Which flag will fly over city of Laconia?

LACONIA — The committee convened to manage the competition to design a new city flag has extended its deadline for entries to Oct. 31.

City Councilor David Bownes (Ward 2) told the City Council this week that the committee had received a number of designs as well as signs that more will be forthcoming by extending the deadline. He said that once the competition is closed the committee will make "the first cut" by selecting "seven or eight designs" to present to the council, which will then select the winning entry.

Mayor Ed Engler explained that the council that it has yet to commit itself to abandoning the existing flag and choosing a new one and suggested that "none of the above" should be a choice in judging the designs. When Bownes reminded the council that it has offered a prize of $1,000 to the winner of the competition, which has aroused significant interest and participation, the mayor said that choice could fall between the winning design and the existing flag.

The council will consider how to conduct the competition when it meets on Monday, Nov. 1.

– Michael Kitch

Motorcycle Week Association withdraws bid for Weirs Beach parking concession


LACONIA — The scrap between the Weirs Action Committee and the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association over the parking concession at Endicott Rock Park during Motorcycle Week has been resolved, with the association withdrawing its request.

The Weirs Action Committee has operated the concession for the past 21 years, parking some 1,200 motorcycles each day and raising between $25,000 and $30,000 annually to fund its projects, both permanent and seasonal, to beautify The Weirs. This year, the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association, beset with financial challenges, also bid for the concession.

The friction between the two organizations arose from the decision of the Weirs Action Committee, which was a longtime member of the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association, to leave the organization when it increased the annual membership dues from $2,000 to $5,000. Irked that the Weirs Action Committee, whose members benefit from the economic activity generated by Motorcycle Week, shrank from contributing to address the financial plight of the association, the remaining members decided to bid for the parking concession.

Initially both organizations approached the Parks and Recreation Commission with requests to use city property, knowing that since the amount of money at stake exceeded $2,000 the final decision would rest with the City Council. After two contentious meetings, the commission recommended again awarding the concession to the Weirs Action Committee.

However, before the issue reached the City Council a settlement was reached. Mayor Ed Engler told the City Council this week that the Weirs Action Committee, now led by president Al Mitchell, would rejoin the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association and pay the $5,000 in dues and in return the association would withdraw its request to operate the parking concession.

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All charges dropped against man suspected in 2014 burglary


LACONIA — The state has dropped all charges against a local man who had been accused of being an accomplice to a burglary on Harvard Street in June of 2014 where one of the victims was either grazed by a bullet or hit with a gun.

In June of 2016, a Belknap County grand jury had indicted Joshua G. Pike, 30, of or formerly of 1156 N. Main St. in Laconia, for one count of being an career criminal who was in possession of a gun, one count of being an conspirator to burglary and one count of being an accomplice to a burglary in the night.

The state had contended that Pike was the "inside man" when he opened the door in the early morning hours of June 25 and allowed two masked men to enter the home at 54 Harvard St. Some illegal drugs were stolen, a gun was fired, and one victim was injured either by the bullet or by a blow to the head.

Earlier this year, the state also dropped charges against Tyler Twombly, formerly of Concord, who was charged with being one of the two masked men who committed the crime. After attempting a series of hearings where witnesses could either get immunity or not testify for fear of self-incrimination, none of the witnesses appeared. Twombly's attorney had said that Pike would have testified that it was not Twombly who entered the home; however, the state refused to give him immunity.

In Pike's case, his attorney successfully argued in a request to separate the career criminal charge from the other charges because there was no evidence that his client had control of a gun that night or at any other time, and that the charge of being a career criminal was just a way for the prosecution to let the jury know that Pike has previous convictions for burglary and accomplice to robbery.

The state argued that all three cases should be tried together because all of the witnesses were the same and the three crimes allegedly happened on the same night.

Belknap County Superior Court Judge James O'Neill said that if the jury heard the evidence "there is a significant risk that the jury would impermissibly use this information as evidence that the defendant is guilty in this case of (the other criminal charges.)" He granted to motion to sever the one case from the two burglary cases.

The state opted to drop all three cases against Pike.