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Including treatment of substance abuse issues in health insurance called a key at Shaheen-led meeting in Franklin

FRANKLIN — Accompanied by Michael Botticelli, acting director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, United States Senator Jeanne Shaheen hosted the third in a series of roundtable discussions aimed at addressing the rapidly rising incidence of drug abuse in New Hampshire at Franklin Regional Hospital yesterday.

Appropriately enough, the event was held in the room where the Franklin Mayor's Drug Task meets. Mayor Ken Merrifield welcomed the more than two dozen participants, including law enforcement officials, treatment providers, educators and civic leaders, by recalling what he called "my flashbulb moment," when a single mother of 27 with whom he was close "died of a heroin overdose in this hospital" shortly before his inauguration. Soon afterwards the task force was formed and the city was awarded a Drug Free Community (DFC) grant.

"This is the thing that will make me most proud," Merrifield said.

Remarking on the increase in drug abuse, Shaheen, who served three terms as governor from 1996 to 2002, noted "when I was governor this wasn't happening, but we've seen communities across our state struggle to address growing substance abuse problems." In particular, she called attention to the "epidemic" of heroin use, which Sergeant Christopher Scott, commander of the intelligence unit of the state police, described as "immense."

According to data issued by the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services in February, the number deaths associated with heroin alone reported by hospitals jumped more than threefold between 2010 and 2013. There were 14 deaths in 2010, 41 in 2011, 38 in 2012 and 45 last year. During the same period the number of those suffering from effects of heroin who visited emergency rooms climbed from 14 in 2010 to 104.

Deirdre Boulter, an analyst with the State Police, said that from 2004 to 2013 the number of admissions to state-funded treatment programs for heroin addiction has risen from 804 to 1,540, with the steepest increase occurring in the last two years when the numbers climbed more than 70 percent.

Tym Rourke, who oversees substance abuse programs at the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, pointed out that before the rise in heroin use the abuse of prescription medications commanded the attention of law enforcement officials and substance abuse counselors. He explained that a number of steps were taken to stanch the flow of prescription medications to the street, which by decreasing their supply and increasing their price fostered the market for a more plentiful and less expensive alternative — heroin.

Boulter pointed out that prescription medications were the original drug of choice for four-fifths of heroin users in recent years.

When Shaheen remarked that the incidence of substance abuse in New Hampshire exceeds the national average, Rourke was quick to point out that only one state has less capacity to treat addiction. While the decision to expand Medicaid will provide some 7,000 people with a substance abuse benefit, he said that the resources are not available to treat them. "There is real pressure to expand capacity," he said.

Botticelli said that while he does not anticipate federal funding for controlling and treating substance abuse to increase, the expansion of health insurance with the substance abuse benefit will defray a share of the cost of treatment, enable more of the federal block grant to be applied to prevention, education and enforcement.

Emphasizing the significance of the federal funds, Rourke told Botticelli "we'd be lost with it."

Shaheen said that nothing less than a "multi-faceted" program, consisting of enforcement, education, prevention and treatment and, like the Franklin Mayor's Drug Task Force, engaging a broad cross-section of the community, required to curb the heroin epidemic.

CAPTION: Franklin Mayor Ken Merrifield (center) and State Senator Andrew Hosmer (left) welcomed Michael Botticelli (right), Acting Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, to Franklin yesterday, where U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen held a roundtable on combatting substance abuse. (Laconia Daily Sun Photo/Michael Kitch)

Last Updated on Saturday, 17 May 2014 12:07

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Future careers in chemical engineering, forensics, accounting & other fields in sight for LHS's Top 10

LACONIA — They are a diverse group with different goals and different skills, but all of Laconia High School's top 10 academic students in the Class of 2014 share some common traits and attitudes.
They are goal-oriented, have strong work ethics and also a sense of independence, born of a self confidence that they have developed through the successes they have already experienced in their high school years.
Valedictorian Danielle Cote says that she ''never lost sight of my goals'' and that her parents, Tammy and Derek, helped her develop a work ethic and sense of independence which have enabled her to achieve those goals. She will attend Worcester Polytechnic where she plans to major in Chemical Engineering.
Brittany Pond, salutatorian, says that she has received a lot of support from her parents and the school and that has been accompanied by her own passion for learning. She will be attending Holy Cross College where she will pursue a double major in psychology and either English or forensics.
She says her favorite high school class was AP Psychology and that she's intrigued by forensics and wants to get some hands-on experience in that field.
Marissa Conrad has a plan to some day own her own salon and day spa. She'll be attending Empire Beauty School and will be able to work as a beautician while she attends Lakes Region Community College before transferring to Plymouth State College, where she will work towards a bachelor's degree in business.
''My passion is hair, skin and nails and being able to own and run my own business,'' says Conrad.
John Hammond says that he's enjoyed his time at LHS, where he's done a lot of work with computers, has been in high school plays and also played the trumpet. He'll be attending the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and says that he's highly motivated by the goals he is pursuing.
He's not sure whether he'll make the Coast Guard a career but says he's committed to spending the next five years of his life serving his country.
Nicole Bogert will be attending business school at the University of New Hampshire, where she will major in accounting. She says that, aside from her parents, it was a business teacher who taught her in her junior year who had the most influence on her choice of a future career.
And she says that her experience has shown her ''that to succeed you really have to want what you're pursuing.''
Makayla Minor will be pursuing a career in geophysics and will be attending the College of Science and Physical Science at the University of New Hampshire where she hopes to earn a master's degree in five years. She's known ever since she took an eighth grade Earth Science class what she wanted to do. ''I really liked nature and animals,'' says Minor, who rides horses and says she learned independence from her father, who raised her by himself.
She says it doesn't hurt that geophysics offers a pathway to some of the highest paying jobs on the current job market.
Kylee Powers says that she has two part-time jobs and isn't sure what her career goal will be but plans on attending Lakes Region Community College where she will pursue general studies with a goal of transferring to a four-year school. ''I like hands-on learning but I've learned both from the classroom and outside of it.''
She says that she likes the idea of attending college close to home which will save her money as well as provide her time to make decisions about her future career.
Amila Hadzic, whose parents came to the United States from Bosnia in 2001, also likes the idea of staying close to home. She'll be commuting to Plymouth State University, where she'll major in accounting.
She said that a big motivational factor for her has been watching her parents struggle to overcome language barriers and adjust to life in a new country and how hard they have had to work in order to achieve their goals.
Garrett Guilmett will be attending Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston where he will be majoring in Mechanical Engineering. He says that his interest in technology started as a freshman in high school when he took a course at the Huot Technical Center which got him interested in engineering. Interestingly enough, eight of the 10 top-ranked students this year also took classes at the Huot Center.
Guilmett said that his parents have always stressed hard work and community involvement to both he and his older brother and that when he works as a karate instructor he tries to serve as a role model for the young children he is working with.
Rebecca Dragon, who will be studying business at Northeastern College in Boston says that she found out part way through high school that some of the students she was friendly with were not that focused on education and decided that she would have to work to maintain her own focus on her goals. She's already written a book about what happened in high school and says that her real interest in creative writing.'''I want to get a business degree so I can support myself. But what I want most to do is to write and that's my long-term goal,'' says Dragon.

A dinner for the top 10 students and their parents will be held Thursday, May 22 from 6- 8 p.m. in the Meredith Village Savings Bank Dining Room in the Huot Technical Center. Each of the students will also be accompanied by a favorite teacher.


CAPTION – top10lhs

The top 10 academic students in Laconia High School's Class of 2014 include, front row; John Hammond, Nicole Bogert, Amila Hadzic, Marissa Conrad, Kylee Powers; back row, Danielle Cote, Brittany Pond, Rebecca Dragon, Garrett Guilmett and Mikayla Minor. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Last Updated on Saturday, 17 May 2014 01:05

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Sanbornton voters side with BudCom in argument over raises for employees

SANBORNTON — After considerable discussion and some confusion, voters at annual town meeting Wednesday night passed a fiscal year 2014-2015 budget of #3,825,697

The amount reflects the Budget Committee's recommended operating budget of $3,817,075 plus $8,622 added by voters for the Sanborton Public Library.

The final operating budget was $58,410 less that the selectmen's recommended budget and doesn't include a 2 1/2 percent across the board raise for employees, an increase in the fire chief's salary, and $10,000 for an administrative assistant to the Public Works Department.

Speaking for the Budget Committee, Roger Grey said that its members felt that over the past 10 years the town had given adequate raises to its employees, that it hadn't implemented any pay cuts, nor had anyone been laid off.

He noted that last year all employees got 2 1/2 percent pay increases and this year the committee opted to hold the line and make an attempt to reduce or at least keep level the amount the town spends.

"All were trying to do is change the momentum of tax and spend," Gray said.

For the selectmen's part, Karen Ober made a blanket motion to restore the cuts to their budget made by the Budget Committee. It was seconded by outgoing selectman Guy Giunta.

She said town counsel had told the board it was easier to understand and cleaner than amending each line reduced by the Budget Committee.

Selectman Dave Nickerson said that while Ober and Giunta were giving the body the impression that the selectmen were unanimous about the blanket floor amendment, he was not in favor of it and would vote against it.

After a show of hands the amendment failed by 31 votes — with 62 voters supporting it and 93 of them voting against it.

The only other attempt to amend the budget was made by Andy Sanborn, who spoke in favor of adding the $10,000 for a part-time administrator to the DPW however his attempt to amend the budget failed on a voice vote.

Newly elected Town Clerk Tax Collector Marla Davis said she supported having her salary at the selectmen recommendation of $45,000 annually instead of the $40,000 that was former Town Clerk-Tax Collector Jane Goss's recommendation.

Goss said she made that recommendation because she wasn't part of the state retirement system nor did she take town insurance but she presumed (correctly) that her successor (Davis) would.

Davis never made her dissatisfaction with her salary into a motion so no action was taken.

In other business, the body voted overwhelmingly to return annual town meeting and town elections to March. For about five years, Sanbornton voters have voted for in May for town elections and in March for the Winnisquam Regional School Board elections.

Recently, said advocates of the petitioned warrant article, fewer and fewer Sanbornton residents have been voting at the March school district meetings and some feel the town — already the smallest of the three contributing communities — was not making its voice heard on the school front, where voting is done in March.

Town Administrator Bob Veloski said Sanbornton will continue to budget for a fiscal year running from July 1 to June 30.

Last Updated on Friday, 16 May 2014 12:56

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Adam Batstone named LPD Officer of the Year

LACONIA — Police Commissioners named Patrol Officer Adam Batstone as their officer of the year yesterday in their annual meeting set aside for recognizing outstanding employees.

Batstone joined the Police Department in 2008 after getting a degree from Plymouth State University in Criminal Justice. In that time he has become a field training officer, a Taser instructor, and an active shooter instructor.

Batstone is a member of the department's Motorcycle Division — a job in which Police Chief Chris Adams says he takes great pride — and is also the fleet maintenance officer who keeps track of all the vehicles operated by the department.

"Officer Batstone is an outstanding officer who upholds the mission and core values of this agency," said Adams.

The Honorable Service Award went to Lt. Alfred Lessard who runs the training department and keeps the department up-to-date on policies consistent with an accredited police department.

Lessard also volunteers with Stand Up Laconia and was one of the early promoters of the annual Chem Free night that keeps many local prom goers from attending private parties after prom where they could be exposed to alcohol and/or drugs.

The Distinguished Unit Action Award went to the Capt. William Clary, Det. Sgt. Thomas Swett, Det. Kevin Butler, Det. Chris R.A. Noyes, Det. Jeff Wholley, Det, Daniel Carsen, Det, Peter C.A. Horan and Master Patrol Officer Steve Orton for putting together a drug bust that netted one of what Adams said was a major drug dealer in Laconia.

Roger Perkins, 21, who has addresses in both Laconia and Methuen, Mass. was arrested on Gale Avenue in March. During the raid, police said they seized two ounces of cocaine, two guns, a car, some cash, as well as a significant amount of other drugs and paraphernalia.

Detective Chris R.A. Noyes earned two meritorious service awards — one for his continued work in narcotics within the department and one shared with Det. Kevin Butler for their work in investigations and interrogations. Butler is the department's certified polygraph operator and Adams said he has been able to help arrest and convict an number of guilty people as well as exonerate those who are innocent.

Master Patrol Office John Howe also earned a meritorious service award from maintaining all of the department's radar equipment by keeping them calibrated according to fleet standards.

School Resource and Master Patrol Officer Steven Orton was given a letter of commendation for helping police solve the burglary and vandalizing of the Boys and Girls Club in December of 2013.

Orton was able to get information from one of his students that led to the arrest of the three juveniles who were responsible for the damage to the Boys and Girl Club as well as four other unsolved crimes.

Commissioners also recognized Laconia High School students Carly DeNauw and and Savanah Bastis for their work in organizing and raising money for this year's Chem Free party. The Laconia Police Department donated $1,000 to Chem Free to help promote the event.

After tonight's prom, Deauw said about 60 students will go to Funspot and then the movies at the Gilford Cinema. After the movies they will be taken by bus to the High School where they're parents will take them home.

The Commission also recognized a number of employees for time in service. Those with 15 years or more of time are Administrative Assistant Deborah Simkins and Administrative Assistant Tammy Ouellette with 35 years of service; Evidence Technician Michael Moyer with 30 years; Sgt. Gary Hubbard with 25 years; Chief Christopher Adams with 20 years; Commission Chair Warren Clement, Det. Sgt. Thomas Swett, Sgt. Michael Finogle, Det. Jeff Wholley, Master Patrol Officer Steven Orton, Officer Donald W. Kimtis Jr. and Dispatcher Marnell Delorenzo with 15 years each.

Last Updated on Friday, 16 May 2014 12:47

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