Off to a good start

Navigating Recovery of the Lakes Region already helping the addicted

By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — Navigating Recovery of the Lakes Region, a resource center for those seeking to overcome the disease of addiction and pursue a path to recovery, will celebrate its grand opening next month, but in the meantime is already serving some three dozen clients since beginning to accept them in December.

"We're fighting back," said Philip Spagnuolo, vice president of the organization and and one of a dozen volunteer recovery coaches at the center. "Our efforts are making a difference."

The center is housed at 635 Main St. on the third floor of the building at the corner of Main Street and Canal Street above Greenlaw's Music and Audio. The space includes a large room, bathed in natural light with brick and painted walls and hardwood floors beneath a freshly painted tin ceiling. There are several private rooms where recovery coaches meet with clients. Daisy Pierce, executive director of the center, said that it provides a safe place to host social events and meetings and where peer-to-peer support services are a priority.

Pierce said that Navigating Recovery welcomes anyone seeking to escape from substance abuse, whether from drugs or alcohol, in all stages of recovery, including those who may still be using and others may be fresh from de-tox or rehabilitation. She said that Adams refers clients to the center, and when a patient who has overdosed who is willing to meet with a recovery coach one is sent to the hospital. But, Pierce stressed that anyone may call, text or walk in between 9.m. and 5 p.m. to schedule an appointment and that the center provides its services without charge.

The first step in the process for the coach and the client to develop a recovery plan. Spagnuolo explained that there are many paths to recovery and the center is open to all of them.

"We provide as many options as we can," he said, recognizing that what works for some may not work for others. "We are open to all of them and provides as many options as we can."

Spagnuolo said the first step may be to refer a client to a primary care physician, who may prescribe what he called "comfort drugs" to ease the agony of withdrawal, or to Horizons Counseling Center, where licensed drug and alcohol counselors are available. He said that recovery is not something that can be done alone. "You can't do it by yourself," he said, "but if the person is willing to do the work necessary to stay sober, we can help. But, it's not easy."

The recovery coaches at the center, most in recovery themselves, have completed a week-long training program and all are pursuing further certification as certified recovery support workers while the center itself is also seeking accreditation. With certification of its recovery coaches and accreditation, the center would be entitled to bill Medicaid and private insurers for its services.

Pierce said that none of recovery coaches consider they have a full case load and expects that the center will have capacity to serve between 50 and 75 clients a week. She said with Hope for Recovery in Franklin and the Greater Tilton Family Resource Center, she anticipates that the center will serve most of the municipalities in Belknap County.

Apart from working with individual clients, the center hosts meetings of groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, Smart Recovery and Celebrate Recovery and holds health and wellness workshops, Dick Smith and Elaine Morrison will be offering art therapy and the center will also be home to yoga and meditation classes. Spagnuolo said that the center will offer a place for those in recovery to begin forming the new personal relationships and social networks they will need to sustain their sobriety and build new lives.

Pierce, said that Navigating Recovery sprang from the efforts and generosity of a number of leaders in the community, who nearly a year ago chose to follow the example of Hope for New Hampshire in Manchester and Safe Harbor in Portsmouth by establishing a recovery center in Laconia to serve Belknap County. In particular, she mentioned Andrew Hosmer, then the state senator for the region; Henry Lipman of LRGHealthcare; Maggie Pritchard of Genesis Behavioral Health; and Jacqui Abikoff of Horizons Counseling Center; along with Eric Adams, the PET (Prevention, Enforcement, Treatment) officer of the Laconia Police Department, Tammy Emery of Stand Up Laconia, and Spagnuolo. At the same time, she said that the center reflects generosity of those whose contributions represent a quarter of its operating budget while a contract with the Department of Health and Human Services provides the balance.

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Daisy Pierce, right, executive director of Navigating Recovery of the Lakes Region, is pictured with three of the 12 recovery coaches at the center; from left are Nate Walker, Paul Spagnuolo and Valene Colby. (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)

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The space at Navigating Recovery is ready to help those with addictions. (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)

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Meredith crematorium gets green light to continue operating

By BEA LEWIS. for The Laconia Daily Sun

MEREDITH — A judge has ruled a local funeral home can continue to offer cremation services as it operations have never been cited for violating air emissions or other regulatory standards.

Peter and Kelley Mayhew, who own and operate the funeral home of the same name at 204 Daniel Webster Highway had initially asked a judge to issue an injunction to stop a neighboring property owner from defaming
them.

Leslyee and Douglas Frederick, who ran the American Police Motorcycle Museum at 194 Daniel Webster Highway next door to the funeral home have voiced repeated public complaints at local meetings of selectmen, claiming the crematorium deposits ash on their property that they believe is the product of cremation.

In July, Judge Amy Ignatius denied they Mayhews' request to gag the Fredericks, finding there was no immediate danger of "irreparable harm to justify the extraordinary step of imposing a prior restraint on
speech."

The Fredericks, in turn, asked the court to either temporarily order the Mayhews to stop using the crematorium, or to prohibit them from using it between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

The dispute appears poised to become a showdown between experts. Both sides have submitted reports to the court supporting their respective positions.

According to a report of an industrial toxicologist retained by the Fredericks, testing of a sample of a particulate matter that was allegedly discharged by the crematorium's chimney showed high levels of 19 heavy metals that pose a public health hazard.

A report authored by an expert retained by the Mayhews, however, concluded there were no malodorous emissions or particulates seen during observation of the crematorium in operation.

As neither report had been subject to cross examination, Judge Ignatius said she did not consider them in making her decision denying the Mayhews' request for an injunction.

"After a review of the evidence, the court finds that the (Fredericks) have failed to demonstrate a likelihood of success on the merits (of their case) at this time," the judge held.

As the suit continues towards trial, now scheduled to begin this spring, the judge said, the contents of the debris that is allegedly emitted from the crematorium "will be scrutinized."

"The court is not convinced at this stage of a need to compel a significant curtailment of the funeral home's operations," she wrote.

Meanwhile, attorney William Woodbury of Laconia, who represents the Fredericks and the museum, has withdrawn their claims for business related damages, including relocation costs.

The Mayhews had earlier requested that the Fredericks turn over the museum's federal tax returns from 2010-2015 as well as profit and loss statements and related financial records.

On Dec. 15, the court issued a conditional default against the defendants for failing to produce the records.

In asking that the business damage claims be dismissed, Woodbury wrote that action did not diminish the remaining claims that the museum was driven to involuntary closure as a result of the noxious conditions they allege are caused by the abutting crematorium.

A final pretrial hearing is now scheduled for March 30. A jury is to be selected on April 10.

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The Mayhew Funeral Home, right, sits next to what was the Motorcycle Musem in Meredith. The crematory's chimney is almost level with the museum, which closed after the owners said odors and ash from the crematory made operation impossible. (File photo)

Evidence presented in drug sale trial of Brian Watson

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Brian Watson, left, and his attorney, Mark Sisti, appeared in court Wednesday. (Gail Ober/Laconia Daily Sun)

 

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — A detective from the Tilton Police Department spent much of his day Tuesday testifying about evidence obtained from the bedroom of a 21-year-old man who died from a fentanyl overdose in April of 2015, including two syringes with liquid found within the victim's reach that were not tested by the state lab.

Brian Watson, 52, formerly of Northfield, is accused of selling a lethal combination of drugs to Seth Tilton-Fogg sometime before his death on April 2, 2015. His body was found in his bedroom by his mother in the early morning hours of that day.

Police officer Noell Glenn said she was one of the first people on the scene, and she found three needles that were "pre-loaded" with liquid. Detective Bryan Kidd-Keeler found a fourth. All totaled, police said there were about a dozen syringes that were found in the room, but some of the empty ones were destroyed.

Police collected and the state lab tested one plastic bag of brown material and one plastic bag that wasn't tested. The lab was given was given two needles with liquid in them but they were not tested.

Kidd-Keeler described the bedroom as messy and photos showed that Tilton- Fogg was found slumped on his bed with a cell phone at his feet and a "cook spoon" near his body. Many of the syringes filled with something were found within his reach, either on a television stand or in a draw on the stand or under his bed. All but six were discarded.

A coroner was called and an autopsy done later that day determined he died of acute fentanyl poisoning. Kidd-Keeler testified that he and the coroner saw old track marks on Tilton-Fogg's wrists but the state's chief medical officer found a fresh needle mark on one of his ankles.

Under cross examination from Watson's attorney, Kidd-Keeler said he didn't know what was in the two needles with liquid that weren't tested and were introduced as defense exhibits. When asked if there were any cotton balls or cotton-tipped sticks used to filter solid materials out of the heroin/fentanyl, Kidd-Keeler said there wasn't.
Kidd-Keeler also said there was no way to know when Tilton-Fogg ingested the fatal dose of heroin and that there was no way to know when it came into his possession.

He also testified that police took the cell phone into evidence and unlocked it by taking it to the funeral home and using Tilton-Fogg's thumb to unlock it.

Kidd-Keeler testified that they were able to determine that one of Tilton-Fogg's more recent text messages had either come from or had been sent to Watson.

A number of experts in the cyber-technology and cell phone field explained to the jury how they can track text messages with an appropriate search warrant for 72 hours.

Under cross examination, Sisti asked Kidd-Keeler about another known drug dealer who had also been in contact with Tilton-Fogg.

Kidd-Keeler said police dropped their investigation into that man because Tilton-Fogg's most recent contacts had been with Watson.

"He was ruled out as a suspect because of someone who had more recent contact with him," said Kidd-Keeler.

The trial continues this morning (Thursday) at 9:30 a.m. in the Belknap County Superior Court.

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