Preparing for Taste of the Lakes Region

Sponsors of the 26th Annual Taste of the Lakes Region met earlier this month to discuss plans for the restaurant sampling event, to be held on Sunday, April 3, at Church Landing in Meredith. Shown here, from left, are Carla Peterson and Nancy LeRoy of Altrusa of Laconia, Rick Hopper of Binnie Media, and Ginger Kozlowski of the Laconia Daily Sun. For ticket information, visit altrusalaconia.com. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Adam Drapcho)

 

Sponsors of the 26th Annual Taste of the Lakes Region met earlier this month to discuss plans for the restaurant sampling event, to be held on Sunday, April 3, at Church Landing in Meredith. Shown here, from left, are Carla Peterson and Nancy LeRoy of Altrusa of Laconia, Rick Hopper of Binnie Media, and Ginger Kozlowski of the Laconia Daily Sun. For ticket information, visit altrusalaconia.com. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Adam Drapcho)

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Belmont and Laconia agree to share one fire chief

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

BELMONT/LACONIA— Belmont selectmen have agreed with the Laconia City Council that fire chief services for both communities should be combined, meaning that Laconia Fire Chief Ken Erickson and Assistant Fire Chief Kirk Beattie will assume management control of the Belmont Fire Department.

The agreement was supported in a nonpublic session by Belmont Selectmen on Monday and by the Laconia City Council in a nonpublic session later that evening. Selectman Ruth Mooney said the selectmen met with acting Fire Chief Sean McCarty on Tuesday and with the entire Belmont Fire Department staff Wednesday morning. She said Erickson met with all of the Belmont staff after their meeting.

"I couldn't be happier or more supportive," said Mayor Edward Engler. "Hopefully, this is the first step toward a much greater level of inter-municipal cooperation with the delivery of essential services."

It's been about three weeks since former Belmont Fire Chief David Parenti resigned to take a job in Massachusetts. Selectman Jon Pike said that Laconia City Manager Scott Meyers initially reached out to Belmont Town Administrator Jeanne Beaudin about the idea of consolidating chief services.

At a subsequent meeting between Engler, Mooney, Beaudin and Meyers, they agreed to bring it to their respective boards, who supported the idea.

"This is the greatest thing that ever happened," said Pike, who said in the long run this agreement could save both communities a great deal of money. "I hope it works out the way it's intended."

Although the actual agreement has not been completed by both legal teams, Engler and Pike said that the Belmont Fire Department will still be the Belmont Fire Department and the employees will still be Belmont employees, members of their own union and Belmont selectmen will still control hiring and pay.

He said the highest ranking officer will report to Erickson and Beattie.

"We think it's a positive for both communities," said Mooney, who went on to say that she thinks it will broaden training and diversification for the Belmont employees and that it will be a good thing.

"I think it's a positive move forward," Mooney said alluding to the fact that different consolidations of services have been discussed in "back rooms" for 30 years.

Mooney called the arrangement "groundbreaking" and said she thinks each department will benefit from the arrangement.

Engler said he wanted to "congratulate Ruth Mooney and her fellow selectmen for them being brave enough to think outside the box. They're doing all of us in the Lakes Region and great service."

"The shared goal her is more efficient and cost effective delivery of essential services.," he said.

Engler and Mooney said that once the inter-municipal agreement is hammered out, both the Belmont selectmen and the Laconia City Council will have to approve it before it can go into effect.

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Laconia Police restructure department

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — The city police department has reorganized its command structure by eliminating one of two captain positions and splitting the quasi-department heads into four separate commands, three of which will be headed by lieutenants and one of which will be led by the city prosecutor.

The previous organization had two captains, one of whom ran the administration and detectives and the other who ran the operations or the patrol division. The city prosecutor has always been the head of prosecution.

Capt. Matt Canfield is responsible for budgeting, capital improvements, internal affairs purchasing, personnel reviews and major special event planning for things like the Motorcycle Week and the Pumpkin Festival. He is also responsible, along with the chief, for general oversight.

Patrol Lt. Rich Simmons is responsible for patrol scheduling, communications or dispatch, supervisor shift coverage, monthly details, animal control and for reviewing felony cases that come from the patrol division.

Patrol Detective Lt. Tom Swett is responsible for detective scheduling, and the Prevention, Enforcement and Training officer who coordinates drug enforcement with treatment agencies. He reviews felony cases prepared by detectives, is the liaison between the department and the Belknap County Attorney for grand jury and indictment purposes, manages grants and supervises the many who volunteer for the Laconia Police.

Support Lt. Allen Graton is responsible for departmental training, automotive maintenance, uniforms, the police station maintenance itself, policy development, Right-To-Know requests, community resource officers and managing the department's computer system.

Laconia Police Chief Chris Adams said that the change makes for better communications and a cleaner and more direct chain of command. For example, he said that he thinks having the patrol lieutenant and the detective lieutenant sitting in adjoining offices can better coordinate investigations that are triggered by activities by each division.

The old way has a detective sergeant responding to a captain who each had different responsibilities in different parts of the building and sometimes the communications weren't that fluid.

"The common theme is mixed messages," he said.

Adams also said that should things not work as he expects, the department always has the option to return to the two-captain model.

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