Driver involved in fatal Parade Road crash indicted for manslaughter & negligent homicide

LACONIA — A Belknap County Grand Jury had indicted a Kingston man for one count of manslaughter, three counts of Class A felony negligent homicide and one count cocaine possession.

Ryan Mears, 26, formerly of Windsong Drive had allegedly been drinking, had allegedly used cocaine and was allegedly driving at an excessive speeds on Nov. 2 on Parade Road when he lost control of his car and slammed into some trees just before 2 a.m.

Tiffnay Nieves of Laconia was killed instantly by what the medical examiner said was blunt-force trauma. She was a passenger in the back seat and the examiner said she died of a torn aorta, a lacerated heart and lung and a fractured skull. She was found laying in the back seat.

At Mear's probable cause hearing on November 19, the preliminary investigating officer said a second passenger, Jeremy King, had been partially ejected from the car and was hanging by his feet with his head toward the ground.

She described the scene as one of the worst she had ever seen.

She found an open bottle of Jack Daniels whiskey under Nieves's body and a cracked bottle of Crown Royal whiskey in the front seat. She said the seal on the Jack Daniels bottle had been broken.

The officer testified that she first saw Mears from her vantage point on the passenger side of the car and observed he was pinned between the steering wheel and the front seat. She said he told her at the scene that he was driving the car.

Laconia Police generated three initial search warrants for blood samples from Mears.  Judge Jim Carroll of the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division ordered the results of Mears' medical records and the blood draws to be sealed.

The officer re-created Mears evening up until the crash and testified at the probable cause hearing that he told her he was at Shooter's tavern in Belmont and had one shot of Jack Daniels and one beer. He told her he had used cocaine before going into the bar.

In a subsequent conversation she had with him, he told her he drank three shots of Jack Daniels and two beers. She said he signed a consent form to have his blood taken but his signature was barely legible, although he had no injuries to his hand, wrist or arm.

The officer later interviewed other people who were with Mears that evening and was told that the three of them, Mears, King, and Nieves, each had one shot and one beer at the Baja Beach Club in Laconia and left there is separate cars. They went to Funky Monkey, also in Laconia, and had "last call" in their car at 1:30 a.m. because there had been some issues inside concerning King.

Guldbransen said she charged him with one count of manslaughter because his actions were reckless and because he was aware or should have been aware of the possible consequences. If convicted of manslaughter, Mears could spend up to 30 years in jail.

She has also charged him with with three counts of A felony negligent homicide — one for driving while under the influence of drugs and alcohol; one for driving a car about reasonable and prudent speeds and failing to maintain proper land control while under the influence of alcohol and drugs; and one for driving under the influence of alcohol in that his blood alcohol content was about .08.

If he is convicted of the Class A Felony of negligent homicide, Mears could serve up to 15 years in prison.

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New Belknap commissioners developing management organization plan

LACONIA — Belknap County's new commissioners, attempting to assert what they see as their major responsibilities as managers of county government, are looking for ways to reconcile their part-time status with the everyday needs of county department heads to make decisions on a daily basis.
When new commissioners Dave DeVoy (R-Sanbornton) and Richard Burchell (R-Gilmanton) held their first meeting in early January they made a point of saying they didn't want to delegate their authority and wanted to deal directly with department heads. They said department heads would report directly to them rather than through the Belknap County administrator, signifying a major break with the policies followed by the previous commissioners, who had worked to streamline county government by consolidating authority over policy and day-to-day operations of the various county departments within the administration department.
The shift in county policies was discussed by commissioners, who in recent weeks have been joined by newly appointed commissioner Hunter Taylor (R-Alton), when they met Friday at the Belknap County complex and looked for ways to increase departmental autonomy and develop a policy which would differentiate between actions which would require their approval and those which would require only reporting to them of actions already taken.
DeVoy said that while each of the county departments are unique, he would like to develop a uniform policy. But he wanted to make sure commissioners didn't surrender any of their powers. ''There are certain responsibilities which we can't give away and I don't want to see us give them away.''
Taylor said that he would like to see the county Administrator Debra Shackett look at what policies are and have the commissioners reach a consensus on appropriate autonomy for each department.
Commission Chairman Burchell said that is was important not to micro-manage and suggested e-mails as a way to maintain lines of communication.
Taylor said that it was important for the commissioners to be sensitive to the state's open meetings law, better known as Right-to-Know, and pointed out that private discussions between two of the members of the three-person board on policy violates the open meetings law.
He said that each member of the board should separately do a draft of the proposed policy and that ''come in and talk about them'' and hold an all-day meeting with department heads and elected officials in order to develop a policy.
Burchell said that he didn't see conversations between commissioners as a violation of RSA 91-A, the Right-to-Know law. ''We'll never be be to decide in advance on every single issue which could come up,'' he said.
County Attorney Melissa Guldbrandsen noted that under state statutes there are requirements for her office, including reporting to the county administrator, any litigation against the county.
She said she saw the attempt to develop a policy ''a worthwhile discussion'', adding ''the administration over the years has done a good job of bringing us all together'' and that the departments have developed good working relationships.
Commissioners also dealt with a number of other items.
Burchell said that a bid was being prepared for the county's health insurance program by a firm which is sensitive to the substantial refund coming to the county from its current insurance provider, which the county would forfeit if it switches firms.
Taylor and DeVoy noted that union negotiators representing county employees had objected to having a citizen representative, Roger Grey of Sanbornton, on the county's bargaining team.
Taylor said that the union had cited a state Public Employee Labor Relations Board regulation that those representing an employer in the negotiations must be affiliated with the employer.
Both DeVoy and Burchell said they wanted to continue with Grey on the bargaining team and Taylor said the commissioners would have to create some kind of status for Grey that would enable him to be affiliated with the county for the purpose of collective bargaining.

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Gilford man indicted for alleged rape of hotel guest

LACONIA — A Belknap County Grand Jury has indicted a Gilford man for four counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault (forcible rape), one count of burglary, one count of robbery, one count of false imprisonment, one count of criminal threatening, and one count of possession of a controlled drug.

Douglas Fisher, 54, of 15 Lake Street allegedly broke into the room of a female guest of the Margate Inn and Resort and forcibly raped her.

Police said they received a call from a woman in the early morning hours of May 7, 2014 and she reported the attack.
During the investigation, police collected evidence that included DNA from the victim. The DNA was identified as Fisher's based on a matching sample already entered into the National DNA (CODIS) database.
Fisher, whose known previous convictions are for two drunk driving offenses, is being held on $100,000 at the Belknap County House of Corrections.

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Cooking up fun at the Gilford Youth Center

By Rachel DiMaggio

GILFORD — Each Tuesday, talented young chefs meet to learn new cooking skills in the Kids' Cooking Class offered by the Gilford Youth Center. Children in grades K-4 whip up a new recipe each week. Previous treats include banana muffins and roast chicken.

Karla Cooper, who runs the program, teaches cooking skills that support school learning and have lifelong value. Subjects like math and science are taught alongside cooking and teamwork. The $80 registration fee includes four sessions. The class meets on Tuesday afternoons from 3-5 p.m. at the Gilford Community Church, where students have access to a spacious kitchen full of cooking equipment.
Cooper has experience teaching Lunch Bunch Fitness, dance, and Mommy and Me classes. Interest in the cooking class has grown thanks to Cooper's engaging teaching style and commitment to helping children master a variety of skills, says GYC Director Scott Hodsdon. The class is so popular that a second session has been planned for March.
Hodsdon described the recent push for more children's programs. "We're working directly with Parks and Recreation, offering programs such as Junior Picasso for young kids. It introduces them to art and painting and sculpting. We also have our Lunch Bunch fitness class that's based around healthy living, being fit, and being active."
The GYC has more exciting kids' programs in the works. Hodson says there are "some wonderful ideas, new — this was just one of them."

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