City Council agrees to pay $20k to Public Access TV in hopes others will follow suit

LACONIA — To keep Lakes Region Public Access television (LRPA) on the air to the end of the year, the City Council this week unanimously agreed to release $20,000, all that remains of the $39,500 originally appropriated for the station in the fiscal year 2015 city budget.

Since July 1 LRPA has been drawing from its reserves to sustain operations, when member municipalities entered a new 10-year contract with MetroCast Cablevision. Under the new contract each municipality will operate educational and governmental channels (24 and 26), which will broadcast only to the municipality where the programming originates.

Meanwhile, LRPA would provide public access on channel 25, airing programs from individuals and organizations from the member municipalities. However, LRPA decided to adopt a different funding model — one that relies primarily on business and individual sponsorships —  and the six municipalities, which had recently contributed to funding the operation of LRPA — Laconia, Alton, Belmont, Gilford, Meredith and Northwood, were not billed for their traditional level of support. At the same time, MetroCast, which had provided an annual $30,000 grant to LRPA, declined to renew under the terms of their new contracts.

LRPA's board and staff, however, failed to execute the new game plan and just last week sent out bills to the six municipalities, asking for the same level of funding as provided last year.

"We're operating on fumes right now," station manager Denise Beauchaine told the council. The City Council earlier trimmed $10,000 from its original appropriation, leaving $29,500, which Beauchaine said "gets us to the end of the year, but beyond that I don't know."

However, City Manager Scott Myers reminded the councilors that the city will be operating channels 24 and 26 and has applied "$7,000 or $8,000" to acquire the necessary technology, further reducing the reducing the available balance.

Beauchaine suggested that funding by the city might encourage some other towns to contribute. ""We're hoping you could lead a transition here," she said. She was echoed by Nancy Leroy, a member of the board of directors of LRPA, who urged the council to provide the funds. "I know you can do it," she said. "The other towns are looking to you and you know it." Beauchaine said that if all six towns contributed the $126,000 would fund operations until July, 2015.

But, in response to a question from Councilor David Bownes (Ward 2) Beauchaine conceded that LRPA needs a new business model to sustain operations for the long-term. She explained that the board of directors developed a model based on soliciting sponsorships and donations, but has not had time or resources to pursue it.

Councilor Bob Hamel (Ward 5), who serves as a director of LRPA, reminded the councilors that without funding there might be no telecasting of the WLNH Children's Auction come December and other popular programming would be lost "it would be a real shame to see the possibility of this going down," he said, adding that the $20,000 "will be enough for a little while, but not for long."

Beauchaine said that board members would approach the selectboards in Alton, Belmont, Gilford, Meredith and Northwood with requests for funding.

The selectboards in Gilford and Belmont have already tabled requests made to them for additional funding. Meredith is expected to take up the mater on Monday.


2 apparent drug overdise deaths in city

LACONIA — One day after Gov. Maggie Hassan met with city leaders and high school students about drug abuse, city police are reporting two apparent fatal illicit drug overdoses.
The first was reported yesterday morning at 10:30 a.m. on Pleasant Street and the second was reported at 3:15 p.m. from a house on Lincoln Street.
Police Chief Christopher Adams said neither person was being identified at this point. He said the person who died on Pleasant Street was a young woman in her early 20s and the person who died on Lincoln Street was a man in his mid- to late 30s.

He said the cause of death will have to be determined by the medical examiner, however he said both deaths appear to be drug related.
He said a third person who nearly died over on Sunday on South Main Street was revived by emergency responders who administered Narcan.
Adams said that at this point he has no reason to think the deaths are related but said there is the possibility that there may be some overly strong or bad heroin in the area.
While meeting with high school students and Hassan on Monday, Adams said there had already been five overdoses in the city this year.
In July, the city council voted unanimously to add $50,000 to the Police Department budget to specifically address drug abuse and availability in the city.
The Laconia Police Department issued a statement last evening that said that the city has "a side that few see or want to see, a powerful drug known as 'Heroin.'"
"Heroin is making an alarming presence in our community and this killer drug doesn't discriminate against age, race or religion," police said.
Usually snorted, smoked or injected, police said heroin is one of the most addictive of drugs and creates both a physical and mental dependence for uses.
"Heroin is becoming cheaper and more plentiful in this area. In most cases, one can purchase Heroin cheaper than buying a six pack of beer," said police
If anyone has any information about either of the above three incidents or drug use in the city they are asked to call the Laconia Police at 524-5252 or the Greater Laconia Crime Line at 524-1717.

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Gilmanton men facing charges related to alleged meth sales

CIRCUIT COURT — One of two men arrested in a methamphetamine raid in Gilmanton was ordered held on $25,000 cash bail Monday after his video appearance in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division.

Jonathan Rawlins, 35, of 499 Route 140 is charged with four counts of sales of a controlled drug and one count of conspiracy to commit sales of a controlled drug.

His weekend arrest was the result of an investigation by the N.H. State Attorney's Drug Task Force who, assisted by Gilmanton Police, went to the home just before 10 a.m. Friday.

Gilmanton's prosecutor said Monday in his argument for continued cash bail that there was a active methamphetamine making operation and the N.H. Clandestine Drug Team was called.

Police said there were two women in the home — one who was identified as Rawlins' long-time girlfriend — and a newborn baby in the home. A second woman was also there. Both women were allowed to leave.

The prosecution also said that Rawlins has a extensive criminal record from Colorado that dated back to about 10 years. He noted there is an arrest warrant for Rawlins, but it is for Colorado-only — meaning the state of Colorado won't come and get him.

A second man, Robert Gonthier, 35, who police said also lives at 499 Route 140, was charged with one count of sales of a controlled drug.

Affidavits supporting both the search warrants and the arrests of both men were sealed. However, Rawlins' attorney Mark Sisti argued that he couldn't begin to address the charges without knowing how they came about.

Gilmanton prosecutor argued against unsealing the affidavits, saying this was really the N.H. Attorney General's case. Sisti retorted by saying that if it was so important to the AG, then their office could have sent their own prosecutor.

"I don't need the C.I.s (Confidential Informants)," he said. "I just need to know the charges."

Judge Jim Carroll ordered redacted versions of material be made available to Sisti and Gonthier's attorney, Eric Wolpin, by the end of the day.

Sisti argued that although it appears Rawlins had some criminal record from at least 10 years ago in Colorado and some failure to appear in court, he has no reason to thinks Rawlins would flee.

He said he has lived in his house for about 10 years and is employed in construction. Sisti said $7,500 cash or corporate surety would be enough to insure Rawlins' appearance in court.

Carroll said the drugs and activities police allegedly found in the home are extremely dangerous and ordered bail held at $25,000.

Wolpin argued that Gonthier was a local man, was only charged with one count of drug sales and should be released on personal recognizance bail. He said Gonthier can live with his long-time girlfriend in Franklin and was only in Gilmanton briefly to help Rawlins with a job.

Carroll ordered Gonthier held on $1,000 cash bail.

Should either man post bail, Carroll ordered a hearing to determine the source of the money.


Young boy on scooter collides with car

LACONIA - A 9-year-old child escaped serious injury Sunday afternoon when the scooter he was riding collided with a moving car at the intersection of Lovell and Baldwin streets.

The child was taken by ambulance to Lakes Region General Hospital with foot and leg injuries.

Police said investigation the child was on a two-wheel scooter, traveling down Lovell Street which is a steep incline that ends at Baldwin Street. The child crashed into the motor vehicle that was traveling on Baldwin Street.

Police are continuing to investigate.