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Lipman says hospital tax deal would mean extra $4 to $6 million per year for LRGHealthcare

LACONIA — Henry Lipman, senior vice-president of LRGHealthcare, yesterday welcomed the agreement reached Thursday between the state and 25 of its 26 hospitals, by which the hospitals will withdraw litigation against the state while the state will resume funding to hospitals for uncompensated care and apply revenue from the Medicaid Enhancement Tax to Medicaid services.

Lipman said that without a settlement the 75 cents on the dollar Franklin Regional Hospital receives in remimbursement for the uncompensated care it provides was at risk. Meanwhile, when the Legislature sharply reduced reimbursements for uncompensated care in 2011, payments at Lakes Region General Hospitals shrank to only 12-percent of costs. Lipman said that reimbursements will rise in 2015 and approach 50-percent of costs the following year, estimating a return to the hospital of between $4-million and $6-million.

"This settlement is good for the state, for our hospitals, for our communities and for healthcare," Lipman said. But, he cautioned that the agreement reached yesterday still requires the approval of the Legislature, which will consider it on Wednesday, June 4.

Last Updated on Friday, 30 May 2014 11:39

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Summit Ave. resident says roadwork has created lakes & rivers on his property; city manager hasn't seen evidence

LACONIA — Summit Avenue, the road to Governors Island, was paved with the best intentions, but has led straight to Hades, according to Richard Homsi, who claims that his property at the junction with Wentworth Cove Road is regularly awash in snow melt and stormwater.

Speaking the City Council Monday night, Homsi, who has owned his home since 1998, noted that in 2003 the road was twice shimmed and the following year was paved. "That's when the trouble began," he said, explaining that the resurfacing changed the height and pitch of the road causing the water to flow and pool on his lot.

"I'm at the bottom of the hill," Homsi continued. "The left (north) side of the road runs like a river, making its own culvert." He said that the Department of Public Works installed a grassed swale and a paved swale as well as laid crushed stone. "They're doing what they can, but nothing has worked," he remarked. "When it rains there are ducks in the swale, lined up taking a bath and you can float a kayak in the swale." He said that he needed to wear high boots to fetch his mail from the mailbox.

Homsi said that the flow has washed away shrubbery and crushed stone, planted and laid to filter, slow and disperse the run-off into the lake. Since all the run-off flows to the left side of Summit Avenue, Homsi said that with the freezing and thawing in the winter months, the left side of street is cracked and undermined. "This needs to get addressed, to get fixed," he told the councilors. "There is too much asphalt on the road and it's got to be dug up and rebuilt," he said.

However, early the next morning, after a night of heavy rainfall, City Manager Scott Myers drove down Summit Avenue and, in an e-mail to the council, reported that "the only area of standing water was on Summit Avenue and I would not call it out of line with what I saw all along my route. The area by Homsi's mailbox," he continued, "was pretty much dry. No kayaks were floating on his lawn. The swale had no standing water in it." Myers attached photographs to his e-mail.

It was not the first time Myers visited the property "I have been out to his property several times," he noted, "and have made visits there after particularly heavy rain events. I have not seen the conditions that were described last night."

Likewise, he described Summit Avenue as "in decent condition."

 

Last Updated on Friday, 30 May 2014 11:25

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23 hard-earned high school diplomas will be handed out at LAE graduation

LACONIA — After his mother died, 20-year-old Hunter Lucas went into a funk.

Diagnosed with ADHD and moving from Gilford to Belmont to Laconia, Lucas said he finally gave up on high school. He tried a couple of other types of schools — mostly online — but just couldn't stay interested.

"I had a lot happen to me in high school," Lucas said, so he took a year off.

Last year, he came to Laconia Adult Education and on June 6, he will get his high school diploma.

Elaina Powell, who will also get her diploma on June 6, has a very different story.

Once an elementary student at Belmont Elementary School, in fourth grade she started to get sick, missing enough school that her parents were forced to home-school her.

A year later, she was diagnosed with chronic Lyme's disease and has never been able to return physically to school. Fighting a series of infections, she continued her homeschooling with the Shaker Regional School District as her home district, often taking advantage of on-line classes sanctioned by the state department of education.

Needing four credits to graduate, Powell said she discussed Laconia Adult Education with her guidance councilor who told her the program may be too demanding because of the attendance requirements — only two absences are allowed per class.

Nevertheless she enrolled this past September and earned two of the four credits she needed to pass. By January, she needed two more credits but was taken ill in April and underwent open-heart surgery where surgeons removed a golf-ball sized blood clot from her right atrium.

Working with Adult Ed and Shaker Regional, Powell was able to finish her last two credits.

Last week Powell and Lucas had a spirited discussion in the tiny Adult Eduction office at Laconia High School about why this program met their needs.

"I consider myself more mature than most teenagers," Lucas said, noting that one of the things he didn't like about conventional high school was that he felt with his personal losses at such a young age that he didn't have a lot of common with most of the students.

Powell said she would have had a similar experience in a conventional high school, but also said the teachers in the Adult Education Program were more willing to help her individually than she thought they would be.

Both agreed their individual life experiences were such that they wouldn't fit into a regular high school and both wouldn't have had a diploma without the program.

"Sometimes public school gets repetitive and tedious," said Powell with Lucas, adding: "Some people aren't built for it."

Lucas, his diploma now about to be safely in hand, said he needs to find a job. His ultimate goal is to become a gunsmith and is hoping one of the local gun manufacturers will hire him so he can get enough experience to go to one of the country's gunsmithing schools.

Powell has the dream of studying cardiac sonography and specializing in ultra-sound technology with an emphasis in psychology — her favorite class in the Adult Ed program.

With Lyme's disease constantly a detriment to her health, she said she knows it make take her longer to get her degree, but added, "Heck, I didn't think I finish this because of the surgery."

The Laconia Adult Education Program will have its graduation ceremony in the Laconia High School Auditorium on Friday June 6 at 7 p.m.

Senior Divisional Manager for New Hampshire Ball Bearing Gary Groleau, who is a 1974 graduate of Laconia High School, will be the commencement speaker.

 

Cutline: (Lucas and Powell) Laconia Adult Education graduates Hunter Lucas and Elaina Powell give the thumbs-up during a visit to the Adult-Ed offices last week. Both will get their diplomas on June 6. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Gail Ober)

Last Updated on Friday, 30 May 2014 11:12

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Building & grounds design standards proposed for Laconia

LACONIA — The Planning Board will begin the process of adding design standards to its site plan regulations next week when it holds a public hearing on a draft proposal during its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, June 3, at 6:30 p.m.

The regulation is intended to supplement the current ordinances without vesting the Planning Board with more authority than it already possesses. At the same time, it seeks to make the planning process more transparent and predictable by informing builders and developers of what is expected before they invest time and money in a project.

Since the design standards would be an amendment to the site plan regulations, not to the zoning ordinance, they would not require the approval of the City Council, but could be adopted by the Planning Board alone.

They would be applied to all developments, except for one and two family residential projects, undertaken in the city. A subcommittee of the Planning Board would work with developers to comply with the design standards as well as make recommendations about particular project to the board, which which the final approval of site plans rests.

The proposal consists of written and illustrated guidelines describing specific architectural goals such as entryways, landscaping, roofing, materials, lighting, windows and decoration. A score sheet, which awards, withholds and detracts points for an array of optional components, would be a prerequisite for approval of a site plan. For example, a plan to place parking space at the rear of the building would gain four points while putting parking spaces at the front of a building would lose four points. Likewise, an ornamental fence would be worth one point while a chainlink fence would cost a point. The standards would vary from one district to another in the city.

Although a strong predictor of the outcome of the planning process, the Planning Board would not be strictly bound to a numeric standard but authorized to apply its judgment to the particular circumstances of individual projects. Brandee Loughlin, assistant planner, said yesterday that the details of how the scoring will be applied to specific projects remain to be decided.

The design standards were prepared by Hawk Planning Resources, LLC, Ironwood Design Group, LLC and SMP Architecture, Inc.

Last Updated on Saturday, 31 May 2014 12:34

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