Engineering firm buys Piscopo Block

LACONIA — A local civil engineering firm has purchased one of the city's largest downtown business blocks with plans to move its headquarters to the building.

GC Engineering of Belmont purchased the building at 633-637 Main St. — known as the Piscopo Block, according to a announcement released to the media yesterday by Bank of New Hampshire, which helped finance the transaction. The Belknap Economic Development Council (Belknap EDC) was also involved in financing the purchase.

GC Engineering, established in 1978, is a civil engineering firm specializing in all aspects of flood plain management, flood zone determinations, flood insurance, and consulting for the National Flood Insurance program. GC Engineering, led by Mark and Chris Condodemetraky, plans to expand its operations in the building, including interior renovations and retrofitting space in the three-story building on the corner of Main and Canal streets for their new headquarters.

"While we came into this transaction well prepared, there were still a few small challenges during the purchase. We were very fortunate to have a team of local resources, like Christopher Walkley from Bank of New Hampshire and Ken Wilson at Belknap EDC, on board to offer support and guidance throughout the process," the Condodemetrakys said.

"It's been such a pleasure to work with Mark and Chris as they pursued the purchase of 633-637 Main Street," said Christopher Walkley, an assistant vice president and commercial banker for Bank of New Hampshire. "We wish them much success in this new venture."

Belknap EDC Executive Director, Justin Slattery, added, "We are very pleased and proud of the role that we played in assisting with the financing of the purchase of 633-637 Main St. The Condodemetrakys' future plans for the property are impressive and we look forward to their completed renovations."

$700k in state funding for Sanbornton's 'Y' project at risk because of House budget

SANBORNTON — Selectmen received some bad news last week when they learned the N.H. House version of the proposed biennial budget for fiscal year 2016 and 2017 excludes the state aid Highway money that would be used to pay off the balance of the loan for the so-called "Y" project.

"That $700,000 would have paid it all off," said Selectmen Chair Dave Nickerson who said the town bonded just under $3 million to complete the road project that rebuilt of Hunkins Pond Road, Bay Road, Upper Bay Road and all of Steele Hill Road.

When Sanbornton began discussion the "Y" project — so called because of the "Y" the intersections make when looked at from above — it was around 2007 and none of the current selectmen were serving in office, although Nickerson was on the Budget Committee.

The selectmen at the time were the late Patsy Wells, Guy Giunta, and Andrew Livernois. Bruce Kneuer was the town administrator.

The town applied for program that provided a 1/3 – 2/3 split with the town paying for 1/3 and the state agreeing to pay the 2/3 balance if the town accepted the road as a town road and agreed to maintain it.

In 2011, according to documents made available from the town, the Department of Transportation agreed to reimburse Sanbornton $1,939,934 over three years beginning in fiscal year 2014.

Town Administrator Bob Veloski said the town received $504,000 in fiscal year 2014 and $710,000 in fiscal year 2015. He was expecting an additional $700,000 for the upcoming fiscal year.

Nickerson said he had heard that Sanbornton is not the only community affected by the cuts to the state aid road program but his primary concern is how it will affect the town's budget.

Veloski said the balance of the payments are $117,266 annually plus interest meaning it could cost the town $143,000 for five to six years to pay back the money.

The House budget is only one version of the biannual state budget. The Senate will develop its own budget that may or may not include the state aid road program. Public hearings for the Senate version concluded yesterday.

After the Senate passes a budget, a Committee of Conference will be formed with members from both the House and the Senate. This is the budget that will go to Gov. Maggie Hassan for either a signature or a veto.

Hosmer bill to require full mimum wage for workers with disabilities passes

CONCORD — Legislation outlawing the practice of paying employees with disabilities less than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, sponsored by New Hampshire State Senator Andrew Hosmer, a Laconia Democrat, is on it way to the desk of Governor Maggie Hassan , where she will sign it into law on Thursday at 3 p.m.

Senate Bill 47 carried the Senate by a unanimous vote of 24 to 0 and the House of Representatives by a voice vote while its mirror image, House Bill 411, was also endorsed by both houses without opposition.The House bill was tabled by the Senate.

"Disabled workers deserve the same dignity, fairness and employment opportunities as everyone else," Hosmer said in a prepared statement. "I am proud that all Senators voted in support of that belief." He noted that although the Senate Republicans stymied an effort to increase the minimum wage for all workers,he was pleased they with the Democrats "in standing up for wage equality."

Current law entitles employers to apply to the Department of labor "to establish a practical experience/training program at a sub-minimum wage rate or no wage rate for individuals with disabilities."

Planning Board chairman says Laconia leading region in development activity by wide margin

LACONIA — Planning Board Chairman Warren Hutchins says that Laconia has much to be proud of when it comes to positive growth in the city in recent years.
''There's more development in the city of Laconia than in the rest of the Lakes Region combined,'' Hutchins, who also chairs the board of directors off the Lakes Region Planning Commission, told his fellow board members Tuesday night.
Hutchins said that the amount of development taking place is ''truly amazing'' and seems to get lost as the news media focuses on drug problems and crime.
''We need to communicate the positive things which are going on in terms of the development and the improvements to the city's infrastructure,'' said Hutchins.
He cited numerous examples from all parts of the city in his presentation, saying that he developments ranged from those being undertaken by large corporations to individuals and included both commercial and residential elements.
He praised his fellow board members for their hard work, noting that very few applications have been denied in recent years and that there is a willingness to work with developers to get projects moving.
Hutchins said that the projects include:
— The Lilac Valley residential development off from Rte. 107 — which will see 55 units of affordable housing constructed.
— Two 45-unit apartment buildings which are being constructed off from Mile Hill Road, one of which will provide off-campus housing for students from Lakes Region Community College.
— The groundbreaking for a $3.3 million automotive program at LRCC, as well as the recent completion of an advanced manufacturing and health care program building at the college.
— A project on Beacon Street West by Chinburg Builders which will see 40 new apartments being made available.
— The Main Street Bridge project, the city Riverwalk and the WOW trail.
— The Laconia Area Land Trust's 35 apartment Riveredge project in downtown Lacuna.
— LRGHealthcare's recent addition and its proposed expansion of the emergency room and imaging department.
— The Huot Center addition at Laconia High School along with the new football stadium and playing field.
— The Holy Grail Irish pub which is rapidly nearing completion in downtown Laconia and the Congregational Church project next door.
— The Linny Lane project which has added 20 homes in Lakeport and the Nature's View project near Paugus Bay which will add 50 homes.
— The addition and renovations at Fratello's restaurant in Lakeport.
— The Laconia Fire Station addition on North Main Street.
— Titeleflex Aerospace building a 48,000-square-foot addition in the O'Shea Industrial Park.
— A new Taco Bell restaurant building replacing the Kentucky Fried Chicken on Union Avenue.
— Watermark Construction moving into its new building on Paugus Bay and the Paugus Bay Marina now occupying an adjacent building as a showroom.
— The Christmas Island condominium project, which is adding 18 units.
— The completion of the Weirs Community Park.
— A Scenic Road residential project which has seen 19 townhouses units built at the Weirs.
Hutchins said that the state is repaving roads which are the gateway to the city, including Rte. 106, the Meredith Center Road, Rte. 3 at the Weirs and Rte. 11-B to Gilford.
He also said that the city Planning Department has received three grants, including $750,000 from the Department of Transportation for sidewalk improvements, $75,000 for repair to the storm water management system at the Weirs and $15,000 from the Department of Environmental Services for a Black Brook study.