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Inocente, the Middle School, and the Care Closet

LACONIA — For most children, a sleep-over at a friend's house is a rite of passage — the ability to spend the night away from home.

For some children in Laconia, a sleep-over can be life-saving.

"We know we have a pattern of students who are homeless and a percentage of them are couch-surfing because of problems in the family," said Middle School Principal Eric Johnson.

On Feb. 17, the Laconia Middle School will host the community as they view "Inocente," an award-winning film that spotlights one girl's attempt to combat her homelessness with her art.

Trying to address some of the problems within families is Stand Up Laconia, a growing coalition of adults and students who want to come together to create positive change for students.

Clare Persson, who is the chair of Stand Up Laconia, said the many of the students she knows don't want to live in a city that is tagged as a place where drug abuse and alcoholism seems rampant. She said many of the kids that Stand Up Laconia and Freedom Found at the high school level is to give some support to the youngsters who don't want to do drugs or drink.

"These kids see a lot, and they're up against a whole different thing than when we were young," she said.

She said her organization isn't necessarily on the front lines addressing acute homelessness, but rather is one of those entities that can help mitigate it by encouraging students not to make some of the choices their parents made.

"These kids are sick of Laconia being associated with drug abuse and alcoholism," Persson said.

She said her organization is there to support these students.

"Quite a bit of it is just poverty," said Johnson, who said he sees a lot of single parents who are working and just scraping by and who suddenly find themselves without a home and forced to stay with friends and family.

For the Middle School, ground zero is often the guidance office and the nurse's office. He said he has had children who often move three or four times in one school year — often from neighboring school districts.

He said his guidance staff stays in very close contact with the guidance staff in other area school districts to better help coordinate students whose families are moving in or out of the district.

"It comes in waves," he said. "We'll go a month or two and have none, and then we'll get six or seven students who are in transition."

Working together, Stand Up Laconia and the staff and students of the Middle School have put together the Care Closet — a place where students who are struggling financially and/or couch surfing can get items they otherwise would be unable to afford.

Johnson said the Care Closet is open to all students who are struggling financially.
He said the closet is stocked with personal hygiene items and clothes that are donated by the staff and the faculty.

He added that are left in the school's lost-and-found for more than four weeks go in the Care Closet.

"It's all confidential and coordinated through the nurse's and the guidance offices," said Johnson. He said the goal is to help these children without calling attention to their circumstances.

Johnson said the number of Middle School students who are struggling and tacitly homeless is "staggering."

"People would be surprised if they knew," he said, adding that 69 percent of the students at Elm Street Elementary Schools and about 70 percent of the students at Woodland Heights Elementary School are eligible for the free-and-reduced lunch federal programs that the school district uses as an indicator for poverty.

The "Inocente" program begins at 5:30 p.m. with a dinner on Feb. 17 at the Laconia Middle School and the 30-minute film at 6 p.m. The goal is to bring all of the agencies — including the school district and Stand Up Laconia — together and learn what a girl like Inocente would find if she were to come to Laconia.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 February 2014 02:18

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City Council strikes cul-de-sac compromise

LACONIA — In a compromise that spared three businesses and a church the hassle of changing their street addresses, the City Council last night unanimously agreed to designate the cul-de-sac at the end of Primrose Drive South in the O'Shea Industrial Park as Aavid Circle.
In November, Aavid Thermalloy, LLC asked the council to change the name of the entire street to Aavid Drive in recognition of the firm's decision to return its headquarters from Concord to Laconia, where it began almost 50 years ago, bringing 50 jobs to the city and investing $500,000 in its facility. Acknowledging that changing the name of the street would impose costs on neighboring firms, Norman Soucy, vice president and general manager of Aavid, assured them that Aavid would reimburse all out-of-pocket costs and offered any administrative assistance they might need.
Nevertheless, Amatex Corporation, Baron Machine Company and Fastenal Company balked, explaining that they have operated on Primrose Drive South for many years and having to change their addresses would be a distraction.
A divided City Council encouraged the companies to resolve their differences and return with a consensus proposal. All three firms, along with John Sanborn, pastor of the Faith Alive Christian Fellowship at 72 Primrose Drive South, endorsed the compromise in letters to the council.

Soucy thanked the council and his neighbors for their parts in affecting the change and said that since returning to Laconia the company has hired six engineers as well as additional sales staff. In addition, Aavid recently announced it has entered a partnership with General Electric to commercialize GE’s patented Dual Piezoelectric Cooling Jet technology.
Aavid Circle, along with a directional arrow, will be added to the street sign at the corner of Lexington Drive and Primrose Drive South.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 February 2014 02:24

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Saturday snow machine crash leads to DWI charges

ALTON – Two men were injured and charged with operating their snow machines while intoxicated after they collided on Lake Winnipesaukee on Saturday.

Multiple Fish and Game officers responded to Roberts Cove in Alton at 3 p.m. on Saturday for a report of a snow machine accident. Responding officers found that two acquaintances from Walpole, Mass. had crashed into one another, causing injuries to both men. Timothy Clifford, 57, and Bruce Buccelli, also 57, were both transported to a local hospital due to their injuries and later arrested and charged for DWI.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 February 2014 01:56

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Belmont man arraigned for sale of fatal heroin dose

BELMONT — A local man charged with providing the heroin that killed another man allegedly told police Friday that "he killed his best friend," according to affidavits released yesterday.

Jonathan Woodbury, 31, of 56 Arlene Drive, told Laconia Police Det. Chris Noyes on Feb. 7 during a taped non-custodial interview at Woodbury's home that he sold two $30 bags of heroin to Michael Chamberlain on Feb. 4. Chamberlain died later that day and Woodbury has been charged with one count of sales of narcotics with death resulting.

Woodbury allegedly told Noyes that he wanted Chamberlain to take the heroin while he was still in his apartment so he "could made sure nothing happened to him," read the affidavits obtained yesterday from the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division.

Affidavits said Woodbury clarified his statement by saying he didn't want "this" to happen to Chamberlain while he was anywhere else.

"It's my fault he's dead," Woodbury allegedly said to Noyes.

Affidavits stated emergency personnel said they responded to a medical call for the most serious level of breathing difficulty at 9:51 p.m. on Feb. 4. Two Belmont police officers reached the home first and found a purple-faced Chamberlain laying face up on the floor next to the bed and gasping for air. Police said he had a pulse.

Woodbury initially told police he didn't know what was wrong with Chamberlain.

During this conversation, one officer said Chamberlain's pulse had stopped and he began administering CPR. Police said that after "many tries" Woodbury told them he suspected Chamberlain may have taken heroin.

A Laconia ambulance was the first to arrive and, after Woodbury told them he suspected Chamberlain may have taken heroin, medical responders tried unsuccessfully to reverse the heroin by administering multiple doses of NARCAN — or naloxone — to him.

Chamberlain was pronounced dead at 10:29 p.m. An on-scene medical examination performed by the N.H. Medical Examiner indicated there was a fresh needle mark on Chamberlain's left arm that police believe was the heroin injection site.

An autopsy was preformed the next day and police are waiting for the results of the toxicology report.

According to Lt. Richard Mann, heroin use has become too common in Belmont. He said a second man nearly died Saturday afternoon of a heroin overdose in an unrelated incident.

Mann said Samuel Vachon, 22, of 237 South Road was found by police after he allegedly crashed his truck at the corner of Elaine Drive and Tucker Shore Road at 12:32 p.m.

He said police found Vachon with a rolled-up sleeve and an uncapped hypodermic syringe in his hands. Emergency responders found a spoon and a rope when they removed Vachon from the truck.

Vachon was unresponsive and had very little skin color when police found him.

Emergency responders successfully administered NARCAN and he was taken to Lakes Region General Hospital for treatment. After he was released, Belmont Police charged him with driving under the influence of drugs, three counts of default and breach of bail, and two counts of possession of drugs – one felony and one misdemeanor.

Vachon appeared in circuit court yesterday and was held on $10,000 cash-only bail.

Belmont's prosecutor said he had originally asked for $1,000 cash bail and $10,000 personal recognizance. However, Judge Jim Carroll noted he was concerned about Vachon and the safety of the community and set bail at a higher amount. Carroll ruled that if Vachon came up with a plan for substance abuse he would re-examine his bail.

Mann said both cases are being actively investigated, but he said it is very worrisome that heroin was a factor in both cases.

"Heroin is very cheap and readily available," said Mann.

Mann also said that all of the area police departments are working together to combat the recent spike in heroin sales and abuse.

"The information sharing has been outstanding," he said.

According to Belmont Fire Chief Dave Parenti, NARCAN has been used for a long time by paramedics to reverse the symptoms of opiate overdoses. He said his department has administered 11 doses of NARCAN to nine different people in the past calendar year.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 February 2014 02:09

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