Odd break-ins

One is a home invasion, other is stolen smokes

By RICK GREEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — Police were investigating a pair of unusual but unconnected crimes on Tuesday.

At 1:37 a.m., someone broke into the P&P Mart at 43 Elm St. Police found the front door smashed. A surveillance image appeared to show a lone woman had broken in.

The unusual part was that only a single item appeared to be taken — a pack of cigarettes.

Police Sgt. Chris Noyes said that so far there's no evidence anything else was stolen.

The other case that kept officers busy Tuesday was a report of a home invasion at 3 Lyman St., Unit 1.

Two men with baseball bats forced their way into the residence, but officers are still trying to determine the motive of the break-in.

Noyes said it appears this was not a random act and that the residents know the people who broke in.

No arrests have been made in either case.

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This is surveillance video of the burglar at P&P Mart. (Courtesy photo)

 

Help from abroad

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Louria Meyu, 23, from Malaysia, is working this summer at Beans and Greens Farm in Gilford, one of the seven interns at the farm through the J-1 visa program. Meyu's family in Malaysia grows rice and black pepper. She wanted to come to Gilford, "to try something new. I wanted to learn about vegetables we don't have in my country." (Adam Drapcho/Laconia Daily Sun)

International workers are critical to many Lakes Region businesses

By ADAM DRAPCHO, LACONIA DAILY SUN

At Beans and Greens Farm in Gilford, there's a sign behind the farm stand that reads "Beans and Greens employees have come from all over the world." The post below the sign is filled with directionals, pointing to more than a countries.

Martina Howe said Beans and Greens has been utilizing international workers for at least 30 years – since the Howes were dairy farmers. Beans and Greens connects with foreign workers through the J-1 visa program, designed for internship opportunities. Through the program, the Howes are obligated to house the interns as well as educate them. On top of that, the Howes pay their interns the same rate that they would a comparable local worker.

This year, Beans and Greens has seven interns. They come from Columbia, Brazil, Russia and Malaysia, and join about a dozen local workers on the farm this summer.

Howe enjoys the opportunity to meet young people from around the world and help them lean about agriculture. And without the extra help, Beans and Greens would have a hard time finding enough local people willing to do the job.

"It would be a real struggle," she said.

With the state's unemployment rate below 3 percent for more than a year, most local businesses have a difficult time filling all of their positions. Seasonal operations are at a further disadvantage, said Cythia Makris, owner of The Naswa Resort on Weirs Boulevard in Laconia.

"It's harder when you're seasonal. You can't compete with year-round businesses," said Makris.

The Naswa began bringing in international workers about 25 years ago, through the H-2B visa program. All of The Naswa's international workers come from Jamaica, and this year Makris is employing 51 workers from the Caribbean island nation. They will make up about a third of her staff, she said.

"Sometimes people think that you are hiring these workers for cheap labor. It's quite the opposite," said Makris. To get the workers to The Naswa, Makris hires an immigration attorney in Miami, Florida, to file the petitions with the federal government, pays the fees to file the visa petitions, pays for round-trip airfare for each worker, and houses them all. The wage that she pays them is set by the government. The overall cost is considerably greater than hiring a local worker.

"It is expensive to do this program, but it guarantees that we will have employees," she said. Even with the Jamaican workers, who will mostly work in housekeeping or in the kitchen, Makris worries that she won't be able to find enough local workers to fill the rest of her positions.

"Some people think that they're taking jobs from Americans. We can't fill these positions. We've had to find alternative solutions," she said.

The local labor shortage is no surprise to Karmen Gifford, executive director of the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce.

"There are still more jobs than there are job seekers," she said. In addition to the above businesses, Gifford mentioned a few other resorts that look beyond the national border to fill their staff.

"I know they all rely on that because they can't fill all the positions they have," said Gifford, praising the businesses to pursue the visa programs, despite the extra cost and complications. "I give kudos to those businesses ... They're strategic. I think it's awesome that we have strategic businesses here, it's helping them to succeed."

Not all local businesses are so fortunate, though. The H-2B program is limited to 66,000 visas nationally, divided into 33,000 for each six-month period. This year, no doubt driven by the tight labor market, saw a spike in petitions that quickly exhausted the available petitions. That left many employers, such as Sim Willey, wondering how they are going to make it through the season.

Willey, owner-operator of Hart's Turkey Farm in Meredith, said he had been hiring workers through the H-2B program since the 1980s. He filed petitions for 20 foreign workers this year but wasn't able to get any. Worrying about his staffing problem has kept him up at night, he said.

"I does definitely impact us," said Willey. At the height of the season, Hart's will employ 250 people, a mix of full- and part-time workers, said Willey. The loss of the 20 international workers won't negatively impact the restaurant's day-to-day operations, he said, but he will likely have to turn down some large, lucrative catering orders due to the lack of staff.

Anyone who is looking for work is welcome to apply at Hart's, said Willey.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that the continuing resolution signed into law on May 5 authorizes the Trump administration to double the number of H-2B visas for the 2017 fiscal year, and that lawmakers are urging the heads of the Homeland and Labor Departments to move quickly to do so. In the meantime, Willey is hoping to get a little more help by extending the visas of workers who are already working in the country.

"We just don't have enough full-time residents to support businesses," he said. "We need help from J-1 or H-2B, those types of programs."


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Many of the 51 workers that The Naswa is hiring through the H-2B visa program have already arrived. Cynthia Makris, owner of The Naswa, said she struggles to fill the remaining 90 positions from the local labor pool. (Adam Drapcho/Laconia Daily Sun)

 

Manhunt in Sandwich results in three arrests

By ADAM DRAPCHO, LACONIA DAILY SUN
Law enforcement officers from several agencies and departments combed Sandwich on Sunday and succeeded in finding three people sought in connection with a reported theft that occurred that morning in Moultonborough.

Moultonborough Police Sergeant Jason Boucher said that the events of the day began with a report of a crime that occurred on Sunday morning in the parking lot of the Center Harbor Christian Church. That incident remains under investigation, and he was unable on Monday afternoon to provide a detailed account of the alleged crime. For example, he was unable to confirm initial reports that a weapon was used during the incident. However, he was able to confirm a couple of details.
“It was definitely a theft, there was definitely a vehicle used without consent of the owner, and they fled the scene,” said Boucher.
The theft was reported at 10:12 a.m., and shortly thereafter a be-on-the-lookout call was issued for a Chevy Trailblazer with three people inside.
Sgt. Shawn Varney with the Sandwich Police Department said he was driving down Wentworth Hill Road and saw the vehicle shortly after he heard the BOLO. He passed a vehicle fitting the description, and when he turned around to follow the SUV, it took off at a high rate of speed, headed toward Moultonborough on Route 109.
Because the road was still wet, Varney could see the tracks the vehicle left when it turned onto School House Road, a road which is currently a dead end, thanks to a closed bridge. With that in mind, Varney called for backup from neighboring towns, and found the vehicle abandoned at the closed bridge. At the vehicle, he found materials he suspects to be illegal drugs.
Searching the nearby area, Varney found Zackarie Brown, 18 of Franklin and 22-year-old Kiersten Gadwah of Penacook in a two-story outbuilding. He said he and another officer were able to smell “freshly burned marijuana” as soon as they entered the building. Brown has been charged with criminal trespass and possession of a controlled substance. Gadwah will face the charge of criminal trespass. The two were taken into custody at 11:55 a.m.
It took several more hours of searching to find the third member of the getaway party. Varney had put a post on Facebook, letting the public know that they were looking for an individual in the area, and a townsperson reported seeing a man walking inside the tree line along Route 109. The man was acting suspiciously, carrying three cell phones. Varney caught up with Sean Ipock-Gauthier, 18, of Pittsfield at 3:58 p.m. He has been charged with disobeying an officer, transporting drugs in a motor vehicle, criminal trespass, driving after suspension and reckless driving.
Ipock-Gauthier and Brown were brought to Carroll County Jail, where they posted bail. Gadwah, who had outstanding warrants from Grafton County, was transported to Grafton County Jail, said Varney. The trio are scheduled to be arraigned for their charges relating to their activities in Sandwich on July 20 in the 3rd Circuit District Court in Ossipee.
In the meantime, they should expect further charges stemming from the initial incident in Moultonborough, said Boucher, once that investigation is complete.
Sandwich and Moultonborough police departments were aided by Meredith and Tuftonboro police, State Police, the Ossipee Police K-9 unit, and Carroll County Sheriff’s Department.

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