Group continues work toward establishing new shelter for area homeless families

LACONIA — After nearly two years of examining the homeless situation in Laconia, a group of people representing various area social service agencies have determined there is a need for a cold-weather homeless shelter for families in the area.

Colleen Garrity is the president of Belknap House — a fledgling not-for-profit agency that is in the process of raising money for a building and property somewhere in or very close to Laconia. Once established, it will be open from October until May.

"Over the past five years we've seen the number of homeless families increase and it's made us feel quite helpless," Garrity said.

Currently there is one shelter, the Salvation Army-owned Carey House, that serves all of Belknap County and it has space for only three families at a time. As an outreach worker for St. Andre Bessette Catholic Church, Garrity works on the front lines of homelessness and is one of the first calls people in need of emergency shelter make.

"This is very real and it's not getting any better," she said.

Belknap House has a Website: https://sites.google.com/site/l2belknaphouse/ and a Facebook page. She said there are various subcommittees created and one of them is tasked with fund-raising.

So far, she said there have been some restaurant-sponsored fund raisers and a golf tournament scheduled for Lochmere Country Club on September 14. Garrity said they are still accepting entrants for the golf tournament and there are a few holes that still a sponsor.

Garrity said the initial goal is to raise $50,000 to $60,000 through fund-raising and grants so they can find a piece of property for consideration. She said before it could be used it would have to be ADA compliant and sprinkled. She said she hopes there will be some case work and life-skills services that will be provided by the shelter staff as well as shelter from winter's cold.

"We know this is a process," she said, adding that from the beginning of a similar shelter in Portsmouth until it became a reality took more than three years.

"We'll keep plugging away and keeping people aware of the problem in Belknap County," said Garrity.

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In Gilford, Sen. Rand Paul repeats pledge to scrap U.S. income tax code

LACONIA — Casually dressed in a starched white button-down collar shirt, close fitting designer jeans and cowboy boots, Rand Paul yesterday brought his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination to the Gilford Mobil Mart, where he was hosted by its owner Dave DeVoy, a Belknap County commissioner and greeted by some 40 supporters.

Paul, who was elected to the United Senate in Kentucky in 2011, is the son of Ron Paul, the former congressman from Texas and presidential candidate in 2008. An opthamologist, Paul joked that he became so frustrated with the course of politics and government that he said he would run for office only to have his wife warn him "that's crazy. You could get elected."

In fact, Paul worked with his father, whose libertarian perspective he shares in good measure, throughout his congressional career and presidential campaign and was tapped by his supporters to run for Senate seat opened when Jim Bunning, the Republican incumbent, retired. With support from the Tea Party he won the GOP primary by a margin of 23 percent and the general election with 56 percent of the vote.

Paul was introduced by New Hampshire State Senator Andy Sanborn of Bedford who said "Rand is not another Republican who votes like a Democrat and will put more money back in your pocket," then knowingly or unknowingly echoed Donald Trump by rallying support for Paul "to make sure we make America great again."

Shrinking government, lowering taxes and protecting privacy have been the predominant themes of his presidential bid as they have of his Senate career. The country, he said, is "languishing" under an onerous burden of rising debt. By trimming a penny of every dollar of federal spending, he claimed the budget could be balanced in ten years. "Where can't you cut?" he asked, referring to programs to established a televised cricket league in Afghanistan and sending Pakistani children to summer camp in Alabama.

Paul vowed to scrap the tax code — "all 70,00 pages of it" — and replace it with a flat tax of 14.5 percent on both individuals and corporations, reducing tax receipts by $3 trillion, which would be returned to the private sector to spur the growth of the economy.

In both the Senate and his campaign, Paul has distinguished himself from the other 16 candidates in the GOP by challenging the authority of intelligence agencies to encroach on the privacy of individual citizens by collecting personal data in the guise of ensuring national security.

Calling himself as a "constitutional conservative," Paul said that by voting for conventional Republican candidates "you'll get what you've got" and claimed he is the lone "nominee who will actually cut taxes." He urged his listeners to "stand more boldly for what we are for."

Although Paul brings a distinct lineage and unique voice to the field, polls indicate that he is mired in the pack behind the frontrunners with support in the single digits. "It's early," said David Chesley from Paul's campaign team. "You win New Hampshire one voter at a time."

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Cyclist reports kidnap attempt on Messer Street

LACONIA — Police are searching for a man who allegedly attempted to kidnap a 20-year-old woman while she was riding her bicycle on Messer Street near the intersection at Lyford Street at 9:15 p.m. She had been riding on the WOW Trail.

The victim told police the man was driving an older Chevrolet panel van and that he approached her and asked for her name. When she gave it to him, he allegedly threw her and her bicycle to the ground and grabbed her arm.

She told police she was able to get away from him by fighting back and running into the woods, where she hid.

He is described as a being about 5-feet 7-inches tall, weighing about 250 pounds with short hair, a goatee or light facial hair and a tattoo of a lion or a tiger on one of his arms. At the time, the victim said her assailant was wearing a white tank top and dark shorts.

Police said they have reason to believe the victim is known to her assailant and that this is not a random crime.

If anyone has any information about this incident or who spotted a red van in the area around that time they are asked to call the Laconia Police at 524-5252 or 524-5257.

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