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Well wishers wave Alan Robichaud into retirement

LACONIA — Friends, co-workers and members of the social services network that he helped create stopped by Tuesday afternoon to wish Alan Robichaud well on his last day on the job as community development director for Granite United Way's Central Region,.
Robichaud, who has worked in the social services field since 1972, said he's proud of working to make a difference in the lives of people and has been inspired throughout his career by the very kind of people who showed up to wish him well.
''These are people who give their lives to help others,'' said Robichaud who recalled the example of Jim Piet, who had cerebral palsy but persevered and for 17 years was president of the New Hampshire Disabilities Council and is now married and has children.
''He hired me as executive director of the council and I learned a lot from him. He couldn't drive so I drove him around a lot. Once we went all he way to Washington, D.C. and I sat with him as he testified before Congress in support of more spending on behalf of people with disabilities. I was very impressed with him'' said Robichaud.
He said that he has seen people overcome biases and prejudices in order to make a difference in their own lives and the lives of others, like Roberta Gallant who spent most of her early life at what was then Laconia State School and emerged as a forceful and articulate advocate for those with disabilities.
Robichaud said that another inspiration is Annie Forts of Moultonborough, who has Downs Syndrome and started her own non-profit, the Annie Forts "Up'' Syndrome Foundation, which helps developmentally disabled people.
Over a long career in social services, Robichaud has won numerous honor, including the ''Heart of Your City'' award from Citizens Bank and WMUR-TV in 2012, the George "Pete" Harris award from Genesis Behavioral Health, a Good Scout Award from the Daniel Webster Council and the Norm Marsh Award from the Belknap Economic Development Council in 2007. Earlier this year he was presented with the Captain Ralph Bristol Award by the Central Region of Granite United Way at its annual meeting.
Robichaud is the former executive director of the Belknap County Citizens Council for Children and Families as well as the executive director of the N.H. Developmental Disabilities Council and administrator for the Division of Mental Health and Developmental Services, among other positions.
He was also instrumental in the formation of the Financial Stability Partnership, Better Together and the 200 by 2020 Initiative, as well as the Lakes Region Partnership for Public Health.
He says that he is planning to take the next six months to relax and enjoy time with his wife, Debbie, and family.
''I've got my first grandson coming next month and I've got a son on the West Coast I haven't seen for a while. So there are lots of things 'I'm looking forward to,'' said Robichaud.

Elaine Morrison and Dick Smith of Laconia, who have worked with homeless people in the city to create art, share memories with Alan Robichaud, center, who spent his last day on the job as community development director for the Granite United Way's Central Region. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 June 2014 12:07

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Business professor & inkeeper Dan Innis wants 1st District seat in U.S. Congress

LACONIA — "I voted for the guy twice," said Dan Innis , the Portsmouth innkeeper who is challenging Frank Guinta, the former mayor of Manchester and one-term congressman, for the Republican nomination in the First Congressional District. "But we have to send different people to Washington," he remarked.

This week Innis spent a day in the Lakes Region, visiting the Lakes Region Community College, meeting with member of the Belknap Economic Development Council and touring Gunstock Mountain Resort.

"I am not a politician," declared Innis of his first bid for elective office. The son of a printer and secretary, Innis was raised in Columbus, Ohio and was the first in his family to attend college, earning a bachelors degree at Ohio University, a masters degree at Miami University (Ohio) and his doctorate at Ohio State University. "I paid off my last student loan at the age of 38," he said.

After serving as a teacher and dean of business schools at Ohio University and the University of Maine, Innis became dean of the Peter T. Paul School of Business and Economics at the University of New Hampshire in 2007. At UNH he presided over a significant increase in enrollment and shepherded construction of a new building, which he noted was built without a penny from the taxpayers of the state.

A year later, with his partner and husband Doug Palardy, Innis opened the Ale House Inn, a small hotel in downtown Portsmouth. In 2013 the pair sold the property to open The Hotel Portsmouth with 32 rooms.

"It's a tough business," Innis said of owning and operating hotels, "but it's a good business."

Innis, the father of three children, explained that the perspective of the younger generation, which is concerned about shouldering a heavy debt burden, fearsome about intrusions into personal privacy and anxious about the future of Social Security, was a "big motivator" in his decision to run for Congress. "We've left them a situation they don't deserve," he said.

For Innis "mandatory spending programs," especially Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, pose the most challenging issue to the future of the country. "The costs will eat us up," he said, adding that discretionary expenditures are a small and shrinking portion of the federal budget. "We must think strategically for the long-term," he insisted without committing himself to a specific set of solutions.

Stressing his belief in "free and open" markets, Innis favors the repeal of Affordable Care Act, which he suggested should be "broken up into its component parts and fixed." In particular, he said that the health insurance market should be loosed from government regulation, starting eliminating barriers to the sale of policies across state lines. He insisted that the profit motive, which drives innovation in the medical community, must remain a key element in providing health care.

"I believe in American exceptionalism," Innis said, adding "with that comes responsibility." As what he called "the leader of the free world," he said that the United States could not become isolationist, but must commit itself to protecting its allies and friends, including the Ukraine and former Soviet satellites in Eastern Europe. But, he said he was reluctant to put boots on the ground "if it can be avoided."

Expressing disdain at what critics of President Obama have called his "apology tour," Innis insisted America had nothing to apologize for and, while shunning the label of "neo-con," stressed the need for a coherent foreign policy based on U.S. values.

Touting his knowledge and experience of the business world, Innis remarked that Guinta "has been a politician his whole career." He claimed that he has a better understanding and firmer commitment to the principles of the free market and follows a different approach to solving problems "as opposed to short-term fixes with an eye to the next election".

We've been sending the wrong people to Washington," he said once more.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 June 2014 10:53

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Gun fired during middle-of-night home invasion

LACONIA — Police continue to investigate a shooting at a Harvard Street home that occurred at 3:23 a.m. yesterday.

Capt. Bill Clary said an unidentified male victim called 911 and reported he had been shot in what he said was a robbery.

Clary said the victim was taken to Lakes Region General Hospital with a minor head wound but police aren't sure yet if he was shot or hurt some other way. He has since been released.

"We do know a gun was discharged," Clary said.

He declined to say if police recovered a bullet.

"We believe there was a robbery or an attempt at a robbery," Clary said, adding that police do not believe this was a random crime.

Preliminarily, police said there were four men in the home at 48 Harvard St., directly across the street from the headquarters of the Laconia School District, when two men who were wearing bandanas and hooded sweatshirts entered. One of the men had a gun.

Clary said all four men remained in the home and police have spoken with the three who were witnesses.

He said one of the two males who allegedly invaded the home was reported to have fled on foot down Dartmouth Street, to the north.

Clary also said that some of the clothing that witnesses reported as being worn by the two men has been recovered by police but he declined to say where.

Police remained at the home until 1:30 p.m. yesterday when detectives left the house carrying two paper bags containing what is presumably evidence gathered after a search warrant was granted.

Clary said it appears the home is being renovated and is in a state of disarray, making the search for a spent round difficult.

Neighbors told The Daily Sun there was one male staying in the house and that he drives a "loud Dodge". "That car comes and goes at all hours of the night," said one woman.

Another neighbor named said he didn't hear anything during the night or early morning but noted his bedroom is on the second floor and he had his air conditioner on while he slept.

He described the shooting as unsettling and said he has two children who live with him and doesn't like the idea of it.

Other neighbors said a lot of people come to the brown-shingled home at all hours of the night.

Property tax records say the house is owned by KMH Realty Corp. which is a property maintenance company owned by Kevin Hutchinson. KMH purchased the home in 2013. Clary said Hutchinson's son is thought to be renovating the home.


CUTLINE: Crime scene tape surrounds a house at 48 Harvard St. Police are investigating a shooting that occurred at 3:23 a.m. Wednesday morning. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Gail Ober)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 June 2014 10:44

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'Empty' propane tank explodes on Northfield man

NORTHFIELD — A Granite Street man suffered severe burns on the top part of his body after a propane tank exploded behind his home Monday night.

Police said Keith Dame was cutting empty propane tanks into scrap metal with a grinding wheel at 9:30 p.m. when one of them exploded.

He was taken by helicopter to a Boston Hospital where as of yesterday morning he was in very serious condition said police.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 June 2014 01:07

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