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Forrester votes against hospital tax deal

CONCORD — Senator Jeanie Forrester (R-Meredith), who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, was among the handful of Republican senators who declined to support the agreement over the Medicaid Enhancement Tax (MET), which carried the Senate by a voice vote yesterday.

"I had real concerns about the impact of the agreement on the next state budget," Forrester said, explaining that she anticipated it would add between $60-million and $100-million to the state's liabilities.

The agreement, negotiated with 25 of the 26 hospitals in closing days of the legislative session, provides for the state to increase reimbursements to hospitals uncompensated care, lower the rate of the MET and apply all revenues from the tax to Medicaid services. In return, the hospitals will withdraw their challenge to the constitutionality of the MET and drop all claims lodged in state and federal courts for tax refunds.

Forrester, who was named to the committee of conference appointed to reconcile differences between the Senate and House of Representatives, withdrew from the panel in the midst of its deliberations. "It was hard for me to vote for something I might have to fix later," she said.

"It was a complex issue," Forrester said, comparing the deliberations to those around the expansion of Medicaid last year. "We worked long and hard." She said that reducing the rate of the MET and applying the revenue to health care were positive features of the compromise. "But," she said, "I believe it will cause problems down the road."

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 June 2014 01:02

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Selectboard unmerges Meredith Neck lots, but that's all

MEREDITH — The Board of Selectmen yesterday unanimously agreed to restore two Meredith Neck lots, which the town merged into one in 1979 without the consent or knowledge of the owner, but refused to address other issues raised by the current owner of the property.

The 8.6 acre property is located on the west side of Harris Road on Meredith Neck. Christopher John Krochina, who acquired the property in 1993, initially requested the two lots be unmerged at a workshop in April. He also asked the board to revise all zoning and tax maps to identify not only the boundaries of the two lots but also any easements or right-of-ways depicted on the original subdivision plan of 1970. The board sought the advice of legal counsel and scheduled yesterday's public hearing.

Krochina spoke to his request, but when he reached the question of easements and right-of-ways, Town Manager Phil Warren interrupted to explain that while the authority of the Selectboard was confined to unmerging the two lots and did not extend to the other issues he raised. When Krochina questioned Warren, Selectman Peter Brothers told him that easements and right-of-ways were matters of law that could only be resolved in court. Subsequently, Carla Horne, who chairs the board, twice asked Krochina to limit his remarks to the issue at hand and finally allotted him another three minutes to conclude his presentation.

Ralph Pisapia, who uses the right-of-way to reach Krochina's property, and two other neighbors urged the board against granting Krochina any control over the easement. Pisapia said that Krochina has claimed to own it and is the only property owner in the neighborhood who does not contribute to the upkeep of the private roads.

Tim Britton, an attorney representing abutters Paul and Elaine Taylor, told the selectmen that his clients believe the lots were merged voluntarily and cited a restriction on the deed filed in 1993 specifying that the lots were to be conveyed as one, not separately. The Taylors also contended that easements were extinguished through litigation and should not be restored.

In offering the motion the approve Krochina's request to unmerge the lots, Selectmen Lou Kahn explained that the restriction placed on the deed was revoked in 1996 and therefore was "irrelevant." Referring to the statute, he said that "it doesn't say a damn thing about easements or rights-of-way — only lots."

Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 June 2014 12:49

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Robert & Barbara Daniels honored as 'Champions for Children'

GILFORD — A local couple who has supported youth activities and programs in the community for years has been recognized as 2014's Champions of Children by the Gilford School District.
Robert and Barbara Daniell were honored during a brief ceremony held at the start of the Gilford School Board meeting Monday evening.
In announcing the decision to honor the Daniells, Superintendent Kent Hemingway said, "You have provided inspiration and opportunity for so many children in Gilford. Your commitment and vision have provided a valuable 'center of community' that benefits our children in so many ways."
Several years ago the Daniells established a scholarship through the Gilford Community Church, for Gilford students. School Board Chairman Sue Allen said the fund had helped many Gilford youngsters "recognize their dream of going on to college."
The Daniells' generosity has been central to the creation and operation of the Gilford Youth Center, which offers educational, athletic and community activities for youth, adults and families. This summer the center will serve as the base of operations for Got Lunch! Gilford, a volunteer program which will provide the makings for nutritious meals for school children from needy families during the summer. The center also provides facilities for the Head Start program.
"Their generosity and love for this community have made Gilford a better place to live," Gilford Youth Center Director Scott Hodsdon said during the presentation.

(Caption)
Gilford Superintendent Kent Hemingway, right, announces that Robert and Barbara Daniell, center, are the 2014 recipients of the Gilford School District's Champions for Children award. The Daniells received the honor Monday in recognition for their longstanding support of youth programs and activities. Gilford School Board Chairman Sue Allen looks on at left. (Mike Mortensen photo/for The Laconia Sun)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 June 2014 12:44

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Belknap GOP hosts boat load of candidates on annual cruise

LACONIA — Just days before the filing period for state offices opens on Wednesday, some 350 Republicans, including most of the announced candidates, clambered aboard the MSS Mount Washington on Friday night for the Lincoln Day Sunset Dinner Cruise hosted by the Belknap County Republican Committee.

Walt Havenstein of Alton, one of two candidates running for governor, was on board, but Andrew Hemingway of Bristol his opponent was not, but a number of his supporters marked his presence in the race. The passenger list included all four candidates bidding to challenge Jeanne Shaheen for the United States Senate — Scott Brown of Rye, Jim Rubens of Etna, Karen Testerman of Franklin and Bob Smith of Tuftonboro. Both candidates in the second congressional district, Marlinda Garcia of Salem and Gary Lambert of Nashua, were on hand, but only Dan Innis of Portsmouth, who is vying with Frank Guinta of Manchester for the nomination in the first district, joined the cruise.

After winning a special election in March to succeed the late Ray Burton as the Executive Councilor in District 1, Joe Kenney came aboard to begin his re-election campaign.

"This is an exciting time to be a Republican in New Hampshire," Jennifer Horne, who chairs the Republican State Committee, told the crowd, adding "we have a lot of exciting primaries."

The tension within the ranks of the GOP was signaled by the buzz in some quarters about the decision of the Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire, a conservative group recruiting "pro-liberty" candidates, to endorse Rubens over Brown in the U.S. Senate race. The news followed reports that Republican state senators, including the Chuck Morse of Salem, the president of the Senate, and Jeanie Forrester of Meredith, would be targeted with primary opponents.

Of all the primary contests, the race for the gubernatorial nomination is most likely to set the direction of the GOP. "I am the establishment," Havenstein remarked. I'm not all things to all people. I'm a meat and potatoes Republican."

Hemingway, 31, describes himself as an "entrepreneur," but is best known in political circles, where he served as chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire and ran unsuccessfully for the chair of the New Hampshire Republican Party. In a letter read by Representative Al Baldasaro (R-Londonderrty), he declared that the state's motto — "Live Free Or Die" — is "a statement of principle" and that his campaign is keyed to "individual liberty, personal freedom and fiscal responsibility."

Havenstein, a graduate of the United States Naval Academy with a degree in aerospace engineering, served in the United States Marine Corps from 1971 to 1999, where he specialized in tactical communications and systems acquisition management. He spent the next 13 years in the private sector, most of them with BAE Systems, Inc. of Nashua, where he is fond of saying he managed a budget three times the size of that of the state.

Calling himself "an experienced decision maker," Havenstein emphasized that he is not guided by "abstractions and theory" but reaches "practical decisions based on the facts." When he was asked about the GOP platform, he confessed he had not read it closely, then noted that his wife served on the platform committee and helped "reign in the platform from being a series of litmus tests."

Havenstein, who firmly opposed both broad-based taxes and expanded gambling, said that he intends to overcome the fiscal challenges facing the state by expanding the economy. "We must become the more competitive with the other states in New England by reducing the overhead burden of doing business," he said, referring to the high corporate tax rate along with the costs of health insurance, unemployment insurance and worker's compensation.

Born and raised in Plymouth, Hemingway attended Calvary Christian School and upon graduation enrolled at Ambassador Baptist College in Lattimore, North Carolina, which was founded by the evangelist Ron Comfort in 1989 with the mission of preparing men and women spiritually and academically for the ministry. He did not graduate, but while at college started his first business, a window washing company. Since leaving college he has worked in insurance, dry cleaning and janitorial services as well as launched several digital projects, including political communications and fundraising ventures.
Hemingway has called for "innovative solutions" and in his letter proposed suspending the rooms and meals tax to attract greater numbers of tourists and introducing a package of tax incentives to encourage businesses to operate in the state. He has also urged the state to reject federal education mandates and abandon the Common Core program while promoting parental choice and charter schools.
Each candidate was allotted three minutes to speak and all struck a common note, pillorying Democratic leadership, which they claimed has brought the country and the state to the edge of an abyss.
"We must take back America and save this country," declared Bob Smith, who served in Congress as a representative and senator from 1984 until 2003.

"I'm an angry woman," proclaimed Testerman, who invoked the memory of Hannah Dustin and vowed to take scalps. proclaimed. "Our country is burning down," said Rubens, forecasting the collapse of the dollar.
But, Brown may have delivered the most important message when he promised whatever the outcome of the Republican primary to support the winner and expected others to do the same.

CAPTION: David Webb, the conservative radio personality who served as emcee for the Belknap County Republican Committee's Lincoln Day Sunset Dinner Cruise aboard the MSS Mt. Washington, spared a moment from his duties to welcome Elaine Swinford of Barnstead (left) and Belknap County Attorney Melissa Guldbrandsen (right). (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Michael Kitch)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 June 2014 12:37

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