Delegation to take up union contract; employees to pay part of health care


LACONIA — The Belknap County Delegation will take up a collective bargaining agreement which was recently reached between Belknap County Commissioners and Teamsters Local 633 when it meets tonight at 6 p.m. at the Belknap County complex.
The two-year agreement the union, which represents 23 mid-level county employees in several departments, provides cost-of-living and step increases, as well as a $1,000 one-time health incentive bonus.
It also provides that employees will pay 3.75 percent of their health insurance costs in the first year of the contract and 7.5 percent in the second year. Currently, none of the workers in the four unions representing county employees are required to pay any portion of their health insurance, a change which was negotiated in the contracts in order to persuade workers to sign on to new site-of-service plans which were less costly than the HMO plans which had been in effect.
The contract also provides a cost-of-living increase of 1 percent in 2017 and between 1 percent and 2.5 percent in 2018. Step increases are provided in both years as long as workers have received satisfactory ratings on a job performance review.
Estimated financial impact of the agreement is $39,895 in 2017 and $26,904 in 2018.
The contract was going to be taken up by the delegation when it met last Monday, Jan. 23, but the meeting was postponed due to lack of a quorum.
The delegation will also resume its deliberations on the county budget with a review of the proposed Belknap County Nursing Home budget. It has also scheduled a meeting on Feb. 7 at 6 p.m. at the Belknap County Complex at which it may take action to finalize the proposed $28 million county budget.

Pollution protest

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Students at Gilmanton School (from left) Ethan Rodrigue, Logan Rouse, Jared Beale, Gracey LeBlanc, Kendal Heyman and Declan Angle will continue functioning as a committee after raising money to replace plastics in the cafeteria with silverware. (David Carkhuff/The Laconia Daily Sun)

Gilmanton students help rid school of cafeteria’s plastic ware, which ends up in oceans


GILMANTON — When fourth-grader Jared Beale sat down with classmate Logan Rouse for lunch one day, they shared an epiphany of sorts.
The plastic kitchen ware they were using could end up in a water body and ultimately in the ocean, potentially harming or killing sea creatures. This idea, stemming from a movie they had watched in school, prompted a schoolwide conversion to silverware.
"We watched a video called 'A Plastic Ocean,' and it was about how 80 percent of the world's plastic was thrown into the ocean," Beale recalled. "So when Logan and me were sitting together at lunch and he had a plastic fork, and he was about to throw it away, I told him not to because it would go into the ocean and hurt an animal."
Then, a teacher encouraged them to start a petition to get rid of plastics and restore metal silverware to the school.
The petition was a first step, but Rouse said they saw the need for more than signatures. The students decided they needed money so the school didn't front the costs of replacing cafeteria items such as trays and kitchen ware, he said.
"We raised money at a bake sale, and we earned about $650, and we decided we wanted to use the money for silverware and lunch trays," Rouse said. "So we don't have to use Styrofoam and dispose of it because that's worse than plastic."
About $100 has gone toward silverware, the students estimated. The rest of the money will help pay for trays and buckets so students can have somewhere to put their used metal silverware.
In addition to money raised at the bake sale, donations of silverware poured in from students and family members, the students noted.
Many students agreed it's a good idea to use silverware, and they're happy with the decision, Rouse said.
Beale said, "The teachers are proud because we did it by ourselves."
"We had a little bit of help from our parents and at the bake sale," Rouse said.
Courtney Phillips, fourth-grade teacher, said, "They've seriously done it on their own. They've had a little support and guidance from parents and teachers. They organized and planned everything."
The students formed a committee with classmates called the Save Our Seas Committee. They gave up recesses to hold meetings. The group plans to continue meeting to find other ways to make the school more environmentally friendly.
"The plastic is gone," Phillips said. "We have an abundance of silverware now. The money will be there, hopefully things won't get thrown away, but we can replace any of it."
One of the students, Declan Angle, agreed, "We have enough money to buy extra silverware if we need to, if kids throw it away."
Student Gracey LeBlanc said, "A good thing is kids aren't really throwing it away. We haven't had many incidents."
Brynn Koulovatos, the art teacher who showed the video about pollution of oceans, received praise for galvanizing the effort. Parent Melissa Beale said Principal Carol Locke and kitchen staff also were supportive. Bethanne Day, Beale's fourth-grade teacher, supported the effort and provided guidance, she said.
Jared Beale received a Jan. 10 letter of commendation from John Fauci, superintendent of schools, which read: "It has recently been brought to my attention that you have been instrumental in advocating that our school cafeteria go back to using silverware rather than the plastic we are presently using. I must say that I am impressed that you not only care about the effect that plastic has on our environment but you also are willing to do your part in helping to keep our school green."

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Gilmanton School now provides silverware rather than plastic ware, in response to a student-led effort to prevent ocean pollution. (David Carkhuff/The Laconia Daily Sun)

Police charge man with robbing Petro Mart


LACONIA — Police used a broken tail light and a cashier's description to locate a Northfield man who allegedly robbed the Petro Mart convenience store on Lexington Drive in the north end at gunpoint Saturday night.

01-30 Benjamin KelsoBenjamin Kelso, 22, of 117 Rand Road is charged with one count of armed robbery and is being held on $25,000 cash-only bail at the Belknap County House of Corrections.

Affidavits said the cashier left the building at 7:33 p.m. but was immediately accosted by a white man with a gun wearing a black winter hat, a black scarf and a black hooded sweatshirt over a gray sweater and a red undershirt. Surveillance footage also showed his jeans were faded in the front and rear around the thighs.

Video showed the cashier go back in the store, empty the cash register and cede to the robber about $700. The man fled on foot from North Main Street toward Lexington Drive.

The tape, according to affidavits, also showed that the robber got out of a black Toyota Corolla that had a passenger-side tail light that was not working. The car left the parking lot.

Within minutes of the robbery and the description of the car being broadcast over the police radio, Gilford Police called to say that they had been in contact with a car just like that on Jan. 27 and gave city police the license plate number they had run through their system.

The plate number led them to the owner of the car and her address on Batchelder St. After finding the car parked in front of 12 Batchelder St., police went to the owner's apartment where they found Kelso, who was wearing the same clothing as was shown in the video.

Because he was wearing shorts, police allowed him to dress and said he donned pants that looked like the ones in the surveillance footage.

Police searched the apartment and found a black handgun, a hat, a scarf, a sweater and hooded sweatshirt that all matched what he was allegedly wearing in the surveillance video. No mention was made of the $700.

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This is from surveillance video of a robber at the Petro Mart in Laconia Sunday night. (Courtesy Laconia Police)