LACONIA — U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) told workers at Titeflex during a tour of the plant yesterday that any military action taken against Syria for using chemical weapons against civilians should be ''more than just a shot across the bow'' against the Assad regime.
''We want to make sure we're having an impact,'' said Ayotte, who added that she didn't favor an open-ended commitment on the use of force in Syria and hadn't yet made up her mind on how she would vote on any resolution proposed by the Obama administration authorizing a strike against the Hassad regime.
Ayotte's comments came in response to a question from Grace Berglund, a quality control engineer at Titeflex, during a meeting held with workers at the plant following Ayotte's tour with members of its management team.
Ayotte said that she will participate in a classified briefing on Wednesday in the Senate Armed Services Committee focusing on President Obama's request for an authorization to use military force in Syria. She said that the briefing will include Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
"The decision to authorize military action is one of the most serious decisions we confront,'' said Ayotte. "This briefing will provide an opportunity for me to ask important questions and scrutinize the administration's plan — including what the impact of failing to act would have on our country and countries in the Middle East, including Syria, Israel and Iran. I look forward to learning more about the president's objectives and his military strategy for achieving them.
"While I appreciated the president's address on Saturday, I believe he should address the American people in a prime time address before Congress votes, outlining why using military force against the Assad regime is in our national security interests, what our objectives will be in using force, and how we will achieve those objectives."
Ayotte said she was particularly concerned about what message would be sent to Iran and Korea and to terrorist groups with regard to the use of chemical weapons and there proliferation if there was no action taken at all by the United States.
She was also questioned about the impact of so-called sequestration, which has led to automatic federal spending cuts, on defense in general and could have an impact on Titeflex, which does 25 percent of its business in the defense field.
Ayotte said that she had not supported sequestration because ''there are smarter ways to do this'' rather than have across the board cuts.
She was at Titeflex as part of her statewide tour of businesses and met with Graham Thomson, general manager of Titeflex, and other members of the management team.
The company, formerly known as Smith Tubular Systems and prior to that as Lewis and Saunders, employs 350 people, making it the third largest employer in the city, behind Lakes Region General Hospital and New Hampshire Ball Bearings, and has annual sales of $85 million.
Titeflex is part of the Smith Group, based in London, and leads the world in steel braided and para-aramid flexible hose. Among its major customers are Boeing, Pratt and Whitney, Rolls Royce, General Electric and Airbus.
She said that the company is looking to expand and talked with her about their concerns over health care costs, federal tax rates and the barriers in obtaining Federal Aviation Authority for a foreign repair station in the Far East which would enable it to use its current repair capabilities to compete in a growing market.
U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte tells workers at Titeflex in Laconia on Tuesday that any military action taken by the United States in Syria should be more than just ''a shot across the bow'' and have a real impact on the Assad regime for having used chemical weapons on civilians. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)
Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 September 2013 03:31
PLYMOUTH — Former Olympic skier Penny Pitou and former Governor John Lynch have been honored by Plymouth State University at the institution's Fall Convocation ceremony on Tuesday.
Convocation is the assembly of students, staff, and faculty observing the formal start of the academic year. N.H. Governor Maggie Hassan, Plymouth Selectboard Chair Valerie Scarborough, PSU Student Body President Kayla Grimes, and PSU President Sara Jayne Steen welcomed the assembly, which included trustees, friends, alumni, faculty and staff, and especially the nearly one thousand first-year students comprising the Class of 2017.
Governor Hassan and PSU Alumni Association President Amy Begg, '97, presented Governor Lynch with the Robert Frost Contemporary American Award, named in memory of America's late poet laureate, Robert Frost, who taught at Plymouth Normal School early in the 20th century. The PSU Alumni Association created the award, given only occasionally, to provide special recognition of those individuals whose extraordinary service to the state and nation best exemplifies Robert Frost's values of individuality, hard work, humanitarianism, and devotion to the country "North of Boston."
Former Olympic ski racer and Lakes Region businesswoman Penny Pitou received the Granite State Award, which is bestowed on citizens, agencies, corporations, or foundations of the State of New Hampshire whose achievements have made significant contributions. Pitou was a trailblazer in women's skiing, and a leader in New Hampshire philanthropy as well.
In 1960 she became the first American skier to win a medal in the Olympic downhill event, capturing two silvers. Following her competitive career, this Gilford native founded several ski schools in New England and has been instrumental in ski development ever since. Pitou is a successful entrepreneur who owns a travel agency in Laconia and serves on many boards and organizations supporting women. Steen noted Pitou's impressive accomplishments have been an inspiration to New Hampshire residents for decades.
"Penny Pitou has never seen barriers, only problems to be solved, and then she addressed them," Steen said. "And she has been a role model in seeing that those who followed her would have the opportunities, whether through good coaching or support organizations or scholarships, to enable them to succeed."
"I found it was important to find a passion in my life, because if I didn't find it, someone would find it for me," Pitou said. "You have to stay true to yourself ...it takes dedication, perseverance and a lot of hard work."
Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 September 2013 03:25
LACONIA — Police have interviewed three teens who they believe vandalized the new high school football field sometime Sunday night.
Capt. Matt Canfield said police were called to Bank of New Hampshire Stadium at 9 a.m. Monday morning by a School District employee.
He said police found that vandals had used what he believed to be a knife to cut out a circular piece of artificial FieldTurf about three or four inches in diameter from near the south-side 20-yard line and took latex caulking and smeared the floors and windows in the new press box.
Canfield also said at least one of the three boys defecated on the 50-yard line.
Police said yesterday that they have interviewed three boys, who were accompanied by a parent during their interviews. He said two of the boys were from Gilford and one is from Meredith.
Because all three are younger than 17-years-old, Canfield said he would not identify them.
"I'm pretty disappointed and it's quite a let down," said City Councilor Bob Hamel who co-chairs the Joint (City Council/School Board) Building Committee overseeing the Huot Regional Technical Education Center/athletic complex project on the high school campus.
"This is pretty degrading and shows the mentality of these kids," said Hamel.
"I think their parents should buy an entire swath of turf," Hamel added. "We paid for a perfect field and now we haven't got a perfect field.
"They actually took a picture of themselves sitting on our goal posts," Hamel said, referring to one of the boy's Facebook page.
He said the company that installed the turf just last week is returning to Laconia to see if the circular hole can be fixed. Hamel said the installation of the field took a total of 110 work hours by employees of the company that installed it. He also said people in the city and the School District worked tirelessly to get the field ready for the ribbon cutting ceremony and home opener Friday night.
"I think those boys should stand in the middle of the field and apologize to the football team and to the citizens of Laconia," said Hamel when asked what he thought the penalty should be for the three boys.
He also said he hopes the boys learn a little something about respect and proper behavior, fix the pain and damage they wrought, and grow up to become productive citizens.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 September 2013 03:20
GILFORD — The Gilford School District has received a refund if almost a half-million dollars from the Local Government Center, representing excess premiums the district and its employees paid for health insurance from 2009 to 2011, the School Board was told last night.
Assistant Superintendent Scott Isabelle told the board that the district received a check for $476,524 last week.
The refund was issued under the terms of a state Bureau of Securities Regulations' order that the LGC repay $53.4 million to towns and school districts overcharged by the municipal organization which operates self-funded risk pools for liability claims and health care coverage.
Isabelle said a portion of the refund — $23,819 — would be rebated to those current and retired school staff members who were paying into the LGC health insurance program during the 2009-11 timeframe. He said $452,708 of the refund would go into the district's general fund.
Eligible district employees and retirees will receive their refunds in mid-October. Individual refunds would amount to between $30 and $100, Isabelle said. He said the figure represented between 4 percent and 12 percent of the amount the employees paid toward their health insurance.
Retirees will get their refunds in a special check. Current employees will have their refund included in their regular pay check. Isabelle told the board that the district decided to disburse the refund in this way after conferring with its auditors. Isabelle was not immediately able to say exactly how many current and former district employees would be getting refunds.
The Bureau of Securities Regulation found the LGC violated state law by improperly collecting money and retaining unnecessary surplus funds. The organization also improperly transferred assets, subsidizing one insurance pool (worker's compensation) at the expense of the others, the bureau said.
The organization believes the large reserves kept rates stable for members and reduced long-term costs. Critics, however, said the surplus should have been returned to its members rather that used for other purposes, such as subsidizing a new workers' compensation insurance program.
In other business, Superintendent Kent Hemingway reported that student enrollment at the start of the school year was 1,200. He said the number represented a drop of 11 students from last year. But the drop was smaller than expected. Hemingway said school officials had earlier thought the decline would be between 15 to 20 students.
"Overall our enrollment is slowly decreasing," he said.
NOTES: The School Board approved a three-day trip to Quebec City for high school students. French teacher Louise Jagusch said the February trip would give the students both linguistic and cultural experience. The trip will take place Feb. 7-9, during Quebec City's annual Winter Carnival, and would involve the students missing one day of class. . . . . . High School Principal Peter Sawyer told the board he wants to mandate community service for students. He said that he plans to bring a proposal to the board for their approval. At present Sawyer is envisioning requiring students to perform six hours of community service each year. He said the service could be performed through existing activities such as scouting, church groups, or civic groups. But he said that the school would need to connect students not currently involved in such activities with other community service opportunities. . . . . . Hemingway said the district received very high marks during a recent audit of its special education programs. "We really had a perfect score," he said. . . . . . The board accepted the resignation of long-time School District treasurer Paul Simoneau and appointed Susan Jenson to serve as interim treasurer. Simoneau, who has been treasurer for 16 years, recently moved from Gilford. Jenson will serve as interim treasurer until town elections next March.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 September 2013 03:13
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