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Nursing home plans, park maintenance, firearms regs discussed


September 17, 2009
OSSIPEE — Carroll County Commission Chair David Sorensen made a guest appearance at this week's select board meeting where he updated the public on plans for the new county nursing home.

"We've been going around to all of the selectman's offices, or holding meetings in the towns, like in Wolfeboro. We're looking for input into the nursing home for the $23.5 building; it has yet to go out for a bond. Normally the delegation would do that quickly. The commission is waiting to receive the Certificate of Need from the state."

Sorensen said he planned to testify at the certificate hearing today (Sept. 17). "As soon as that is approved we'll go out for the bond," he said, and if we have time this fall we'll start some site work. If not we'll start next spring." The anticipated completion date for the 103-bed facility is fall of 2012.

Sorensen said the commission is looking to keep the core of the existing nursing home, with UNH Cooperative Extension as the new tenant. The commission is also considering creating an inmate-run laundry service, and retaining the large kitchen and dining area in the core building which could be used for large meetings.

Commissioners are considering alternative energy sources for the new building, such as a wood pellet furnace and geo-thermal. Solar power for electricity may not be feasible, but solar power could heat the hot water. As for wind power, the commission currently doesn't have the wind velocity average numbers that it needs to determine if it's a feasible power source. Select board member Morton Leavitt said there was a Vermont company that may have those numbers available.

Sorensen noted that the new Merrimack County nursing home went with geo-thermal at its 300-bed facility. One problem with its 16 wells was that the some of the electric motors burn out because they are pumping water up and down as high as four floors.

The new Carroll County home will be twice the size of the current facility, at 83,000 square feet, with two floors. "We're trying to make it as green as possible, with a lot of insulation," he noted. The new home will have 103 private, 440-square foot, rooms, each with its own bath, which may be a big selling point for private pay clients, he said. Each room will have its own window with enough storage for wheelchairs and walkers.

He said the windows would be taken out of the bathrooms, which face the exterior walls. Within the home, residents' rooms will be organized into neighborhoods centered around a small kitchen. Meals will be prepared at the main kitchen then brought to the small kitchens for disbursement to the residents. The new home will also have some rooms that accommodate couples.

Currently, the home has about 25 private pay residents, and that number may improve when the new home is built. The home's day rate is $245 a day.

Leavitt asked if Sorensen anticipated that the movement to keep the elderly in their own homes would affect the county's ability to fill the rooms at the new facility. Sorensen said they would always have people who are unable to stay at home. "I think it's a great idea for the state to put money into keeping people at home – I'd want to be at home myself – but we as you know can't refuse anybody unless we can't provide the service. We take the sickest of the sick. The private nursing homes take anyone they can get. And if they get people that need rehab, that's a money maker," said Sorensen. The county's new home will have a second floor rehabilitation center that can also be used for residents and outside patients as well. "We may take in people who just had a hip or a knee operation that need some rehab just for day, and that would generate some income for us," he noted.

Plans are included for a café, which may or may not be privatized. The café could be a draw for personnel or juries from the county courthouse across the street, since there's no nearby restaurant, he said.

"Our laundry is swamped," he said, adding it currently costs $45,000 a year to ship laundry out. The current laundry facility only deals with residents' private clothing, and not the linens.

After his summary, Sorensen thanked select board chair Kathleen Maloney for testifying in support of the new home to the Legislature.

Constitution Park

Selectmen authorized Public Works Director Brad Harriman to work up a proposal for repairs and maintenance at Constitution Park. Select board member Harry Merrow said he and Leavitt recently toured the park, located of Route 25, and found it in a state of disrepair. "The trails are not clear; the support posts on the walkway are giving out; the picnic table is either rotted or broken; some of the signs are missing. What I would like to see Brad not do the work but to go down, take a look at it and work up the costs," he said. "I would insist that the new picnic table be a metal one," he added. "Obviously we're not going to do the work this year but we will have time to get it on the warrant," said Merrow. Leavitt said there is a beach down there that the town has not taken advantage of. "If the town promoted the area we might need a larger parking area," he said. Swimming is allowed in the area.

Firearms regulations

Merrow proposed an update to the wording in the town's firearms regulation to coincide with state regulations. By way of background, he said when he was in the state Legislature, each individual town was coming up with their own regulations on where you could and could not carry firearms.

He said it is legal for a person without a concealed firearms permit to carry a weapon in a visible holster; and of course a person with a license could carry a concealed weapon. The state introduced and passed a bill that rendered restrictive municipal rules on firearms null and void. "We didn't think we had anything in our (Ossipee) regulations that pertained to this but it was brought to our attention that we did within our regulations on use of indoor/outdoor facilities under paragraph eight." Chair Maloney read an amendment that clarified that the regulation only prohibits "unlawful" possession of firearms on town property.

"There are lawful gun owners and I think everybody in the United States has the right to own a gun. However there are those within society that are not allowed to have a gun perhaps because of past history, etc., but unlawful possession of firearms or unlawful discharge of firearms or fireworks – the key word here is 'unlawful,'" she said. The practical affect of this is anyone who wanted to wear a firearm on the hip is entitled to do that. You would need a license, however, to carry a concealed weapon. A motion to amend the wording passed unanimously.

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