Gilford School Board of ‘obfuscation, lying’ about default budget numbers

GILFORD — Gilford Budget Committee member Norman Silber last night accused the Gilford School Board of "obfuscation and lying" about the accuracy of the school default budget.
He made the comments at a public hearing on a proposed $2.24 million bond issue for repairs and maintenance at the Gilford Elementary School.
Silber said that he and his wife will vote against the proposed bond issue, citing "obfuscations," which means obscuring the intended meaning of a communication by making the message confusing or willfully ambiguous, at school board meetings.
He added that he intends to review videos of the last two school board meetings to see if public employees are lobbying to support the proposed bond issue and said that if he finds evidence he will take the matter to the New Hampshire Attorney General's office and ask for an investigation.
Silber said that there was "obfuscation and lying" to the elected officials of the budget committee in the school board's recent presentation of its default budget.
School board members did not reply to his allegations during the hearing. Other members of the budget committee present for the hearing did not express an opinion on Silver's allegations.
The budget committee voted 10-0 last week to support the proposed bond issue, which the school board voted 4-1 in favor of last Monday night.
Chris McDonough, the school board member who voted against the proposal, said he is opposed to doing the work at the present time and suggested that the school district wait until a major bond issue which the district will pay $1.1 million on this year is retired.
Budget Committee Chairman Kevin Leandro said the committee and the school district have been talking about the elementary school repairs and maintenance for several years, and in retrospect it might have been more prudent to have prepared for it.
"We have all seen this coming. We should have started a capital reserve fund five years ago," said Leandro.
Christine Lewis spoke in support of the bond issue, maintaining that putting it off would cost the district more in the long run.
"If we don't do it now, when will we do it?" she asked.
She also said that she thinks the school should be equipped with a sprinkler system, which is not part of the proposed package of repairs.
She said that the number of students in the school district is on the rise, a statement which was questioned by budget committee member David Horvath, who asked Superintendent of Schools Kent Hemingway for a history of enrollment numbers.
Hemingway said that 15 years ago the district had 1,555 students and that has dropped to 1,207 in the current school year.

Report: Laconia's amenities are difficult for people to use or benefit from

LACONIA — Measured in square miles, Laconia is among the smallest cities in the state, but Plan NH, a volunteer team of architects, engineers and consultants , has highlighted the shortcomings of the transportation network between and within the three major components of the city — downtown, Lakeport and The Weirs — in a report submitted to the Planning Department last week.

Plan NH was engaged to contribute to the project called "Re-Imagine Laconia," undertaken with the support of the Orton Family Foundation and New Hampshire Charitable Foundation in anticipation of updating the city's Master Plan in 2017. In August, the team met with city officials, major stakeholders and community leaders, toured downtown, Lakeport and The Weirs, and held a design charette to sound the public.

The team identified four challenges, of which the dispersion of attractions and amenities among what a similar team from United States Environmental Protection Agency identified in 2007 as "the three villages" applied to the entire city. At The Weirs, the team found that the "economic push-pull of Bike Week creates a complex development environment." Downtown, they said, bears the legacy of urban renewal as well as serving as the regional hub, "absorbing the problems of surrounding towns." And Lakeport, riven by Union Avenue, they said lacks "a strong identity."

"What struck the team on its orientation tour," the report noted, " was how difficult it could be to get from place to place, and thus how unlikely it would be for a resident to go from one place where he or she lived or worked to another. Put another way, it continued, "because of the weak transportation network in and around Laconia, many residents do not benefit directly from the wonderful amenities in their own city." Specifically, the report recommends a transportation strategy that complements reliance on motor vehicles with sidewalks, bicycle lanes and public transportation.

The team recommends not only completing the Winnipesaukee-Opechee-Winnisquam (WOW) Trail, but also incorporating it into a wider system of pathways and lanes. As a tourist destination, The Weirs would be better served by an infrastructure more conducive to foot traffic. Calming and realigning traffic, accompanied by enhanced lighting and landscaping, on Beacon Street West, especially at Veterans Square, and Beacon Street East would provide a more welcoming environment for pedestrians downtown. At Lakeport, the team suggested a "pedestrian centered intersection" at the junction of Union Avenue and Elm Street while encouraging commercial development that would create a focal point for the neighborhood.

"Few communities in our state have an identity so complex," the team remarked, suggesting that each of the three "villages" has a distinct character. While they noted that each offers "extraordinary amenities," they explained their focus on transportation by stressing "these amenities must be accessible to all or they will not serve to attract or retain residents and visitors."

Planning Director Shanna Saunders was pleased with the emphasis on "connectivity" and said "it is always valuable to have a new set of eyes take a look." She said that report will inform the section of the Master Plan addressing land use.

The full report is available online at www.reimaginelaconia.org and will be the subject of forums and meetings to be scheduled at different venues in the city.

Life-saving training - Narcan kits given to the public along with hands-on demonstration

Narcan kit demoLaconia Deputy Fire Chief Sean Riley helps a woman learn how to administer Narcan at an event Monday where the kits were given for free. (Michael Kitch/for The Laconia Daily Sun)LACONIA — "Naloxone or Narcan is not a silver bullet, but it saves lives," said Deputy Fire Chief Sean Reilly, to open an event at the Beane Conference Center yesterday, at which hands-on instruction in administering Narcan was offered, along with Narcan kits, to anyone fearing that they or others may be at risk of a fatal overdose of an opiate.

Reilly explained that the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services purchased 4,500 Narcan kits to be distributed in each of the 13 regional public health networks in the state.

"We decided rather than just hand out the kits that we would offer some training in their use and bring in other resources to provide information on treatment and recovery," he said, adding that 42 kits were distributed and nearly as many people trained in their use.

The Lakes Region Partnership for Public Health hosted the event, which included representatives from Horizons Counseling Center, LRGHealthcare, Genesis Behavioral Health, ServiceLink of Belknap County, Health First Family Care Center and Stand-Up Laconia as well as Eric Adams, the Prevention, Enforcement and Treatment officer of the Laconia Police Department.

An overdose of an opiate, whether from illicit heroin or prescription medication, attacks the part of the brain that regulates respiration, causing breathing to become slow and shallow. As breathing slows, levels of carbon dioxide in the body are elevated, further slowing and ultimately stopping the breathing and heart rates. Reilly said that a person suffering an overdose will be unresponsive and have shallow breath, slow pulse, pinpoint pupils, pale skin, and blue lips or fingernails. Narcan reverses the acute effects of the opiate and restores normal breathing.

Reilly emphasized that a person faced with an apparent overdose before doing anything the very first thing a person faced with an apparent overdose should do is call 911 seeking emergency medical assistance. He explained that since Narcan is only effective for a matter of minutes, an overdose may recur after its restorative effect is exhausted.

Then, ensuring the airway is clear and pinching the victim's nose, breathe twice into their mouth before administering half a dose of Narcan into each nostril. Once Narcan has been administered, the rescue breathing should be continued every five or six seconds until the victim awakens or medical assistance arrives. If the victim fails to respond in three to five minutes, the second dose of Narcan should be administered.

The kits contain two doses of Narcan and a nasal atomizer, together with illustrated directions for preparing the Narcan. 

"The steps are quite simple," Reilly said, "but they're not intuitive. That's why we want people to have hands-on training"

Reilly said that 42 people attended the event and more than half the 100 Narcan kits were distributed. He noted that Narcan is available over the counter without a prescription at Rite Aid pharmacies.

"I'm glad to have it at hand," one woman said. "But, I hope I never have to use it."

A second event will be held in Franklin at the Besse Rowell Community Center on Thursday, Feb. 11, from 5 to 6:30 p.m.