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Woman charged with stealing firefighters gear said to have started 2008 fire at church

LACONIA — The woman who was arrested last week for allegedly stealing a firefighter's gear bag from a Fire Department ladder truck is the same person who allegedly set fire to her apartment and Sacred Heart Church in May of 2008.

Jasmin Sanchez, 34, also known as Jasmin Braley, is being held on $500 cash only bail at the Belknap County House of Corrections. She is charged with one count of receiving stolen property.

Braley was arrested in July of 2008 and charged with one count of arson after her apartment on 322 Union Avenue went up in flames on June 21 of that year. Two days earlier, Braley allegedly started a different fire in the same apartment that was quickly extinguished.

Using forensic evidence processed at the state lab, police determine Braley was also the person who allegedly set fire to the alter in the Sacred Heart Church on May 20, 2008.

The church fire was discovered by a parishioner who arrived early for a weekday Mass and found the building full of smoke.

During her subsequent appearance in the Laconia District Court, her attorney told the court that Braley had some significant mental health issues and was trying to cope with the recent death of her infant son.

Braley was indicted for three counts of arson by a Belknap County grand jury in August of 2008.

According to paperwork obtained from the court, both the state and the defense agreed Braley was not mentally fit to stand trial. On December 22, 2008, both side agreed to petition the Probate Court for involuntary admission to the New Hampshire State Hospital for a period of five years with a conditional discharge to be implemented when appropriate.

On October 6, 2009, the state requested a second competency hearing to see if she had been restored to competency and could stand trial.

Because of the evaluation, on Dec 21, 2009 the state declined to prosecute all three arson charges because the second competency evaluation.

The contents of all competency hearings as well as the filings in Belknap County Probate Court are confidential.

Because the three arson fires in 2008 took place more than six years ago, the statute of limitations has expired on them and the charges cannot be refiled. Although many states have excluded arson from their statute of limitations laws, New Hampshire is not one of them.

Last Updated on Thursday, 18 December 2014 02:04

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Paintball park planned for tract at the Weirs

LACONIA — Paintball, the popular pastime around the world first played competitively in Henniker, New Hampshire in June, 1981, promises to become the next recreational attraction offered at The Weirs.

Edward Elfar, trustee of the El-Far Family Trust of Medfield, Mass., owners of a 22.79-acre property on Endicott Street North ( Rte. 3), has applied to open a paintball park on the property. The project is expected to be presented to the Planning Board when it meets in February.

The parcel is a flag lot; this is, a rectangle with a panhandle providing frontage on Endicott Street North. The trust acquired the property, which consists entirely of vacant woodand, in 2001 for $230,000. Since then the land has been placed in a so-called "current use" tax shelter with a nominal assessed value of $1,383. To the east and south the property is bordered by a 231-acre tract owned by Southworth Development, which was originally envisioned as the site of an 18-hole golf course and more than 400 residential units, divided between single-family homes and luxury condominiums.

With the development of the paintball park less than three acres of the property would be involved, leaving the remainder in current use. Two trailers — one eight feet by eight feet by twenty feet for storage space and the other eight feet by eight feet by twelve feet for an office — would be placed on the lot together with parking spaces for 42 vehicles. The trailers and parking would be located in the panhandle near the entrance to the property.

Three "play areas," bounded by yellow rope and florescent green ribbon would be delineated in the wooded reaches of the lot. Each field is designed to accommodate a maximum of 20 players as paintball competition generally engages teams of between three and 10 members.

In 2008 the late Gary Coyne of Meredith proposed developing a manufactured housing park — called "Harley Estates" — on the property, consisting of 58 single-wide mobile homes. The Planning Department recommended against the project, which it said was not in keeping with the Master Plan and failed to provide a 'Harmonious and aesthetically pleasing development of the municipality and its environs."

Last Updated on Thursday, 18 December 2014 01:58

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Governor appauds historical research by local man that found King Charles I intended much of N. New England to be Laconia

LACONIA — A commendation from the governor received by Laconia Historical and Museum Society was presented to Laconia Mayor Ed Engler Tuesday by LHMS President Pam Clark, LHMS Director Pat Tierney and LHMS Executive Director Brenda Kean.
The commendation was made to the city by Governor Maggie Hassan in connection with a recent research and subsequent lecture program of the LMHS dealing with the Laconia Grant of 1629 — a proclamation made during the reign of King Charles I of England which granted a large swath of land in North America to the Laconia Company with the intention of fostering a large settlement which would be known as the "province of Laconia".
The research by Pat Tierney, a member of the board of directors of LMHS, shows that the Laconia grant encompassed a large area 80 to 100 miles inland from the coast of what is now Northern New England. Tierney said the name Laconia most likely comes from Middle English and was used to designate an area containing lakes.
Tierney's research into English and Colonial era records shows that the Laconia Company was one of three major settlement companies during the 1629-1640 time period.

It  had three major settlement areas, one at Odiorne Point along the New Hampshire coast, another at Strawbery Banke in Portsmouth and another in the Eliot, Maine area which were established in 1630 by a group of colonists led by Governor Walter Neale and the Laconia Company. In 1632 Neale led a contingent of 'Soldiers of Discovery' up the Merrimack into the 'Province of Laconia', some 20 years before the historic Endicott expedition reached the Weirs.

In 1633 the crown ordered the Laconia Company to conduct formal surveys of Portsmouth, Dover, Exeter and what would later become Hampton.

Tierney says that the name Laconia is emblazoned across a large part of New Hampshire and Maine in a map shown in Horace Scudder's 1884 history book ''A History of the United States of America.''
He said that the historical significance of use of the name Laconia seems largely lost for a long period of time and traces it in part to the English Civil War, which started in 1640 and pitted Royalist Anglicans against the Puritans and saw the beheading of Charles I in 1649 and the establishment of an English government run by Oliver Cromwell which attempted to change and suppress actions taken by those loyal to the king and during the reign of Charles 1.
It wasn't until 1660 that England reestablished the monarchy but many legal battles, which lasted until 1746, followed over the right to soil within the Laconia grant. He said that those legal battles with the heirs of the original proprietor John Mason also kept the Laconia name from common use.
Tierney says that it may well have been the works of historian Jeremy Belknap, for whom Belknap County was named, and who often cited the Laconia grant in his works, which may have been the inspiration for naming the section of Meredith which broke away in 1855 as the town of Laconia.
A 1970 graduate of Laconia High School who earned a degree from UNH, Tierney says he has always had a keen interest in Laconia history and has been a member of the board of directors of LHMS since 2006. He is also a historian with the Mt. Lebanon Masonic Lodge #32.

The research was brought to the attention of Governor Hassan by Dr. Deborah Osgood of the Knowledge Institute for Small Business Development in Exeter, who worked with Tierney on the project.





Laconia Historical and Museum Society officers Pam Clark, left, president; Pat Tierney, second left. , LHMS director; and LHMS Executive Director Brenda Kean, right, present a commendation from Governor Maggie Hassan to Laconia Mayor Ed Engler, second from right. The document "commends The City of Laconia for the many contributions it has made toward the rich history of its state and nation." (Courtesy photo)

Tierney 2:
A map from Horace Scudder's 1884 book "A History of the United States of America'' shows New England and a large swath of land named Laconia, which shows the extent of a Nov. 17, 1629 grant from King Charles 1 of England for what was to be named the province of Laconia. (Courtesy photo)

Last Updated on Thursday, 18 December 2014 01:46

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Lawmakers still unwilling to transfer funds to pay commissioner's legal bills

LACONIA — The Executive Committee of the Belknap County Convention last night turned down a request from the Belknap County Commission to transfer $33,000 from one 2014 budget line to another in order to pay the county's unpaid legal bills, which now amount to some $31,673.
It was the second time in two weeks that the committee has turned down such a request. Most of total has been accrued in the lengthy legal battle between the convention and the commissioners over the control of line items in the county budget.
Two weeks ago the committee voted 6-3 to deny a request for a transfer of $28,000 to pay the county's legal bills.
Last night the newly-constituted Executive Committee, which was selected last week from newly-elected county legislators and is still chaired by Rep. Frank Tilton (R-Laconia), was presented with an updated request, which includes new bills for legal advice and representation for the county commissioners.

Tilton asked what authority the commissioners have to "encumber" funds to defend the commission. Commissioner Steve Nedeau (R-Meredith) cited a state law which he said allows the commission to defend itself in court even if there has been no appropriation made by the county convention for that purpose.
Tilton said that the convention had last year appropriated funds to pay the court costs Register of Deeds Barbara Luther had incurred while defending her office in a suit brought by the commissioners but the commissioners had never paid them.
Nedeau said that situation was different.

He also said that he and other commission members still disagree with a temporary injunction obtained in Superior Court by the convention which limits the ability of the commissioners to transfer more than $300 between budget accounts without the approval of the Executive Committee.
Tilton noted that there were more costs coming as a result of the commission's December 11 filing of an appeal of the Belknap County Convention Personnel Committee's reinstatement of Belknap County Nursing Home Superintendent Mathew Logue, who had been fired by the commission in late August.
He also noted that one pending legal bills was for over $6,000 and was incurred by the commissioners when they went to court following Judge James O'Neil's ruling in August and sought a court order for a special meeting of the Executive Committee to deal with the need for an emergency transfer of funds. The motion was denied.
''I feel very uncomfortable doing anything right now,'' said Rep-elect George Hurt (R-Gilford), who moved to deny the request and was supported by three other members of the committee with Rep. Don Flanders R-Laconia) abstaining.
The committee did approve several other transfers, including a request for a $2,000 transfer from the nursing home's furniture and fixtures accounts to operating supplies for the home which it had originally denied. The committee reversed the action after it later earned that the funds were for rubber gloves needed by food service workers when distributing meals and a degreaser for the kitchen.
Also approved was a $950 transfer from the nursing home's chaplain service to replace toner cartridges on printers which are needed to be able to print out medical prescriptions from doctors for nursing home patients, $12,770 from three different accounts for food costs for the nursing home, $352 to pay for copies of new state laws for the county attorney's office, $500 for cable and Internet service for the nursing home, $16,619 for transfers between Medicare accounts, $1,500 for dietary department wages and $20,000 for additional medical services and supplies for inmates at the Belknap County House of Corrections and $500 for anticipated snow removal costs by the nursing home maintenance department.

Last Updated on Thursday, 18 December 2014 01:07

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