Child-centered services funded

Greater Lakes Child Advocacy Center to become model agency


LACONIA — With an award from the New Hampshire Community Development Finance Authority, the Greater Lakes Child Advocacy Center will acquire the building at 95 Water St. where the agency is housed and consolidate all the services it provides under one roof to create a model center in Laconia.

Allegations that a child in Belknap County has been abused, whether received by the Division of Children, Youth and Families or reported to local and regional law enforcement agencies, are referred to the Greater Lakes Child Advocacy Center, which coordinates the investigative process and conducts the forensic interview of the child. When the interviewing process is complete, the child and family are referred to appropriate therapeutic and social services as well as to medical and mental health providers. The agency offers similar services for adult victims of sexual assault and domestic abuse. In 2016, the Greater Lakes Child Advocacy Center reported it handled some 220 cases.
The Granite State Children's Alliance, which operates the Greater Lakes Child Advocacy Center, has been awarded $325,000 worth of tax credits by the New Hampshire Community Development Finance Authority, which together with $20,000 from Ronald McDonald Charities and $9,000 from Granite United Way, will provide the initial financing for the project. Phil Hueber, director of resource development for the Granite State Children's Alliance, said that $200,000 of the allotted tax credits have been sold, leaving another $125,000 to be sold by March 31. The Community Development Finance Authority will receive 20 percent of the proceeds have been sold and the agency will net $275,000, of which $150,000 will fund the purchase of the property on Water Street. Hueber said that the agency has applied for a Community Development Block Grant of $575,000 to fund renovations and improvements to the building, which will include modifications to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, an HVAC system and site work.

"The Model Child Advocacy Center," the agency said in a prepared statement, "will be a home for justice, healing and learning."

Megan Noyes, director of program services, said that, along with the interview room, the center will include a medical examination room, a counseling room, a pre-trial room and a group therapy room. She explained that the center partners include law enforcement agencies, which assist with investigations; medical providers experienced in examining children for alleged abuse; prosecutors, who pursue any criminal charges; crisis center advocates, who serve non-offending parents or caregivers; and advocates for victims and witnesses, who shepherd families through through the judicial process.; and child protective services.

Together these services represent what Noyes called a Sexual Assault Response Team, SART, which with the acquisition and conversion of the building will operate under one one roof, sparing the need to shuttle a child from one agency to another and undergo a series of interviews with different individuals in different settings. "We are seeking to minimize the number of interviews," Noyes said, and ensure they are conducted in the same familiar, comfortable place to make it as easy on the child and family as possible.

"The Model CAC will be a home for justice, healing and learning," Noyes said.

The Greater Lakes Child Advocacy Center, established in 2005, is one of 11 such centers in the state, one in each of the 10 counties and two in Hillsborough County, four of them, including the Greater Lakes Child Advocacy Center, operated by the Granite State Children's Alliance. The initiative to better protect children began in 1983 with legislation originating in the New Hampshire Senate that led to Attorney General's Task Force of Child Abuse and ultimately to the establishment of the first Child Advocacy Center in Rockingham County in 2001. In July 2003, Gov. Craig Benson convened a Commission for Child Protection, recommended developing a statewide network of Child Advocacy Centers, and four months later secured funding to open the centers.

New Belknap County Nursing Home head worked her way up


LACONIA — Shelley Richardson, the new administrator of the Belknap County Nursing Home, made her way up through the ranks to the leadership position she assumed last week and says that she always felt while working as a nurse at the home that someday she would end up occupying the administrator's office.
"I was definitely determined. I even thought that one day I would changing the look of this office by putting up curtains," says Richardson, who has been at the nursing home for 12 years.
She jokes that that she she has been so busy in recent years mastering the knowledge that she needed to qualify as a licensed administrator that she wants to take some time for herself "to read a book I don't have to highlight."
Richardson's comment displayed that same sense of humor that Belknap County Commissioners cited in a press release announcing her appointment, in which they also praised her 35 years of health care experience and the work ethic she has shown in preparing herself to professionally manage a large organization.
She served as administrator in training at the 94-bed facility for a year under the tutelage of Robert Hemenway, interim administrator since the departure of Matthew Logue more than a year ago, and last month earned both state and federal certifications as a licensed nursing home administrator.
Richardson says she has always wanted to work in the health care field and earned her Licensed Nursing Assistant status while still in high school in Lowell, Massachusetts, later working at St. Joseph Hospital in Lowell, for seven to eight years. When she started to raise a family, she ran a family day care center in her home which was licensed for 12 children during the day, and six before and six after school hours.
She's always kept busy and when she and her husband, Clay, moved to New Hampshire she worked in special education at Belmont Elementary School and later at the Taylor Home in Laconia before joining the staff of the nursing home. During that time, she and her husband, who is a builder, built their own home in Meredith while living on the land they had purchased.
Richardson said she was fortunate to be able to take advantage of the county nursing home's tuition reimbursement plan to earn her certification as a registered nurse at Lakes Region Community College while working a split shift at the nursing home. She then went on to earn a bachelor's degree in health care at Granite State College, often traveling to North Conway, Concord and Manchester for her classes.
"I was determined to work my way up. I started in the trenches and now I can see what's needed at every level of the profession," she said.

During her time at the nursing home, she has been a day charge nurse, a unit manager and has expertise in hospital care, long-term care and skilled nursing care. While working as the county's clinical specialist, she completed the administrator-in-training program.
Two of her goals are to bring the reimbursement for education back to the county home so that there is career path for people to advance in the nursing profession and to work with others in the county to find ways to help elderly people stay in their homes longer.
Richardson is also working closely with staff at the nursing home to create a warm and homelike atmosphere by making the corridors more like streets with displays and visual reminders of the communities in the county, as well as special recognition of residents with displays featuring their photos and memorabilia. The nursing home last month held its first annual tree-lighting ceremony with real trees in both of the courtyards and in recent weeks residents have enjoyed seeing the snowmen built in the courtyards by the grandchildren of a maintenance department worker. Residents enjoyed Christmas light tours to New Hampshire Motor Speedway and downtown Laconia.
She said there is a great deal of competition statewide for trained nursing professionals and that the Belknap County Nursing Home is working to provide high quality care as well as the opportunities for advancement that will attract and retain skilled professionals.
County Commission Chairman Dave DeVoy said Richardson is a hard worker "who has proven her ability to manage a large organization with professionalism and a great sense of humor. She is a very welcome addition to the county's management team."

01-20 Shelley Richardson
Shelley Richardson worked her way up through the ranks to become administrator of the Belknap County Nursing Home. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

01-20 Shelley Richardson and crew

Belknap County Nursing Home Administrator, second from right, is shown with Teresa Wright, administrative assistant; Kris Mills, billing coordinator, and Carolee Sliker, right, dietary manager. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

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Meredith library trustees awaiting advice on keeping library or building new one


MEREDITH — Now that library trustees have consulted with Concord attorney Biron Bedard, they are looking to the next steps in solving their problem of a crowded building with fire and safety code violations.
Trustee Duncan McNeish said a quorum of board members, with alternates, attended the nonpublic session Thursday, Jan. 19, with Bedard. Now, the board is asking Bedard to come up with his suggestion for a warrant article or articles for Town Meeting.
Already, the board has unveiled a pair of choices. Cost to stay at the existing library, including renovations to the 3,300-square-foot historic building and construction of a 12,000-square-foot addition, would reach $4.145 million, according to library board consultant Ron Lamarre. The town could build a 14,000-square-foot library for $3.15 million on the "Robertson property," a parcel of land at Parade Road and Route 3, Lamarre told selectmen on Jan. 9.
Phil Warren, town manager, confirmed that he still thinks that voters should be asked to support placing $50,000 in an expendable trust fund, with $30,000 to support a feasibility study on use of the Robertson property. This would be a de facto "yes or no" question about moving, he said.
In an email to The Laconia Daily Sun on Jan. 17, Warren wrote, "It is my recommendation that the Select Board insert a warrant article to create an Expendable Trust Fund for the explicit purpose of funding costs relative to the relocation of the Meredith Library to the 'Robertson' property and to deposit $50,000 into that fund. No formal vote has been taken at this time by the Select Board; the Capital Improvements Committee has made the same recommendation."
Once Bedard returns with his advice, tentatively at a library board meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 24, McNeish said he expected several of the library trustees and librarian Erin Apostolos to meet with Warren and talk about the town warrant.
Bedard, who lives in Meredith, is managing director of Ransmeier & Spellman P.C., a law firm with offices in Concord and Alton.
Bedard and fellow attorney Andrew Livernois are both assisting the library board.
Trustees are wrestling with the task of convincing voters that the historic Benjamin M. Smith Memorial Library building — an ornate multi-level building — no longer suffices as a home to the public library. Limited parking, space and accessibility are among the chief complaints, but trustees point to more serious concerns, such as fire and safety code violations particularly on the second and third floors.
Over two years ago, the library trustees formed a Library Master Plan Committee and hired a library consultant to analyze space needs. A library planning committee, regarding a public forum at the time, reported, "There is a clear and identified lack of space. This is true of collection space, meeting space, quiet space, and parking space. A number of codes with regard to access and safety have drastically changed over the more than a century since the library was built. It is currently in violation of a number of the current codes, including lack of an elevator, lack of a sprinkler system, and lack of appropriate, sufficient egresses from the higher levels. The library being on seven levels presents a number of problems both for safety and efficient operation."