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We're supposed to vet these non-profits ourselves, so here goes

To The Daily Sun,

For the 4,100 registered voters in Alton, who were unable to attend the deliberative session on Wednesday night, Feb. 3, this voter wants to share some disturbing information learned that night.

During discussions on the requests for financial assistance from the many non-profits, I asked the selectmen and the Budget Committee if they reviewed the financial statements and/or operating budgets of the nonprofits, before the boards made their recommendations to the taxpayers. The answer was, no. It is up to the voters to figure out if these nonprofits are being good stewards of our tax dollars. So, what does that mean for those of us who look at the recommendation of these two boards on every warrant article? Are we being misled?

The task before us now is to vet these agencies our selves. As your representative, in my work as a Belknap County delegate, this is what I learned from my review of some of these nonprofits.

Art. 28 Community Action Program: This is five programs combined. Three are good programs: meals on wheels, senior companion, and rural transportation. I question if prenatal and family planning, which make referrals to other programs like Planned Parenthood (and we all know what they do), are worthy of our tax dollars.

Art. 33 New Beginnings: A nationwide program with no financial statements to review; it seems like a redundant program.

Art. 34 Genesis Behavioral Health: They gave six top staffers over $196,000 in raises in 2015 alone. Total salaries for the six employees is over $1 million, Genesis has more than $1.3 million invested in stocks and bonds. Gross revenues for 2015 is in excess of $17 million, and the lion's share of revenues is taxpayer funded. Remember, these numbers are just for Belknap County. Also, this just in from The Laconia Daily Sun on Feb. 6: Genesis to purchase privately owned portion of Laconia parking garage if, the city repairs it.

Art. 35 Caregivers of Southern Carroll County: this service is already supported through Community Action Program.

Art. 36 CASA: This program has $456,352 in stock market investments and gave its employees 8 percent pay raises in 2015, not to mention their non-professional volunteers give advice to the courts that affect families' lives.

Art. 37 Appalachian Mountain Teen project: Last year two privileged Alton youth participated in their program and this organization gives money to lobbying groups.

Art. 38 Child & Family Services: Here again, we support these services through the Community Action Program.

Art. 39 Life Ministries: This is a new request this year and all but one selectman voted not to recommend but, the reality is, it should not have been put on the ballot because it is a violation of our rights under the United States Constitution's Art. 1 and the New Hampshire Constitution Part First-Bill of Rights, Art. 5, referring to separation of church and state.

So please, even if you feel compelled to support all the other nonprofits, if this one passes at any amount, we may be faced with thousand or tens of thousands of dollars in lawsuits. Well, this is the information I was able to find to share with everyone and if you have information to share, you can do so, through the support of our great local papers. Sharing information will help us all make informed decisions.

Raymond Howard Jr.
State Representative, Belknap District 8

Alton

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Please vote to save the Gale School at Shaker voting on March 4

To The Daily Sun,

Approximately 20 years ago, I received a phone call from Sue Roberts, a longtime resident, teacher and historian in Belmont. My only encounters with her before this call were at past school district meetings. (You could say we had differing viewpoints and opinions on many school projects proposed back then.)

Imagine my surprise when she asked if I would join her and others in Belmont to save the old mill from the wrecking ball. Long story short, I did and we saved the mill.

After, Sue and I found that we had a number of things in common, one of which was a love of history. In the coming years, we spoke together of the preservation of the Gale School on several occasions. Again, we agreed on the importance of preserving this piece of history as we did the mill.

Like the mill, the Gale School has been pretty much abandoned, ignored and eventually judged not to be worth saving by school officials. The people who comprised previous school boards, and those today have lost sight of what the Gale School once was, see it only as it is presently, and have no vision of what it could be. They have failed as custodians of the building, allowing the foundation to be undermined by the weather and the passage of time. The outside to become shabby and unattractive, until finally they found it "in the way." Yet our group the Save Our Gale School Committee hired structural engineers found the building to be SOUND despite the years of neglect.

The Save Our Gale School Committee has remained loyal to the idea of restoration and reuse of the building. We have tried for years to convince the various school boards of its historical significance and potential. We have managed to delay the demolition for many years. However, this will be our last "at bat." We cannot do it alone, yet we have done so much over this past year.

Should the people vote "yes" to preserve it, we will continue to work with the school district to find grants, donations of money, time, work and materials to restore it. With the money the school board has proposed that it would use to demolish and take it away, ($70,000-plus) we could replace the foundation and start the restoration process where it presently stands. They also are prepared to use another $30,000 of unexpended funds to erect a new storage building in the approximate location that the Gale School currently occupies.

Why should we spend this much money to take down a perfectly sound, historically significant structure and replace it with, what?

My choice is to leave it where it is and to replace the foundation ... it has been there for over 100 years, and will last 100 more. The school board told us that it doesn't have to abide by the voters' choice should they choose to preserve the building. This will be a grievous mistake on their part. We will fight such a decision by them.

Please — vote to save the Gale School at the district meeting on March 4. Take pride in your history and preserve what is left of it.

Ken Knowlton

Belmont

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