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Laconia chruch sending teams to Philippines for typhoon relief

LACONIA — Grace Capital Church plans to hold a fundraiser dinner and silent auction at it's Laconia campus on Friday, Jan. 31 at 6 p.m. to raise funds for support of mission teams which will be going to the Philippines in February and March to help with Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts.
''It was the most powerful typhoon in history yet the world seems basically seems to have forgotten about it already,'' says Christine St. Cyr, who along with her husband, Ron, is one of those who plans to travel to the city of Ormoc on the island of Leyte to help rebuild homes and public buildings, including a historic church.
The typhoon, which hit the Philippines, on November 8, is unofficially the strongest typhoon ever recorded in terms of wind speed, with sustained 10-minute wind speeds of 175 miles per hour and one-minute sustained winds of 196 miles per hour. It killed at least 6,183 people in the Philippines and left 11 million people homeless.
Ormoc, a city of 191,200, was largely destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan, (also known as Yolanda) and the city previously suffered similar destruction and loss of life in 1991 during typhoon Thelma.
Ron St. Cyr says that the church hopes to raise enough funds to send two mission teams of 15 or more people to Ormoc with the first team leaving on Feb. 22 and returning on March 7 with a second team arriving on March 7 and returning on March 22.
He said that donations are being sought for the silent auction and that the church is seeking monetary donations which can be made to the church to help support the effort.
''The money will be used to buy local materials for our work. We're going to supply the manpower and woman power and repair as many homes as we can manage. There's a historic church we'll be working on as well,'' says St. Cyr, a veteran of overseas relief projects in all parts of the world who has gone on at least 20 similar missions in eastern Europe, Asia, South America and Alaska.
Tickets for the dinner are $10 per person and $25 per family and according to church pastor Mark Warren, who says that the meal will be catered by Contiagiani's. He urges that tickets be purchased prior to the event so that the caterer will know how much food to prepare.
''Faith motivates us and compels us to do this. We're going to try and meet the practical needs of the people there as best we can,'' says Warren, who says that such relief efforts ''are part of the very DNA of our church.''
He said that the church is involved in a host of other missions, including clean water projects in Africa and other disaster relief efforts. ''We have so much in our country and the sacrifice we make is so small compared to what the people there have suffered. This project provides an immense amount of hope to those who have lost their homes and been uprooted.''
Chris St. Cyr says that in addition to the humanitarian effort, the church members will also be working to spread the good news of the gospel during the mission effort.
For more information visit the church's website at www.gccnh.com.

CAPTION: photo slugged St. Cyr

Ron and Christine St. Cyr and Pastor Mark Warren of Grace Capital Church discuss plans for a fundraising dinner and auction which will be held at the church's downtown Laconia campus on January 31. The event will raise funds to send mission teams to the Philippines to help with rebuilding of homes destroyed in Typhoon Haiyan last November. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 February 2014 04:39

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Belmont mailbox post has become all-to-common target for out-of-control drivers

BELMONT — A man whose granite mailbox post and split-rail fence have been frequently damaged by out-of-control drivers has asked Belmont selectmen to come up with a better way to mark a curve on Union Road so that drivers will slow down when they approach the Horne Road intersection near his home.
Jeff Bowser of 2 Horne Road says that he's lived at the intersection for 27 years and that on an average of once a year his property has been damaged by drivers who were traveling too fast to negotiate the curve in front of his home.
In a letter which selectmen discussed at their Monday meeting, Bowser said that the incidents have increased ever since the town changed the dynamics of the Horne Road-Union Road intersection by removing an island.
''I have suffered four incidents in that timeframe, twice where my granite post mailbox and rock garden were destroyed ($2,800 each), including my lawn being torn up. I have lost three sections of fence which I have paid for in two other separate incidents,'' wrote Bowser.
He said that it appears to him that speeding has increased since the island was removed and has ''only made my property a better target for drunks coming from the local bar rooms.''
Bowser says that he assumes that the drivers of the vehicles were intoxicated as no one has ever stopped after an accident and that in one incident a driver's car ended up on a boulder located some distance from his driveway on a corner lot ''but was kind enough to leave his front plate which the Belmont P.D. was able to use to locate him.''
He noted the police reports of the three most recent incidents, one on Nov. 11, 2012 in which someone drove into his granite post mailbox, snapping it in half, another on June 12, 2013 in which his granite post mailbox was hit and the car went through his fence and into a field before exiting his property on Beane Hill Road and another on December 15, 2013 in which two fence rails were broken when a driver failed to negotiate the turn.
Bowser says that he would like to see an illuminated curve arrow sign or a large reflective sign installed on Union Road that would slow down traffic at the intersection, which he said is simply a catastrophe waiting to happen.
Selectmen discussed the problems at the intersection and plan to try and fund a workable solution which will make drivers more aware of the dangerous curve.

CAPTION: photos slugged mailbox, mailbox 2
The mailbox post at Jeff Bowser's home at the intersection of Union Road and Horne Road in Belmont has twice been destroyed in recent years by drivers who lost control on a sharp curve at the intersection. (Roger Amsden/for the Laconia Daily Sun)

Last Updated on Saturday, 11 January 2014 01:58

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Seymour steps down as mayor but up as new COO at Meadowbrook

LACONIA — Only two men have served as both chairman of the School Board and mayor of the city, Rod Dyer and Mike Seymour, who steps down on Monday, after his second term. "We did in the opposite order," Seymour remarked.

Seymour was elected mayor in 2010, joining a veteran city council with five members — Matt Lahey, Henry Lipman, Brenda Baer, Bob Hamel and Armand Bolduc — who had been together for two terms. "I learned a lot from everybody around that table," Seymour said.

Seymour counted the search for a city manager to replace Eileen Cabanel, which began near the close of his first year in office, as "the biggest challenge and, in hindsight, one of the most impactful decisions the council made." He said that in guiding the process, he sought to impress upon the council that "we need to focus on where we need to be going, not where we've been." The process, he described, as lengthy, consuming a considerable amount of time and requiring a significant investment in research.

Seymour recalled that when Scott Myers, the only candidate who appeared at the final interview without an armful of documentation, left the room Bolduc said flatly "well, we can stop right here." Only one councilor expressed strong reservations, preferring a more experienced candidate. Seymour said that he was encouraged by the near unanimity in the face of such an important choice, which suggested that the council would work well together as other issues arose.

Seymour had high praise for Myers, who he said quickly became engaged in the life of the city. Without acting as a seventh councilor, "he is always bringing ideas and suggestions to the council," he said. At the same time, he noted that Myers has used his relationships in Concord and even Washington to the advantage of the city. "We've charted an amazing course with Scott at the helm," he said.

As a candidate, Seymour touted strategic planning and as mayor initiated the process. "It worked out well," he said, explaining that the council, in partnership with the city manager and department heads set priorities and monitoring the progress toward pursuing them. "We were proactive and looking long-term," he said. "The council began dealing with issues it chose, not only reacting to circumstances that arose."

Likewise, Seymour convened what he called "business roundtables" designed to foster a closer relationship between City Hall and the business community. He said that "some positives" came from the 18 months of meetings, referring specifically to a "relocation package" created to enable those doing business in the city to navigate the regulatory and permitting process.

Confessing that his service on the School Board was initially aroused suspicion abut his role as mayor, Seymour said that the tension that had marked relations between the City Council and the School District was overcome during his tenure. He said that councilors, particularly Bob Hamel, recognized that the renovation and expansion of the Huot Regional Technical Educaiton Center, together with improvements to the high school and its playing fields, would prove assets to the city. Meanwhile, Myers and School Superintendent Bob Champlin established a close working relationship that contributed significantly to "charting a different course."

As mayor, Seymour cast only one deciding vote, that in favor of introducing a mandatory recycling program rather than "Pay-As-You-Throw (PAYT)." He said that "until five or 10 minutes before the vote I knew exactly what I was going to do. Vote for PAYT." He explained that his turnabout was the result of suddenly concluding that residents ought to be given the opportunity to do the right thing by recycling more trash and only have PAYT imposed on them if they failed. "If we have to go to PAYT," he said, "it should be their fault."

Seymour said that so far the mandatory program appears to meeting its targets.

Reflecting on his tenure, Seymour said "it's easy to do a good job when you're surrounded by good people. This team is so good, " he continued,. "I benefited and I'm thankful." He said that "the mayor's work should be done before you sit down at the council table, on the phone behind the scene."

Not only is Seymour stepping down as mayor, but also leaving his position as a vice-president of Franklin Saving Bank to become the chief operating officer of Meadowbrook Musical Arts Center. He said that he grown weary of banking, where he spent his working life, and for the past year had discussed the move with R.J. Harding, a personal friend. "It would have been difficult to make the move as mayor," he said, explaining that "it's not that I've lost interest, "but I wouldn't be able to devote the time and master a new career."

At Meadowbrook, he said he will oversee day-to-day operations, including marketing and facilities, freeing Harding to pursue the relationships with agents and artists essential to offering shows that fill the seats.

However, Seymour, who at 46 has also served as president of the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, a trustee of LRGHealthcare, a director of the WLNH Children's Auction, said that he expects to return to community service "once I get settled in my new position. What that will be," he continued, "only time will tell. A project? A committee? Absolutely."

Last Updated on Saturday, 11 January 2014 01:51

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In the end, police station proposal gains unanimous BudCom support

GILFORD — In what some are calling a historical vote, the Budget Committee unanimously gave its support to a $1.213-million bond request for the renovation and expansion of the Police Department Wednesday night.

In addition, Town Administrator Scott Dunn told the committee that there is a good possibility that $150,000 could be offset by a federal Homeland Security grant, in which case the selectmen would reduce the warrant article by that amount.

"It's never going to get any cheaper," said Budget Committee Chair Phyllis Corrigan, speaking in support of the project. "If you going to do a job, do it right."

Corrigan's remarks were directed at member Kevin Leandro who supports the idea of the renovation but initially balked at the price.

Leandro said he's been on a tour, agrees that the Police Department facility at Town Hall is too small, is unsafe and in part unsanitary, but said he wanted to see a "piecemeal" approach to renovation.

He said he wants something to be done but didn't want to spend $1.213 million.

Corrigan went around the table and asked every member to voice their opinion before a vote on the motion to pass was taken. While most members had some questions for Lt. Kris Kelley, they also supported the project as presented.

At one point, member David Horvath, who along with Leandro is considered part of the more fiscally conservative wing of the committee, made a motion to reduce the article by $60,000, however the motion failed by a vote of 8 to 4.

Once the amendment failed, Leandro said he had listened to the opinions of the other members of the board, considered the presentation and information provided by Kelley, and had decided he would support the project as presented. After his motion to reduce the amount failed, Horvath also said he, too, would support it as presented.

The project would take the facility from 4,800-square-feet to 10,500-square-feet. Key elements include a reworking of the dispatch area to address some sanitation issues, the expansion of the evidence and records storage areas, and an additional holding cell. The building will also reuse space to make it more suitable for police work. An example is moving the interview rooms to more private areas of the station and reworking the bail commissioners' room for safety.

With the expansion of the evidence storage areas, the three storage containers in the rear of the parking lot will be removed. Right now, the town is paying $225 per month to rent them.

The main entrance to the Police Department will be moved out of the lobby and into the new building. Kelley said this allows for more privacy for people who need police services.

As it stands now, people who come to the station, other than those who are under arrest, must enter through the main lobby and Kelley said this poses safety and privacy issues for them as well as the rest of the people, including employees, who have business in Town Hall.

A safe room will be built in the existing lobby. Kelley said this allows someone to immediately get to a safe place without involving dispatchers who are often alone in the building on evening and overnights shifts. The safe room provides security for someone in immediate danger until a uniformed officer can return to the station.

There will be an Emergency Operations Center that will double as a training room and a community room. The EOC will be able to be completely secured and is included in the part of the project that could be offset by federal funds. There is also an upgrade to the security system and an emergency generator.

The proposed renovation differs in the one proposed in 2009 by removing the geothermal heating system and reconfiguring the way the building works internally for the police. The 2009 proposal was for $1.5 million and earned 59 percent of the voters' support.

Because this article involves a long-term debt obligaton, three-fifths or 60 percent of the voters must vote in favor of it.

Last Updated on Saturday, 11 January 2014 02:13

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