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Judge denies alleged Governor's Island marijuana grower's request to depose his landlord

LACONIA — A Belknap County Superior Court judge denied an accused pot grower's request to depose his former landlord about what she may have seen at his Governor's Island rental home and what and when she told the New Hampshire State Police about it.

Judge James O'Neill ruled Thursday that Corey LaPlante, 28, acting through his attorney Mark Sisti, had failed to meet his burden for compelling property owner Jennifer Truman to be deposed.

"Upon review, the court find a deposition of Ms. Truman is inappropriate because the defendant has failed to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that her deposition is necessary," he wrote.

He noted that during the motion hearings that the N.H. Assistant Attorney General James Vara has already provided Sisti with all discovery related to Truman, including her contact information and that he had made no effort to contact her.

Sisti asserts that Truman may have been acting as an agent of the police when she walked through LaPlante's home and reported what she saw to the police. His argument is that if she had previously been on the property without notifying LaPlante, then her second visit is tantamount to a warrant-less search of his client's home.

O'Neill agreed with Vara who said that any information Sisti seeks is available through other investigatory methods and a deposition is not warranted.

Truman lives in another state and Vara pointed out during the hearing that a court ordered deposition could be time consuming and expensive.

LaPlante is charged with two counts of manufacturing a controlled drug, two counts of possession of a controlled drug with intent to distribute it, and one count of possession of a controlled drug.

After raiding the home in October of 2013, members of the N.H. Drug Task Force found what they described as a "significant" marijuana growing operation, marijuana, hashish, six weapons and $33,000 in cash.

LaPlante is free on bail.

Last Updated on Saturday, 03 May 2014 01:23

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Natural Science Center in Holderness has raised $3.5 million; Water Matters Pavilion is on the way

HOLDERNESS — Today is New Hampshire Day at the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center and more than 1,000 visitors are expected, according to Iain MacLeod, executive director, who on Friday led a media tour of the center to showcase the changes that will greet visitors.
One of the new buildings at the center, built with lumber harvested from the 232-acre property, is a wood energy plant with a state-of-the-art boilers, each holding 2,700 gallons of water, which will produce enough heat for all of the center's buildings from 27 cords of wood which will be harvested just down Rte. 113 a mile away.
''It's going to reduce our energy footprint and significantly cut down on fossil fuel use,'' said MacLeod, who said that the current heating system, which uses oil and propane for six different furnaces, will remain in use only as backup.
MacLeod said the $480,000 wood energy plant, which went on line in early February, is part of a $4 million Nature Matters Capital Campaign, which will add another new building, a $1,250,000 Water Matters Pavilion, and replace two outdated structures, a stockade and winter bird headquarters, at a cost of $200,000, as well as provide $1,450,00 in reserve funds.
Work has started on the Water Matters Pavilion, which will feature live turtles and mink, as well as native warm water and cold water fish species, aquariums and an outdoor play area, the Adventure Playscape, which will cost $250,000. Both the pavilion and play area are scheduled for completion in 2016.
The Nature Matters campaign has already raised over $3.5 million and the board of trustees of the Science Center voted in January of this year to raise the goal to $4 million.
Visitors today will see live native New Hampshire animals including red fox, gray fox, skunk, bobcat, mountain lion, white-tailed deer, river otter, black bear, owls, hawks, and eagles in natural enclosures along the three-quarter mile live animal exhibit trail. Plus visitors will see two new exhibits: the wood energy exhibit and a live coyote exhibit which was added this winter.
There will be three special Up Close to Animals presentations: 11 a.m. (beaver), 1 p.m. (peregrine falcon), and 3 p.m.(porcupine) with discussion led by experienced naturalist educators.
The animal exhibit trail is open from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with the last trail admission at 3:30 p.m. on New Hampshire Day.
During summer months one of the more popular attractions on the exhibit trail is live mountain lion training on Thursdays at noon during July and August. Mountain Lion training and feeding shows off the tasks the mountain lions have learned that enable keepers to ensure the health and safety of the animals while providing an interesting sight for visitors.
The mountain lions, orphaned brother and sister, came to the Science Center from Montana in 2003 and were raised and hand fed by naturalists at the center.

One of the two mountain lions at the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center walks around the enclosed exhibit area. The mountain lions have been at the center since 2003 and will be seen by hundreds of visitors at New Hampshire Day today. (Roger Amsden/ for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Last Updated on Saturday, 03 May 2014 01:18

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Winter that wouldn't leave claims another victim: traditional 'Mount' shakedown cruise

LACONIA — For the first time since the mid-80s, the M/S Mount Washington cruise ship will not be holding its traditional "shakedown cruise". It's another casualty of the long and cold winter that held New Hampshire in its grip from December through mid-April.
''We had to make a decision on sending out invitations and weren't sure that the ice would be out by the first week in May.'' said Mount Washington Cruise Lines Fleet Captain Leo O'Connell, who said that another factor in the decision to not hold a pre-season cruise this year was the impact of the cold weather on routine maintenance operations.
O'Connell said the decision to cancel was made with the thought that it would be very difficult to have guests scheduled to attend and then have to cancel at the last minute. Ice-out was declared on Wednesday, April 23 this year after some observers had predicted that it would take until early May before the Big Lake was ice-free.
O'Connell said that in addition to the annual maintenance operations over the winter, the main deck bow area of the ship was redone and the lower galley area was completely renovated.
The cruise, which has served as an official state inspection voyage, has for years has given state and local officials, members of New Hampshire's tourism industry, and the media the opportunity to climb aboard and observe the ship as she moves through her annual operating maneuvers on Lake Winnipesaukee.
''We've been doing it for the tourism industry and the public ever since we lengthened the ship in the 1980s,'' said Jim Morash, captain and part owner of the Winnipesaukee Flagship Corporation.
Both O'Connell and Morash said that the vessel has already been inspected this year by the Marine Patrol Division of the Department of Safety as well as the State Fire Marshal's Office and has passed.
Friday it made its first trip out its winter home in Center Harbor to its summer home at the Weirs Beach docks.
The M/S Mount Washington's official season runs from late May to late October. Daily cruises depart from Weirs Beach and service the ports of Meredith, Wolfeboro, Center Harbor and Alton Bay. With a capacity of 1,250 passengers, the Mount Washington serves as the largest restaurant in the state and a popular gathering point for school proms, college reunions, large corporate celebrations and weddings.
In addition to operating the 230-foot long 'Mount,' the parent corporation also owns and operates the 74-foot U.S. Mail Boat Sophie C., and 68-foot Doris E.

Last Updated on Monday, 27 April 2015 07:59

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New law aimed at preventing dealers from using next winter's money to buy this winter's oil

LACONIA — Curtis Stafford of Stafford Oil Company, Inc. applauded the Legislature for tightening the regulation of pre-buy contracts for the purchase of heating fuels. "I think it's going to protect the consumer and have a positive impact on the industry," he said yesterday.

This week House Bill 1282 carried the New Hampshire Senate by a voice vote after the House of Representatives passed it by a convincing majority of 226 to 98 in March. Although the bill will be referred to the Senate Finance Committee in accord with Senate Rules, this week's vote is unlikely to be reversed.

The legislation addresses an issue that has dogged the Legislature for the past five years. In that time, according the Attorney General's Office, three independent heating oil firms have failed, leaving customers $650,000 out-of-pocket. This past winter was marked by the struggles of Fred Fuller Oil & Propane Co., among the largest home heating oil dealers in the state, to make timely deliveries to its prepaid customers, which prompted the Attorney General's Office to intervene.

Stafford said that perhaps the most important provision would forbid dealers from advertising or soliciting prepaid contracts earlier than May 1 or later than October 31. He explained that the current law, by allowing such contracts to be closed after January 1 — before the next year's heating fuel season begins on May 1 — enables dealers to apply funds for future purchases to current operations. By changing the date, Stafford explained, the bill intends to ensure that the proceeds from prepaid contracts fund future purchases at the contracted price and not finance operations during the remainder of the current season. He said that in effect the bill would manage dealers' cash flow.

Current law requires that within seven days of entering into prepaid contracts dealers must commit to a futures contract or other arrangement that guarantees the purchase of fuel representing 75-percent of the maximum number of gallons their prepaid contracts bind them to deliver. Alternatively dealers may post a surety bond payable to the Attorney General equal to at least 50-percent of the amount paid by customers for prepaid contracts or a letter of credit, also payable to the Attorney General, representing 100 percent of the dealer's cost of the fuel required to fulfill prepaid contracts. The bill would add a fourth option by allowing dealers to acquire an inventory of fuel amounting to 75 percent of the volume their prepaid contracts require them to deliver.

The bill would further require dealers to register their intent to offer prepaid contracts with the New Hampshire Secretary of State by May 1 each year as well as file annual reports with the agency by December 1. The annual report must demonstrate how the dealer has complied with the statute, including how prepaid contracts are secured.

Finally, the bill adds both making false statements and failing to deliver contracted fuel violations of the Consumer Protection Act.

"The bill gives the law a lot more teeth," said Stafford, a director of the Oil Heat Council of New Hampshire, which assisted lawmakers in drafting the bill.

Last Updated on Saturday, 03 May 2014 01:05

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