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In Laconia, Sen. Graham urges re-authorization of Export-Import Bank

LACONIA — Lindsey Graham, the senior United States Senator for South Carolina, spent the last couple of days in the Lakes Region, testing his political credentials with the Belknap County Republican Committee one evening and rallying support for the Export-Import Bank the next afternoon, all the while stirring speculation about his presidential aspirations.

"We've got a mess on our hands," Graham told some two dozen fellow Republicans, who as snow fell waited more than half-an-hour for him to join their monthly meeting at the Top of the Town in Belmont. Speaking in his genteel drawl, he inventoried the challenges facing the country, highlighting the risks to national security and importance of national defense.

Best known for his hawkish approach to foreign policy, especially in the Middle East, Graham began with a survey of the threats posed by what he called "radical Islam. I've never been more worried than today, " he continued. "Allah is bad news for us." Quipping that President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry "probably have never bought a car," he deplored negotiating with Iran to forestall its nuclear program. Graham said that Iran is sponsoring terrorism and fomenting unrest throughout the Middle East and insisted no agreement should be negotiated until its conduct changes.

ISIL, Graham said, was a threat to American security second only to Iran. In particular, he warned that if Iran developed a nuclear weapon, it would spark an arms race in the Middle East, which would lead to nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorist organizations. Calling for more aggressive intervention, he said, "I don't know to defend America with all of us staying at home" and added: "Some must die."

As president, Graham said he would have one overriding goal "to make large terrorist organizations small, rich terrorist organizations poor and leave terrorists no place to sleep at night without worrying about bombs dropping on their heads."

At home, Graham stressed the need for energy independence so the United States would no longer borrow money from Chinese, who he said "don't like us," to buy oil from the Middle East, where he repeated "people don't like us."

Social Security, he remarked, represented an unfunded liability of $70 trillion. When he asked those born before 1950 to raise their hands, most did, but when he asked those born since 1980 to follow suit, only one hand went up. "You're screwed," he remarked, adding that reform is required to ensure benefits for future generations. Graham noted that with retirement of the Baby Boom generation and the aging of the population the workforce is shrinking, highlighting the urgency of a "rational immigration policy."

The next day, Graham, accompanied by U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, visited New Hampshire Ball Bearing's plant on Lexington Drive to pitch the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, which for 80 years has financed the export of American products abroad, but finds itself under attack from conservatives as a mainstay of crony capitalism..

Stepping into the conference room, Graham picked up a placard picturing the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which is built in South Carolina. The aircraft industry purchases almost half and Boeing nearly a fifth of NHBB's output of precision machined components. Graham explained that airlines in developing countries, where sales are facilitated by financial packages, represent a major market for Boeing's products and that eight of ten Dreamliners are eligible for financing through the Ex-Im Bank.

Scuttling the Ex-Im Bank, Graham said, "has become a cause celebre for certain conservative groups," which have invested heavily in their effort.
He calculated the odds on reauthorization at "50/50 politically."

Graham warned that without the Ex-Im Bank American producers, like Boeing, will be at a severe competitive advantage with China, which operates a similar bank with resources greater than the United States, Germany, France and Britain. He said without the financing the bank offers Boeing, NHBB and General Electric, which builds aircraft engines "will be out of business." Boeing, he noted, "is the tie between New Hampshire and South Carolina."

"To my conservative friends," said Graham, "you picked the wrong program. If you're running president, you should come to New Hampshire and tell these people why they need t lose their jobs for your ideological purity."

Ayotte remarked that the bank "returns money to the treasury and creates American jobs" and asked "how common is that in Washington."

Graham and Ayotte, who he dubbed "the Margaret Thatcher of the Republican Party" the night before, also advocated increased defense spending in what he said is "a time of great peril."

This was Graham's third visit to the state.

"I'm looking for spring and apparently I have to keep coming," he remarked, adding that he expected to decide whether or not to run for president by the end of May.

Last Updated on Friday, 10 April 2015 12:03

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LRGH expects to double size of emergency department

LACONIA — After pursuing a strategic planning process during the past year, leadership and trustees of LRGHealthcare are on the brink of undertaking a multi-million dollar expansion and renovation of the emergency department at Lakes Region General Hospital.

Henry Lipman, senior vice president for financial strategies and external relations, said yesterday that the final cost of the project has yet to be determined and the arrangements for financing the construction remain to be completed. "That's why we don't have a start date at his time," he said. However, the project was approved by the New Hampshire Health Services Planning and Review Board, which administers the certificate of need program, in March and the designs have undergone an initial review by the city's Planning Department.

The project will more than double the size of the department by adding some 9,400 square feet of new space to the 7,900 square feet that currently houses emergency services. Almost half the existing space will be thoroughly renovated. The department will have two entrances, one for ambulances leading directly to the clinical area of the facility and another for patients leading to a triage desk and waiting room.

There will be two trauma rooms near an elevator that will take those patients that must be airlifted to another hospital to the helipad on the upper level. Altogether there will be 20 treatment rooms, including one designated and equipped for bariatric patients, divided evenly between the new and existing space and served by two nursing stations. Finally, for patients with mental illness, who must be held until a bed is available in an appropriate facility, there will be four secure holding rooms.

Lipman said that the emergency department is housed in one of the oldest parts of the hospital, built in 1947 and despite a series of improvements no longer meets the needs of providers or the expectations of patients. He said that treatment rooms will offer patients much greater privacy as well as strengthen the control of infection. The department will have direct access to the operating room, ensuring the timely treatment of trauma patients requiring immediate surgery.

As part of the project the radiology unit housing the Cat Scan will be relocated to 2,700 square feet of newly built space adjacent to the emergency department. Lipman said that the proximity of the radiology unit will support the partnership with Massachusetts General Hospital to diagnose and treat patients with strokes by means of video conferencing and image sharing technology.

Although two sections of the hospital remain to be converted to single rooms, Lipman said that the reconstruction of the emergency department is the most significant project remaining to be undertaken at the hospital.

Last Updated on Friday, 10 April 2015 11:51

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Crash into utility pole closes Province Rd. for 6 hours

GILMANTON - A Barnstead man escaped serious injury Thursday morning after the truck he was driving on Province Road left the pavement and struck a utility pole.

Sgt. Matt Currier said the driver of the truck lost control because of the slush in the road from Wednesday's night's minor snowstorm.

He said the truck struck the utility pole with such force that the pole snapped about 6 feet from the bottom.

Currier said Province Road was closed to traffic for about six hours while crews from NH Electric Cooperative set a new pole.

Last Updated on Friday, 10 April 2015 11:35

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Mass. company to clean vandalized head stone

BELMONT — A Massachusetts-based company has volunteered to clean the head stone of the three-week old baby that was vandalized earlier this week.

The company, which wishes to remain anonymous, volunteered its services through the Belmont Police Department and the family has said it is very grateful for their thoughtfulness.

The headstone of Katie Anne Hebert was spray-painted black recently and was noticed by her family when they went to visit her grave.

In her three weeks of life, Katie Anne achieved national prominence when she was born at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. On the day she was born, her parents had been trying to get to Concord Hospital but were unable to make it, and speedway medical crews with the help of Loudon emergency responders helped deliver her.

Belmont Police said there was no damage done to any of the tombstones in the immediate area and are still asking for the public's help in getting information about who vandalized the stone.

If anyone can offer any assistance they are asked to call the Belmont Police at 267-8351.

Last Updated on Friday, 10 April 2015 11:21

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