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Group looking to open cold-weather homeless shelter in Laconia area this winter

LACONIA — A consortium of people led by members of N.H. Catholic Charities and the Unitarian Universalist Society Association of Congregations are looking into creating a cold-weather shelter for families somewhere in Belknap County.

Should a suitable place and some money be found, the shelter would be open in the winter months and be dry — meaning no alcohol or drugs would be allowed.

"So far we have no money and no place," said Len Campbell of Catholic Charities, who is leading the consortium.

The goal, he said, is to have a cold-weather shelter operational by October 15.

For about a year now there has been some discussion about opening a cold-weather shelter somewhere in the city that would be more temporary than the Carey House, which is operated by the Salvation Army and is more long-term transitional housing.

Some of the hurdles faced by the consortium are how to coordinate shelter services with local welfare officers, where a possible facility would go and how it would fit in with local zoning and fire ordinances, and perhaps most importantly, where to get the money and how to line up volunteers.

The plight of those who are homeless during the cold New Hampshire winters is one both public and private entities have been struggling with for years.

Right now, area welfare administrators and police departments last resource is to put homeless families in crisis into rooms at a local hotel. Increasingly, the Carey House is full and is unable to accommodate emergencies.

The money comes largely from local welfare budgets or, in the case of the Laconia Police, from the relief associations that are funded through donations and fundraisers.

Part of the consortium's research included reaching out to three areas in the state that have some kind of cold-weather shelter — Concord, Strafford County (Rochester) and Keene — and gathering information about their programs.

The Belknap County members have seemingly settled on a model similar to the one in Strafford County that provides for community services as well as temporary shelter.

Last Updated on Thursday, 22 May 2014 12:11

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EPTAM Plastics founder sells interest in company; private equity-financed transition leaves management team in place

NORTHFIELD — The management team of EPTAM Plastics, Ltd., in partnership with New Heritage Capital, LLC, an affiliate of the Heritage of Boston private equity firm, has acquired the equity interests of Dick Dearborn, the founder of the firm, and his family, who have retired from the business. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

In an announcement to employees, Jeff Hollinger, president of the company, explained that the Dearborns chose to "see the company carry on in the hands of the management team that has served you over the many years." He added that "the Dearborns have been the type of owners you only dream about; honest, caring and generous, dedicated to helping make EPTAM the best place to work." With its generous benefits and collegial culture, EPTAM has regularly ranked among the best employers in the state.

EPTAM machines and fabricates plastic components to exacting specifications and fine tolerances for a variety of applications in the semiconductor, aerospace, medical, industrial and energy sectors.

Apart from affecting the transfer of ownership, which provides the Dearborns with liquidity, Hollinger stressed that the investment by Heritage represents a recapitalization of the company that positions it for future growth. "I would like to see the company double in the next five to six years," he said. "I'd like to see us operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

Heritage will own 70-percent of the stock in the company while the management team and Dearborn family have also invested in the recapitalization. Bigelow, LLC of Portsmouth, a merger and acquisitions firm, provided investment banking services to EPTAM and the Bank of New Hampshire provided the debt financing.

Heritage specializes in investing in successful, mature enterprises owned by their individual founders or founding families, often through low leveraged management buyouts. "They look for consistently profitable, well managed, growth oriented companies to take to the next level," Hollinger said.

In a prepared statement, Hali Dearborn, vice-president of corporate responsibility, said that "the Dearborn family is proud to have grown EPTAM over the course of the past three decades by continually reinvesting in the business and putting the customer's needs first. We are extremely pleased to find an investor in Heritage that understands our unique culture ," she continued, "and we believe they will be great stewards of the company for years to come."

Hollinger described the transition as "ideal", noting that the company will remain in Northfield and keep its name. Heritage, he said, is a successful firm experienced in working with manufacturers, particularly in the precision machining sector. "They take a hands -off approach," he remarked, marked by monthly meetings with management, quarterly meetings of the directors and an annual meeting. Above all, Hollinger said that Dick Dearborn will always be welcome at the company's facility whenever he wishes to come. "We all love him," he said. "he is one of those special people who always make you feel better about everything."

Dearborn began EPTAM in 1981 with just two employees working in a shop in Gilford. Today the company employs 117 people in its 60,000-square-foot facility on Rte. 140. Hollinger, who has been with the firm for 22 years — the last 10 as its president — said the company has grown at an annual compounded rate of 10 percent and has consistently posted profits.

"We're competing in a $1 billion industry and our share is 2.5 percent," he said, "which offers lots of opportunities for growth." Currently diverse industrial applications represent 30 percent of the company's business while semiconductors account for 21-percent, medical 17 percent and energy and aerospace 16-percent apiece.

With the recapitalization the firm will hire a chief operating officer, who Hollinger said will "help us get to the next level as well as be my potential successor. I won't have done my job," he continued, "unless there is someone here who can do a better job than I did."

Last Updated on Thursday, 22 May 2014 12:07

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Swinford will seek Cormier's seat in N.H. House

BARNSTEAD — The day after State Rep. Jane Cormier announced that she is moving to Hooksett and resigning her seat, fellow Republican Elaine Swinford announced that she will run to take her place in Belknap District 8, consisting of Alton, Barnstead and Gilmanton. The district elects one member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives.

Swinford served two consecutive terms in the House from 2009 to 2011, when she was one of seven Republicans elected in a district consisting of Alton, Barnstead, Belmont and Gilford. She lost her seat in 2012, after the new districts were drawn, when she was beaten in the Republican primary for the lone seat in Barnstead by Guy Comtois. "I redistricted myself out a seat," she quipped, explaining that she served on the committee that redrew the House districts. Swinford served on the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, which she chaired during her second term.

Well known in Barnstead, Swinford serves as the town's welfare director as well as operates the thrift shop and food pantry when she is not tending to her three dogs — Mollie, Sadie and Bentley Four-on-the-Floor.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 May 2014 12:28

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Boys' alleged recess head injury results in lawsuit against Shaker Schools

BELMONT — The mother of a boy who attended Belmont Middle School in the spring of 2012 has filed suit against the Shaker Regional School District claiming the school ignored head injuries to her son sustained during recess.

According to a lawsuit file in the Belknap County Superior Court, the boy was playing football during recess when one of his classmates allegedly tripped him while he was running full speed with the ball.

Although he appeared to have recovered from the fall, when he tacked the classmate who recovered the fumble, the classmate flipped him over his shoulder and "body slammed" him to the ground.

The complaint said that none of the staff at the school district reported any incident.

In addition, the plaintiff (who is the boy's mother) said her son didn't return to his class but "was eventually discovered wandering the halls still in a disoriented state."

He was taken to the nurses officer and spent 50 minutes under the nurses supervision until his mother came to the school to get him.

His mother said she immediately took him to Lakes Region General Hospital where physicians determined he may have a concussion.

The complaints said the boy didn't recognize his mother or his step-father and continued to act disoriented in his own home. The boy had previously suffered from migraines but they had been under control until this incident.

The boy and his mother are claiming the Shaker District was negligent in that the school breached a special duty it has to him to ensure his physical and emotional health.

The boy and his mother are asking for an unnamed amount of money for medial bills and future compensatory damages.

In reply, Shaker Regional attorney said the boy continued to play football after being tripped but is without sufficient information about the alleged "body slam."

Shakers attorneys said the school nurse followed the protocols regarding potential head injuries to "the extent and symptomology exhibited at the time."

The defense also says the boy was not missing from class and that's why there's no recorded absence.

The school admits the nurse is an employee of the district but denies a head trauma was diagnosed at the time that would have mandated the summoning of an ambulance.

The school district is also claiming an affirmative defense saying that, subject to discovery, the injuries to the boy were not caused by the school district and should be barred from recovery.

The school also said the boy's previous health is unexplored and they reserve the right to explore any pre-existing conditions the boy may have had.

The school is also claiming that this suit should be considered in relation to any medical bills that may have been paid by any insurance.

The school district has also file a motion to dismiss the case that has not been answer as of yesterday by the complainant.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 May 2014 12:25

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