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Belmont farmer says insurnace won't begin to cover loss of historic barn & contents

BELMONT — Everett Weeks Jr. calls himself the "Last of the Mohicans", meaning he is one of the last family farmers left in town.

When a two-alarm fire destroyed his hay and pig barn Sunday afternoon, he also realized he was under-insured.

"I just talked to my insurance agent. They're not going to give me enough to rebuild the barn," Weeks said yesterday morning.

Fire Chief Dave Parenti agreed the barn was a total loss. He said the fire was reported by a passerby who noticed flames coming from the Route 140/Depot Road farm about 11:30 a.m. Sunday.

He said when the lieutenant arrived and saw that a small house occupied by one of Week's employees was about 20 feet from the burning barn, he went immediately to a second alarm and used his first hoses to build a wall of water between the barn and the small house.

Parenti said there are two fire hydrants on either side of the barn and crews were able to tap into both of them, allowing them to get water on the fire immediately.

The problem, said Parenti, is once 2,000 bales of hay get burning it's nearly impossible to put them out. He also said the barn had two roofs — one made of metal atop one made of wood. That meant it initially took a little while for the ladder truck to begin getting water on top of the fire.

He said there was a backhoe just down the road and one the fire was under control, a backhoe operator kept breaking apart the bales and the fire department would put water on them.

Route 140 was closed for about six hours and firefighters remained there until just after 6 p.m. Around midnight, Parenti said firefighters returned to the barn to douse some bales that had rekindled.

The second time, Parenti said firefighters were there for about 90 minutes. He said yesterday that were rain not in for forecast today, he would probably have sent crews over yesterday to re-wet everything.

He said he knows the fire started in the rear-most corner of the barn that is away from the small house, but doesn't know what caused it. He said the barn has electrical service but Weeks hasn't turned it on for the season yet.

Weeks said he was very grateful that firefighters were able to save the small house.
He said his grandfather bought the farm for his father in 1902 and he thinks the barn dated from the late 1800s.

"I was born here 77-years-ago," Weeks said.

While weeks estimated the barn and it's contents — about 2,000 bails of hay and some equipment — to be worth a about $2,000,000, he said his insurer disagrees.

"I just hope they let me tear it down," he said, fearing that because its a historic building, the town won't let him.

Weeks said he stored hay and summer vegetables in that barn — he has two more — and also raised pigs. He said he hadn't bought his piglets yet and likely wouldn't buy any this year.

"I didn't really make any money on them anyway," he said.

Weeks said he will continue haying, growing vegetable, and raising laying chickens and selling the eggs.

"I'm the last one," said Weeks. "I'm the oldest on this street."

Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 April 2014 01:20

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Report of layoff at nursing home turned out to be premature

LACONIA — Lower than projected health insurance costs and the retirement of the human resources director have freed funds in the 2014 Belknap County budget, enabling the the county commissioners to restore one of three positions they eliminated to cope with spending cuts adopted by the County Convention.

County Administrator Debra Shackett said yesterday that the increase in health insurance premiums, originally projected to 13.4-percent, will be 6.2-percent and with the retirement of Norm O'Neil the county will be spared a significant share of his annual salary of $96,634.

Just days after the convention adopted the budget, the commission announced that one full-time position and two part-time positions at the nursing home would be be eliminated. With the unforeseen funds, the full-time position, held by Deb White, who has worked at the nursing home for the past 39 years, was restored less than a week before what would have been her last day on the job.

Shackett said that the two part-time positions will not be restored, but added "I don't believe that there will be any more lay-offs."

Shackett said that the search for a successor to O'Neil will get underway later in the year with the intention of filling the position before the 2015 budget is prepared. In the meantime, Shackett said that she, together with Finance Director Glen Waring and Deb Laflamme of the Human Resources Department, will share and shoulder O'Neil's responsibilities.

These include negotiations with three collective bargaining units. The State Employees' Association (SEA) represents corrections officers, with whom talks are near conclusion, and employees of the Sheriff's Department, with whom negotiations are at a standstill. Shackett said that contract talks with the State Employees' Association (SEA) representing corrections officers are near conclusion, but negotiations with employees of the Sheriff's Department are a standstill. Talks with the third union, Teamster Local 633, which was certified earlier this year to represent 20 county employees described as "support staff," have not yet begun.

Last week the commission ratified an agreement reached with the SEA representing some 80 employees at the nursing home. That contract still has to be funded by the Belknap County Convention.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 April 2014 01:13

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Investigation of report of 'slumped' man leads to heroin arrest in parking garage

LACONIA — City police have charged a local man with possession of heroin after someone reported they had seen him slumped over the steering wheel of his car in the downtown parking garage.

Capt. Matt Canfield said the responding officer found Kory MacDonald, 28, of 129 Meredith Center Road at 11:30 a.m. sitting in a white Subaru with what appeared to be heroin in his lap and a large knife in the center console of his car. When he got out of the car, police found a needle near the driver's seat.

Canfield said MacDonald has been charged with one count of possession of narcotics and one count of being a felon in possession of a dangerous or deadly weapon.

He said police found between eight and 10 grams of heroin in his car.

Canfield said MacDonald refused bail and will appear in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division this morning.

He said police continue to investigate and additional charges may be forthcoming.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 April 2014 01:07

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Laconia woman said to have pointed rifle at Jackson Street neighbor

LACONIA — A local woman has been charged with criminal threatening Sunday night after she allegedly pointed a rifle at one of her neighbors during a dispute.

Heather L. Brewer, 23, of 51 Jackson St. was released from custody on $5,000 personal recognizance bail.

Police said they were called to 49/51 Jackson Street at 10:59 p.m. for an officer-wanted call. While en route, police learned one of the people involved had a rifle.

When they arrived, police found a group of people arguing on the front porch of the duplex and determined on person had been assaulted and had left to go to the hospital.

A second person has also suffered minor injuries.

Police said yesterday that the fight and alleged criminal threatening appear to have stemmed from an ongoing dispute between neighbors and confirmed they had been to the house before while responding to calls of a disturbance.

They said a .22 caliber rifle was taken from Brewer's residence.

Police said during the argument Brewer apparently threw a high chair from the porch at one victim who threatening to hit her "so she'd never speak again."

She allegedly went back into the house and came back outside with the rifle.

Police said they believe other people are involved an may have witnessed the incident. Anyone with any information is asked to call the Laconia Police at 524-5252 or the Greater Laconia Crime Line at 524-1717.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 April 2014 01:04

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