LACONIA – The Laconia District office of the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) at 65 Beacon Street West is one of four that could be closed to under consideration to fulfill a provision of the 2016-17 state budget requiring the department to consolidate district offices to reduce general fund appropriations to the agency by $1 million in each year of the biennium.
In an e-mail sent to district office staff on Thursday, Nick Toumpas, the commissioner of DHHS, confirmed that along with Laconia, offices in Claremont, Conway and Rochester have also been identified for closure. He noted that the savings would be achieved by "consolidation of district offices and associated reduction in lease expenses."
Toumpas reminded employees that although both the House of Representatives and the Senate included the provision in their respective versions of the budget, the budget process has not reached its conclusion.
"In short," he wrote, "this is not final," cautioning that "it is premature to speculate about any proposed change." At the same time, he stressed, "... this is not a proposal that contemplates any reduction in staff." But, he conceded, "when we take whatever actions we need to, they may create a change in travel time to different workplace – an increase or a decrease in commute."
There are 62 employees working in the Laconia District office with 11,938 open cases. The office serves the city of Laconia and 25 towns (Alexandria, Alton, Ashland, Barnstead, Belmont, Bridgewater, Bristol, Campton, Center Harbor, Dorchester, Ellsworth, Gilford, Gilmanton, Hebron, Holderness, Meredith, New Hampton, Plymouth, Rumney, Sanbornton, Thornton, Tilton, Waterville Valley and Wentworth) .
State Sen. Andrew Hosmer (D-Laconia) said that the prospect of closing district offices was "one of many reasons I voted against the budget." He said that Concord will likely be the closest office to those in the Laconia catchment area, which will represent a hardship for whom access to transportation is an issue. "This cut was made to get to a number," he said. "Not to encourage the department to run a more efficient operation."
Last Updated on Saturday, 06 June 2015 12:23
LACONIA — The prospects for downtown brightened last month as three properties changed hands, each purchased by a different local owner, but together presenting an investment of nearly $800,000 in the center of the city.
Charlie St. Clair, owner and operator of the Laconia Antique Center doing business as Casablanca Industries LLC, acquired the building at the corner of Main and Hanover streets, where the business has operated since 2011. The purchase price was $315,000. Originally a J.J. Newberry's five and dime store, the 14,000-square-foot building long housed the popular Bloom's Variety Store, which closed in 2008.
"I like downtown Laconia," said St. Clair. "I like the urban feel to it and believe it has great potential." He said that his business, leasing space to some 150 antique dealers, has "done well downtown," but acknowledged that since traffic on Main Street has been detoured to facilitate reconstruction of the Main Street Bridge business has slowed.
"Financially it made more sense to buy the building than to go on leasing," St. Clair explained. "It's a great building," he continued, adding that he expected to "spiff it up some."
Just up the street, the Condodemetraky brothers — Chris and Mark — doing business as Levendi Properties LLC, purchased the Piscopo Block at 633-637 Main St. for $392,500. More than half the building will become the headquarters of GC Engineering, the brothers' civil engineering firm specializing in flood plain management.
"We employ eight people and we're expanding," said Chris. The ground floor is leased to four successful commercial tenants — MC Cycle & Sport, All My Life Jewelers., Greenlaw's Music and Attorney David Bownes.
"We're excited to be downtown," Mark said. He described access to high speed internet service as "a gamechanger" and a significant factor in the success of their engineering business. They said that they expect downtown to undergo a revival — "to improve dramatically," adding: "We want to be part of it, to be part of the solution."
A mainstay of Main Street, Daub's Cobbler Shop, will move to 24 Canal St. by next month. Jim Daubenspeck purchased the building for $75,000 and expanded the size of his shop from 900 square feet to 1,200 square feet.
"It's more of a risk with higher up-front costs," he said, "but you control your own space and your own destiny." Although his business continues to grow, he remarked, "I still tell everybody who wears shoes to tell their friends about it." Daubenspeck noted that while the move would not lead to a significant change in the nature of the business, he expects to expand his retail inventory of high quality footwear.
"I looked at space in Meredith, Gilford and Belmont," Daubenseck admitted, "but I realized the smartest place for me to be is right here in downtown Laconia. Everybody who is here wants to be here," he continued, "and with more owner-occupied buildings it will be a great place to do business."
Last Updated on Saturday, 06 June 2015 01:12
LACONIA — The 3-year terms of two members of the Planning Board — Warren Hutchins, who chairs the board, and Larry Guild — expire at the end of June. Hutchins, who chairs the board, requested to be reappointed, but Guild chose to leave the board. Without an applicant to fill the vacant seat, the City Council chose to, in effect, extend the terms of the incumbents set a deadline of July 1 for applications for the two seats.
State provides in the absence of applicants for appointed positions, like those on the Planning Board, the City Council may extend the terms of the incumbents, who may remain in office until their successors are appointed.
Last Updated on Saturday, 06 June 2015 01:09
LACONIA — Among the students receiving their diplomas during the Laconia Academy graduation ceremony on Friday night will be 19-year-old Victoria Yale, who has been recognized as an outstanding student in the program by both teachers and coordinator Peggy Selig.
Yale began taking classes at night during the fall semester 2014, where she enrolled in the two math classes that she needed to complete her degree requirements. Entering the academy was no easy task for this young woman, however, as two weeks prior to the start of her classes she gave birth to her daughter.
Getting a diploma was not Yale's top priority during her regular high school career, and due to her own personal struggles she dropped out of school by the start of her senior year at Gilford High School, and had intended on taking online classes instead. A few weeks into the classes however, she found that she was not interested in pursing an academic career and stopped working on her online classes. Then Yale found out she was pregnant, and reconsidered going to school, this time in the Laconia School District, as that was where her family now lived.
In an attempt to finish school Yale attended Laconia High School for one semester before permanently discontinuing her traditional education.
Following the birth of her daughter Yale decided that she owed it to her child to get her high school diploma, so she enrolled in Algebra I with Greg Schneburger and, Math Concepts and Algebraic Thinking with Ginnie Bean. The classes fell on Tuesday's and Thursday's each week throughout the fall semester, and Yale completed the course with a perfect attendance, despite having a baby at home.
When asked whether juggling parenting with school was difficult, especially at the beginning of her semester, Yale stated, "It wasn't too bad because I was able to do whatever homework I had while my daughter was napping, and while I was at school she stayed with my mom. I was doing it for her, so it was worth it."
Yale was determined to complete her high school education strong, putting in extra effort in the night school classes in order to complete the course with top marks. Taking time to get extra help in class when needed, Yale worked diligently to understand all concepts and complete all homework that was given each week, therefore finishing both courses with high averages, achieving an A plus in Algebra I.
The night school experience was better than traditional school, according to Yale, as the teachers gave students more individualized time and help, and the students were more accepting of her situation. "My classmates would always joke around asking when I was going to bring my daughter in for a visit. They were always supportive and kind, and never judged that I had a child so early in life."
Another supportive and non-judgmental individual in Yale's life was her former teacher at Gilford High School, Debra Laliberte, whom Yale had become close with prior to leaving high school. Yale had lost contact with Laliberte during her transition to Laconia, and had not shared with her that she was pregnant until after she had given birth. Upon visiting with her daughter this winter, Yale stated that Laliberte was excited and supportive of her decision to go back to school and receive her diploma. "Mrs.Laliberte was a teacher that really tried to make connections with her students and when she did would always be excited and enthusiastic for them, and proud of their accomplishments", says Yale.
Laliberte echoed the same sentiment stating, "I am incredibly proud of Victoria and all that she has accomplished. She is a brilliant student with strong goals, and I am so proud that she followed through to get her diploma. Her dedication to completing school even after having her daughter speaks to her resilience and determination."
Yale will graduate alongside the rest of the Laconia Academy 2015 graduating class tonight at 6 p.m. in the Laconia High School auditorium. "I am excited for graduation even though it is not really my thing, but my family is excited for me so I felt it was important that I attend the ceremony", said Yale.
Following graduation Yale hopes to work and go to school for cosmetology. Although formal education has not been the path that Yale has chosen during her educational journey, she hopes that her daughter will decide to complete public school without any breaks and with money already saved she hopes that college is in her daughters future.
CAPTION — Victoria Yale and her daughter. (Courtesy photo)
Last Updated on Friday, 05 June 2015 12:53
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