String of thefts made from vehicles in Meredith

MEREDITH — Residents are being warned to lock their vehicles after a string of thefts.

Meredith police report that at least eight vehicles in eight separate locations were ransacked, with the theives taking items from the center consoles, glove compartments and interiors of the vehicles, all of which had been left unlocked. Items included money, bags, clothing, personal hygiene items and tools. The thefts took place between midnight Tuesday, June 7, and 7 a.m. Friday, June 9. Police are investigating thefts from vehicles parked in the Mile Point and Grouse Point residential areas, as well as an outbuilding in the same area.

Meredith police ask that residents take care to secure their vehicles and outbuildings, and that anything suspicious be reported immediately. If you have information regarding these thefts, you are asked to call 279-4561.

– Ginger Kozlowski

Belknap bout - Waring challenges Burchell for Belknap County commissioner


LACONIA — In what promises to be a spirited contest, Glen Waring of Gilmanton is challenging incumbent Dick Burchell in the Republican primary election for the District 2 seat on the Belknap County Commission, representing the towns of Barnstead, Belmont, Gilmanton and Tilton.

Waring, who served as the finance director for the county from 2011 until 2015, frequently crossed swords with Burchell both during his stint as a member of the county delegation between 2013-2014 and after his election to the county commission in 2015.

Waring is a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University, where he earned a degree in business administration with an emphasis on accounting. He worked as the business controller at Tiilton Ford, which during his tenure added other brands and other locations, including the dealership at Exit 20 on I-93, which is now the headquarters of AutoServ. After holding similar positions with other automobile dealerships, Waring found himself at the McGreevy-Buick-Cadillac-Mazda in Belmont when it was acquired by AutoServ and again working with the Gaudet family.

When the recession left Waring without a job, he spent three years providing financial services to several car dealerships before joining the county as finance director. In 2015, he resigned to become business administrator of the Mascenic Regional School District in Greenville. For the past six years, Waring has been elected treasurer in Gilmanton, where he has lived with his family for the past 20 years.

Explaining his decision to enter the race, Waring said "A couple of people approached me, and when the question was posed I didn't balk, didn't say yes or no." Soon he received more encouragement and quickly made his decision.

"I think the residents of the district deserve an alternative," Waring said. "I have the qualifications. I understand how government works, know what should be changed and have some ideas about how to change them."

Burchell, a semi-retired real estate agent, was elected to the New Hampshire of Representatives in 2012 and soon established himself as one of the most outspoken and controversial members of the Belknap County Delegation. He was openly critical of the County Commission, which then consisted of Democrat Ed Philpot of Laconia and Republicans John Thomas of Belmont and Steve Nedeau of Meredith, especially of their management of the county budget, plans for a new county jail and treatment of the director of the county nursing home. He was also repeatedly at odds with the county administration, which he considered too closely aligned with the commissioners.

When Burchell was elected to the county commission, Nedeau resigned his seat, leaving only Burchell and David DeVoy, both of whom were newly elected. Burchell became chairman, but when the county delegation appointed Hunter Taylor to fill the vacant seat, he soon found himself a minority of one. At a clamorous meeting in March, Burchell was ousted as chairman by a two-to-one vote, which he vainly challenged in Superior Court.

Burchell said Wednesday that he welcomed Waring's candidacy.

"I think it's great," he said. "It gives people a real stark choice. That's what elections are about."

He said that Waring was very close to the prior county commissioners and said "I have a very clear memory of how things went." He said that the future of the county nursing home in light of changes in the form and rate of Medicaid reimbursements is easily the most pressing issue facing the county.

In the 2014 Republican primary, Burchell topped Thomas, the incumbent commissioner, by 808 to 671, as he carried all four towns while running strongest in Gilmanton where he won by 98 votes.

Hunter Taylor, the incumbent county commissioner in District 3, representing Alton, Gilford, Center Harbor and Meredith, has filed for re-election while the term of the third commissioner David DeVoy, who represents District 1, consisting of Laconia, New Hampton and Sanbornton, expires in 2018. 

School board OKs two union contracts


LACONIA — The School Board approved collective bargaining agreements on Tuesday with two of the three unions representing employees of the district, the Educational Assistants of Laconia, representing para-educators, and the Laconia Association of Support Staff, representing secretaries and custodians.

No agreement with the Laconia Education Association, which represents the teachers in the five schools in the district, has been presented to the School Board and contract talks remain ongoing.

The two-year agreement with the Education Assistants of Laconia provides for a 2.68 percent salary adjustment in the first year, followed by step increase with a 0.5 percent raise in the second year. The contract with the Laconia Association of Support Staff includes a 1.5 percent wage increase in the first year and a step increase and 0.5 percent raise in the second year.

The increase in compensation is funded by a reduction in the cost of health insurance benefits achieved by changing to a plan with a lower premium and eliminating the payment to employees — $1,000 for a single-person plan and $2,000 for a two-person or family plan — to offset the deductible. Altogether, changes in the health insurance plan spared the district $136,585 in costs.

The net cost of the two contracts is approximately $100,000, which business administrator Ed Emond said is included in the 2016-2017 school district budget presented to the City Council.

Emond said that increasing the salaries for para-educators will provide the incentive needed to fill vacant positions. He explained that because wages for para-educators had fallen below those for substitute teachers, the incentive to work part-time as a substitute outweighed that to work full-time as a para-educator.