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Sanbornton man charged with firing plastic pellets at school bus carrying Winnisquam High School students

SANBORNTON — Police have charged a local man with two counts each of reckless conduct and criminal threatening after he allegedly fired plastic pellets from an Airsoft pistol at two school buses Wednesday afternoon.

Chief Stephen Hankard said Tarance Piper, 24 of 753 Sanborn Road claimed the incident started when some of the high school students on one of the buses made obscene gestures while he was in a car that was traveling behind the bus.

Hankard said Piper is known to police.

Hankard said the incident unfolded just before 3 p.m. Wednesday when a Winnisquam Regional School District bus carrying high school students was headed into Sanbornton on Route 132 and the car in which Piper was a passenger passed the bus after it pulled over near Lanchaster Hill Road.

He said the bus driver saw the car in her rear view mirror and said it appeared the driver of the car wanted to pass so she pulled to the right. As the driver was passing the bus, Hankard said students heard the pinging of the little green pellets and saw that it was Airsoft gun.

After the car passed the first bus, Hankard said it got behind a second bus and Piper allegedly fired pellets at that bus as well. He said the first bus driver had contacted the second bus driver who had called 9-1-1.

Police intercepted the car just north of the intersection of Route 132 and Route 127 and found Piper sitting in the back seat with the air-powered pellet gun.

Hankard said they took Piper into custody and he allegedly told them he was firing in the air, but both of the bus drivers and the students told police they could hear the pellets pinging off the side of the bus.

Piper was officially charged yesterday morning and and released on $6,000 personal recognizance bail. He is scheduled to appear in the 6th Circuit Court, Franklin Division on November 7.

Superintendent Tammy Davis said the school bus drivers both did what they were supposed to do and called the police. She said they didn't drop off any of the students until police had apprehended Piper and made sure the buses were safe.

She said an e-mail blast was sent to all of the parents of the children who were on the bus. Davis said she notified the School Board about the incident and said she was very grateful that no one was injured.
Hankard said the students recognized that Piper was allegedly firing an Airsoft gun and not a real pistol, and that was the report that was sent to police. He said the Airsoft guns look very much like real pistols except for an orange tip on the barrel.

Last Updated on Friday, 04 October 2013 01:52

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Mutual Fire Aid formally asks to be dropped from 2014 county budget

LACONIA — The Lakes Region Mutual Fire Aid Association (LRMFAA) has notified the Belknap County Commission that it will no longer seek funding through Belknap County for the 11 communities in the county which are members of the association.
The letter, signed by LRMFAA Chief Jim Hayes and Deputy Chief John Beland, asked commissioners to remove the mutual fire aid appropriation line from the 2014 county budget and thanked the county for the cooperation over the nearly 40 years that the county has carried a portion of the mutual aid bill in its operating budget.
The letter said that mutual aid will now bill the 10 towns and the city of Laconia directly for their annual assessments, which will now change due to a difference in the formula used by the mutual aid for its 26 other member towns and that used by the county. The county assessments were based 100 percent on property values, whereas the Mutual Aid formula also takes population into account.
Based on this year's bill of $554,037 which was billed through the county tax, Alton paid $81,048, Barnstead $27,350, Belmont $34,381, Center Harbor $22,457, Gilford $88,631, Gilmanton $25,680, Laconia $106,731, Meredith $100,545, New Hampton $17,528, Sanbornton $22,072 and Tilton $27,614.
Billed directly, according to the formula applied by the LRMFAA, four towns would have paid less; Alton would have saved $18,922, Center Harbor $4,721, Gilford $14,326 and Meredith $25,445. The other seven which would have paid more were: Barnstead $9,206, Belmont $18,290, Gilmanton $6,237, Laconia $17,606, New Hampton $3,372, Sanbornton $4,527 and Tilton $4,176.
Earlier this year commissioners were notified by Meredith and Center Harbor that they would pay their mutual aid assessments directly, effectively ending the current system because there was no way the county could separate out the mutual aid funds from the rest of the the money the towns pay as part of their assessed share of the county budget.

Last Updated on Thursday, 03 October 2013 03:16

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Rash of burglaries in Belmont this month

BELMONT — Police are reporting an increase in the number of burglaries reported in town, confirming they are investigating six of them since September 13 and eight since September 1.

Logs show that with two exceptions, all of the break-ins have been in the Union Road/Laconia Road (Rte. 3) area of town.

The two exceptions involved copper thefts from an abandoned house on Concord Street and from a bath-beach house near one of the seasonal parks.

Lt. Richard Mann said at least two of burglaries, one reported on September 26 and one reported on September 27 but that likely occurred the day before, involved homes where the residents had been gone for the day.

Mann said a in a burglary on Union Road reported September 26, the house appeared to be ransacked and a jar of change, among other things, was taken.

He said a home owner on Dutile Road returned home the night of September 26 and thought there was a drawer that was left open. He said the homeowner went to sleep but when he couldn't find his laptop the next morning, he called police.

He said police have no reason to think the two are related but said they are increasing patrols in the area.

Other burglaries reported include two on Laconia Road, one of Scenic Drive and one on Lakewood Drive.

Mann said anyone who sees any suspicious activity should report it to the police. He also said that if anyone has any information about any of the above burglaries they should call 267-8351. He said callers may remain anonymous.

He also said people should lock their doors when they are not home and make sure their cars are locked when not in use.

Last Updated on Thursday, 03 October 2013 03:13

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Belknap Commission briefed on changes that need to be made a jail to conform to federal Rape Elimination Act

LACONIA — Belknap County Commissioners were told Wednesday that the county House of Correction will need to make major changes in the way it handles its inmate population in order to comply with new federal standards which will take effect at the start of 2014.
BCHOC Superintendent Daniel Ward said that those standards, developed as a result of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), which was passed in 2003 with unanimous support from both parties in Congress, cover all prisons, as well as local jails, police lockup and juvenile facilities.
He said that were the standards were in place today there is no way that the county facility could meet all of them, particularly a requirement that juvenile inmates be separated by sight and sound from the general inmate population and that they be offered the same level of programs as other inmates.
He said that some of the provisions of the law which require administrative actions such as staff training, naming a PREA coordinator and providing informational material about sexual assaults to inmates can be met. But other areas are problematic due to the configuration of the facility which does not allow line of sight supervision in all areas.
Ward said that cross-gender pat-down searches, commonly used to detect contraband for those entering the facility, are prohibited, as well as cross-gender cell monitoring, which means that more female guards will need to be on duty on all shifts.
He said that currently guards are allowed to pat-down both genders and that requirements for direct line-of-sight supervision, either in person or through the use of cameras, would require the installation of a camera system which would provide security equivalent to that of a jewelry store, especially in the corridors between cells.
''We will be able to comply with policy and procedure but we can't comply with the requirements for sight and sound separation for juveniles,'' said Ward, who said that if a 17-year-old were brought into the facility at 10 at night there would be no place where they could be held which would comply with the new standards.
Ward said that this year he has had 12 17-year-olds at the facility, eight of whom were charged with felony level offenses.
He said there has been some talk in correctional circles of having the state change the age of majority to 18 in order to have juveniles housed in a separate state-operated facility, but no action yet been taken. ''Juveniles wouldn't be coming to this facility if the law is changed,'' said Ward.
Ward also said that the correctional facility will partner with the Belknap County Sheriff's Department on rape investigations involving prisoners and that many of the standards would also apply to the Sheriff's Department when it came to transportation of prisoners, as well as to the jail's medical facilities.
Ward told commissioners that failure to comply could have major economic implications for the county, which could lose eligibility for up to 5 percent of the total federal funds available to the county from all federal sources for every year it is not in compliance with the standards.
He said that the county could request an audit of its facility in order to better understand what needs to be done and establish a plan, which would need to be implemented within 180 days, to make recommended changes. The US Department of Justice is in charge of administering the requirements of the 2003 law.
County Commissioner Ed Philpot said that he was hesitant to have the facility audited, pointing out that one of the major concerns of the commission in recent years, which motivated it to establish a committee to develop plans for a new correctional facility, is that there are other problems with the jail could produce a lawsuit which would require major and costly changes.
But an audit will be coming sooner or later anyway. All confinement facilities covered under the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) standards must be audited at least every three years to be considered compliant with the PREA standards, with one third of each facility type operated by an agency, or private organization on behalf of an agency, audited each year.
These include adult prisons and jails, juvenile facilities, lockups (housing detainees overnight), and community confinement facilities, whether operated by the Department of Justice or unit of a state, local, corporate, or nonprofit authority.
The laws says that each agency seeking PREA compliance will be responsible for contracting with or otherwise securing the services of one or more DOJ-certified auditors to schedule audits for each of its facilities during the three-year audit cycle.
Commission Chairman John Thomas said he had requested that Ward make a presentation so that the county could be aware of the impact of the law and the implications it had for the county facility.
''We're looking at major operational costs for staffing, new equipment and a camera system,'' said Thomas.
Ward said that he would be bringing together a plan for compliance which he will present to commissioners by November 1.

Last Updated on Thursday, 03 October 2013 02:52

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