Council Approves $21M for Duprey’s Building; More Than 60,000 Came For Eclipse

Print More

Paula Tracy photo

The staff of the New Hampshire Hospital was commended for their bravery and capacity to keep serving the state's "most vulnerable" during a November 2023 armed assault that killed security guard Bradley Haas who was unarmed.


CONCORD – The Executive Council was told at least 60,000 vehicles above the normal flow passed through the tolls for the Solar Eclipse, and approved $21 million for the purchase of Granite Place South from developer Stephen M. Duprey of Concord.

The council also backed almost $1 million in crop loss grants for farmers for 2023 weather events and spent money to fix fire towers in Milford and Stoddard, among issues placed before them Wednesday.

Gov. Chris Sununu also offered commendation to the staff of the New Hampshire Hospital for their bravery and capacity to keep serving the state’s “most vulnerable” during a November 2023 armed assault that killed security guard Bradley Haas who was unarmed.

The emotional, sometimes tearful honor brought out more than 20 staffers.

Ellen Lapointe, chief executive officer at New Hampshire Hospital, recounted the tragedy and the heroic efforts taken by the staff and particularly those of Haas.

She said while talking to staff who gathered before the commendation, one said she hoped this would be a healing moment to help them cope with the tragedy.


The council also got an update on the potential sale of the former Laconia State School, which has not changed with a deadline looming April 22 to close or lose the deposit after several delays.

However, the Secretary of State’s office confirmed there is an ongoing investigation by the state’s Securities bureau into developer Robynne Alexander, about which they refused to elaborate.

Alexander has until April 22 still to “put up” $21.5 million she has pledged to buy the former Laconia State School’s 200 or more acres or “shut up,” said Charlie Arlinghaus, commissioner of the Department of Administrative Services and if they don’t have the money that day the state will get the $200,000 deposit and put it back on the market.

“We’ve been dancing with this for a while,” said Executive Councilor Ted Gatsas, R-Manchester, noting it has been 18 months since a purchase and sales agreement was signed to build over 1,200 units of housing, but no closing.

But he noted there have been numerous newspaper articles including one in which the state’s Bureau of Securities Regulation said it is investigating Alexander, who is developer of other projects in the state. Gatsas asked Arlinghaus if there were any changes because of this information.

“We are where we were last meeting. April 22 is the date to put up or shut up,” he said. “And we will see what happens.”

Scott Tranchemontagne, spokesman for Alexander’s Legacy at Laconia LLC, said Monday they are still trying to secure financing with the deadline looming.

“I would assume there is money in escrow now?” Gatsas said.

Arlinghaus said he would assume that that could occur as late as early next week.

“So we are confident we are going to close?” Gatsas asked.

“No, I have not said that,” Arlinghaus said.

Sununu interrupted and said, “we are giving them a shot to do it.”

“As soon as someone shows me a suitcase full of cash we’ll close that day,” Arlinghaus said, though noting he spoke in gest, “I do suspect there is a…prohibition on cash.”

After the meeting, Executive Councilor Joe Kenney of Wakefield, a Republican in whose district the Laconia property is located, said he was not made aware that Alexander was facing a Securities investigation prior to this week.

“No one seems to know what’s in it,” though he said it cannot be a criminal matter because the Department of Justice was not made aware of it.

He, too, said whether there is money in escrow next week will be key to closing, as it needs to be available for a closing.


The council approved $21 million to buy the South Building at Granite Place in Concord for state office space. 

The state has leased that space for the Department of Justice, the Judicial Conduct Committee and this week the Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food is moving there as well.

The state had an option to buy rather than lease and Arlinghaus said the state is in the position to buy it and feels it is a better deal to buy than to continue to lease.

“We are buying the South Tower. We are not buying the connector or the North Tower,” said Arlinghaus of the property off Rumford Street.

He said if the Laconia State School is sold, some of the funds from that $21.5 million sale could be used to buy the North Tower. But it has nothing to do with this purchase.

The owner of the property is Stephen Duprey who has been a long-time supporter of Sununu.

There is ongoing construction work at the South Tower and the owner is completing that, Arlinghaus said.

There was concern that there was no warranty deed for the sale and that it is being achieved by a quit claim deed.

Arlinghaus said none of the state’s lawyers were concerned about it but he would look into it. 

While still waiting for that information, the council voted to spend the $21 million.


Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington asked if Ryan Terrell of Nashua, who has reportedly moved out of the district and resigned from the Board of Education, should participate in the meeting Thursday of the State Board of Education or is there enough appropriate notice for Rajesh M. Nair of Nashua, who was confirmed Wednesday to vote.

The effective date is Wednesday for Nair to serve. 

Attorney General John Formella said he would look into it before the vote and make sure that the appropriate person is able to vote.

Warmington, a Democrat from Concord who is running for Governor, voted against Nair’s nomination but the vote was 4-1.


William Cass, commissioner for the Department of Transportation, was asked about traffic from the event Monday in which much of New Hampshire’s north country was in the path of totality of the Solar Eclipse.

Preliminary numbers from the highways are very rough, Cass said, but between Monday and Tuesday more than 60,000 people over and above normal traffic passed through the toll areas. 

“There were remarkably few incidents,” Cass said. “We tried to notify people in advance,” that traffic volume would be high.

Kenney said locals in the north country told him they never witnessed so much traffic and never anticipate that level for a single event ever again. 

“Congratulations to DOT and Safety and everyone else,” said Kenney, who noted one person’s normal two-hour commute took seven and a half hours during eclipse traffic.


After being tabled at the last meeting, the council voted to approve an $8 million contract with Unite USA of New York for a closed loop referral solution for the Department of Health and Human Services. The contract, through September, 2029 with an option to renew, would bring the confidential information of thousands of residents and their health care needs into the loop.

About half the funds will come from the state’s general fund and the rest from the federal government.

Kenney said one of the questions that has come up is on the privacy side and consent on referrals. 

He was told there is extensive language in the contract related to consent and only the provider selected will have access to that individual’s information. Each referral must have the patient’s consent for transfer of information. 

Asked if a verbal consent would suffice he was told a signature would be required and withdrawal of consent can also occur.


The council approved contracts totaling $701,000 to 10 farms that lost revenue during weather events in 2023 which particularly impacted fruit farmers.

Two weeks ago the council approved another batch including funds for Windyhurst, Alyson’s, Kimball Farm, Gould Hill, Apple Hill, Pine Land and Morrill farms.

Warmington asked how much of the $8 million does Agriculture expect to distribute.

Commissioner Shawn Jasper said he was unsure. He said some farmers did a good job of pivoting and did not have as many losses as others. 

The deadline to file for the federal funds is May 15.

He said it is not likely that the department would go below the existing qualifying threshold of $30,000 in farming income.

“Some of these folks are really desperate for help,” Jasper said.

Members of the farming community have also been outspoken that they do not appreciate the process designed by Jasper, the qualifying factors and the amount of financial information they are having to give to the Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food which they said penalized them for taking efforts to stem losses from two events involving freezing and flooding which in some cases decimated their crops.

So far, of the $8 million available, $849,611 has been committed to farms and paid out is half or $424,805.


The council approved a contract with Triple Construction LLC of Hudson for $934,442 in federal ARPA Funds to upgrade state fire towers on Federal Hill in Milford and Pitcher Mountain in Stoddard.


There will be an opportunity for trail groups to apply for $1 million in federal ARPA funds without having to come up with the normal state matching grants, said Commissioner of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources Sarah Stewart.

The money can be applied for to improve trails along the state’s network.


Warmington asked Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut about reports that the department is looking at lifting class sizes.

He said it is not a done deal yet and the state is actually increasing the standards and are working very closely to get input from many.

He said class sizes should depend on what is being taught. 

We don’t want “a one size fits all” plan, said Edelblut. 

He said a public hearing is planned on Thursday and another in May.

“I am hearing quite a lot of concern that you are lowering the standard,” Warmington said.

Sununu interrupted that this was not the place for this conversation.

Warmington asked about the professional standards board noting 8 or 9 of the 21 seats which are for teachers are vacant. 

In a statement following the meeting, Warmington said, “Frank Edelblut continues to fail New Hampshire’s students, teachers and entire public education system…his proposed changes will not only weaken our public schools and set our students back. As governor, I will always listen to education professionals and improve public education so every student has a fair shot at the future.”

Comments are closed.