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Grand Exalted Ruler visits Laconia Elks Lodge

GILFORD — Laconia Elks Lodge 876 hosted a rare visit from the organization's national leader, John Amen, and his wife, Marcia, yesterday.
Grand Exalted Ruler Amen, a native of Denver, Colorado, visited the Lakes Region as part of a tour through New England this month. Following yesterday's luncheon he attended a banquet-reception last evening at the Plymouth Elks Lodge.
Amen said his tour is part of an effort to increase membership in the organization, which has nearly a million members nationwide, but whose membership has declined in recent years from a peak of 1.6 million members in 1976.
''We have two problems, our membership is declining and if we can turn it around we will solve our second problem, which is the financial condition of our lodges,'' said Amen.
He said that in the early 1980s Elks clubs nationwide were gaining 100,000 new members a year but that has dropped to 55,000 a year and that nationally and in the state of New Hampshire itself membership is declining by 2.8 percent a year.
''If we can get 65,000 to 70,000 members a year we will be in a positive category,'' said Amen, who cited the success of efforts in recent years by the American Legion, which is gaining 60,000 new members a year and has set a goal of reaching a membership of 3 million by its 100th anniversary in 2019.
''We are vital to our communities but only can perform if we are strong in our membership,'' said Amen.
Laconia Mayor Ed Engler welcomed Amen and his wife to the community, noting that he had also once been a resident of Colorado. He praised the Elks for their philanthropic efforts on behalf of veterans and youth organizations and the organization's support in combating drug abuse, which he said is a major problem in the city of Laconia.
State Elks Exalted Ruler Sandra Shene presented Amen and his wife with gifts of purple T-shirts bearing the local Elks emblem and her husband, Bill, who is Grand Exalted Ruler of the Laconia Elks Lodge, presented him with a plaque, which was mounted on a small but heavy block of granite commemorating his visit.
Local Elks club member David L. Brown Sr. was presented with a national Elks Award by Amen for his charitable giving to the Elks organization at the conclusion of the afternoon's event. As the kitchen crew handed out desserts, after having been summoned from the kitchen for a round of applause for their efforts in putting on the lunch, Elk members lined up to have Amen sign their membership cards.

The Elks have lodges in 14 New Hampshire towns and cities with a statewide membership over 7,000 members. The Elks provided over 36,908 hours of volunteer help in the Granite State last year. Members and their helpers also traveled 209,774 miles in New Hampshire in conjunction with the Order's programs. The Elks total contribution to the state of New Hampshire last year amounted to $1,357,608.

CAPTION: elks granite 1,2 (first photo shows elk painting at right)

John D. Amen of Brighton, Colorado, Grand Exalted Ruler of the National Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, holds a granite plaque commemorating his visit to the Laconia Elks Lodge yesterday. The memento of his visit was presented to him Laconia Elks Lodge Grand Exalted Ruler Bill Shene, right. Amen's wife Marcia is standing at left.(Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 September 2014 01:06

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Belmont selectmen reverse course, decide to plow ‘Jefferson Loop’, Waukewan Rd., Lakeside & Bayview Drives

BELMONT — Selectmen decided last night that they would move forward with a public hearing to designate all of "Jefferson Loop" as well as Wakeman Road, Lakeside Drive and Bayview Drive as emergency routes and will continue to maintain them as such.

The decision last night could end a controversy that began last year when town officials decided that only Wakeman Road and Bayview Drive would be considered emergency routes and that the town would stop plowing the northwest portion of Jefferson Road and all of Lakeside Drive.

In the town's opinion, all of those roads are private and state law prevents them from expending public money on private roads because of liability. The only exception is to designate them as emergency access roads.

There are sewer pumping stations at the ends of Wakeman Road and Bayview Drive so selectmen determined those two would be "emergency routes." However, no reason was immediately given to designate Jefferson Loop and Lakeside Drive as such.

When residents learned last year the services to some of them would stop, they showed up in droves at a public hearing in August of 2013. Their request was that all of the roads be designated as emergency routes and that the town continue to provide the minimal services they now get, such as plowing.

At the end of that meeting, selectmen decided to wait until this year for some additional research to be done on the part of the town and the landowners before they made the final decision.

The area in question is off Union Road on Lake Winnisquam and is the area beyond the railroad tracks and closest to the water. The portion of Jefferson Road to the southeast of the tracks is public.

There are four ways to create a public road in New Hampshire, with three of them being that the town builds it on its own, builds it as part of a municipal plan, or if a deed holder dedicates the road to the town and the deed is accepted in which case the road must be up to town standards.

The fourth way is that a town must have used the road without the permission of the landholder for 20 years prior to 1968. These so-called "prescriptive uses" rarely, if ever, appear on deeds or maps and there is some evidence that shows at least two families may have been getting town services before 1948.

The town has been providing limited maintenance such as plowing to the "Loop" area for years but exactly how many and when families owned certain properties is undetermined.

Town Administrator Jeanne Beaudin also said last night that some of the residents had hired an attorney who has filed a "significant" Right-To-Know request to determine the status of the two roads the town wanted to stop plowing.

She also noted that school buses travel all of the roads in the area and it would be her recommendation that all of the road in Jefferson Loop be designated as emergency routes.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 September 2014 12:13

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Laconia DPW director says city’s roads need $25 million in repairs

LACONIA — The good news as far as the nearly 82 miles of paved roads in the city of Laconia is that 59 percent of them, about 48 miles, are in good condition. The bad news is that 41 percent of them, some 33 miles, are in failed to poor condition.
That was the message City Public Works Director Paul Moynihan and his assistant Luke Powell brought to the Laconia City Council last night in a presentation on the city's pavement management program.
Repairing and reconstructing just those roads that are in the worst condition would cost the city, in today's dollars with no adjustment for inflation or the price of asphalt, $15.3 million, nearly 12 times what the city is currently spending per year, $1.3 million, on its roads.
But concentrating solely on those roads in the worst condition could actually cost the city money in the long run according to Moynihan, who says that the city gets a bigger bang for its buck by putting its money to work on those roads which are in fair condition.
''Every dollar of rehabilitation on roads in fair condition saves three to four dollars of future work on those roads in poor condition,'' said Moynihan, who last night called on the council to increase spending on road improvements by as much as $500,000 per year with $1.3 million going to roads in the worst condition and $500,000 to those which are still in fair condition.
He said that the price of work on those roads in poor to failed condition averages $568,000 per mile while shim coating those roads which are in fair to good condition costs $181,000 per mile.
He estimated that work on those roads which are in fair condition would cost, in today's dollars, $9.8 million, bringing the total present day dollar cost for all city roads to over $25 million.
Moynihan said that putting $2.5 million a year into funding for city roads was not realistic but neither is continuing to level fund road improvements at $1.3 million a year, which would mean the city would find itself fighting a losing battle as road conditions deteriorate and reclaiming the failed roads becomes more and more costly.
Ward 2 Councilman David Bownes said that he would like to see a master plan with more detail about what Moynihan hopes to achieve. ''I want a numbers approach. What are our dollars going to buy,'' said Bownes.
City Manager Scott Myers said that it would be possible, using the new pavement management program software which Bownes and Powell had earlier explained to council members, to develop such a plan and plug in an inflation index which would provide a 10 to 15 year plan for city roadway improvements.
City Council members were anxious to see when some of the worst streets in their area were on the priority list. Ward 6 Councilor Armand Bolduc asked when Bell Street in Lakeport, which is listed as failed, would be repaired and Moynihan said that if the city hadn't committed so much money to this year's Union Avenue project it would have been done this year, as well as Cleveland Place, another failed roadway.
Moynihan said the city might look at cutting back on proposed work on Court Street next year in order to address some of the worst roads in the city.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 September 2014 01:41

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Emergency budget transfer needed to sustain county operations

LACONIA — County operations could be cut back in the coming days unless the Belknap County Convention's Executive Committee approves the transfer of some budgeted funds, County Commissioner Ed Philpot warned yesterday.

"We start to shut down operations," Philpot said regarding the ramifications if the funding transfers being sought by the County Commission are not approved.

With appropriations for wages of part-time employees expended, the County Commission is seeking to transfer funds appropriated for full-time employees and other purposes to maintain staffing of the nursing home, county jail and sheriff's department. In a letter dated Sept. 18 the commissioners urged state Rep. Frank Tilton, who chairs the Executive Committee, to convene a meeting "early next week, so that we may request transfers to continue operating the County without severe impact to the delivery of service."

Already the commissioners have authorized County Administrator Debra Shackett to re-designate part-time employees as full-time employees temporarily to ensure sufficient personnel at the nursing home. The county jail is in lockdown, with no public visitors and minimal movement of inmates.

The impending fiscal crisis follows the ruling last month by Superior Court Justice James D. O'Neill, III of Belknap which prohibits the commissioners from transferring more than $300 from one line item to another without the approval of the Executive Committee.

In August, prior to the court order, Tilton scheduled a meeting of the Executive Committee on Sept. 15. Soon afterward he was informed that two of the three commissioners as well as the county administrator would be unable to attend and was asked to convene another meeting as soon as possible.

When the commissioners met three days later, on Sept. 18, they approved a list of requested fund transfers, stressing that without them staffing issues, particularly at the nursing home, would arise within a week.

"It wasn't urgent on Monday" (Sept. 15), Tilton said yesterday, and he wondered how it became urgent three days later. "I read that in the newspaper," he remarked. "That's how I get my information from the county." However, he said that in light of the court decision "it was obvious they were going to have requests for transfers. Had there been anything on the table when we met on the 15th," he continued, "we could have discussed it, but there was nothing on the table."

Shackett said that "there has been a crisis coming since the judge issued his order, but did we call in a panic earlier? No."

Tilton has scheduled a meeting of the Executive Committee for Monday, Sept. 29. He stressed that if the committee receives the information it requires "at least a day before the meeting" it will make a decision when it meets.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 September 2014 12:29

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