6 added to LHS Athletic Hall of Fame

LACONIA — The Athletic Department of Laconia High School inducted four stellar athletes and two revered coaches into its Athletic Hall of Fame at a ceremony in the auditorium on November 25, emceed by David Rea, the legendary "Voice of Sachems."

The two coaches — Socrates Bobotas and Paul Phelps — left legacies that have enriched "Sachem Pride" long after they hung up their whistles.  During his tenure from 1949 until 1976, Bobotas's baseball teams captured two state champions while falling one win short of the title four times. As athletic director he introduced Title IX sports in 1972, which placed girls and boys on a level playing field. Appropriately Sachem athletes will forever be reminded of his lasting contributions each time they step on to the practice field behind the school bearing his name.

A Sachem himself, Phelps returned to teach history and coach football basketball and track. As an assistant football coach for 26 years he helped steer teams to seven state championship games and win two of them. He was either the assistant or the head track coach for more than 20 years and in 1978 led his team to the Class I state outdoor championship to earn coach of the year honors. In 2002 Phelps was named AFLAC National Assistant Coach of the Year.

A star for all seasons, Wilbur Fay competed in football, basketball and baseball between 1921 and 1924 while finding time to compete in speed skating events throughout the state, including races run at Pearl Street where he finished second in the state and his Laconia team claimed the state title. After teaching and coaching at various venues, he returned to the area and in 1942 opened Fay's Boat Yard, still family owned and operated.

Amy Cantin of the class of 1986, excelled as an alpine skier as well as a field hockey and softball player. As captain and most valuable player of the field hockey team she earned all-state honors crowned her career by playing for Team New Hampshire which topped Team Vermont in the Field Hockey Classic. She joined the variety ski team as a seventh grader and was its most valuable member as a sophomore, junior and senior. She won the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association giant slalom championship in 1985 and the slalom title the following year.

A standout in both track and field and basketball, Charlene Emond of the class of 1988, capped her high school career by earning the Joyce H. Bobotas Award. Playing basketball for three years, she captained the team her senior year when she was named most valuable player. But, she shined in the spring, earning all-state honors in the shot put four years running and in the discus as a junior and senior. Her school record in the shot put, set in 1985, Twice she was New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association shot put champion and finished among the top 10 in the New England Meet of Champions.

Athletic director and football Coach Craig Kozens called Christian Burt, who graduated in 2009, "the real deal" and "one of the best athletes I've ever coached." On the basketball court, he captained the team as a junior and senior, tallied more than 1,000 points, earned all-state honors and took his team to the final four. On the gridiron he led the Sachems to an unblemished championship season in 2007 and earned all-state honors as a junior and senior. He was a winner of the Elks Scholar-Athlete Award and played his way to full scholarship to play football at the University of Massachusetts. "His fluidity as an athlete made it all look so easy for him." Kozens said.

Contract talks between school bus drivers & First Student resume

BELMONT — A media representative from First Student, Inc of Cincinnati, Ohio said Friday that talks in Washington DC between the Teamsters Union and First Student were productive.

"We presented them with a comprehensive proposal that includes wage and benefit enhancements, said spokesman Chris Kemper. "We're optimistic the matter will be resolved. Our goal remains to provide the best possible transportation service to the school districts we serve."
Employees of the the First Student facility in Belmont are working without a contract and have threatened to strike the company.
Represented by the Teamsters Local 633, the employees main bone of contention appears to be contributions to the pension fund and some contributions and salaries they claim in a federal law suit that the company failed to pay during their last contract.
First Student Belmont provides school bus service to Laconia, Belmont Gilmanton and Gilford schools and superintendents of those schools are working to come up with a contingency plan should the employees strike.
There has been some concern throughout the state that First Student employees from other facilities may join the strike should one happen.
Employees had agreed not to strike the company until the Dec. 2 or yesterday, which was when the two sides were set to reconvene.

Gilford school budget war resumes at full force

GILFORD — The Budget Committee refused to listen to the School District's 2017-2018 budget proposal Thursday night, continuing the battle between the two agencies that began last year and has extended into this year.

Thursday night's disagreement was about the so-called default budget, specifically about the difference between what the actual budget for 2016 was and what was spent in each line item. This year, the School District is operating under a default budget because voters rejected the budget proposed for 2016-2017.

The administration build its proposed default budget for 2017-2018 not on what was approved by voter's for the current year, but what is actually being spent.

For example, if a text book line had $1,000 in it in the default budget, but the district has spent $2,000 in that line over the course of this school year, the Budget Committee wants to see the actual budgeted allocation in the default budget with an additional column that shows the excess actually spent.

Chair Norm Silber explained that the Budget Committee doesn't necessarily disagree with the need to spend $2,000 but doesn't want the amount spent to be reflected in the default budget. It wants the amount initially budgeted.

Personal animosity between Silber and Assistant Superintendent Scott Isabelle also flared up when Isabelle went to answer a question and Silber made a motion that Isabelle swear under oath that what he is saying is true before being allowed to speak.

The motion was seconded but failed by a five-to-five vote and Isabelle was allowed to speak without swearing under oath.

Silber and some members of the Budget Committee were disappointed with the preparation of the 2016-2017 year's default budget and felt it included things it shouldn't have. At the 2016 deliberative session, voters made motions to restore all the cuts made by the committee, including a cut from a 3 percent raise for non union workers to 1.5 and longevity bonuses for top tier administrators, and added $80,000 for a language arts teacher. But on Town Meeting day voters rejected the amended budget proposal in favor of the lower default budget.
Once the budget went into effect, the School Board found the money to pay the 3 percent raises and the longevity bonuses within other line items.

The Budget Committee doesn't want those bonuses compounding as many of its members believe that a default budget shouldn't include any raises, except those that are contractual like those included in collective bargaining agreements.

In addition, because of the problems many members of the Budget Committee feel occurred in preparing last year's default budget, they feel that this year's represents an inadequate place to start.

On Thursday, the board voted 9 to 2 to not allow school administrators continue on with their budget presentation and the meeting ended.