County joins health care network

LACONIA — The Belknap County Commission agreed Wednesday to become an affiliate member of the Community Health Services Network LLC, the umbrella organization formed to transform the system for providing mental health and substance abuse services by integrating behavioral and physical health care.
Commissioners David DeVoy of Sanbornton and Hunter Taylor of Barnstead voted in favor of membership while Commissioner Richard Burchell of Gilmanton dissented.
The initiative is in response to the New Hampshire Health Protection Program, which by expanding eligibility for Medicaid and providing benefits for substance abuse has increased demand for services in short supply. Currently, 92 percent of adults who require treatment for alcohol abuse and 84 percent of adults who require treatment for drug abuse go without it. At the same time, two of every three people with mental illness admitted to the New Hampshire Hospital spend more than one day waiting in an emergency room until a bed becomes available.
In January, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services approved the state's request to fund transforming the system for providing mental health and substance abuse services. The so-called "transformation waiver" will provide $150 million over five years to apply toward offering integrated physical and behavioral health care, expanding capacity to address emergent behavioral health issues, and ensuring an unbroken continuum of care as patients pass from one provider to another.
The principal agents of the program will be seven "integrated delivery networks," or IDNs, one of which will consist of the Central and Winnipesaukee public health networks, consisting of Belknap County, 18 towns in Grafton County and three towns in Merrimack County. Altogether, some 16,000 people in the network are enrolled in Medicaid, 12,000 of them in the Winnipesaukee network.
The IDNs will organize and coordinate the providers within the network as well as receive and distribute funding to them. The partners in the networks must include primary care physicians, substance abuse providers, hospitals, community mental health centers, community and rural health centers, community organizations providing social services and county nursing and correctional facilities.
Lisa Morris of the Lakes Region Partnership of Public Health that a major component of the program will be to improve the transition from institutional to community settings in order to reduce the number, frequency and cost of people requiring institutionalization. With respect to the county, the initiative bears directly on the Department of Corrections, where a significant share of inmates housed in the county jail suffer from mental illness or substance abuse and often both.
Jacqui Abikoff of Horizons Counseling Center in Gilford told the commissioners that for inmates leaving the jail and returning to the community, access to appropriate services is especially important to lessen the likelihood they will relapse and be returned to jail. She explained that ensuring an effective transition to an effective network of treatment and recovery services will contribute to reducing recidivism rates arising from mental health and substance use disorders.
Morris emphasized that the county would incur no financial obligation by participating in the Community Health Services Network. When Burchell suggested that the initiative represented "downshifting" of responsibilities from the federal and state governments to counties and municipalities, which would be lumbered with the costs when the initial funding is exhausted.
Taylor, who has advocated for expanding capacity for treatment and recovery acknowledged that "there is a risk the programs cannot be sustained," but said simply "we cannot afford not to take the risk." He called the initiative "long overdue" and "an admirable effort."
The Winnipesaukee Health Council has identified access to behavioral health care, including substance abuse treatment, as a high priority in the region. In January, the Community Health Services Network LLC was formed. The network includes LRGHeathcare, Speare Memorial Hospital, Genesis Behavioral Health, Horizons Counseling Center, HealthFirst, Lakes Region Partnership for Public Health, Lakes Region Community Services, Central New Hampshire Hospice and Visiting Nurse Association, Franklin Visiting Nurse Association and Community Action Program Belknap-Merrimack Counties.

Belmont selectmen approve bid to pave Wareing Road despite opposition


BELMONT — Despite opposition, selectmen approved a bid of $316,020 from DBU Construction of Epsom to reconstruct and pave Wareing Road as part of an attempted to eliminate gravel trucks from traveling through the recently redeveloped village area.

Town Administrator Jeanne Beaudin said yesterday that the bid came in significantly lower than engineer projections of as much as $380,000.

She said multiple town departments including hers, the Public Works Department and the Planning Department have been working with Parent Sand and Gravel to have them move their scales from Shaker Road to Wareing Road and use that to access Route 106 and points north or south since its purchase of a former Nutter Excavating lot.

Opponents of the projects have said that with paving, even though the road will only be paved to the Parent access, will create a speedway and a short cut around Belmont Village. They have also contended that spending $300,000 on a road with only two residents is a poor use of money allocated to town road projects through the annual budget.

Selectman Jon Pike noted Tuesday that as many as 25 loaded trucks can pass through the village daily.

"Our goal," said Beaudin, "has been to protect the pavement and pedestrians in the village."

Beaudin said the selectmen expect the project is completed by early summer.

LASC sold - Optiline Enterprises wins $735,000 bid, Executive to run health club

04-05 LASC auction

Former LASC owner Tom Oakley, center, shakes hands with Tommy Bolduc, the owner of Optiline Enterprises, which bought the facility. Looking on is Mick Bolduc, Tommy Bolduc's partner and cousin. In Tommy Bolduc's left hand is the key to the front door. (Laconia Daily Sun Photo/Gail Ober)




LACONIA – The Laconia Athletic and Swim Club sold at auction yesterday for $735,000 to Optiline Enterprises of Hudson, a building company, bringing to a close a five-month-long saga of seeing one of the flagship businesses in the city fall to financial stress.
Former owner Tom Oakley said it was great news for the Lakes Region.
"It's not even bittersweet," he said, "because we had a great run."
Aside from the opening bid of $725,000 made by auctioneer Steven Calheta, who represented first mortgage holder ReadyCap Lending LLC, there were no other bids offered and Calheta, after speaking with ReadyCap via telephone, passed on a chance to up the bid to $745,000.
"We're trying to give local people back their health club," said top-bidder Optiline co-owner Tommy Bolduc, who said they plan on completely rebuilding the building and leasing it to The Executive, which is a company that operates health clubs in Hooksett and Manchester.
Executive's CEO, Michael Benton, said yesterday that he is working with Optiline to re-create a health club that will concentrate on families, the individual and preventative health care. He said Optiline will own the property and The Executive will operate the health club.
"We are very, very excited to come up to Laconia," he said.
"We feel strongly we can build a very upscale but not overly priced offering," Benton said yesterday, adding there will be a daycare.
Benton said his team will be designing the interior and directing the renovations of the building according to the goals of creating a smaller version of the 130,000-square-foot health club in Manchester. He said he would be working with people in the area to see what kind of health club they want to have.
"We have a lot of members who also have homes in the Lakes Region who have be asking us to do something there," Benton said. "We also want to get the swim team back."
Benton said he is also involved in Genavix and hopes to continue Oakley's relationship with LRGHealthcare for preventative care. He said Genavix offers corporate wellness services to families and individuals.
The "swim club," as it was affectionately known throughout the Lakes Region, was owned and operated by Oakley for 24 years. Built in 1962 as a YMCA, the club was sold to him 1991 and operated continually until its sudden closing the day after Thanksgiving of 2015.
Yesterday's auction was the second attempt at selling the building at foreclosure. The first failed in late February when no auctioneer showed.
According to Oakley's attorney, Jeff Philpot, rules governing the sale of corporations at foreclosure auctions is that the opening bid, in this case the bid made by ReadyCap LLC, must be at least 60 percent of the fair-market value of the property. That would be $1,225,000. The city of Laconia has the property assessed for $1,287,400.
There were three bidders at yesterday's auction. One was Rusty Bertholet of Meredith, who was prepared to bid but didn't after hearing the opening offer. The other was unidentified and never bid.
Philpot said Optiline has 30 days to pay ReadyCap or the sale is nullified and the property would go back to auction.
"My wife and I were ecstatic to hear who bought it," said Oakley. "The Executive health and sports clubs are premiere facilities. You couldn't ask for a better outcome."