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3 Winnipesaukee coves closed to rafting

MEREDITH — The New Hampshire Department of Safety (DOS) has prohibited "rafting" at Round, Fish and Flag coves on Lake Winnipesaukee in response to a petition presented by neighboring property owners.

In 1983 the Legislature authorized the DOS to define and regulate rafting and since 1947 property owners have been entitled to petition the department to impose operating restrictions on water bodies within or bordering municipalities. The practice of "rafting-up" involves getting two or more craft, often many, to anchor very close together for the purpose of socializing.

Cheri Pierce, whose family has owned property on Flag Cove since 1945, submitted a petition in August and the DOS held a public hearing in September, at which eight residents spoke in favor and none against forbidding rafting in the three coves. Moreover, another 13 residents submitted letters supporting the petition.

The petitioners claimed that rafting posed a safety hazard in and around the narrow, shallow inlets where the most of the water is less than six feet deep and nowhere exceeds 12 feet in depth while much of the navigable area in between 150 feet and 200 feet wide. Moreover, the shallow, warm waters and fertile sediment provide ideal conditions for milfoil, the growth and spread of which is fostered by the repeated dropping and hauling of anchors of rafting boats. The coves also provide nesting sites for loons as well as habitat for other species of wildlife. Finally. residents complained that rafting is often presents a nuisance, primarily the disposal of trash in the lake.

Unless the decision of the DOS is appealed within 30 days, the agency will draft rules to implement the ban.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 November 2013 01:37

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2nd company advises Belmont Fire's engine 2 is not worth refurbishing

BELMONT — Fire Chief Dave Parenti said yesterday that he has gotten a second opinion regarding the condition of Engine 2 and has recommended to the town administrator that it not be refurbished.

Gary Wadland, a shop foreman for McDevitt Truck in Manchester, said, "I do not believe in my professional opinion it would be in your best interest to invest in refurbishing this unit."

McDevitt's opinion is similar to the one Parenti received on November 4 from Repair Service of New England (RSNE) that evaluated the engine, air system, brake system and radiator.

"Professionally speaking, I would not recommend putting the time nor the money into this unit not knowing what other issues may arise," wrote RSNE owner Ricky Gagnon.

Parenti has discussed adding a warrant article to the 2014 warrant for a $200,000 refurbishment of the engine but had told selectmen he wanted to have the truck evaluated — especially for rusted frame rails.

The RSNE report was presented to selectmen two weeks ago, however no mention was made of the condition of the frame and Selectman Jon Pike asked for a second opinion.

Along with the same problems identified by RSNE with the engine, radiator, air system and brakes, McDevitt said the "major decline is the frame rail and body rust, of what we can see and can't see."

He went on to say that "there is no repair for frame rails having rust between them, only the replacement of the rails."

Parenti said yesterday that Engine 2 is the third engine to respond to a fire. It is a 1997 Pierce ES460. He said that if the department were to refurbish it, he would expect to use it for 10 more years — five as a second line truck and five as a third line truck.

Should the selectmen choose not to refurbish it, he would placing it on the town warrant for 2015 and having it in service by early 2016.

There are three engines in Belmont, said Parenti. Engine 1 is the first response vehicle and is two years old. He said it is scheduled for replacement in 2031. Engine 3 is the second truck to respond and is scheduled for replacement in 2020.

Parenti said Engine 1 is the primary attack engine while Engine 3 is primary used during a fire as a water source. Currently, Engine 2 works as a replacement for either of those two engines when they are out of service for repairs or for simultaneous calls.

Selectmen were scheduled to review the two recommendations at their meeting yesterday.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 November 2013 01:30

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Lawyers argue about admissibility of evidence on off day for Eric Grant trial

LACONIA — Attorneys representing the Belknap County prosecutor and Eric Grant, who is on trial for aggravated felonious sexual assault, met briefly in a motions hearing yesterday to argue whether or not a judge should allow evidence that the alleged victim was harming herself.

Grant is on trial for for allegedly digitally penetrating the girl, 10 at the time, at a 2006 New Year's Eve party at his house. The girl made her accusations during a therapy session in April of 2012, six years later. She and her immediate family live in California.

At the time of the alleged assault, Grant was married to the girl's mother's sister and they lived in Gilford. The girl and her family were visiting the area.

Asst. Belknap County Prosecutor Carley Ahern had asked the judge on Thursday to allow evidence of self-mutilation after the victim mentioned it while testifying on the first day of Grant's trial.

Ahern said yesterday she has no intention of using evidence of the girl's self-mutilation as evidence of rape. However, she does want to use to illustrate to the jury the girl's state of mind.

She said once the girl's mother knew she was no longer self-harming, the girl started smoking pot. Ahern said it's an attempt by the state to show the girl was "struggling."

Emily McLaughlin, who is defending Grant, has objected to admitting the self-harming for a number of reasons. She said yesterday that if Ahern is not eliciting the girl's self-harming as evidence then she has contradicted what she told the court in a hearing on Thursday.

"I thought long and hard about how to defend this case," McLaughlin said to Judge James O'Neill, arguing yesterday that self-harming testimony would entail the use of expert witnesses and she was assured before the trial that Ahern would not be presenting any expert testimony nor would she need to prepare for it.

She also filed a motion requesting O'Neill stops Belknap County Deputy Sheriff Judy Estes from presenting any expert testimony. Estes investigated the case of behalf of the sheriff's department and is scheduled to testify today.

Ahern said she didn't object and was only going to elicit testimony from Estes about her investigation of the case and not as an "expert," presumably of rape or any psychological aftermath of rape.

McLaughlin also requested that the most recent written motions and their written responses be sealed — meaning only the attorneys and the judge and his clerks have access to them.

Ahern said she has no objections so O'Neill granted McLaughlin's motion, although he noted most of the recent revelations have been made in open testimony.

O'Neill said he would issue his final ruling on whether or not the self-mutilation as well as two family pictures apparently showing the girl and Grant together on two separate vacations after the alleged rape can be admitted.

McLaughlin wanted the two pictures entered as evidence — meaning the jury would be able to see them. Ahern has objected because she said they are two moments in time and are not reflective of the overall feelings of the girl toward her uncle.

During testimony last week, the alleged victim, her mother and her step-father all testified that after the alleged assault on New Year's Eve of 2006 she didn't want to be around Grant.

He mother testified that she forced the girl to be nice when Grant and he and his family visited them in California the next year and that she made her go to Jamaica on a family trip in 2011.

No jurors were present for Thursday's argument nor were they present yesterday. Testimony is scheduled to resume at 10 a.m. this morning.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 November 2013 01:27

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Governor visits Forrester turf to push for Medicaid expansion

PLYMOUTH — Governor Maggie Hassan called on Republican members of the N.H. Senate to compromise on health care expansion when she and Democratic legislative leaders spoke at a press conference at the Whole Village Family Resources Center here on Monday morning. It was not coincidental that the location of the gathering was in the district of Republican Senator Jeanie Forrester of Meredith, chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee.
The House and Senate will vote this Thursday on whether to expand Medicaid to about 49,000 poor adults but committees in both chambers differ on how to implement the expansion. A proposal by the Republican Senate shifts the adults out of a state managed care program to private insurance through the federal insurance marketplace in 2015.
But Hassan and fellow Democrats say that isn't feasible as there is only one insurance company that's interested in providing insurance in the federal health exchange. "The bill lacks workable, achievable and realistic timelines and includes no measures to ensure competition and cost-effectiveness on the exchange," said Hassan
She and Speaker of the House Terie Norelli have offered a compromise path which would adopt the Senate proposal to shift the entire newly eligible population of individuals and families with incomes at 0 to 133 percent of the federal poverty level for income onto the New Hampshire's health insurance exchange with premium assistance, but on a three year timeline.
''The proposal allows for workable, responsible and effective implementation, including increased competition to ensure cost-effectiveness on the exchange'' said Hassan, who maintains that the Senate bill will not work.
She said that both plans will require federal waivers and would end the expansion if federal financial support fell below promised levels. The Senate would give the government one year to approve its use of the marketplace or the expansion would end.
The Senate plan would end automatically at the end of three years when federal funding begins dropping below 100 percent unless the Legislature reauthorizes the program. The federal government is scheduled to pick up 90 percent of the cost of Medicaid expansion after the first three years.
Hassan said that the stakes are high with $2.5 billion in federal funds hanging in the balance and said that failure to enact health care expansion by January 1 will cost the state $500,000 a day for every day that it is delayed.
She said that Republican Senate leadership has taken a ''my way or the highway'' approach over the deadline for implementation, which she said is unrealistic and can't be accomplished in a short time frame.
Hassan said that she was confident that there are members of the Senate (where the GOP holds a 13-11 edge) who still want to get health care expansion done and appealed to Forrester to work with her.
''I know how important preventing substance and alcohol abuse is to Senator Forrester. Just last month, New Futures of New Hampshire named Senator Forrester Legislator of the Year for her efforts to increase drug and alcohol prevention funding. I hope that Senator Forrester and her colleagues will put the hard-working people and families of our state first and negotiate constructively to finalize a New Hampshire plan that can be implemented successfully and responsibly.''
Also speaking at the press conference were Norelli, Senate Minority Leader Sylvia Larsen, and Michelle McEwen, president and CEO of Speare Memorial Hospital.


CAPTION: Hassan Medicaid in AA

Governor Maggie Hassan speaks at a press conference at the Whole Village Family Resources Center in Plymouth on Monday at which she urged Republican senators to compromise on a health care expansion plan whose fate will be decided by the legislature on Thursday. Senator Andrew Hosmer (D-Laconia) is at the left and House Seaker Terie Norelli, is second from right. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 November 2013 01:20

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