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City police search for armed robber

LACONIA — Police are searching for a man who allegedly robbed a man at gunpoint Sunday at 4:09 p.m. while the two were in a car on Joliet Street in the city's South End.

Police said the victim and a second passenger were acquainted with Joshua McNeil, 31, whose last known address was 239 Winter St. in Brockton, Mass.

Police said McNeil was sitting in the back seat of the car when he allegedly pulled out a hand gun and told the passenger to get out somewhere on South Main Street. The driver of the car and McNeil continued to Joliet Street where McNeil allegedly demanded money from him.

When the driver emptied his pocket and showed McNeil his wallet was empty, McNeil allegedly hit him in the head with the handgun and took off on foot.

Police, who are familiar with McNeil, said the driver had a lump on his head but wasn't otherwise injured.

There is an active warrant for McNeil's arrest for armed robbery.

McNeil is described as being between 5-feet, 7-inches tall, weighing about 160 to 170 pounds with brown eyes and black hair. He has three tattoos on his neck included a colored flower on the front of his neck.

Police said he should be considered armed and dangerous and asked anyone who may have information leading to his whereabouts to call Laconia Police at 524-5252 or the Greater Laconia Crime Line at 524-1717 where an anonymous tip can be left.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 March 2014 12:21

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Hosmer to amend casino bill to give revenues directly to municipalities

CONCORD — Senators Andrew Hosmer (D-Laconia) and Lou D'Allesandro (D-Manchester) will offer an amendment to legislation authorizing slot machines and table games at two casinos to distribute $22-million of the annual tax revenues from gambling operations to cities and towns throughout the state.

Senate Bill 366, which was tabled in the Senate earlier in the session, will be brought to the floor for a vote on Thursday when D'Allesandro will propose the amendment.

Hosmer said yesterday that the cities and towns of District 7, which he represents, would receive $1.3-million in each year of the biennium. Laconia would receive $646,946, Belmont $77,735 and Gilford $86,370.

Hosmer said that during the past several years the state has reduced funding to cities and towns through the distribution of proceeds from the Rooms and Meals Tax and Highway Fund while increasing the contributions towns are required to make to the New Hampshire Retirement System. "This comes at a good time," he remarked. "Otherwise the pressures on local property taxpayers will only increase."

Tacitly acknowledging the stubborn opposition to the expansion of gambling in the House of Representatives, Hosmer remarked that increased funding to municipalities "should allay concerns about how this money will be spent among House members."

Hosmer said that he and D'Allesandro are seeking to muster support for the amendment from their colleagues on both sides of the aisle.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 March 2014 12:28

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Joint Building Committee eyes June 1 for start of $1.8-million school project

LACONIA — The Joint Building Committee established for the oversight of the $1.828-million school renovation bond met for the first time yesterday and set the potential construction start date of the project as June 1 for preliminary work, with the end of school date for major construction.

The committee determined that Rist, Frost, Shumway would engineer and design the project while Harvey Construction would be the construction manager. The committee hopes component bid documents will be ready for bid on April 23. They are due back on May 16.

The cost of the project is $1.828 million that will be primarily spent on installing a sprinkler system for the portion of the building not sprinkled during last year's Huot Technical Center Renovation and replacing the air handling units for the interior wall classrooms, the library, and the auditorium.

The money is being made available by a Quality Zone Academy Building federal no-interest loan made available to the Laconia School District through the N.H. Department of Education.

School District Administrator Ed Emond said yesterday that as far as sprinkling the portion of the building not done as part of the Huot Technical Center renovation, the glass windows between the east portion of the old building and older portion of the Huot Technical Center are not compliant with current fire codes.

The windows represent what was the outside back of the school when it was first built. The first Huot Center wrapped around the old school but the windows were kept in place so the classrooms, which have no outside exposure, along that interior wall could get some air.

Emond and engineer Chad Montrose said that after meeting with Chief Ken Erickson and Fire Inspector Charlie Roffo yesterday morning, they recommended contacting the N.H. Fire Marshal before moving forward with the engineering.

Montrose said one idea is to create an emergency water wall, meaning that a bank of sprinklers would release during a fire that would allow students to escape through what is the main entrance.

The problem is the glass is not smooth nor is it fire resistant and, in the event of a fire, it could shatter into one the main egresses from the north portion of the school.

Other options discussed at yesterday meeting included replacing some or all of the windows with fireproof sheet rock or replacing the glass with a fire resistant glass.

Montose said the board should delay any decision until they get the approximate costs of each option. JBC members also wanted to tour the area with the fire personnel as well.

The second portion of the construction project calls for replacing the air-handling units for the library, the interior classrooms and the auditorium. Montose and Emond said replacing the air-handling unit for the gymnasium will not be possible because there is not enough money.

The JBC gave Montose the okay to solicit bids for the replacement units as soon as possible because there is a lead time of six to eight weeks to get them to the site.

The committee also set what they hope is the final budget. The total amount available is $1.828-million with $1.438-million for the construction and $61,500 for the construction management fee.

The owner's contingency is set at $90,000 or about 6-percent of the total budget, furniture and fixtures is set a $14,000, the architect and engineering fee is $124,000 or 7.75 percent, and $100,000 is earmarked for costs associated with bonding and legal fees.

The project completion date is targeted for Aug. 20 when teachers return to the school.

The next JBC meeting is scheduled for April 23 at 4 p.m. at Harvard Street School. No date has been set for the fire officials joint with members of the JBC.

As with the most recent JBC – the co-chairs are City Councilor Bob Hamel and School Board member Joe Cormier.

Last Updated on Monday, 24 March 2014 11:54

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Strange events have staff spooked at Ellacoya Country Store in Gilford

GILFORD — Ghost hunters from Maine will be coming to Ellacoya Country Store to check out a Saint Patrick's Day incident in which the heavy glass top of a cake stand was smashed on the floor behind the store's front counter after inexplicably flying off a pedestal with a three-quarter inch rim.
The incident was caught on a video surveillance video camera and has created a sensation on the Ellacoya Barn and Grille's Facebook page, where it has been viewed by hundreds of people and attracted over 250 comments and led to television stories on WMUR-TV and widespread newspaper accounts.
''Strange things happen here. If you work here long enough they happen to you.'' says Lisa Giles, a clerk at the Ellacoya Country Store, who said that her fellow clerk, Heidi Boyd, was working around 3:30 on Monday afternoon last week when the incident happened.
''Heidi was freaking out after it happened. She had walked out of the room to the deli and heard something crash. When she came back the top was on the floor and she couldn't understand how it got there without taking everything else off the pedestal,'' said Giles.
She said that store owner Steve Buzzota was upset as the cake stand had been a wedding present and decided to check out the surveillance camera to see what had happened and was astonished at what he saw and decided to post it on Facebook to share with the store's customers. He posted it under the heading "Haunted much?"
Since that time there have been a steady string of comments on the Facebook page, with many suggesting that the act was staged to create publicity or that a truck going by the store had hit a pot hole and caused enough vibration to shake the top loose..
Store owner Steve Buzzota told WMUR, "This is definitely not a staged act. This really happened and it's kind of freaky." Boyd told the station she thinks it was a ghost. "This place is very old. You can't make it up. I absolutely believe."
Tammy Johnson, another clerk at the store. says that she has seen and heard many unusual things during her time there.
''I hear people walking on the floor and check it out and there's no one there. Or I see shadows out of the corner of my eye and I check and there's no one there,'' says Johnson.
She says many of those who work at the store have felt someone tap them on the shoulder when there's no one around. At other times people who arrive early in the morning report hearing a man whistling. And there was an incident in which a worker arrived in the morning and found the meat slicer running. Johnson says that the Ghost Hunters will get a warm welcome when they arrive and that she is hoping they can shed some light on the mystery.

Last Updated on Monday, 24 March 2014 11:42

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