Judge tosses evidence, statements in Gilford heroin possession charge


LACONIA — All of the drug evidence against a local man arrested by Gilford Police on Feb. 26 has been tossed by a superior count judge who said it was obtained through an unlawful tow of his car.

Presiding Justice James O'Neill ruled that a spoon with heroin residue found in Joshua Levesque's car during an inventory search cannot be given to a jury.

At issue was whether or not the officer followed his own department's towing policy when he determined the car couldn't safely be driven, despite the fact that it was in a private parking lot.

Levesque's car had a broken taillight assembly that had been repaired using red automotive tape and this led to the traffic stop. The officer said he noticed a crack in the windshield and the combination of those two things led his to believe the car was unsafe.

Levesque pulled into a private parking lot and parked in a legitimate parking space.

Because Levesque had a warrant for his arrest from a different jurisdiction, he was taken into custody and it was at this point the officer made the decision to tow the car because, he said, it wasn't road worthy.

Prior to any police-ordered towing, police conduct an non-investigatory inventory search designed to protect the property owner from theft by either the police and or the tow, company as well as to protect police from false claims being filed against them and/or dangerous items in the vehicle. Nearly all police department have them and most of them are similar and based on provisions in New Hampshire law.

Levesque also requested the court suppress any statements made by him to police because he was interrogated without being read his Miranda rights or warning.

O'Neill agreed and said none of his statements can be used against him.

According to court documents, when Levesque learned he was spending the weekend in jail, he began to cry. The arresting officer asked him what was wrong and he allegedly responded he was going to be sick from what he hinted was heroin withdrawal while in jail.
O'Neill said that the question "What's wrong?" may seem innocuous on the surface, but suppressed the statements because he said any officer should know that it would likely elicit a response given Levesque's condition and demeanor.

Police continued to ask Levesque questions after he was told he would be facing additional charges for the residue, and O'Neill said they should have known better and that the questions would likely result in incriminating statements.

From free to fee for Bike Week vendors


MEREDITH — Following a brief public hearing, the Board of Selectmen yesterday formally adopted the ordinance imposing a fee on itinerant vendors operating during Motorcycle Week.
Despite misgivings expressed by the owners of both Laconia Harley-Davidson and Hart's Turkey Farm Restaurant, who together host vendors during the rally, the Board of Selectmen unanimously recommended introducing a licensing fee to Town Meeting in March. Town Meeting endorsed the recommendation and authorized the select board to adopt the ordinance.
Mirroring the precedent of Laconia, the ordinance would require all itinerant vendors, other than nonprofit organizations soliciting donations toward a charitable purpose, to be licensed by the town at a fee of $450, and $500 for food services, which would entitle them to operate from noon on the first Friday until midnight on the last Sunday of the rally. Vendors operating without a license could be fined up to $500 for each day of unlawful operation. The licensing fee will first be charged in 2017.
The licensing fee is intended to defray the cost of municipal services incurred during the rally. Town Manager Phil Warren said that in 2015 expenses were $18,017, which consisted of $7,149 for police overtime, $5,868 for fire service and $5,000 in dues for the town's membership in the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association. Revenues amounted to $660 from special use permits issued to Laconia Harley-Davidson and Hart's Turkey Farm Restaurant at $330 apiece.
When selectmen proposed imposing a licensing fee last winter Anne Deli, the owner of Laconia Harley-Davidson, repeatedly warned against it, believing a fee will deter vendors from operating at the rally. When the licensing fee was first proposed, she asked "Does Meredith rally want to put one more nail in the coffin of Motorcycle Week?"
Likewise, Russ Hart of Hart's Turkey Farm Restaurant told the board the proposal was "not welcoming" and said "we don't need anything to diminish Motorcycle Week."

At the 4-H Fair - Kids and animals hold spotlight at annual Belknap County 4-H Fair (672 w/cuts)


BELMONT — Animals and the children showing them held the spotlight at the 73rd annual Belknap County 4-H Fair, held over the weekend at the former Royal Smith Farm on Mile Hill Road, which was once a dairy farm with 240 head of milking cows.
The fair continues to focus on the things that it does well by maintaining its agricultural roots, said Fran Wendelboe, fair chairman, who took over leadership of the fair five years ago after a period of declining attendance amidst an effort to turn it into a three-day affair, which included carnival rides.
"We've always been a small fair focused on kids and agriculture, and that's what we continue to be. We had pony rides and lots of entertainment, but the focus has always be on a things like the steer-pulling competitions, goat and sheep and dog shows, as well other animals raised by the children,'' said Wendelboe.
She said threatening skies on Saturday and high heat and humidity on Sunday cut down on this year's attendance, but that those who did show up had a good time and enjoyed themselves.
Among those taking part in the steer-handling competition Sunday was Mason Farmer, 10, of Alexandria, who was showing his 5-month-old Brown Swiss team, Wes and Lou. It was his fourth time showing in 4-H competitions and he said he's learned a lot from them.
Also putting in time in the show ring was 16-year-old Emily Emmalee of Barnstead, who had her miniature horse Ultra in the horse show ring.
She said her horse stays with her grandfather, John Cotton, in Barnstead, along with with four other miniatures that her family owns.
"We're only 10 minutes away from the miniature horse farm in town, which is where we got them,'' she said. "They're lots of fun and people really like them because they're so gentle."
The fair got its start in 1943 as a dairy fitting and showmanship competition at Lombardy Farm on Parade Road in Laconia during World War II. Interest in the fair, sparked by Lillian Walker, owner of the farm, grew rapidly and it was later moved to Opechee Park in Laconia, where it was billed as the 4-H Food for Victory Fair.
At the first fair, War Bonds were sold to buy bombs for the war effort and the drive was so successful that the following year the goal of raising bonds to buy an Army training aircraft was established.
The War Bond fund drive went statewide and by the time the fair was held in 1944 enough money had been raised to buy nine training aircraft.
Following the war, the fair moved to the Belknap County Recreation Area, returning to Opechee Park in 1950, where it was held until it moved to the former Royal Smith Farm on Mile Hill Road in 1977.


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Emily Emmalee, 16, of Barnstead, shows Ultra, a mini-horse, in the horse show ring at the Belknap County 4-H Fair. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)

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Studio Two, A Beatles Tribute Band, performs at the Belknap County 4-H Fair. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)

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Ella Poire and Hannah Baker of Belmont show their Hampshire sheep at the Belknap County 4-H Fair. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)

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Jeff Keyser of Ramblin' Vewe Farm in Gilford gave a demonstration of sheep shearing at the Belknap County 4-H Fair. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)