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PSU adjuncts ratify first union contract

PLYMOUTH — Two years after voting to form a collective bargaining unit the adjunct faculty members of Plymouth State University yesterday ratified their first contract by a vote of 97-percent of the union membership.

The three-year agreement is said to provide job stability, annual wage increases, access to health benefits and intellectual property rights. In a prepared statement, Krisan Evenson, the president of the Teaching Lecturers Chapter who teaches political science, said that "before we unionized, I was unable to see a career track, let alone our place at the university." Prior to negotiating a contract adjunct faculty were employees at will without access to health insurance or other benefits.

The adjunct faculty affiliated with the State Employees' Association of New Hampshire, SEIU Local 1984 in December 2011. Diana Lacey, president of the SEA/SEIU1984, said that "the path to obtain the rights necessary for empowered workers to level the playing field as equally valuable partners in the workplace, including higher education, can be a long one that takes real commitment."

Last Updated on Saturday, 14 December 2013 01:46

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Report on possible purchase of Adele Taylor property ready for presentation to Moultonborough Selectboard

MOULTONBOROUGH — The committee convened to consider possible uses for the so-called Adele Taylor property, the acquisition of which will be the subject of a warrant article at Town Meeting in March, will present it to the Board of Selectmen next week.

The 5.09-acre lot at 970 Whittier Highway (Rte. 25), which abuts properties belonging to the school district, Bank of New Hampshire and Huggins Hospital in the village commercial zone was a centerpiece of the Village Charette Report accepted by the Planning Board in January 2013. In June the trustees approached the Board of Selectmen and the School Board with an offer to sell the property to the town and donate the proceeds from the sale to the School District.

A price of $240,900, matching the assessed value in 2012, was negotiated and in October the selectmen agreed to place a question on the warrant after obtaining an independent appraisal of the property and estimate of the cost of addressing environmental issues. At the same time, the selectmen formed the committee to explore how the property might be used. The property is currently assessed at $234,800 and was appraised for $223,000.

Although 56 specific uses were suggested in the course of committee meetings and public hearings, when the panel met this week chairman Mark Borrin suggested that the basic question is "do we want to control it or do we want to just let it go. If you want to control what it looks like in the future, buy it," he continued. "If you don't want to control what it looks like in the future, you're going to have to jump some hurdles."

Likewise, Peter Jensen of the Planning Board told the committee. "we shouldn't jump into a use until we decide what we want to do with the village as a whole."

In that vein, the report presents four perspectives for the property, in no order of priority, should voters approve its acquisition by the town, with the caveat that "the property is well suited for combining any number of uses and it is not the intention of this study to suggest that there is only a single potential use for the property."

In keeping with the Village Charette Report, Safe Routes to School Travel Plan and 2008 Master Plan, the property could provide access and egress to the school district property from Rte.25. The School District expressed no misgivings with the one way in and out via Blake Road. Nor did Police Chief Leonard Wetherbee and Fire Chief David Bengston, though both said that a second route could enhance safety.

Alternatively, the committee found that the property could house a multi-purpose community center, noting that in 2011 The Blue Ribbon Commission Report on Community Services and Facilities recommended that "the town pursue development of a facility that includes an indoor gymnasium, recreation department office, program and storage space that would be on existing school land or property adjacent to school facilities." Both the Village Charette and Master Plan also referred to development of a community center.

The committee also heard that the property offered an opportunity to develop a park in the center of the village, perhaps with walking trails and recreational space. The Master Plan envisioned a "village green" and the Village Charette Report also referred to creating green space. Some suggested a park might be compatible with some additional parking space.

Finally, the report notes that residents expressed "considerable concern" that if the town does not acquire the property "anything can happen there" in compliance with the zoning ordinance. There was significant support for reusing the buildings on the property and, if they could not be rehabilitated, for ensuring that new structures should be "stylistically sympathetic." The committee noted that the site offers "many commercial applications," including small shops and restaurants, that would be compatible with either green space or a parking lot.

The committee recognized the challenge of reaching consensus about how to use the property and suggested that if voters approve its purchase, the Board of Selectmen consider a feasibility study to "identify what different options may be available." At the same time, noting that there was discussion "about the possibility that the property had no public use," the committee agreed to represent such concerns in its report by stating there may be no compelling need for the town to buy the property and therefore no public use for it."

Last Updated on Saturday, 14 December 2013 01:44

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Heroin said to have fallen out of new inmates pocket at county jail

BELMONT — A Concord man with ties to the community was released on $5,000 personal recognizance bail yesterday after being charged with possession of heroin.

Affidavits obtained from the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division said Jon Daigle, 26, of Garvin Falls Road in Concord was in custody at the Belknap County House of Corrections Wednesday evening when he "somehow took out a small baggy of brown chunk matter that Officer (Evan) Boulanger recognized to be heroin and put it on the floor."

Daigle allegedly started sliding the baggie with his foot when the corrections officer stopped him and took custody of the drugs. The brown matter field tested positive for heroin.

The corrections officer told Daigle that it couldn't have been on the floor unnoticed before his arrival. Daigle told Boulanger he had "no idea what it was and maybe it fell out of his jacket or something."

Daigle apparently landed in jail after making contact with two Belmont Police officers earlier in the day.

Affidavits said he was spotted having a conversation behind the Circle K on the corner of Route 106 and Gilmanton Road with an older male in a truck and then walking away from his. Police said it appeared the older male was trying to stop him from leaving.

Daigle started walking south on Route 106 and one officer made contact with him while a different officer spoke with the man in the truck, learning he was Daigle's father.

Boulanger said when he stopped Daigle he was told by him that he and his father had just had an argument and he said he was walking home toward Concord to blow off some steam.

He gave Boulanger his driver's license and from that Boulanger learned there was an active electronic bench warrant from 6th Circuit Court, Concord Division. Boulanger patted down Daigle for weapons and took his cell phone before he was placed in the cruiser.

It was when Daigle was being booked and shed some of his multiple layers of clothing that the heroin allegedly fell from his pocket.

Last Updated on Saturday, 14 December 2013 01:38

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New lawyers for Amy LaFond seek to delay Feb. 3 start to her trial

LACONIA — The attorneys representing Amy Lafond, the Laconia woman charged with manslaughter and negligent homicide for allegedly driving into two teenage girls — killing one and injuring the other — in April, will seek more time to prepare for trial, which is scheduled to begin with the selection of a jury on February 3.

Justice James D. O'Neill, III opened a brief hearing in Belknap County Superior Court yesterday by confirming that the state, as required, offered a plea arrangement, but the defense has made no counter offer. Jared Bedrick of the Sisti Law Offices, whose lead attorney Mark Sisti was retained by Lafond just last week, told the court that his office has not had sufficient time to review the case and respond to the offer.

Aware that a final pretrial conference is scheduled for January 14, Bedrick said that the defense would file a motion for continuance to allow sufficient time for discovery and depositions, which he expected would be complete by the end of January. County Attorney Melissa Countway Guldbrandsen told the court that she was not agreeing to rescheduling.

Yesterday's dispositional hearing was intended to determine if the case will be resolved by a court trial or plea bargain. Bedrick assured the court that a motion for continuance will be filed no later than Monday. However, in October, in order to expedite proceedings, the Superior Court introduced guidelines narrowly limiting the grounds for granting continuances.

Lilyanna Johnson and Allysa Miner were struck while on the sidewalk at the crosswalk at the south end of the Messer Street Bridge at approximately 2:30 p.m. on April 19. Lafond was traveling northbound on Messer Street toward its intersection with Opechee Street. A car going in the same direction had stopped at the crosswalk, apparently to enable a number of middle school students standing at the corner to cross the street. Lafond is alleged to have skirted the stopped car, crossed into the southbound lane of Messer Street and mounted the raised sidewalk, hitting the two girls.

In charging manslaughter, a class A felony, the state alleges that LaFond recklessly caused the death of Johnson by driving while distracted at an excessive speed after consuming drugs. Manslaughter carries a maximum sentence of 15 to 30 years in prison. Alternatively, she was indicted on two alternative theories of negligent homicide, both class B felonies, one for "failing to maintain a proper lookout" and the other for "failing to pay due attention while operating a motor vehicle after having consumed drugs." As class B felonies the negligent homicide charges carry maximum sentences of three-and-a-half seven years in prison. Lafond is also charged with second degree assault, also a class B felony with a sentence of three-and-a-half to seven years, for injuring Miner. 

Lafond pled not guilty to the charges when she was arraigned on September 25 and was subsequently indicted by a Belknap County Grand Jury on October 3. Since her arraignment she has been held in lieu of bail of $50,000 cash or $100,000 corporate surety. She appeared in court yesterday wearing a green jail uniform.

Last Updated on Saturday, 14 December 2013 01:34

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