Franklin dispatcher joins Sanbornton PD

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New police officer Shane Morton, 23, is sworn in Wednesday by Sanbornton Police Chief Stephen Hankard. Looking on are selectmen Katy North and John Olmstead. (David Carkhuff/Laconia Daily Sun)


SANBORNTON — Shane Morton will shift roles from taking 911 calls to answering them.
The town's newest police officer, Morton, 23, was sworn in Wednesday by Sanbornton Police Chief Stephen Hankard.
"We put him through a rigorous testing process. The oral boards, the background, and he definitely came out on top by far. We're really excited to have him," Hankard said.
Morton worked as a dispatcher in Franklin, taking emergency calls for the Police Department.
"Dispatching wasn't what I wanted to do as a career, so that's why I moved up here," Morton said.
Morton has a three-year contract in Sanbornton. He will fulfill a 16-week academy training and a 16-week on-the-job training where he will accompany an officer on calls.
Born and raised in Massachusetts, Morton vacationed at a summer place in Franklin. After graduating college in June 2016, he took the position of dispatcher in September.
Dennis Rector, the K-9 handler in Franklin, said Morton interned with him and made a good impression.
"He interned with me a few summers ago over in Franklin, and I took a liking to him. He's just a good kid, a hard worker," Rector said.
Officer Matt Terry departed the department, creating the vacancy.
Morton joins fellow officers Lt. Kevin McIntosh, Sgt. Justin Howe, Officer Andrew Phillips, Officer James DeCormier, Officer Tracy Trammell, Officer Gary Boisvert, Officer Tom Reneau, Officer Merek Weisensee and Administrative Assistant Carolyn DiNitto.

Weirs zoning changes not yet approved, city to discuss April 10

Big issue for April 10 meeting: A proposal to make changes in an ordinance concerning allowed uses in the Commercial Resort Zone, which takes in The Weirs.

What it's all about: Currently, nightclubs are an allowed use in this zone. Under the proposed changes, this would be an allowed use only if the Zoning Board of Adjustment were to grant a special exception. (Those operating under a currently allowed use would be "grandfathered" and could continue to operate).

What else could change: Allowed uses now include sexually oriented businesses, vehicle dealerships, indoor storage facilities and, in some circumstances, manufactured housing. All these uses would not be permitted under the proposal. 

What actions are possible: The council could approve the amended ordinance, reject it, or send it back to the Planning Board with a recommendation that it consider changing one or more elements of the plan that a majority of councilors find objectionable.

What did the council do on this issue last meeting: Decided by a 4-3 vote, with Mayor Ed Engler breaking the tie, to schedule the proposal for a public hearing in the April 10 meeting.

Another issue for the April 10 meeting: The City Council will consider increasing to $5 a charge on vehicle registrations. The charge, which is used for a transportation fund, now stands at $1.50. The city registers about 20,000 vehicles per year, so a $3.50 increase in the annual per vehicle fee would raise an additional $70,000 to be spent on road repairs, or other transportation-related issues.

The meeting that wasn’t

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Left, 11 members of the Belknap County Delegation shrank from from the gauntlet of demonstrators at the County Complex on Tuesday, ensuring that their dissident colleagues lacked the quorum to reconsider the county budget. Right, Ian Raymond, a Democrat from Sanbornton and former state representative, was among those at the Belknap County Complex on Tuesday supporting the effort of dissident members of the county delegation to reconsider the 2017 county budget. (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)

Belknap County budget fails to fund Corrections, Sheriff’s departments, other agencies adequately, say six state representatives, concerned citizens


LACONIA — "Thank you for coming and showing courage," Dave DeVoy, chairman of the Belknap County Commission told the six members of the county delegation who came to the county complex Tuesday evening in hope of mustering a quorum and reconsidering the budget before the deadline for submitting it to the New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration by the deadline of midnight on March 31.

The six — representatives Tim Lang (R-Sanbornton), Peter Spanos (R-Laconia), Don Flanders (R-Laconia), Dennis Fields (R-Sanbornton), Valerie Fraser (R-New Hampton) and Dave Huot (D-Laconia) — all voted against the budget when it was adopted by a vote of nine-to six-earlier this month. Their number fell three members shy of the quorum of nine. Although there are 18 state representatives elected in the city of Laconia and 10 towns of the county, Frank Tilton, a Republican from Laconia, fell ill before the election only to be elected but unable to be sworn in and take his seat. That left the delegation with 17 members — 16 Republicans and one Democrat — and required a quorum of nine, or a majority of the 17, to conduct business.

Last Friday evening Rep. Herb Vadney (R-Meredith), chairman of the delegation, canceled the meeting scheduled for Tuesday in an effort to forestall the effort of dissident members to restore funding stripped from the budgets of the Sheriff's Department, Corrections Department and contingency account as well as address revenues included in the budget but unlikely to be forthcoming. Fields said he was "pressured" to avoid the meeting and was echoed by Lang, who said that other "representatives were pressured no to be here."

As members arrived, they passed along a corridor lined by a dozen citizens bearing signs — "Hold the Meeting," "Do Your Job-Fix This Mess" and "Please Do Not Pass A Bare Budget," a play on Rep. Marc Abear's name (R-Meredith), who, with Vadney, was a principal architect of the budget. The meeting room was full of representatives and supporters of the so-called "outside agencies" left empty handed by the budget and county officials given short shrift.

Without a quorum, Lang opened the floor to a "public forum," reminding the public that "the people you need to speak to are not here." Along with Vadney, the absentees, all Republicans, were Abear, Glen Aldrich and Norm Silber of Gilford, Jon Plumer and Michael Sylvia of Belmont, Michael Maloney of Gilmanton, Ray Howard and Peter Varney of Alton, Robert Fisher of Laconia and Barbara Comtois of Barnstead.

"What we have here is a mess on our hands," said Commissioner Hunter Taylor of Barnstead. He noted that although Keith Gray, superintendent of the Department of Corrections, has prepared to open the new Community Corrections Center, "they have pulled the rug out from under him." With insufficient funding for the Sheriff's Department and Corrections Department, he foresaw that, come December, "We'll reach judgment day. One day that month, we'll be in a crisis."

DeVoy explained that the delegation cut funding for the four officers required to operate the Community Corrections Center and said, since the commission has the authority, they will be hired and paid and, turning to the members of the delegation, remarked that "come December when there's no money to feed the inmates and no money to watch the inmates, we'll drop it in your lap."

After explaining the flaws in the budget, Commissioner Glen Waring said flatly "This is a reckless budget."

Sean Sullivan of the Gunstock Commission expressed concern that the budget further depletes the fund balance, noting that it has shrunk from $8 million to closer to $3 million, placing the county's bond rating and ability to borrow at risk. In fact, when the year began, the fund balance was $3.4 million, of which $1.6 million is included in the budget to offset property taxes, leaving a balance of $1.8 million.

"It's not there," Taylor said of the fund balance, which he warned is diminishing far faster than it can be replenished. "There is a tax spike coming," he added, explaining that next year there will insufficient funds to offset an increase in property taxes.

Dick Castrucci of Laconia asked how much the difference between the budget recommended by the commission and the budget adopted by the delegation spared taxpayers. Taylor, who has made the calculation for every municipality in the county, replied that the owner of a $250,000 home will save $24 a year. "You're talking what would have been coffee money 20 years ago," he remarked.

There was much hand-wringing from the public over the budget cuts and especially their impact on the so-called "outside" agencies, the nonprofit corporations that provide social economic, mental health, substance abuse and environmental services throughout the county. However, Diane Lacey of Belmont, the former president of the State Employees Association, was among several who said "We're preaching to the choir." She urged people to take their message to a wider audience and direct their energies to electing responsible representatives to serve on the delegation.

"They ought to get voted out of office if they can't attend a damn meeting," snapped a man from Gilford.

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Ruth Larson, left, a Barnstead Democrat, threw her support to her Republican husband Hunter Taylor and his colleagues on the Belknap County Commission — David DeVoy of Sanbornton and Glen Waring of Gilmanton — in seeking to repair the county budget, which Taylor called "a mess." (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)