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Community college presents plans for new building

LACONIA — Officials of Lakes Region Community College, including President Scott Kalicki, presented a proposal to construct a new building to house the school's automotive programs to the Planning Board on Tuesday night. The presentation was a courtesy, since the board has no authority to approve or disapprove of projects undertaken by government entities.

The Automotive Service Education Building, consisting of 21,000-square-feet of space, will be built adjacent to the space where the programs have been housed at a cost of $2.5 million.

"It's been a long time coming," said Tom Goulette, vice-president of academic and community affairs at the college, who added that enrollment in both the General Motors and generic automotive programs have grown significantly. "We are teaching days, evenings and Saturdays to accommodate the number of students," he said.

Goulette said that once the new building is complete, planning will begin to renovate the vacated space, which will become home to the culinary arts program. In 2012 the culinary arts program moved to Canterbury Shaker Village, where the teachers and students manage and operate the popular Shaker Table restaurant. "It's been a great partnership," Goulette said, adding that enrollments have swelled rapidly since the college partnered with Canterbury Shaker Village.

The new building will be the third constructed on the campus atop Prescottt Hill in the last 10 years. In 2004, the 34,000 square-foot Center for Arts and Technology, a $5.7-million project, followed in 2012 by the Health and Science Building of 27,000 square feet built at a cost of $6.4-million. The three buildings are the first additions to the campus since the main building was constructed in 1968.

"We have been extremely fortunate," Goulette said, "and all this investment has gone directly to serving our students."

Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 October 2014 01:46

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City's insurance company appealing lawsuit ruling to Supreme Court

LACONIA — The insurance company representing the city in a lawsuit filed by a woman who claims she was injured when she caught her foot on a mat under a slide at Opechee Park has appealed a Belknap Superior Court judge's refusal to dismiss the case to the N.H. Supreme Court.

The appeal asked the Supreme Court to determine whether Judge Larry Smukler determined the city owed Margaret Dolbeare a "duty of care" despite a law that says a landowner owes no duty to keep the premises safe for outdoor recreational activity.

Primex is also asking if the trial court erred when it held the city was not immune from suit because of a different law regarding recreation uses that are free of charge.

Attorneys for Primex are asking the Supreme Court to clarify the intent of both laws as they apply to recreational facilities.

Dolbeare is asking for an unspecified amount of money to cover the cost of knee replacement surgery, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life, permanent injury, medical expenses and lost earning potential.

In 2012, Dolbeare said she was with her grandchild and went to use the swings at Opechee Park. She said a mat had been placed over a hole under the swings and she caught her foot under it and was injured.

In July , the city sought to dismiss the suit saying state recreation statutes provided for immunity for recreational activities. When Smukler asked the Primex attorney if the city has a duty to maintain its recreation facilities — in this case a swing set and the land it sits on — he replied "no".

Dolbeare, through her attorneys, argued that the laws cited by the city does not apply to man-made additions — like a swing set — and that the two laws being used from Primex are for raw land used for hunting, fishing, hiking, and other similar recreation activities.

She argued that the city built the swing set with the intention of attracting people to it and has a duty to maintain it.

Smukler agreed with Dolbeare and refused to dismiss the suit.

The city asked for a reconsideration of the non-dismissal ruling but that motion was also denied.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 October 2014 01:44

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Mom tells Laconia School Board that alcohol & sports policy not evenly enforced

LACONIA — A local woman and parent of a high school student told the School Board last night that in her opinion the athletic policy regarding under-aged drinking at out-of-school events was not being equally enforced for all students.

Specifically, the woman said that the policy states that if a student is present at a party with alcohol the student is suspended from his or her sport for two weeks. A second violation is cause for permanent suspension from the team.

She said last year her child, who plays for a sports team, was caught at a party where alcohol was served and was suspended for two weeks. Three weeks later, she said the child went to a friend's house, learned there was alcohol being consumed by minors and left.

She said her child was suspended permanently from the sport.

This year, she said she learned and allegedly has documentation that some members of the football team allegedly had a party after Homecoming where alcohol was served.

She said she notified the athletic director who told her he would look into it. He reported back that he spoke to the parent who told him there was no alcohol.

"No proof, no suspension," she said. The woman also said the city police were looking into the complaint about the party however the Sun was unable to confirm this at press time.

She said she appealed to Superintendent Terri Forsten about a week ago but still hasn't gotten any answers. Last night, she addressed the School Board.

"If it's enforced for one, it must be enforced for all," she said.

After hearing her statement, Forsten told her to be careful about naming names because there were media representatives in the room and she didn't want to unfairly accuse anyone who could possibly be identified.

School Board Chair Chris Guilmett said this was the first time he had heard about the alleged party and said it would be investigated and addressed.

Member Mike Persson noted that the problem of under-aged drinking parties is serious and prevalent and that, although it is happening off school property, he felt the district should be addressing the problem as part of the district's recent outreach to students about behavioral issues including drugs and alcohol.

"All it will take is one angry parent," said the woman.

Longtime School Board member Joe Cormier said as far as he was concerned, a policy is a policy and it's there to be followed.

The woman thanked them for their time and left.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 October 2014 01:41

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Laconia schools get extra $313k in state aid this year

LACONIA — The School Board learned this week that it will get an additional $313,005 in so-called state adequacy money that it didn't anticipate for this school year.

The recommendation the School Board will make to the City Council is that the money be put in an expendable trust fund the district can use in the future to offset possible decreases in school adequacy aid.

Because of the way the state calculates education adequacy aid as compared to the preparation schedule for the annual school budget, school districts do not have an exact number from the state until months after the budget is set.

Laconia School District saw a decrease of state adequacy aid in last fiscal year of $150,000 and the year before had a decrease from expectation of $300,000. Both times the school district had to make cuts to their budget to reflect the loss.

Business Administrator Ed Emond said the trust fund would operate much the same was as the Special Education Trust Fund and the Health Insurance Trust Fund — both of which are used to offset any unforeseen costs in those lines after the budget was finalized.

The recommendation must be approved by the City Council.

Should the council disagree, Emond said the money would be used to offset this year's property tax burden.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 October 2014 01:32

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