Number of homeless students in city schools said to have topped 100

LACONIA — The number of homeless children attending Laconia schools has been increasing in recent years according to Mollie Greeley, homeless coordinator for the Laconia School District, who says that this year there were a total of 106 students who at one time or another during the school year were without a home.
Greeley, who is also a guidance counselor at Woodland Heights Elementary School, outlined the extent of the problem of homeless school children in the city at Tuesday night's meeting of the School Board.
Woodland Heights Elementary School reported the most incidents of homeless students, 36, followed by Laconia High School, 23; Laconia Middle School, 22, Pleasant Street Elementary School, 17, and Em Street Elementary School, 8.
Greeley said that she works closely with other school districts in the area as part of a regional network of homeless coordinators and that Franklin schools reported 45 incidents of homeless children and Gilford had 24. The largest number in the state was 665 incidents in Manchester, the state's largest city.
She said that her role is to remove barriers for homeless students in order for them to have access to education and that involves providing immediate access to educational services, transportation, counseling as well as free and reduced school programs.
Greeley said that federal guidelines from the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act of 1987, which was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan, are used to define homeless students and the services for which they are eligible.
She said that in many cases the students or their families lack the documentation normally required and in those cases the requirements are waived in order to provide immediate access. ''We need to provide stability to the students,'' says Greeley, who says that she works closely with guidance departments at all of the district's schools to identify students eligible for services.
She said that intake meetings with new families in the School District help identify many of the needs and that in some cases of homeless children who are runaways or have been abandoned by their families immediate needs are often clothing and footwear.
Children who have been classified as homeless in the School District are often able to continue attending Laconia schools even if they obtain temporary housing in another nearby community is it is deemed in the best interest of the student she says.
Greeley said one recent success story involved a family with two young girls who had been living in the Salvation Army's homeless shelter at Carey House and was finally able to rent an apartment.
''The only catch was they had no beds for the girls. But a quick call to my Meredith counterpart helped get the beds they needed,'' said Greeley.
Another situation she is currently dealing with involves a family which has had to move out of their apartment because their electricity has been shut off and the children are staying in different homes.
''We have a moral obligation to help them.'' says Greeley, whose work was praised by School Board Chairman Joe Cormier and Superintendent of Schools Terri Forsten.

Pumpkin Festival decision expected today

LACONIA — Ruth Sterling of Sterling Design & Communications, who has managed the annual Keene Pumpkin Festival in partnership with Let It Shine, Inc., will announce plans for the 2015 festival today, Friday, April 24, at a press conference at the railroad station in Veterans Square, beginning at 1 p.m.

Earlier this month the Keene City Council voted 13 to 1 to deny Let It Shine, Inc. a license to hold the event in the city this year after rioting near the campus of Keene State College coincided with the festival and overwhelmed local law enforcement agencies last October.

More than a dozen cities and towns in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, including Laconia, have expressed interest in hosting the festival in 2015.

During an interview with The Daily Sun on April 16, Sterling said it appeared "all roads lead to Laconia" in terms of where the festival might relocate to and credited Laconia Motorcycle Week Executive Director Charlie St. Clair as the reason. She recalled that her relationship with Laconia began as the Keene City Council debated the future of the event and St. Clair traveled to Keene to speak on behalf of that city keeping the festival.

Sterling had made no public statements about the festival since that interview.

More than 30,000 pumpkins were on display at the one-day Keene Festival last October.


Police waited on highway for alleged heroin dealer to bring product into the city

LACONIA — Both of the men arrested Wednesday for heroin-related crimes in a drug sting are being held on high cash bail while police say nearly 40 grams of heroin were seized during the planned traffic-stop arrest.

Paperwork obtained from the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division said Jeremiah Proulx, 39, of 740 Union Avenue and David Hobbs, 29, of 742 Union Avenue were allegedly bringing the heroin into the city on Rte. 106 from some place to the south.

Police said they consider this bust one of the more significant heroin arrests the department has engineered this year.

"Police believe he (Proulx) was bringing in excess of 100 grams of heroin a week into Laconia," said Capt. Matthew Canfield. "This is a significant amount of heroin that was being brought into the city on a regular basis."

Police obtained warrants for the arrest and search of each man, each man's apartment and Hobbs's car on April 22.

According to police affidavits, a confidential informant told them that Hobbs and Proulx were "traveling south later in the day to pick up heroin".

A city police detective watched the Lakeport apartment house and saw Hobbs walk toward Proulx's apartment. A few minutes later the two left Lakeport with Proulx as a passenger in Hobbs's car.

The detective followed them south on Union Avenue and on to Province Road and to Circle K in Belmont where Hobbs stopped for gas. Hobbs and Proulx continued south on Rte. 106.

A few hours later, the same detective saw the car returning north on Rte. 106 with Hobbs driving and Proulx in the passenger seat. He notified other police units who stopped Hobbs  just above the Lakes Region Community College.

A second detective noticed Proulx appeared to be reaching down while he was seated in the car. After both men were taken to the Laconia Police Station, detectives found a Wendy's bag under the passenger seat. Hidden in the food were allegedly four "fingers" of heroin.

Police describe a "finger" of heroin as a stick that is about as long and as think as a single finger and estimate it contains about 10 grams of heroin.

Affidavits said the food appeared fresh and a receipt for it was found on Proulx's person that was dated April 22, 2015 and time stamped 2:43 p.m. at a restaurant in Londonderry.

The men were separated and put in different interview rooms at the police station.
After being read his rights, affidavits said Proulx admitted the heroin was his. He said he was unemployed, going through a divorce and was selling heroin to make money. He allegedly told police he had sold cocaine in the past and there was a large amount of marijuana in his apartment.

After Hobbs was read his rights, he allegedly told police that he would drive Proulx to his supplier in exchange for one-half gram of heroin. He told police he had been driving Proulx for a few weeks and making the trip nearly every other day.

Police said Hobbs told them he would occasionally sell heroin but "pinch" or dilute it with sugar before selling it. He also allegedly said would sell his Suboxone — a prescription drug designed to help people quit heroin — and use the money to buy heroin.

Affidavits said a search of Proulx's apartment revealed a safe that contained about $6,000 in cash, several bags of marijuana packaged for individual sale, other larger bags of marijuana, jars with marijuana buds, baggies with several pills for sale, "bindles" — or small packages used for the sale of powdered drugs — a scale and several baggies with powdery residue.

Police said Proulx's apartment was equipped with a working surveillance system with a DVR and several DVDs were found containing old footage.

Police searched Hobbs's apartment and allegedly found some drug-use equipment in the bedroom drawer next to his side of the bed. In a hollow Red Bull can they found three plastic baggies with residue. Police also recovered 25 pills bottles with varying numbers of Suboxine pills in a dresser door.

Proulx is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit heroin sales, one count of possession of narcotic drugs, and one count of possession of controlled drugs with intent to distribute.

After his appearance in court yesterday, Judge Jim Carroll ordered him held on $50,000 cash-only bail. At the request of city Police Det. Peter "Tony" Horan, Carroll also agreed that should Proulx post $50,000 in cash, a hearing would be held to determine the source of the money. As of yesterday, Proulx is represented by the Laconia Public Defenders Office.

Hobbs was ordered held on $20,000 cash only. He was not represented by counsel yesterday but Carroll ordered that as soon as he obtains a lawyer he could request a bail hearing.

Speaking from the video arraignment room in the Belknap County House of Corrections, Hobbs said there was no way he could afford $20,000.

"It's more than I make in a year," he said, as he began crying. "I really don't get into a lot of trouble."

"So I can't go home then, huh?" asked Hobbs.

Carroll shook his head and said "no".

Canfield said police spent about two months investigating the case before making the arrests yesterday.

"We consider this a significant drug bust and will continue to stop others who bring drugs in our city," Canfield said.


CUTLINE: The store front on the bottom of this four-apartment building lies vacant. Police disrupted what they said was significant drug operation when they arrested two occupants of the apartment building in a planned traffic stop Wednesday. City assessing records say the building is owned by a couple in Durham. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Gail Ober)

Local K-9 units to benefit as BOW WOW Fest sets ambitious fundraising goal for May 2 event

LACONIA — The 5th Annual BOW WOW Fest, which will be held rain or shine on Saturday, May 2, has set an ambitious goal of raising $3,000 this year for the support of police K-9 units in Laconia, Gilford and Belmont.
''That's more than double what we raised last year'' says Claire Hebert-Dow, community relations coordinator for Melcher and Prescott Insurance, a long-time supporter of the BOW WOW Fest, who says that last year $1,350 was raised and split between the Laconia and Gilford police departments.
She says that the idea for the BOW WOW Fest started with a front page newspaper photo of a dog named "Boo" and her owner walking along the WOW Trail.
''I thought we have a WOW Ball, why not a BOW WOW event?'' says Hebert-Dow, a member of the board of directors of the WOW Trail, who says the event annually attracts between 100 and 140 dogs and was a fundraiser for the New Hampshire Humane Society in its first year.
''The Humane Society decided they wanted to be vendors and they'll be here again this year in that capacity,'' she says, noting that or the last three years proceeds have gone to police K-9 units.
She is counting on the presence of ''The Hulk'', 173-pound Pit Bull Terrier who has become a national figure since his appearance on ABC's ''Good Morning America'' to help draw a record turnout for the BOW WOW Fest.
''We're very happy to support this even, which is important to both our quality of life and our economy.'' says Chris Volpe, CEO of Melcher and Prescott. ''We're especially happy to participate in an event supporting the Gilford, Laconia and Belmont police departments.''
The festivities begin with registration from 8:45 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the Elm Street entrance to the trail at Lakeport Square. The registration fee is $10 and another $5 gets you a T-shirt with all monies. dedicated to the K-9 unit of the Laconia Police Department. Additional T-shirts are on sale for $10 with all proceeds to benefit the WOW Trail.
After the dogs are blessed at 10:05 a.m., the parade will begin. Costumes will be judged as the pets and their owners take to the trail, headed for downtown. From 11:15 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. there will be talent judging with prizes awarded.
Dog must be leashed with an up-to-date rabies vaccination. Owners should be dressed for inclement weather and prepared to clean up after their dogs.

Proceeds from the 5th annual BOW WOW Fest which will be held on Saturday, May 2 will be used to provide support for K-9s at local police departments. Gathered at the Lakeport end of the WOW Trail to promote the event are Adam Van Steenburg of the Gilford Police Department, with German Shepherd "Ike"; Ann Saltmarsh of the Laconia Department of Pubic Works; Annie Boissoneau of the Lake Opechee Inn and Conference center with "Keenan", a golden retriever; Chris Volpe, of Melcher and Prescott, a long-time supporter of the BOW WOW Fest and the WOW Trail; Michelle DuPont of the Lakes Opechee Inn and Conference Center with "Diamond", a golden retriever who is "Keenan's" sister; Mike Armstrong of the Laconia Police Department with "Titan", a Czech Shepherd; back row, Claire Hebert-Dow of Melcher and Prescott, a BOW WOW Fest organizer, and Evan Boulanger of the Belmont Police Department with "Vido", a half German shepherd, half Belgian malinois. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)