Vadney will head Belknap County Delegation

By ROGER AMSDEN, for THE LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — Rep. Herb Vadney of Meredith was elected as chairman of the Belknap County Delegation when it met Monday night at the Belknap County Complex.
Vadney, who was unopposed, is in his third term in the state legislature and was vice chairman of the delegation in his second term.
Rep. Ray Howard (R-Alton), who is in his second term, was elected as vice chairman and Marc Abear (R-Meredith) was elected as secretary.
All three will be members of the Executive Committee, along with Rep. David Huot (D-Laconia), the only Democrat on the 18-member delegation, and Rep. Michael Sylvia (R-Belmont), Rep. Glen Aldrich (R-Gilford) and Rep. Peter Spanos (R-Laconia).
Three members of the delegation were not present for the meeting, Rep. Frank Tilton (R-Laconia), Rep. Valerie Fraser (R-New Hampton) and Rep. Michael Maloney (R-Gilmanton).
In one of Vadney's first acts as chairman he questioned why the delegation hadn't been informed sooner that requests for major budget transfers were going to be made.
He pointed out that a month ago he had asked commissioners whether or not there would be any more transfer requests and had been told there was no concern about transfers and now the delegation was being asked to transfers of $47,384 from the contingency fund for a payment to the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services and $52,739 to meet payroll in all departments.
Belknap County Administrator Debra Shackett said that the county's percentage of the statewide payments to DHHS for residents in private nursing homes had increased and the county was now being billed $6,178.549 instead of the $6,131,566 it had budgeted. The increase in payroll was due to the fact that payroll projections did not take into account that accrued payroll from 2015 which was paid in 2016 was credited back to 2015, amounting to almost a full week of additional payroll for 2016 which had not been projected.
County Commission Chairman David DeVoy (R-Gilmanton) said that Shackett was not aware of those changes when the commission met with the delegation last month and that the delegation was informed of the pending transfer requests at soon as commissioners were aware that they were needed.
Other transfer requests included $7,000 for health care incentive bonuses for non-union employees, $1,500 for sprinkler and fire suppression system repairs for the nursing home, $1,450 for dental care at the nursing home, $400 for additional cell phone fees for the maintenance department, $500 for transcribing a deposition in a sexual assault case and $600 for advertising to fill a key position in the nursing home caused by a recent resignation, as well as another vacancy.
DeVoy pointed out that filling the nursing home positions were such a high priority that Commissioner Hunter Taylor (R-Alton) had paid for the advertisements already so that they could be filled without waiting for the delegation's Executive Committee to take action on the transfer request.
He said that Vadney has told him that he expects that the Executive Committee to take action on the transfer requests at a morning meeting which is being scheduled for next week.

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Drugs, weapons found in car in downtown hotel parking lot

LACONIA — Police discovered a "significant" quantity of heroin, methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia early Tuesday morning after an investigation into a suspicious car at the Landmark Inn.

Capt. Matt Canfield said a K-9 and his handler from Gilford were called to Laconia and the dog indicated the presence of drugs.

The car was taken to the Laconia Police Department and a search warrant was issued for it by a judge.

Police also recovered an assortment of weapons including a Taser, some brass knuckles, various knives and some ammunition.

Canfield said the incident remains under investigation but charges are forthcoming against two people who have been identified as suspects.

He said anyone wishing to report suspicious drug activity can do so anonymously by calling the Laconia Crime at 524-1717.

– Gail Ober

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U.S. Justice Department to review Belknap County Sheriff's Department procedures

By ROGER AMSDEN, for THE LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — The U.S. Justice Department has agreed to a request from Belknap County Commissioners to undertake a review of the practices and procedures of Belknap County Sheriff's Department.
Belknap County Commission Chairman David DeVoy said the review will be undertaken by the DOJ's Office of Justice Programs Diagnostic Center and one of the main areas of  focus will be prisoner transport.
That became an issue for the department due to the trial earlier this year of former Belknap County Deputy Sheriff Justin Blanchette, 36, of Franklin, who was convicted in Merrimack County Superior Court in May of this year of aggravated felonious sexual assault of a female prisoner while transporting her between court and the Belknap County jail.
He is awaiting trial on 10 charges in Belknap County, three of which allegedly happened in 2013 and two allegedly in 2014. Nine of the counts are for aggravated felonious sexual assault and one count is for felonious sexual assault in Belknap County. The charges in Belknap County involve five inmates.
Belknap County has been sued for failure to properly supervise Blanchette and allowing him to violate an inmate's civil rights and intentionally inflict emotional distress.
The case was filed in June by a plaintiff, referred to as Jane Doe to shield her identity, in which she alleges that in 2013, Blanchette allowed her and her fiancée to have sex while he was transporting at least one of them to court as an inmate, if he could watch them do so.
The woman also makes claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress against Blanchette and alleges that the former deputy who has since been stripped of certification to serve as a police officer, both individually and in his official capacity violated her due process rights by victimizing her while acting under "the color of law."
The case is being heard in Merrimack County Superior Court in Concord.
DeVoy said that the commissioners have tried several approaches to having the policies and procedures of the Sheriff's Department reviewed, including hiring a consulting firm, but decided to approach federal officials after they found out that there is no cost to the county for the review.
He said that commissioners had several lengthy phone interviews with a panel from the federal agency before their request was accepted and are expecting at least one more session before the review begins.
"We think this will be a good thing for the county and the Sheriff's Department and will provide us with some sound guidance on how to do a better job," said DeVoy.

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