Selectmen debate whether town beach parking lot should open before Memorial Day weekend

GILFORD — Selectboard Chair Gus Benevides met with Parks and Recreation Director Herb Greene and Parks and Recreation Committee Chair Tom Francoeur regarding the gate opening dates for the town beach on Lake Winnipesaukee on Wednesday.

Benevides specifically wanted to know why the department keeps the gates closed until Memorial Day when there are people who use the beach and have to walk down to it.

"We're residents and taxpayers," Benevides said, noting that one recent weekend he saw about 50 people at the beach and many cars parked along Varney Point Road.

Greene told him the gates are open all winter for bob houses but once the bob houses are gone, he closes the gates so cars won't go down and make ruts in the thawing parking lot.

Weather permitting, Greene said, the gate closes a few weeks after Labor Day and for the last couple of years have reopened for the winter when the department learns that the ice is thick enough for ice fishing and the parking lot is frozen.

He said he used to be able to open the gates a few weeks earlier in the spring and close them a few weeks later in the fall but due to insurance costs, the hours for his seasonal maintenance staff were cut.

He noted there is often winter tree damage and some limbs could pose a danger until spring crews can re-mediate it. Greene also said he doesn't want the gates open in the spring until the bathrooms are operating, the boating buoys are in the water, and the swim lines are in.

"We don't want an open and inviting hazard," he said, adding the town doesn't want to encourage people to come out there and "do mischief".

Benevides said he's not trying to keep the beach open "24/7" but wanted the gate dates explained. He also said that while he understood Greene's safety concerns, he felt all the cars parked along Varney Point also present a safety issue.

Selectman Chan Eddy said he initially wasn't sure about the gate openings and closings, but said he was worried about parking along the road.

Selectmen Richard Grenier said changing when the gates open and close was "a solution to a non-existing problem". He agreed with Greene that cars will make ruts in the spring.

In the end, selectmen left it up to the Parks and Recreation Committee to determine when the gate was opened and closed.

Belmont bike rodeo on Saturday

BELMONT - The Police and Fire Departments are holding their annual safety day and bike rodeo at the High School on Seavey Road tomorrow from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

There will helmet fitting, bike registration, bicycles safety courses, and game, prizes and other activities.

The Belmont Rotary Club will provide food and beverages.

Young Barnstead man dies in Wednesday car crash

BARNSTEAD — A 20-year-old local man died Wednesday night in a single-car accident on South Barnstead Road (Rte. 126) near Hannah Nutter Road.

The man, who is not being identified until members of his extended family can be notified, was the only person in the car.

Police said the car appears to have left the road and stuck a utility pole causing major damage to the driver's side of the car.

He was extricated by Barnstead Fire Rescue and taken to Concord Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Police continue to investigate and believe speed and alcohol were factors.

Rte. 126 remained closed to all non-emergency traffic through early yesterday while power crews replaced the transformer and pole.

'Accounting manager' will replace 'finance director' at Belknap County

LACONIA — The Executive Committee of the Belknap County Convention Tuesday night approved the 2015 budget transfer of $87,482 from a Personnel Management Reserve Fund to pay for hiring an accounting manager for the finance department.
Belknap County Commissioners said that they need the money in order to fill the $65,000 a year accounting manager position, which was created to replace the finance director's position which was left vacant when Glen Waring resigned in February to take a position with a school district in southern New Hampshire.
Commissioners said they have already filled a $45,199 accountant position that was created to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of the assistant finance director, which came shortly after Waring resigned.
Commissioners said they have also selected a candidate for the accounting manager position who is extremely well qualified with experience both within the court system and health and services and that they need the funds to hire that person.
Rep. Brian Gallagher (R-Sanbornton), said that he had worked with the commissioners in the interview process and was satisfied that they had chosen the right person.
The management reserve fund was created by cutting $100,000 from the Finance Department budget with the provision that the commission, with Executive Committee approval, could fill the position either by hiring or contracting for the services.
Commission Chairman Dave DeVoy (R-Sanbornton) said that three months of the finance director's $84,050 salary had already been paid this year and that because of the budget cut the Finance Department budget was close to being exhausted.
The new positions will cost a total of $110,199 in salary, compared to $144,287 under the previous arrangement.
The committee also approved a transfer of $1,750 to pay for overtime in the housekeeping department at the Belknap County Nursing Home. It was explained that the shortage of part-time staff resulted in the need to pay overtime for full-timers to cover shifts.
The $250 budget for overtime had been over-expended by over 600 percent according to Commissioner Hunter Taylor (R-Alton) because Nursing Home Administrator Mathew Logue believed that limits on transfers within departments mandated by a Belknap County Superior Court ruling were no longer in effect.
The committee heard from Belknap County Attorney Melissa Guldbrandsen on the subject of health insurance. She pointed out that the previous County Convention had required that elected department heads pay 15 percent of health insurance costs for family plans and 16.5 percent for individual plans.
She said that if she were allowed to shift her insurance to the site-of-service plan which is 100 percent funded by the county it would be less costly for the county, which contributes $8,468 to her higher priced plan and would only pay $8,000 for the site of service plan.
She said that her opting for a lower priced plan would be seen as a way of encouraging other county employees to utilize the same plan, lowering costs to the county and helping avoid the 40 percent "Cadillac tax" the county will face in 2018 for high cost insurance policies.
DeVoy said that the county faces a potential $150,000 tax liability in 2018 and said that every employee who enrolls in a site-of-service plane brings a $4,100 savings for the county.
After considerable discussion the Executive Committee took no vote on a change but members said they would not oppose a change to allow the elected department heads to switch to the site of service plan fully funded by the county if the commissioners approved.