Walmart front door now in Laconia, police chief notes shoplifting incidents being handled by city

LACONIA — Repeated snowfall and cold temperatures led to a sharp increase in motor vehicle accidents in February. Police Chief Chris Adams said officers responded to 69 mishaps, many of which involved cars or trucks skidding on slippery roads.

Speaking to the Police Commission this week, Adams said that the redesign and reconstruction of the Walmart Supercenter on Lakeshore Road has begun increasing the number of property crimes in the city. Prior to the renovation and expansion of the store the front entrance was in Gilford, but now it is just over the line in Laconia. Consequently, suspected shoplifters are now apprehended in the city — not the town — and Laconia officer arrest the suspects, investigate the crimes and prosecute the offenders.

Adams also noted a near doubling in the the number of arrests for driving while intoxicated this year compared to last. So far 20 motorists have been charged compared to 12 at this time a year ago. Adams said that there are several officers whose training has lent them a sharp eye for impaired drivers, singling out Mike Armstrong, who he said seems to make arrests regularly. In 2007, there were 135 arrests for DWI, but by 2011 the number had fallen by almost half before rising to 110 in 2012 and 96 in 2013 then falling to 79 last year.

‘Incredible connector’ – Debbie Frawley Drake honored by Economic Development Council

LACONIA — "She is everywhere," said Alan Robichaud, who last year retired from the Granite United Way after a long career of community service, as he introduced Debby Frawley Drake, who received the Norm Marsh Leadership Award from the Belknap Economic Development Council (BEDC) at its annual meeting at Lakes Region Community College last evening.

A retiring member of the Board of Directors, Drake has been a stalwart supporter and dedicated member of the organization for much of its 23 year history. Meanwhile, as Robichaud stressed, she always found time and energy to share her talents with the Holy Trinity School, Laconia Area Community Land Trust , Hands Across the Table, Laconia Historical and Museum Society and Lakes Region United Way while remaining engaged in virtual every aspect of civic life.

Robichaud called her "an incredible connector," who has marshaled people and resources to pursue any number of initiatives to better her community. At BEDC, he said, she has been a mainstay of the "200 by 2020 Initiative", the workforce development undertaken in partnership with the Granite United Way and Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce.

Accepting the award to a standing ovation, Drake said simply "I've enjoyed everything I've done to help BEDC" then drew a round of laughter by adding "just don't ask me to be on a committee."

The outgoing chairman of BEDC, Henry Lipman of LRGHealthcare announced that this year the organization intends to assume a "new role as a catalyst, partner, investor and/or owner in property development." What he described as "a new strategic initiative" would aim to transfer ownership of underused and distressed properties in order to put them to higher and better use. He acknowledged that it may be necessary to pay a premium in anticipation that once redeveloped under new ownership the value of the property will appreciate significantly.

Lipman said that the initiative would contribute to both the growth of the local economy and the expansion of the local property tax base.

Randy Eifert of the Cross Insurance Agency, the incoming chairman, said that BEDC will also undertake a public relations and marketing campaign designed to strengthen the presence of the organization in the region. In particular, he emphasized the importance of winning support among elected officials, enrolling more incorporators and attracting more investors/members.

Treasurer Sean Sullivan of Denoncourt, Waldron & Sullivan, reported that in 2014 the BEDC went from red to black, turning an operating loss of $7,600 into net income of $27,000 with income of $282,000 and expenses of $255,000. He said that BEDC added four loans to its portfolio earning additional interest income of $6,5000 and has total assets of $2.5 million.

Senate passes bill to reimburse FRM victims

CONCORD — A bill to establish a fund to provide restitution for those defrauded by Financial Resources Mortgage, Inc. (FRM) carried the New Hampshire Senate by a voice vote yesterday.

A similar bill introduced by then Senator Peter Bragdon (R-Milford) last year was referred to interim study by the Senate. Senator Kevin Avard (R-Nashua) introduced Senate Bill 155 in February.

The bill would designate 50-percent of the proceeds from penalties and fines collected by the Bureau of Securities Regulation in excess of its budgetary needs and 50-percent of the undesignated funds from settlements secured by the Department of Justice to the fund to make restitution to victims defrauded by the Meredith firm.

Scott Farah and Donald Dodge, the principals of FRM and its afiliate C L& M, Inc. were sentenced to prison for their part in defrauding more than 150 investors of some $23-million over nearly a decade before the firm imploded in 2009.