City Council seems receptive to continued funding for police stubstance abuse (prevention, enforcement & treatment) coordinator position

LACONIA — Police Chief Christopher Adams told the City Council Monday night that the position of Prevention, Education, and Treatment (PET) Coordinator has accomplished remarkable things in the four months since the program began and announced plans to now hire an additional officer to replace the one who is now the community's go-to person on the substance abuse front.

Chief Adams also indicated that with council support he will make the PET Coordinator — Officer Eric Adams — a permanent position. The move, he said, will cost the city another $36,000 in the next fiscal year. $50,000 was added to this year's budget to fund the trial run.

"I couldn't be happier with Eric's (Adams — no relation) progress over the past four months," said Chief Adams. "I have watched from a distance as he started making connections among those in treatment, prevention, education, health care, and he judicial system.

Eric Adams told the council he responds to all overdoses during the day and helps the people — often family and friends — to cope with the crisis.

He also provides the names of social agencies who can help recovering addicts and their families. Eric Adams said he is becoming known throughout the drug community as someone who people can trust to get them help.

"We cannot arrest our way out of this problem," he said.

He told the council about one instance on Winter Street where he responded to an overdose and was able to get the two people who were with the victim into rehab. He said he heard from them recently and both are clean, both have jobs and both of them have physically removed themselves from the area and are living with a relative.

He said the woman told him that if he hadn't intervened an explain where she could get help, she's sure she's be dead today of an overdose.

Eric Adams said the reason he is able to do these things for people is that typically, patrol officers and a supervisor respond to drug overdoses, but most of the time they can't stay long enough to help the family. He can.

To date, Eric Adams has worked with nine individuals and is still working with six of them. He has attended nearly 80 meetings with various agencies including Horizons Behavioral Health, Genesis Mental Health, Stand Up Laconia, and representatives from the court system. He is active in Recovery Court, which is headed by Judge Jim Carroll of the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division.

After the presentation, Mayor Edward Engler said is was his understanding that the city added $50,000 to the fiscal year 2015 police budget for the PET Coordinator and if the program went well it would be funded for fiscal year 2016.

Councilor Brenda Baer commented that if the department was hiring three new officers — to cover retirement and resignations — then the new officers would be earning a lower rate than were the ones who left.

Police Capt. Bill Clary, who heads the administration wing of the department, said two of the potential hires are already N.H. certified officers and although there will be some minor savings it is not enough to cover the added FY-2016 $36,000 cost for the PET Coordinator.

All of the councilors said they felt Eric Adams was making great strides toward filling the gaps in the treatment and prevention programs and in identifying those people who at the highest risk of dying.

In addition to praise from the City Council, a number of community members including Clare Persson of Stand Up Laconia, Lisa Morris of Lakes Region Partnership for Public Health, and Dick Smith and Elaine Morrison of the former River Art Crew spoke in favor of the PET coordination program and urged the City Council to fund the position in 2015-2016.

Persson said they have had a number of "wonderful" meetings at Stand Up Laconia. "We all have our piece to do and it important that we identify resources." she said.

"We are on the verge of something big here," said Morris, who said the PET and Eric Adams show the community that the police are invested in reducing drug abuse.

Smith and Morrison noted that one area often forgotten is the step from prison or jail back into real life. She said the PET coordinator is the "best possible thing for Laconia."

A woman from Gilford complemented Laconia on its program as did Dick Bouchard and Larry Frates.

All of councilors appeared to support continuing the PET program.

Arrest made in Wofeboro robbery of elderly woman using an ATM

WOLFEBORO — Police have arrested a former local man who allegedly robbed an elderly woman of cash and other property after she made a withdrawal from an Chase Bank ATM on December 24.

Police Chief Stuart Chase said his detectives have been working with Farmington Police after learning a similar robbery of an elderly person occurred there.

Farmington Police arrested Alejandro De La Pena after allegedly catching him shooting heroin in a parking lot.

Chase said they obtained warrants for De La Pena, 28, for two counts of robbery — one for the $500 he stole from his victim and one for the debit card he stole from her.

De La Pena faces one count of felony possession of a narcotic drug — heroin, and one count of unarmed robbery in Farmington.

Wolfeboro police detectives said that during their interview with De La Pena, he wrote a letter of apology to the 85-year-old he allegedly robbed. The detective said Wolfeboro police has had previous contacts with De La Pena.

He is being held on cash-only bail in the Strafford County Jail for the Farmington charges and is expected to be arraigned in the 3rd Circuit Court, Ossipee Division on the Wolfeboro charges.

Laconia teens charged with stealing from cars

LACONIA — Police arrested two teenagers Sunday night and charged them with prowling, theft from a motor vehicle and receiving stolen property.

The two, Philip Gonyea, 18, of Pine Street and a Trenton McDonald, 17, from Lafayette Street were caught in the act by a homeowner on Dartmouth Street who heard them going through parked cars.

Police said she called them immediately and kept an eye on the boys' whereabouts until officers arrived.

Although charged with theft and receiving stolen property from one car, local police have reason to think the two young men stole things from other parked cars in the area.

Police said people should lock their cars, even if their only going to be away from them a short time, and also notify police immediately if they see or hear any unusual activity in their neighborhoods.

If anyone has any information they about the recent Dartmouth Street thefts they are asked to call the Laconia Police at 524-5252.



HHS plan to cut Medicaid has local lawmakers worried about county home finances

LACONIA — The revenue picture for the Belknap County Nursing Home remains uncertain following a meeting of the county convention's nursing home subcommittee last Friday and the recently announced Department of Health and Human Services move to help reduce a $58 million hole in its current budget by a $7 million cut in nursing home payments.
''There's nothing we can do until we get further information,'' subcommittee chairman Rep. Don Flanders (R-Laconia) told other members of the committee Friday after hearing an explanation from Nursing Home Administrator Mathew Logue about the nursing home's projected revenues.
Logue said that 77 percent of the nursing home's revenue comes from Medicaid, which is switching to a managed care system in 2015, which is one part of changing the model for long-term care towards a community-based care system. The change could result in people leaving the nursing home for a private care facility and taking their funding with them to that new facility.
He said that nursing home currently has 14 private care patients, who are paying $275 a day, and that the rest of the 77 patents receive Medicaid, which reimburses at $155 a day along with pro share payments of $40 a day, which are only available to public nursing homes, and other Medicaid supplements, boosting the total revenue to $215 a day.
Logue said that the cost of daily care is $315 a day, which leaves the remainder to be paid by county taxpayers.
He said that he doesn't know yet whether the pro share payments will be funded in the next state budget and noted that nursing homes generally have higher costs for care as their patients are those for whom a nursing home is the last resort and are typically older, more frail and more sickly.
Because the 2015 county budget will be finalized in March, three months before the state budget for the next two fiscal years is finalized, a supplemental or revised budget may be needed later in the year, Logue explained.
Legislators were urged to put pressure on the DHHS in order to let the county know what it should plan for.
''This is a real serious issue,'' said Flanders, who added that Belknap County commissioners might want to reassess their stance on discontinuing the practice of spreading administrative costs to the county home, noting that everything possible should be done to maximize revenue through Medicaid reimbursements.
At Monday night's meeting of the Beknap County Convention, Richard Burchell (R-Gilmanton), chairman of the Belknap County Commission, said that it was his understanding that the $7 million cut in payments to nursing homes would result in loss of $180,000 to $200,000 in revenue for the Belknap County Nursing Home.