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Laconia ZBA approves first request to install an ‘electronic message center’

LACONIA — With little debate the Zoning Board of Adjustment this week approved the request of the Byse Agency Inc. to mount an electronic sign outside its offices at 208 Union Ave., which is the first to be erected under the ordinance adopted last May.

The ordinance distinguishes between two types of "electronic message center" (EMC) — "static" and "dynamic." Static electronic signs are those on which neither the copy nor pictures change during the message, while their dynamic counterparts appear to move or change as they present a stream of images or words that fly in, fade out, rotate and scroll across the face of the sign.

Ben Barr of Wildfire Signs told the board that the Byse Agency plans to add to its existing free-standing sign a static EMC, which will advertise the firm's insurance products and services along with time and temperature. He said the message would not change more frequently than every five minutes, in compliance with the ordinance, and the sign would dim automatically in order not to distract motorists.

Since the sign will stand in the professional district a special exception is required. Moreover, with the addition of the 2-foot by 6-foot panel, the total area of signage on the property will exceed the 44 square feet limit in the district set by the zoning ordinance by 5.95 square feet, requiring a variance.

Jeff Flanders of the Byse Agency said the firm was willing, but reluctant to remove the "Inc" from the sign on its building in order to comply with the limit, but said that since it has been there since 1972, "Inc" would remain visible on the masonry facade.

In the spring, when the ordinance was debated, several business owners questioned the requirement for a special exception as unnecessarily restrictive. City Councilor Henry Lipman (Ward 3), who attended the ZBA meeting, indicated that a number of businesses are eager to erect EMCs and urged the council to adopt the ordinance despite its shortcomings.

As yet the Planning Department has received no other applications to erect EMCs.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 November 2014 12:05

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Personnel Committee Defends Rejection of appeal on Logue's Reinstatement


LACONIA — The Belknap County Personnel Committee is defending its decision made last week to reject an appeal by the Belknap County Commissioners of its Oct. 10 decision to reinstate Mathew Logue as administrator of the Belknap County Nursing Home.

In a statement released yesterday the committee said no new evidence had been presented on the issues in the motion for a rehearing filed by Attorney Mark Broth of Manchester, representing the commissioners, which said that the committee's decision was ''unlawful, unreasonable and irresponsible.''

The Personnel Committee is made up of Representatives Colette Worsman (R-Meredith), who chairs the convention, Robert Greemore (R-Meredith), the vice-chairman and Richard Burchell (R-Gilmanton), clerk.

In late August the commission terminated Logue for what it termed willful insubordination, lack of cooperation and inability to perform his duties in a timely manner, claiming that he was "untruthful and unreliable'' in dealing with county officials. Logue appealed his termination to the personnel committee,

The committee held a day-long public hearing on Oct. 6, at which Broth presented the case against Logue and Logue spoke in own defense.

Four days later the committee voted unanimously to reinstate Logue, after finding his defense of the charges against him to be "credible and persuasive.''

The appeal seeking a rehearing said that the committee had ignored its own procedural rules and that its decision ''leads to an absurd result with dangerous implications for the county as an employer. In essence, the Personnel Committee has found that a county employee can refuse to perform job duties if the work assignment runs contrary to the employee's ''sincerely held beliefs.''

The committee's statement said that they had reviewed and discussed the objections raised by the commissioners and agreed that while there was some evidence of performance failures on Logue's part ''these failures did not rise to the level of good cause for discharge.''

Logue is currently on administrative leave, with pay, pending the outcome of an appeal of the committee's decision.
Belknap County Commissioners have indicated they will appeal the decision to the New Hampshire Supreme Court. But newly elected commissioners Burchell and Dave DeVoy have said that they will pull the plug on the appeal when they take office early in the new year.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 November 2014 02:58

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School bus involved in minor accident on Union Ave.

LACONIA – No one was seriously injured yesterday afternoon when a car collided with the rear ended a school bus on Union Avenue in front of the Case 'N Keg convenience store in Lakeport.

Police said one boy had a minor foot injury and was treated at the scene by Laconia Fire Department paramedics.

The bus, which was fairly full with middle school pupils, was stopped in traffic when the collision occurred. The driver of the car was uninjured.

Traffic was slowed to one lane while police investigated the collision.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 November 2014 02:55

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County lawmakers approve last-minute transfer for medical services at jail

LACONIA — The Belknap County Executive Committee yesterday agreed to the transfer $20,000 in funds to the medical services account of the Belknap County Corrections Department after Superintendent Dan Ward told them that there were only $800 left in the account.

The committee agreed to conditionally approve the transfer even though the request had yet to be made by Belknap, County Commissioners, who will learn of the request when they meet in a budget workshop today.

Ward told committee members he made the request Monday to Belknap County Administrator Debra Shackett, who included it as separate item in addition to the $186,637 in transfer requests already signed off on by the commissioners.

Ward explained that the account was drained by recent major expenditures, including a $4,336 discounted bill from LRGHealthcare, and another payment on Nov. 5 of $6,492 the jail is liable for.

''We're 99.4 percent expended with two months left. We're not realistically going to make it,'' said Ward, who added that he has major concerns for some of the inmates who have recently been placed there on felony drug charges and whom he expects will be incarcerated for many months and who have significant health issues and are unlikely to be freed on bail.

Executive Committee member Bob Greemore (R-Meredith) asked how the county gets reimbursed for the health care costs of inmates, to which Ward replied, ''We don't.'' He said that even if the inmates have medical insurance, which is highly unlikely, the insurance coverage stops the minute they are taken into custody.

He said that means the county is responsible for not only the health care of the inmates, but also for their medication expenses and can face severe penalties if any care or medications are not available.

''All of this is on the county's dime,'' said Ward, who noted that with the recent expansion of Medicaid by the state that the entire bill of a inmate who is on Medicaid can be submitted for reimbursement.

The motion to approve the transfer of funds for the Corrections Department was approved by a 7-2 vote of the committee with only Greemore and fellow Meredith Republican Herb Vadney opposed.

The committee also approved three other separate requests from the commissioners for budget transfers, $35,572 from six health insurance accounts with projected year-end surpluses to nine health insurance accounts projected to be in the red; $110,829 from wage accounts in the nursing home to cover wages in other departments as well as electricity, maintenance and food costs and another $50,326 from wage and Medicare accounts in the nursing home for drugs, different categories of Medicare services, wages and retirement.

All of those requests were approved unanimously by the committee, which is chaired by Rep. Frank Tilton (R-Laconia) and received two new members yesterday, Democrats Dave Huot of Laconia and Ian Raymond of Sanbornton, who will serve only until early December, when their terms expire.

They joined the committee as a result of legislation authored by Huot and which passed this year requiring proportional representation on Executive Committees for members of the minority party.

Tilton said that the committee will meet again on Dec. 1 to consider any additional transfer requests from the commissioners and said that he would also like to see a nearly $290,000 federal grant which was received by the Belknap County Sheriff's Department and has already been spent submitted as a supplemental appropriation by commissioners.

An organizational meeting of the newly elected county convention members is scheduled for Dec. 8 at 7 p.m. at which time county commissioners will introduce the proposed budget for next year.

During the discussion of the county commission's decision to apply $60,143 of a credit of $127,893 from the credit it received from HealthTrust, the municipal and county insurance risk pool, against the cost of health insurance premiums for county employees, County Convention Chairperson Colette Worsman (R-Meredith) claimed that Shackett was not being truthful in the information she had provided to auditors and the trust. Worsman maintained that funds could not be diverted to health insurance accounts without first being approved as a supplemental appropriation.

Shackett vehemently denied the charge, telling Worsman, ''I will not let you accuse me of being untruthful."

None of the other eight members of the committee spoke in support of Worsman's position.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 November 2014 02:48

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