Barnstead teenagers located

BARNSTEAD — Two local teenagers who were reported missing after failing to arrive at a semi-formal dance in Alton on Saturday were found unharmed on Sunday.

Police Chief Joseph McDowell said that Jacqueline Hamilton, 15, of Sugar Lane, Barnstead left her home in an unknown type of vehicle around 10:30 p.m. on Saturday. She met with a young man named "John," who was later identified as Jonathan Coggins, also, of Province Road, Barnstead with whom she spent most of the day on Saturday. McDowell said that Hamilton's parents told officers they believed the two may have headed to Clinton, Mass., where Coggins used to live.

McDowell said that police in Clinton, Mass., were notified at once, and both Hamilton and Coggins were entered into a national base as missing persons. The department also posted a report, together with photographs of the teenagers, on its Facebook page. The chief said that a tip from an alert and observant resident who recognized the teens from their photographs enabled police to locate them on Parade Road. "They did take off," he said, "but they never left the area." He said that neither had access to a vehicle.

McDowell said that police would meet with the families this week to determine what prompted the two to leave home and decide whether to file a CHINs (Children in Need of Services) petition. He said that no criminal act warranting a juvenile arrest was committed and "it's better to handle these situations within the family environment."

Man said to have threatened his mom with a gun

LACONIA — A Manchester Street man is being held on $10,000 cash-only bail for allegedly threatening his mother with a loaded handgun after his video appearance in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division yesterday.

Police affidavits said police went to Manchester Street Sunday at 11:47 a.m. to assist a woman who told authorities Adam Bentley, 28, of the same address, had assaulted her by strangling her and tossing her to the floor.

While she was on the phone with police, she said she looked up to the top of the stairs and saw he had a black handgun pointed at her. She hid in the kitchen until police arrived.

When police arrived, they saw Bentley moving away from the house. The responding officer said he was moving quickly and was talking on the phone. Affidavits said he dropped a 4-inch hunting knife when he saw the officer.

In court, Laconia Prosecutor Jim Sawyer said the victim told police her son may have been considering "suicide by cop." Sawyer was seeking $20,000 cash bail.

Police affidavits said they found a .380 handgun in Bentley's bedroom. The gun had two bullets in the magazine and one in the chamber.

Public Defender Justin Littlefield said there may be some element of self-defense involved, and his client denies the incident unfolded the way police said it did. He noted that Bentley dropped the knife immediately upon seeing a police officer, giving no credence to the "suicide by cop" statements.

Littlefield said $20,000 was punitive and Bentley has no criminal record.

Judge Jim Carroll ordered that he be held on cash bail but that if he gets a bed in a secure residential treatment facility, the cash bail can be reverted to personal recognizance.

12-foot-strip of land between commercial & residential zones at issue in Laconia

LACONIA — A proposal by Steve and Kara Olson, owners of Laconia Refrigeration on Walker Street, to ease congestion in the neighborhood just north of the High School by designating a loading zone for tractor trailers around the corner on Butler Street met with opposition from nearby property owners when it was presented to the Zoning Board of Adjustment earlier this month.

Laconia Refrigeration operates at 11 Walker Street, the the commercial district, while Butler Street marks the boundary between the commercial and residential single family districts. The zoning ordinance stipulates that "no loading space or bay in a nonresidential district shall be located within 50 feet of a residential district boundary or within 50 feet of the lot line of an abutting residential use within a residential district." Consequently, the Olsons required a variance to place a loading zone on Butler Street.

There is a 12-foot-wide strip of unpaved land on the the west side of Butler Street, which borders a side of the property at 11 Walker Street, then a row of shrubs screening the parking lot of Laconia Regrigeration. Steve Olson told the ZBA that the tractor trailers could unload on the dirt strip without the fork lift truck encroaching on the pavement, then proceed south on Butler Street and reach Union Avenue by way of Lyman Street.

Suzanne Perley of the ZBA asked who owned the unpaved strip and Olson volunteered that he thought it was city property. Matt Lahey, a resident of Cottonwood Avenue, claimed that strip was part of the 50-foot municipal right-of-way and owned by city. He asked the ZBA not to proceed further because the Olsons were seeking to use property they did not own.

Lahey emphasized that the overriding issue is that two businesses — Laconia Regrigeration and Lake City Auto Body — which both generate significant vehicle traffic, were operating on a small lot. The coming, going and parking of large trucks, cars and fork lift trucks created congestion and posed risks. He said the situation would not be improved by allowing tractor trailers to idle on city property in front of a residence. He urged the board to deny the variance.

Lahey was echoed was echoed by several residents, including a grandmother who feared for the safety of her grandchildren who ride their bicycles in the neighborhood. Etta Wheeler of 4 Butler Street said her home would directly across the street from the proposed loading zone. She expressed concern for the value of her property as well as for the safety of children, the impact of noise and the increased traffic on a residential street.

Steve Bogert, who chairs the ZBA, said before proceeding the board should determine the ownership of the unpaved strip of land on Butler Street. If the Olsons own the land, they could could apply for a variance, but if the land belongs to the city, it could not be used as a loading zone. At the same time, Olson was asked to explore alternatives means of loading and unloading large trucks, including using the firm's parking lot where he feared losing required parking spaces to provide sufficient turning space. He remarked fixing one problem could cause other problems.