Car set on fire in Belmont appears to be case of domestic violence

BELMONT — A car was set on fire in Belmont last Tuesday, and police have talked to a man they think is involved in the arson.
The 2000 Toyota Corollas was reported on fire at 9:34 a.m. at 38 Concord St. in Belmont. A resident on the street alerted the fire department, which was able to put out the fire quickly. According to a press released from the fire department, the cause of the fire was a container with flammable liquid.
The Toyota sustained paint damage and interior smoke damage.
The police report that witnesses saw a passing driver throw a lit gasoline-filled container out of a moving vehicle. After an alert, a Tilton officer located the suspect's vehicle at a home in Tilton, where there was fresh burn damage to an interior door panel.
Belmont investigators met with the 26-year-old male suspect in Tilton, according to the press release, and were able to connect him to the Belmont arson. His clothing also showed signed of recently have been exposed to fire.
Belmont officers then visited a local gas station, where surveillance video showed the suspect filling a container with gasoline before the arson. Belmont police said at this point they are certain this was an isolated incident and appears to be a domestic violence case. An arrest is expected soon.

— Ginger Kozlowski

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State Rep. Bob Luther, 72, dies


LACONIA — Robert "Bob" Luther, a longtime city councilor and serving state representative who passed away at the age of 72 in his home on Saturday, once remarked, "You can swing the the pointer to liberal or conservative, but when it comes to me just stop in the middle where it says Laconia."
Born in Hartford, Connecticut, and raised in Rockland, Massachusetts, Luther spent the last 44 years of his life in the city, 36 of them as a public servant and elected official. After a tour of duty in the United States Navy and a stint as a mechanic with United Parcel Service, in 1973 he came to Laconia where he fulfilled what he called "my childhood dream" by joining the Police Department.
Six years later, he traded his shield in Laconia for one in Gilford, serving another eight years before leaving law enforcement to become a security supervisor at Lakes Region General Hospital, where he worked until retiring in 2009.
"Ninety percent of my experiences in police work were funny," Luther recalled. But, he was brought to tears when he was called to photograph a 4-year4old girl who was beaten to death by her babysitter. "When I took them to be developed," he said, "I told them not to look." But when he collected the prints "They were crying, and the next morning I sat outside the station and cried. The only time in 16 years of police work I ever cried."
Humor and humanity marked Luther's political career. He served seven consecutive terms on the City Council, representing Ward 2 from 1996 to 2009, when he moved to another ward and resigned his seat.
Mark Fraser, who as a councilor and mayor served with Luther for six terms, remembered him for championing the playgrounds throughout the city.
"It was his pet project," Fraser said, explaining that at Luther's initiative $25,000 was budgeted each year for 10 years to improve the playgrounds. At the same time, Luther sought to trim electricity charges by lopping 2 percent from the annual budget.
Jim Cowan, a contemporary on the City Council, remembered Luther as "not a person of a lot of words who was not in the headlines, but was very important on school votes," indicating that he was often an ally of the School Board. But, during a debate over the school district budget in 2009 Luther remarked "I'm not sure they have a sharp pencil, but I'll lend them one."
Luther could be a hard councilor to pin down. In 2005 , when the council was wrestling with proposals to build new schools on Parade Road and add a tax cap to the city charter he found himself on both sides of both issues. First he supported then opposed a referendum on the issue of schools then cast the deciding ballot to place the tax cap on the ballot. Speaking later at a candidate's forum he said not only that he was personally opposed to the measure but also was lobbying his wife to vote against it.
A man of few words, Luther often spouted them with wit. Fraser recalled recognizing an employee of the Department of Public Works for his 35 years of service at the annual Christmas luncheon and later honoring the same man as the employee of the year. "This is your second date," Luther called from the crowd. "You can give him a kiss now."
When the state of New Hampshire fell behind on the rent for the Laconia District Courthouse, Luther suggesting serving an eviction notice. "I've got a Saturday free to help them move," he added.
Despite his reticence and penchant for one-liners, whenever the council was faced with an ordinance or resolution, which was required to be read aloud in its entirety, Luther readily accepted the task.
In 2009, after leaving the council, Luther announced for mayor, only to find Mike Seymour, the popular chairman of the school board, follow close on his heels.
"My only problem is that now I'm going to have to buy signs," said Luther, who took little more than a third of the vote.
Undaunted, a year later Luther ran for the New Hampshire House of Representatives and was easily elected, joining the Republican majority that held nearly 300 of the 400 seats. He was re-elected in 2012 and 2014.

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World sled dog champion Keith Bryar loses life to cancer

Keith Bryar races with his dogs in the 2011 World Championship Sled Dog races in Laconia. (File photo/Karen Bobotas for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Keith Bryar races with his dogs in the 2011 World Championship Sled Dog races in Laconia. (File photo/Karen Bobotas for The Laconia Daily Sun)



MOULTONBOROUGH — Two-time Laconia World Championship Sled Dog derby musher Keith Bryar II, who died Saturday at the age of 57 after a five-year battle with cancer, is remembered by his long-time friend and fellow musher Jim Lyman as a caring person who had a deep love of the sport and always treated his fellow mushers with respect.
"He was a great competitor who always wanted to win, but he enjoyed it so much that even when things weren't going his way he could smile about it. He told me once that he knew his team wasn't good enough to win but that he was going to have a good time anyway," said Lyman, who is president of the Lakes Region Sled Dog Club and for the last 25 years has spent time with Bryar training sled dogs.
Lyman said that the club will definitely honor Bryar by naming next year's race in his honor. There was no sled dog derby this year due to poor snow conditions.
Lyman said that in some years he spent as many as 40 hours a week with Bryar training dogs and recalled one instance in Danbury several years ago when he was riding a snowmobile along the trail and went off the trail and got his snowmobile stuck in a snowbank.
"He stopped his team and came back to help get me out of the snowbank," he said. "There was no place for him to anchor his snow brake, so he said that he was just glad that his dogs were well enough behaved to wait until he got back to the sled before they started to run again."
He said Bryar was a favorite in Canada, where he frequently raced and won the Canadian championship in 2005, and forged close ties with Canadian fans and racers.
Bryar won his first Laconia championship in 2002 and again in 2011, and came from a family deeply involved in sled dog racing. His father, Keith Bryar Sr., drove to wins in 1960, '61 and '62, and his stepfather, Dick Moulton, won in 1968, 1971, 1973, 1975 and 1976.His mother, Jean, who once took a team to the top of Mt. Washington, ran the legendary Norvik Kennels in Center Harbor and won the North American Woman's Championship in Fairbanks, Alaska, in 1962.
In a 2013 interview with The Laconia Daily Sun, Bryar said he was proud of his being able to adapt to changes in sled dog racing.
"'The old timers like Dick Moulton used to laugh at me when I told them that my team would some day average 20 miles an hour. They said it was impossible. But we did it two years ago and I'll always be really proud of that," he said.
That 20 mph pace Bryar refers to came on the first day of the 2011 race, when his team set a scorching pace by finishing the 15.5-mile course in 46.5 minutes, a pace which was unthinkable for the sled dog teams that his father and his stepfather Dick Moulton won races with. The dogs on those teams were primarily Siberian huskies for his dad and Alaskan huskies for Moulton.
But sled dog teams in the sprint races changed forever in the 1990s with the advent of the so-called Eurohound, a cross between an Alaskan husky and German shorthaired pointer, which Swedish musher Egil Ellis brought with him to North America and soon came to dominate all of the major races.
''They're dogs with a lighter coat and tremendous stamina. And they're easier to manage,'' Bryar said at that time, adding that that he had bred his dogs to retain an Alaskan husky look but with attention to their behavioral characteristics.
Lyman recalled that Bryar's favorite dog was "Goofy," who was one of the hardest-working dogs around, and spent years after his racing career as a training dog who helped young dogs learn how to race.

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