Nominations sought for 2014 Debra Bieniarz Award

LACONIA — Each year the City Council recognizes a resident for his or her efforts on behalf of the young people of the city with the Debra Bieniarz Award.

This annual award honors the legacy of the late Officer Debra Bieniarz, who served the city and its youth with uncommon devotion, dedication and distinction during her nine years with the Laconia Police Department before her premature death.

Chosen from among a field of nominees exemplifies, the recipient of this award is the person who best exemplifies the generous contribution and unselfish commitment to Laconia's youth made by Officer Bieniarz. .

To find that special person for 2014, the City Council is asking residents to nominate the person they believe is most deserving. Please send or deliver your nomination by November 14th to the City Manager's Office, 45 Beacon St. East, Laconia, NH 03246, or e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

911 call leads to Laconia drug overdose recovery

LACONIA — Police on Friday were investigating the possible crimes of destruction of evidence and possession of narcotics at a North Main Street apartment. A drug overdose victim had been successfully attended to at the same location at 3:45 p.m. on Thursday.

Police say there were three other people at the 1156 North Main Street address when they arrived in response to a medical call but all refused to cooperate or offer assistance in the investigation. 

A search warrant was then obtained for the apartment.

Captaiin Bill Clary said police continue to encourage people to not hesitate to call 911 in response to similar situations. "Without this call, things would have turned our differently, most likely a death," he said.

Anyone who has information on this case is encouraged to call 524-5252 or the Laconia Crime Line at 527-1717. Tips may be also be made anonymously on the Laconia Police website (


Stolen tools & copper recovered; Laconia man charged

BELMONT — A Laconia man has been arrested and charged with burglary and the theft of power tools and cooper. Heath O'Connell, 30, of Weirs Blvd. was later released on his own recognizance bail and is scheduled to be arraigned on a pair of felony charges in 4th Circuit Court - Laconia Division on December 18.

Police report that on October 1 they received a report of the theft from a contractor's work site on Plummer Hill Road. $1,600 worth of commercial saws and blades and $2,500 worth of copper was missing.

Using a property tracking system known as "leadsonline", officers learned the saws had been pawned at a shop in Manchester. The dealer had submitted the serial numbers of the saws to the registry and the online database also identified O'Connell as the person who pawned the items.

The saws were positively identified by the contractors as the ones stolen in Belmont and they were recovered from the shop inventory.

The stolen copper was tracked to a Manchester metal business and that businesses records identified O'Connell as the seller.

O'Connel was arrested on November 6.

Commenting on the case, Lt. Richard W. Mann said, "Time and time again we have seen that it is invaluable to have both photographs of your tools, as well as a record of the model, color and serial numbers. Have key information readily available increases the odds that missing property can then be positively identified and recovered.


With new acccounting angle, Belknap Commission back to using part of health insurance refund as a credit

LACONIA — The Belknap County Commission this week reversed its earlier decision and will apply a portion of the credit it received from HealthTrust, the municipal and county insurance risk pool, against the cost of health insurance premiums for county employees.

County Administrator Debra Shackett said yesterday that using the credit will enable the county to pay its share of health insurance premiums without exceeding the amount appropriated by the Belknap County Convention for 2014

In March, when the convention adopted the county budget, it froze the appropriation for health insurance at 2013 levels. Shortly afterwards the commission shuffled monies from other line items within departmental budgets to restore sufficient funding to meet the projected increase in the employer premiums, which collective bargaining agreements with employees oblige the county to pay. The convention challenged the commission's authority to transfer funds without its approval and was upheld by Belknap County Superior Court.

The commissioners considered applying the reimbursement for past overpayments from HealthTrust as a credit against its 2014 premiums, which would have enabled them to fund health insurance within the limit of what the convention appropriated without violating the contracts or laying off employees. However, when the the independent auditors declined to sanction the maneuver, the commissioners abandoned this approach and instead asked the executive committee of the convention to transfer funds to the health insurance accounts.

Circumstances changed this week. Shackett explained that Peter Bragdon, executive director of HealthTrust, informed her that the credit of $127,893 was to compensate the county, its employees and its retirees for excessive premium payments in both 2013 and 2014. Shackett sought advice from the auditor, who said that the credit related to premiums paid in 2013 must be booked as an unanticipated revenue in 2014 and could not be set against current expenditures. On the other hand, the credit related to premiums paid in 2014, whether taken as a credit or cash, must be recorded as a reduction of current expenditures.

Shackett calculated that $46,217 represented unanticipated revenue, $5,863 was owed to employees and $15,669 was owed to retirees, leaving the county with $60,143 to apply against expenditures for health insurance in 2014.

Meanwhile, Shackett explained that changes in the "census," or number and status of full-time employees entitled to benefits, during the course of the year has left some departments with surpluses and others with deficits in their health insurance accounts. She said that transferring funds from the accounts in surplus, together with the credit, will enable the county to honor its obligation to fund health insurance for its employees without either exceeding the amount appropriated by the convention or violating the order of the court.

The commission will present its plan, along with requests for transfers, to the executive committee when it meets on November 17.