Myers said yesterday the School District's new presentation date is May 27.

Members had scheduled a vote on the entire $36.6-million budget at their meeting last Tuesday. However, they delayed the vote without discussion. When asked why, Budget and Personnel Committee Chair Scott Vachon said the committee hadn't had the opportunity to review the final details of the proposed budget. After a non-public session, the board apparently agreed to lay off two employees.

Forsten said in years past the district has been able to save some money by not replacing some elementary school teachers as they retire because of dwindling school enrollments. However, she said in the past two years, the district has seen an increase in enrollment at the kindergarten and first grade levels and can no longer eliminate elementary school teacher positions through retirement and attrition.

Forsten also said at this point in time, the district doesn't know how many new kindergarten students there will be in August.

She said the administrators will also eye moving around some programs to get better use out of their existing resources and that could involve asking some teachers to teach different classes than they now teach.

She said it's only fair to the teachers to discuss this as soon as decisions are made in order to give them time to prepare.

Forsten said they are also seeing some other shifts and, despite two resignations, will maintain the current level of guidance counselors. She said the district is also hoping to add a world languages teacher at the Laconia Middle School.

Last Updated on Friday, 18 April 2014 11:30

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Accused pot grower: no cause for search of Gov. Island home

GILFORD – A local man who is charged with multiple counts of manufacturing drugs in a three-car garage he rented on Governor's Island has asked for all evidence to be suppressed because the warrant supporting the search omitted key information.

Corey LaPlante, 28, formerly of 47 Blueberry Hill Lane, has argued that of the two people who allegedly told members of the N.H. Drug Task Force that he was allegedly manufacturing marijuana, the observations of one of the them were not included in the affidavit supporting the search warrant.

"Had Mr. (name omitted)'s observations been included in the affidavit, a reasonable person would conclude there was no contraband in the home," wrote Attorney Mark Sisti.

"As a result," he continued, "any evidence taken as a result of the search warrant based upon the defective affidavit must be suppressed as a matter of law."

LaPlante and a woman who was also living in the house, Janelle Noftle, 24, are charged with manufacturing marijuana and hashish in the home. Police said they found about 100 marijuana plants, three to five pounds of hashish, about $30,000 in cash, and multiple fire arms in the house in a raid conducted there in October of 2013.

They also said there was a water filtration system, commercial grade fans, and a separate electrical box.

According to the motion filed last week in Belknap County Superior Court, the owner of the home visited the couple to assess repairs needed in order to sell the home.

The owner told police she saw six black fluorescent lights in the attic, an electrical panel with an unfamiliar device attached to it, and a lock on the attic door that had not been present during her previous visits.

Sisti said there is no allegation she actually observed any plants growing. She said the air had a "most pungent" smell.

The property owner was accompanied by (name omitted) but when he was interviewed by the police he said he smelled a chemical odor on the second story near the front bedroom. He told police his sense of smell wasn't that good.
Sisti said the when the man was given an "implicit invitation" to allege wrongdoing he didn't accept it. He also didn't report seeing any marijuana plants and that his only other recollection was that the house was very clean.

The argument posed by Sisti is that had the police included (name omitted)'s information in the affidavit, a judge wouldn't have had enough probable cause to grant the search warrant.

N.H. Assistant Attorney General James Vara countered by saying that the owner of the property was intimately familiar with it and said she knows what marijuana smells like. He also noted that she had procured electric bills for the house that varied from $700 to $1,100.

Vara said her knowledge of the house was far greater than the man who accompanied her.

He said the man who accompanied her admitted his sense of smell is bad. Vara said the man's recollection of a strong chemical spell could be the result of LaPlante and Noftle cleaning the house in anticipation of the owner's arrival.

LaPlante and Noftle are free after posting cash bail.

Oral arguments are scheduled for April 28.

Last Updated on Friday, 18 April 2014 11:42

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Newfound School Board doubles down on request for destination imagination funding

By Thomas P. Caldwell
BRISTOL — Students from the New Hampton Community School who demonstrated their award-winning skit that they hope to take to the Destination ImagiNation global finals in Knoxville, Tenn., got more than they asked for from the Newfound Area School Board Monday night.
The team is doing fundraising to pay for their trip and lodging and Ann Holloran, principal of the New Hampton and Danbury elementary schools, sought $2,000 from the school district to cover the expenses of the two coaches, Samantha Austin and Holly Cook. Instead, Vice-Chair Vincent Paul Migliore of Bridgewater successfully moved that the school board give $4,000 to reduce the team's fundraising needs, and Groton member Jeff Levesque offered to personally give $100, challenging the others to match the gift.
Helping to offset that non-budgeted expense is an unexpected drop in health insurance costs for the Newfound Area School District. Business Administrator Michael Limanni said the rates from HealthTrust are 10 percent less than budgeted for next year. The insurance carrier had been projecting a 9.6 percent increase.
Those are just some of the good news items reported at the meeting. Among the student accomplishments at the high school, senior David Gibson has been accepted to Harvard University, and seniors Nick Tapply and Devon Fields have been awarded football scholarships to West Virginia Wesleyan College.
Amber Plummer was named Lakes Region Player of the Year in basketball and her teammate, Karissa Bony, was named to the All Lakes Region Team.
The Newfound Regional High School Math Team placed fourth of 18 schools in the Small Schools Division of the Plymouth State University Math Tournament, with Josh MacLean being the highest-scoring freshman in the Lakes Region.
The recognition extended to the staff, with Nancy Cate receiving the Louise Sublette Award for her ideas and hard work in increasing participation in the high school breakfast program. The award was presented by the School Nutrition Association of New Hampshire.
The school board also accepted the superintendent's recommendation for bonuses in recognition of the extra effort put forth by her staff. With one vote in opposition, the school board agreed to give a $5,000 bonus to Lori Lane, director of the After School 21st Century Learning grant program, with $2,500 bonuses going to Limanni and Student Services Coordinator Anne Holton.
Migliore was the lone dissenting vote, saying that, while he recognized their contributions, he could not support the bonuses, "given the message by the voters this year".
That message included the defeat of the article providing pay raises to the teachers, and the Newfound Area Teachers Association is looking to reopen negotiations as soon as possible. Setting a date for the preliminary session proved to be a difficult task, however, given the upcoming vacation week and individual board members' commitments. The board finally settled on two dates for the teachers to consider: April 16 or May 6.
After the initial session, the board is looking to hold Saturday meetings and it suggested May 17 as its first choice and May 10 as an alternate date.
The board had similar difficulty in setting a date for the first meeting of the Bridgewater-Hebron Village School Withdrawal Study Committee, but settled on April 28 at 6 p.m.
Monday's meeting opened with a nonpublic session to discuss staff nominations and, later in the meeting, the board approved those nominations, which included the professional staff, school administrators, and school administrative unit administrators.
Finally, the school board approved the naming of the high school track, "The Mills Oval", in honor of long-time coach Earl Mills and his wife, Nancy.

Last Updated on Friday, 18 April 2014 02:01

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Lake Winnisquam sailor turned out not to need rescue

LACONIA — A "good intent" call sent firefighters scrambling to two area beaches at 5 p.m. yesterday to rescue a sailboat operator who, in the end, didn't need rescuing.

The man, who was sailing in the narrow strip of open water on Lake Winnisquam along Route 3, was spotted by someone who saw him drop his sail and thought he was in trouble.

Reports came through Lakes Region Mutual Fire Aid that the man was in the water and having trouble hanging on to the side of the boat.

Belmont and Laconia firefighters went first to Leslie Roberts Beach, which is still ice covered and blockaded by chunks of ice that have been blown ashore by the wind.

As the sailor maneuvered unassisted to Bartlett Beach, Laconia firefighters met him there where he told them he was fine. Fire officials said he was appropriately dressed and was never in distress.

The shoreline of Bartlett Beach is open water.

Firefighters don't necessarily recommend water sports while there is still ice on the lake but said for those who must, they should wear live preservers and dress warmly.

 

Last Updated on Friday, 18 April 2014 01:46

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