Gilford plans for Varney Point sewer upgrades if warrant article is approved

By DAVID CARKHUFF/THE LACONIA DAILY SUN

GILFORD — If voters approve $725,000 in borrowing to pay for improvements at two sewer pump stations on Varney Point, work may wrap up this year, selectmen learned Wednesday.
Town Administrator Scott Dunn said he hopes to "hit the ground running and go out to bid very promptly after Town Meeting if it's approved."
Article 7 on the Tuesday, March 14, warrant seeks $725,000 for the upgrades. The article stipulates that money for future payments will come from sewer use fees.
Public Works Director Peter Nourse said the goal is to replace infrastructure that dates to the 1980s.
"I'm optimistic about it. There wasn't any debate at the deliberative session," he said.
The work calls for replacement of mechanical, electrical and pump systems, wet wells and buildings housing the machinery.
"All of that is very old, prone to break down, lots of maintenance problems. Those pump stations haven't seen any significant upgrades since the 1980s," Nourse said.
"We're shooting for the end of this year," he said.
Dunn told selectmen that the buildings that will house the sewer pump stations should blend into neighborhoods.
"They are in nice neighborhoods so we did think it would be a better idea, rather than the straight, clapboard, vinyl siding, to use the shingle vinyl siding," he said.
The town also plans to require a shingle roof for cost reasons and to fit in the neighborhood, Dunn said.
"The principle reasons we're doing this are to replace all of the antiquated equipment in the buildings and to bring the buildings up to code and to make sure that the covers to the wells are not inside the buildings," he said.
"There needs to be a staging area for the construction projects, and the best we could come up with right now is the ice rink," Dunn added.
Gilford's Arthur A. Tilton Ice Rink, located along Varney Point Road, is open daily from late December through early March. When the sewer-pump construction begins, the ice rink's parking lot will be used for material storage, Dunn said.
Selectman Richard Grenier said, "When the beach gets full on weekends, a lot of people park there, at the rink."
But selectmen signed off on using the rink parking lot, noting a lack of other options.
In another Public Works project, selectmen learned that the town plans to continue rebuilding Edgewater West on Governor's Island. Based on requests from property managers on the island, a second section of the road will be reconstructed this year, Nourse said. The town plans to apply a single top course on both sections in 2018, he said.
"They will essentially get a new road," he said.
Due to the recent thaw, the town of Gilford has begun posting its roads to a maximum weight limit of 10 tons, effective Feb. 22. Anyone with questions can call the Public Works Department at 527-4778 with any questions.

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Settlement in Gilford school bus recording case to become public

By BEA LEWIS, or The Laconia Daily Sun

CONCORD — For the third time in as many months, the lawyer representing a Gilford man who brought a federal lawsuit claiming his children were illegally recorded as they rode the bus to school has filed a motion indicating a settlement in being negotiated.

William Baer, who sued the Gilford School District, the superintendent of schools and First Student, the company that holds the busing contract, filed notice in U.S. District Court on Feb. 13 that "The parties
believe they have reached a resolution."

In a joint motion to extend the deadline for 60 days, the parties disclose that as the potential settlement involves a minor child, the two sides anticipate filing the needed paperwork to get a judge to approve the proposed financial award, a move that will make the amount public record.

Court rules mandate that whenever a minor receives a monetary award of $10,000 or more from a lawsuit, the court must approve it and the disbursement of the funds. The purpose of judicial review is to ensure that the proposed settlement is fair to the minor. In determining whether the net settlement amount exceeds $10,000 attorney's fees, court costs and related expenses are excluded.

Such awards are typically deposited in a trust account controlled by a parent, until the minor reaches age 18. Each year, until the minor reaches the age of majority, an accounting must be filed with the court showing that the money is being properly handled.

Under New Hampshire court rules, the petition for approval of a minor settlement must include the net amount to be received on behalf of the minor, a copy of the child's birth certificate, an itemized statement from counsel detailing the nature of the work performed and time spent on the case.

If counsel seeks attorney's fees in excess of 25 percent of the settlement amount, they must file a motion requesting such approval and detail the reasons for the request.

In early December, attorney Jared Bedrick of Rochester, who represents Baer, and attorney Michael Connolly of Concord who represents now retired SAU 72 Superintendent Kent Hemingway and First Student Inc., asked the court to extend the summary judgment deadline.

A motion for summary judgment, if granted, can bring a quick end to a civil case. It represents a final decision by a judge that no factual issues remain unresolved to be heard at trial, and that the case can be decided based on rulings of law.

Baer filed suit in December 2015, on behalf of his two minor children, charging that state and federal wiretapping laws were broken when they were recorded without warning, as no signs were posted, as they rode on a school bus to class.

The suit made claims for statutory and punitive damages as well as the award of attorney's fees and legal costs. The plaintiffs had requested a jury trial and also asked the court to order the defendants to bring the current fleet of buses into compliance with state and federal law.

It was sparked after one of the Baer children was summoned to the principal's office and questioned about an incident that had occurred on the bus. During the conversation, the principal referenced an audio recording of the student made during his bus trip.

In response, Baer's son cited the school handbook, which detailed that state law requires that any bus using recording equipment must post a sign warnings riders that they might be recorded. That bus did not have a warning sign, nor did the majority of other buses that transport Gilford students, the suit charges.

The case, which has been assigned to Judge Landya B. McCafferty, had been scheduled to go to trial in mid-May.

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Service organizations like Rotary Club fight dwindling membership

By RICK GREEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA _  The Laconia Rotary Club had more than 150 members in the 1980s _ so many, in fact, that it had to stop adding people to the organization for a time.

Now, the local Rotary, which dates to 1925 and is one of the oldest in the country, has just 44 members. Like many service organizations, its members are getting older and fewer people want to join.   

Joanne Lang"People's lifestyles are different today," said Joanne Lang, the club's president. "They are more busy. A lot of our members are retirees now. Some end up moving to Florida."

The organization has traditionally been a mainstay in community and corporate life, although its popularity appears to be declining among younger people. The average Laconia member is about 70.

The club has varied programming for members and supports local charities. An attempt has been made to make the programs more interesting, in hopes of attracting more participation. Meetings also allow people to network and develop business contacts, while supporting worthy causes. 

A wildlife expert from the Squam Lake Science Center brought in a coyote. Bands give performances. Experts speak on topics like climate change, forestry and astronomy. Candidates come in during election season. But it's still a hard sell to get new members, particularly since the people who might participate have many other groups and options that demand their time.

One approach to accommodating people with time constraints is a new program that allows a Rotary member to designate alternate co-workers to participate in events.

Nationally, Rotary has about 330,000 members and 7,700 clubs, down from 346,000 members and 7,840 clubs in 2011, said Brian King, director of membership development for Rotary International.

"Some people join for the wrong reasons," he said. "They are thinking they will grow their business and make connections, but that happens over time. If they are joining for that exclusively, they will be disappointed."

Those who join to help the community might be more inclined to stay for the long haul, he said.

Allison AmbroseAnother local group that struggles to gain new members is the Belknap Mill Society, which was formed to save a structure built in 1823 that was in danger of being razed to make way for parking spaces, said Allison Ambrose, president of the organization.

The mill, made of brick and supported by post-and-beam construction, is in Laconia along the Winnipesaukee River, which once powered hundreds of mills producing hosiery and other products.

Eighty members now comprise a society that once included several hundred people, Ambrose said. Its membership also skews toward an older demographic.

The society's fundraising events include artists in residence, comedy, a fashion show, even a haunted house. It needs volunteers to keep these events running smoothly. It also needs donations to support and maintain the mill and its museum.

"We target past members who have shown an interest in the mill and make sure we reach out to people whose memberships are expiring," Ambrose said.

It is a struggle to maintain membership numbers.

"It is a matter of time and people being pushed and pulled in a number of different directions," she said. "Everybody is busy. Community-minded folks can only be stretched so thin."

Chris EmondChristopher Emond, executive director of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central New Hampshire, said his organization is also looking for people who can volunteer time or money. 

"It's something we're always trying to work on," said Emond.

He also wants to get out the word that there is room for more young people to take advantage of the services being offered, which in the Laconia club include after-school and summer day camp for children in kindergarten through 12th grade. Age appropriate activities take place in a gym, a kitchen, a game room, an art room and a computer lab. Hot, free dinners are also provided each evening.

02-24 Kent Hemingway

Kent Hemingway of Tamworth, former Gilford school superintendent, gives tennis instruction at the Boys & Girls Club of the Lakes Region. (Rick Green/Laconia Daily Sun)

 

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