Route 106 in Belmont to be widened, thanks to federal bill

BELMONT — Reconstruction of the intersection of state Route 106 and Seavey Road is among at least seven highway and bridge projects in New Hampshire that will be funded by five-year highway trust fund bill, which U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen said yesterday Congress is expected to approve as early as this week.

Speaking to the press by telephone yesterday, Shaheen said that the bill is the first to provide long-term federal funding for road and bridge construction since 2003 and ensures funding that will enable state officials and private contractors to schedule and complete projects.

The improvements at the intersection of Route 106 and Seavey Road include widening Route 106 to provide turning lanes for both north- and southbound traffic entering Seavey Road and widening Seavey Road from 26 feet to 40 feet, as well as configuring the junction for vehicles turning onto Route 106 to accommodate school buses and box trucks.

Bill Cass, assistant commissioner and chief engineer of the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, estimated the cost of the project, including construction and resurfacing, at approximately $5 million. With the assurance of funding, he anticipated the project would be advertised in April.

Christian Zimmerman, president of Pike Industries of Belmont who joined the press call, welcomed the bill, which he stressed would provide the "certainty that we can stay busy for the next five years." He said contractors have been downsizing for some time and the assurance of funding "will reverse that trend and enable us to increase employment and invest in our business."

Zimmerman was echoed by Gary Abbott, executive vice president of the Associated General Contractors of New Hampshire, who estimated the legislation would return some $15 million in federal funding to New Hampshire during the next five years and accelerate the projects in the state's Ten-Year Highway Plan.

Burchell: Privatize Belknap County Nursing Home

LACONIA — The county should look at selling the Belknap County Nursing Home, according to Belknap County Commissioner Richard Burchell (R-Gilmanton), addressing members of the Belknap County Convention's Executive Committee last evening.
His comments came during a discussion of the current county budget and the $6.1 million in the health and human services line which represents payments made to the state of New Hampshire for county residents who are in private nursing homes and who are covered by Medicaid.
State Rep. Brian Gallagher (R-Sanbornton) asked for a study to see whether it is more cost effective for the county to pay for someone in a private nursing home or someone in the Belknap County Nursing Home, which he noted is "a five-star facility," and also whether the quality of care is equitable.
Burchell observed that there is no real possibility of expanding the number of beds in the county facility and that the county has a burgeoning population of those eligible for elderly services, which will drive up nursing home costs, public and private, for the county.
"The real game plan is to keep people in their homes longer." he said.
State Rep. George Hurt (R-Gilford) asked if it would be feasible to have a private nursing home "come in and take it over," referring to the county nursing home, and said the change might result in having a management team which is more progressive,
"It should be explored. We should look at selling it,'' said Burchell.
Asked after the meeting whether the sale would mean that the facility would no longer be staffed by county employees, Burchell said that would be the case.

They risked their lives for others - Laconia firefighters honored for heroism with medals

LACONIA — Fire Chief Ken Erickson, whose passion for his job is matched only by his pride in his firefighters, honored members of what he called “the fire department every fire department wants to be” at an awards ceremony last evening.
Lt. Jeff Desrosiers and his crew were commended for courageously entering a blazing apartment building at Davis Place in search of occupants trapped by the inferno that claimed one life. Lt. Jay Ellingson and a team of six firefighters, each drawn from different shifts, were commended for their response to a severe traffic accident on Parade Road that took one life and, but for their efficient teamwork, might have taken two more.
Enhancing the significance of commendations, Erickson remarked that he could recall awarding only one medal since 2001 then proceeded to award the Mark E. Miller Medal of Valor to seven firefighters. The medal is named for the revered firefighter who drowned in a training exercise with the dive team he founded and is awarded for saving a life imperiled by water.
On a frigid night in January, Kevin Pierce, Chris Beaudoin, Jason Griffin and Nate Mills were among the firefighters dispatched to Lake Winnisquam where a snowmobiler was reported in the water. In pitch darkness, the four, wearing dry suits and tethered only to one another, crossed 1,400 feet of ice, swam 200 feet of open water, found the snowmobiler using his helmet as a flotation device, and returned him to safety.
In December 2014, a paddler was parted from his kayak when it overturned in the Winnipesaukee River and was clinging to a log as the current swept him downstream. Rick Hewlett, Chris Morgan and Brennan Lorden responded. All three firefighters, at risk to their own lives, managed to rescue the kayaker from the cold water and strong current as Lorden ferried him to shore.
The commendations and medals, Erickson said, exemplify the department’s credo of “selfless service.”