LACONIA — The Belknap County Personnel Committee has denied a request from the Belknap County Commissioners for a rehearing on its October 10 decision to reinstate Mathew Logue as administrator of the Belknap County Nursing Home.
Logue is currently on administrative leave, with pay, pending the outcome of an appeal of the committee's decision. The rejection of the request paves the way for the commission to appeal for relief to the New Hampshire Supreme Court, a course of action which commissioners have indicated they likely will take.
In September, the commission terminated Logue for 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, composed of Representatives Colette Worsman (R-Meredith), who chairs the convention, Robert Greemore (R-Meredith), the vice-chairman, and Richard Burchell (R-Gilmanton), the clerk.
The committee held a day-long public hearing on October 6, at which attorney Mark Broth of Drummond Woodsum of Manchester 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 decision of the committee was met with disbelief and anger by a number of employees of the nursing home, more than 40 of whom signed a petition requesting that Logue not be reinstated.
The motion for a rehearing filed by attorney Broth alleges that the Personnel Committee's decision is '''unlawful, unreasonable and irresponsible.''
At the October 6 hearing County Administrator Debra Shackett testified that there were at least two times in which Logue was untruthful with her, in February of this year when he had told her that all of the personnel evaluations except one had been completed, and in May of this year when she inquired about developments in a situation with an employee identified only as Employee A and he had told her that it was being handled with meetings every other week.
She said that she was shocked to discover a month after Logue had told her that evaluations had been completed except for one that none had been delivered to the Human Resources Department.
Shackett also said that in August, when she talked to Employee A, whom she had questioned Logue about earlier, the employee told her that no meetings had been held regarding her situation.
Employee A testified behind closed doors at the hearing.
The committee said that Logue had credibly and persuasively testified that he had delayed submitting evaluations because some were due shortly after he assumed his duties in December of 2012 and he wanted more time to complete those evaluations. They also found his testimony credible in the handling of situation with Employee A.
The committee also noted ''although the commissioners presented credible evidence that Mr. Logue neglected important duties when he failed to submit his budget, staff analysis and employee evaluations in a timely, it found Mr. Logue's testimony credible and more persuasive.''
The committee also sided with Logue on charges of willful insubordination for failure to sign a disciplinary letter and said that despite evidence that he had failed to cooperate with the county administrator, the Human Resources director and Finance director on several occasions that some of the delays came as a result of his ''sincerely held beliefs regarding the proper administration of the nursing home.''
Broth's motion for a rehearing maintains that Logue had admitted that he had lied about the evaluations and whether or not he had good reasons for delaying the completion of them is a separate consideration from whether he had been truthful in his statements to Shackett. He wrote that the Personnel Committee's finding that Logue was not dishonest has no basis in the record and that the committee ''had the obligation under its own adopted standards to find cause for termination.''
The motion also says the committee's 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 employees ''sincerely held beliefs.''
Broth further maintained that the committee's decision ''has effectively told employees that rather then take responsibility for your decision, it is acceptable to lie to your employer.''
Only two members of the personnel committee, Worsman and Greemore, attended yesterday's meeting, at which they spent more than a half hour in a closed-door session with attorney Lauren Irwin, of the Upton and Hatfield law firm of Concord , before announcing their decision.
The third committee member, Rep. Burchell, who was last week elected as a county commissioner, did not attend. Burchell was also not present at the October 10 meeting at which the committee reinstated Logue. But he did issue a statement before that meeting in which he agreed with the decision to reinstate Logue.
Worsman said that a written decision on the reasons for denying the rehearing request will be available when the Personnel Committee meets at 4:30 on Monday, November 17, to approve the minutes of yesterday's meeting.
Last Updated on Thursday, 13 November 2014 01:48
LACONIA — Police are warning local retailers, especially jewelry stores, hardware stores and pawn brokers and second-hand shops, about Shawn Cochrane, 44, who is said to be committing frauds throughout the state using a closed TD Bank account in his name.
Cochrane usesa non-driver ID issued by the Sate of New Hampshire, which lists his address as 281 North State Street Concord, which is the street address of the state prison for men. He is wanted on an active felony arrest warrant from Laconia among other municipalities as well as a warrant for violation of parole. Cochrane has an extensive criminal history, which includes numerous thefts and frauds.
Cochrane frequents jewelry stores where he purchases expensive items using the checking account at TD Bank. Likewise, he has bought large quantities of landscaping equipment from hardware stores. Much of what he has purchased he has sold for deeply discounted prices shortly afterwards to pawn brokers or second-hand stores.
Police warn local businesses not to sell or buy from Cochrane and to notify the police if of any transactions that appear to be fraudulent. In particular, police ask the owners and operator of pawn shops and second-hand stores to report any attempt by Cochrane to sell or pawn items. Anyone who may know of Cochrane's whereabouts should not approach him, but instead should notify their local police department.
Last Updated on Thursday, 13 November 2014 01:13
SANBORNTON — "This was a big, difficult decision," said Kent Bicknell, the head of the private Sant Bani School, of the vote by the board of trustees to eliminate its high school program at the close of the current academic year.
Sant Bani School began as an elementary school in 1973 with just six students, but added instruction for grades 9 through 12 three years later and graduated four students in 1978. Bicknell said during the 38 years of the high school program the largest graduating class was 22 and the smallest was one.
Bicknell said that the decision of the board followed a year-long strategic planning process based on a thorough consideration of demographic and educational trends. He noted that the aging demographic of New Hampshire has led to declining numbers of school-age children, particularly in the central and northern reaches of the state.
"We found that the public schools in the region adding exciting programs and improving their instruction," Bicknell said. At the same time, he noted that independent schools in the region like New Hampton School, Holderness School, Tilton School and Proctor Academy, have been aggressively recruiting day students. In effect, Sant Bani School found itself facing increasing competition for a shrinking number of students.
Bicknell said that 60 students represented an optimal enrollment for its high school program, adding that "students would be okay." This year, he explained. enrollment slipped to 39. Bicknell said that without sufficient numbers the school is unable to provide its students with the academic, extra-curricular and athletic opportunities an ideal high school experience requires.
The school has committed itself to support and prepare its current students in grades 7 through 11 as their consider their options for high school by providing academic coaching and counseling, SSAT (Secondary School Admission Test) courses, application fees to other independent schools and time to visit public and private schools.
In the meantime, Bicknell said that the K through 8 program will strengthened in the 2015-2016 school year with greater emphasis on learning through community service and the introduction of in Spanish in all grades. "We expect our students will achieve fluency in Spanish by 8th grade," he said. The school will also offer extended hours to meet the needs of working families. He said that the school has capacity for approximately 144 students, 16 in each grade, in its K through 8 program.
Sant Bani School began as an outgrowth of the Sant Bani Ashram, a center for spiritual retreat, and became an independent organization in 1983. Since then the school and the Ashram have coexisted as neighbors. Both the Ashram and the school were founded under the direction of a spiritual teacher from India, Sant Kirpal Singh (1894-1974). The school also received the guidance and wisdom of Sant Kirpal Singh's successor, Sant Ajaib Singh (1926-1997), for 21 years. Students and faculty of all backgrounds are welcome at Sant Bani School, which holds among its founding principles that truth can thrive only when there is freedom of thought and expression.
Last Updated on Thursday, 13 November 2014 01:08
LACONIA — The Kingston man at the wheel of the Cadillac sedan that recently careened into trees off Parade Road leaving one passenger dead and another injured is being held in Belknap County Jail in lieu of $10,000 cash bail following his arraignment on charges of negligent homicide, second degree assault and aggravated driving while intoxicated in Fourth Circuit Court, Laconia Division yesterday.
Ryan Mears, 26, was arrested by Laconia police early Tuesday afternoon upon his release from Concord Hospital, where he was treated for injuries sustained in the collision that took the life of Tiffany Nieves, 28, of 24 Estates Circle, Laconia and severely injured Jeremy King, 28, of Atkinson.
Prosecutor Jim Sawyer requested $15,000 cash bail, telling the court that Mears has a significant criminal history, including felony convictions for theft as well as convictions for simple assault.
According to the affidavit of Officer Holly Callanan, who was the first to reach the scene of the collision, Mears told her he drank "three or four beers" and "three shots" as well as used cocaine before the crash, which occurred shortly before 2 a.m. on Sunday, November 2.
Callanan stated that she spoke with the woman who reported the incident, who told her that she followed the Cadillac as the two cars traveled northward past the former site of the Laconia State School. Twice, she said, the Cadillac swerved, once crossing the white fog line then crossing the double yellow line before speeding out of her sight. She said that after passing through the intersection at Meredith Center Road she found the Cadillac in the road, "wrecked," and heard the driver yell "help" and "hurry." She called 911.
From the tire marks in the road, Callanan, determined that just past the intersection with Meredith Center Road the sedan swerved off the road, briefly tracked the northbound lane then crossed into the southbound lane, left the road, struck the trees and caromed back to the center of Parade Road. The Belknap Regional Accident Investigation Team is investigating the incident.
Callahan said that King had been partially ejected from the window on the passenger side of the vehicle, appeared to have multiple injuries and was "drifting in and out of consciousness." Nieves, who was laying between the front and rear seats, was not responsive and pronounced dead at the scene. Mears was pinned between the driver's seat and steering column.
King was transported to Lakes Region General Hospital with life threatening injuries and soon after to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, where he is still being treated for multiple injuries.
Mears was taken to Lakes Region General Hospital, where Callanan spoke with him after the collision. She reported that he told her that he had been drinking at a tavern in Belmont and used cocaine earlier that evening. Police found a bottle of Jack Daniels whiskey in the Cadillac. Callanan described Mears's speech as "heavily slurred" and his responses as "delayed." She said that she smelt alcohol on his breath and noticed he struggled to hold a pen and write his name. He was arrested at the hospital and charged with aggravated driving while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, a class B felony.
The charge of negligent homicide, while driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, is a class A felony and carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. Second degree assault is a class B felony with a maximum sentence of seven years in prison. Aggravated driving while intoxicated is a class B felony and carries a fine, jail sentence and license revocation.
Last Updated on Thursday, 13 November 2014 01:00
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