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City expects new technology in plow trucks to result in significant savings

LACONIA — After the long, hard winter of 2013-2014 — when the city bought more than 100 tons of road salt in the middle of March — punched a $95,000 hole in the winter maintenance budget, the Department of Public Works (DPW) is applying technology to reduce the cost of clearing streets.

Last year the DPW began working with Sensible Spreader Technologies, LLC of Manchester, a firm begun by Andrew Jaccoma while he pursued his Master's degree in Business Administration at the University of New Hampshire. Together with its counterpart in Manchester, the DPW equipped two of its plow trucks with a tablet mounted on the dashboard and sensors fitted to the plow and spreader. The tablet displays to the drivers where and when they have plowed while the sensors measure the amount of salt spread.

The data collected from these pilot programs, conducted at no cost to the city, indicated that between 10 percent and 20 percent of the time trucks were unintentionally plowing and salting streets already cleared and treated. The waste of both time and material adds to the cost of winter maintenance.

This year ,the city has invested $12,600 to equip four plow trucks with the tablets and sensors in order to pursue its winter maintenance operations more efficiently. Paul Moynihan, director of DPW, said yesterday that he expects the system will significantly reduce if not eliminate "overlap," or trucks retracing well plowed streets.

At the same time, because the system controls the spreader, salt can be applied in appropriate amounts with greater efficiency. For example, less salt can be spread on roads adjacent to lakes and rivers, reducing the adverse impact of chloride on the natural environment. Jaccoma expects to introduce a feature that will enable a truck to automatically switch from road salt to a non-chloride de-cer in environmentally sensitive areas. Likewise, less salt is spread as the truck slows and none at all when it stops.

Moynihan said that four trucks working four hours apiece can plow and salt the more than 100 miles of public roads and streets in the city. He estimated that if the system reduces the amount of salt applied in the course of the winter by between 5 percent and 10 percent, if will more than have paid for itself.

"This is kind of cutting edge stuff," remarked Luke Powell, assistant director of DPW.

Jaccoma took first prize in the Paul J. Holloway Innovation-to-Market competition at the Whittemore School of Business and Economics at UNH in 2012 for bringing the system to market.

After spending $376,880 for 5,451 tons of salt last winter, the DPW has budgeted $331,000 for this winter and so far has used just 18 tons of the stockpile of 867 tons on hand to begin the season.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 November 2014 01:44

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Gilford police station construction bids come in a little over budget

GILFORD — Three construction companies submitted bids for the renovation and expansion of the Gilford Police Station yesterday but all of them were greater than the $1.213 million approved by the voters at the 2014 annual town meeting.

Gary Chocoine Construction of Weare submitted a proposal for $1,365,048, plus an estimate of $78,000 for some possible ledge work and $175,000 for some trench work.

Meridian Construction of Gilford proposed a bid of $1,659,700 and said it if awarded the contract it would negotiate any ledge and trench work while Turnstone Construction submitted a proposal of $1,476,700, with a total estimate of $105,000 for ledge and trench work.

Selectmen know there is ledge under the surface of the area where the expansion is planned. What they don't know is how much.

The bids were opened yesterday at 2 p.m. in a meeting attended by Selectman John O'Brien, Town Administrator Scott Dunn, architect Don King, and Police Chief Anthony Bean Burpee. Bean Burpee was accompanied by Lts. Kris Kelley and James Leach, who were the primary town liaisons for the project that was largely designed before Bean Burpee was hired.

All three companies had representatives there.

After three previous, failed attempts, the expansion and renovation of the Gilford Police Department was overwhelmingly approved last year by town voters. Because the project will be funded through long-term debt, two-thirds of those voting needed to approve the project that had narrowly failed twice before.

The town also received a $169,000 federal grant through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for an emergency generator and a central command/operations center that can also be used by the public.

Dunn said yesterday the price of the generator — about $65,000 to $70,000 — is included in the contractor's proposals.

Although the bids came in higher than the town would have liked, Dunn, Bean Burpee and King said they are confident that selectmen will select the lowest, best proposal and work with the company.

"We need to engage in a discussion with our architects and selectmen," said Dunn, adding that selectmen will review all the bids.

"I am optimistic that the town will be able to work with one of them," Dunn said.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 November 2014 01:21

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Former pharmacist indicted on four counts of drug possession

LACONIA – A former pharmacist has been indicted by a Belknap County grand jury for four counts of possession of a controlled drug and one count of falsifying physical evidence for an arrest by city police on Oct. 2.

According to police affidavits, Kyle Harriman was spotted driving erratically on Gilford Avenue before he turned onto Bedford Avenue in Gilford.

The arresting officer noticed the smell of marijuana coming from Harriman's car, and during the ensuing conversation, Harriman allegedly produced a container of green vegetative matter consistent with marijuana.

Harriman was arrested whereupon police found $5,500 in his pockets which he initially reported to be the proceeds from his recently-cashed pay check. But he later told police he hadn't been a pharmacist for more than a year.

Harriman, 34, of Gilford had surrendered his pharmacist license in 2012 after learning allegations of misconducted were forthcoming against him, according to records from the N.H. Board of Pharmacy.

Harriman was one of four people arrested by State Police for issuing false prescriptions in October 2012. He was charged with one count of passing a fraudulent prescription and one count of theft by unauthorized taking.

Harriman, who had been employed as a pharmacist at the Hannaford supermarket in Plymouth, pleaded guilty in 2013 to three counts of theft by unauthorized taking and sentenced to serve 12 months in the Grafton County House of Corrections – suspended pending good behavior.

On the night of the Oct. 2, 2014, arrest police allegedly found six oxycodone pills, five respiradone pills, a clear plastic baggie that tested positive for methamphetamine, two 8-mg suboxine pills, and 15 .5-mg on clonazepam.

Laconia Police said Harriman tried to ingest some 30-mg oxycodone pills while he was being arrested.

Police also said they found a 40-caliber handgun with the serial number removed and some miscellaneous drug paraphernalia.

The Sun also learned that Harriman was arrested in July 2014 by Belmont Police and charged with one count of driving after his license had been revoked or suspended and two counts of drug possession.

As of yesterday, a Belmont Police supervisor said the cases are still open.

Harriman is being held on $100,000 cash only bail at the Belknap County House of Corrections.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 November 2014 01:08

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Alternative for Lakeport Landing? City Council defers decision

LACONIA — The City Council last night deferred its decision about what to do with the city property on Union Avenue, which is leased to Lakeport Landing, at the request of attorney Rod Dyer, representing the marina, who expects to present a proposal that would enable the firm to acquire the lot.

The property, 0.81 acre, lies between the roadway and railway and runs from Elm Street northward to halfway between Harrison Street and Walnut Street. The property was leased to Lakeport Landing in 1985 for 10 years with two 10-year renewal periods, which have been exercised. In 1987 Lakeport Landing constructed a 9,840 square-foot building on the lot. The property has an assessed value of $389,600 of which the building represents $263,200. The lease expires on November 1, 2015 and the tenant has no right to extend it further. At the termination of the lease all buildings and improvements on the lot become the property of the city.
The council has been advised that it cannot negotiate exclusively with Erica Blizzard, the owner of Lakeport Landing, to either sell or lease the property.
Mayor Ed Engler reminded the council of its options. First the council could nothing, in which case ownership of the land and building would revert to the city when the lease expires. Second, the council could lease or sell the property to the private party that offered the most favorable terms or bid highest purchase price. He said that the council has considered subdividing the property and selling the portion where the building stands while retaining the remainder as a parking lot.
Dyer suggested that the council has another option. He explained that the property was purchased from the Boston & Maine Railroad in 1958, not acquired by tax deed. He referred to a section of the city code (183-8), which addresses the sale of city-owned property not acquired by tax deed. It provides that if the council has declared the property "surplus" and "available for sale," the city manager may entertain a written offer "from any private party." The council may authorize the city manager to have the property appraised. Then the council itself may oversee negotiations conducted by the city manager or authorize the city manager to negotiate the terms of the transaction. The final sale must be approved by two-thirds majority of the council.
Engler recalled that in the 1980s, before the property was leased, its sale to Paul Blizzard, then the owner of Lakeport Landing, was challenged by Irwin Marine, whose facility abuts the property. The New Hampshire Supreme Court reversed the sale. Dyer said that the city chose to sell the property by a competitive bidding process, but failed to properly inform all potential bidders. He said that the process he suggested, which is followed when selling lots in the Lakes Business Park, is an alternative to competitive bidding permitted by city ordinance.
Councilor Henry Lipman (Ward 3) said that the council is bound to protect the taxpayers from litigation and would seek the advice of legal counsel. Dyer said that although he had consulted fellow attorneys, he was not prepared to offer a formal proposal and asked the council to defer any decision for at least 90 days to enable him to do so. The council unanimously agreed.
Russ Thibeault, speaking as a friend of the Blizzard family, told the councilors they were faced with balancing the interests of the property taxpayers with those of a thriving business. "They are not competing interests," he said, explaining that the interests of each could be served without adversely affecting the other. Alluding to Irwin Marine's interest in the property, he cautioned the council against jeopardizing the viability of one business to enrich another.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 November 2014 02:44

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