Skills needed - Experienced workers essential for local manufacturers


LACONIA — The major need of local manufacturing companies companies is for more skilled labor according to Rich Bardellini, executive vice president of New Hampshire Ball Bearings, who was one of the featured speakers Wednesday morning at a breakfast meeting at the Belknap Mill which kicked off a week-long celebration of manufacturing in the Granite State.
Bardellini, whose company employs 475 people at its Astro Division plant in the O’Shea Industrial Park, where its new product development center is located, said that advanced manufacturing requires the development of a skilled workforce which will provide a “deep bench” for manufacturing companies like his.
“Our biggest challenge is finding skilled labor, in some cases just labor, as we are willing to train people,” said Bardellini, who said that it is difficult when as many as 15 percent of job applicants can’t pass drug screening tests.
He said that New Hampshire Ball Bearings plays an active role in the community and works closely with the Huot Center at Laconia High School and the advanced manufacturing program at Lakes Region Community College.
He called for more efforts to market manufacturing jobs to young people as future career paths and working to overcome the impression that many of them have that manufacturing jobs are dirty and unrewarding.
“We’ve got to do a better job in our schools. We’re hosting tours for kids this week to show them that it’s a clean workplace and that there are opportunities for good pay and a long career. There are other jobs than just sitting in front of a computer all day and in which you actually make things using your hands and your brain,” said Bardellini.
Also speaking at the event was state Sen. Andrew Hosmer (D-Laconia), who said he saw in his own family that manufacturing jobs helped create the American middle class and that is important to reach today’s young students the message that manufacturing jobs offer them a chance to work in a profession which pays above average wages and opportunities for advancement.
Hosmer said he can see from working in the AutoServ dealership the importance of having well trained auto technicians. “We couldn’t do our job without them.”
He said local manufacturers tell him their most common challenge is finding skilled workers, that it’s essential “to change the image of manufacturing” in order to get more young people interested.
Hosmer said he hopes that after the election is over this fall and what he called “the toxic political environment” is over  that state lawmakers can concentrate on sound public policy which will meet the challenges New Hampshire faces.
The program was presented by the Belknap Economic Development Council and the Belknap Mill Society and was sponsored by Titeflex Aerospace.
Allison Ambrose, president of the Belknap Mill Society, said that the Belknap Mill was a fitting place to hold the celebration. She said that the mill, built in 1823, is the oldest unaltered brick textile mill in the United States and stands as a reminder of the Lakes Region’s industrial heritage.

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State Sen. Andrew Hosmer (D-Laconia) speaks about the need for a skilled workforce at a New Hampshire Manufacturing Week event held at the Belknap Mill. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

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Rich Bardellini, executive vice president of New Hampshire Ball Bearings, speaks about the need for a skilled workforce at a New Hampshire Manufacturing Week event held at the Belknap Mill. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Plea deal for felon with gun now off


LACONIA — A plea deal is off for a man who had successfully negotiated his freedom in Superior Court on Oct. 7, following his arrest Tuesday by city police for possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute.

10-11 Steven Moy

Belknap County Prosecutor Melissa Guldbrandsen confirmed yesterday that she is moving forward with old charges against Steven Moy, 29, of 34 Manchester St., for two counts of being a felon in possession of a deadly weapon and one count of receiving stolen property, which was a gun reported stolen from Massachusetts.

She said she will also seek to impose a 3 ½ to 7 previously suspended sentence in the wake of his most recent arrest.

Guldbrandsen had agreed last week to dismiss all but one of the above charges against Moy in exchange for him pleading guilty to one count of being a felon in possession of a deadly weapon, which was a gun. He agreed to be sentenced to 3 ½ to 7 years in prison, all of which was suspended.

Because Moy wasn't completely sure he wanted to plead guilty, Guldbrandsen had negotiated a single two-week time frame in which he could have reconsidered her offer and gone to trial instead.

As of his arrest on Tuesday, Guldbrandsen said she hadn't filed the paperwork from Friday with the court because she was honoring her side of the deal.

The discovery of the two guns was made while both Moy and his parole officer thought he was still on parole. Because of a clerical error at the state Department of Corrections, Moy's parole had ended in early 2016, possibly making some of the evidence gathered by his parole officer inadmissible.

Guldbrandsen said she will add to the old charges against Moy, plus new charges for being a felon in possession of a deadly weapon, which were brass knuckles, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute it, possession of heroin, possession of Xanax, resisting arrest and breach of bail.

She said Wednesday he allegedly had about six grams of methamphetamine, 50 pills of Xanax and a fair amount of heroin on him when he ran from police Tuesday morning after they attempted to apprehend him on Keasor Court for pounding on the doors and windows of a house there.

He waived his arraignment in Belknap County Superior Court and is being held on $50,000 cash-only bail on the latest charges.

Free the Nipple movement files motion to dismiss the case


LACONIA — For the second time in as many years, Judge Jim Carroll of the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division will have to decide if women can remain arrest-free after freeing their nipples at Weirs Beach in Laconia.

Heidi Lilley of Gilford and two of the members/supporters of the Free the Nipple movement, Kia Sinclair and Ginger Pierro, were cited by city police for appearing topless at Weirs Beach over Memorial Day Weekend in 2016 after police said they received a complaint, and last week filed a motion to dismiss the charges.

City ordinances prevent women from exposing the nipple portion of the breast in all public places.

Attorney Daniel Hynes represents all three and has called the Free the Nipple Movement a campaign against female oppression and censorship. In his request to dismiss the case against his clients, Hynes notes that until 1936, all people were prevented from appearing shirtless or topless in the United States. To date, he said there are still 37 states that have laws preventing female toplessness.

New Hampshire is not one of them.

Hynes said that two attempts by the state legislature to change the state law to prohibit the exposure of female nipples in public during the past legislative session failed.

His approach to his clients request for dismissal is two-pronged. The first is that since the state of New Hampshire is not a "Home Rule" state, anything that is not made illegal by the state cannot be made illegal by an individual community.

This was the basis for Carroll's dismissal of a similar violation faced by Lilley and Barbara McKinnon that stemmed from a topless experience at Gilford Beach on Labor Day in 2015.

Hynes' second prong is that the United States and New Hampshire Constitutions prevent discrimination against people by race, creed, color, gender and national origin.

He asked the court to determine that Laconia's ordinance violates those basic civil rights and to issue an injunction against enforcing it in the future. Hynes said that should the city wish to continue with preventing female toplessness, the only fair and constitutional way to do this is to prevent toplessness for all people, including men.

Hynes said the Free the Nipple Movement is also protected speech under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

"By appearing topless in public, (the) defendant(s) engaged in speech and expression deserving of constitutional protection," he wrote. "(The) defendant was not just utilizing her right to be topless under state law, but to demonstrate to others her political viewpoint and message that the female nipple is not a sexual object."

Hynes wrote that the defendants seek to bring a message of gender equality and how the female nipple is treated differently than that of a man.

Hynes also said that artistic expression involving nudity as part of expression has been given First Amendment protections.

"To be considered obscene and outside of First Amendment protections, the government must prove that the work, taken has a whole, appeals to the prurient interest, is patently offensive in light of community standards, and lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value," he wrote, quoting a case from the U.S. Supreme Court.

It was this prong of the argument that Carroll failed to adopt when he dismissed Gilford's case against Lilley and McKinnon in 2015.

In that ruling, Carroll agreed with the New Jersey Supreme Court, which said toplessness is not a substantial level of "constitutionally protected conduct."

Carroll said the ordinance against toplessness at the beach was to be considered under "strict scrutiny" in that it has a specific purpose and the town had compelling reason to pass it.

He said the "compelling interest" is that Gilford Beach is a town resource that is to be enjoyed by "young and old, men and women, families and single persons" while preserving appropriate standards that allow the town to maintain its local values and mores.

He also determined that the town of Gilford didn't discriminate against Lilley and McKinnon because they were not banned from the beach.

As to the Laconia ordinance, it's unusual in that it was passed in the late 1980s in part to stem the tide of harassment of women at the annual Motorcycle Week rally. Not only does Laconia's ordinance prohibit the exposure of the female breast, it prohibits anyone from encouraging or harassing someone to public display their nipples.

Laconia Police Prosecutor Jim Sawyer said he will file his counter argument as early as Thursday.

The case is scheduled for trial on Friday morning but a clerk said while the trial won't happen, there is a chance the judge will hear oral arguments on the request from dismissal from both sides in the time slot reserved for the trial.