Junior hockey team in midst of first season in Laconia has already made plans to move

LACONIA — After skating for one season at the Laconia Ice Arena, the New Hampshire Fighting Spirit junior hockey club will be taking its talent Downeast to Lewiston, Maine for the 2015-2016 season.

The team competes in a new division of the Eastern Hockey League, one of nine USA Hockey-sanctioned Tier III Junior leagues in the United States, and currently sits atop the Eastern Division with a record of 19 wins and three losses.

This week the Sun Journal of Lewiston reported Rod Simmons, owner of the team, entered a five-year agreement with Firland Management, the firm that owns and operates the Androscoggin Bank Colisee, which will the Spirit's home ice. Jim Cain of Firland Management projected that if the team drew 800 fans to 25 home games and a tournament the total economic impact on the Lewiston-Auburn region could reach $1 million a year.

Lisa Simmons said yesterday that "we were under a sublease for the ice in Laconia without any agreement with the arena itself." She said that the team had a one-year agreement and was unable to negotiate a longer one. "We found ourselves without a home," she said. Meanwhile, Simmons said that another junior hockey team team expected to play in Lewiston disbanded, leaving the city empty-handed. "We tarted talking with people in Lewiston about a month ago," she said.

Rod Simmons told the Sun Journal that the team wanted "a longer term contract to create a stability and a sense of home." The Fighting Spirit played in Waterville Valley in 2013-2014 after leaving Lake George, New York. "With us, at the risk of sounding arrogant," he told the paper, "we've won and have been successful, but we've never really had a home rink since we lost our ice in New York. So this is really what we've been looking for and it's really important to us too."

The Laconia Ice Arena remains the home ice of the New England Wolves of the Metropolitan Junior Hockey League. This season the Wolves have a record of 13 wins and 13 losses and are in second place in the Francis Division.

Junior-league hockey in the United States is an amateur sport, with club rosters typically populated with post-high school age athletes who are hoping for a college scholarship, or at least a chance to continue to play the game they love at the college level.

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Plea deal expected for man connected to heroin overdose death in Belmont

CIRCUIT COURT — Court records show a Belmont man accused of selling "his best friend" the heroin that killed him is scheduled for a plea and sentencing date of January 2, 2015.

Jonathan Woodbury, 31, formerly or Arlene Drive is charged with one count of sales of heroin, death resulting, for selling heroin to Michael Chamberlain.

Chamberlain died at Woodbury's home on February 7 of a heroin overdose.

Affidavits obtained from the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division said Belmont emergency personnel responded to a call at 9:51 p.m. for a man who was having extreme difficulty breathing.

Two Belmont Police officers reached the home first and found a purple-faced Chamberlain laying face up on the floor and gasping for aid. Police said he had a pulse.

Affidavits said Woodbury initially told the police he didn't know what was wrong with Chamberlain. While they were talking, Chamberlain stopped breathing and one of the officers began administering CPR.

A Laconia ambulance was the first to reach the home and, after Woodbury told them Chamberlain may have taken heroin, responders administered NARCAN but were unsuccessful in reviving him.

Details of the plea agreement apparently reached between the Belknap County Attorney's Office and Woodbury's defense team are unknown at press time.

The agreement will be presented to Judge James O'Neill who will decide whether or not he thinks the recommended sentence is appropriate. According to N.H. state law, if Woodbury is convicted, he could serve up to life in prison.

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LPD to go slow on move to equip officers with body cameras

LACONIA — Police commissioners and command staff said yesterday that they are waiting for the the N.H. Attorney General to make a state-wide recommendation about the use of body cameras before any local-use decision is made.

Commission Chair Warren Clement said he wants to continue exploring the topic before any decisions or recommendations are made.

Clement made his statements when asked by resident Dennis Lentz about the commission's opinion about body cameras and whether or not city police officers would be wearing them any time soon.

Capt. Bill Clary said the department never rushes into anything. He noted that while the cost of the cameras is one thing, the cost of the necessary digital data storage space is exorbitant.

He explained that when Tasers first came on the market, the department did extensive research into them before making a decision to equip officers with them. He said the same approach will be taken toward body cameras.

In other police news, the Police Relief Association will be distributing Christmas presents to about 100 city families on Christmas Eve.

Chief Chris Adams said this is a long-standing tradition and much of the funding for the gifts comes from the proceeds of the NH1 Children's Auction.

Adams also said that the department has asked that the half-time position created by the department at the request of the City Council this year for a drug coordinator be made a full-time position.

He said so far the work Officer Eric Adams (no relation) has done has been extraordinary and he has helped a number of families in the city.

Chief Adams said there would be a full presentation to the City Council in mid-January about what has been accomplished so far and the police department's plans as they go forward.

The special position of drug coordinator works to integrate all of the anti-drug activities being done by various city agencies and civic groups with the efforts being made by the Laconia Police.

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Current Belknap Commission asks Supreme Court to overturn nursing home director decision but new board will take opposite position in just a few weeks

LACONIA — An appeal by the Belknap County Commissioners of the Belknap Convention's Personnel Committee's decision to reinstate Mathew Logue as administrator of the Belknap County Nursing Home has been filed with the New Hampshire Supreme Court.
The appeal, filed on December 11, maintains that the Personnel Committee, which at the time of its decision in October was composed of Rep. Coltette Worsman (R-Meredith), Rep. Robert Greemore (R-Meredith) and Rep. Richard Burchell (R-Gilmanton) ''ignored limits on its statutory authority as well as overwhelming and uncontroverted evidence,'' which the commission had introduced at a hearing held by the committee on Logue's appeal of his dismissal.
The filing took place despite the expressed intention of incoming county commissioners Burchell and Dave DeVoy (R-Sanbornton) to pull the plug on an appeal of the Logue personnel matter. The pair will take office on January 1 and will constitute a new majority.
Logue is currently on administrative leave, with pay, pending the outcome of an appeal of the committee's decision.
''It is counter-productive, in our view, to spend time and the public purse on a course of action which has been repudiated by the voters,'' Burchell and DeVoy said in a letter to the editor published in The Daily Sun shortly after they were elected in November. They will take office early in January.
In late August the commission terminated Logue for what it termed willful insubordination, lack of cooperation and inability to perform his duties in a timely manner, claiming that he was "untruthful and unreliable'' in dealing with county officials. Logue appealed his termination to the Personnel Committee, which held a day-long public hearing on October 6, at which attorney Mark Broth of Manchester presented the case against Logue and Logue spoke in own defense.
Four days later the committee voted unanimously to reinstate Logue, after finding his defense of the charges against him to be "credible and persuasive''.
A motion for a rehearing filed by attorney Broth was denied by the Personnel Committee.
The appeal to the Supreme Court will add to the legal bills faced by the county, which were the subject of much discussion by the county convention's Executive Committee when it met Tuesday night to take up requests for budget transfers and turned down a request by the commission for $33,000 to pay unpaid legal bills.
During that meeting County Convention Chairman Frank Tilton (R-Laconia) asked by what authority the commissioners were still committing the county to legal expenses when the funds had not been appropriated and was told by Commssioner Steve Nedeau, who is resigning effective January 1, that the commissioners were relying on state statute — later identified as 29-A:2.
The law describes the process which will be followed in the defense and indemnification of county officers and employees in the event of any claim or civil action against the county and provides that the county ''shall defray all costs of such representation or defense, to be paid from funds not otherwise appropriated.''
The law does not address a procedure which would be followed in the event of legal action taken by the convention against the commissioners, which was the case earlier this year when the convention filed a suit against the commission over budget line item authority, which led to temporary injunction prohibiting commissioners from transferring more than $300 without approval of the convention's Executive Committee.
Tilton says that he thinks the applicable statutes are section 24:15 of state law on counties regarding exceeding appropriations which reads in part, "No county commissioner, or elected or appointed county officer, shall pay, or agree to pay, or incur any liability for the payment of, any sum of money for which the county convention has made no appropriation, or in excess of any appropriation so made except for the payment of judgments rendered against the county.''
He also cited section 28:17-a which deals with claims against counties and reads ''The county commissioners shall have the authority to hire, within the limit of appropriations, legal counsel to advise them on county affairs and to issue opinions relating to county matters, provided that such counsel shall not be employed to defend the commissioners individually or collectively in private legal matters.''
Tilton said that the convention has stopped any spending on its own legal bills and has told its attorney not to file a response to an appeal of the temporary injunction order scheduled in Belknap County Superior Court for Feb. 17 in anticipation of the new commission members also pulling the plug on the current commission's appeal.

Tilton noted that the temporary injunction applied only to the 2014 budget and that the county convention will decide whether to raise or lower the amount of funds which can be transferred without Executive Committee approval when it meets to take up the 2015 budget next month.


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