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Lakes water quality plan to be presented Aug. 3

By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN

MEREDITH — The Lake Winnipesaukee Association, in partnership with FB Environmental Associates of Portland, Maine, will present a plan to address threats to the water quality in Lake Waukewan and Lake Winona at a public meeting at the Community Center on Wednesday, Aug. 3, beginning at 6 p.m.

The watershed of the two lakes includes five towns — Meredith, New Hampton, Center Harbor, Holderness and Ashland — and a mix of seasonal and permanent homes as well as some commercial and industrial properties. Both lakes suffer from low concentrations of dissolved oxygen, which hinder aquatic life, while Lake Waukewan, the source of Meredith's drinking water, has been marked by blooms of toxic cyanobacteria.

The Watershed Restoration Plan offers recommendations and strategies for reducing nutrients, chiefly phosphorus, and pollutants from reaching the lakes. Measures include public education, community planning, land conservation, best management practices, site restoration projects and water quality monitoring. The plan aims to encourage consideration of long-term strategies for improving water quality and safeguarding natural resources within the watershed among citizens, municipalities and state agencies.

The project was financed in part by a Watershed Assistance Grant awarded by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services with funds from the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Public defenders challenge Gilford Police tow and questioning

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA – A judge will decided whether a Gilford police officer was acting legally when he ordered a defendant's car be towed after a traffic stop because it had red tail light tape instead of a tail light.

Presiding Belknap County Superior Court Justice James O'Neill will also decide who was questioning whom and whether or not Joshua Levesque's right to not speak without and attorney were violated.

Levesque, 26, was stopped on Feb. 26 at 7:26 p.m. by Patrol Officer Curtis Mailloux because one of his tail lights was “completely missing.” Levesque pulled into a car wash and parked near the vacuum machines, said Mailloux's report.

Mailloux said the car windshield was cracked and that it “was not in condition to be on a roadway.” He ordered that it be towed. During an inventory search, he found a small spoon that later field-tested for fentanyl.

Levesque was wanted on an outstanding warrant from Rochester for shoplifting, said the report, and had been arrested and released earlier in the day by Laconia Police.

Once at the Gilford Police station and after he was put in a holding cell, police reports said Levesque began crying and Mailloux asked him “What is wrong?” The two had a conversation in which they discussed what would happen to him over the weekend. Levesque also said the Laconia Police had just searched his car and they left the spoon in it.

Mailloux's report said he said, “'Laconia (police) just left a piece of paraphernalia inside of your car?'”

Levesque balked at cooperating with the booking process but finally allowed police to take his picture. Mailloux read him his Miranda rights and Levesque signed a form saying he didn't want to speak with police without an attorney.

Then Levesque allegedly told Mailloux he was going to get really sick. Mailloux asked why, because he said Levesque had already told him he had been clean for two days.

Mailloux also seized $1,105 from Levesque who told him it was his tax returns. He told him that if he could document the money was from taxes and not drug sales, he would get it back.

Levesque refused to be fingerprinted and told Mailloux to “just take him to county.”

Levesque's attorney, Eric Wolpin, argued the car should not have been towed because it was road worthy, according to the state's tail lights and license plate lights laws. He said the light bulbs were working and the crack in the windshield was not obstructive.

Wolpin went on to say that even if, for the sake of an argument, the car was not road-worthy, that police violated their own internal policy by towing it from private property. He said state law requires that the property owner must initiate the tow. Without the tow, said Wolpin, the inventory search was unlawful, and the evidence is inadmissible.

As to the discussion in the police station, Wolpin said police can't prove Levesque “knowing, willingly and voluntarily” gave up his right to refuse to be interviewed in a custodial interrogation. He said that Levesque's statement to Mailloux should not be presented to a jury.

The Belknap County Attorney's Office has objected to all of Wolpin's challenges, saying that Mailloux had the right to stop the car because the tail light was completely missing and it was night time and dark.

The state argues that the law requiring a private property owner to initiate a tow doesn't apply because the police can make a reasonable determination that car is not road worthy.

As to Levesque's claim that Mailloux violated his constitutional rights by speaking with him before and after reading him his rights is unfounded because Levesque was the one asking the questions and Mailloux was answering them.

The state says that when Mailloux asked him what was wrong, he was not interrogating him and that he was only answering Levesque's questions.

“None of the officer's remarks can be construed as the functional equivalent of questioning,” according to the state.

Belknap County sheriffs to get new computers for patrol cars with grant

By ROGER AMSDEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA —Aging mobile data terminals used by county sheriffs will be replaced with tablet devices, after the Belknap County Commissioners Wednesday morning unanimously approved acceptance of $1,164 in federal grant funds.
Sheriff Craig Wiggin explained that the money represents 7 percent of a $16,714 grant which is being sought by the city of Laconia, and, which according to grant guidelines, must be shared with the county.
Wiggin said that the grant, which will be used by the Laconia Police Department for the purchase of 15 semi-automatic, 5.56 mm caliber urban patrol rifles, is the same kind of Justice Assistance Grant which the city and county partnered on earlier this year.
Laconia received $11,641 for nine urban patrol rifles as its share of the earlier JAG grant, while the Sheriff''s Department received $3,000 for radar units.
"The patrol rifles are very much like machine guns," said Wiggin. They are M4 carbines, a shorter and lighter version of the M16A2 assault rifle, with a 14.5-inch barrel and a 30-round box magazine with a high rate of fire.
The commissioners also approved a three-year contract with the American Institutional Medical Group LLC to provide physician services for the Belknap County House of Corrections for three years. The contract calls for fees of $8,013.16 per month in the first year, $8,253.56 a month in the second year and $8,501.10 per month in the third year.
Commissioners approved transfer requests of $500 for the Department of Corrections law library and $800 for full-time wages in the Belknap County Nursing Home due to an unanticipated retirement. Those transfers will need approval from the Belknap County Delegation's Executive Committee.

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