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Theft of 75 used car batteries nets man 1 year in jail

BELMONT — A local man was sentenced to 12 months in the Belknap County House of Corrections Thursday for being in possession of 75 used car batteries stolen from MetroCast Cablevision on July 17.

Dean LaPlante, 20, of 129 Lamprey Road pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of receiving stolen property in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division yesterday. A count of breach of bail was not prosecuted.

Six months of the 12-month sentence were suspended and LaPlante was given credit for 12 days served.

LaPlante took 75 used batteries that had been stored on pallets by MetroCast and were slated to be recycled by the company that provides the cable company with its batteries, said Belmont Prosecutor David Estes.

Estes said the batteries are a lead-acid type about the size of a standard car battery and are used to power the cable and phone line grid during outages. He said MetroCast valued each of the used batteries at about $12. A new one, he said, costs the company about $160.

According to affidavits submitted to court by Belmont Police, one of MetroCast's neighbors heard some loud banging outside her window around 1 a.m. on July 17, looked out and saw an unfamiliar pickup.

Police questioned LaPlante and Stephen Cote, 31, of 62 Randlett Drive and Cote told them LaPlante had brought the batteries to his home because he said he couldn't store them at his own.

Estes said the batteries were taken into evidence and are stored at the Belmont Police Station. He said Cote is also charged with one count of receiving stolen property and is scheduled for arraignment in late August.

 

Last Updated on Saturday, 03 August 2013 02:57

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$67,000 spent to improve storm-water drainage at new LHS athletic complex

LACONIA — After a setback of about two weeks and $67,000, School District Business Administrator Ed Emond told the Joint Building Committee yesterday that there are no more issues with the new playing fields behind the high school.

Emond said the additional money went to pay for drainage, tipping the new road to direct storm water runoff to a swale and creating an overflow dam at Bank of New Hampshire Stadium.

"Everything is really set up and we are in a good position to protect the field," said Emond.

The drainage problems with the fields were two-fold.

Initially, the subsurface of Jim Fitzgerald Field — the primary playing field that will be covered with synthetic turf — was not absorbing water at the required rate. The cost of removing most of the material and changing the mixture to fix the drainage was the responsibility of the contractors.

Secondly, drainage from the upper field (Bobotas Field) was inadequate during heavy downpours, leading to washouts.

The Fitzgerald Field drainage issues were known before the torrential rains over the weekend before the July 4 holiday. However, the damage to the drainage system around the fields came as a complete surprise and it wasn't until the deluge that engineers and members of the JBC realized there was a problem.

"I'm kind of disappointed with the end result that this is more of a drainage problem than we thought," said JBC Co-Chair Bob Hamel yesterday, telling the committee that drainage they have now should have been anticipated in the original design.

Hamel went on to say he believes the problem is now solved and noted it cost the district more by having to go to an after-bid rather than including it in the original scope.

"But (the fields) will be fantastic and, if we didn't do this, then we would have paid for it in the end," Hamel said.

Joint Building Committee Co-Chair Joe Cormier said at a School Board meeting on July 16 that there will be no additional drainage piping work done at or around the fields located behind the high school saying the School District got an engineering and construction estimate from the contractor overseeing the project and decided to reject the additional work because it was cost-prohibitive.
At the time, Cormier said he had every confidence the erosion problems that occurred during the storms won't recur and the work to fix the damage and the drainage — some of which is still under construction, would be fixed by the engineers and contractors at their expense.
After the JBC met in an emergency meeting on July 3, it voted to give Cormier and Hamel the authority to approve any drainage engineering changes and expenses

 

Last Updated on Saturday, 03 August 2013 02:54

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Dogs brought in to sniff out presence & source of human bacteria

LACONIA — Rarely if ever do dogs cleanup after their owners, but the roles were reversed at Opechee Cove and Weirs Beach yesterday when "Logan" and "Sable", two mixed breeds trained to identify human sources of bacteria in water, helped an environmental contractor trace the origins of the contamination fouling city beaches.

The dogs, with their trainers and handlers Karen and Scott Reynolds, represent Environmental Canine Services, LLC, headquartered in Vermontville, Michigan. Last year, Planning Director Shanna Saunders and Kevin Dunleavy, director of Parks and Recreation, saw the dogs perform at conference on stormwater management.

When the city contracted with FB Environmental of Portland, Maine to study the problem at the beaches, Saunders and Dunleavy asked for "Logan" and "Sable" to join the team. Although the dogs worked in more than half-a-dozen coastal towns in New Hampshire and Maine last year, this was their first job on a freshwater lake in New England.

"We chose the dogs for their accuracy and cost," Saunders said. Emily DiFranco of FB Environmental explained that in half-a-day the dogs checked several catch basins and outlets at Opechee Cove and another 50 catch basins at The Weirs, a workload that would have otherwise taken two days.

The dogs are trained to the scent of human — and only human — fecal matter. Logan, who has the keener of the two noses, sits and Sable barks when they catch the smell. Instead of having to draw samples at every potential source, the dogs signal only the hot spots. "It's just as important to eliminate areas as to identify them," Scott Reynolds said. "That and the human focus are what makes the dogs cost effective," he said.

DiFranco explained that the alternative is to collect lots of samples, all of which must be tested, not only to determine the bacterial levels but also to distinguish human from animal sources, all of which is time-consuming and very costly.

Scott Reynolds, who first scent trained dogs while with a security firm, recalled that after he became an environmental scientist his firm was tediously inspecting sewer lines and storm drains when his supervisor asked him "can you train dogs to smell poop?" He replied "why not " and in 2007 he and "Sable" went to work. Two years later he and his wife Karen, also a dog trainer, pooled their 35 years of experience into their own firm.
The company operates in Sonoma, California, where five dogs are on the payroll, as well as in Michigan with "Logan" and "Sable" and three dogs in training.

Reynolds said the dogs can work in two ways. Water samples can be collected, placed in buckets and presented to the dogs. At The Weirs, "Logan" and "Sable" demonstrated their prowess at this technique several times. Alternatively, the dogs can track contamination to its source.

For instance, DiFranco recalled that last year the dogs found a beach at Fort Foster in Kittery, Maine laced with fecal bacteria, which seemed to be seeping into the sand. The dogs led them to a marsh, which was also fouled. Beyond the marsh they found two abandoned outhouses, which were promptly removed. This year, when they returned to the beach, the dogs sensed no trace of fecal bacteria. "That was a real success story," Di Franco said.

DiFranco said that the samples taken from the hot spots identified by the dogs yesterday would be tested and the results analyzed in a report to city officials. "We want to prioritize the next steps in addressing the problem," she said.

Dunleavy said that any action by the city will depend on the findings and recommendations of FB Environmental.

 

Last Updated on Saturday, 03 August 2013 02:43

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Moultonborough selectmen want Planning Board member out, for 'neglect of duty & malfeasance' he says has never been specified

MOULTONBOROUGH — When the Board of Selectmen met last week it was revealed that they have asked Josiah Bartlett to tender his resignation from the Planning Board to spare him the embarrassment of a public hearing.

Reading from a written statement distributed to the selectmen, Bartlett's wife Diane disclosed that on July 25 he was summoned to a private meeting with Town Administrator Carter Terenzini and Peter Minkow, town counsel, who informed him that the selectmen, meeting in a non-public session, voted to request his resignation for "neglect of duty and malfeasance in office." She said that her husband was told to resign by the close of business on Monday, July 29, but has yet to receive a letter to that effect.

"After careful, prayerful deliberation and appropriate consultation," Mrs. Bartlett told the selectmen, "neither Josh nor I see any valid reason for him to do so. In fact , we think that doing so would be neglecting a duty to those he represents."

After listening to Mrs.. Bartlett, Russ Wakefield, chairman of the board, asked Terenzini why, when he and Minkow met with Bartlett, he was not offered a more "elaborate explanation." Terenzini replied that Mrs. Bartlett's remarks "don't in my opinion reflect what happened" and that "more specificity" was provided, but declined to comment further saying he was "truly uncomfortable" discussing the matter at a public meeting.

Bartlett himself then spoke, insisting "I don't know what specific incident we're talking about. Do I not get the courtesy of at least an explanation of which malfeasance I'm accused of and which dereliction of duty I'm accused of?" he asked.

"He had it, he responded to it and it was conveyed to this board," Terenzini countered, adding that the particulars would be spelt out in a letter in adequate time to prepare for the public hearing. When Bartlett said again he could not recall any specifics from their meeting, Terenzini repeated that he was "uncomfortable" discussing the details of a conversation at which town counsel was present.

Planning Board member Paul Punturieri noted that the law requires the Selectboard to hold a public hearing to dismiss an elected official and suggested the board must have already made its decision. Wakefield answered that the purpose of the hearing was to determine if there is sufficient cause to remove someone from office.

Bartlett said that since the selectmen directed Ternzini and Minkow to meet with him and ask him to resign, it appeared the board had made its decision. "True?" he asked. "No. It's not true," Wakefield replied. "Then why would you ask me to resign?" Bartlett asked.

He expressed concern with how the matter was being handled and repeated "I see absolutely no reason to resign. "I'm eager to have a public hearing."

 

Last Updated on Saturday, 03 August 2013 02:31

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