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Segment of United Way's annual Day of Caring devoted to cleaning up Black Brook

LACONIA — Volunteers for the United Way annual "Day of Caring" pitched in yesterday to remove trash from along the banks of Black Brook and milfoil from the silt-filled cove located where the brook passes under Union Avenue before it empties into Spinnaker Cove on Paugus Bay.
The project, one of many of the day, was undertaken by volunteers from 3M in Tilton, Franklin Savings Bank, the Taylor Home in Laconia, Lakes Region General Hospital and the Aqualogic firm of Gilford, which specializes in the vacuum harvesting of Eurasian watermilfoil .
John Jude, president of Aqualogic and a member of the Gilford Conversation Commission, said that the project was undertaken in cooperation with the City of Laconia's Conservation Commission and was coordinated by Scott McPhie of the city's Planning Department who is the department's liaison with the commission.
''We've picked up trash along Black Brook and worked with the team of milfoil harvesters who pulled the plants out along with their roots. Hand removal is the only option here because we can't use chemicals because Black Brook empties into Paugus Bay just a short distance away from the intake for the Laconia Water Works,'' said McPhie.
Black Brook starts near Lily Pond in Gilford and flows past the Hannaford-Lowe's parking lot on its way to Paugus Bay. Periodic dredging is required of the silt which accumulates at the outlet.
Laconia has contracted with DuBois & King engineers to do a geomorphic study of the brook to develop and understanding of of the physical condition or the existing stream corridor while Gilford has set aside $4,000 to assist with the project. Laconia has already raised $17,000 to fund the study.
Both conservation commissions will continue to raise money for the second and third phases of the study — the total of which will be $35,000. After Phase I is the Hydrological and Hydraulic Culvert Analysis and the Watershed Plan.
The goals of the study and eventual work that will likely be done through a federal grant, is to reduce to need for ongoing dredging at Spinnaker Cove; reduce the milfoil by eliminating some of the sediments that accumulate in the stagnant area next to Union Avenue; decrease the turbidity and reduce the water temperature; control the debris; improve flows from the brook and replace some of the culverts to better control vegetative buffers; and to protect Paugus Bay.

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Dominic Jude of Aqualogic of Gilford positions a suction hose from a milfoil harvester in Black Brook
in Laconia yesterday as part of a United Way Day of Caring project. With him are John Jude, owner of Aqualogic, and Wayne Kreiensidsk and Mike Foote, on board the harvester. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)

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Chris Perez, a United Way Day of Caring volunteer, helps remove milfoil from Black Brook in Laconia yesterday. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)

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Michael Mitchell and Joe Laplante of 3M corporation in Tilton, United Way Day of Caring volunteers, dump a bucket of milfoil harvested from Black Brook in Laconia into a container. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)

Last Updated on Saturday, 20 September 2014 12:41

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Murderer seeks sentence reduction; repeatedly shot wife along Court Street in 1984

LACONIA — A former Laconia man who shot and killed his wife as she walked down Court Street in September 1984 has asked a Belknap County Superior Court Judge to suspend two years of his 35-year sentence potentially allowing him to be released in 2018.

According to paperwork obtained from the court, Richard Pliskaner, Jr. pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in 1985 after he was indicted for first-degree murder. He was sentenced to a 35 year to life in prison.

This is the seventh time Pliskaner has asked the court for a sentence reduction. His previous requests came in 1988, 1992, 1998, 2001, 2006, and in 2010.

In the motion he wrote himself, Pliskaner said that he had met the three goals of incarceration: punishment, deterrence, and rehabilitation.

After his guilty plea, "for the ensuring 30 years the defendant had continued working hard through attending 57 self help programs..."

Pliskaner said that if his request was granted he would have three years in prison to work on what he would do if released in 2018.

Senior Asst. Attorney General Jeff Strelzin objects to Pliskaner's request for a reductions.

He said the facts of the crime are still very disturbing in that in August of 1984 Pliskaner had been involuntarily committed to the N.H. State (mental health) Hospital for eight days. Upon his release, Pliskaner's wife Debra left him against Pliskaner's wishes.

On September 1, Laconia Police confronted Pliskaner while he was across the street from his wife's apartment. He was carrying a loaded revolver and the police confiscated it and released him.

On September 13, Pliskaner purchased a pistol, four boxes of ammunition and a holster. He lied about his name, his address and his reason for buying the gun.

On September 14, Pliskaner was driving through Laconia when he saw his wife walking her dog along Court Street. He got out of her car, shot her, spun her around and shot her a second time.

He ran away towards his car, but stopped, looked back and returned to his wife who was lying on the ground. Pliskaner fired a third shot into her head, killing her.

Pliskaner walked away and then shot himself in the head, living but loosing the sight in one eye.

Strelzin noted that Pliskaner has had a number of disciplinary violations during his time in prison, including sending a threatening letter to a former girlfriend and harassing her with multiple phone calls in 1996. An investigation determined he placed 55 calls to her after he had been specifically ordered not to.

He was also reprimanded for sending four threatening letters to his second wife and more recently, Stelzin said Pliskaner was transferred to the Berlin prison from Concord because a female mental health staff member in Concord felt he was "stalking" her.

Strelzin said that Pliskaner claims to be a mature 58-year old man, but "it is clear the defendant has not matured and does not understand what his did and how to comport his behavior to the law."

"His behavior demonstrates a dangerous and disturbing pattern of behavior towards women, a pattern of behavior that should no be rewarded with a sentence reduction," continued Strelzin.

Strelzin also cited Pliskaner's behavior to the court itself when in 2006 he accused the court of not doing enough research into his case and writing to the judge that incarceration is "simply a cash-making business, warehousing them and forget them, your job."

In asking Judge James O'Neill to deny Pliskaner's request, he wrote that the "defendant showed no mercy to his wife in 1984 when he gunned her down. He showed no mercy to her daughter in 2006 when he wrote her a letter calling her a liar. And now in 2014, he continues to show no mercy to his victims with his 7th attempt to leave prison early."

The court will hear Pliskaner's motion Monday at 1:30 p.m. Newspaper accounts of his 2010 hearing indicate that Debra Pliskaner's family was at the hearing and objected to his early release.

Last Updated on Saturday, 20 September 2014 12:26

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Newfound board posts 'recommended reading' prior to Monday's meeting on future of middle school

by Thomas P. Caldwell

BRISTOL — The Newfound Area School Board has posted "recommended reading" on the school website in preparation for Monday night's planning and dialogue meeting that will focus on the possible closing of Newfound Memorial Middle School.
The school board is considering the advantages and disadvantages of closing the school, reacting to financial pressures the district is facing with declining enrollments and a loss of state aid, as well as complaints about the quality of education at the middle school. Many residents have been advocating a return to a junior-senior high school model and retaining the elementary grades at the outlying schools.
Danbury recently considered withdrawing from the seven-town school district and the towns of Bridgewater and Hebron currently are looking at withdrawal, in part because of the concerns about the middle school.
At the Sept. 8 school board meeting, a number of teachers and residents voiced support for the current educational structure and defended the middle school, questioning why the board would even consider closing it. Others faulted the school board for failing to present any information to justify the discussion and the board said it would put together a presentation for the Sept. 22 meeting.
Chair Ruby Hill of Danbury said a series of documents on the website, under the heading "Recommended Reading for the K-6 & NMMS Closure Discussion", provides information on cost per pupil, student-teacher ratios, teacher retention, teachers' salaries, and 10 years of enrollment history.
Also among the issues the school board is looking at are the amount of time students spend on buses and the advantages of keeping the current configuration that has kindergarten through Grade 5 in the individual towns, grades 6-8 in the middle school, and grades 9-12 at the high school.
Without a change, there is a possibility that Bridgewater and Hebron would leave the district to operate their own K-8 school in the building the two towns built and currently lease to the school district for $1 per year. It would tuition its high school students to either Plymouth, which offers a more attractive per pupil cost, or to Newfound Regional High School.
Groton might decide to follow their lead, rather than send its elementary students all the way to Bristol, Danbury, or New Hampton. Most of Groton's elementary students now attend the Bridgewater-Hebron Village School.
Another factor in the discussion is the town of Hill's interest in ending its enrollment agreement with Franklin and sending students to either Newfound or Merrimack Valley. If they were to come to Newfound, it would partially compensate for the loss in the local student population and bring an infusion of tuition revenue to the district.
Monday's meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the high school.

Last Updated on Saturday, 20 September 2014 12:22

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Man sentenced to prison for variety of crimes in Laconia

LACONIA — A man who pleaded guilty to drug possession, burglary, and theft of a firearm in July also pleaded guilty this week to one count of criminal threatening with a deadly weapon.

Joseph Coughlin, 34, formerly of Spring Street was sentenced to three to six years, all suspended, in the N.H. State Prison for threatening a person on May 4 of 2013 with a knife by saying "I'm going to cut you up."

Coughlin is already in prison, having pleaded guilty in July of 2014 to possession of clonazepam on July 9, 2013 and was sentenced by Belknap County Superior Court Judge Larry Smukler to one to two years in the New Hampshire State Prison.

At the same time, he also pleaded guilty to one count of burglary for breaking into a home on Harvard Street and stealing a handgun. For the burglary he was sentenced to one to three years, suspended, and for the theft by unauthorized taking ( a hand gun) he was sentenced to three to six years, all suspended.

Coughlin was arrested on July 9 after three Laconia Police officers who were on their way to a special detail at a rock concert saw some suspicious activity near the Laconia Public Library and stopped to investigate.

Coughlin ran, was chased down by a Laconia police captain who was threatened by Coughlin with a knife. As part of a plea agreement, those charges were dropped as were possession of marijuana charges and two other counts of theft by unauthorized taking, firearms.

Should Coughlin re-offend after his release from prison, he faces an additional nine year of incarceration at a minimum.

Last Updated on Saturday, 20 September 2014 12:17

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