LACONIA — Belknap County's legal bills for 2014 are now approaching the $100,000 mark with more than $60,000 still unpaid.
Belknap County commissioners, meeting last night at the Belknap County Complex, said that they will wait until a third commissioner is appointed to the board before tackling the unpaid legal bill situation, which was described by Chairman Richard Burchell as ''very hard to fathom".
Burchell revealed that the county faces nearly $30,000 in recently received legal bills, $5,456 from the Drummond Woodsum law firm which represented the commission at a hearing on the dismissal of Belknap County Nursing Home Adminstrator Mathew Logue, $12,600 from the lawyer who represented the Belknap County Convention in its lawsuit against the commissioners over line item budget authority and another $10,429 in a personnel matter case. The source of the last bill was not mentioned.
The commisioners declined last week to endorse a 2014 budget transfer request to the convention's Executive Committee for $31,852.54 to pay the county's legal bills which had been received between October 31 and the end of the year. That request had been made by the board that left office on December 31.
Legal bills which have been paid through the end of the year total $39,574.59 and many of those relate to the year-long struggle between the former commissioners and the convention over line item budget authority.
Burchell said that it has been suggested that some of the legal bills might be ''jawboned'' in an attempt to lower them and said that he was not comfortable approving payments for something he didn't understand.
Commissioner Dave DeVoy (R-Sanbornton) said that he wanted to ''wait until we have put together an investigative committee'' before making any recommendations to the convention's Executive Committee about the unpaid legal bills.
The deadline for people to apply to the Belknap County Convention for the vacant two-year spot on the commission is Friday, Jan. 23 at noon. Candidates are asked to provide a cover letter and a resume to the County Administrator's office and the convention plans to conduct public interviews before making a decision.
Commissioners did agree to recommend several 2014 budget transfers to the Executive Committee which is scheduled to meet next Monday at 5 p.m.
Those included $5,200 to pay legal fees incurred by former Belknap County Register of Deeds Barbara Luther in 2011 when she was sued by the commission in an effort to make her comply with recommendations made by an auditing firm hired by the county. In 2013 the county convention appropriated $5,200 to pay Luther's fees but the former commissioners refused to release a check to her.
Other transfer requests include one for $260 to pay for to legal expenses incurred by Burchell in fees paid to Belknap County Superior Court in filing a lawsuit on behalf of the county convention against the commissioners, $11,291 for inmate medications and medical services at the Belknap County Jail, $6,530 for natural gas heating fuel charges for December and $71.84 to pay former representatives Colette Worsman (R-Meredith), and Robert Greemore (R-Meredith) to attend a Personnel Committee meeting
Commissioners also heard a report from Corrections Superintendent Dan Ward on an application he is preparing to the National Institute of Corrections for a grant to hire a consultant as well as about interviews he is setting up with potential consultants.
He was given permission to hire an additional community corrections officer and accepted a commendation from the commissioners for Captain David Berry for the inspection report he recently completed at the jail which provided a list of improvements the county will start working on, some of which will need to be part of any bond issue for additions and improvements to the county jail.
It was also noted that the Belknap County Nursing Home received a five star rating from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services following on-site inspections.
Commissioners heard a request from Register of Deeds Judy McGrath for hiring an additional part-time worker for her office, which she said has only a staff of three. She said it would cost $18,000. DeVoy said he would recommend that a person be hired for no more than 25 hours a week and Burchell said that hiring an additional worker would have to wait until the 2015 county budget is approved, typically in March.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 January 2015 02:20
LACONIA — "Mental health and behavioral health issues are very present 24/7," School Superintendent Terri Forsten told the School Board last night as she mentioned several initiatives underway to address them.
With a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), an agency with the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the School District has hired a licensed alcohol and drug counselor, who has begun work in both the high school and middle school. In addition, mental health counselors from Genesis Behavioral Health are spending two days each week in the high school, middle school and three elementary schools.
Meanwhile, school staff are undergoing Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) training and PBIS consultants are present in the each of the five schools.
"I'm smiling and laughing at the strength of our consultants," Forsten said, stressing that the district is very fortunate to be working with people of national reknown.
When the Budget and Personnel Committee met prior to the board meeting both Scott Vachon and Mike Perrson referred to the rising costs associated of educating children affected by alcohol and drug abuse as well as financial hardship in the home. Perrson noted that the committee approved transferring nearly $222,000 from other items in the budget to fund contracted services, salaried teachers and aides in special education. "We can't cut the budget as these costs continue to increase," he remarked.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 January 2015 02:04
WOLFEBORO — In a statement released to media yesterday, Police Chief Stuart Chase said that after months of investigation police made four arrests for various drug violations — including the sale and/or possession of heroin, cocaine and marijuana.
Chase said Erik True, 36, of Pleasant Valley Road was charged with the unlawful distribution of a controlled drug. He is scheduled to appear in the 3rd Circuit Court, Ossippe Division in February.
Tyler Morgan, 28 of Varney Road was charged with three sales of controlled drugs after police arrested him on warrant after stopping his car last Friday. A passenger in Morgan's vehicle, Amanda Allen, 25, of South Street was charged with two counts of possession of controlled drugs. Both will appear in court in February.
Kyal Pkrake, 24, of Beech Pond Road was charged with the sale of a controlled drug and is schedule to appear in court in February.
A former Wolfeboro resident who now lives in Rochester was charged with burglarizing the All Saints Church and allegedly stealing a number of gift cards.
Police said David Lowe, 28, of Winter Street in Rochester was taken into custody by Wolfeboro Police and was being held on cash bail in the Carroll County House of Corrections. He is scheduled to appear in court this week.
He is charged with one count of burglary and one count of criminal mischief.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 January 2015 01:15
LACONIA — A city woman is free on $2,500 personal recognizance bail after she appeared Tuesday in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division for allegedly biting and scratching her boyfriend on Sunday night.
Police affidavits filed with the court said Sheri Leighton, 31, of 12 Jewett St. Apt. B got into an argument with her boyfriend and allegedly bit him on the arm and scratched his throat.
On January 14, Leighton was charged with simple assault for allegedly hitting the same victim.
She is charged with one count of breach of bail, two counts of simple assault, and one count of domestic violence (simple assault).
A second man, who witnessed the assault, told police that this is what happens when Leighton and her boyfriend "clash" and that she never knows when to stop.
Leighton was taken to Belknap County House of Corrections on Sunday and appeared by video in court yesterday.
Police said she had previous convictions for simple assault and for a false fire alarm.
Judge Jim Carroll ordered Leighton to stay at least 25-feet from her alleged victim and to refrain from the consumption of all alcohol and non-prescribed drugs. She was also ordered to appear every Tuesday at 11 a.m. for Compliance Court — a special court held by Carroll one hour a week where people who are either taking legitimate drugs for mental health or who are in counseling check in with him and report their progress.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 January 2015 01:03
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