Hundreds come out in support of Jeb Bush in Meredith

MEREDITH — "We're living in serious times and we need a serious candidate," Jeb Bush told the crowd of nearly 250 that filled the Winnipesaukee Ballroom at Church Landing Wednesday as the former governor of Florida, once the odds-on favorite for the GOP presidential nomination, strives for a strong showing in the New Hampshire primary little more than a month away.

The most recent poll of New Hampshire voters by Public Policy Polling of Raleigh, North Carolina, shows Bush running alongside Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, John Kasich and Ted Cruz, all of whom are polling in double digits, but trailing frontrunner Donald Trump by between 14 and 19 points. But, with these five candidates splitting neatly half the vote, Trump's lead is magnified. The same poll indicates that that Trump would lead Bush by only one point in a head-to-head race. Moreover, since the last poll in December, Bush posted the greatest gain in the field.

Bush stressed his record of proven leadership, recalling that Florida weathered Katrina and seven other hurricanes and four tropical storms, recorded the greatest gains in educational achievement in 15 years and lowered the tax burden on households and businesses during his tenure as governor.

"Leadership matters," Bush insisted. Rolling up his sleeves, he said that a genuine leader "accepts responsibility, builds consensus and fixes things. The greatest joy in public service is fixing things," he remarked.

Asked by Tom Emmanuel of Laconia, who described himself as Trump supporter, why he called Trump "a jerk," Bush replied that he took offense at Trump's "disparaging remarks about other people," including those with developmental disabilities. Putting his fist to his chest, he said a leader must have a heart.

Remarking that a president should have "a servant's heart," Bush sounded an inspirational note.

"I want to be president to tear down the ceiling on people's aspirations. I want to tell them whatever your dream is, let's make sure you have the capacity to pursue that dream," he continued. "It is the pursuit of life that matters."

Bush becomes especially passionate in addressing education, which was a dominant theme of his governorship.

"I'm for high standards, locally driven," he said, explaining that the federal government should play no role in setting standards, defining content or designing curriculum. He noted that although per student spending in the U.S. ranks among the highest in the world, only 40 percent of high school graduates are prepared for either college or employment. Touting the success of the voucher program, he introduced in Florida, he claimed that wider choice for parents and more competition between schools lead to higher levels of achievement.

Likewise, Bush set high expectations for the economy, dismissing the "new normal" of 2 percent annual economic growth as the source of declining median incomes, a shrinking middle class, rising levels of poverty and increasing demands on government, all of which he said are "unacceptable." Instead, he called for a growth rate of 4 percent as "an aspirational goal," adding "we've done it before and we can do it again."

Bush proposes reducing the number of income tax brackets and lowering individual and corporate tax rates, capping deductions while doubling the standard deduction, doubling the earned income tax credit and closing tax loopholes, He would also ease the regulatory burdens on business enterprises, particularly the community banks. And improvements to the elementary and secondary education systems are important components of his approach to the economy.

Turning to the crisis in the Middle East, Bush emphasized that he proposed a strategy to defeat ISIS in August, well before other candidates in the field. He said that he would arm the Kurds, engage the Iraqi armed forces and Sunni tribal leaders and create safe zones for displaced refugees within Syria. He said he would not offer "a blanket kind of big talk," chiding those who spoke of "carpet bombing," but instead exercise "our consensus muscles" and "unite around a common purpose."

Bush repeated that he would support whoever the GOP nominates, but added he would "defend the conservative cause against those who would hijack it. We must campaign with arms wide open," he added. "I intend to fight to the bitter end."

Man indicted for rape in Laconia apprehended in Virginia

LACONIA — A former Laconia man who has been indicted on four courts of aggravated felonious sexual assault on an 8-year-old child in 2011 has been located by the Louisa County, Virginia, Sheriff's Department.

Carl R. Smart Jr., 37, was indicted by a Belknap County grand jury in December of 2015 for raping the child during the months of May 2011 to August 2011 in Laconia.

The Belknap County Sheriff's Department said Smart is being held at the Central Virginia Regional Jail and is awaiting a hearing before a Commonwealth of Virginia judge for extradition back to New Hampshire.

Although the case was investigated by the Laconia Police, who brought it to the Belknap County Attorney's Office for possible indictment, police officials said Smart was never arrested on the rape charges. Police confirmed Thursday that Smart was known to them and previously been arrested by them for DWI some time in 2010. Officials do not know when Smart left New Hampshire.

According to an employee in the New Hampshire Judiciary Court call center, Smart was indicted on Dec. 3, 2015. His notice of indictment, complete with an arraignment date, was sent to his last known address and was returned as undelivered. His indictment was rescheduled for Jan. 6.

When he failed to appear for his Jan. 6 arraignment date, Judge James O'Neill issued an arrest warrant and set a $100,000 cash-only bail for Smart should he be found and returned to the state.

An indictment is not a determination of guilt but is a statement by an independent grand jury that the state has enough evidence to warrant an arrest and a trial.

Belmont planners say article to protect aquifer is bad idea

BELMONT — The Belmont Planning Board voted unanimously not to support a petitioned warrant article that would have prevented all further industrial development in the aquifer overlay district last night.
After listening to just over an hour of testimony during a public hearing held exclusively for the warrant article, board members agreed with Chairman Peter Harris’s statement that there wasn’t enough scientific information presented to them to make an informed decision.
“We have good safeguards. Better than most,” he said.
The public hearing came about because George Condodemetraky and at least 24 other residents signed a petition that would eliminate all future industrial development over the aquifer. Nearly all of the industrial zones in Belmont are at or on the aquifer which comprises 37 percent of the total land mass of Belmont.
Speaking last night, Condodemetraky said he “could see the future of Belmont at risk if we continue to put contaminating businesses in (the aquifer zone.) He identified seven industrial based businesses that had already located there and said they are all potential contaminators.
He reminded the members that they each took an oath of office that requires them to consider the safety and security of the residents every time they vote.
Most of the 25 to 30 people in the room who spoke were in favor of the proposed ordinance echoing Condodemetraky in his belief that once something happens to the aquifer there is no turning back.
One woman said she moved to Belmont from Tyngsboro, Massachusetts, where contaminated soil was found in the ground on the property that was the former home to a tannery and some wells were polluted as a result. Susan Condodemetraky spoke about the recent lead poisoning of people in Flint, Michigan, that people believe was caused when the city decided to switch its water supply from Lake Huron to a nearby river.
The few who spoke against the article included Conservation Commission member Ken Knowlton who called it “draconian with good intent.” He said that all of the businesses that were in the aquifer zone are “early compliers” with the town ordinances that protect the aquifer and that he doesn’t think any of them pose a serious threat to it.
When Knowlton said that junkyards, recycling waste storage facilities and petroleum storage should all be banned, Town Planner Candace Daigle said they are all prohibited or regulated either by state or local ordinances, as was the expansion of the Casella facilty to include solid waste transfer.
Knowlton said he would like to see all commercial water withdrawal prohibited in the zone, which Daigle said was already prohibited by the state.
Daigle said that the town spent seven years working with the Lakes Region Planning Commission in a project that secured three separate grants that would educate people about the aquifer and then identify, map and delineate best-management practices for it.
From that, said Daigle, came the Tri-Town Agreement just signed three years ago and in which Tilton, Northfield and Belmont all agreed to certain management practices that would best preserve and protect the aquifer. She said Belmont adopted similar ordinances to the ones adopted by the other two communities..
She noted that Belmont got a grant in 2008 for its aquifer protection and in the process adopted the Tri-Town Agreement as to ordinances and best-management practices regarding the aquifer. She said the ordinances and the agreement stemmed from science not conjecture or speculation.
Linda Frawley, who has played an integral part in the past regarding the Tri-Town Agreements, hit a nerve with some in the crowd when she said that the town never followed through with an economic development plan surrounding aquifer protection that has been recommended by the LRPC.
She also said there hasn’t been a zoning change in Belmont since zoning was first passed in 1986. Many there volunteered to help with an economic development plan regarding future development of the aquifer.
“We could have had a community grant to rezone...but the town didn’t apply,” Frawley said. “When the water’s gone, it’s gone.”
A sign-up sheet was circulated by an observer for people who want to assist the town with any committees that would examine or work to get grants for an economic development plan that would protect the aquifer.
“We could have had a community grant to rezone...but the town didn’t apply,” Frawley said. “When the water’s gone, it’s gone.”
A sign-up sheet was circulated by an observer for people who want to assist the town with any committees that would examine or work to get grants for an economic development plan that would protect the aquifer.
Because the warrant article was submitted by petition, it will appear on the ballot and while there can be discussion at the deliberative session, there can be no changes made to it.