Gilford man indicted for alleged rape of hotel guest

LACONIA — A Belknap County Grand Jury has indicted a Gilford man for four counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault (forcible rape), one count of burglary, one count of robbery, one count of false imprisonment, one count of criminal threatening, and one count of possession of a controlled drug.

Douglas Fisher, 54, of 15 Lake Street allegedly broke into the room of a female guest of the Margate Inn and Resort and forcibly raped her.

Police said they received a call from a woman in the early morning hours of May 7, 2014 and she reported the attack.
During the investigation, police collected evidence that included DNA from the victim. The DNA was identified as Fisher's based on a matching sample already entered into the National DNA (CODIS) database.
Fisher, whose known previous convictions are for two drunk driving offenses, is being held on $100,000 at the Belknap County House of Corrections.

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Cooking up fun at the Gilford Youth Center

By Rachel DiMaggio

GILFORD — Each Tuesday, talented young chefs meet to learn new cooking skills in the Kids' Cooking Class offered by the Gilford Youth Center. Children in grades K-4 whip up a new recipe each week. Previous treats include banana muffins and roast chicken.

Karla Cooper, who runs the program, teaches cooking skills that support school learning and have lifelong value. Subjects like math and science are taught alongside cooking and teamwork. The $80 registration fee includes four sessions. The class meets on Tuesday afternoons from 3-5 p.m. at the Gilford Community Church, where students have access to a spacious kitchen full of cooking equipment.
Cooper has experience teaching Lunch Bunch Fitness, dance, and Mommy and Me classes. Interest in the cooking class has grown thanks to Cooper's engaging teaching style and commitment to helping children master a variety of skills, says GYC Director Scott Hodsdon. The class is so popular that a second session has been planned for March.
Hodsdon described the recent push for more children's programs. "We're working directly with Parks and Recreation, offering programs such as Junior Picasso for young kids. It introduces them to art and painting and sculpting. We also have our Lunch Bunch fitness class that's based around healthy living, being fit, and being active."
The GYC has more exciting kids' programs in the works. Hodson says there are "some wonderful ideas, new — this was just one of them."

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Judge tells Tardif that City Council did not violate Right-to-Know

OSSIPEE — Former mayor Tom Tardif's petition, alleging that the City Council violated the state Right-to-Know law (RSA 91-A) on two occasions last October, when it discussed behind closed doors the possible purchase of the Belknap Mill and the course of unrelated, pending litigation, has been denied by Justice Charles Temple of Carroll County Superior Court.

Originally filed in Belknap County Superior Court, the case was transferred to Carroll County when Justice James D. O'Neill, III recused himself.

Tardif claimed that the council failed to follow proper procedures in entering nonpublic sessions on October 14 and October 27, entered both nonpublic sessions for purposes not authorized by the law and improperly responded to his lawful request for information. He asked the court to compel the council to disclose the minutes of both nonpublic sessions.

First, Tardif charged that on both occasions the council failed to take a roll call votes to enter the nonpublic sessions as the law requires. The minutes record which councilors were present and that a roll vote was taken, bit not the votes of individual councilors. the votes of the individual councilors.

Attorney Walter Mitchell, representing the council, explained that in the absence of the city clerk, the minutes of both meetings were transcribed from recordings by a member of her staff unfamiliar with the requirements of the Right-to-Know law, who neglected to record the votes of the individual councilors. Despite the shortcomings of the minutes, he held that the audio recording show that roll call votes were taken on each motion to enter nonpublic session and all carried unanimously. Justice Temple agreed that the council complied with the law.

The Right-to-Know law specifically authorizes the council to consider "the acquisition, sale or lease of real property " and "pending claims and litigation which has been threatened in writing or filed" in private. Tardif contended that the nonpublic session to consider an offer to purchase the Belknap Mill was not authorized because he believed the city would not be able to acquire it. In rejecting Tardif's allegations. Justice Temple noted that he conceded the council entered a nonpublic session for a legitimate purpose.

Finally, Tardif argued that when he requested minutes of the nonpublic sessions from the city clerk, the city manager responded, instead, in violation of the Right-to-Know law. The court ruled that the law simply requires the "public agency or body" to respond to such requests .

The city claimed Tardif's petition was "frivolous" and asked the court, in accordance with the Right-to-Know law, which authorizes the court to award fees to a public body "for having to defend against a lawsuit . . . when the court finds that the lawsuit is in bad faith, frivolous, unjust, vexatious, wanton, or oppressive," to award costs. The court denied the request, noting that Tardif "raised several colorable (plausible) claims."

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Family connection behind Florida sign company's relocation to Laconia

LACONIA — Big Daddy's Signs, owned and operated by Steve and Jeanne Zwicker, has moved from Winter Garden, Florida to Laconia, where the firm has leased 5,000-square-feet at 24 Lexington Drive in the O'Shea Industrial Park.

The family firm produces all types of custom signs, including yard signs, vehicle magnets traffic signals and vinyl banners, for a wide range of applications, including business advertising, real estate, event promotion, political campaigns. Its customers include a variety of businesses as well as cities and towns. "Jeanne Zwicker said the political package, consisting of lawn signs, vehicle magnets and vinyl banners, is especially popular. "There always lots of elections going on all over the place," she said, "and not just in November." The company markets its products primarily by means of the Internet and serves more than 350 wholesale and 1,000 retail customers.

Zwicker said the business began 10 years ago and is now well established and intending to grow. She explained that .the firm operates two high-speed digital printers and is working with the Belknap Economic Development Council to secure financing to purchase a new printer to replace the older of the two machines. Ultimately she said that they expect to operate three printers. Currently there are a half-dozen employees, a number Zwicker said will increase to nine or 10 within a year. With the addition of the third printer, she anticipated that the payroll would grow to 12 or 15 employees. "We are definitely looking to expand," she said.

Family rather than business considerations, Zwicker said, prompted the move from Florida to New Hampshire. She said that she wanted to be closer to her aging parents, who live in Meredith, and their two daughters, who are in college, one in Boston and the other in New York. "Now we don't have to fly to see them," she said.

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