Fishers suspected as culprits behind recent disappearance of number of Lakeport cats

LACONIA — During the past several weeks, some half-dozen cats have gone missing from homes near Bond Beach Park in the Lakeport area of the city, arousing suspicions among their owners that they may have fallen prey to a family of fishers.

Doug Shaw of Franklin Street said that cats belonging to his daughter and two of their close neighbors have disappeared since late last month while a woman on Bell Street is missing three cats. Shaw and at least one other cat owner have posted signs with color photographs and telephone numbers on utility poles around the neighborhood in hopes of recovering their pets.

Shaw said that a family of fishers (a member of the weasel family) has been sighted near the entrance to Bond Beach Park and that officials of the Elm Street School, which is adjacent to the park, are aware of the presence of the fishers in the neighborhood. He said that he spoke with New Hampshire Fish and Game Department only to be told that there is nothing the agency can do. Instead, they suggested residents hire a trapper to remove the fishers.

Fishers, or fisher cats — though they are not feline — are small carnivorous animals, once prized for their pelts. With slender bodies, short legs and long tails, males may reach three feet in length and weigh between 4 and 12 pounds in weight while females are half that size. Fishers live and hunt in deep forests, preferably with dense cover. They are nocturnal as well as active at dawn and dusk. One of the few predators to hunt, kill and eat porcupines, fishers also feed on rabbits, squirrels and other small mammals while supplementing their diet with insects, nuts, berries and mushrooms.

Fishers have long been suspected of devouring cats. However, a study undertaken in New Hampshire in 1979 that analyzed the stomach contents of trapped fishers found evidence of domestic cats in only one in 1,000 stomachs. Likewise, a study of 24 fishers trapped in suburban areas around Albany and Saratoga Springs, New York and 25 kill sites found no evidence that fishers had preyed on cats. Researchers in New York believe the rising population of coyotes, whose numbers have risen throughout the northeast, are more likely than fishers responsible for disappearing cats.

Teamsters' union contract before county convention on Monday

LACONIA — A collective bargaining agreement between Teamsters Local 633 and the Belknap County Commission which will come before the Belknap County Convention for funding Monday night will have a $14,586.67 impact on this year's county budget and will save the county more than $26,000 next year.
The two-year contract was approved by commissioners two weeks ago and ratified by a majority vote of the 23 employees covered by the contract last week.
The agreement provides for pay-scale step increases for employees, which are based on individual performance reviews, as well as a 1.4 percent cost of living increase retroactive to April 1 of this year. In return, the employees agree to move to a less expensive health insurance plan which provides an option for dental insurance.
County Commission Chairman Dave Devoy (R-Sanbornton) said that the contract reduces health insurance costs and provides flexibility for the commissioners to change insurance carriers. Employees will change to a so-called "site of services" plan which he says will help the county keep from reaching the Affordable Care Act "Cadillac tax" threshold, which is a penalty on expensive health insurance plans that is due to kick-in in 2018.
A cost summary of the contract shows health insurance costs for the covered employees dropping from $336,433 this year to $322,543, a $13,890 decline, and from $356,881 next year to $300,400, a $56,481 decline.
In March the Belknap County Convention unanimously rejected a three-year collective bargaining agreement with the Teamsters local, which would have added $25,581 to the 2015 county budget.
The convention is scheduled to meet at 6 p.m. Monday evening at the Belknap County Complex. It will be preceded by a meeting of the convention's Executive Committee at 4:30 p.m. Commissioners are asking for the transfer from the Jail Planning account in the Department of Corrections' 2015 budget in order to fund a pilot program at the House of Correction which would provide assessment services to determine treatment needs of jail inmates.

Federal lawmakers salute Laconia police for Pumpkin Festival reiot help provided to Keene

LACONIA — The four members of the New Hampshire Congressional Delegation congratulated Chief Chris Adams and his staff for assisting Keene Police with the disturbances at the October 18, 2014 Pumpkin Festival.

The recognition was recognized at the Laconia Police Commission meeting yesterday afternoon.

"The Laconia Police Department displayed tremendous courage during the events of October 18, 2014 when responding to the rioters in Keene," wrote Sen. Jeanne Shaheen on behalf of herself, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, Rep. Annie Kuster and Rep. Frank Guinta.

"Your department's participation helped to diffuse this dangerous situation and was recognized by the New Hampshire law enforcement community when they nominated and selected your department for this award," she continued.

Various news agencies reported that students from Keene State College as well as other New England universities and colleges were drinking at gatherings in some of the off-campus housing sections of the city. Their parties spun out of control and police in riot gear responded with tear gas to quell the disturbance.

Media reports at the time indicated that 80 students were initially arrested and 16 more were identified by video cameras in the area. One-hundred seventy students were disciplined and college officials reported that two students were expelled, one withdrew, nine were suspended and many others paid fines and made restitution.

In other police business, Adams said National Night Out at Wingate Village was a great success despite the storm that blew through early in the event.

The annual Citizen's Academy is scheduled to begin on September 16 and there are openings, said Adams. Anyone who is interested should call the Laconia Police at 524-5252. The academy meets once a week for three hours for 10 weeks.

Capt. Bill Clary said about 25 people have been charged in the recent "drug roundup" conducted by police last week. He said that the department switched some schedules around and there was almost no overtime used.

After learning that three supervisors and six patrol officers were participating in a training class in Concord co-sponsored by the N.H. State Police and the Dept. of Homeland Security, Commissioner Armand Maheux said he would like some kind of accounting as to why officers go to the training and if they're getting anything out of it.

Adams and Prevention, Education and Control Officer Eric Adams are presenting their drug prevention program to the governor and Executive Council at the next meeting. Adams said there is some discussion about making Laconia's program a model for the rest of the state.