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911 call leads to Laconia drug overdose recovery

LACONIA — Police on Friday were investigating the possible crimes of destruction of evidence and possession of narcotics at a North Main Street apartment. A drug overdose victim had been successfully attended to at the same location at 3:45 p.m. on Thursday.

Police say there were three other people at the 1156 North Main Street address when they arrived in response to a medical call but all refused to cooperate or offer assistance in the investigation. 

A search warrant was then obtained for the apartment.

Captaiin Bill Clary said police continue to encourage people to not hesitate to call 911 in response to similar situations. "Without this call, things would have turned our differently, most likely a death," he said.

Anyone who has information on this case is encouraged to call 524-5252 or the Laconia Crime Line at 527-1717. Tips may be also be made anonymously on the Laconia Police website (Laconiapd.org)


Last Updated on Saturday, 08 November 2014 02:50

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Stolen tools & copper recovered; Laconia man charged

BELMONT — A Laconia man has been arrested and charged with burglary and the theft of power tools and cooper. Heath O'Connell, 30, of Weirs Blvd. was later released on his own recognizance bail and is scheduled to be arraigned on a pair of felony charges in 4th Circuit Court - Laconia Division on December 18.

Police report that on October 1 they received a report of the theft from a contractor's work site on Plummer Hill Road. $1,600 worth of commercial saws and blades and $2,500 worth of copper was missing.

Using a property tracking system known as "leadsonline", officers learned the saws had been pawned at a shop in Manchester. The dealer had submitted the serial numbers of the saws to the registry and the online database also identified O'Connell as the person who pawned the items.

The saws were positively identified by the contractors as the ones stolen in Belmont and they were recovered from the shop inventory.

The stolen copper was tracked to a Manchester metal business and that businesses records identified O'Connell as the seller.

O'Connel was arrested on November 6.

Commenting on the case, Lt. Richard W. Mann said, "Time and time again we have seen that it is invaluable to have both photographs of your tools, as well as a record of the model, color and serial numbers. Have key information readily available increases the odds that missing property can then be positively identified and recovered.


Last Updated on Saturday, 08 November 2014 02:46

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With new acccounting angle, Belknap Commission back to using part of health insurance refund as a credit

LACONIA — The Belknap County Commission this week reversed its earlier decision and will apply a portion of the credit it received from HealthTrust, the municipal and county insurance risk pool, against the cost of health insurance premiums for county employees.

County Administrator Debra Shackett said yesterday that using the credit will enable the county to pay its share of health insurance premiums without exceeding the amount appropriated by the Belknap County Convention for 2014

In March, when the convention adopted the county budget, it froze the appropriation for health insurance at 2013 levels. Shortly afterwards the commission shuffled monies from other line items within departmental budgets to restore sufficient funding to meet the projected increase in the employer premiums, which collective bargaining agreements with employees oblige the county to pay. The convention challenged the commission's authority to transfer funds without its approval and was upheld by Belknap County Superior Court.

The commissioners considered applying the reimbursement for past overpayments from HealthTrust as a credit against its 2014 premiums, which would have enabled them to fund health insurance within the limit of what the convention appropriated without violating the contracts or laying off employees. However, when the the independent auditors declined to sanction the maneuver, the commissioners abandoned this approach and instead asked the executive committee of the convention to transfer funds to the health insurance accounts.

Circumstances changed this week. Shackett explained that Peter Bragdon, executive director of HealthTrust, informed her that the credit of $127,893 was to compensate the county, its employees and its retirees for excessive premium payments in both 2013 and 2014. Shackett sought advice from the auditor, who said that the credit related to premiums paid in 2013 must be booked as an unanticipated revenue in 2014 and could not be set against current expenditures. On the other hand, the credit related to premiums paid in 2014, whether taken as a credit or cash, must be recorded as a reduction of current expenditures.

Shackett calculated that $46,217 represented unanticipated revenue, $5,863 was owed to employees and $15,669 was owed to retirees, leaving the county with $60,143 to apply against expenditures for health insurance in 2014.

Meanwhile, Shackett explained that changes in the "census," or number and status of full-time employees entitled to benefits, during the course of the year has left some departments with surpluses and others with deficits in their health insurance accounts. She said that transferring funds from the accounts in surplus, together with the credit, will enable the county to honor its obligation to fund health insurance for its employees without either exceeding the amount appropriated by the convention or violating the order of the court.

The commission will present its plan, along with requests for transfers, to the executive committee when it meets on November 17.

Last Updated on Saturday, 08 November 2014 02:27

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Josh Youssef renovating 1789 Jewett Homestead

LACONIA — Josh Youssef is surrounded by history. He sees it. He smells it. He knows its charm, and he knows its challenges.

Youssef, a computer programming expert who owns a computer repair and upgrade company, says he has long been interested "in touching history." For the past three years, he has done more than touch it. Since buying the Jewett Homestead on Gilford Avenue, the oldest house in Laconia, Youssef has been rolling up his sleeves and tackling history with his hands.

The Jewett Homestead was built in 1780 by Jacob Jewett, one of the founders of present-day Laconia. (At the time the house was built its location was then part of Gilmanton.) An ell was added around 1840, Youssef believes. In time the timber-frame, center-chimney cape and its additions grew to 15 rooms and 4,400 square feet. Alongside the house was a substantial barn, which was dismantled and trucked to Gilford in the 1990s, where it was rebuilt.

Youssef became the owner of the house somewhat by happenstance. He was all set to buy another house in late 2011 when he learned that the Jewett Homestead was up for sale. He bought the home for $67,000 in December of that year.

"The house was in state of serious disrepair," Youssef explained, and he did not start living there until February 2013. "I wanted to bring it back to something of its original grandeur," he said, explaining what prompted him to take on the challenge.

Since becoming the owner of a piece of history it's been one project after another. He had a new roofing installed, repainted the exterior, replaced the heating system, had new insulation put in, and replaced most of the plumbing.

While he has hired contractors to handle the larger projects, he is doing as much of the work as possible himself. Currently he is doing the finishing work on a new front door for the house. The large shed attached the ell serves as Youssef workshop.

As the work has progressed Youssef says "the more in touch with history," he has become.

The house's place in Laconia's history is never far from his mind. As he walks through the living room with its beamed ceiling and large brick fireplace, he often thinks of the conversations that must have taken place in the room at about the time the U.S. finally gained its independence from Great Britain.

Four generations of the Jewett family lived in the house. The last was Abbie Jewett, who was an art teacher at Laconia High School, and in addition worked in arts and crafts, and during the 1930s and 1940s operated a tea room in one part of the house.

Tackling a project such as this is not for the faint of heart, Youssef cautions. He is quick to say that his goal is to renovate the house, not restore it, explaining that restoration would mean returning to the way it would have looked and furnished in the 18th and 19th centuries. But while the house will certainly have plenty of modern features, like contemporary kitchen appliances and wide-screen TVs, Youssef wants to do it in way that is respectful of the home's past.

Youssef expects that eventually he will offer the house for sale.

Meanwhile, Youssef, his partner Julie Griffin, and their 17-month-old son, Joshua, are living in what can best be described as a work in progress.

Youssef said that anyone who is thinking of tackling a similar project either needs to be prepared to spend a great deal of money or else have the know-how to do a lot of the work themselves. "You either need to show up with a lot of money, or your tools," he said.

Even with doing much of the work himself, Youssef said he has so far spent $200,000 on the project.

But Youssef is philosophical. "This house is always going to need work," he observed.


Last Updated on Saturday, 08 November 2014 02:13

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