Gilford parents want earlier access to robotics donations

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

GILFORD – While the members of the winning robotics team from Gilford High School were honored by members of the School Board Monday night, some parents had some criticism of the way their finances and awards were handled.
Mentors Jackie and Chris Drever, who were supported by many of the parents of the team members, told the board they were disappointed because of the time it took for them to accept two grants – one from Meredith Village Savings Bank and one from New Hampshire Ball Bearing.
Jackie Drever said the school gives the FIRST robotics team $6,000 from the budget and the rest of the money comes from fundraising and donations. But it took until Monday night for the School Board to accept the two donations, meaning the checks for the program sat in a safe for at least a month and the team, which competed two weekends ago couldn't access the money.
"We need to find a way that this doesn't happen again," she said, adding that the team was down to its last $400 before the board accepted the donations. "The kids work way too hard for that money."
Although School Board members explained that there is a legal process that must be followed, Chris Drever said that the "timing is everything" when it comes to getting access to the money.
He noted that the students compete against schools that are much larger with much larger budgets, including a few groups of home-schooled students whose only curriculum is robotics. He said the average robotics team spends $30,000 to $40,000 annually.
The mentors said they weren't asking for more money from the district, just a way to get the little they do have into the program in time for it to be useful.
Member Sue Allen said that in the future the board could call an emergency meeting to accept the donations and tasked the school administration with notifying them.
Parent Jennifer White said she was disheartened to find the 2012 banner for the robotics championship stuffed into a closet used by the team to store its equipment and robots.
"STEM is huge," she said. "We need to ...(hang) this banner in a place just as high as our sports awards."
White said the team also won the entrepreneurship award for fundraising and the school should be as proud of the robotics teams as they are of the sports teams.
Principal Anthony Sperazzo told the board that he was already working to find a prominent spot for their banners.

Editor's note: This story was updated March 15 to correctly reflect the companies who made grant to the team.

County Nursing home honors veterans who are residents

By ROGER AMSDEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — Veterans who are residents of the Belknap County Nursing Home were presented with certificates of appreciation for their service to the country in a ceremony held Tuesday afternoon at the home.
Among those honored was 96-year-old Emile Ricard, who served with the 79th Infantry Division, in France and Germany and was on the front lines as Allied troops battled their way into Germany in March of 1945.
"We came under fire a lot and there were a lot of close calls for me," said Ricard, who recalls slogging along with his M-1 rifle through numerous firefights in the final phases of the war. He recalls the feeling of elation he experienced when Germany surrendered in May of 1945.
"I was very glad it was over," said Ricard, who said that the German people that he came into contact with were respectful and treated him well.
He grew up in Belmont and entered the Army in 1943, just after marrying his wife, Irene. After the war he returned home and made his home in Laconia, where he spent 17 years working at the Lund Ski factory.
"It was a good place to work and there were some really skilled people there. When they closed it down they moved the operations to the South but it didn't last long for them down there," says Ricard.
He and his wife, Irene, were noted ballroom dancers and lived for years on Cedar Street, right next to Tardif Park. They had been married for 66 years when she died in 2008 at the age of 98.
The certificate ceremony took place in a front of a wall display honoring veterans which was recently put in place near the entryway to the home through the efforts of Brenda Twardosky, recreation director at the county home. The certificates were presented by volunteers from the Central New Hampshire VNA and Hospice as part of the "We Honor Veterans" program, a collaboration of the Veterans Administration and Hospice.
Acting Nursing Home Director Director Bob Hemenway praised Twardosky for putting together The Veterans Wall project, which contains photos and memorabilia from veterans currently living at the nursing home.
Retired U.S. Army Col. Peter Cassell and other volunteers from the "We Honor Veterans" program, including John Waker and Dave Shea, presented certificates to the veterans.
Cassell said it is important to honor veterans and insure that their needs are being met. He said that 680,000 veterans die each year, nearly 1,800 a day and that he and other volunteers are dedicated to making sure that their sacrifices are remembered.
Others honored in addition to Ricard were Dana Aloise, who served in Army and tried to enlist in the National Guard when he was only 14, only to have his true age discovered, and later served in Alaska during the Korean War; David Burbank, an Air Force veteran; Fred Clavitte, Ronald Fitzgerald, Edward Gagne, John Haven, Francis Isabelle, Norman Rollins, all of whom served in the Army; John Neylon who served who served with the Marines and Robert Goodwin and Clifford Ireland, who served in the Navy.

LRGHealthcare CEO Seth Warren resigns

By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — After six months as president and chief executive officer of LRGHealthcare, Seth Warren has resigned to return to Indiana where he said Tuesday that he is obliged to tend to pressing needs of his extended family and close friends. His resignation comes at a time with LRGHealthcare, which has been operating at a loss, is undergoing major restructuring of all aspects of its operations.

Scott Clarenbach, chairman of the LRGHealthcare board, said that LRGHealthcare has been operating at a loss and could not continue along this path.

"There will be reductions in force and changes in the way we do business," he said.

Warren will Leave LRGHealthcare on April 15. He said that he has accepted a similar position at a hospital in Indiana.

In a prepared statement issued Tuesday, afternoon the Board of Trustees announced the acceptance of Warren's resignation with "great sadness," adding that his decision "is strictly for personal reasons and came with much thought and consideration."

Clarenbach said, "I truly believe Warren is made of the right fabric and has the moral compass to lead us in the direction we must go and I'm saddened that events in his life have compelled to leave us."

Warren expressed his gratitude and appreciation to the staff at LRGHealthcare and to the community, stressing that "everyone has been very understanding."

Despite his foreshortened tenure, Warren said that he contributed to laying the groundwork for reversing the financial performance of the the organization by working with Prism Healthcare Partners LTD, a consulting firm. Prism, he explained, has reviewed all aspects of operations — labor and capital costs, billings and collections, clinical procedures and physician operations — and brought best practices to the table to achieve efficiencies, reduce costs and improve quality of care.

Clarenbach recalled Warren called him on Friday about inviting Prism to LRGHealthcare and when he agreed, the consultants arrived on Monday and met with the senior leadership on Tuesday.

"Seth had worked with Prism before and recommended bringing them in," he said. "It was his initiative."

Warren said that Prism has identified between $15 million and $21 million in either reduced costs or increased revenues, which represent between 7.5 percent and 10 percent of the operating budget.

"This is significant," Warren said. "It will get us operating in the black with an opportunity to reinvest in the organization."

He said that the challenge for his successor will be to implement the measures that have been identified and recommended.

"Seth's six months with LRGHealthcare have clearly been beneficial to the organization," Clarenbach said. "In particular, the affiliation with Prism Health Partners will pay significant dividends and above all positive returns for our patients."

Clarenbach said that the trustees will meet on Thursday to consider an interim arrangement in anticipation of undertaking a search for a permanent successor. He said that since the board conducted an extensive search for a president and chief executive officer just six months ago, the process may not be prolonged.

Before coming to LRGHealthcare last October, Warren, a third generation hospital administrator, spent the last 16 years of his career with the Sisters of St. Francis Health Services Inc., or Francisan Alliance, a Catholic health care system headquartered in Mishawaka, Indiana, consisting of 13 hospitals and numerous clinics, with 18,000 employees. In 2006, BusINess Magazine chose Warren among the top 20 executives under 40 in northwest Indiana. In February 2008, Warren was named president of St. James Hospital in Chicago Heights and Olympia Fields, Illinois, a 400-bed teaching hospital, and chief executive officer of the Franciscan Alliance for the south suburban Chicago region.

A native of Moorestown, New Jersey, Warren earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Richmond in 1989 and a master's degree in business administration from Syracuse University 10 years later. He joined the CentraState Medical Center in Freehold, New Jersey, as a compensation coordinator in 1990 and served in the same position at the St. Agnes Medical Center in Fresno, California, from 1992 to 1995 before spending three years with The Hunter Group, an executive search firm headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas.

Seth Warren2

Seth Warren