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Empty Bowls Banquet and Stand Up meeting held at LMS

LACONIA — The Middle School JAG Class last week hosted a Empty Bowls Banquet in conjunction with Stand Up! Laconia's presentation, "Let's Talk About Drugs and our Community". During the presentation the School District's resource police officer, Steve Orton reaffirmed that the community is experiencing a drug epidemic that requires the community's immediate intervention.

The Empty Bowls Banquet was conceived to benefit local charity organizations. Madelina Morris, a 7th grade student, took on the project as an independent study, and received help and support from various organizations and individuals within the schools. Working in collaboration with Tavern 27, the group was able to get soup donated for the event.

"The project helped me see that a little bit can go a long way, and that you need to need to think of others before yourself," said Morris. "This year we raised over $700 and next year we hope to raise even more."

Stand Up! Laconia is a grassroots coalition that is standing up against drug and alcohol use among the youth and actively promoting an increase in positive and healthy peer and family relationships in the community. Clare Persson, chair of Stand Up! Laconia introduced the guest speakers for the presentation: Traci Fowler of Lakes Region Community Services, Orton of the Laconia Police Department and Detective Chris Noyes of the Narcotics Unit at LPD.

"N.H. has a drug and alcohol epidemic" was the statement that kicked off the presentation. Using this statement as a platform for discussion, Fowler showed recent statistics placing New Hampshire as the second ranked state for monthly marijuana use in the age 12-17 category, and first in the country for past month alcohol consumption between the ages 12-20. In addition to the high national averages, state surveys have shown that the Lakes Region is above the state average for past 30 day consumption of alcohol and substance abuse in all categories.

Fowler stressed the importance of parents becoming involved in the lives of their children and the local youth at large. "Nine out of 10 people struggling with an addiction started before age 18," stated Fowler. "If we can prevent drug abuse at a young age, we can help prevent long-term drug addiction."

As school resource officer for Laconia High School, too, Orton sees first hand the effects drugs and alcohol have on the youth in the community. In both the school and the widespread community there is generally 10 percent of the population who has significant disciplinary and abuse problems, yet this small population has a large effect on the other 90 percent. The cultural shift constantly promoting the use of drugs and alcohol through television shows, commercials, songs, and other media outlets has caused the vast majority of people to become dull to the messages inundating the lives of the youth.

With a small group of people assembled, Orton stated that it will be impossible to fight the 10 percent with 1 just percent of the 90 percent "strong". The other 89 percent of the "strong" community must take the initiative to wake up to the issue and become involved in they wish to see the issues dissipate, he said. "We are not going to combat this problem until the community stands up, fills and room, and works to make a change."

For a broader look at the substance abuse epidemic, Detective Noyes exposed critical information regarding prevalence of man-made drugs on the market. It was made known that after the first six months of prescription drug disposal at the new drop-off box in Laconia, there was over 412-pounds of prescription drugs collected. This number was first in the state, with Nashua next with a collection of 290- pounds. In addition to the disproportionate amount of prescription drugs prevalent among the community, there is a also a high demand for synthetic drugs such as "Spice" and "K2", which can be purchased over the counter in various surrounding towns.

"Parents need to be aware of the products on the market and be a part of their kids lives," said Noyes. "Every person who does something is going to effect someone you know, so turning a blind eye toward the issue will help no one."

Stand Up! Laconia is a growing coalition that meets during Better Together gatherings. The next meeting will be held on Tuesday, December 3 from 5-7 p.m. at the Laconia Middle School. For more information about Stand Up! Laconia visit www.standuplaconia.com or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Last Updated on Tuesday, 26 November 2013 02:47

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Bristol man convicted for welfare fraud

LACONIA - A Bristol man was convicted by a jury in Belknap County Superior Court yesterday of welfare fraud - a class A felony.

Christopher Boisvert was found guilty of aiding and abetting a Belknap County woman of receiving $7,000 in benefits from the state of New Hampshire between December of 2010 and February of 2012.

Belknap County Attorney Melissa Countway Guldbrandsen said $3,000 of the benefits were cash and $3,000 were medical services.

He had previously told the Department of Health and Human Services he was homeless during that period of time when he was seen regularly at the address of a woman. Charged in the Second Circuit Court, Plymouth Division with an unrelated crime, Boisvert also used the same woman's address for getting his court paperwork.

Guldbrandsen said Boisvert "took advantage of the welfare system for over a year at the expense of the taxpayer."

She said her office takes these cases seriously and the female who was unnamed in her media release is also being held at the Belknap County House of Corrections pending sentencing.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 26 November 2013 02:47

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At LHS, applied physics students flex their robotic arms

LACONIA — Members of Laconia High School's applied physics class got to use hydraulically controlled robotic arms to do some precision lifting Monday morning.
One team of students, Trevor Blake, Andrew West and Michael Hodge, all juniors, were using the arm they put together to pick up thumbtacks by the slender tack end and then drop them into a soda can. Nearby, seniors Christian Miles, Ben Ainsworth and Tom Nickerson used their arm to lift and nestle small metal cups inside each other.
Another team of students, Richard Humphries, Tyler Reichel and Dillon Ellsworth tried to manipulate kinetic balls of energy while yet another team, made up of Josh Mariano, Brian Englesen, Tristan Jerrier and Rose Therrien, were using a magnet to lift 10 thumbtacks at a time and deposit them in a lab beaker.
The robotic arms are made from kits that the teams assembled last week and they are moved by applying pressure to liquid-filled syringes which are connected by tubes to the hand-like gripping devices and lifting parts of the arms, helping give the students insight into fluid dynamics and the principles which make things in the real world actually work.
''They're learning the science behind fluid dynamics and dong it in a very hands-on way'' says their teacher Jo-Ann Gilbert, who says that the students' first exposure to those principles came earlier this year with a log splitter.
Students last week put together the robotic kits, mounting them on rectangular wooden 2 by 4 blocks, and made their own modifications to them once they started to experiment with them, adding elastics wrapped around the robotic hands in one instance to give them a better grip. They then designed tasks for them, which had to be accomplished in less than five minutes. Monday they were timing themselves on how fast they completed those tasks and then moving on to the other student-built robots to see how well they could perform on those challenges.
''We've got this pretty much down to a science,'' said Ellsworth, who said that the smooth, round surface of the kinetic energy balls made them difficult to grip at first and required precision maneuvering by the operators of the robot arms.
Rose Therrien observed that one of the keys to getting good performance from the robot arms was ''filling up the syringes so there are no air bubbles in them. If they have bubbles, they don't move smoothly or have a strong grip.''
Gilbert said that unlike most of the other challenges that the class has undertaken during the course of the first term, kits were used for this challenge. Other projects have included building CO2 propelled dragsters, designing rockets for launch, and solar cars and that the class will also be building a solar oven.
''The students love these kind of hands on challenges and it really gets them involved. It's also fostered a lot of cooperation because they all help each other out and learn a lot from what the other teams are doing. They're learning that it takes practice and the good use of technology to make things work the way you want them to,'' said Gilbert.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 26 November 2013 02:47

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Boothby Announces & Files in District 1

MEREDITH — Accompanied by a group of his closest supporters at the State House yesterday, Christopher Boothby of Meredith became the first Republican to enter the race to succeed the late Ray Burton as Executive Councilor in District 1.

The district sprawls across two-thirds of the land area of the state, reaches into six of its ten counties — Coos, Carroll, Grafton, Belknap, Strafford and Merrimack — and includes four of its 13 cites, 101 of its 221 towns and 19 of its 25 unincorporated places.

Boothby acknowledged there is a lot of ground to cover and voters to reach in the 58 days before the primary election on January 21, particularly since three major holidays — Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's — will punctuate the campaign. The winners of the primary will have 42 days to campaign until the general election on March 11. "This campaign will be all about making strategic use of resources," Boothby said.

Boothby, a resident of Meredith, served as an intern with Burton while attending graduate school at the University of New Hampshire. Boothby served as a Belknap County Commissioner for 12 years and during his tenure was twice president of the New Hampshire Association of Counties. For the past 15 years Boothby and his wife Maren have owned and operated Boothby Therapy Services, a Laconia firm that provides occupational and speech therapy services to school districts. During the same period he also worked at LRGHealthcare, as director of outpatient services as well as in philanthropy and community affairs.

"I'm working hard to assemble a strong team of advisors and network of supporters from around the district," said Boothby, who intends to devote all his time in the coming weeks to the campaign. "I'm very honored and pleased by the response I've received so far," he added, suggesting that that with the expansive district and abbreviated timetable the advantage will lie with candidates with an existing identity and presence in the district. He expected that his experience as a county commissioner and tenure as president of the association of counties would lend momentum to his candidacy.

One Democrat, Michael Cryans of Hanover, who with experience in banking and teaching has served 16 years on the Grafton County Commission, filed yesterday while Mark Hounsell of Conway, a former state senator and Conway selectman, and Jack Savage of Middleton, owner of Carriage House Publishing and moderator of the school district, have both said they are considering entering the race.

Among Republicans, Rick St. Hilaire of Lebanon, former Grafton County Attorney, and Josh Youseff of Laconia, who lost a bid for the New Hampshire Senate in 2012, have been mentioned as possible candidates.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 26 November 2013 02:46

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