LACONIA — Youngsters from the Saint James Preschool got to attend classes for the first time in nearly a month yesterday when they showed up at their new temporary home at the Lakes Region Child Care Services Early Learning Center at Normandin Square.
The pre-school has been closed since December 8, when vandals left water running in an upstairs sink which had been blocked, flooding the basement classroom space used by the students at the Boys and Girls Club of the Lakes Region.
''It's our first day here and the kids are having a great time. They haven't been able to attend school in a month and they're really glad to see each other again,'' said Gayle Sullivan, preschool director, who said that one of the big attractions for the 21 students who attended school yesterday was a climbing structure at the Early Learning Center.
''We don't have anything like that and they were fascinated with it,'' said Sullivan.
She said that within 24 hours after Saint James Preschool was forced to close the Early Learning Center reached out with on offer to share its facilities and the preschool now has about 1,350-square-feet of space to operate its own programs.
Students and their parents got to view the facility at a December 20 open house and the first day of classes at the school was originally scheduled for January 2 but was postponed for three straight days by school cancellations.
''It's a beautiful kid-friendly atmosphere here and we're so happy that Lakes Region Child Care Services has allowed us to use the facility,'' said Sullivan.
She expects that repairs to the Boys and Girls Club will be completed by the end of the month and that the preschool will be able to return to the same classroom spaces that it has occupied at the former Saint James Episcopal Church ever since it was started at the Saint James Day Care Center in 1965 by the end of January.
CAPTION: Saint James Pre-schoolers Brayden Pucci, Cody Houle, Elise Graton and Dante Morin enjoy a little climbing at the school's new, temporary facility at the Lakes Region Child Care Services Early Learning Center on Strafford Street in Laconia. It was their first day at school in nearly a month for the youngsters, who will be returning to their familiar classrooms at the Boys and Girls Club on North Main Street. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)
Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 January 2014 01:04
BELMONT — Could the Gale School be used as a the town library?
The ad hoc Save the Gale School Committee thinks so, and last night two of its members broached the subject with the Shaker Regional School Board.
Conservation Commission member Ken Knowlton and former School Board Chair Pret Tuthill think the 119-year-old building, which has been idle since the 1980s, can be moved from its current spot behind the Belmont Middle School and placed on the empty lot on the corner of Memorial and School streets.
A recent evaluation by Omega Structural Engineers, PLLC said the building and, with the exception of its foundation, is sound. Tuthill said he knows it would need lead and possible asbestos remediation, but using it is still an option.
The recent study was paid for by the Save the Gale School fund.
According to Tuthill, the Library Trustees think the Belmont Library needs more room. He said there is "hundreds of thousands of dollars" in the Duffy Fund — a fund established in 1927 by Walter and George Duffy, who were the owners of the Belmont Hosiery Mill. The Duffys built the current library and donated 5,000 books to its initial collection.
Tuthill said until recently the Library Trustees were under the impression that the money could only be spent on the existing building, but he said he has since learned differently.
"It is our contention that the money is available," Tuthill said, noting the money left over from the 1927 project has "swollen to quite a bit of money."
He said Diane Marden of the Belmont Historical Society was making a similar presentation to the Belmont Library Trustees at their meeting last night.
Tuthill also said Shaker Regional Building and Grounds Director Doug Ellis got an estimate yesterday of $40,000 to tear down the Gale School — a number that doesn't include any lead paint or asbestos remediation.
"We could offer to buy it from you for and set it on our own foundation," Tuthill said, suggesting the school district could contribute the $40,000 to the move rather than spend it in demolition.
Tuthill said if the library doesn't want the old school, maybe the town would.
He also said that he and Knowlton think the town of Belmont is looking to use the Belmont Mill someday as town offices, a which point the senior center and the daycare center would need a new home.
Should the old Gale School be available and the library doesn't want it, Tuthill said those two uses could qualify the for some state or federal community development grants.
"Can you live with it on Concord Street and with public access?" asked Tuthill, saying he didn't expect an answer right away.
Nor did he get one. Shaker School Board Chair Heidi Hutchinson asked Ellis how current the estimate was to tear it down but after that, the board went on to its other business.
Library Trustee Chair Mary Louise Charnley said Marden made her presentation to the trustees last night.
She said they took no action, but plan to discuss the proposal in a future meeting.
"I don't know what we're going to do," Charnley said. "We're just digging through the paperwork."
Last Updated on Tuesday, 07 January 2014 12:15
BELMONT — A 22-year-old Pembroke woman was released on $15,000 personal recognizance bail yesterday being charged with having narcotics in her possession while in an unheated car with her 7-month-old baby Saturday night.
Shanna Boucher is also charged with one count of endangering the welfare of a child for allegedly having him near intravenous drugs and needles.
Judge Jim Carroll of the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division agreed she could be released "much to his displeasure and concern" if a full-report of the incident was filed with the Division of Children, Youth and Families by 8:30 a.m. on January 13.
Carroll also said that she was to appear back in court that day and he would review the report, the case, and the recommendations of the DCYF to determine if she should continue to be free on personal recognizance bail.
According to police affidavits, an officer on routine patrol near the Irving Station on Prescott Hill about 6:30 p.m. noticed a small, red car with two people sitting in it, apparently working on something under the dash board.
As the officer neared the car, he saw he a male holding a lighter to a metal spoon — something the officer described as a common way to melt drugs. The male was sitting in the driver's seat and when he saw the officer approach, he stepped out of the car and gave the officer the spoon, which contained a green, soupy matter.
The male told police he had a prescription for the oxycodone and was in a lot of pain. Police said the man had his sleeve rolled up and police said there were fresh track marks on his arms.
He told police he had been trying to fix the heater in the car.
Once additional police arrived, Boucher, who was in the front passenger seat, got out of the car, told police the vehicle belonged to her father, and gave them written permission to search it. Police noticed a needle and a smaller spoon holding a similar green soupy matter that were allegedly within a foot of the baby.
She had some pills in a baggie and three hypodermic needles but said she wasn't shooting drugs.
Police took the baby and placed him in the back of the cruiser for warmth and safety. Boucher's father later came and took the child and the car.
The man in the driver's seat has not been charged with any crime.
Boucher's public defender said she was scheduled to appear in the 6th Circuit Court, Concord Division for possession of drugs and was working with a Merrimack County rehabilitation program. To the best of his knowledge, the attorney said she had not tested positive for any drugs.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 07 January 2014 02:56
BELMONT — Selectmen expressed sympathy for a suggestion by a former town official that a portion of the ambulance billing funds received by the town go to buy safety equipment for the Police Department but say that fund is restricted to Fire Department and ambulance use only.
At a public hearing last evening former Belmont Town Administrator Donald McLelland pointed out in about half of all emergency responses it is the Police Department that is first on the scene and that as long as regular budget items for the Fire Department are being paid for from the Fire/Ambulance Equipment and Apparatus Fund that consideration should be given to other departments which respond to emergencies and whose budgets bear the costs of responding.
His comments came during a hearing held by selectmen on a proposed warrant article which would use $93,945 from the fund, which had a balance as of the end of October of $345,367, for a number of routine expenses.
The warrant article calls for spending $40,000 for overtime coverage, $26,745 for medical and supply expenses, 12,500 for billing fees, $6,000 for fuel, $5,000 for vehicle repairs, $1,200 for training expenses, $1,000 for telephone expense, $1,000 for office supplies and $500 for conferences and dues.
''My only concern is that thought should be given to opening up the fund for safety equipment for the police,'' said McLelland.
But long-time Selectman Jon Pike recalled that when selectmen tried in the past to use the money from the fund for safety vests for police the town's legal counsel ruled it out.
Town Administrator Jean Beaudin said voters would have to approve a change in the purpose of the fund in order for it to be used by other departments and that in the past the public had not supported any change.
Pike said that over the last 20 years or so ambulance coverage has expanded so much that what the town now has is ''basically an ambulance company with a fire department attached.''
Fire Chief David Parenti said that the fund, also known as the Comstar Special revenue Fund, collects about $200,000 a year from ambulance billings and uses about $90,000 to $100,000 a year for routine department expenses with the rest going for capital expenses.
Parenti and selectmen also discussed the $54,354 contract with Lakes Regional Mutual Fire Aid for dispatch services for the Fire Department.
In 2013, the Lakes Region Mutual Fire Aid budget was $554,000 for the 11 Belknap County communities. That bill was apportioned to each individual county taxpayer based on equalized taxable property value and included in the county portion of an annual tax bill. Last year Belmont's share of the bill was $34,381 — some $20,000 less.
The difference is because the agency allocates expenses to member communities based on a formula that takes both property value and population into account, not just property value. Because Belmont has little lakefront property to tax, is ratio of population to property value is relatively high for the region.
Pike said he would like towns to have more oversight over the LRFMA budget and Parenti, who is one of the directors of the LRFMA, said that after the budget is developed in September a public budget hearing, at which all 36 member communities will be invited, will be held in October.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 07 January 2014 02:55
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