To The Daily Sun,
With regard to the Belknap County jail, what a long, strange trip it's been. When the jail was allowed to deteriorate for four years under the leadership of three prior commissioners, the people of the county were told that it would cost $40 million dollars to build a replacement, and that an additional $20 million or so new correctional officers would be needed to staff it.
Over time, a new corrections model was identified in Sullivan County, which model demonstrated astounding success in reducing recidivism.
Under new leadership, Belknap County investigated the underpinnings of the Sullivan County model and hired the same consultant used there to guide our process. Another in a series of meetings will be held on Monday, June 1. Many of those with an interest in criminal justice will participate in this conference to help chart Belknap County's future.
It has been apparent for quite a while that Belknap's County Attorney does not accept the Sullivan County model as "best practice". When visiting their facility in Union, and later at a meeting of the jail superintendent, assistant county attorney, defense attorneys and others, it was most apparent that all of the people involved shared respect for one another and that all were dedicated to an anti-recidivism model. That model has seen those arrested for a new offense plummet from about 60 percent to less than 20 percent.
Belknap's County Attorney is elected and follows her own script in deciding county policy. She has consistently challenged the direction of county corrections in implementing, where appropriate, electronic home confinement and work release for those incarcerated. She has lost some of these challenges but "won" an alarming victory this week from Belknap Superior Court. This ruling negated a decision by the superintendent of the jail to allow a sentenced offender to work and to wear an electronic monitoring device. This device tracks not only physical location but can detect drug or alcohol use. While this defendant may continue to work, her address will be the county jail.
Giving a County Attorney veto power over decisions made by those charged with rehabilitation of prisoners flies in the face of RSA 619. This statute gives the jail superintendent the authority to appropriately give those sentenced the chance to work and to be supervised by electronic monitoring. If it is not honored by our legal system then I believe the expensive programming which Belknap County has been contemplating should not be provided.
Should Belknap County build a "soft" facility where the construction is geared not to maximum security but to engaging prisoners in constructive programming, building their work and personal skill sets and providing evidence based treatment or should we merely fix the existing jail and provide a separate pod for women?
We are coming close to making this decision and for that reason, while I disagree with the County Attorney and the Superior Court, I am glad to have the latest ruling before any more dollars are expended on the antirecidivism model. That model does work, as has been amply demonstrated in Sullivan County, but it does not work without the shared commitment of all involved in its implementation.
Belknap County Commissioner
Last Updated on Friday, 29 May 2015 06:59
To the Daily Sun,
The 12th annual WOW Sweepstakes Ball was held at the Lake Opechee Inn & Conference Center on Saturday, May 16, and was another great evening of food, fun, dancing and more. Congratulations to our 10 cash prize winners and Grand Prize co-winners Alice Mowery and Pam Downey.
We write this letter to thank and acknowledge the individuals and businesses for their generous contributions and support of the WOW Trail. We are grateful that the WOW Trail has gained such widespread support from our community.
The proceeds from this year's WOW Sweepstakes Ball — approximately $35,000 — will be used for the continued expansion and on-going maintenance of the trail. We are preparing to build Phase 2, which will extend the trail from downtown and connect to Belmont's first section of trail.
Many thanks to all who bought a ticket to this fundraising event. We were again delighted by the tremendous turnout ... and our 12th sell-out! (Mark your calendars for next year ... Saturday, May 14).
The event committee includes Allan & Jennifer Beetle, Jeff & Wendy Beetle (Patrick's), Susan Brown (Lakes Region Floral Studio), Megan Page (Patrick's), Darcy Peary (LRGHealthcare), and Judi Taggart (community member). This committee of volunteers did an absolutely awesome job of putting together one of the most fun and exciting events here in the Lakes Region. Jeff Beetle and crew prepared a delicious buffet for 500 people. Big Cat Coffee, Sawyer's Dairy Bar and Annie's Café & Catering finished the job with delicious coffee, ice cream and cakes.
We thank all our event sponsors and contributors listed below, for without them, it wouldn't happen. In particular, we thank our presenting sponsor Meredith Village Savings Bank and our Gold Sponsors: Melcher & Prescott Insurance, Lake Opechee Inn & Conference Center and Patrick's Pub & Eatery.
603 Brewery, All Brite Cleaning & Restoration, Amoskeag Beverages, Angels in the Attic, Annie's Café & Catering, AutoServ Dealerships, Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion at Meadowbrook, Beans & Greens Farm, Belknap EDC, Beyond the Fringe, Big Cat Coffees, Binnie Media, Body Design by Joy, Boulia-Gorrell Lumber Co., Café Déjà vu, Children's Dentistry of the Lakes Region, Contigiani's Catering, Crazy Gringo, El Jimador, Emily Clement-Life Coach.
Also: Fire Clean-up Services, Franklin Savings Bank, Fratello's Italian Grille, Funspot, Gail Beane Graphics, Gator Signs, General Linen, Granite State Glass, Guiseppe's Pizzeria & Ristorante, Gunstock Mountain Resort, H&M Towing, Hair Factory, Hannaford – Gilford, Hart's Turkey Farm, Headliners Comedy Club, Horizon Beverages, InnSeason Resorts, Irwin Automotive Group, Irwin Marine, Laconia Athletic & Swim Club, Laconia T-Bone's & Cactus Jack's, Lahey Landscaping, Lake Opechee Inn & Conference Center, Lakes Region Airport Shuttle, Lakes Region Association, Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, Lakes Region Coca-Cola, Lakes Region Floral Studio, LRGHealthcare.
Also: Marriott Towneplace Suites - Gilford, Martignetti Companies of NH, Massage Therapy & Hypnosis by Nancy Lee, MC Cycle & Sport, Meredith Village Savings Bank, Mill Falls at the Lake, Nails by Shelly, NASWA Resort, New England Wood Pellets, New Hampshire Distributors, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, O'Du's Hair Salon, Patrick's Pub & Eatery, Piche's Ski & Sports Shops, Pike Industries, Robert Allan Clifford Photography, Salmon Press, Sawyer's Dairy Bar, Shaw's Markets, Shooters Tavern & Pizzeria, Steele Hill Resorts, Steven J. Smith & Associates, Stratham Tire, Subway.
Also: Tanger Outlet, The Citizen of Laconia, The Country Carriage, The Fitness Edge, The Golf Club at Patrick's Place, The Laconia Daily Sun, The Margate on Winnipesaukee, The Weirs Times, Trustworthy Hardware, Tylergraphics, U Frame We Frame, Uniformly Yours, WFTN Mix 94.1FM.
In your travels, we ask that you take a moment to thank these people and organizations for their generous contributions to this exciting project.
Darcy Peary, Chair
Megan Page, Co-Chair
and the entire WOW Trail Board of Directors
Last Updated on Thursday, 28 May 2015 08:45
To The Daily Sun,
I truly hate stirring the hornets' nest on this topic, as most of my peers and acquaintances are Christian and thus I do not want them to think, err, different of me. However, the recent Bible thumping of both Pat Buchanan and John Demakowski on Wednesday has my skin crawling and I could not leave it all for Mr. Jim V. to refute. I will state that this is of my own accord, so please do not rope me into any groups when writing a rebuttal as I'm pretty unique in my politics/world views.
Pat Buchanan writes about the decline of a Christian nation, citing elite universities, the media, books, movies and magazines as an "assault on Christian beliefs and morality." A social revolution brought on by listening to music and then the politics and on and on and on. I'm sorry, but simple-minded jerks like him are part of the reason why I'm agnostic.
So getting a good education, letting your imagination run wild with a few good movies, reading Harry Potter and Entertainment magazine are the reason why I lost my faith? Going to Woodstock damned all those hippies (most of whom were very peaceful people) to hell. Hmmm, good logic. Apparently sitting on uncomfortable pews in church reading the bible, going to see a Bible based play and watching Charles Heston in "The Ten Commandments" over and over is what would have really advanced ourselves as humans.
John Demakowski once questioned how I know what is morally right or wrong in life because I admittedly cannot take the Bible as the word of God. Because apparently I must be some half-wit that can only tell the difference between right or wrong if I read the story of Eve eating an apple in some mystical garden (then having children with Adam who apparently then committed incest in order to start the human race) after being told by a snake not to do it. Yeah, that makes sense.
Oh and by the way, I cannot take any of the archaic, racist, violent, sexist or fable-like stories of the Bible literally as these are only metaphors or something, but yet people like Mr. Demakowski can hand-pick the psalms or verses out that serve their purpose, like implying on an almost daily basis that we are all sinners and going to hell if we don't subscribe to his beliefs, and these are laws they live their lives by. Also their God is perfect and made man in his image, but yet man is imperfect and wrote the bible as his word (what?).
I was raised in a strict Catholic family. Spent almost every Sunday in a church until my latter teenage years. You want to know what made my Christian beliefs fade, Mr. Buchanan? Seeing other people's faiths and how strongly they believed in them. (Why is my sect right?, because I was raised this way?) Seeing my extended family torn apart by differing religious beliefs (I had an aunt I was fond of turn into a Jehovah's Witness and I've seen her twice in the last 25 years since. Her kids left when they turned 18). Having a priest whom I trusted when I was a kid turn out to be a rapist (luckily I wasn't a victim). Having the church shielding him and his ilk. Diverting funds from dioceses so that the victims could only get smaller settlements. Unfolding truths about history and how the church has altered the bible from things as little as a white Jesus (in Israel, really?) to losing whole psalms and passages that possibly revealed chinks in the armor that is Christianity. Subscribing to an infallible man in the Pope who lives in a palace made of gold. I could write a book on these realities and more, but you want to know the most substantial reason to me?
After all those hours on that pew, after all the tragedies I've endured. All the countless hours of prayers. I've always been told I would hear him talk to me, but only silence and my own thoughts have I heard back. In Mr. Demakowski from his own accord speaks with God every day and he speaks back. Hmmm... yet I'm the crazy one because I think independent, radical thoughts like two people who love each other should be allowed to be married regardless of gender.
By the way, John if you knew anything, one shred about real life, you would come to the realization that being gay is not a choice. Most people who live that lifestyle have had those thoughts, those urges since they were adolescents. If that's the case, and God makes all humans essentially, then why would he proclaim this as a sin? He created man. You're telling me that he made people gay, but also made it a sinful lifestyle? That makes no sense. Or just maybe, this was the general consensus based on fear and ignorance that was inherent to most of the population of that time period? I guess that's too much of a stretch for you.
You want to know where I got my sense of morality? Comic books, books and television. Sure the Bible stories scared me when I was a kid, but I wanted to be Spider Man, Wolverine, Daredevil, Han Solo and others. I always gravitated to the being the good guy. Saving the innocent and stopping injustice. Honor. Dignity. Justice. That's why I joined the military. To help people from tyranny. That's how I live my life today. Pat says those mediums are decaying our society. I say without them we may have been much, much worse.
Could you imagine an America without any of those things? No universities that teach diversity? No imaginative, creative shows, movies, books or magazines? Just programming that a man in a palace of gold approved? Our very fabric of what makes our country and people great would be, "Do as I say! Believe as I believe or you will be lost! You must believe in this, or else!" Nothing that pushed the envelope or was considered edgy would be allowed. Everything would be in black or white. Homosexuals would be jailed or castrated. Divorce outlawed (which would probably raise the domestic abuse I'm guessing). Women who were raped by thugs would be forced to carry and birth their babies. Any literature and media would have to be filtered through the clergy. Women couldn't be priests (oh wait, still not allowed). Ahh, the John Demokowski world. I'm sorry, but all that is making Hell seem a little more agreeable.
I'm a good person. I live life trying not to tread on other people. I love my family. If there is just one God, and he's the Christian God. I'm of the inclination that my soul will be saved for the lifestyle I live. What I really could do less of is people writing in twice a week with their inane religious analysis of how we need to change to their views or else. How our country is slipping into decay. Honestly, I think it is just the next phase of our evolution. Is it aberrant to think that 100 years from now we may think as Christians as the pagans of old? I don't know, but before you chastise me for suggesting such a thing... it's a fact that it's trending that way. More agnostics in this country than practicing Roman Catholics is proof.
Last Updated on Thursday, 28 May 2015 08:43
To The Daily Sun,
I wonder how many readers remember back in the 1960s when some pot-headed hippy deep thinker coined the questions, "Who are we to judge? What gives us the right? Are we the world's policemen"? always spoken with a pathetic whining tone?
I remember it well and for those without any answers let me help. First, we not only have a right to judge, we have an absolute responsibility to judge. It is hard-wired into our brains, it's a survival mechanism. Our ancient ancestors who lacked this trait went out to play with the big kitty cats becoming removed from the gene pool as a result. In more modern times not many hippies decided to crash biker-bar parties using that sense of judgment, thus surviving until today. This probably accounts for the over abundance of former flower children still trying to follow the stupid philosophy envisioned by some unknown idiot.
But now, even after saying this, it appears that even a few of our ancient ancestors missing good judgment were able to pass along some dormant genes that have effected otherwise normal people. Take for instance Barack Obama. Here according to reports is a man with normal intelligence but is unable to recognize the most basic threats to our survival. In year seven of his presidency, and only after his defense secretary went public explaining to everyone that Obama has absolutely no plan to defeat ISIS, our president has relented and decided to send more ground troops back into Iraq. This after years of ignoring the advice of his generals. Obama with zero military experience, zero foreign policy experience and pretty much zero any experience at anything useful, decided he knew everything there was to know about everything. But after making a complete mess of the Middle East, among other things, events have finally broken the reality to him. About time, but how long this epiphany will last should concern us greatly because his learning curve has not proven very stable over the years.
Now too, let's recognize that Obama isn't alone with this dormant gene because it seems apparent that many of the current liberal political leaders are built along the same lines, only degrees are different. Among those most closely affected I include Hillary Clinton. This woman has had more scams and schemes covered up then a wall-to-wall rug and more keep coming to light. Electing her to our presidency is equivalent to making Bonny Parker president of The Bank Of America. Beware America, beware.
Last Updated on Thursday, 28 May 2015 08:38
To The Daily Sun,
Well folks don't look now but our county government is as messed up and dysfunctional as ever. I know we went to the polls in November and voted-out a failed administration and elected new leadership. The last act by the previous county commissioners, Mr. Ed Philpot, Mr. John Thomas, and Mr. Steven Nedeau, was to sign a contract with County Administrator Debra Shackett that is absurdly bad and certainly not in the best interest of the taxpayers. They did this on the last day of their tenure to show their utter contempt and disdain for their fellow citizens, us the taxpayers.
This contract protects a county administrator who is unqualified to be in her position and never has been from day one. Everyone in this county believes as I do, that she was awarded this position merely because she had the right connections and not by any objective measure of credentials. This administration is responsible for costing us thousands in legal fees and mismanaging the whole operation.
We elected two new commissioners Mr. Richard Burchell, and Mr. David DeVoy. They promised change and a house cleaning of the bad management. Also, shortly after the election Steven Nedeau resigned as the last sitting commissioner which was a good thing. Mr. Hunter Taylor was appointed to fill that vacancy. Finally it seemed we had a good team to fix the problems at the county facilities.
Now it seems that our county government has been hijacked by a slick-talking New Jersey lawyer who wrote many long and verbose letters in this paper railing against the poor leadership and bad management at the county. Also Mr. DeVoy it turns out is nothing but a wooden dummy sitting on his knee nodding in agreement to all. These two have ganged up on Mr. Burchell and have effectively cut him out of all debate and are ignoring public input. They bring up motions to be voted on, have a short discussion then vote. Mr. Burchell is always the odd man out even though he is the one who wants to do what is right for us.
Mr. Taylor is an appointed commissioner and never was elected by the people. I am now wondering if the convention can unappoint him. It seems that Mr. Taylor and Mr. DeVoy have forgotten why they were placed in these positions.
Actually most of the work is already done. In the past six months, we have lost the finance director, the human resources director, the county corrections director and a host of others. Also the nursing staff at county nursing home is a revolving door, with nursing staff hired then quitting after a few weeks. One of these nurses was quoted as saying upon leaving "that she had never worked in a more vicious place in her life." I think that tells it all.
Ms. Shackett said that nursing homes all have a staffing and retention problems. Another half truth by her. The reality is while some nursing homes do, those that are well run with good pay and benefits do not. The county nursing homes in our state do not have this problem but Belknap County does. The reason for this lays squarely on the shoulders of the management, starting at the top. Doesn't good leadership start at the top?
I cannot fathom why Mr. Taylor and Mr. DeVoy are now protecting her and going back on what they said they were going to do. Our county government is a mess. I fear for the residents of our nursing home, not because they have poor nursing help that is not true, the nursing staff there is good, but they suffer and are intimidated by the terrible management they are forced to work under.
Management that makes poor decisions then cover for each other. I call on my fellow taxpayers to be vigilant. Call these guys and tell them to fix it.
We need new leadership across the board in our county management especially at the nursing home. I am calling for replacement of county administrator, nursing home director, director of nursing, and the entire supervisory staff. This is what is best for the residents of the nursing home and us taxpayers.
Last Updated on Thursday, 28 May 2015 08:30