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Flagpole dedicated at Gilford’s historic warming hut

GILFORD — After three-plus years of planning and fund-raising, the town of Gilford dedicated its public safety and service flag pole yesterday afternoon in its permanent spot next to the historic warming hut on Route 11A.

The memorial is the town's way of saying thank you to the police, fire, and public works and other town employees who work to make the community a better place to live.

"We expect that this memorial will have all of us not think of these folks in the background, but recognize them all the time – not only when they are urgently needed," said Selectman John O'Brien.

The idea of a memorial park began in early 2011 when O'Brien proposed a flag pole and a small memorial for the triangle area where Route 11A and Route 11B intersect. The goal was to have the park ready for a dedication ceremony on the 10th anniversary of the terrorists attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The selectmen agreed with the plan and began a campaign to raise about $3,000 for the project.

Initially proposed a the Memorial Triangle, the N.H. Department of Transportation was against the project from the beginning, citing its concern for safety because of the overall design of the triangle and the intersection.

The state holds the rights of way and easements in the area, even though the triangle belongs to the town.

After squabbling back and forth for three years, selectmen decided to give up negotiating with the DOT, forego the Memorial Triangle, and build the park on town property across the road next to the newly restored warming hut.

At yesterday's 15-minute ceremony, attended mostly by members of the Police, Fire and Public Works Departments, Police Chief Anthony Bean Burpee, Fire Chief Steve Carrier, and Public Works Director Sheldon Morgan each made brief statements.

A color guard comprised of police and firefighters led the ceremony.

The flag flies from a 25-foot-tall pole and is lit 24 hours a day through solar power. Public Works employees constructed a small flower bed around the base of the pole that is situated about 20 feet away from the newly acquired plaque designating the warming hut as a historical landmark.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 October 2014 12:39

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Rep. Shea-Porter supports air strikes against ISIS but ‘I don’t see any role for us on the ground’

LACONIA — First District Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter, whose forthright criticism of then-President George W. Bush's decision to invade Iraq contributed to her election in 2006, finds herself with misgivings about President Obama's policy in the Middle East as she campaigns for re-election.

In an interview with Laconia Daily Sun, Shea-Porter, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee, said, "I'm not comfortable with the president's handling of the situation. Other countries should be out there defending themselves," she continued, "but everyone is waiting for us to lead." Instead of seeking countries to help the United States, she asked, "Shouldn't it be that the United States will help them?" She said that President Obama has not spoken enough about the responsibilities of other countries or stressed the willingness of the United States to help them.

She said that the invasion of Iraq "set the stage" for the current crisis in the region, marked by the civil war in Syria and the ascendancy of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), which she called "heart-breakingly horrible. The region is full of minefields," she continued, "and we must be careful where we step." She said that because "alliances change daily, we can't figure out who we can trust. There are lots of questions to answer before we just jump in," she said.

Shea-Porter, of Rochester, said that she supported air strikes aimed at ISIS as well as efforts to strengthen the Kurdish forces resisting ISIS. But, she cautioned against arming the Free Syrian Army in the hope it would join the campaign against ISIS since its leadership has said it would turn its weapons to the campaign to overthrow President Assad of Syria.

Direct intervention in the Middle East — particularly the civil war in Syria — "would be a very big mistake," Shea-Porter stressed. However, she did not rule out providing "humanitarian aid." The warring parties in the region, she said, "don't like us and don't trust us. I can't see any role for us on the ground," she remarked.

Shea-Porter said that while the administration's foreign policy began on "a good track," it has been "less so recently as the world has become a lot more complicated." The president, she said, is receiving "lots of conflicting advice" and in the circumstances suggested he "move slowly."


Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 October 2014 01:08

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Prosecutors say 2 small children slept in same room as crack stash in Grove Street home

LACONIA — Two small children, ages 2 and 4, were discovered sleeping in the same room where police found drugs as they searched a home on Grove Street, prosecutors said in court yesterday.

In an appearance in 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division, Prosecutor Jim Sawyer said police located an open container that contained "multiple dozens" of individual bags of crack cocaine in a closet that didn't have a door but was covered by a sheet.

"If (either child) ingested one of them they would probably die," Sawyer said.

He also said there was a children's video found in the same closet near the drugs indicating to him that Bountham Sonthikoummane, 52, and Onella Nguan, 37 of 25 Grove St., showed no regard for their young children while operating an alleged "drug enterprise."

Sawyer also noted that a number of counterfeit Gucci and Coach pocketbooks wrapped in plastic were also found in the home as was a considerable amount of jewelry, receipts for jewelry not recovered by police during the search, and a "considerable" amount of cash.

He said Sonthikoummane was wearing what Sawyer estimated to be a $7,000 gold necklace that Sonthikoummane allegedly threw into a dirty sink during the raid.

Although both Sonthikoummane and Nguan separately waived their rights to probable cause hearings, Sawyer's statements came during bail arguments made on each of their behalves by Atty. Matt Lahey and Atty. Allison Schwartz respectively. Interpreters were present for both hearings.

After hearing the bail arguments, Carroll kept Sonthikoummane's bail at $100,000 cash, and Nguan's bail at $50,000 cash.

According to N.H. Supreme Court documents, in 1997 Sonthikoummane was convicted of a similar crime involving crack cocaine and sentenced to serve 10 to 20 years in prison. Sawyer said yesterday he is still on parole and his understanding is that paperwork has been filed with the parole board regarding his latest arrest.

The court also learned that even though an immigration hold has been requested for Sonthikoummane, his native county, Cambodia, allegedly refused to allow his repatriation after his first conviction.

The bail hearings and probable cause hearings for both had been scheduled for Thursday. However, neither attorney had reviewed the search warrant affidavit for the home because it had been sealed. Judge Jim Carroll ordered Sawyer to redact the information about "how" police came to learn of the alleged operation but not what police found when they got there.

Sawyer apparently redacted the "how" and released the affidavits to each respective defense attorney, however the affidavit remains sealed from the general public.

The cases will presumably be bound over to the Belknap County Superior Court for possible indictment and trial.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 October 2014 12:51

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Bypass cleanup: Colson has filled 130 bags with litter

LACONIA — "I drive the bypass to work every day and I'm sick of seeing it littered with trash," said Peter Morrissette, the owner of Joyce Janitorial Services and Lakes Region Party and Gift. "And I wanted to give something back."

Beginning this spring Morrissette has sponsored Peter Colson, Sr. to clean up the bypass. "He starts at the St. Francis Rehabilitation and Nursing Center on Court Street and picks up on both sides of the entire length of the bypass, including every on and off ramp," he said.

Morrissette said that in the spring Colson filled 82 bags with trash and another 17 with aluminum cans in 11 days. This week Colson is nearing the end of his second sweep of the bypass and has filled another 27 bags with trash and four with cans. Morrissette said when Colson finishes with the bypass he will ask him to pick up along Lakeshore Road (Route 11) between the bypass and Sawyer's Dairy Bar.

"I'm Native American," Colson said, "and I don't like seeing people treat Mother Nature like this."


Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 October 2014 12:20

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