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Tilton Selectboard chair estimates compliance at 75% after first round of pay-as-you throw trash collection

TILTON — Pat Consentino, who chairs the Board of Selectmen, said yesterday that despite some problems she estimated that approximately three-quarters of residents complied with the Pay-As-You-Throw trash pick-up program when it was introduced this week. "That's just a guess," she emphasized.

Consentino said that "I drove around town on Tuesday, the first day, and again today (Thursday) and saw that most people were using the purple bags for their trash."

Consentino said that although there were sufficient bags at Town Hall, several retail outlets, including Hannaford and Walgreen's, ran out of stock during the week. She said that the most common problem was that while people were separating their recyclables from their trash, some were not using the purple bags for their trash. The hauler, Bestway, placed notices advising residents they were not in compliance on the bags, she said, but later in the day collected the trash bearing the notices so who had not returned home did not received them.

"There appeared to be more issues in west Tilton (Tuesday), especially at multi-family buildings," Consentino said, suggesting that landlords may not have informed their tenants of the program.

Last Updated on Friday, 06 September 2013 03:06

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Police stakeout in Belmont village leads to bust of alleged heroin dealer

BELMONT — A Brooklyn, New York woman who says she just moved to Claremont three weeks ago is being held on $20,000 cash bail after police found 15.9 grams of heroin in packages in a car in which she was a passenger.

Heather Cleveland, 26, whose address is listed as Brooklyn but is now of East Street in Claremont, is charged with one count of possession of heroin with intent to distribute, one count of endangering the welfare of a child, and one count of falsifying evidence for allegedly trying to hide the heroin after being stopped by police.

After finding probable cause for Cleveland's arrest, Judge Jim Carroll of the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division told Cleveland her alleged activities "severely endangers our community" and "puts us all at risk."

Cleveland wept openly as Carroll set bail at $20,000 cash-only — $10,000 more than the Belmont prosecutor asked for and 100 times the $200 cash requested by her public defender. He also ordered a hearing for the source of funds should she come up with the money.

According to affidavits obtained from court, police were investigating reported drug activity on Main Street Wednesday night and saw a car idling in front of 125 Main Street at 10:49 p.m. without its lights on. Police saw a female (later identified as Cleveland) leave the building and get into the passenger side of car.

Police said the car headed down Main Street but the female driver only had running lights turned on and officers stopped the driver for the traffic violation.

While Officer Joel Pickowicz went to the passenger side window and spoke to the driver, Officer Ryan Nolan stood near the rear of the car on the driver's side. Nolan said he had a clear view of the inside of the car and noticed a young child sitting on the rear passenger seat.

When Pickowicz went back to his cruiser to check the driver's information, Nolan said he saw Cleveland verify that Pickowicz was back in his cruiser and make a "furtive movement" toward the back seat of the car and remove a white pill bottle with a dark label from under a jacket. He said she "discretely" put the bottle in the center console.

Nolan told both women to get out the car and separated them. He first asked the driver and owner of the car about the pill bottle and she allegedly told him she didn't know anything about it. She told Nolan that she was under the impression that Cleveland had gone into the Main Street apartment house to buy a cell phone. She gave Nolan written consent to search her car.

During Nolan's search he allegedly found a white pill bottle with a child-proof cap and dark writing that was a drug-store brand of 100-count tension-headache pain relievers.

When he opened the bottle he found 53 paper packets or bindles with blue lettering that read "Fever". The contents later tested positive for heroin. The bottle also contained rice — a commonly used moisture absorbent.

Police also said the bottle was initially under a jacket within "arm's reach" of Cleveland's 2-year-old son, triggering the charge of endangering the child's welfare.

At press time Cleveland remains in the Belknap County Jail. Should she post bail, Carroll ordered her to live with her brother in Claremont and sign a waiver of extradition.

Last Updated on Friday, 06 September 2013 02:53

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Opening ceremony for BNH Stadium will precede tonight's Sachems kick-off

LACONIA — The Grand Opening of Bank of New Hampshire Stadium at Laconia High School is tonight beginning at 6 p.m. Ceremonies will be followed by the kick-off for the Sachems vs. Pembroke Academy football game at 7.

Festivities will begin with an official ribbon cutting ceremony at the main gate to the stadium at 6.

After the ribbon cutting, there will be time to mingle. At 6:45 p.m. City Manager Scott Myers will serve as the Master of Ceremonies and will provide recognition to the corporate sponsors, contributors to the Wall of Fame and those who purchased granite steps leading to the stadium as part of a fundraising campaign.

Myers said the representatives from the School Board, the Joint Building Committee, the City Council, the school administration as well as coaches and players of the various sports teams will be recognized.

The Laconia High School Marching Band will play the Star Spangled Banner and the football game will follow.

Superintendent Terri Forsten said the LHS Marching Band will perform at half time. "They're really excited," she said, noting the band has been putting extra time in getting ready for the festivities.

The new stadium was completed this week as part of nearly $14-million campus renovation/expansion project that included a new building housing programs at the Huot Regional Technical Education Center. Five new LHS science labs were added in a portion of the campus formerly used by the Huot Center.

The actual FieldTurf playing surface at the stadium will be named for former LHS football coach and athletic director Jim Fitzgerald at a dedication ceremony associated with this year's homecoming game on September 27.

Last Updated on Saturday, 07 September 2013 01:28

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Race for Mayor: Mitchell looks to invigorate tourism & retail economy

LACONIA — "The mayor's job is not just to be out there at parades and presiding at meetings," said Kaileif Mitchell, one of three candidates for the office. "He is the only one elected by all the people and I really think his job is to represent the people as a liaison to the City Council."

At 34, Mitchell is the youngest in the race, but he brings varied experience to his candidacy. Coming to the city as a child, he went through Holy Trinity School then graduated from Bishop Brady High School in Concord. After a year at Maine Maritime Academy, he interrupted his formal education to earn a living to support his family, which grew to four children. In the U.S. Navy Reserve he qualified in avionics as well as aviation electrical and mechanical technology. After a spell as an optician he became a corrections officer and currently serves as a teaching assistant at Spaulding Youth Center in Northfield while completing his degree in sociology and psychology at Southern New Hampshire University.

"We're a dying city," Mitchell said flatly. "There are more deaths than births and young people are moving out in search of economic opportunities." To reverse the trends of a dwindling and aging population, he believes that the local economy must be "re-energized." In particular, he suggested what has traditionally been a seasonal tourist sector, "dependent on warm summers and snowy winters," should be augmented by more stable attractions, including a stronger retail sector.

Noting that many residents turn to big box stores in Concord or Tilton, he would seek to keep them in the region by bringing major retailers like Target to the Lakes Business Park.

"The city should not get into the business of buying and selling property," Mitchell said, proposing instead to provide tax incentives to encourage the redevelopment of existing buildings. The Colonial Theatre, he said, could become an entertainment venue akin to the Flying Monkey in Plymouth, competing with Meadowbrook Musical Arts Center in the summer and replacing it in the winter. Mitchell said that "rejuvenating the tourist economy and growing the retail sector will create jobs, demand for housing and expand the tax base."

Mitchell believes that downtown can support a mix of entertainment venues and retail outlets, on the one hand, and affordable housing and social services, on the other, offering Bangor, Maine, where a popular casino and homeless shelter are close neighbors. "It is definitely feasible to have both in the same neighborhood," he said.

Likewise, he dismissed the notion that a residential treatment facility for the mentally ill, which Genesis Behavioral Health seeks to locate on Church Street, would have an adverse effect. "I don't see Genesis being there would be detrimental to the redevelopment of downtown."

The city, Mitchell said, should not pursue its effort to acquire the former Laconia State School property, but instead work with the state to market the site to a private developer. He said that the city and state should cooperate in providing incentives to attract a buyer to redevelop the property in way that is in the best interest of both.

Mitchell was skeptical of using tax increment financing (TIF) for "beautification" projects. "The reason people are not coming to Laconia is not because the city isn't beautiful," he claimed, "but because there is nothing to come her for." He said that while he could understand applying TIF funds to the projects like the construction of the WOW Trail and restoration of Weirs Beach, he urged "caution." Although both are popular, he stressed that neither is "really the first step. The first step is expanding the tax base so that we have the resources to invest other projects. I'd love to say let's throw them a bone, but I don't see how we can when we're looking at funding a fire station, four fire fighters, road works and a county jail."

Mitchell considered it premature to make a definitive decision on whether to retain the four firefighters, who were hired for two years with federal funding at a cost of more than $300,000 a year, when the grant expires in 2015. He said that the ultimate decision would depend on the extent to which the additional personnel reduced the cost of overtime, strength of the economy and other priorities.

Although Mitchell recycles, he is firmly opposed to a Pay-As-You-Throw program and has mixed feelings about the mandatory recycling program introduced in July. He advocates providing residents with "some sort of tax incentive" to encourage them to recycle. "To change behavior, people need positive incentives," he said, adding that he is troubled that those who fail to comply with the program may be punished with fines for illegal dumping.

Among the original petitioners for the tax cap, Mitchell said "I wouldn't ever consider overriding the tax cap. It's a check and balance that is there to keep us honest." Nor, he added, would he favor removing the county tax from the cap in order to forestall a steep increase in the county tax from displacing local expenditures.

Mitchell, who has served as both a selectman and moderator in Ward 5 as well as a member of the Conservation Commission, said that he hopes his candidacy will inspire other young people in the city to become more engaged in civic affairs of the community.

Mitchell will face former city councilor Bob Luther and Ed Engler, president of The Laconia Daily Sun, in the primary election on Tuesday, Sept. 10. The two top vote getters will appear on the general ballot in November.

(Editor's Note: This is the third and last profile of the mayoral candidates. All were asked the same set of a dozen questions at interviews, which provided the information for these articles.)

Last Updated on Friday, 06 September 2013 03:14

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