Gilford Elementary School may get $2M in facility renovations

GILFORD — Whether and how to spend more than $2 million to improve Gilford Elementary School’s facilities is up for discussion.
The School Board has approved taking a request for a $2,242,646 bond issue which will be used for mechanical, electrical and HVAC upgrades to the Gilford Elementary School to a public hearing next week.
The decision came following a discussion Monday night over the timing of the bond issue and whether or not the work could be done in phases.
Keith McBey on Bonnette, Page and Stone, the Laconia firm which has been hired by the board to serve as construction manager for the project, said that doing the work in phases over a five-year period was possible but that would entail as much as $523,307 in extra costs.
School Board member Chris McDonough said that he wasn’t convinced that the school district needs to spend $2.2 million at this time and urged deferring the project until middle school-high school bond issue was retired in six years, which would free up $800,000 a year to pay for school projects.
School Board Chairman Karen Thurston said that she was concerned about turning down the project at this time without any public input and said that a public hearing would provide the board with an idea of how it should proceed.
Board members were reminded that they will still have to vote again on whether or not to support the bond issue after the public hearing, which will be held by the budget committee on Tuesday, January 12 at 7 p.m. at Gilford High School.
Voting to take the bond to the public hearing were Thurston, Jack Landow, Rae-Mello Andrews and Sue Allen with McDonough opposed.
The board also voted to recommend a 15-year bond, which would see payments of $213,303 a year to start with, compared starting with $281,930 payments on a 10-year-bond.

Meredith selectmen recommend Motorcycle Week vendor fees

MEREDITH — The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously last evening to recommend a warrant article to Town Meeting in March that would introduce a licensing fee for vendors selling goods, services and food during Motorcycle Week.
The vote was taken in teeth of opposition from Laconia Harley-Davidson and Hart’s Turkey Farm Restaurant, which together host about 30 vendors.
Following the precedent set by Laconia, the ordinance would require all transient vendors, other than nonprofit organizations soliciting donations toward a charitable purpose, to be licensed by the town at a fee of $450 and $500 for food services, which would entitle them to operate from noon on the first Friday until midnight on the last Sunday of the rally. Vendors operating without a license could be fined up to $500 for each day of unlawful operation.
At the suggestion of Selectman Bev Lapham, the board amended the proposed ordinance  to become effective in 2017. He expressed concern that agreements already reached between property owners and vendors, either written or verbal, for the rally in 2016 could be jeopardized by levying the fee next year.
The licensing fee is intended to defray the cost of municipal services incurred during the rally. Town Manager Phil Warren said that this year expenses were $18,017, which consisted of $7,149 for police overtime, $5,868 for fire service and $5,000 in dues for the town’s membership in the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association. Revenues amounted to $660 from special use permits issued to Laconia Harley-Davidson and Hart’s Turkey Farm Restaurant at $330 apiece.
Police Chief Kevin Morrow told the board that in the past three years the department has responded to an average of 237 more calls for service during the rally than in the weeks before and after it. He said that the department adds three officers on the last three days of the event.
Fire Chief Ken Jones said that the station is staffed during “the most strategic times” of the week to ensure a timely response to calls for service by call firefighters operating in heavy traffic.
Director of Public Works Mike Faller estimated the department spends about $3,000 placing and removing signage and disposing of trash.
Will Swart, general manager of Laconia Harley-Davidson, read from a letter by Anne Deli, president of the dealership, claiming the ordinance was targeted at two businesses. The dealership, she noted, employs 150 during the event, makes significant contributions to local charities and pays more than $44,000 for a police traffic detail. She warned that attendance is diminishing and a vendor fee will threaten it further.
“We’re not singling you out,” countered Selectman Michael Pelczar. “This is not aimed at one business or anybody in particular.”
Selectmen Ray Moritz noted the dealership charges vendors $5,000 in rent and asked “why is a $450 fee the straw that breaks the camel’s back?”
“This will open the door,” Swart replied. “This is an open checkbook. That’s the reality of it.”
“It’s a bit much for me,” said Russ Hart of Hart’s Turkey Farm Restaurant, who remarked he would be paying a fee to operate a hospitality tent on the property next door, which his family sold to the previous owners of the dealership. “It’s not welcoming,” he added. “We don’t need anything to diminish Motorcycle Week. It’s aging out on its own.”
Charlie St. Clair, executive director of the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association, said that all municipalities that host motorcycle rallies license vendors and assured the board that a fee would not deter vendors from operating in Meredith.
Selectmen John James reminded Hart that Meredith is “the only place without vendor fees.” Hart replied that “Meredith is a special place.”

Jeb Bush to visit Meredith American Legion Wednesday

MEREDITH — Presidential candidate Jeb Bush is expected to visit Church Landing at Mill Falls in Meredith for a town hall meeting on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

Those wishing to see the Republican candidate are asked to RSVP to 782-8926 or jeb2016.com/nh.