Laconia drug counselor is charged with raping a patient

CONCORD — A Laconia alcohol and drug counselor has been charged with two counts of felonious sexual assault resulting from an incident that allegedly occurred with a patient, said the division director for heath care professionals.
Jay Bernier, whose practice is on 206 Fair St. was also suspended from practice by the Board of Licensing for Alcohol and Other Drug Use Professionals. He also has offices in Concord. His license was suspended after an emergency hearing on Tuesday.
Bernier's arrest came on Oct. 27 after an investigation by the Merrimack County Sheriff's Department and his arrest was effected by that organization.
According to an emergency order of suspension released Wednesday by the licensing board, the alleged victim sought counseling from Bernier and attended approximately 14 to 20 sessions with him in 2014.
Either during the sessions or immediately thereafter, the order says Bernier developed an inappropriate relationship with the client. The investigation said Bernier went to the salon where the client worked to get a haircut on Nov. 3, 2014, and this was witnessed by two of her coworkers.
The client also said Bernier sent flowers to her at her place of employment and took her out shopping for clothes three times. The order said there were witnesses to this.
The order noted that Bernier and the woman were Facebook "friends" and he had "liked" several of her photographs.
Bernier also allegedly "hugged and kissed her on multiple occasions and sent her sexually explicit text messages on more than one occasion."
The order said that on Nov. 6, 2015, the client reached out to Bernier for help and upon his request she visited his Laconia office around 11 a.m., where he allegedly performed a sex act on her.
While Bernier has not been through the criminal process at this time, "the board finds that public health, safety and welfare require emergency action in this case," read the emergency order.
"Further, the board believes there is a reasonable basis for both immediately suspending Bernier's license on a temporary basis and for commencing an expedited disciplinary proceeding against [Bernier] pursuant to [state law and license requirements.]
According to the license board rules, an adjudicatory hearing shall commence within 10 working days after an emergency suspension. Bernier has been ordered to appear before the board at 9 a.m. on Dec. 3.

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Kirk named to Parks and Rec

LACONIA — Arthur Kirk, who has been a coach in city youth league sports for 10 years, was named by the city council Monday night to a position on the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission.
He will fill the remainder of the three-year term of Jeff Pattison, which expires in March of 2016. Pattison, a long-time member of the commission, resigned recently after retiring from his state position and moving to San Diego, California.
Kirk received five votes for the position with one vote being cast for Tony Felch, who had also applied for the position. Felch, president of the Leavitt Park Community Club, regularly attends Parks Commission meetings.
Felch, who has lost contests to Ward 6 Councilor Armand Bolduc in the last three city elections, also applied for a position as trustee of trust funds to fill the remainder of the term of Karl Reitz, which expires in March of 2016.
He cited his experience as a property manager for 24 years and his service on the distribution committee of the Children’s Auction as qualifications but no member of the council put his name into nomination. Ward 3 Councilor Henry Lipman cited the need for investment experience for a trustee of trust funds candidate.


Note: This story has been updated to reflect the correct number of times Bolduc has been elected.

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Divers clear milfoil from Black Brook

LACONIA — Taking advantage of the unseasonably warm temperatures, a team of divers from Aqualogic spent the days before Thanksgiving removing milfoil from the lower reach of Black Brook.
Scott McPhie of the Planning Department said the project was sponsored by the Conservation Commission and funded by a donation of $2,000 by the Winnipesaukee Watershed Association. He said the commission appreciates the generosity of the association and Pat Tarpey, its executive director.
Black Brook rises in Gilford, crosses into Laconia under Blaisdell Avenue, winds around McDonald's, passes beneath Union Avenue and empties into Paugus Bay at the Spinnaker Yacht Club.
McPhie said that several years ago work began to clear debris from the brook, and last year Aqualogic removed milfoil along the stretch between McDonald's and Union Avenue. With the donation from the Winnipesaukee Watershed Association, Aqualogic returned this year to clear the brook of milfoil from the bridge on Union Avenue to its mouth at the yacht club.
John Judd of Aqualogic said more than 400 gallons of milfoil were removed from the brook this week. The company uses a unique rig, designed by Judd, consisting of a vacuum held by a diver and powered by an engine aboard a small flatbed boat tethered to the diver. The diver, Judd's son, Dominic, uproots the milfoil, which is vacuumed directly into a bag, minimizing the risk that stray fragments will take fresh root.
McPhie said the section of the brook treated last year remains 80 percent clear of milfoil and the natural, indigenous vegetation has regenerated. He explained that as the water level rises in Paugus Bay, it backs into the mouth of the brook, carrying milfoil with it. Clearing the brook of debris and milfoil, he said, will improve its flow, reducing the areas of sluggish and stagnant water where milfoil thrives and countering the backwash from the lake.

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