Hunt continues in Meredith for suspect in shooting of Belmont woman


BELMONT — Police believe the man who allegedly shot a 33-year-old Massachusetts woman in the head on Tuesday afternoon on Arlene Drive may still be in the area. State and local police continued to search for suspect Jason Cuocolo, 42, of Belmont, and spent much of the day on Thursday scouring the woods and other possible hiding spots in an area off Route 3 near the Laconia border.

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As a State Police helicopter circled overhead, several three-man teams of troopers plus a K-9 traipsed the forested terrain surrounding the Vacation Escape Motel, formerly known as The Great Escape, at 34 Daniel Webster Highway.
Using the parking lots at Ready Equipment rental the site of the since razed Jade Island restaurant as a staging area, police also searched
wooded areas between several residential neighborhoods and used the dog to comb the Town Line Cottages, which remains closed and sports a for sale sign. Teams searched sections of Needle Eye Road, and behind Pirates Cove miniature golf. They also spent time on Tracy Way off Parade Road.
Vacation Escape Motel manager Nancy Brown told police Cuocolo asked her for a room Tuesday night, according to The Concord Monitor.
Lt. Scott Gilbert of the State Police Major Crimes Unit said Thursday that Cuocolo appears to have ditched the car he allegedly stole at gunpoint from someone else at the Belmont home in Meredith but there haven’t been any other vehicles reported stolen from the area.
“If he was going to leave the area, he would have likely used the vehicle he stole,” Gilbert said.
He said Cuocolo does not have a car registered in his name.
Belmont and State Police responded Tuesday afternoon at 1 p.m. to a report of a woman who had been shot in the head at 24 Arlene Drive. On Wednesday, police surrounded Vacation Escape after getting information that Cuocolo may be staying there. One unidentified man who had outstanding warrants for an unrelated crime was taken away by police in handcuffs due to the search.
Gilbert said Thursday that police have learned the victim and Cuocolo knew each other, likely from an association they had in Massachusetts. He said Cuocolo had been living in New Hampshire and she lived in Massachusetts.

“No doubt they were at least acquaintances over the past several months,” he said.
Gilbert said the victim, who has not been identified, remains in critical but stable condition at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon. He said she has been able to communicate with police and is expected to survive her injuries.
A search of Laconia Family Court records found that Coucolo has no history of domestic violence.
Police ask that anyone with information call them, and note that the public should consider Cuocolo armed and dangerous.



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I-L students get a glimpse of advanced manufacturing

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Luke Gregory of Aavid Thermalloy in Laconia demonstrates the heat transfer properties of a copper tube to 13 Advanced Placement calculus and computer science students from Inter-Lakes High School, who visited the plant yesterday for Manufacturing Week. (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)


LACONIA — "This is really not what I expected," said Matthew Dufffield, one of a baker's dozen of students from Inter-Lakes High School who visited the headquarters of Aavid Thermalloy, LLC on Wednesday during Manfacturing Week. Duffield said that the openness, orderliness and cleanliness of the facility came as a surprise.

During Manufacturing Week 70 firms across the state — nearly a dozen in the Lakes Region — open their doors to students to introduce them to the opportunities of pursuing careers in manufacturing and engineering , where both the demand and rewards for employees are high. The first step, reflected by Duffield's reaction, is to dispel the image of manufacturing as repetitive, rote work requiring limited knowledge and skill and undertaken in unpleasant settings.

The students, all but one members of the advanced placement calculus and computer science classes taught by Jennifer Thomas, split their morning between Aavid Thermalloy and its neighbor in the O'Shea Industrial Park, New Hampshire Ball Bearing. Founded in Laconia in 1964, Aavid Thermalloy designs and manufactures thermal management products of metals, which are applied in a wide variety of setting where heat is generated, including telecommunications networks, data centers and consumer electronics as well as a variety of industries.

At Aavid all seemed intrigued by their introduction to advanced manufacturing. They regularly questioned their hosts, Dave Lacroix, production control manager, and Norm Laramie, manufacturing manager, and were especially intrigued by Luke Gregory, a design engineer who fashions and tests products to meet the particular, often challenging, specifications of customers, among them dispelling the heat generated by stadium lighting.

"I appreciate opportunities like this," said Joshua Schmalie, who stayed behind to question Gregory after he demonstrated the properties of a simple copper rod that transferred heat from a beaker of water. The son of computer programmer, Schmalie said he enjoyed both engineering and computer science and intended to apprentice with his father before enrolling in college, where he would choose between the two. He said while he would not expect to work on the shop floor, he would enjoy designing and engineering products.

For Tyler Reid the visit was something of a revelation as he was not aware of the high-tech advanced manufacturing enterprises serving global markets in the region. Fascinated by flying, he wants to become an aeronautical engineer, but to spend time in the air before turning to design, particularly the secrets of flight itself.

The one student not enrolled in the advanced placement classes, sophomore Noah Bell Fontaine, was perhaps the most enthusiastic of all. Noting that his grandfather worked at New Hampshire Ball Bearing, he said "I like to work with metal. Anything to do with metal." He said he worked in the shop at school, but enjoyed coming to Aavid Thermalloy "to get an idea of what I would like to do."

There were two young women in the class, both of whom intended to study engineering Catherine Robert said that while her preference is electrical engineering, she found the visit an opportunity see firsthand how theoretical knowledge is transformed into practical applications. Brianna Knauss, the daughter of a machinist who operates what she called his own "one man shop," was no stranger to the shop floor and also expects to become an engineer.

Last year, nearly two-thirds of the 1,600 students visiting manufacturing facilities during the week reported they were "only somewhat informed, if at all" of advanced manufacturing. Following their visits, 61 percent said they would be more likely to consider in the manufacturing sector.

Thomas said that her students are an especially accomplished group, most of whom have begun to plot their future after graduation. She said that Manufacturing Week has presented them with an opportunity to get a close look at where they could find themselves in the years to come.

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Dave Lacroix, production control manager at Aavid Thermalloy in Laconia, displays a component machined to a fine tolerance in their shop to students from Inter-Lakes High School. (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)

Mayor makes case for commercial development at The Weirs


LACONIA — Mayor Ed Engler this week answered critics of the City Council's proposal to rezone The Weirs in order to redress the imbalance between residential and commercial property in the city.

Engler has said that a major goal of the plan, which would restrict residential development within a corridor running alongside US Route 3, is to encourage commercial development.

The mayor has explained that the value of commercial property and buildings accounts for just 15.8 percent of the city's total assessed property valuation. Only in Berlin at 12.1 percent and Franklin at 13.4 percent is commercial property a smaller portion of the property tax base. Residential property represents 82.6 percent of the total assessed valuation, the largest share among the 13 cities in the state. City Manager Scott Myers has suggested that a healthy balance would be nearer 35 percent commercial and 65 percent residential.

At the same time, with 20.1 square miles of land, Laconia is among the smallest cities in the state and land suited to commercial development is scarce. The Planning Department has identified 32 large lots served by municipal utilities that are either vacant or underdeveloped. Altogether, these lots represent 465 acres, of which 28 lots covering 446 acres, or 96 percent of the total acreage, are in the Commercial Resort District, most of them along the proposed corridor.

Warren Hutchins, chairman of the Planning Board, questions the need to encourage commercial development when there are vacant or underused commercial properties across the city. Some said that Laconia should not be compared with other cities but instead with neighboring towns. Others dismissed the issue, saying the same property tax rate applies to all property, commercial and residential alike.

When the City Council met this week, Engler countered these statements by offering a simple hypothetical example. Assume two municipalities, each with 5,000 residents, where the average home price is $300,000 and the residential tax base is $1.5 billion.

In one municipality, "A," the mayor said, the value of commercial property amounts to $78,947,358, or 5 percent of the total tax base of $1,578.947. The town raises $35 million in property taxes with a tax rate of $22.17.

By contrast, in municipality "B" the value of commercial property amounted $807,692,308, or 35 percent of the total tax base of $2,307,692,308. Since "B" has more property than "A," it has greater expenses and raises $40,000,000 in taxes, but its larger tax base, its tax rate is $17.33.

Homeowners in "A" pay $6,651 in annual property taxes while their counterparts in "B" pay $5,199, a difference of $1,452.

Engler said that the higher property taxes in communities with relatively little commercial property increases the cost of housing, which diminishes their appeal to home buyers. The population of the city, he noted, has not grown significantly in 60 years. While the mayor allowed that some communities accept high home prices and property taxes to preserve their traditional character, he said does not believe this course would be in the best interests of the city.