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Council Rejects Firefighters Contract

LACONIA — The City Council last night unanimously rejected a tentative collective bargaining agreement negotiated with the Laconia Professional Firefighters, Local 1153 of the International Association of Firefighters.

City Manager Scott Myers advised the councilors against disclosing or discussing any details of the tentative agreement and reminded them that their authority is confined to the cost items of the agreement.

Councilor Henry Lipman (Ward 3), who chairs the Finance Committee, offered a motion to approve the proposed contract. He then said that he was "pleased with the progress of the negotiations" and generally satisfied with the wages and benefits that have been agreed.

However, Lipman said that he was concerned that the agreement exposed the city and its taxpayers to future liabilities, specifically the excise tax on so-called "Cadillac plans" imposed by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Under the ACA, beginning in 2018 an annual excise tax of 40-percent will be levied on health insurance plans with premums exceeding $10,200 for an individual and $27,500 for families. Consequently he said that he could not endorse the agreement.

Lipman was echoed by Councilor Bob Hamel (Ward 5), who noted that while the cost-of-living adjustment and step increases in the agreement are "in line," the health insurance benefit is not.

Last month the Police Commission approved a wage and benefit package for non-unuion employees, which Chairman Warren Clement said was consistent with what the commission was willing to negotiate with the Laconia Police Association. At the same time, Myers asked the City Council to approve a compensation and benefits plan for non-union city employees.
Both include three successive annual cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) as of July 1 of 2-percent in 2014, 2.25-percent in 2015 and 2.5-percent in 2016. Likewise, the health insurance plans would change with the elimination of the so-called HMO "high" plan at the end of the current fiscal year. Employees enrolled in the HMO 'low" plan, who currently contribute 9 percent of the total premium, will contribute 8 percent beginning on July 1 2014, 9 percent on July 1, 2015 and 10 percent on July 1, 2016.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 June 2014 12:52

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Gilford's Top 10 Seek careers ranging from investment banking to elementary education

GILFORD — The top 10 academic seniors at Gilford High School plan a variety of careers and, while they are looking forward to expanding their horizons as they attend college, say that they will miss their fellow classmates and continue to cherish the relationships they have formed with each other through their high school years.
Valedictorian Marissa Kelleher will attend Boston College, where she will major in finance and marketing. She says that she was inspired to seek a career in business after visiting the New York Stock Exchange as a freshman and chose Boston College because it has one of the best business schools in the country. She sees her future as becoming an investment banker.
Sally Tinkham , salutatorian, will attend Gordon College, a multi-denominational Christian liberal arts college in Wenham, Mass., where she plans to major in elementary education and psychology with a goal of teaching overseas, most likely in India and says that she has been inspired by the work of Dr. Donald Carey of Gilford in that country.
Rachel Blandford will attend the University of New Hampshire, where she will continue a family tradition by majoring in engineering. She says that she has always been interested in science and math and likes UNH because it is close to home and allows her to stay in touch with her family.
Sarah Cook plans to major in drama when she attends New York University and is looking forward to living in the big city environment with many creative people. She wants to become a director of stage productions.
Mikaela Mattice will attend the University of Western Ontario where she will attend business school and also pursue studies in medical services. She holds both American and Canadian citizenship and says that one of the attractions of the school she has chosen in London, Ontario, is that tuition rates are lower in Canada.
Kelsey Buckley will attend Wheaton College in Norton, Mass., where she will major in environmental science and will also study animal biology. ''I always wanted to be a vet when I was little and look to do something which will involve protecting habitat for wildlife,'' she says.
Emily Wernig will attend the University of New Hampshire where she will pursue a career in arts education and will also be a part of the women's track team. She said that she was inspired to pursue arts education by her grandmother, who told her to ''do something that you love or it will be hard to go work every day.''
Catherine Buckley plans on attending Roger Williams University where she will study architecture.''I've always enjoyed math and like to design things,'' she said, explaining that architecture will combine the two things she likes the most, art and design.
Michael Segalini will attend the University of Vermont in Burlington, Vt., which he says is the kind of city that a person from a rural community like Gilmanton will find very interesting. He is enrolled in the school of arts and sciences and has yet to decide on what field he will major in.
Amanda Lavin will attend West Virginia University where she will major in English and has the goal of becoming a foreign correspondent for an international news organization. She said that the challenge of attending a larger school than she has experienced to date is something which appeals to her.

Graduation exercises are scheduled for Meadowbrook on Saturday, June 14 at 10 a.m.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 June 2014 12:23

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Parolee accussed on heroin possession

NEW HAMPTON — A resident of Kelly Pond Road has been ordered held on $20,000 cash-only bail after his parole officer allegedly found him in possession of heroin and suboxine during a routine check Friday afternoon.

Norman Batchelder, 56, was sentenced in 2010 in the Belknap County Superior Court to two consecutive sentences for possession of narcotics. Each sentence was for 1 1/2 years to 3 years.

Parole Officer Seifu Ragassa said he went to Batchelder's house and said that while he was in Batchelder's bathroom he saw him take his wallet from his pants pocket and put it on the floor in an alleged attempt to hide it.

Ragassa said he saw a small packet slip out of the wallet and Batchelder told him there was heroin and suboxine in the packet.

A sergeant from the New Hampton Police was called and found Batchelder in Ragassa's car. Batchelder is said to have admitted to the sergeant that he had some stuff on him.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 June 2014 11:58

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Police say iconic Northfield farmer voluntarily gave up his 2 hogs

NORTHFIELD — Police said yesterday that life-long farmer Bert Southwick relinquished his two pigs to Live and Let Live Farm because he said he could no longer care for them

The pigs, a boar and a pregnant sow, have since been relocated to an unknown location.

According to Northfield Police, the investigation into reports of animal cruelty on his Zion Hill Road Farm had been ongoing since April 25 and they were able to verify the conditions on the farm posed safety risks for some of the animal.

On June 6th police, representatives from the N.H. Department of Agriculture, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Live and Let Live Farm descended on his farm and removed five horses and the two pigs.

Police said Southwick was not at the property nor was he responsible for the care of the five horses that were removed. There are no pending criminal charges against him, they said.

While he owns the farm, the people who boarded the horses at his place were the ones responsible for their care and upkeep said police.

Four stallions and one mare were taken to the Live and Let Live Farm where they are being treated for parasites, hoof and dental problems, and respiratory issues.
Police said the mare had "significant gashes in the area or her rear fetlocks, "possibly from being hobbled or from rope burns while being constrained," said police.

The horses were malnourished, dehydrated, and in various stages of muscle atrophy.

Southwick is a well-known figure in Northfield who has delivered eggs to local residents for many of his 90 years.

Southwick sold land to the Winnisquam Regional School District in 1994 for a new elementary school, which would later be named the Southwick School by a vote of students at the Union-Sanborn School, who were selected to choose a name for the new school.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 June 2014 11:48

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