To The Daily Sun,
It is tempting to continue ignoring the insulting and inflammatory remarks that have plagued Rep. Burchell's term in office. Unfortunately, some of his comments cannot be left to mislead the public.
The Belknap County Commissioners have used a very open approach to planning for a new jail over the past four years. Ricci Greene Associates was hired, after a competitive bid process, to prepare a report on the functional programming for the new facility. This programming document was created to show us how the recommendations in the Master Plan (authored by David Bennett) could be implemented in Belknap County. This process involved consultants meeting with many members of our criminal justice system, including social services, county employees, and elected officials over a six-month period. The final report was presented to the delegation, the commissioners, the Jail Planning Committee and the public all at the same time. The steps involved in this process were communicated to the delegation more than once. Rep. Burchell, along with all delegation members was invited to attend any and all Jail Planning Meetings.
The cost of a new facility is among the top priorities of the commissioners, along with functionality, energy efficiency, and safety. We have been advised by Mr. Bennett, as well as many other consultants that the best plan would be to incorporate best practices, as determined by national industry experts. That is the plan that the commissioners and planning committee are committed to. We have not heard any alternate philosophy presented by anyone. The only feedback provided has been to spend less money. There have been ideas suggested for alternatives to construction, location, and renovation. Each one has been reviewed and contemplated by the committee.
The superintendent is absolutely correct that the comprehensive assessment of our criminal justice system that the Master Plan recommends has been done. It was Mr. Bennett's advice that we hire a consultant to do this and Ricci Greene Associates was retained to provide this. In addition to this report, an environmental scan was completed. This report identifies all available community resources and additional needs.
This project has been carefully researched and planned to meet the needs of our community. The idea that we should ignore all that we've learned and agreed to do for the community, and simply build what they built in another part of the country to meet their needs — not ours — is outrageous. So while we remain committed to building smart, to meet the needs of our community, we continue to seek opportunities to reduce the cost, as well as alternate methods of accomplishing the goals of our criminal justice system.
There has been no "ploy". The planning committee asked to meet with the delegation to discuss their work and ideas and to determine if the delegation would support the recommendation of the committee. The funding mechanism was recommended to be a bond issue, which certainly could have been divided into smaller parts. That question was not asked of anyone who could answer it, but rather determined incorrectly, by Rep. Worsman. No one questioned her, and she refused to allow anyone who knew the answer to give it. The "all or nothing" approach was self-imposed.
Working together to achieve a goal requires dialogue and exchange of ideas and information, openly and in public. This has not been allowed by the leadership of the delegation, and the county has suffered because of it.
It would certainly be easier to turn our backs and pretend that a new facility is not needed and that we've saved money by ignoring it, but the commissioners have been elected to manage the county responsibly. There has been no "defiance of community opinion or vote of town officials" on this topic.
Rep. Burchell's suggestion that we pay for a lawsuit while waiting for "more reasonable people to address the county's problems" might be a very expensive price for the taxpayers to pay. It is certainly not the choice of the commissioners. When you refuse to participate in the process it's easy to remain staunchly opposed to any proposal coming forth.
We urge the public to read minutes from our meetings and the Jail Planning Committee meetings. Don't rely on the creative writing in the newspaper to inform you. Minutes and video files are available on the county website www.belknapcounty.org. Better still, call or e-mail the professionals who manage the county. They are there to assist you. Make your own decisions. Only an open mind can be educated.
The Belknap County Commissioners
John H. Thomas
Edward D. Philpot Jr.
Stephen H. Nedeau
Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 June 2014 08:52
To The Daily Sun,
The demand for adult men's bikes is high. There is an urgent need for more men's bikes in working condition. Pick-up can be arranged.
The Bicycle Exchange has a new website: www.labe.bike.
The Bike-Walk Alliance of New Hampshire (BWA-NH) has approved the Memorandum of Understanding. The purpose of this MOU is to establish Laconia Area Bicycle Exchange as a Fiscally Sponsored Project of BWA-NH as of June 2, 2014, and to set forth the principles and guidelines that will govern the project. Visit their webpage at http://www.bwanh.org/
Anyone who can help with locating and applying for grants and funding is welcomed to contact me directly. There is a grant available from CNHBC; 2014 Community Bicycle Grants $5,000 available for local cycling projects.
John P. Rogers
Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 June 2014 08:48
To The Daily Sun,
I just read on the Fox News website that there is a double standard between Mexico and the United States.
I knew there was one with illegal immigration. Mexico does not tolerate illegal immigration at all. Anyone illegally caught crossing their southern border is deported or detained.
When illegals cross into our country, well, we are supposed to do nothing and give them citizenship along with all the benefits.
Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi has been in jail for about three months for mistakenly crossing the border with guns. He has to go before a judge to see if the court will give him his freedom.
In the past 10 years more than 500 incidents have occurred with Mexican military and police have crossed the border with weapons. Some were detained but it is not known how long. Did they ever go before a U.S. judge to be allowed back to Mexico? Somehow I do not think so.
The Marine Corps is trying to help. Tahmooressi's mother has hired a lawyer to help her son.
I do not hear or read of anything about the White House doing anything to get Mexico to free Tahmooressi. Our president has said more about the Washington Redskins controversy than the imprisonment of Sgt. Tahmooressi.
What is happening to our country? All countries are walking all over us. And we just let them.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 June 2014 10:11
To The Daily Sun,
Attention Gilmanton taxpayers. Now is the moment to further reduce our tax burden by reducing the administrative costs of our public school system. I have lived in Gilmanton for almost 20 years and all of the following statements are my opinion alone.
I'm sure many of you have noticed that the building that houses our SAU office at 9 Currier hill Rd is for sale. I've never quite understood why we're leasing a very fancy and very expensive office for our part time SAU superintendent. I remember when the SAU had a small and cost-effective office in the town hall. I also don't understand why our part time SAU superintendent requires very pricey full-time assistants, employees and consultants. I have been examining this situation for about five years and the cost is outrageous and it is a total waste of the taxpayers money.
I have also noticed that there have been some serious security problems at the SAU office over the years that never would have happened if the SAU were housed in a municipal building. I certainly don't want don't to find we have to lay off teachers or cut back on supplies for our school children because we refuse to cut back on administrative costs. So, I say this is the perfect time to move the SAU back to the town hall or perhaps to our one and only public school. I'm sure that our part-time SAU superintendent could be well served by a part-time (and reasonably priced) secretary. Let's face it, we only have eight grades in one school building — there's no need to spend all this money on our SAU.
The 10 percent tax decrease that Gilmanton taxpayers are currently enjoying is an excellent start. But we need to trim the tax rate a lot more so lets start with the SAU.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 June 2014 10:07
To The Daily Sun,
Pleasant surprises are everywhere in the Lakes Region. I experienced one of them Sunday afternoon. I was invited to watch an informal "run through" of "Godspell" at the Interlakes Theatre in Meredith. This musical is based on the Gospel according to the writings of St. Matthew.
Now for those, like me, who aren't theater savvy, the "run through" is a bare-bones production, putting all the individual rehearsed pieces together. It doesn't include any special lighting, sound enhancements, painted sets or makeup. When the show actually opens it will include all those things. The "run through" did include professional actors with dynamic voices and energetic dance
numbers. Yes, professional!
I have to admit, I wasn't expecting much. After all, this theater company performs in a high school auditorium. To my amazement the location had nothing to do with the huge talent of the performers. Before I realized it I was tapping my foot to the music and a feeling of joy overcame me. The musical's message is familiar. The actors bring it to life with great feeling and emotion.
My visit made me realize I had made judgments based on location. I'm writing this letter to encourage all of you not to make the same mistake I did. Take advantage of what Interlakes Summer Theatre has to offer. Professional actors from New York City on a high school auditorium stage will convert you to be a believer too. You don't need to drive to Boston or fly to New York. Everything
is right here in the beautiful Lakes Region. Aren't we lucky?
Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 June 2014 10:05