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Re-Imagine Laconia open house is tonight

LACONIA — Tonight the city's Planning Department will cap the process to "Re-imagine Laconia" with an open house at the Opechee Conference Center in Lakeport beginning at 5 p.m.

The Re-imagine Laconia effort is the first step in the preparation of a Master Plan re-write designed to define and identify the values that will inform the vision statement, which will serve as the keystone of the plan.

The conference center will be ringed with different interactive stations where participants can mingle with one another while offering their perspectives on the future of the city during the first hour.

At the "heroes and headlines" station residents will be asked to write a sketch about someone who has left an indelible mark on the city and its inhabitants along with a newspaper headline envisioning the city 10 years into the future. At the land use station there will be a number of options for changing the face of the city together with colored dots for residents to score them in order of priority. Residents will also have opportunities to express their opinions about the management of natural resources and the development of the local economy.

Those who have not completed the survey on-line at www.re-imaginelaconia.org will have another opportunity at the survey station where laptops will available to record responses. to 10 questions, all aimed at gathering opinions about all aspects of civic life, from the outward appearance to the quality of life in the city.

Children will be welcomed and a table will offer them activities to pass the time while teens will have a corner to themselves to "text their opinions".

At 6 p.m. Planning Director Shanna Saunders will summarize the results of the community forum held in October, explain what steps have been taken since and look ahead to the next steps in formulating the Master Plan. In particular, Saunders will address the values and priorities expressed by residents and visitors since her department began soliciting opinion last summer. The goal will be to identify the principal values and incorporate them into a vision statement that will inform all aspects of the Master Plan.

David Hohenschau of the Orton Family Foundation, which provided funding and support for this stage of the Master Plan process, will explain why the identification and refinement of community values is essential to the planning process.

At 7 p.m. the open house will resume another hour for those who arrived after 6 p.m. Drinks and light refreshments will served during the evening.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 March 2015 12:16

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Terenzini will resign as town administrator in Moultonborough

MOULTONBOROUGH — Town Administrator Carter Terenzini yesterday announced he will resign his position effective April 1. His decision followed the failure of a petitioned warrant article to eliminate the position of town administrator — and Terenzini with it — by an overwhelming majority of 180 to 40 at Town Meeting on Saturday.

Terenzini yesterday confirmed reports of his resignation, saying that he had informed the staff of his decision, and noted "the very wide margin" against the warrant article, but politely declined any further comment.

Terenzini, who began his career in public service in 1973, became town administrator in Moultonborough in 2008 after holding the same position in Spenser, Mass. for nine years. He also was city manager in Mt. Morris, Michigan and town administrator in Castleton, Vermont. Before turning to administration he was commissioner of Community of Economic Development in Pittsfield, Massachusetts and later principal planner and economic analyst with the State of Massachusetts. He earned an associate of arts degree at Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield, Massachusetts and Masters of Business Administration at Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland.

For much of his tenure in Moultonborough, Terenzini has been the target of suspicion and criticism from a vocal segment of the community who more than once questioned the renewal of his contract. In 2013, 200 petitioners urged the Board of Selectmen not to renew his contract and begin seeking a replacement. This first open effort to oust him began when the Selectboard pursued removal proceedings against two members of the Planning Board — Josh Bartlett and Judy Ryerson — which after much prevarication and dissembling was ultimately revealed to have been initiated by a recommendation from Terenzini.

After dismissing Terenzini's complaint against Bertlett and Ryerson the selectmen discounted the petition and renewed his contract for two years, until March 31, 2016. This year Terenzini's critics took a different tack, seeking to remove him by eliminating his job.

Meanwhile, Terenzini had apparently read the handwriting on the wall for some time. In 2010, he applied for a town administrator's position in Palmer, Mass. A year later he was interviewed for a similar position in Kingston, Rhode Island and in 2012 he was among three finalists for an opening in Wareham, Mass.

NOTE: A recount on Monday confirmed Josh Bartlett as the winner of the second open seat on the Board of Selectmen. On election day, Jean Beadle, chairman of the Advisory Budget Committee polled 374 votes, Bartlett polled 295 votes and Chuck Connell polled 294 votes. Connell requested the recount, which found Bartlett received 296 votes and Connell 294 votes.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 March 2015 12:13

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Sheriff warns of scammers posing as IRS debt collectors

LACONIA — As the deadline for filing income tax returns approaches, the Belknap County Sheriff's Department is warning residents against a new twist on a scam making use of the Internal Revenue Service.

Callers, identifying themselves as officials of the IRS, claim that a person owes the IRS money and demands immediate payment by means of a credit card or money order or seeks personal banking information. In one case, the caller hung up when a woman told him she intended to contact her attorney, but called again the next posing as the Belknap County Sheriff. He told the woman there was an outstanding warrant and she must pay at once to avoid arrest.

Callers, who may be operating virtually anywhere, employ so-called "spoofing" technology to clone legitimate telephone numbers. Calls matching an IRS center and the sheriff's department have appeared on caller IDs.

Sheriff Craig Wigging said that his department would never call anyone on behalf of the IRS about a pending tax issue. Moreover, the IRS never calls taxpayers about outstanding tax issues, but instead sends a letter, sometimes by certified mail.

"We would urge anyone who receives such a telephone call or e-mail solicitation to contact their local police department," Wiggin said.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 March 2015 11:13

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Bank of New Hampshire divests its stake in The Tavern

LACONIA —Most did not learn that the Bank of New Hampshire had an ownership stake in The Tavern, home to 50 units of affordable housing operated by the Laconia Housing Authority (LHA), until the bank announced this week that it has transferred its interest in the property to the LHA.

Richard Weaver, executive director of the LHA, said yesterday that the bank and the LHA entered their partnership in 1997 to purchase The Tavern from the Stafford family, who operated the former hotel as an apartment building. What was then Laconia Savings Bank, together with the Village Bank & Trust of Gilford, contributed $607,000 to the $2.4-million financial package with which the LHA acquired and renovated the building. Laconia Savings Bank acquired Village Bank & Trust and ultimately changed its name to Bank of New Hampshire.

The financial package also included loans of $1,260,000 from Meredith Village Savings Bank and $500,000 from the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority.

In return, Weaver explained the banks received low-income tax credits against their federal tax liabilities as well as complied with their obligations under the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), which encourages regulated financial institutions to address the credit needs of the communities where they operate. He said that the LHA managed and operated The Tavern as the general partner while the banks were limited and silent partners.

With the expiration of the tax credits, the bank transferred its share of The Tavern to the LHA, making it the sole owner of the building. Weaver said that recently the LHA was awarded a Community Development Block Grant of $500,000, which leveraged another $125,000 from energy efficiency programs through Public Service of New Hampshire (electric) and Liberty Utilities (natural gas), and the Public Utilities Commission's Solar Rebate Program. As a result of improved energy efficiency the LHA has reduced its energy consumption at The Tavern by 29 percent, sparing some $23,500 in annual costs.

Originally built as the Laconia Tavern Hotel in 1912, The Tavern it was advertised as an upscale hotel with luxury amenities. The 100 rooms came with or without private baths, telephones, and hardwood floors with rugs. Elevators, electric lights, and its own automobile garage made this hotel very modern. The most famous of its guests was President Eisenhower. It was operated as a hotel until the early 1970s when it was converted into apartments and subsequently became known as the Stafford House.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 March 2015 11:04

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