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Council Glimpses Cost of County Jail

LACONIA — Although the city dodged a bullet when the Belknap County Convention adopted a 2014 county budget that will not place undue stress on the tax cap in 2014-2015, Mayor Ed Engler reminded the City Council last night that county officials left the future of the county jail unresolved.

Engler reminded the councilors that the Belknap County Commissioners have been wrestling with the recommendation of Ricci Greene Associates to construct a correctional facility at an estimated cost of $45 million, which would require additional staffing and an increased operating budget. Although the commissioners insist that the cost can be significantly reduced, in light of the hostile relationship between the commission and the convention, they have yet to offer a formal proposal, apparently preferring to await the outcome of the general election in November. The mayor ventured that a project costing between $20 million and $25 million could muster sufficient votes to carry the convention.

"I don't think we can afford not to be involved in these conversations," Engler told the council. He explained that he calculated that the city's annual share of a $20 million borrowing over a term of 20 years would be approximately $380,000, which would have to be fitted within the bounds of the tax cap. If the city had to bear the cost this year, it would represent 40 percent of the $929,000 increase in the amount to be raised property taxes permitted by the tax cap and require a corresponding reduction in other municipal expenditures.

Councilor Henry Lipman (Ward 3), chairman of the Finance Committee, warned that if federal officials found conditions at the county jail failed to comply with standards, the county could be compelled to correct them this year. He suggested the council advise county officials "what we can reasonably work with" in the course of preparing the city budget. "It would be a mistake not to let them know," he said.

Engler replied that the 2014-2015 city budget was not likely to be affected, but warned "it will affect our budget in 2016."


Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 March 2014 01:39

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Look online for up-to-date results for local elections

Election results for the District 1 Executive Council race and various township races and referendums may or may not be available tonight in time to place in Wednesday's newspaper but they will be available online (www.laconiadailysun) as we have them, starting at 10 p.m.  

— The editor

Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 March 2014 01:05

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Man who kicked roomate to death wants work release

LACONIA — A former local man who kicked one of his friends to death in May 2011 is seeking work release or a half-way house, according to a motion filed in Belknap County Superior Court.

Pleadings filed on behalf of Jason Durgin, 40, by the New Hampshire Department of Corrections said he has had no disciplinary record since he was sentenced to a single 3 1/2-to-7 year sentence for negligent homicide in June of 2012 for the May 2011 death of his house guest Leo LaPierre.

At the time of his sentencing, Durgin was credited with 406 days of pretrial confinement, and he will have served the minimum portion of his sentence in August 2014.

The state has asked for 30 days to file a reply, saying it asked the DOC for Durgin's records, but has yet to get them. The state also wanted a chance to speak with LaPierre's family.

The DOC said Durgin has completed a co-occurring disorders group and the Prison Classification Board believes the "likelihood of rehabilitation will be enhanced by participation in the work release program."

In May 2011, Laconia Police got a phone call from a trailer behind Quik Laundry and Cleaners for an unconscious man. The call was made by Tracy Hebert — one of two people living in Durgin's trailer.

Durgin and Hebert initially didn't come out of the trailer when police arrived and Hebert testified that Durgin had held her down in her bedroom and prevented her from answering the door. She also testified that Durgin had beaten and kicked LaPierre during an argument in the home but that she had gone back to her bedroom because she was afraid.

LaPierre, who had suffered severe head trauma, was taken to Lakes Region General Hospital and then transferred to the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center where he died of his injuries. He never regained consciousness.

In December 2013, the state Supreme Court unanimously upheld Durgin's conviction. He had appealed it arguing that his defense team had been unable to present the alternative theory that someone else could have committed the crime, that one of the witnesses against him had unlawfully used his EBT card, and that judge refused to set aside the verdict.

The court ruled that Durgin's trial was a "classic" jury case in which the jury weighed the evidence, determined for itself the credibility of witnesses, and came to a just conclusion.

Asst. N.H. Attorney General Benjamin Agati prosecuted Durgin.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 March 2014 01:34

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Vote today: special election will decide race for executive council seat

LACONIA — The Special Election to fill the Executive Council seat in District 1, which was held for 35 years by Ray Burton until his passing in November, is being held today, March 11.
The candidates are Republican Joe Kenney of Wakefield and Democrat Michael Cryans of Hanover.
The polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.
The polling stations are in Ward 1 at the Belknap County Nursing Home, in Ward 2 at the Sacred Heart Parish Hall, in Ward 3 at the Laconia Middle School, in Ward 4 at the Memorial Park Club House and in Ward 6 at the Leavitt Park Clubhouse. The Ward 5 polling station will again be at Wooodland Heights Elementary School, but it has been moved to the music room, the entrance to which is at the front of the building.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 March 2014 01:02

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