Forest on Laconia airport property to be logged

By RICK GREEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN

GILFORD — A logging operation will thin the timber on 48 acres of land north and west of Laconia Municipal Airport, the airport's general manager said Tuesday.

The area is ripe for logging,” Marv Everson said. “There is no record of previous logging that I'm aware of.

We saw it as an opportunity. We hope to gain revenue to put back into the airport to take care of maintenance issues.”

Bids are being accepted by companies that will pay for the right to harvest trees.

We're taking out marketable trees, but leaving younger growth to be able to build another forest,” he said.

Everson said he wasn't sure how much the airport would make on the project, but said the money could also be used to help pay for potential improvements, such as a planned extension of a taxiway.

The forest that is to be logged is off of Lily Pond Road near the airport.

The general aviation airport is owned by Laconia, but lies within Gilford's boundaries. Private planes and business jets use the airport, which last had regularly scheduled commercial flights in the 1990s, Everson said.

Bypass bridge work

04 18 DOT bridge bypass photo

By this fall, the New Hampshire Department of Transportation should finish a $7.2 million pavement and bridge project consisting of pavement and bridge deck rehabilitations on five miles of Route 106 from Perkins Road north to the Laconia city limits. The work includes rehabilitation of the Laconia Bypass over the NH 107 bridge, where crews worked last week. Motorists can expect periods of two-lane shifts at the bridges, and a mixture of two-lane shifts and flagger-controlled alternating one-way traffic for road work, according to the agency work plan. Work will extend onto the roadway portion of the Laconia Bypass from the south ramps of the Route 106 overpass to the north ramps of the Route 107 underpass. The state also will build a northbound left turn lane and southbound right turn lane at the Route 106/Seavey Road intersection to improve safety. (David Carkhuff/Laconia Daily Sun)

County, state reps differ on whether jobs or budget was cut

By ROGER AMSDEN, for THE LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — Did the Belknap County Delegation vote to eliminate four corrections officers from the recently approved budget? Or did it set a bottom line number only and not eliminate any jobs?

A Belknap County commissioner and a state representative from Meredith have different views of what transpired.

Belknap County Commissioner Hunter Taylor (R-Alton) said a presentation by Rep. Marc Abear at the March 10 meeting of the Belknap County Delegation led many people to believe that only two corrections officer positions were being cut from the Belknap County Corrections Department budget.

“At no time did anyone reveal that the time bomb hidden in the confusing presentation on March 10 that not two, but all four corrections officer positions to minimally staff the new Community Corrections Center had been removed from the budget,” wrote Taylor in a letter published in The Laconia Daily Sun on March 28.

He said that the impression left by Abear's presentation was that the two positions being cut were the same ones cut when the delegation removed $55,400 from the department's budget on Feb. 21. But Abear's budget had included those in its work-in-progress line, and the cuts were in addition to those already made.

But Abear disputes that any positions were cut from the Corrections Department budget, noting that after the $27,487,463 budget he proposed was passed by a 9-6 vote, the delegation voted to give the commissioners authority to transfer funds within departments without first seeking approval from the delegation's Executive Committee.

“We didn't cut any positions. We gave the department a nearly 10 percent increase over last year,” said Abear, who said how those funds are spent is up to the commissioners and department heads.

The Corrections Department budget approved by the delegation shows a $333,000 increase, up from $3,481,101 last year to $3,814,227 this year.

Confusion over what exactly had happened at the March 10 meeting was also in evidence when the Executive Committee met Monday morning with the Belknap County Commissioners for a review of county's finances.

Committee Chairman Michael Sylvia (R-Belmont) questioned the format in which information was provided by the commissioners, maintaining that line items did not reflect the budget approved by the delegation.

Commission Chairman Dave DeVoy (R-Sanbornton) said the line items were changed to reflect the percentage cut in each department and are in line with the authority granted to the commission over line items.

When Sylvia maintained that the authority over line items rests with the delegation and that the budget as passed had contained those line items, Abear corrected him and pointed out that “We gave them authority within departments,” and agreed with DeVoy.

The committee also had some discussion of a $290,810 revenue line which was included in Abear's revenue estimates and was approved by an 8-4 vote of the delegation on March 13.

The revenue is based on anticipated funds from HB413, which would have the state pay 15 percent of the retirement costs for certain categories of municipal employees.

Rep. David Huot (D-Laconia) pointed out that the bill had passed the House but has been referred to the Finance Committee, which retained it, which means that it cannot come up again in House until next year. He said it is extremely unlikely that the county will receive any of that money.

Abear said there is still a chance that the county will receive the money as a result of budget negotiations between the House and Senate.

Commissioners have questioned the estimate and said that, even if the measure is funded, the county will only receive $75,000.

Abear was one of several county legislators who voted against HB 413 but voted to support using the anticipated funds as a revenue in the county budget. Other legislators voting against HB 413 but who supported including it as a revenue in the county budget were Herb Vadney (R-Meredith) and Ray Howard (R-Alton).

Abear and Vadney said they voted against the bill because they think counties, towns and cities should be responsible for funding the retirement costs of their own employees. Both said it is appropriate to use the revenue in the county budget, even though they had opposed HB 413.

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