Laconia Police use of force drops slightly (357)

LACONIA — City Police reported that the department's use of force statistics are down from last year and are on the low side of average for police departments in New Hampshire.

Capt. William Clary (Ret.) said overall the members of the department used force in 2 percent of its arrests, which is slightly down from last year.

He said of the 43 individuals who were arrested by force, two of them complained. He said one officer was found to not have obeyed department policy and a second officer required further training.

In its record keeping, the police department describes "use of force" as use of a firearm (0), use of a firearm on a animal (8), display of a firearm (18), baton strikes (0), use of a baton for control of a person (0), use of pepper spray (4), use of a closed fist during an arrest (3), use of an open hand during an arrest (46), deployment of a Taser (7), the display of a Taser (7), a knee strike (1), K-9 bites (2), and other types of force (9).

Of the 106 total uses of force, in nine of the 46 arrests where force was used, officers used more than one kind of force. Seven arrests had more than one officer using force.

Clary said Laconia's officers have received extra training and have been more effective using "verbal judo" than physical force to de-escalate many situations.

He said Laconia Police have always been in the 2 to 3 percent range for use of force where as other departments consider a 5 percent use of force during arrests as an acceptable standard. He said some departments in the state have been as high as 10 percent.

"For us, that is just too high," he said.

Clary also said that while all officers are trained on using a police baton, many are opting not to carry a night stick on their duty belts especially some of the smaller officers who don't have room on their belts. He said 2015 was the fourth year in a row that there have been no strikes with a baton.

He said the use of pepper spray has also declined and can be attributed to a slight increase in the use and displays of Tasers.

Derby on - Rotary Club says ice fishing derby will be held on schedule

MEREDITH — Members of the Meredith Rotary Club's Derby Committee remain confident that this year's Great Rotary Fishing Derby, scheduled for Feb. 13-14, will go as scheduled despite the current lack of ice cover on Lake Winnipesaukee, which has forced the New England Pond Hockey Classic to move its Feb. 5-7 event to Lake Waukewan.

"There is no plan to postpone the Derby. The Derby Committee meets weekly at this time of year because we are at the mercy of Mother Nature. The Derby has only been postponed once, in 2006, and it has never been canceled,'' said Donna Ulbricht, executive secretary of the club.
"Because we are headquartered on Meredith Bay, people think Lake Winnipesaukee is the only lake they can fish, but that is not correct. This is a statewide event, and fish can be entered from any public body of water," Ulbricht said.
She said committee members expect conditions to improve and ice to form faster once the strong winds the Lakes Region has experienced recently drop down.
"The runoff from Waukewan into Winnipesaukee has been slowed down," she said. "Waukewan is looking great. Lake Wicwas has bob houses on the ice, Lake Kanasatka, Ossipee, are looking good and Webster Lake is pretty solid. Alton Bay and Blackey's Cove look good. Alton has a bob house. Many coves on Squam Lake are also in good shape."
Ulbricht notes that with three weeks to go it appears that many coves and bays on Lake Winnipesaukee will be ready. "Center Harbor is quite protected and is in good shape. Both 19-Mile and 20-Mile Bay are expected to be in good shape for the Derby."
She maintains the club's Facebook page, which is updated many times a day, and said those seeking current information on ice conditions can find it there.

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Gilmanton petition would ban ‘stinky’ sludge used as fertilizer

Farmers worry they’ll be forced into using more expensive alternatives, farm neighbors want the smell eliminated

GILMANTON — A group of 36 local residents who are sick of the smell of bio-solids or "sludge" coming from neighboring farms, has filed a petitioned warrant article that, if it passes, would eliminate the use of bio-solids in Gilmanton.

According to Don Guarino, who lives across the street from The Haymaker Farm that got a permit to expand the area where they spread sludge from the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services in September, the smell was outrageous.

Neighbor Len Swanson, who also lives near the same farm said his concerns were for safely and health.

"There is mounting evidence that it's not safe," Swanson said. "We had a horrendous odor for three weeks."

When asked if he became ill, he said he hadn't but his outdoor activities were seriously curtailed by the smell.

Bio-solids or "sludge" is organic matter recycled from sewage, which includes human waste, and primarily used as fertilizer in land applications. According to Michael Rainey the supervisor of Residuals Management Section at the state Department of Environmental Services, bio-solids have been used by multiple farmers in Gilmanton for a number of years.

Rainey said the state regulations on bio-solid use is much more stringent than that of the federal government and outlines a process for testing and notifications. He added that the state does not require a permit for Class A sludge and a site-specific permit is required for Class B sludge. Rainey said notice to a newspaper and to the town is required before each annual application of any sludge and the DES checks those during their inspections.

During the Jan. 14 meeting of the Gilmanton Planning Board, minutes reflect a number of people speaking against allowing sludge at all in Gilmanton. Draft minutes indicate that 20 people spoke and five letters were submitted for the record. Of those 25 comments, seven supported the continued use of bio-solids and asked for the Planning Board not to support the warrant article and 18 said they supported the ban and requested the opposite.

Planning Board Chairman Wayne Ogni said Friday that the board voted unanimously not to support the petition because no scientific evidence was presented to support the outright ban but said the Planning Board is not through with discussing bio-solids at all.

"In fact, I think we're just beginning our conversation," Ogni said.

He said he was initially disappointed that residents didn't come to the board earlier for a discussion but instead simply petitioned for a ban. Having said that, Ogni wants to hold a meeting with residents and possibly discuss some zoning and planning regulations that may be able to mediate some of the offending situations. He gave examples of earlier notifications, set backs more stringent than are provided by the state, ingresses and egresses as example of things that the Town Planning Board should be discussing and examining. He said he thinks the town needs more scientific and economic information before it bans bio-solids.

Rainey said the DES provides for individual communities to develop their own rules and regulations including zoning ordinances as long as they are not more liberal that those set by the state.

Farmers are not happy about the possibility voters could ban sludge from use or limit them from expanding their current usage.

Farmer Tim Towle said he started using Class A bio-solids on his farm about eight years ago because he likes the slow release of nitrogen into the soil. He said bio-solids used to be free, but now so many farmers are using it he has to pay, but bio-solids are still cheaper than commercial fertilizer.

Ryan Smith of Hammer Down Farm, the former Twigg property, said he had about 17 acres of land that needed "some work, to say the least." He said the sludge he used stuck to the land and was far less likely to be washed away in a downpour. He said if he loses the ability to use sludge, it will decrease his bottom line and profitability. He said commercial fertilizer is expensive and cow manure is hard to find.

Daniel Sanborn said he used bio-solids on 90 acres of corn and 42 acres of hay fields last year. He said his soil is much improved and would not support banning bio-solids. He also wanted the Planning Board and people to know that he has been farming since 1998 and wouldn't do anything that could jeopardize the future of his soil quality.

Another man, who asked not to be identified, and who lives near several farms but doesn't farm said the smell can be pretty rough for a few days but he would not like to ban bio-solids from Gilmanton. He added he's not overly fond of the smell of manure either and said the difference was not significant.

However,  Guarino feels very strongly that bio-solids should be banned from Gilmanton altogether. Although he is the selectman's representative to the Planning Board, he ceded his seat temporarily to Michael Jean so he could speak on the matter with no conflicts.

"We've had enough of the odor, trucking and transportation," he said. Guarino said the DES doesn't check for pharmaceuticals and having the DES as the watch dog is like having the wolf guard the hen house."

He said one of his neighbors has allegedly been sick since that last time it was spread in his neighborhood. "It devalues my property because all I can smell is (explicative.)"

Voters will be able to discuss the matter once more at the deliberative session of Town Meeting on Jan. 30 at 10 a.m. at the High School. Because it is a petitioned warrant article, it cannot be changed by the Planning Board or at the session. Elections are on March 8.

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