Kalena Graham is Laconia employee of the Year (331)

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — Planning Department Administrative Assistant Kalena Graham was named the 2016 city of Laconia Employee of the Year at the annual city luncheon held Monday at the Community Center.

Graham began with the city 10 years ago Monday as a temporary employee and will celebrate her tenth anniversary as a city employee in March.

"The winner of this year's award is described by her co-workers as calm, methodical and supportive when dealing with members of the public," said City Manager Scott Myers.

"Helping others, whether they are residents or fellow employees, comes second nature to her," Myers continued. "She is the glue that hold her department together."

Graham said the award was "very much appreciated."

"I enjoy my job here," said said, adding that when she came to the Planning Department she didn't know anything about planning but just wanted to get out of retail.

"Now I know a lot, quite a lot about it," she said.

Graham is a single parent who will earned her Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from Granite State College at the end of this semester.

She said she's glad she won but is not really used to self-promotion.

"I really had no idea who it was going to be," she said.

Myers and Mayor Edward Engler also congratulated city employees on their fifth through 30th anniversary with Laconia.
Those celebrating their 20 years of service were Laconia Police Dept. Lt. Richard Simmons, Laconia Fire Department Lt. Lisa Baldini, Public Works Assistant Director Luke Powell, and Housing Authority Board member Bobby Thomas.

Celebrating 25 years of service was Administrative Assistant Ann Saltmarsh of the Public Works Department.

Celebrating 30 years with the city were Earl Van Walker of the Public Works Department and Jim Rogato a member of the Putnam Fund Committee and of the Licensing Board.

12-13 Kalena Graham with Scott Meyers and Ed Engler

City Manager Scott Myers looks on as Mayor Edward Engler presents Kalena Graham with the city of Laconia Employee of the Year award. (Gail Ober/Laconia Daily Sun)

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Gilford Police make significant heroin arrest

3By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — A city man who had already been at the site of an overdose once in Gilford on Sunday was arrested later in the afternoon after he was found by Laconia Police sleeping in a friend's car in the VIP parking lot on Union Avenue.

Gilford Police affidavits obtained from the Belknap County Superior Court said Matthew Boynton, 21, whose address is 83 Batchelder St. in Laconia, was located by Laconia Police shortly after the owner of the car came to the Gilford Police Department at 2:11 p.m. to let them know that Boynton had borrowed her car about six hours earlier and hadn't returned it.

Laconia Police were able to wake him and, because the car was reported missing in Gilford, Laconia Police ceded authority to Gilford Police. The car was still running and had some damage to the right side.

Boynton was charged with taking a car without the owner's consent and brought back to Gilford. Once there, he was searched and two small plastic bags fell from his sock. TruNarc tests indicated the contents tested positive for heroin/fentanyl or methamphetamine.

Police said Boynton had left a red backpack at the car owner's house. An officer retrieved the bag and brought it to the booking room of the police department.

Earlier in the day, one of the officers who was at the station said he had gone to an overdose earlier in the day at the car owner's house and at that time Boynton was there and had said the backpack was his.

After getting written consent from Boynton, police searched the backpack and inside a shaving kit they found a drug kit containing 8.8 ounces of heroin, a plastic bag with some Xanax pills and some scales.

Boynton allegedly told police the substance in the bag was heroin.

In addition to being charged with the unauthorized taking of a car, Boynton is also charged with one count of possession of heroin/fentanyl with the intent to distribute it, and two counts of possession of controlled drugs.

Judge James O'Neill ordered he be held on $10,000 cash-only bail and that, should he post it, a source-of-funds hearing must be held.

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Laconia high schoolers attend opioid summit for students in Lowell, Mass.

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — When 36 Laconia High School students representing all grades headed on to a bus to the Tsongas Arena in Lowell for a youth opioid awareness summit last week, most of them didn't know what to expect.

Sponsored by Stand Up Laconia, what they got was a full day of music and entertainment from some of Boston's top DJs and bands along with a short movie, "If Only" produced by Jim Wahlberg, brother of musician-turned-actor Mark Wahlberg or Marky Mark of the Funky Bunch, said LHS/LMS Curriculum Coordinator Angel Burke.

They also saw first hand hand how opioid addiction can kill them. They heard from athletes, including two former members of the New England Patriots, who spoke about how an opioid addiction can stem from something as innocuous as an injury sustained during  high school athletics.

But the part that impressed the Laconia students the most was when 50 parents took the stage and held pictures of their teenagers who had died from opioid overdoses.

Many were also impressed by how quickly some people can get addicted to opioids.

During a quick debriefing of some of the students, many said that the "pills party" pictured in the movie wasn't necessarily representative of their own experiences.

Prevention, Education and Training Officer Eric Adams said the students in Laconia are likely correct in that assumption. He said "pill parties" were more common two to four years ago, but that many parents have heard the message and are destroying pills they don't use and better protecting the ones they do.

Adams said that these days, the usual path to opioids begins with marijuana, which kids in the latest Yearly Risk Behavior Survey perceived as very low risk and then graduate to other drugs like cocaine, opioids and methamphetamine. 

"Kids do perceive of opioids as being dangerous," Adams said, referring again to the study.

"But like up here," said one young man, "It's a heroin problem. They talked about pills that lead to heroin use."

Many felt that their parents could benefit by seeing "If Only" which is a short film about how one parent learns her son has tested positive for opioids and marijuana and tries to tell the mother of her son's best friend, who refused to listen to her.

In a private interview with a senior, he said he's bored in the winter in the Lakes Region. He said some sports are very expensive, like skiing and hockey," and most of his free time is spent "hanging out with his friends" where he says there is plenty of peer pressure to try drugs including alcohol, cigarettes and vapes.

He said he was glad he attended the opioid summit but when asked if younger kids, like middle schoolers, could benefit from it, he said they were too young.

"I saw a lot of them there (from other schools) and they were mostly giggling and not paying attention," he said.

A freshman girl with a relative who is in recovery agreed that it was not compelling enough to hold the attention of middle schoolers.

She also said that she thought the program was going to be much more geared toward heroin and cocaine, and not pills, which was not her experience.

As for what both felt that the city of Laconia could do for adolescents, both said there needs to be a place where they can "hang out" and visit with their friends, especially in the winter. They said something not as structured as the Community Center, which focuses on teams and sports but also not something like the Boys and Girls Clubs, which they both said they were too old for. Both said they like the beaches and the skate parks in the summer but there was no place in the cold months.

"Maybe the city could do a teen night, once a month or something," said the girl. She said she is aware that many churches sponsor these events but said many of the kids she knows in high school aren't very religious.

Both thought the opioid summit was inspiring, especially the part about where the mothers held up pictures of their dead children.

Both also said their parents could benefit from seeing the movie, "If Only."

Back in class, Stand Up Sachems, in conjunction with Stand Up Laconia, along with Burke and Drug and Alcohol Counselor Jessica Conrad planned for more community events like a parent reach-out night, teen dances and the recent Empty Bowls event.

12-13 LHS Stand Up group

These students from Stand Up Sachems at Laconia High School attended an opioid awareness summit in Massachusetts on Dec. 6. (Courtesy photo)

12-13 LHS Stand Up group 2

Clare Persson, right, and Solary Chhun, foreground, enjoyed the summit. Behind them are, from right: Destiny Jones, Jeremy Connolly, Gabbie D'jovnik, Riley Roy, Steve Towers and Jake Filgate. (Courtesy photo)

 

 

12-13 LHS Stand Up group 3

Mystique Mora, left, and Brooke D'Amato attended the event. (Courtesy photo)

12-13 LHS Stand Up group 4

 

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