LRGH ER will more than double in size

LACONIA — The Planning Board this week approved the plan of LRGHealthcare' to renovate and expand the emergency department at Lakes Region General Hospital, which with the construction of new space and the renovation of existing space will more than double the size of the ER facility.
In 1986, the emergency department was moved to one of the oldest parts of the building and was last renovated in the 1990s. Mitchell Jean, director of risk management at LRGHealthcare, told the Planning Board, the project will address a number of issues hindering the operation of the department. The inadequate waiting space will be enlarged and storage space added to alleviate congestion in hallways where equipment is kept and, on occasion, patients are housed. The existing department is not on level ground, which hampers the movement of patients and access to the helipad, which requires transporting patients up a steep incline. Treatment rooms are small and separated only by curtains, compromising the privacy of patients and increasing the risk of infection. There are no means of segregating patients suffering from mental illness, who may be held at the hospital while awaiting a bed at New Hampshire Hospital. The nursing station is awkwardly located and the radiology unit, with a CAT scan and MRI, are not convenient to the emergency department.
The project will add some 9,400-square-feet of new space to the 7,900-square-feet that currently houses emergency services. The ground will be leveled to eliminate slopes and inclines. Almost half the existing space will be thoroughly renovated. The department will have two entrances — both with heated pavement, one for ambulances leading directly to the clinical area of the facility and another for patients leading to a triage desk and waiting room.

There will be two trauma rooms near an elevator that will take those patients that must be airlifted to another hospital to the helipad on the upper level. Altogether there will be 20 treatment rooms, each of 300-square-feet, including one designated and equipped for bariatric patients, divided evenly between the new and existing space and served by two nursing stations. Finally, for patients with mental illness there will be four secure holding rooms with dedicated access. The department will have direct access to the operating room, ensuring the timely treatment of trauma patients requiring immediate surgery.
As part of the project the radiology unit housing scanning equipment will be relocated to 2,700-square-feet of newly built space adjacent to the emergency department. The proximity of the radiology unit will support the partnership with Massachusetts General Hospital to diagnose and treat patients with strokes by means of video conferencing and image sharing technology.
Along with the construction and renovation at the hospital, a parking lot with 72 spaces will built at the corner of Highland Street and Fairview Street, an issue of concern to residents of Fairview Street, who are regularly disturbed by the lights and noise of personnel coming and going with the three shift changes at the hospital. One gentleman, who asked not to be identified, said, "this will be a killer for us. We don't get any sleep."
Jean offered to erect a six-foot high fence and plant arbor vitae along the property line to shield the abutting properties from the lights and noise. City Councilor David Bownes, also a member of the Planning Board, told Jean the abutters "have listened to you and want you to listen to them (the hospital) and all be good neighbors." Jean assured the board that LRGH would do all it could to minimize the impact of the parking lot on neighboring properties.

Jean said that the cost of construction was estimated at approximately $13 million and the total cost of the project, including designing, engineering, equipping and furnishing the new emergency and radiology departments would by about $21.7 million. He expected renovation and construction to begin in August and to be completed in two years.

Friendship: Laconia club celebrates 60 years of bringing senior citizens together

LACONIA — The Laconia Friendship Club marked its 60th anniversary with a luncheon and program held at Laconia Country Club Wednesday in which Betty Clark, club president, pointed out that the club was well ahead of its time when it was founded.
''It wasn't until 1965 that senior centers were formed across the country'' said Clark, who praised the club's founders for their vision in forming a club in Laconia which brought senior citizens together for sharing and working together on community projects.

Approximately 100 people attended the gathering.
Fran Anderson of Belmont spoke about the club's history and noted that meetings were originally held on the lawn of the Laconia Public Library.
She said that when the Martha Prescott Auditorium was built in the 1960s the club, which had worked to support the project, was given free lifetime use of the auditorium for its meetings. That continued until renovations and additions to the library which started in 2004 and were completed in 2007 and the newly constructed Rotary Hall proved to be too small for such gatherings.
The meetings were moved to the former Sacred Heart High School and are now held at Leavitt Park clubhouse in Lakeport.
She said that she and her late husband joined the club after moving to Gilmanton in 1987 and that she has served several terms as president, including back-to-back two year terms and ''loved every minute of it.''
Mayor Ed Engler said that it was a different era when the club was formed and observed ''how fortunate we all are to have lived through the last 60 years.'' He said that the club has a strong foundation and will not lack for new members to keep its traditions alive. "They are not going to stop making new 55-year-olds," said.
Clark said that the reason the club is thriving and growing is ''because we're a group of givers that never says no to community projects.''
She said that one of rewards for club members in joining together for fellowship and providing assistance is that ''the burden is less and the joy is more.''



Simone Hebert, 93, and Gemma Hamel, 92, attended the 60th anniversary celebration of the Laconia Friendship Club which was held Wednesday at the Laconia Country Club. Hebert is the oldest member of the club and Hamel has been a member of the club longer than any of the other current club members. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Human can vote for the dog park, too

Supporters of the campaign to create a dog park in Laconia gathered at the proposed 5-acre site off Growtth Road on Thursday. The group, Happy Tails Dog Park, has entered into the 5th annual "Bark for Your Park Contest" sponsored by PetSafe, which will award four prizes of $25,000 and a grand prize of $100,000 to the community projects that receive the most votes at and at Crouching at center is Ginny Martin, president of Happy Tails Dog Park of the Lakes Region, who said votes for the initial round will be counted through June 10 and the 15 finalists will proceed to compete for the cash prizes. She urged local residents to vote for the park, noting that each person can vote twice per day. "The dog park is open to anybody, they don't have to live in Laconia. Anybody can vote, you don't even have to have a dog to vote," she said. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Adam Drapcho)

Affordable housing group to renovate decrepit Franklin mill into 45 apartments

FRANKLIN — Mayor Ken Merrifield recalled that last week, not the first time, he was explaining the challenges of rehabilitating derelict buildings downtown to a social studies class at the High School and this week was listening as representatives of CATCH Neighborhood Housing told the City Council of plans to convert the old Riverbend Mill on Memorial Street to 45 apartments.

CATCH, a nonprofit, Concord-based corporation provides housing for individuals and families of low or moderate income in Merrimack County, announced it has entered a purchase and sale agreement to acquire the vacant building and invest $10 million in its renovation and conversion.

"I cannot remember anyone spending this much money in downtown Franklin," said Merrifield. "This is very exciting."

The horseshoe shaped mill building stands in the center of the city, between the Franklin Opera House and Odell Park, and is visible across the Winnipesaukee River from Central Street. The renovation and conversion is expected to take between six and nine months to complete and CATCH expects to begin renting units in 2017. Merrifield said that the rents will be affordable to tenants whose incomes fall within low and high limits. He was especially pleased to learn that CATCH was exploring the prospect of lending preference to tenants engaged in the performing arts.

Merrifield noted that for many years CATCH has expressed an interest in Franklin and in April participated in a design charette — "Franklin for a Lifetime" — focused on revitalizing the city center. He said breathing new life into buildings like the Riverbend Mill is seldom feasible for private developers, but with access to a variety of grants and low-interest loans CATCH can assemble financial packages to undertake such projects.
"We are hoping that this project will spur similar activity on the part of other property owners and investors," Merrifield said.