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Laconia projects in state budget

Governor Chris Sununu’s recommended budget for the 2020 and 2021 fiscal years includes $3.8 million in funding for projects in Laconia.

The New Hampshire Legislature will consider those budgets and could recommend revisions.

“I’d like to thank Rep. Peter Spanos and Sen. Harold French for working with my office to identify key areas of need in Laconia,” the governor said in a statement. “My budget makes strategic, fiscally responsible investments that will serve to strengthen New Hampshire communities.”

His recommendations include a $1.7 million appropriation to the Lakeshore Redevelopment Planning Commission to conduct hazardous material assessments and environmental remediation of the buildings and facilities on the grounds of the former Laconia State School.

The commission is charged with coming up with a plan under which the property could be used to stimulate economic development and attract jobs to the region.

Also in the governor’s recommendations is a $1.5 million grant to the city to purchase and renovate the bottom floor of the downtown municipal parking garage, which has significant structural problems. The bottom floor is privately owned, complicating refurbishment plans.

His other recommendations:

• A $460,000 grant to rebuild a portion of the Weirs Beach boardwalk.

• A $100,000 grant for improvements to the Gale Avenue waterfront.

• An $80,000 grant to repair a city skate park. 

•••

The Belknap County Legislative Delegation on Wednesday rejected a request from the Lakes Region Mental Health Center for a $32,000 budget allocation for short-term mental health services provided to uninsured or underinsured adults. The program ran a $179,000 deficit last fiscal year.

Eight representatives favored the funding and nine were against. Rep. Harry Viens, R-Center Harbor, was absent.

County Commission Chairman Dave DeVoy said many of the people who would be covered by this program are the working poor, who can’t afford medical insurance and aren’t covered under government programs.

“The working poor need to know they can rise to the middle class and do better and we need to do better,” DeVoy said.

Rep. Mike Sylvia, R-Belmont, countered, “I think the working class would do better if they didn't have to pay so much taxes.”

Ann Nichols, a spokeswoman for Lakes Region Mental Health Center, said this was the third consecutive year the delegation has turned down such a request.

How they voted

Representatives voting in favor of the appropriation to Lakes Region Mental Health Center were George Feeney, Dennis Fields, Tim Lang, Peter Spanos, Frank Tilton, David Huot, Richard Beaudoin and Charlie St. Clair.

Representatives voting against the appropriation were Mike Sylvia, Glen Aldrich, Harry Bean, Deanna Jurius, Jonathan Mackie, Peter Varney, John Plummer, Barbara Comtois and Raymond Howard Jr.

They said it

“I got a packet from the Citizens Commission on Human Rights International talking about the abuses of the mental health industry.”

— Rep. Howard on why he was opposing the allocation for Lakes Region Mental Health Center. (The Citizens Commission on Human Rights International was co-founded by the Church of Scientology and Dr. Thomas Szasz to “expose human rights violations in the field of mental health.")

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“Thank God!! Someone who actually cares about the animals! Fingers crossed that it works out well for her.” — Jennifer Livingston on the New Hampshire Humane Society’s announcement that Lisa Caputo would be its new operations director.

Absent/Present

All members of the Zoning Board of Adjustment were present at the start of the Tuesday meeting with the exception of Roland Maheu.

Coming up

The Laconia City Council was to consider additional funding for the Colonial Theatre at its upcoming Monday night meeting.

However, that consideration will now be delayed for two weeks.

Issues that will be before the council include:

A potential speed limit change on Daisy Gardner Road and Leighton Avenue North.

A request to set the polling hours for the September and November municipal elections.

A request from Atlantic Broadband for the city to amend its cable television franchise agreement and side letter.

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