DOT holding meeting tonight about red list bridge on Waukewan Rd.

NEW HAMPTON — The New Hampshire Department of Transportation (DOT) will host a public meeting informational meeting tonight at the New Hampton Public Safety Building at 26 Intervale Drive to discuss the reconstruction of the bridge crossing the mouth of the Snake River on Waukewan Road. The doors will open at 6:30 p.m. and the presentation will begin at 7:p.m.

The bridge, which was built in 1928 is a concrete slab with stone abutments 13 feet long and 21 feet wide. It has been on the DOT's red list since 2010 and is inspected twice each year. The project is scheduled to be undertaken in 2021 at an estimated cost of $1 million. The new bridge remains to be designed and engineered, but is expected to carry two lanes, each 11 feet wide with 4-foot shoulders.

Apart from informing the general public and municipal officials about the project, the meeting is intended to solicit opinion to ensure that the project serves transportation needs, meets community goals, and protects and enhances the natural environment.


Former Sgt. at sheriff's office charged with raping female prisoner during transport

LACONIA — E. Justin Blanchette, 36, a former sergeant with the Belknap County Sheriff's Department, has been indicted by a Hillsborough County grand jury on a charge of aggravated felonious sexual assault.
Blanchette is accused of sexually assaulting a female inmate while transporting her from the Belknap County House of Correction to the N.H. State Prison for Women in Goffstown on July 2 of this year.
The indictment says that Blanchette drove the 31-year-old woman to an abandoned home in Bedford where he is alleged to have penetrated her sexually. "At that time he was in a position of authority over 'B.H.' and used that authority to coerce 'B.H.' to submit," the indictment reads.
Blanchette resigned from his position with the Sheriff's Department in August after having been placed on paid administrative leave on July 20. At the time of his resignation Sheriff Craig Wiggin said that there was an investigation, but it was a personnel matter and he wasn't going to comment further.
Blanchette joined the Sheriff's Department in October of 2011 and was a police officer in Laconia prior to joining the county force. Blanchette had received a meritorious service award in 2008 while an officer in Laconia and had served as treasurer of the Belknap County Sheriff's Relief Association until his resignation.
A Raymond High School graduate Blanchette served in the U.S. Marine Corps before joining the Laconia police force.
The complaint from the Bedford Police Department says that Blanchette's last known address was 210 Woodridge Road, Franklin.
If convicted, he faces 10-20 years in prison.

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McCoole challenging Luther for Ward 2 seat on Laconia School Board

LACONIA — The contest for the seat on the School Board in Ward 2 presents voters with a clear choice between the incumbent Barbara Luther and challenger James McCoole.

Luther was appointed to the School Board in 2014 to complete the term of Beth Arsenault, who has represented Ward 2 for many years. A native of Massachusetts, Luther began her professional career as an administrator in a local law firm then prior to her retirement a year ago spent 30 years at Belknap County Registry of Deeds, the last seven as Registrar.

"I think I see the school district in a different light," Luther said, "as a mother and grandmother." All three of her children attended Laconia schools and she has grandchildren currently enrolled in the system, one at Pleasant Street Elementary School and another at Laconia High School.

Luther said she has always been concerned to ensure that children receive the best education the community can provide them. "An education that gets them ready for life as well as for college," she said.

After just a year on the board, Luther acknowledged she has more to learn, but said that she is looking forward to selecting a new superintendent and preparing the 2017 school budget. The superintendent, she suggested, should be someone with vision, who "looks forward." As for the budget, she said "I think that the school district does the best job possible with the budget the City Council gives it." In particular, she said that she is eager to provide all high school students with laptop computers.

Luther said that she has put up some signs, but not knock on door or made phone calls. "My name has been around town for a while," she remarked.

McCoole is a relative newcomer, who came to the Taylor Community from Florida after working first at IBM and Blue Cross/Blue then becoming self-employed as a truck driver. He is the father of two public school teachers, who describes himself as "conservative in thought, in ideology and in politics."

McCoole said that he is "concerned about the culture," particularly about what is being taught in the public schools about what he called "morality issues. There have got to be some issues," he continued "that are taking the culture in the wrong direction." For example, he said he was troubled by the way the Gilford school board treated a parent who objected to a book "with pornographic language" being assigned to his daughter. As a member of the school board, McCoole said he would be "only one of a group of concerned citizens, but I am willing and able to speak when I see things that should not be done."

McCoole also said he was interested in budgetary issues. Noting that the cost of public education is rising, he asked "why is it costing more to educate an elementary school pupil than a student at a technical college?"

If elected, McCoole said "I will be as active as the things that are going on demand of me. I will not be intimidated."

The election will be held on Tuesday, November 2 when the polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.