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Birthday garden - 10-year-old gives city a gift in place of her own


LACONIA — If you're a young girl planning your 10th birthday party, you're likely to think of having a princess party or a dance party with your friends. These ideas occurred to Evelyn Smith of Laconia before she eventually decided on a different idea: bring a small group of friends together to plant a community garden at Leavitt Park. Evelyn also decided she didn't need anything more from her friends and asked them to not bring her any presents, although she did confess one person brought her one anyway. As an addition to the party, Evelyn and her friends went down to Bond Beach to help clean up before returning to Leavitt Park to play on the playground and have a meal that produced minimal waste, as it utilized only reusable materials.
There are a number of things one can do to help the planet and the local community. When asked why she decided on planting flowers, she simply replied, "Because they're pretty." The new garden, with Evelyn and her friends' flowers planted alongside perennial daylilies, is a beautiful addition to the grounds at Leavitt Park. The spot she chose for the garden was decided upon because it was in need of repair, and now is not an eyesore but something people visiting the park can look at with pride, especially if they know the backstory.
Evelyn had complete control of deciding what she was going to do for her birthday. Still, her Earth-friendly altruism was likely inspired in part by her parents. Evelyn's mother, Linda, said that, as Unitarian Universalists, one of the central elements of their faith is taking care of the Earth. When going on hikes, they will bring a trash bag with them and help pick up waste on their way up the mountain. Linda Smith has also begun a small business making small crafts from recycled materials.
The party got the ball rolling on the garden, but the family returns to the spot a few times a week to weed and water the flowers, taking a cooler full of water along with several watering cans down the street from their home. It is evident from Evelyn's understated altruism and the family's continued support of the project that the community can look forward to more of the same kind of thoughtfulness and commitment in her future endeavors.

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Evelyn Smith, 10, of Laconia plants flowers at Leavitt Park. She and her friends, below, made the effort to “help the planet,” as she put it, rather than have a typical party. (Courtesy photos)

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Linda and Evelyn Smith and friends take a moment to admire their hard work at Leavitt Park. (Courtesy photo)

Judge puts twist on Miranda rights in drug search


LACONIA — Although a woman stands charged with possession of illicit drugs after a search of her person found a plastic bag containing several pills, Justice James D. O'Neill III of Belknap County Superior has ruled that an incriminating statement she made during the search cannot be introduced into evidence at trial.

Selina Arnes was arrested by a Belknap County Deputy Sheriff and a United States Marshall on an outstanding Governor's Warrant issued by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. She was taken to the Belknap County Jail where, according to standard protocol, she underwent an "unclothed search."

When Arnes got down to her underwear, Nicole Mills, the corrections officer, conducting the search noticed she was reaching toward her left breast or left armpit. Hearing what she described as a "crinkling" sound, Mills suspected Arnes was hiding something in her bra. Mills asked her what she was reaching for and Arnes did not reply but continued to reach toward her left breast or armpit. Mills asked a second officer to join her then repeated her question. Arnes replied with an incriminating statement.

Following the incriminating statement, Mills searched her bra and found the drugs. On finding criminal activity within the jail, she referred it to her supervisors, who in turn referred it to the Sheriff's Department.

Arnes, represented by attorney Andrew Livernois, asked the court to suppress her incriminating statement on the grounds she made during a "custodial interrogation" and that she had not been read her Miranda rights, or the right to remain silent before being interrogated in order to ensure that incriminating statement my not be used in criminal proceedings. Consequently, she claimed her rights under the state and federal constitutions were violated and the incriminating statement must be suppressed.

The issue before the court was whether Arnes was subject to a "custodial interrogation," which itself requires that two conditions must be met: first, that she was in custody and second, that she was subject to interrogation.

O'Neill ruled that both conditions were met, dismissing the arguments brought by the state that Mills is not a law enforcement officer pursuing an investigation, that Arnes was not in custody because she was arrested on a Massachusetts warrant and that even if she were in custody, the questioning did not rise to the level of an interrogation. O'Neill ruled that Arnes, who was brought to the jail in handcuffs and searched in a room the size of a small closet was clearly in custody.

In the context of Miranda rights, interrogation refers to either "express questioning or its functional equivalent," which means questions reasonably likely to elect an incriminating response.O'Neill held that Mills's questions, posed to a woman in her underwear standing in a small room before two corrections officers, were functionally equivalent to interrogation. Moreover, he noted that Mills asked the questions in response the Arnes's actions, which aroused her suspicion that she was hiding something.

O'Neill concluded that in the circumstances Arnes was entitled to receive a Miranda warning and since there is no dispute that it was not given, ordered that her incrimination statement be suppressed.

Donations being accepted in honor of Northfield employee killed on job


NORTHFIELD — Community members have rallied together in memory of Tom Wooten, 56, who passed away last week during a work accident at the town highway garage.

Tom Wooten

Wooten had spent the past three years working for the Northfield Highway Department and was highly regarded by his co-workers. What started out as a normal day at work took a turn for the worst, resulting in Wooten being pinned between a truck and a loader on the highway garage site. Wooten was rushed to the hospital, and although great efforts were made to help him survive, he died due to his injuries.

Since his death, members of the Northfield community have taken many routes to help honor Wooten's contributions to the community, as well as raise funds to support his mourning family.

Tuesday night, selectmen began the process of creating a memorial in Wooten's name. Town Administrator Glenn Smith said this initial meeting was a chance to put ideas out on the table for how to best honor Wooten; however, it will be at least few weeks before the final idea is decided.

"The board is continuing the conversation so that it also includes talking to his co-workers, so we can collectively decide what the best way to honor him properly is," said Smith. Some of the ideas suggested thus far include a plaque or naming something in his memory.

In addition to the town's memorial contribution, local community members can actively support Wooten's family by donating to the GoFundMe account created in his memory by Police Department Administrative Assistant/Dispatcher Christine Murray, of Tilton. The account can be found at www.gofundme.com/2fv36rz6. Efforts from the fundraising hope to donate $5,000 to the family, with $3,050 already raised over the first five days. Donations on GoFundMe can be made using a debit or credit card account. Cash or check donations are also presently being accepted, and can be dropped off or mailed to 138 Park St., Northfield, NH 03276, with checks made to the Northfield Police Association, with notation The Wooten Family.