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DeVoy to run for Belknap Commission again

LACONIA — David DeVoy, a businessman from Sanbornton, announced yesterday that he will make a second bid for the District 1 seat on the Belknap County Commission, representing the city of Laconia and towns of Sanbornton and New Hampton

In 2012 DeVoy, a Republican, lost his challenge to incumbent Democrat Ed Philpot of Laconia by 701 votes, 5,320 to 4,619. DeVoy carried Sanbornton and New Hampton as well as Ward 1 in Laconia, but could not overcome Philpot's margins in the other five wards.

A retired colonel in the United States Army Reserve, DeVoy owns and operates three convenience stores — the Mobil Mart in Gilford and the Bosco Bell Store and Blueberry Station in Barnstead. He graduated from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and earned his Master of Science degree at the United States Army War College and Master of Business Administration at Plymouth State University.

Politically, DeVoy is aligned more closely with the Republican majority of the Belknap County Convention than with the commission, where Philpot sits with Republicans John Thomas of Belmont and Steve Nedeau of Meredith. He describes himself as a fiscal conservative, who favors limiting government and lowering taxes to spur economic growth.

DeVoy said yesterday that he entered the race to address the issues posed by conditions at the county jail and to heal the rift arisen between the convention and the commission. He questions the commissioner's proposal to replace the existing jail with a new facility, but shares their commitment to provide educational and therapeutic programs to reduce recidivism. Likewise, he supports the establishment of both a drug court and mental health court and would maximize the use of electronic monitoring to supervise qualified inmates. "It's very expensive to warehouse people," he said, "but buildings are not necessary for programming."

Noting that the jail was built in the 1970s and expanded in 1980s, DeVoy said that existing buildings can be rehabilitated. In addition, he suggested that the wing of the county complex currently occupied by the commission and administration could be converted to house the female inmates. He said that if necessary, programming could be conducted at other properties owned by the county.

DeVoy emphasized that because Laconia must budget within its property tax cap, the county must not impose costs on the city that would compel it to reduce expenditures on its schools, streets and emergency services to comply with the limits of its tax cap.

DeVoy said that in both the armed forces and business work "I learned to work cooperatively with other people," explaining that he believes his "interpersonal skills" will enable him to dispel the acrimony that has soured the relationship between the convention and the commission. "We need to chuck our egos aside," he said, "so that everybody in the county government gets along."

Philpot was first elected in 2008, when District 1 consisted solely of the city of Laconia, carrying four of six wards to top Frank Tilton, the current chairman of the executive committee of the convention, by 3,895 to 3,331.

Philpot has yet to indicate whether he will seek re-election.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 April 2014 11:42

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Ashland celebrates opening of community garden; 20 plots available

ASHLAND — A ribbon cutting ceremony was held Saturday afternoon for a new community garden located next to the town's Elementary School.
Ashland HEAL and many community volunteers worked for over a year on plans for the Ashland Community Garden according to Fran Newton, a newly elected Ashland selectwoman and member of the committee.
She said that after receiving a grant from HEAL NH, Ashland HEAL solicited feedback during several community-wide forums to hear what types of healthy eating and physical activity opportunities residents would like to have in the town. A community garden space was at the top of the list and a committee was formed.
Newton said the project gained momentum with businesses and volunteers donating time and materials to help plan and construct the garden. ''Raised garden beds are being constructed by students at Ashland Elementary School from lumber provided by Sharps Lumber; Ashland Lumber is providing the fencing; and the site work is being done by M. E. Latulippe Construction and Tree Solutions. And Meredith Village Savings Bank chipped in with a $3,500 grant for the project.'' said Newton.
The garden will offer 20 4' x 8' plots on a first come, first served basis.
"Our goal is to increase the availability of healthy foods and provide opportunities for physical exercise, particularly for first time gardeners and those that have limited access to fresh vegetables," said Dave Toth of the Ashland HEAL Community Garden Committee. "We want to make it easy for people to participate in the garden, so we are providing free plants, garden plans, and advice from Master Gardeners and experienced Organic Growers during the growing season."
The plants for the garden come from New Hampshire Seedling Company of McCrillis Hill Farm in West Center Harbor, which according to owner Cora Caswell specializes in providing plants which are grown organically directly to its customers at wholesale prices. She says people can custom order their seedlings before the growing season starts so that they can get an early start on the growing season.
New Hampshire State Senator Jeanie Forrester spoke at the ribbon-cutting ceremony and praised the community garden as ''an exciting project which confirms exactly what this community is all about.''
The event opened with a reception at 1 p.m. inside the Elementary School followed by a 1:30 p.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony and a "Starting a Garden," presentation by Master Gardener Melanie Kerr.
People attending the event took part in a seed swap, talked with the Master Gardener and got information from Plymouth Local Foods, Ashland HEAL and enjoyed healthy snacks provided by The Common Man and Dot's Bread & Butter Bistro.
Recognized for their contributions to the project at the ribbon cutting ceremony were Ashland Elementary School, Ashland Lumber, The Common Man, Dot's Bread & Butter Bistro, M.E. Latulippe Construction, Meredith Village Savings Bank, New Hampshire Seedling Co., Randall Surveying, Samyn & D'Elia Architects, Sharps Lumber, Town of Ashland, and Tree Solutions.

Ribbon cutting ceremony at the Ashland community garden Saturday saw Natalie and Anna Boyer, front, helping David Toth, left, of the Ashland HEAL Community Garden Committee. Ashland Selectman Norm DeWolfe, State Senator Jeanie Forrester and State Representative Harold ''Skip'' Reilly cut a ribbon at the garden, which is located on a town-owned plot of land next to the Ashland Elementary School. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 April 2014 01:03

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Friends remember Lily Johnson on anniversary of tragic death

LACONIA — Despite a cold wind whipping in from Lake Opechee, hundreds of area people came to the Messer Street boat ramp area Saturday afternoon to remember Lilyanna Johnson — the middle school student who was killed after being hit by a car April 19, 2013.

Organized by the Laconia High School Key Club, the very quiet and respectful tribute to Lilyanna featured a table strewn with photos of her and her friends, a table of deserts for munching and the ability to contribute to two of Lilyanna's family's favorite things — the WLNH Children's Auction and the Sunday Dearborn Scholarship for athletes.

"(The family) helped us decide what was appropriate and what would make them feel the best," said Emilie Maddocks, a junior at Laconia High School and the event's main organizer from the Key Club.

Johnson and her friend Allyssa Miner had just left school on April 19, 2013 which was the Friday before spring break. The two had walked down Opechee Street and had turned left to walk over the Messer Street Bridge when a Jeep being driven by Amy Lafond ran up on to the sidewalk and struck both girls.

Lilyanna died later that day and Miner survived her injuries that included a broken pelvis.

Because it was a warm spring day, many middle school students were walking home in anticipation of their week off and unfortunately, a number of the children witnessed the horrible crash.

"It left a string of victims throughout this community," said one local police officer who was involved in the ensuing criminal investigation.

But Saturday's event was held for the sole purpose of remembering Lilyanna and for the friends, family, teachers, and the members of the community who wanted to remember her as the laughing and happy eighth grader she was.

Many students bearing bouquets of flowers and dressed in blue and purple, hugged each other and talked quietly in groups. Police, there for traffic-control purposes, kept a respectful distance.

Freshmen in high school now, most said they had moved on from their middle school days but the memory of Lilyanna and what happened will always be etched in their memories.

"It's good to see everyone together," said freshman Nicolas Murray who was holding a bouquet of flowers.

Murray joined the many students who used crayons to write a message to her on a table wrapped with a white sheet of paper.

Maddocks said that the Key Club organized the event by contacting the school superintendent, Public Service of New Hampshire, that owns the property, Laconia City Hall and the Lakes Region Scholarship Foundation.

Most importantly was the conversations they had with Lilyanna's family who who told the students they didn't want any speeches or formal events — just an informal gathering of her friends, family and teachers who wanted to remember her.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 April 2014 12:59

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Hatch to run for Meredith /Gilford House seat

MEREDITH — Mike Hatch yesterday announced that he will seek the Republican nomination for one of the four seats in the New Hampshire House of Representatives representing Meredith and Gilford.

Hatch said that "recent events in the (Belknap) County Convention have convinced me that it's time to run for office myself."

In a letter to The Daily Sun last month Hatch wrote that he would not call Rep. Colette Worsman (R-Mredith), who chairs the convention a "dictator, but Russia's Mr. Putin could learn a lot from her" and in a subsequent letter likened the performance of the convention to the Red Sox of 2012.

A lifelong resident of Meredith, Hatch served in the United States Navy as a corpsman and worked in the construction industry until breaking his heels in an accident. He worked for the postal service in Center Harbor and as a custodian at Inter-Lakes Elementary School. He has belonged to American Legion Post No. 33 for the past 46 years and served as its commander. An avid outdoorsman, he has hunted and fished since he was a young boy and believes strongly in safeguarding the natural beauty and resources of New Hampshire.

Describing himself as a fiscal conservative and champion of the Second Amendment, he has volunteered in a number political campaigns, but never run for office himself. "I can write all the letters I want, but I decided it's time to try and show them how to run things better," he said. " I want to go to Concord to bring common sense to local politics," he continued. "The taxpayers of Gilford and Meredith deserve to have leadership who will lead with integrity and get things done .I it's time want to bring common sense to local politics," he said. "I am a plain talking guy and I mean to talk plain in Concord."

The four seats in the district are currently held by Reps. Worsman, Bob Greemore and Herb Vadney, all of Meredith, and Democrat Lisa DiMartino of Gilford.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 April 2014 12:51

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