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Automatic Step Increases Stop After 10 Years in New Contract (630)

TILTON — Automatic step increases for teachers with more than 10 years of experience will be a thing of the past in the Winnisquam Regional School District if a new collective bargaining agreement is approved at the annual school district meeting next March.
''There was a perception that teachers are getting double raises because they received both the step increases as well as cost of living increases and we wanted to deal with that,'' said Winnisquam Regional School Board Chair Michael Gagne.
Step increases are built into the salary schedules of most school districts and provide for automatic annual increases based on additional experiences. The Winnisquam School District currently has 41 steps but that will be reduced to from to 11 in the first year of the agreement and 10 the following year.
Gagne said that the agreement which was recently reached between the Winnisquam Regional School District and the Winnisquam Regional Teachers' Association also increases the starting salary for teachers by $5,000 over a three-year period.
He said that in the first year of the three-year agreement, the base pay for new teachers will increase to $34,000 and that it will increase in subsequent years to $35,205 and $36,191. Currently starting pay for a new teacher is $31,152.
'We wanted to attract more teaching candidates and retain staff by making the district's salaries competitive with those of nearby school districts,'' said Gagne.
In the first year of the new contract teachers will be advanced two steps because they are working without a contract this year. The step increases in the first year will be 3 percent of base salary for each step through step 15 and 1.94 percent of the base salary for steps 15-41.
The total "new" cost of the package agreed to will be $559,674 for the 2014-2015 school year.
a 7.25 percent increase in the district's teacher salary account.
In the second year of the contract steps 1-11 will see a three percent increase and those still on the steps will also move up one step. Those no longer on the step schedule will receive a three percent cost of living increase. Total salary increase will be $347,569 for 2015-2016, a 4.2 percent increase in the salary account.
In the final year of the contract steps 1-10 will receive a three percent increase and those who are no longer on the step schedule will receive 2.5 percent cost of living increases. Total increase will be $270,592, a 3.13 percent increase in the salary account.
A teacher on step 5 currently making $36,420 will see a salary increase to $40,129 next year, $42,598 in 2015-16 and $44,877 in 2016-17.
By contrast a teacher on step 15 currently making $47,322 will see an increase to $49,599 next year, $51,357 in 2015-16 and $52,641 the following year.
The teacher currently on step 5 will see an increase of $8,467 over the life contract while the teacher on step 15 will only see an increase of $5,319, more than $3,000 less than the teacher with 10 years less experience.
A major focus of the new contract according to Gagne and Brenda Lawrence, president of the Winnisquam Regional Teachers Association, was the "promotion of professional growth among our existing staff". The contract increases the number of teaching days from 188 to 189 in the first year and then adds another day in the second year. There is also an increase in monies made available for professional development, from $90,000 to $110,000 per year.

A new health care benefit was also added to the contract for retiring teachers. If the agreement is approved, they will be eligible to receive a $6,000 health care allowance annually for a period of five years, or until they become eligible for Medicare, whichever comes first.

"This new benefit encourages our existing staff members to remain in the district long term," said Gagne and Lawrence. "The benefit also makes retirement a reality for some of our existing staff members, with potential savings to the district, long term."


Last Updated on Thursday, 12 December 2013 10:34

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Weirs Beach Water Slide to be torn down soon

LACONIA — The Weirs Beach Water Slide, among the most venerable and visible attractions at Weirs Beach, is slated for demolition early next year.

The owner, Robert Csendes of Bedford, doing business as 45 Endicott, LLC, said yesterday that he has nearly completed an application for a demolition permit and expects to raze the facility sometime in January. He explained that the attraction is in disrepair and costly to insure or renovate.

Csendes said he intends to lease the 2.4-acre property at the corner of Endicott Street North (Rte. 3) and Lakeside Avenue overlooking the iconic Weirs Beach sign where he would construct a building to suit the needs of a long-term tenant. He indicated that he has discussed the redevelopment of the site with several interested parties. At the same time, he anticipates leasing space on the property to vendors during Motorcycle Week in June.

The water park features four slides with a 75-foot drop, several waterfalls and a 110-foot tunnel passing through what is billed as the tallest man-made volcano in the world, marked by the remains of a crashed airplane protruding from its flank. The slides wrap around an 18-hole miniature golf course that meanders through the water park. According to a city property tax card, the attraction was built in 1979.

Cesendes acquired the property for $580,000 at auction in January, 2010 after Bank of New Hampshire foreclosed on the property when Lawrence Baldi, II, whose family had owned the water park since 1995, was defrauded by Financial Resources Mortgage, Inc. of Meredith and defaulted on loans totaling $703,000. The property is currently assessed at $540,900.

The other water park at The Weirs, Surf Coaster USA, which was built at the corner of White Oaks Road and Endicott Street East in 1983, closed after the 2006 season and has been for sale ever since.

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 December 2013 06:07

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Successful car show leads to $10k in donations from L.R. Rotary Club

LACONIA — The Lakes Region Rotary Club's first-ever car show proved a bigger hit than it's members ever anticipated, with 150 cars, pickup trucks and street rods showing up at the parking lot at the Weirs Beach Lobster Pound restaurant in July.
''We were caught completely by surprise by the turnout. We only had 37 cars registered before the show and we ended up having to print more entry forms the day of the show,'' said Scott Wilkinson, club president, as he presided at an cash awards ceremony Tuesday morning at the Water Street Cafe .
At the meeting the club presented checks from the $10,000 it raised at the show to nine different community organizations.
Wilkinson said that 700 people attended the show, which was so successful that the club is planning to hold a second show at the same location next July.
''We're going to do it again on the 26th of July,'' said Wilkinson, who credited Jeff Graham of Graham, & Graham along with John Silva and Tim Pratt for organizing the show.
Organizations receiving checks from the club included the Lakes Region Scholarship Foundation, the Laconia Educational Endowment Foundation (LEEF), Great Lakes Region Child Advocacy Center, the Circle Program, the Boys and Girls Club of Lakes Region, the LHS Athletic Field Fund, Lakes Region Rotary Youth Leadership, the Laconia Area Community Land Trust and LRGHealthcare.
Wilkinson said about half of the funds raised came from event sponsors, including AutoServ, major sponsor; the Bank of NewHampshire, Graham & Graham, Meredith Village Savings Bank, The Inn at Mill Falls, The Weirs Times, WEMJ and Vermont Soapstone, which provided trophies for winners.
Best in Show award for last summer's show went to a 1957 Chevy Cameo pickup truck owned by John Noyes of Holderness and the People's Choice award went to a 1956 Fiesta Red 1956 Ford Thunderbird owned by Bill and Lois Porter of Franklin.
Many notable cars were at the show, including a futuristic looking DeLorean of "Back to the Future" fame, a 1977 AMC Pacer Wagon with a license plate ''Ugly-1'' brought to the show by Peter Waugh of Center Ossipee and a ''Rat Rod'', fabricated by Tim Bartlett of Belmont which had a shortened Chevy S-10 frame, the front end of an International Harvester pickup truck and a powerful 383 Stroker engine. The ''Rat Rod'' also had a 631 blower with twin 750 cube carburetors and a two-speed power glide transmission out of a Chevy Nova.

Next year's show will be a judged show with trophies awarded in each category and the Best in the Show winning a night's stay at Mills Falls in Meredith.


Lakes Region Rotary Club held an awards breakfast at the Water Street Cafe Tuesday morning at which it distributed checks to organizations from its first annual car show held in July which raised $10,000. Shown are Jeff Graham, club member from Graham & Graham, who organized the show; Tom Clairmont, president and CEO of LRGHealthcare; Joanne Cormier of the Lakes Region Scholarship Foundation; Carole Davis of the Laconia Education Endowment Foundation; Kathy Kearns of the Circle Program; Scott Wilkinson, Rotary Club president; Matt Lahey of the LHS Athletic Field Fund; Bob Ewell, who heads Lakes Region Youth Leadership program; Kamal Gosine of AutoServ, major event sponsor and Lou Guevin of Bank of New Hampshire, another event sponsor. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 December 2013 02:34

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Court decision casts shadow over plans for yacht club on former Burger King site

LACONIA — A plan to develop a yacht club on a lot fronting Paugus Bay that once served as a parking lot for Burger King was thrown into limbo when Justice James D. O'Neill, III recently upheld a decision by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) denying the property owner a permit to install a docking system.

The former Burger King along upper Union Avenue property consisted of three lots, one of 1.1-acres where the restaurant stood and two smaller parcels to its south, one of 0.56-acres on the water and another of 0.05-acres on the street, which provided space for the drive-through window and customer parking. The three lots had two owners, both of whom leased to Erin Food Services, Inc., which owned and operated the Burger King franchise.

In 1974, DES granted Erin a permit to install a "seasonal modular floating dock" with 52 boat slips on the two smaller lots, which extended across the waterfront of both parcels.

When the leases held by Erin expired the three lots changed hands. Ownership of the larger of the two lots passed to Legacy Realty Trust while the Mastoran Corporation, a restaurant management firm headquartered in Waltham, Massachusetts, took ownership of the remaining lots.

Plans to redevelop the abutting properties kindled the dispute over docking rights. In 2009 local attorney Paul Bordeau and Bill Contardo, a member of the Planning Board, together doing business as P & B Realty Ventures, LLC proposed building a private yacht club on the Mastoran property, which has 258 feet of shoreline. The project would include a docking system with 52 boat slips, mirroring the original dock installed in 1974.

Two years later Watermark Marine Systems, LLC of Gilford leased the adjacent lot with its 364 feet of shoreline with an option to buy, intending to construct a commercial marina with 14 boat slips.

In 2012 both Watermark and Mastoran applied to DES for permits to install docking systems. The agency granted a permit to Watermark but denied a permit to Mastoran. DES found that Mastoran forfeited its right to the dock by failing "for a period of five years to maintain the existing structure in a condition so that it is functional and intact." Moreover, DES ruled that the dock system approved in 1974 was contingent on including, the shorefront of both lots — altogether 622 feet — in calculating the number of slips permitted.

Mastoran filed suit, asking the court to affirm its right to the docking system approved in 1974 and void DES's approval of the docking system proposed by Watermark to the extent it interferes with that right. In court Mastoran argued that when the governor and Executive Council approved the docking system in 1974 it issued "a grant of right" to Erin, which inhered in the property. Moreover, the firm claimed that the approval was not contingent on the inclusion of the shorefront of the adjoining lot.

Watermark countered that since any authority to install the original or a similar docking system expired with Erin's lease on the abutting parcel since the approval of the dock hinged on the company's control of both properties.

In ruling against Mastoran, O'Neill rejected the contention that Erin was awarded a "grant of right," first because the docking system was a seasonal structure that required no dredge or fill and second because, as a lessee rather than an owner, the company was not entitled to such a grant. O'Neill held that Mastoran cannot rely on the permission granted Erin for authority to install a docking system.

Without authority to install a docking system, the prospect of developing a yacht club on the Mastoran property, which is currently assessed for $204,000, is diminished. Mastoran has appealed DES's denial of a dock permit within the agency where a decision is pending.

Contardo said yesterday that he expects Mastoran will also appeal O'Neill's ruling the New Hampshire Supreme Court, but in the meantime he acknowledged that plans for a yacht club are "in limbo."

Watermark is proceeding with construction of the commercial marina where the renovated and expanded restaurant building will house its corporate offices and a retail store.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 December 2013 02:25

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