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Home Builders Insititute to hold job training program at Huot Center

LACONIA — The Huot Technical Center at Laconia High School will be the venue for job training and placement program offered by the Home Builders Institute, the vocational affiliate of the National Association of Home Builders.

Elizabeth Fischer, the program manager, said yesterday that she was very excited by the prospect of working with the staff of the Huot Technical Center and Laconia Adult Education to provide the comprehensive program to underemployed and unemployed men and women, especially veterans of the armed forces. She said that classes will be conducted after school hours, during the late afternoon and early evening, and taught by instructors associated with the HBI. The program will run for 10 or 12 weeks.

Funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, the program consists of training in all aspects of general construction and property maintenance, including carpentry, plumbing, masonry, landscaping, painting and electrical work. All graduates receive a pre-apprenticeship certificate to present to prospective employers along with a set of hand tools and protective equipment.

Fischer said that the Home Builders Institute and its forerunner, the Manpower Development and Training Department of the NHAB, have been providing educational and training services to the construction industry in partnership with the Department of Labor since 1947. She said that employers in the construction industry in New Hampshire and elsewhere report a paucity of qualified workers, including entry-level and semi-skilled personnel. The training program, Fischer said, is intended to address the shortage of qualified workers and expand the opportunities for those seeking a career.

Fischer said that registration for the program closes on Dec. 31, and she anticipates classes will begin in the middle of January.

For more information contact Elizabeth Fischer, HBI Program Manager at the New Hampshire Home Builders Association, 119 Airport Road, Concord, NH 03301 or call (603) 296-5272 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 December 2014 01:46

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Gilford selectmen hope to award police station bid today

GILFORD — Selectmen are scheduled to meet today to work with the two lowest bidders for the Police Department expansion project.

Town Administrator Scott Dunn said he has invited the two lowest bidders to meet with the board at 4 p.m., and for each bidder to rework his or her proposal to meet the $1.213-million budget.

"We want to see what adjustments each contractor will make to get to no more than $1.213-million," Dunn said.

Three companies submitted bids for the long-awaited police station expansion. However, all three bids were greater than the $1.213-million approved by voters last March.

The two lowest bidders are Gary Chicoine Construction of Weare with a bid of $1,365,048 and Turnstone Construction with a bid of $1,476,700.

When announcing today's meeting, Dunn said he was confident that one of the two companies will submit an acceptable bid and the contract can be awarded today.

A part of the project, the town has received a $169,000 federal grant through the Department of Homeland Security for a central command/operations center and an emergency generator. Dunn said the federal grant must be expended by September 2015, so it is imperative the project begin as soon as possible.

After two previous attempts, the expansion project was approved by at least a 60 percent of those voting in the ballot session of annual town meeting. Because the project will be funded through long-term debt, the project needed a super-majority to pass.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 December 2014 02:12

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Mill's focus on the arts seen by some as reason for financial slide

LACONIA — The troubles besetting the Belknap Mill Society began not long after the departure of longtime executive director Mary Boswell in 2006 and within five years the financial challenges facing the organization appear to have become insurmountable.

Last month Christine Santaniello, who became president of society last spring, announced that it no longer has the financial capacity to own and maintain the mill and was seeking partners in an effort to transfer ownership of the building while ensuring the society would be able to maintain its presence and educational mission.

Filings with the Internal Revenue Service reveal that the society operated more than $59,000 in the red in 2013. Santaniello has indicated that there are sufficient reserves now on hand to support operations for approximately six months. And the society has an outstanding debt of some $40,000 owed to the Belknap Economic Development Council.

Boswell, who is now the executive director of the Historical Society of Frederick County in Maryland, said that when she left the society was on a sound footing, but at the same time acknowledged that nonprofit corporations were facing ever stiffer financial challenges. Reductions in funding by federal and state governments, she said, led to increasing competition increased competition for scarce resources, which required nonprofit corporations to mount more professional and aggressive fundraising campaigns. In particular, she noted that foundations and donors came to expect nonprofit corporations to develop stable revenue streams and, while willing to contribute to capital projects, became reluctant to fund operating expenses.

After Boswell departed the society hired an office manager but not until November, 2007 was Suzanne Lee, a former fashion designer with an art gallery in Meredith, named executive director. However, after eight months she left and John Moriarty, who had served as a trustee since 2004, became acting executive director in June, 2008 and by the end of the year was appointed executive director.

Moriarty, who served until June, 2011, said that he was hesitant to discuss his tenure in detail, but, referring to a report in The Daily Sun on the financial troubles of the society, said "I don't disagree with what I have read in the newspaper." Although that report included a statement by David Stamps, who served as treasurer of the society from 2011 to 2014, that the organization has been operating at a loss for "many, many years," Moriarty said "I don't believe there were operating losses."

While the recession hastened the erosion of the society's financial condition, the society wrestled with redefining its mission, a process that ultimately sowed dissension and bred turnover among the trustees. During her brief spell, Lee envisioned the mill as the hub of visual arts arts community. She told the press that "this building should be the center of the resurgence of culture in Laconia."

Moriarty pursued and broadened this theme. The mill hosted an evening of rock 'n roll with four bands, along with other musical performances, and exhibitions of visual arts. "The mill is reasserting itself as the cultural center of the Lakes Region," he said. At the same time, Moriarty began exploring the synergies to be found in associating the mill with the Colonial Theater, the restoration of which was high on the agenda of city officials.

Some, including former trustees like Paul Morin, whose family owned the mill when it was producing hosiery, questioned this diverse programming, which they believed diluted the essential character of the mill and original mission of the society. as a landmark of the city's industrial heritage. Their misgivings were all the greater as the financial circumstances of society failed to improve but continued to weaken.

In 2011, several former trustees returned to the board in an effort to right the ship. Moriarty stepped down. A dormant membership drive was renewed. A grant writer was engaged. A development plan was prepared and a strategic plan was begun. A new logo was introduced along with a fresh tag line — "where arts and history come alive." An executive director was hired.

But, said Stamps, "it was too little, too late."

Following another reshuffling of the board of trustees, Santaniello became president and quickly convened a finance committee composed of trustees with extensive experience of financing nonprofit corporations. "We are not the problem,," she insisted. "We have taken our responsibilities very seriously."

"We can't put the fingers in the dike," Santaniello said. "Without money, there is no mission. We're not looking for a short-term fix, but a long-term solution."

The City Council has invited the public to contribute to the discussion about the future of the mill when it meets on Monday, December 8, beginning at 7 p.m.
Santaniello said that she will outline the challenges facing the mill and looks forward to hearing the response from the public.

Last Updated on Saturday, 06 December 2014 12:55

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Gilmanton's tuition bill at Gilford Hill projected to rise $231,000 next year

GILMANTON — The 2015-2016 School District operating budget as presented to the Budget Committee Tuesday night is up 4.35 percent from this year's figure from $9,963.327 for 2014-2015 to $10,114,706.

In his presentation to the committee, School Board Clerk Bob Carpenter said the biggest drivers of the $421,000 increase are a nearly $1,000 per pupil increase in tuition for Gilmanton students to attend Gilford High School.

That total tuition cost increased from $2,840,340 for this year to a proposed $3,071,456.

Administration officials told the Budget Committee that they have projected 168 Gilmanton students will attend Gilford High School.

In this school year there are 542 total students at Gilford High School and 163 of them or 30 percent are from Gilmanton. Next year, Superintendent John Fauci said early predictions are that there will be 521 students in Gilford High School and 168 of them, or 32.5 percent, will be from Gilmanton.

There is a proposed increase in the Special Education Budget of $110,700.

One of the biggest increases in the budget is an additional $53,000 recommended for the technology budget. According to School Board member Adam Mini, the majority of the money will be spent on the wireless infrastructure for the second phase of a technology update.

He explained that as more and more students and staff members get computer learning devices like i-Pads and the like, the demands on the wireless capacity at the school have increased, leading to more "drops" or the inability for someone to access the wireless internet without interruption.

"Our infrastructure can't support the band-width demands," Mini said.

Mini also recommended the district form a technology subcommittee that can evaluate the future district needs and plan for them. He also recommended a capital budget for technology to plan out 10-year technology cycles.

Two components of next years budget — the busing contract with First Student company and a proposed modular for the Elementary School — are still in flux, said Fauci.

As to the busing contract, Fauci said he is still negotiating with First Student but said the company is asking for the replacement of four new buses and he said because of those replacement costs, the costs to the district could increase from $469,253 in this year to $519,786 in 2015-16.

Fauci said the board should have more information for the Budget Committee by the new year.

For the second year in a row, the School District will ask the voters to approve a modular addition to the elementary school.

Fauci said the big difference between next year's request and the request that was defeated at the 2014 Annual Town Meeting is the modular unit comes at the recommendation of a Space Needs Committee convened solely for the purpose of evaluating the school.

Budget Committee member Stan Bean, who served as the chair of the committee, said yesterday that the it was comprised of two School Board members, two school administrators, two members of the Budget Committee, two parents, two teachers, a now-retired paraprofessional aid, and a member of the Planning Board.

He said there is a unanimous consensus, albeit reluctant, that the school is crowded and something needs to be done.

He said the approximate total cost of a modular unit is about $250,000 which is much more expensive than a "bricks and mortar" permanent expansion of the school.

Bean noted that the Gilmanton School was built in 1997 and was designed to meet the needs of a maximum of 400 students using standards and building requirements acceptable in the mid 1990s.

He said not only have the standards changed in the past 17 years, but the number of students now exceeds 400.

At last check, enrollment was at 408 students.

Bean said that for some reason and at this point in time, Gilmanton and Alton are bucking the state trend toward declining school enrollment numbers. He also said that in the long run, the trend toward declining enrollments will likely happen in Gilmanton as in the rest of the state, so he said a five-year temporary solution is the committee's recommendation.

Fauci told the Budget Committee members that he is still working on a final cost for a modular unit and the $250,000 is the figure used last year. Bean said he feels its still a fairly accurate estimate.

Last Updated on Saturday, 06 December 2014 01:29

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