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A 2nd Gilford police officer placed on paid leave

GILFORD — A town official confirmed yesterday that a second Gilford Police Officer has been placed on an paid administrative leave.

The official said that on or about September 15, Officer Holly Harris was placed on a paid leave. She is the Gilford School District's School Resource Officer.

Two weeks ago, officials confirmed Police Chief Kevin Keenan has been placed on paid administrative leave as of August 29.

The town official gave no reason for either leave.

Lt. James Leach is acting chief and last week Town Administrator Scott Dunn said Leach assumed the role of acting chief because of the way the department is structured.

Last Updated on Saturday, 28 September 2013 02:07

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Police charge Laconia man punched girlfriend in face & later returned to kick in her door

LACONIA — A Gilford Avenue man was ordered held on $5,000 cash-only bail yesterday morning after allegedly punching his girlfriend in the face with his fist earlier that morning and then returning to the home and kicking in the door.

City Prosecutor Jim Sawyer told the court that John M. Stebbins, 39, was arrested by police at 12:30 a.m. when neighbors called the police. He was charged with two counts of simple assault.

The on-call circuit court judge had granted an emergency temporary restraining order against Stebbins, who was originally released on personal recognizance bail. After leaving the police department, Stebbins allegedly violated that order by returning to the apartment and kicking in the door at 7:30 a.m.

Stebbins faces additional counts of criminal vandalism, breach of bail and violation of a restraining order. He appeared yesterday in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division.

Sawyer initially asked for $15,000 cash bail and said police were still investigating the initial assault and that additional charges could be forthcoming. Sawyer also noted that Stebbins has four previous convictions for simple assault, including one from 2012 and one from April of this year.

In two of those instances, Sawyer said he was also convicted of breach of bail.

Sawyer also noted that when Stebbins allegedly returned to the apartment, he also removed either the starter or the alternator from his victim's car. He said police continue to investigate that aspect of the early-morning events.

Public Defender Kate Geraci argued that $15,000 was an impossible amount of bail for Stebbins, who she said had just started a new job and hadn't yet gotten his first paycheck.

She said he had been employed for eight years by a different employer and had left that job to take the new one. Geraci said $250 comes from every one of Stebbins's paycheck to support his three children and if he lost his job, as he likely would if he were held on $15,000 cash bail, then his children would be the ones that would suffer.

Judge Jim Carroll deliberated for about five minutes before setting cash bail at $5,000. He said he didn't take setting cash bail on a working father lightly but that the risk Stebbins potentially poses to the community and his victim outweighs the importance of him keeping his job. Carroll said his decision on cash bail was largely swayed by Stebbins most recent assault convictions as well as his charges of breach of bail.

"(This bail) requires a significant investment by you to ensure your good behavior," Carroll said to him. Stebbins is also ordered to stay off Gilford Avenue and to stay away from the victims and the various neighbors assisted her.

Last Updated on Saturday, 28 September 2013 02:05

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Insurance company says entire fire-ravaged building will come down

LACONIA — Fire Chief Ken Erickson said yesterday that the insurers of the building destroyed in a 3-alarm blaze Sunday night on the corner of Fair and Court Streets have determined the portion of 164 Court Street that housed LRGHealthcare laundry services is not salvageable.

The laundry was the one portion of the building not devastated by the blaze but Erickson said the insurance company has determined it would be less expensive to raze the entire building than to save that one portion.

He also said the smoke damage to the hosptial's laundry equipment may be much greater than the initial estimate, bringing the estimated total losses to more than the initial $1 million.

Five days after the fire ripped through the multi-unit commercial facility, fire officials remain on the scene trying to determine how and exactly where the fire started.

Erickson said yesterday that the N.H. Fire Marshal, Deputy Chief Charles Roffo, and representatives from various insurance companies continue to comb through the building looking for the cause and starting point of the fire as well as assessing the damages.

He explained that two things are hampering the investigation — the building is large and it is unsafe. He said firefighters and heavy equipment operators have spent a considerable amount of time making sure the flat-roofed, 27,000-square foot building wouldn't collapse on investigators while they were inside.

An early Sunday morning blaze ripped through the building bringing four ladder trucks from as far away as Concord to the corner. Six separate businesses including Northeast Electrical Solutions, Inc, Little Caesars Pizza, and ABC Fabricating were destroyed.

Fire officials were first alerted at 2:30 a.m. by an alarm that was in the area formerly operated by Skate Escape. Although Skate Escape has been closed for two months, all of that company's equipment remained there.

The construction of a new Advanced Autoparts store at the front of the lot was affected by the fire and that effort continues.

Erickson said the fire was especially difficult to fight because of the size of the building and the rubber membrane roof that initially prevented water from reaching the blaze. He also said there were as many as six layers of roofs under the membrane, one of which was made of asphalt that fueled the blaze.

Although the blaze is catastrophic for all of the businesses that operated from what is commonly known as the old Aubuchon building, all have expressed gratitude that no one was injured.

Erickson has said he had no reason to think the fire was deliberate.

Last Updated on Saturday, 28 September 2013 03:12

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Fitzgerald Field dedicated to 'remarkable man, remarkable coach'

LACONIA — Long-time Laconia High School head football coach Jim Fitzgerald told a large crowd at a ceremony prior to last night's homecoming game that he was ''humbled and honored'' to have the school's new state-of-the-art football field named for him.
He thanked the Silver Sachems, a group of former Laconia High School football players who raised $100,000 to purchase the naming rights for the field at the Bank of New Hampshire Stadium for dedication to him.
''It was a great honor to have coached here for so many years,'' said Fitzgerald, who coached the Sachems from 1973 to 2001, a period in which they went to the playoffs 19 times, advanced to 12 state finals and won three state titles.
Fitzgerald said that he was also grateful to his wife, Jeannine, who was always the most vocal fan and staunchest supporter of his football teams.
Following his brief remarks Fitzgerald said ''that's the end of the show. Let's play ball,'' As he started walking off the field the current Laconia High School football team came onto the field and coaches and members of the team greeted him at midfield, where he shook hands with all team members.
The Silver Sachems were organized by Jeff Price, a 1983 LHS graduate who played quarterback; Dick Swett, a 1975 LHS graduate and former New Hampshire congressman who also was a quarterback, and Steve Gardner, a 1974 graduate who was the quarterback of the 1973 team which Fitzgerald took over after the head coach resigned after an 0-3 start.
Price, who introduced members of the Silver Sachems, said ''It's a great night to honor a great man'' and turned the microphone over to City Councilman Matt Lahey, a 1972 Laconia High School graduate who played a key role in fund raising efforts for the new athletic field and stadium,.
Lahey said that Fitzgerald had been ''a coach and mentor to hundreds of high school athletes,'' and that naming the field for him was a well-deserved honor.
Paul Phelps, who was an assistant coach for Laconia High School for many years, said that the dedication ceremony was ''awesome. He was a coach who was loved by his players and they stepped up for him when it came to naming the field.''
David Rae, former Laconia High School English teacher who was the public address announcer for LHS football for 32 years, said Fitzgerald is ''a remarkable guy who was a remarkable coach. He was a teacher too. He was able to teach the game to his players so that they understood how to play the game well. That's why his teams were so good for so many years.''

Last Updated on Saturday, 28 September 2013 03:22

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