County supports Gunstock — With Silber dissenting, Delegation agrees to revenue anticipation note



LACONIA — Following a public hearing Monday night, the Belknap County Delegation agreed to issue a revenue anticipation note that would cover the operational costs for Gunstock Mountain Resort during the 2017-18 ski season, with Gunstock repaying the money from its winter revenues by April 1, 2018.

Prior to the hearing, the Gunstock Area Commission met to approve an extension of a separate memorandum of understanding that would provide a one-time payment of $175,000 to the county, after which the commission and delegation would continue negotiations on a longer-term agreement that would address the concerns some county representatives had raised.

Gunstock Commission Chairman Sean Sullivan announced the one-year agreement at the start of the hearing before the delegation, and Delegation Vice-Chairman Raymond Howard (R-Alton) moved to accept the document.

Rep. Norman Silber (R-Gilford) stated his opposition to the request and questioned Sullivan and Gunstock General Manager Greg Goddard about the resort’s cash position. He maintained there was no statutory authority for such a memorandum of understanding, saying instead Gunstock’s enabling legislation required a payment far in excess of the $175,000.

According to Silber, the 50-year-old statute requires Gunstock to turn over to the county any accumulated revenue greater than 25 percent of any profits remaining after meeting obligations "if required by the County Delegation."

"Any calculation of the true value would be vastly in excess of $175,000," he stated, adding, "I object to taking any vote on the MOU because it’s not required under the statute, and the commissioners are not acting in good faith."

He received no support for his position, and the delegation agreed to the MOU with Silber casting the only dissenting vote.

Silber then fulfilled an earlier promise and called for the entire Gunstock Area Commission to resign "for failure to observe the statutes" — but his motion had no second and was dismissed.

Goddard then presented the request for money in anticipation of revenues, which he described as being similar to a line of credit for a business. Because most of Gunstock’s expenses occur ahead of the winter ski season, cash flow becomes a problem during the fall, particularly in October and November, and the note allows the ski area to borrow the operating capital it needs.

The County Delegation must approve of the revenue anticipation note in order for Gunstock to approach the bond bank to obtain the loan. The ski area then would repay the loan from winter proceeds. Seventy percent of Gunstock’s revenues come during the winter ski season, Goddard said.

With Silber’s single negative vote, the delegation approved the revenue anticipation note.


Jail superintendent stands firm on need for more officers



LACONIA — Belknap County Corrections Superintendent Keith Gray reiterated his position that he will not recommend opening the new Community Corrections Center without the hiring of four additional corrections officers that were cut from his budget by the Belknap County Delegation.

Gray made the statement during a public presentation Monday afternoon about the $8 million, 18,000-square-foot, 72-bed Community Corrections Center, which is planned to open this fall.

The Belknap County Delegation was scheduled to take up a request for a a $229,500 supplemental appropriation Monday night. The request includes $136,500 for the Corrections Department and $93,000 for the Sheriff's Department.
The supplemental appropriation proposal calls for hiring three corrections officers on July 1 and another on Sept. 1.

Gray said he has a staff of of 23 full-time officers and nine part-timers for the 100 or so prisoners which are held at the jail on a daily basis, half of whom are awaiting trial. He said that he is actually 10 short of the number of corrections officers deemed adequate for a facility of that size.

He pointed out that Grafton County, which has 150 beds and an average daily population of 91, has 44 full-time officers and 14 part-timers . Sullivan County, which has an average daily population of 80, has 38 full-time officers and six part-timers while Carroll County, which averages 60 people a day, has 32 full-time officers and five part-timers.

Gray recounted a recent incident in which one prisoner tried to harm himself, which took place with only four officers on duty, resulting in a situation in which two of the officers were required to transport him to a medical facility, leaving only one officer on the floor with 100 inmates.

"We need these people to operate this facility," said Gray, who said out that the county is modeling its community corrections program on Sullivan County, which, since it built its community correction center and instituted pre-trial and post-sentencing programs has cut its recidivism rate from 70 percent to 20 percent.
He noted that the Belknap County Delegation voted 15-0 in favor of the $8 million bond for the community corrections center in November of 2015 and had been told prior to the vote that staff and programming costs were estimated at $650,183.
Dave DeVoy (R-Sanbornton), chairman of the county commission and also the chairman of the Jail Planning Committee, said that the commissioners support Gray's call for additional funds
Asked to explain the jump in jail population in recent years, which peaked at 135 inmates in 2012, Gray said that the opioid crisis has seen many more people arrested and sent to jail and that the county's lack of a pre-trial program which could have them free on bail or wearing electronic bracelets has kept the inmate numbers high.

LHS alum receives fellowship to study Alzheimer’s treatment


LACONIA — Summer break may have started for most college students, but for Brittney Pond of Laconia, who just completed her junior year at Holy Cross College, in Worcester, Massachusetts, her intensive studies have just begun. After being awarded the prestigious Greisch Fellowship, Pond will dedicate the next two months to in-depth research into Alzheimer’s disease and gerontology. 

The Greisch Fellowship is awarded to one student per year who is pursuing a major in sociology. Through this scholarship, Pond was granted $150,000 to conduct research that explores how socioeconomics, identity and family backgrounds impact those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. This study aims to provide a new perspective to the conversation surrounding Alzheimer’s disease, as there has not be an intensive study that combines all three concentrations into a single research perspective. 

Pond, a psychology and medical sociology double major, was attracted to Alzheimer’s research after her grandfather was diagnosed with dementia. After seeing how the diagnosis impacted her own family, she began to volunteer at facilities in the Worcester area that cared for residence with Alzheimer’s. 

"I had the chance to work in multiple different care facilities during the past school year," said Pond. "It was during that time that I started to observe how residents were often treated differently based upon socioeconomic status."

After sharing her observations with professors, Pond was encouraged to apply for summer programs, including the Greisch Fellowship, which would allow her to research this area further. In preparation for the application, Pond composed an extensive proposal detailing why this topic is important to study and how her specific interests would add to the current conversation surrounding Alzheimer’s. She was awarded the Fellowship this past April. 

Starting the first week of June, Pond will begin an estimated 200 hours of observations in two care facilities in the Worcester area. Pond has selected care facilities that are in different parts of the city and have significantly different costs of care. By choosing two diverse facilities, Pond hopes to gain greater insight into whether there is a difference in the quality of care based upon the cost of the facility. 

Additionally, Pond hopes to understand how the individual’s education and socioeconomic status correlates with the propensity and progression of Alzheimer’s. Through her research, she has found that people who have less education and money, are more prone to developing Alzheimer’s. Support for her studies will come from interviews with residents, families of residents, care providers and specialists in the field. She will use both the interviews and daily observations as a basis for her research. 

“I wish I could say that I know exactly what I am going to find, but I really don’t,” said Pond. “But in the end, it will be amazing no matter what.” 

The money for the research will allow Pond to purchase various books and grant her access to databases that pertain to the current research in this field. She also will utilize the funds to attend multiple conferences, including an international conference, that will discuss new research that has emerged through new studies. Pond hopes to speak on behalf of her own research findings at conferences next school year. 

Pond took a moment to thank Laconia High School teacher, Rick Crockford, and former LHS teacher, Chris Ulrich, as they were the first to suggest sociology as a possible major. 

“I didn’t even know what sociology was until they mentioned it to me, said it would be a great fit and it was,” said Pond. She then went on to state that although sociology is not offered at Laconia High School, she feels that the school provided her a strong foundation that has set her up for collegiate success. 

Pond will conclude her formal observations in late July, and will then begin compiling her research into scholarly articles and her senior thesis. Although she is just starting her studies, she hopes to eventually use her findings to establish a standard ethic of care so that all people suffering from Alzheimer’s can get the same standard of care and practice that she believes they deserve.