Two trials intertwine due to cellblock discussion of cases

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — Two high-profile cases are still scheduled for jury selection on Monday despite the contention of one attorney that information from the other case is relevant to his.

The charges against Randy Nadeau of Laconia and Brian Watson of Northfield couldn't be more different.

Nadeau is charged with six separate counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault that involve a girl in Laconia while Watson is charged with one count of selling a deadly dose of fentanyl to a 21-year-old man in Tilton. He is also charged with one count of possession.

Their involvement comes from statements Nadeau allegedly made to Watson about who he said actually sold the fentanyl that Watson allegedly sold.

Belknap County Corrections records show that while they are now separated, Nadeau and Watson, who are both incarcerated while awaiting trial, shared the same cell block.

According to various court hearings and motions, Watson said Nadeau told him that someone else sold the lethal dose to the Tilton victim but that he refuses to testify on Watson's behalf while his case is still pending. Through his attorney, Watson asked that his case be continued until Nadeau's is completed.

The state argued that whatever Nadeau told Watson was hearsay and wouldn't be allowed into evidence under court rules of procedure.

This week, the presiding judge agreed with the state and refused Watson's request to continue his trial.

Watson has made one last ditch effort to have his case delayed by asking the court to separate his two charges into two separate trials as they occurred on different days and under different circumstances.

Judge James O'Neill is scheduled to hear the motion to sever the two this morning.

Because Belknap County has only one judge, only one case can be tried at a time. As of Thursday, the court had not yet scheduled trial dates.

Two more sentenced in Meredith home invasion last March

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — Two more people charged in a Meredith home invasion last March were sentenced this week in Belknap County Superior Court.

Tyler Best, 38, of Franklin pleaded guilty and was sentenced to serve 1 ½ to 5 years in the New Hampshire State Prison for one count of armed robbery. One a second count of armed robbery, the court sentenced Best to a suspended sentence of 3 to 6 years to be served consecutive to the first sentence. The suspension is conditioned on Best's maintaining good behavior after his release from prison and that he pay for and participate meaningfully in a substance abuse program within 45 days of his release.

He is credited with 188 days of pretrial confinement.

Meghan Tighe, 23, of Tilton pleaded guilty to a single count of accomplice to armed robbery and was sentenced to serve 12 months in the Belknap County House of Corrections. She will be on probation for two years after her release and is ordered to do 200 hours of community service and is credited with 57 days of pretrial confinement.

A third man, 41-year-old Keith Renaud of Franklin, was sentenced in December and will serve 3 to 8 years in the New Hampshire State Prison for being an accomplice to armed robbery.

The above three entered a home at the Currier Mobile Home Park at 125 Livingston on March 6 at 4:30 a.m. and stole a number of items, including debit and credit cards and electronics.

Two people reported being pulled from their beds by Best and struck on the head by the butt of a handgun. Best was identified by his unique tattoo on his forearm and Tighe was wearing the same clothing she had worn during an earlier visit to the victims home.

Meredith Police also received a tip from an anonymous caller who said she was in Franklin and who said she overheard a conversation in which some of the people involved were bragging about what they stole and where they sold it.

Laconia School Board wades into new zero-based budget format

By David Carkhuff/The Laconia Daily Sun

LACONIA — For next school year, Laconia schools will operate on a budget that starts from scratch, with every spending item explained and justified, according to a new format for budgeting as explained by the budget office.
"You'll see a different budget this year, it will have more information in it regarding specific accounts," said Business Administrator Christine Blouin, speaking to two members of the district's budget and personnel committee.
Committee Chairman Michael Persson and fellow board member Mal Murray received the briefing Thursday as part of a launch of the 2017-2018 budget preparation season.
This year's $32.2 million budget for Laconia schools dropped from $32.7 million in 2015-2016. Adequate Education Aid funding dropped from $10.9 million in fiscal year 2015-2016 to $10.5 million in fiscal year 2016-2017, according to the current school budget (2016-2017). The current year's aid includes $4.463 million in state property tax and $6.052 million in state adequacy aid.
Officials expect further declines in state adequacy aid, which is based largely on enrollment.
Blouin didn't delve into any specific spending estimates for next year — it's too early for that. Rather, she explained a new method of budget preparation that has been in the works since last October.
Descriptions will accompany accounts, and the budget will emerge from a "zero-based" approach.
"I would say by the end of January we should have a good handle on what we're going to be presenting as the first, 'This is what we need in a budget,'" Blouin said.
Persson explained that past years' spending will no longer predicate how the budget is developed.
"Everything that goes into the budget has to be justified based upon the strategic plan, building needs, and they have to be justified, each of the lines as we're going," Persson said. "It's no longer, 'Last year we had $50,000 in this account, and that's probably about right, let's keep that there.' Now it's going to be, if there's $50,000 in that account, this is what it's for."
"Super Saturday," a meeting of district personnel and the public to hash out budget priorities, likely will take place in the second week of March, the committee agreed.
For Super Saturday, Persson recommended a look five years ahead. He said a two-year effort to develop a strategic plan is almost finished, which should inform the school board as it makes priorities in next year's budget.
"From year to year, they will be building the budget from zero-based (budgeting) again, so looking at it downstream, this year is going to take quite a bit of time, there will be quite a bit of effort," he said.
Murray said too many details could confuse the public so he praised a budget that contains justifications for spending but not too many numbers that delve into the financial weeds.
Blouin said the new format will strike a balance.
With teacher salaries, for example, "it will tell you down below, how many FTE's, how many full-time equivalents, how many positions there are, what positions are in there, and how many are grant funded."
Describing the budget format as clearer and more transparent, Blouin said she tried to list as many items as possible under budget lines, "but I also tried to compact it so you're not getting a 70-page document."
Persson said in the area of grant funding, this new approach could alleviate some public confusion.
"When people look at our administrative budget vs. what others' are, it appears that we're top heavy, when in fact we're able to have these positions because of the fact we have the grant funding to be able to do it so I think it's great that we'll have that breakdown," he said.

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