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Lawmaker split on economic development fund

CONCORD — The 18 members of the Belknap County Convention in the New Hampshire House of Representatives split evenly over a bill to establish an economic development fund at the N.H. Department of Resources and Economic Development, which carried the Senate on a voice vote and the House by a two-to-one margin.

Senate Bill 241 authorizes the Division of Economic Development, led by Carmen Lorentz, former executive director of the Belknap Economic Development Council, to accept grants and contributions from both private parties and public institutions to fund its mission of fostering economic growth. The bill was introduced in response to suggestions from members of the business community. There is no expectation of seeking appropriations from the general fund.

All five Democrats — Beth Arsenault and David Huot of Laconia, Lisa DiMarinto of Gilford, Ruth Gulick of New Hampton and Ian Raymond of Sanbornton — and four Republicans — Richard Burchell of Gilmanton, Dennis Fields of Sanbornton and Don Flanders and Frank Tilton of Laconia — voted with the majority in favor of the bill.

Nine of the 13 Republicans — Guy Comtois of Barnstead, Jane Cormier and Stephen Holmes of Alton, Charles Fink and Michael Sylvia of Belmont, Bob Greeemore, Herb Vadney and Colette Worsman of Meredith and Bob Luther of Laconia — voted with the minority against the bill.

Last Updated on Saturday, 10 May 2014 01:00

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Case & Keg Celebrating Grand Reopening after Expansion, Renovation

LACONIA — Ricky Patel, who along with his wife, Patty, have owned and operated the Case & Keg for nearly five years, will celebrate the grand reopening of their Union Avenue convenience store with a ribbon-cutting ceremony with representatives from the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce and local officials Friday morning.
''We spent eight months on the project but never closed the store at all and worked right through it,'' said Patel. ''It was a big investment but we said we want to do it once and do it right.''
The store has doubled it's display space and now offers more than 500 craft beers, an expanded wine selection as well as eight cases of fine cigars, a ''Beer Cave'' with a large supply of 30-packs and keg beer, convenience store staples from milk and bread to a wide variety of foods.
Patel says the beer selection is the largest in the Lakes Region and is probably second statewide to that of a Nashua store.
During the open house, which will last into the afternoon, there will be wine and beer tasting, food and snacks as well as discounts on all craft beer, cigars and wine.
''We want to show our appreciation to our loyal customers. They've helped make our business a success,'' says Patel.
He and his wife moved here five years ago from Warner-Robins, Georgia, where Patel's family ran a convenience store, in which he worked from the age of 15.
He said that he moved to the Lakes Region after finding out that the Case & Keg, which had been owned by Jeff Morin, was for sale and saw it as a good business opportunity for he and his wife, whom he had just married.
They took over the store on June 17, 2009 and two years later bought the Laconia Spa, where he has also invested in improvements to that downtown Laconia landmark.
''We had a store front next door which we leased as a deli and then as a restaurant. But both businesses closed so we decided to use the space ourselves,'' says Patty. The hard-working couple have two daughters Jiya, who is 4, and Mahi, 2 and try to take the weekends off so that they can enjoy time with them.
''We've been working 10 hours a day recently. It's been pretty hectic but our customers tell us how much they like the changes and that makes it all worth it,'' says Patty.


CAPTION: pix slugged Case & Keg
Patty and Ricky Patel with their four-year-old daughter, Jiya, in the recently expanded Case & Keg convenience store which celebrates a grand-reopening Friday. The couple, who moved to Laconia from Georgia five years ago, also own the Laconia Spa. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)

Last Updated on Friday, 09 May 2014 03:36

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Lafond Attorney Objects to Animations Depicting Fatal Accident to be entered as evidence

LACONIA — Attorney Mark Sisti, who is defending Amy Lafond against charges that her reckless and negligent driving took the life of one teenage girl and injured another, has objected to the prosecution's attempt at introducing a computer-generated animation of the incident and the criminal record of Lafond's husband in evidence. He claims that the value of both as evidence is outweighed by their prejudicial impact on his client.

Lafond, 53, is charged with manslaughter and two counts of negligent homicide (alternative theories) and second degree assault arising from the incident on April 19, 2013 on Messer Street that left Lilyanna Johnson dead and Allyssa Miner injured. She is also charged with several drug offenses and traffic violations.
Last month County Attorney Melissa C. Guldbrandsen asked the court to allow "computer-generated accident reconstruction animations" to be introduced. The animations, she said, were created by Carl Lakowicz of Northpoint Collision Consultants from measurements and data collected by the Belknap Regional Accident Investigation Team and would offer a "visual illustration" of the sequence of events, including the collision, to supplement the testimony of expert witnesses. Altogether she asked to introduce eight animations, including three of the collision from different angles.
In objecting, Sisti argued that the animations "would not provide the jury with any evidence not already provided by the diagrams, measurements and testimony" of the witnesses who collected the data from which the animations were generated. He described any facts presented by the animations as "cumulative," that is, repetitious of prior evidence.
Sisti cited the rule of evidence that prescribes if the probative value, or capacity of the evidence to establish something important, is outweighed by "the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of issues, or misleading the jury," it must be excluded. "There can be no other reason to show the animation except," he wrote, again citing precedent 'to induce a decision against the defendant on some improper basis, commonly one that is emotionally charged.'" He said there is no question but the animations would have an "undue influence on the jury's deliberations."
Furthermore, Sisti reminded the court that the United States Supreme Court has established a test to determine the relevance and reliability of "novel scientific evidence." The methodology must be tested, have undergone peer review and have an established error rate as well as be accepted by the scientific community. The state, he concluded, has not demonstrated that the animations satisfy these four criteria.
Anticipating that Marc Lafond, the defendant's husband, would appear as a hostile witness, Guldbrandsen asked the court to rule that his criminal record could be used to impeach his credibility should he testify on his wife's behalf. He pled guilty to two counts of possession of a narcotic in August, 2005, a month after being convicted of theft of services, a misdemeanor.

Sisti objected, noting Marc Lafond is not listed among the witnesses for the defense and while he is named as a witness for the state, Guldbrandsen has not sought to treat him as a hostile witness. He acknowledges that spouses may testify for or against each other, but refers to the rule of evidence that reads "neither shall be allowed to testify against the other as to any statement, conversation, letter or other communication made to the other or to another person, nor shall either be allowed in any case to testify as to any matter which in the opinion of the Court would lead to a violation of marital confidence."
In light of the limits on his testimony, Sisiti doubts that Marc Lafond is likely to testify to the state's advantage. Instead, he claims that the sole reason for the state to call him as a witness is "to make him look bad and somehow attribute that to Mrs. Lafond."
A hearing on these and other motions, including Sisti's requests to sever the drug and traffic charges from the manslaughter, negligent homicide and assault charges and to exclude the results of blood tests taken after the incident, which was originally scheduled for Wednesday, May 14 will beheld on Thursday, May 22, beginning at 1:30 p.m.

Last Updated on Friday, 09 May 2014 03:35

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Shalimar Resort Sold to Vermont Couple, had been Operated 31 years by Spanos Family

TILTON — The Shalimar Resort, which had been operated by the Spanos family for 31 years, has been sold to a couple from Vermont, Mike and Ragi Patel.
The sale was finalized on April 30 and was announced by Peter and Sharon Spanos, who said that the Patels own two hotels in in Bellows Falls, Vermont, the Yankee Hotel and a Rodeway Inn, and plan on opening an Indian-American restaurant at the Shalimar. The sale price was not disclosed.
''It's kind of ironic. The name Shalimar came from a combination of family names and we didn't know until recently that in the Indian language Shalimar means ''jewel'' said Peter Spanos, who says that the addition of an Indian restaurant to the Lakes Region dining scene is an exciting prospect.
He said that he came to work at the Shalimar when the property was bought by his aunt and uncle, Mary and George Spanos, in 1983. The couple had previously owned the Shangri-La Resort at the Weirs for many years and his family owned the Indian Head Resort in Lincoln.
The Spanos' sold the resort and restaurant to the Patels but retain ownership of waterfront property and cabins on Lake Winnisquam which are located on a parcel of land just across Rte. 3 from the Shalimar.
The resort is built on the site of the former Winnisquam House, which was owned by the Contiagiani family until sold to Sam Reddy, a New Hampshire businessman and state legislator from Hopkinton. It burned in the early 1970s and was rebuilt by Reddy in its current configuration.
Over the years the Shalimar became a popular destination for both tourists and locals and in recent years has been noted for its Sunday brunch, which was voted the most popular in the Lakes Region, and its Wednesday night all-you-can eat pasta events.
The Sapnos's said they are thankful for the local support the restaurant has always enjoyed. ''They became friends and family to us. We've always worked hard to give back to the local community,'' said Spanos.
They also are grateful to the loyal staff that has worked with them for many years.
''It was very touching when I spoke individually with each of our staff members to tell them that the Shalimar was being sold. They all cried and that touched me deeply,'' said Peter Spanos.
Sharon Spanos said that the couple are talking with their friends in the hospitality business to help find jobs for those who have decided to move on while many of the workers have been offered positions by the new owners.
She said the couple are planning to ''relax, play some golf and spend lots of time with our family'. It's a whole new lifestyle for us.''
They have a son who worked as bartender at the restaurant last summer and a daughter who worked in the dining room and said they will continue to live in Laconia and be a part of the community while working on plans to develop the waterfront property they still own on Lake Winnisquam.

Last Updated on Friday, 09 May 2014 03:34

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