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Genesis to buy into downtown, consolidate operations

By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — Genesis Behavioral Health has made a purchase-and-sales agreement with LRGHealthcare to acquire the building at 577 Main St. that houses HealthLink in a transaction anticipated to close in March.

"I'm delighted," said Maggie Pritchard, executive director of Genesis, who said she has been looking for a property where the agency could consolidate all its clinical and administrative operations under one roof, for eight of the 10 years of her tenure. "We have been seeking a facility that best meets the needs of our patients, staff and community for many years. The prospective purchase of this property is an opportunity for Genesis to become more efficient, expand services in Belknap County and contribute to the economic growth and vitality of downtown Laconia."

Earlier this year, Genesis abandoned plans to purchase the privately owned portion of the downtown parking garage when the condition and future of the structure were clouded in uncertainty, and in 2010 failed to secure the Federal Building on North Main Street, which was awarded instead to Lakes Region Community Services.

The acquisition will enable Genesis to combine its two campuses at 111 Church St. and 771 N. Main St., along with leased office suites on Beacon Street West and Water Street, at a single location.

Neither Genesis nor LRGHealthcare are disclosing the terms of the transaction. The property consists of three separate but interconnected buildings with approximately 23,000 square feet of usable space with a current assessed value of $1,335,300.

Pritchard said that the building will be completely renovated "down to the brick," and estimates the cost of the project at approximately $5 million. Genesis is working with Samyn-D'Elia Architects of Ashland, REI Service Corporation of Manchester and Conneston Construction Inc. of Laconia and is committed to employing local vendors to undertake the project. The renovation will be financed with borrowings from the New Hampshire Health and Education Facilities Authority, tax credits from the Community Development Finance Authority, proceeds from the sale of Genesis's properties,

Pritchard said that Genesis expects to begin renovating the building in April and to occupy it by Dec. 1, 2017. "It's an aggressive schedule," she said, "but we can do it."

Kevin Donovan, president and chief executive officer of LRGHealthcare, said that the corporation "has a strong history of partnership with Genesis Behavioral Health and we understand the need for community-based health care for those with mental illness. The sale of the HealthLink Building to Genesis," he went on, "further solidifies our desire to find solutions that meet the growing demands for mental health services in our region."

Meanwhile, Mayor Ed Engler said, "We are so excited to bring additional employees and new customers to the downtown area and that a significant structure located in the heart of downtown Laconia will receive a major facelift. The city is committed to making our Main Street a vibrant center for commerce and this initiative will contribute significantly to that objective."

A private, nonprofit corporation, Genesis Behavioral Health is designated by the state as the community health center serving Beknap and southern Grafton counties and provides mental health care to some 4,000 individuals of all ages each year.

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Sentence reduced for man jailed for having knife while on probation

By BEA LEWIS, for THE LACONIA DAILY SUN

CONCORD — A man imprisoned for violating his probation on a drug conviction by carrying a sheathed hunting knife has had his sentence reduced.

Robert Lilly, 41, of Franklin, was sentenced to 2 ½ to 5 years for the probation violation even though he was criminally exonerated.

Public Defender Steve Mirkin asked for a sentence review hearing which was held in Merrimack County Superior Court on Oct. 21.

In a unanimous decision, dated Nov. 18, the review board reduced Lilly's sentence to 12 months in the Belknap County House of Corrections, and credited him with time served since March 24. He has since been released, a jail spokesman confirmed.

The board concluded that based on the nature of the allegations contained in the probation violation, a lessening of the sentence was warranted.

Under state law, defendants who contest the sentence imposed by the Superior Court have a right to request a sentence review and have 30 days in which to file the application.

The sentencing review board is comprised of a panel of three Superior Court judges appointed by the Chief Justice. The board has three options, letting the original sentence stand, decreasing the sentence or increasing it. It is rare for the board to change the original sanction imposed by the sentencing judge.

Superior Court Judges Marqueirte L. Wageling, Diane M. Nicolosi and John C. Kissinger Jr., made the decision after hearing arguments by Mirkin and Belknap County Attorney Melissa Guldbrandsen.

Lilly was arrested for openly carrying a fixed blade hunting/fishing knife on his belt in November of 2015 when he was spotted by a Gilford police officer who was called to Wal-Mart for an unrelated case. He was charged with being a felon in possession of a deadly weapon.
Because Lilly was convicted of two counts of drug possession in 2014, he was sentenced to 2 1/2 to 5 years in prison, which was suspended pending good behavior.

Following his arrest last winter, Lilly remained free on bail while the felony weapon possession charge was adjudicated. In March, he was found responsible for a probation violation and sent to the New Hampshire State Prison to serve his original sentence.

In June, the knife possession charge was dismissed by the court because the judge determined the prosecution failed to make its case.

State law defines a deadly weapon as any "firearm, knife or other substance or thing, which, in the manner it is used, intended to be used, or threatened to be used, is known to be capable of producing death or serious bodily injury."

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Five things to do before Christmas

By TIM JONES, Contributing Writer

It's easy to get caught up in the holiday rush, but there's plenty to do outdoors before Christmas comes. Retailers will hate me for saying it but, no, I'm not talking about participating in the mass hysteria that is "Black Friday," or "Cyber Monday." I'm talking about genuine fun things that will get you outdoor, burn a few more Thanksgiving excess calories and improve your life before the real holiday stress sets in.

It's snowing hard in parts of New England as I write this, but that still doesn't mean you can count on natural snow to play on. If we get it, great! You can then add cross-country skiing to the list. But this list is based on "sure-things," not wishes.

1) Go skiing

Gunstock Mountain Resort is now open. Base depth is 8 to 16 inches, with three lifts and five trails open. Snow is being made, and you can expect groomed conditions on Smith and Peep Sight. If you like sledding, you'll love snow tubing at Gunstock.

Killington (killington.com) has, of course, been open for a month already.

Sunday River in Maine (sundayriver.com) is open, as is Bretton Woods (www.brettonwoods.com), Loon (loonmtn.com), Okemo (okemo.com) and a host of others. Most of the major resorts in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine are now turning their lifts. Even Jiminy Peak (jiminypeak.com) in Massachusetts has gotten 20 inches of snow on the summit recently.

Now, opening-weekend skiing is not a sport for the faint of heart. There's a lot of pent-up demand and that means a lot of skiers and snowboarders on limited terrain. It can get a bit frenzied.

But here's something to keep in mind. Once that initial burst of energy is spent, everything quiets right down until the actual Christmas-New Year Holiday begins. If you can get away mid-week, you can have the place to yourself. Even the three weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas usually aren't that busy — too many people think other things are more important (sad for them...)

Here's another tip: this is a great time to take a ski lesson. First, not many people are savvy enough to start the season with a lesson, so you are likely to get a private lesson for the price of a group. Second, taking a lesson now gives you a whole season to practice what you've learned. Too many people say they want to practice before they take a lesson, but, in reality, all they are practicing is making the same mistakes over and over again.

If you've never skied before, a number of areas are offering amazing learn to ski packages this season. For a set price you get a specific number of lessons and, when it's all over, your own pair of skis to keep, You'd often pay more for the skis than you do for the package.

2) Try rollerskiing

Chances are that sometime in recent weeks, you've seen someone with ski poles rolling along a roadside on what looks like oversized rollerblades. Those are rollerskis and they are a blast. It's what you do when you are a fanatic cross-country skier and you don't have any snow to play on.

Some rollers skis have tiny wheels and work best on smooth roads and paved recreation trails. Those aren't the best choice for New England. Neither are the ones without brakes.

If you don't have roller skis, and still want to try it (warning, it's both great exercise and fun) contact the good folks at Nordic Skater (nordicskaters.com) in Norwich, Vermont. Not only will they help you select the right roller skis for you, they'll rent you the entire package for two weeks so you can try it before you buy.

3) Take a hike

These early days of winter are wonderful for hiking. On many New England trails, what was a green, leafy tunnel in spring in summer is now and amble though expansive vistas.

It doesn't have to be a long hike. In fact, with these shorter days you probably don't want to plan anything too ambitious. Fund a trail that's near your house and get out for a walk. That's all.

Just remember that winter's pretty much here and the weather can turn on a dime, so go prepared with some extra stuff in case trouble comes to find you.

4) Cut a Christmas tree

While you could, I suppose, go to a Christmas tree farm, cut a tree and support a local farmer (good thing!), the way to make a real Active Outdoors adventure of it is to go the White or Green Mountain National Forest, get a $5 permit and find and cut a wild tree. It's a great excuse for a day in the woods

You can find all the details here: fs.usda.gov/detail/r9/passes-permits/forestproducts/?cid=fseprd479521.

5) Go stargazing

In case you hadn't noticed, it gets dark early these days. That means you can get in a couple of hours of stargazing and still get to bed on time. So much of the tradition of celebrations at this time of year is bound up in what we see happening in the sky. It's kind of humbling and very relaxing to get out into an open field away from city lights and just look. To get an idea of what you can see when, go to stardate.org/nightsky.

I'm no big fan of "smart" phones, but I will tell you that the first app ever put on my phone was one that lets you point at a shining object in the night sky and tell what it is. Way cool! It's the only app I've truly enjoyed using.

Just remember that it gets cold quickly once the sun sets. So bundle up before you head out.

 

12-10 Rollerski

Who needs snow? If you can't get on the cross country ski trails, try rollerskis instead! (Tim Jones/EasternSlopes.com photo)

 

12-10 Home for Christmas

For a real holiday outing, go find a wild Christmas Tree on a National Forest. (Tim Jones/EasternSlopes.com photo)

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