Library study, facility improvements find support at Meredith meeting


MEREDITH — Property taxes will increase under an operating budget and warrant articles approved by voters at the Town Meeting on Wednesday.

The hike will be 16 cents per $1,000 assessed valuation, or $32 for a $200,000 home.

All told, voters boosted yearly spending to $14.72 million, up from $14.02 million spent last year.

Selectman Nathan Torr said the budget includes a 1.5 percent wage increase for all city workers. There are also increases in health insurance and liability insurance costs.

"This is just due to the times being the times," Torr said.  "Things go up and that's the way it is."

Money measures approved included $13.84 million for general municipal operations and an additional $830,000 for Public Works, the Fire Department, waterfront infrastructure, solid waste and recreational facilities.

Voters also approved a $50,000 appropriation for a study into the feasibility of expanding and renovating the library in the Benjamin Smith Building, which lacks satisfactory handicapped access.

There have been previous studies of the building. A committee will be formed to look at the future of the building.

"We would hope that over the last eight years all the information that they have gathered through various studies and architects, the first thing on the table will be that pile of information," Town Manager Phil Warren said.

He said the study will look at ways of improving the building, and not the feasibility of moving the library elsewhere.

Voters also expanded eligibility for a $500 veterans tax credit. The credit will be available to any resident, or the spouse or surviving spouse of any resident, who had at least 90 days of active service in the military and was honorably discharged.
Census data indicates there are 450 veterans in Meredith. A total of 374 of them take advantage of the credit. That leaves 76 people who would qualify under the expanded eligibility, for a total potential cost of $38,000.

Voters also approved the purchase of 200 acres of land adjacent to Page Pond Community Forest for conservation purposes. No new tax money is to be used for this purpose. Instead, the land is to be purchased from the Winn Mountain Corporation for $1.12 million with grants, private donations and transfers from conservation funds. Hunting and snowmobiling would be allowed on this land. 

They also discontinued Leavitt Mountain Road as a public roadway from its start at Chemung Road to its termination within property owned by Linda R. Lee Revocable Trust 2003. This is about a half-mile of dirt road that is not maintained by the town.

New Hampton voters agree to plan to move Grange Hall


NEW HAMPTON — At Town Meeting this week, voters took several steps towards sparing the Grange Hall from the wrecking ball and returning the building to its original site alongside its elder cousin, the Town House, on the town common at the corner of Town House Road and Dana Hill Road.

First, by a margin of 160 to 106, voters agreed to appropriate $4,000, matching a grant from the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance, to evaluate the feasibility and costs of acquiring, moving and restoring the building.

Second, in anticipation of undertaking the project, voters approved an appropriation of $150,000 and authorized the expenditure of other monies , including private donations as well as state and federal grants, to fund it by a vote of 146 to 118. The appropriation is contingent on the affirmative vote of a special town meeting to be held in May or June, after the completion of the evaluation.

Finally voters, approved to convene a committee, consisting of two members of the public and one selectman or the board's designee, to manage the use of the building, by a vote of 160 to 103.

The building is currently owned by the New Hampton Community Church, which plans to raze it before the year is out, but has offered to donate it to the town.

Built in 1828, the two-and-a-half story structure, 31 feet by 58 feet, originally served as the chapel of the New Hampton Academical and Theological Institute, a school sponsored by the New Hampshire Baptist Society. In 1852, when the society withdrew its support, the school moved to Fairfax, Vermont, where it soon ceased to operate. Meanwhile, Col. Rufus G. Lewis, together with the Freewill Baptists who accounted for most of townspeople, formed a corporation, the New Hampton Literary and Biblical Institute, which purchased the building, along with "The Brick," a four-story, 100-foot-by-36-foot structure, and moved both to the village in 1853.
"The Brick" became Randall Hall, while the other became Commercial Hall, where, as one J.H. Roberts taught penmanship, it became known as the "Writin' Room." In 1870, the Biblical department of the school moved to Lewiston, Maine, to join Bates College while what remained adopted a commercial regimen and grew into New Hampton Commercial College, the nucleus of the New Hampton School for Boys formed in 1910.In 1911, the trustees of the school gave the "Writin' Room" to the New Hampton Grange, which moved the building to its current location on Main Street and added a 22-foot extension to the back of the building to house a stage.

Man assaulted in downtown hotel

Police investigate case of man assaulted in hotel room



The Laconia Daily Sun

LACONIA — A 43-year-old man suffered severe facial injuries when he was attacked in the Landmark Inn late Thursday, police reported.

The injured man, who was hospitalized in stable condition, said a man he knew used a knife against him inside a room at the hotel, said police Sgt. Mike Finogle. He did not disclose the name of the person who was assaulted.

A person of interest in the case was in jail Friday on a probation violation, Finogle said.