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Improvise is key word as downtown deals with Friday morning power outage

LACONIA — Downtown, along with the northernmost stretch of Union Avenue, lost power for much of the morning yesterday when a transformer at the sub-station on Messer Street caught fire around 9:50 a.m.

City Manager Scott Myers said that Public Service Company of New Hampshire counted 897 customers, most of them in the area bounded by Beacon Street East and Beacon Street West, were without power until it was restored around noon. Myers noted that because the outage arose from an isolated local problem, unlike a storm affecting a wider area, PSNH was able to address the situation and restore power relatively quickly.

At City Hall Mary Reynolds, the city clerk, and her staff placed a table outside the building where they conducted what business could be done without computers, including dump and beach stickers, requests for vital records and voter registration. "Unfortunately we couldn't register motor vehicles or issue marriage licenses. Other personnel escorted those with business at City Hall through the darkened building or fetched the paperwork they required. "Everybody thought on their feet and got the job done," Reynolds said.

Last Updated on Saturday, 12 July 2014 12:26

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Man involved in armed robbery in Tilton in 2010 may end up in prison after all

LACONIA — The Belknap County Attorney Office has asked a judge to impose a suspended sentence on a former Franklin man who was convicted of conspiracy to commit armed robbery in Tilton in 2010.

Joel Meads, 33, now of 23 Butler Ave. in Lowell, Mass. is facing a 3 1/2 to 8 year sentence in the N.H. State Prison for threatening an employee of Market Basket with a knife during a robbery that occurred in Tilton on January 15, 2010 at 10:25 p.m.

According to paperwork obtained from the Belknap County Superior Court, following a hearing to amend his sentence, held in 2013, Meads was released on parole on June 27, 2013 under the condition that he lived in a sober-living facility, pay restitution to the victim and completed a drug and alcohol evaluation.

Two years of his sentence was suspended pending his adherence to court's conditions.

Asst. County Attorney Adam Woods motion to impose the suspended sentence alleges that Meads failed to make any restitution payments, that he  tested positive for morphine while being supervised by a Massachusetts parole officer, and that he failed to successfully complete his residential program.

In addition, Meads was charged by Nashua Police on November 20, 2013 with one count of theft by unauthorized taking.

According to affidavits filed by police in Hillsborough County Circuit Court and subsequently in Belknap County Superior Court, Meads had taken a job with a company that cleans carpets.

On November 20, 2013 police responded to a Nashua home for a reported theft of jewelry. The owner of the home told police that he had stayed home from work so he could have his carpets cleaned but that he didn't maintain constant supervision of the employee.

He said the emploee, later identified by police as Meads, left his home at 2 p.m. About three hours later, the victim got a call from his assistant saying she had gotten a phone call from a Lowell pawn shop and that someone had tried to pawn a medical school graduation ring that had his name on it.

The pawn shop employee refused to pay for the ring and had refused to return it to the man who was trying to sell it. The pawn shop employee also kept the man's driver's license and told him he was notifying police. Police described him as an acquaintance of Meads.

The pawn shop employee researched the victim's name from the engraving and called his New Hampshire practice to see if the ring was legitimately being sold. After the victim was notified, the victim checked the bedroom and reported his ring and his wife's ruby and diamond bracelet and a string of pearls were also missing.

Nashua police tracked back the man's driving license and he told them that Meads had asked him to pawn the jewelry for him, telling him he would split the money.

The man told Nashua police he accompanied Meads to one pawnshop where they gave him $100 for the bracelet but refused to take the ring. Meads insisted his friend try the pawn shop across the street, the friend told police, and that it was at the second stop that the pawn shop employee confiscated his license and the ring.

The man told Nashua police that when he returned to the car without the ring, the money or his license, Meads allegedly told him to tell police he lost his license. The man also allegedly told police that Meads accused him of lying and refused to split the $100 bracelet money with him.

The victim had an appraisal for $3,650 for the bracelet. He told police his wife's pearl necklace was a gift from her grandmother and he didn't have a value for it.

Nashua police recovered the bracelet. Meads' friend told police he didn't know anything about the pearls.

After police traced the alleged theft back to Meads, they called him for an interview in December of 2013. They say he denied any involvement in the theft and became very nervous when he was asked about his friends. He left the police station.

On March 12, 2014, Nashua Police obtained a warrant for Meads's arrest.

Meads is scheduled to appear Wednesday at 9 a.m. in Belknap County Superior Court for a hearing on the motion to impose the original sentence. Parole Officer Serene Eastman also submitted notice that she would be notifying the N.H. Parole Board regarding his recent arrest.

Meads is being held in the N.H. State Prison according to the online inmate locator.

Last Updated on Saturday, 12 July 2014 12:09

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Local GOP activists with Tea Party leanings not amused by Havenstein

BELMONT — When Walt Havenstein of Alton, one of two Republican candidates for governor, addressed the Belknap County GOP Committee this week, Skip Murphy of Gilford, co-founder of the New Hampshire Tea Party Coalition, made clear he intended to draw blood, not dump tea.

A retired colonel in the Marine Corps who served as the chief executive officer of BAE Systems of Nashua, Havenstein has been branded the candidate of the "establishment" by the insurgent conservative wing of the party backing. In particular, his candidacy has drawn harsh criticism from the contributors to Granitegrok, the conservative online blog that Murphy co-founded.

After Havenstein finished speaking, Murphy, asked him to apologize for referring to "teabaggers" while speaking to students at the University of Maryland in November 2010. Havenstein's remark was captured on a video that aroused the ire of the Tea Party as well as those Murphy called the "9-12 groups, constitutionalists and libertarians," many of whom favor Andrew Hemingway of Bristol, his rival for the Republican gubernatorial nomination.

Wearing a yellow T-shirt emblazoned with the Gadsen Flag, Murphy, began by saying "I think you know what my question is going to be based on the shirt I am wearing." He explained that "teabagger" was "a very derogatory term" coined by Anderson Cooper of CNN that became "very popular" among opponents of the Tea Party.
Left unsaid was that "teabaggers" refers to aficionados of a specific technique of oral sex.

"Not only did you use that same term — teabagger," Murphy continued. "We also watched your body language and as you said that a rather large smirk came across your face." He reminded Havenstein that since the video appeared a number of those on the "conservative wing of the party" have sought an apology only to hear "a poor choice of words in a statement to the (Manchester) Union-Leader." He said that the campaign has ignored approaches from Granitegrok. Likewsise, he charged that Havenstein shunned requests for an apology at the annual picnic hosted by the Coalition of New Hampshire Taxpayers last week. Then Murphy asked Havenstein if he would apologize, not only to those in New Hampshire, but "those you have railed against across the country."

"No," Havenstein replied as he drew closer toward Murphy, "and I'll tell you why. I did not know the nature of that word when I used it. Frankly," he continued, "I was giving credit to the Tea Party in that talk for the extraordinary changes that were about to come as a result of the election the day before. For me to apologize," he concluded, "for something I had no contextual reference for is inappropriate and I can't do that."

Murphy countered that in light of Havenstein's position in the defense industry and political arena he found hard to believe that he would not understand the connotation of the term. Furthermore, he told Havenstein "you body language sucked in that video. The smirk that was on your face told lots of people you knew exactly why you were saying that."

Havenstein repeated that he was speaking about the Republican success in the election and the activists who made it possible and insisted that "to draw any conclusion other than what I've just said is inappropriate." Many in the room applauded his rejoinder.

"I don't believe you," said Kevin Leandro of Gilford, who added "there isn't a Tea Party. It is the conservative wing of this party. You're not getting my vote."

Meanwhile, Bill Baer of Gilford, best known protesting the assignment of a novel he deemed obscene to his ninth-grade daughter at Gilford High School, questioned Havenstein about his commitment to the Republican Party platform. Havenstein acknowledged that he is "a right-to-choose Republicans" and was not opposed to same-sex marriage, but otherwise subscribed to the remaining 16 principles of the platform.

Although something of sideshow, the exchange reflected the rift in the ranks of the GOP which overshadows the gubernatorial primary. Earlier this week the Granite State Poll, conducted by the Survey Center at the University of New Hampshire, found that both Havenstein and Hemingway "continue to be unknown to most New Hampshire residents." The poll of 669 randomly chosen adults, including 509 likely voters, found that 88-percent knew too little about Hemingway to offer an opinion and 86-percent responded the same to when questioned about Havenstein. Both GOP candidates trailed incumbent Democratic governor Maggie Hassan by margins approaching two-to-one.

Both candidates have eight weeks of summer remaining until the primary on September 9, a week after Labor Day, to build name recognition. Hemingway, who served as chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire and ran unsuccessfully to chair the Republican State Committee, has a committed following among the most conservative element of the GOP, which has a disproportionate impact in primary elections. Havenstein, on the other hand, finds his support at the center of the party and even among undeclared voters casting ballots in the Republican primary. This primary promises to test the strength of the establishment and insurgent factions of a divided GOP.

Last Updated on Friday, 11 July 2014 12:21

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Acccused purse snatcher in more trouble, this time over missing bicycle

LACONIA — A local man who was charged with purse snatching on Tuesday ran afoul of police again Wednesday when he was charged with receiving stolen property and breach of bail.

Joshua Fox, 33, of 918 North Main St. was allegedly in possession of a bicycle that didn't belong to him.

Police affidavits said they responded to 918 Main Street after someone reported a theft. The complaining witness said she had seen Fox riding a bicycle that she knew belonged to a different person.

When police spoke with the bicycle owner, he said he didn't give Fox permission to use it.

A short time later, the bicycle owner called police to tell them Fox had agreed to return it.

When questioned, Fox allegedly told police the owner's daughter had given him permission two weeks ago to use it and he had been leaving it in the woods. The owner said that wasn't true and that the bicycle had been in his basement just a few days before Fox was allegedly seen riding it.

Affidavits also said the Fox allegedly told the victim that he had been in trouble with the police earlier in the week and would not be sticking around for trial. He said he was going to live with his aunt in Florida.

On Tuesday, Fox allegedly tried to steal an elderly Lakeport woman's pocketbook but was chased down by one of her neighbors and apprehended by a police officer near the Circle K (Irvings).

Fox appeared yesterday in the Fourth Circuit Court, Laconia Division and was ordered held on $200 cash bail. As of 6 p.m. yesterday, Fox had not posted bail.

Last Updated on Friday, 11 July 2014 12:12

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