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Council authorizes purchase of 3 additional surveillance cameras for downtown

LACONIA — The City Council this week authorized the withdrawal of $13,500 from the Downtown Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Fund for the purchase of three surveillance cameras tied to Police Department monitoring to be installed at selected locations downtown. One such camera is already in place.

Pat Wood of the downtown TIF Advisory Committee told the council that although the committee has discussed the acquisition of surveillance cameras with the Police Department it has yet to reach a final decision about their purpose, number and location. He said that along with the parking garage, several other downtown locations were under consideration and noted that the cameras could be moved from place to place. Consequently, he said the committee was not in a position to make a formal recommendation to the council.

Councilor Bob Hamel (Ward 5) said that the both the committee and the council have been discussing the issue for the better part of a year without coming to a conclusion and proposed purchasing three cameras without waiting any longer for the TIF Advisory to make a recommendation. Purchasing three cameras, he said, will not preclude purchasing more at a future time if the TIF Advisory Committee and Police Department put forward a request.

Councilor David Bownes (Ward 2) said he was reluctant to proceed without a recommendation from the committee and was cast the lone dissenting vote when the council voted five-to-one to approve the purchase.

As of July 31 the Downtown TIF fund had a balance of $777,669.44.

Last Updated on Friday, 28 August 2015 12:46

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Forced-hot-water heating pipes at Gilford Town Hall said to be in poor condition

GILFORD — Town Administrator Scott Dunn told selectmen Wednesday the piping system for the Town Hall forced-hot-water heating system will likely need to be replaced along with two boilers in 2017.

Dunn said the piping deficiencies were noticed by the construction crews installing the heating system in the new police station addition.

"They are afraid to cut into those pipes," Dunn said, explaining to the board that as the police station is being constructed, crews need to tie into the existing boilers.

"The piping for the circulation is extremely corroded," he said.

He said the crews fear that the existing piping is "very brittle" but have to cut into it to complete the loop. He said the construction team will test the water in the system now and then flush it.

He said it appears the water is "just eating away at the pipes". Dunn said the water in the system is filtered and runs through a water softener but the pipes are made of steel which corrodes faster than does copper or plastic piping.

There are already a few leaks in the system and Dunn said the hope is that connecting the new police station system won't create any more.

He said yesterday that the two of the three boilers in Town Hall are already scheduled in the Capital Improvement Plan for 2017. He said it is very likely the piping system for the Town Hall will be added to the plan.

Dunn said that the pipes in the police station will not need replacing in 2017 because they will be new.

In other town news, the Selectboard unanimously accepted the proposed 10-year road construction plan prepared by Public Works Director Peter Nourse.

Nourse said his goal is to protect as much of the good roads by implementing an "robust" road sealing plan that will "save the town hundreds of thousands in road construction over time."

He will also address poor sections of "connector" roads first. A connector road is a road that connects a number of different roads — like Morrill Street and Belknap Mountain Road — and that, given a $1-million annual budget with a 5 percent compounded annual increase, the department can either repair or reconstruct all of the main connectors in five years.

Nourse's plan calls for spreading the work geographically around Gilford unless is makes sense to do a section of road at one time. To that end, he added that many of the roads in Gunstock Acres will be addressed sooner rather than later.

His recommendations for 2016 summer road reconstruction projects include a portion of Mountain Drive, the west side of Summit Avenue, Saltmarsh Pond Road, Poor Farm Road, a portion of Cumberland Road and Weeks Road.

Nourse recommends shims and overlays for several other roads in 2016 including Foxglove Road, a portion of Deer Run Lane, Hickory Stick Lane, Buckboard Drive, Crestview Drive, Hermit Road, and Forest Drive.

His total proposal is $1 million and a total of 5.25-miles of road will be addresses. His estimated cost per mile is $240,000 for reconstruction and $105,000 for shims and overlays.

Last Updated on Friday, 28 August 2015 12:42

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Rooster owner facing criminal charges filed in aftermath of ZBA meeting

LACONIA — The Lakeport woman who kept a pet rooster at her home on North Street yesterday pleaded not guilty at her arraignment in 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division on three charges arising from a confrontation with neighbors in June when the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) confirmed its earlier decision to forbid her to keep the animal in a residential zone.

Bridgette Leroux, 44, of 58 North Street was charged with disorderly conduct and two counts of criminal threatening, all class B misdemeanors. The case has been scheduled for trial on Monday, September 21.

In 2014 Jeffrey Leroux purchased the rooster, a bantam bred as an ornamental bird, at the Sandwich Fair as pet for his wife, who dubbed him "Pecker". When neighbors complained about his crowing to the Planning Department, Director Shanna Saunders ruled that the Lerouxes could not keep poultry in a residential zone and explained request a variance. After the ZBA denied their request in April, the Lerouxes asked the board to reconsider.

When the ZBA met at the Beknap Mill in June, it reaffirmed its original decision, prompting Bridgette Leroux to turn in anger on her neighbors, Dan and Amanda Ouelette, who were seated several rows behind her. Seeking to restore order, Steve Bogert, chairman of the board, warned Leroux if she persisted he would have her removed. In the meantime, Saunders called the police. After the Lerouxes and their neighbors left the mill Saunders said yesterday that she heard raised voices from outside the building.

In July, the Ouelettes were granted a temporary restraining order forbidding the Lerouxes from contacting or communicating with them. In seeking the order they recalled the confrontation at the ZBA meeting, alleging that Jeffrey Leroux threatened to damage their property and Bridgette Leroux threatened to physically harm them. Moreover, they told the court they had spoken with the police about the incident at the mill as well as another two nights later when they called 911 to report disruptive behavior on the part of the Lerouxes.

Leroux was subsequently charged by police with disorderly conduct as she did "with the purpose to cause a breach of the peace, public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, knowingly engage in fighting or violent, tumultuous or threatening behavior in a public place," namely the ZBA meeting. She was also charged with criminal threatening by "knowingly threaten to commit a crime, to-wit, murder" against Amanda Ouelette and Katherine L. Price.

A person convicted of a class B misdemeanor may be conditionally or unconditionally discharged, fined or otherwise sanctioned, but may not be put in jail or on probation.

Meanwhile, Pecker has reportedly moved to Center Harbor where he is living — and crowing — on the 57-acre farm owned by Jeffrey Leroux's father.

Last Updated on Friday, 28 August 2015 12:29

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$8.5 million is said to be construction price for new & renovated county jail complex

LACONIA — The Belknap County Jail Planning Committee heard from SMP Architecture Project Manager Anthony Mento Thursday morning that a new "community corrections" facility, plus renovations to the existing county jail, will cost $8.5 million.
Mento, a member of the architectural firm hired by the county to design the project, yesterday presented an action plan to the committee, which is chaired by County Commissioner Dave DeVoy (R-Sanbornton), who during the planning phase had called for a $7 million cap on the plan.
DeVoy said yesterday that the proposal ''provides the right solution for the county'' and said that he will present the plan to his fellow commissioners when they meet next Wednesday and ask for a vote. If the commissioners approve the plan and its costs it will go the Belknap County Convention, where a public hearing would be held on a borrowing request. Approval of the proposed $8.5 million bond issue would require a two-thirds vote of the 18-member convention.
The proposed plan calls for spending $7,171,928 for an 18,000-square-foot, 64-bed community corrections facility and $491,000 for upgrades to the existing county jail, which currently has 87 beds. County Corrections Interim Superintendent Keith Gray said that parts of the current jail which are too difficult to renovate would no longer be used, leaving the current facility with a capacity of 60 inmates.
The proposed cost of the community corrections facility includes a $700,000 contingency fund.
Additional items were budgeted at $668,300 and DeVoy said that he would favor going ahead with those in the bond issue, so that all of the work which is called for in the plan can be accomplished as soon as possible.
Also included in the overall operating plan are security and program costs, which are estimated at $650,000 for hiring six additional Department of Corrections staffers and contracting with private firms to provide programs aimed at helping offenders deal with drug, alcohol and mental health problems before they are released into the community.
DeVoy suggested that some of the costs of paying for the contracted services could be met by increasing the amount of money the county currently receives from the county-owned Gunstock Mountain Recreation Area. Currently Gunstock pays $175,000 a year to the county and the memorandum of understanding with the county which sets that rate is due for renewal later this year.
DeVoy suggested that another source of funds could be the money realized through the work release program. The new facility would have 34 beds, 24 for men and 10 for women, who are on work release and the county receives one-third of whatever money they earn. He estimated that of all those on work release made $200 a week the county would receive over $100,000 a year which could be used to cover the costs for contractors. The other 30 beds in the facility, 20 for men and 10 for women, would hold inmates who are enrolled in programs at the center.
The 60 beds at the existing jail would be used for pre-trial confinement and those being held in protective custody.
Kevin Warwick and Ross Cunningham of Alternative Solutions Associates, Inc., a consulting firm hired by the county, are also members of the jail planning committee, whose other members include Superintendent Gray, County Administrator Deb Shackett and County Facilities Manager Dustin Muzzey.
Warwick, who helped develop a community corrections facility for Sullivan County, where recidivism has been reduced from 65 percent to 18 percent, said the question for Belknap County is not whether the plan needs to be implemented, but is only a question of "when?''
He said that doing nothing is not an option and that the county faces the possibility of lawsuits unless its facility meets federal standards, which it does not.
Cunningham, who was corrections superintendent in Sullivan County when its community corrections facility was built, said that one big advantage of the programs which are offered is that it requires accountability from the inmates, who have to look for new ways of thinking and doing things in order to make the progress needed to be released into the community.
And, since there are post-release programs in place that provide monitoring and support for those who re-enter the community, there is a followup which currently does not exist in Belknap County.


Last Updated on Friday, 28 August 2015 12:18

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