Special LPD project to focus on reducing accidents involving autos, pedestrians & cyclists

LACONIA — A special police task force is working on lowering the number of accidents that occur between automobiles and pedestrians and bicyclists.

Led by Sgt. Dennis Ashley, a certified police bicycle instructor, the Problem Oriented Project is focusing on educating the bicycling and motoring public about the rules of the road and some common sense actions.

An outline of the project was presented at Thursday's meeting of the Police Commission.

This year, there have been 11 accidents involving pedestrians and automobiles. One of those was a fatal accident on South Main Street that is still under investigation.

In addition, there have been four accidents involving bicyclist and automobiles. One of those, said Ashley, resulted in serious injuries to the bicyclist.

Ashley said that a bicyclist has to obey the same rules as motor vehicle traffic and shall keep to the right unless it is not safe or is making a left turn.

Bicylists must wear reflective articles at night and the bicycle must be equipped with lights and reflectors.

He said bicycles fare best when they are operated like an automobile.

As to pedestrians and automobiles, Ashley said pedestrians should walk on the side of the road facing oncoming traffic.

It is state law that motorists must stop for pedestrians in crosswalks and if a motorist is at making a right turn at a stop light with a pedestrian crossing, the motorists must not make the turn if the walk light is on — whether or not there are any pedestrians.

Over the course of the summer, statistics indicate police issued two summon for right-on-red violations, 14 written warnings, and numerous verbal warnings.

Alternatively, pedestrians crossing where there is no crosswalk must yield to automobiles.

In other Police Commission action, members unanimously approved the promotion of Det. Christopher Noyes to sergeant.

AutoServ founder Paul Gaudet Sr. named Irwin award winner

MEREDITH — Paul Gaudet Sr., founder of AutoServ, which employs over 180 people at its auto dealerships in Laconia and Belmont, was presented with the James R. Irwin Award at last night's third annual Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce Community Hero Awards held last night at the Winnipesaukee Playhouse in Meredith.

Gaudet said that he was ''humbled'' to have been included among the four nominees for the award, which has been presented by the chamber ever since 1964 for community leadership, a pioneering attitude and spirit of progress in the community.
He spoke glowingly of the other nominees, Rusty McLear of Meredith, founder of the Mill Falls resort complex; Debbie Frawley Drake, former owner of Lakes Region Linen and who is involved in a myriad of community organizations and Sandy Cleary, owner of CruCon Cruise Outlet in Moultonborough which employs over 100 people and recently built a 30,000 square foot headquarters building.
"Rusty has had such an impact on the area and Debbie is just so involved in everything and Sandy has created a thriving business. I really am humbled to have won this award,'' said Gaudet, who went on to thank his children. ''I think they had a lot to do with this. They kept telling me, 'Dad, you've got to show up,' '' said Gaudet.
He has been a major supporter of the Boys and Girls Club of the Lakes Region, the Rotary Club and the United Way in which his employees play a large role in the organization's annual Day of Caring and have formed a close, year-round system of support for the Salvation Army's Carey House in Laconia.
Warren Bailey, chairman of the board of directors of the chamber who along with Karmen Gifford, chamber executive director, introduced the nominees said that Gaudet was noted for ''doing good things when no one is looking'' and had passed that trait on to his children, who are involved in the family business and also active in the community..
Bill Quigley, marketing director at Gunstock Recreation Area in Gilford, was presented with the J. Bart Conners Award, which was first presented by the chamber in 1981 and recognizes an individual for outstanding dedication to the mission of the chamber.
Quigley said that he and his family moved to the area 10 years ago and found that they had moved into ''a wonderful community. I thank you for allowing us to get involved.''
Other nominees for the Conners Award were Penny Raby, treasurer and chair of the chamber's financial committee, Christine Harris, a former chairman of the chamber's board of directors and Donna Keeley who is community outreach director for Public Service of New Hampshire.
A new award presented this year, the Public Service Award for leadership and charity in public service, went to Laura Brusseau, a social studies teacher at Inter-Lakes High School in Meredith and the founder of the Faith, Hope and Love Foundation, which has helped over 700 girls get free prom dresses and raised over $40,000 for children in need in New Hampshire. Other nominees included Laconia Police Chief Chris Adams, Gilford firefighter Dominic DeCarli and Franklin Mayor Ken Merrifield.
The Hurst Award, for excellence in community leadership in the Greater Franklin area, went to Lynne and Bill Burns for their work at Trestle View Park in Franklin. Other nominees were Fred Caruso, head of the Cash 'n Cans holiday food drive at Mix 94.1 FM, Jeff and Beverly Brewer for their work on behalf of the Franklin Animal Shelter and Michael Mullavey for his work on behalf on many Franklin organizations.
The Young Professional Award went to Beth San Soucie, who helped create the non-profit Fusion which brings together young professionals in the Lakes Region and is the managing director of the Belknap Mill. Other nominees were Kyril Mitchell, assistant vice president and office manager of the Bank of New Hampshire's Gilford branch and community volunteer, Calise Houle, owner of Happy Cow Ice Cream on Union Avenue in Laconia and Chris Walkley, assistant vice president for commercial banking at the Bank of New Hampshire and active with the Community Land Trust and the New Hampshire Humane Society.
Another new award, the Student Leader Award, was given to Meredith Fay Ellis, a 13-year-old Gilford student who created ''Buttons of Hope'' which help raise funds for local charities. Other nominees included Samantha Mackes, a 2014 graduate of Belmont High School and is active with the Boys and Girls Club of the Lakes Region; Joshua Allen, a 2014 graduate of Laconia High School who interned with the Laconia Muskrats this past summer and Olivia Conley, a freshman at Laconia High School where she is active in sports and volunteers Saturdays at the St. Vincent DePaul Society.

County Commission agrees to play by the rules

LACONIA — The Belknap County Commission voted unanimously yesterday to inform county employees that they must pay the balance of the employer's share of the annual increase in their health insurance premium until the close of the fiscal year on December 31. At the same time, the commissioners agreed to ask the executive committee of the Belknap County Convention to approve the transfer of $93,667 to spare the cost to the employees and honor the terms of the collective bargaining agreement with the union representing them.

The Belknap County Convention withheld funding for the increased employer's contribution from the budget. When the commission transferred funds within the budget to restore the funding, the convention went to Belknap County Superior Court where Justice James D, O'Neill, III issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting the commission from either spending in excess of any line-item appropriation of the budget adopted by the convention or transferring more than $300 from one line item to another without the approval of the executive committee.

Yesterday the commissioners rejected the suggestion of County Administrator Debra Shackett to apply a credit of some $159,000 from HealthTrust against the premiums, which by discounting the cost of premiums would have enabled the county to pay the employer's contribution. Shackett told the commissioners the county's auditors informed her that they could not agree that applying the credit against premiums rather than booking it as revenue would be proper accounting procedure. However, the auditors agreed that if the credit were applied the amount of the credit would not have a material impact on either the county's financial statement or audit report.

Commissioner Ed Philpot of Laconia said that the credit could not be applied against the premiums without the approval of the court. Without a modification of the court order, the approval of the convention to transfer funds or lay off employees, there was no alternative but to inform the employees that they must pay the remaining balance of the premium. Philpot noted that O'Neill has already declined to reconsider his order "We cannot lay people off and the convention will not agree to transfers," he said.

When Commissioner John Thomas, the chairman, reminded his colleagues that they would breach the collective bargaining agreement, Philpot countered "we're not under a court order to honor the contract. We're under a court order not to transfer funds." He said that it was time for the consequences of the convention's attempt to run the day-to-day operations of the county to "come home to roost."

Shackett said that the impact on individual employees has yet to be calculated, but emphasized that if employees must bear the cost, every effort will be made to distribute it equitably among them. Ironically, she said that while some line-items for health insurance are short of funds others are in surplus and the county could end the year spending less for premium contributions than the convention budgeted.

Shackett, who prepared a request to transfer sufficient funds to pay the premiums, recommended approaching the executive committee, which is scheduled to meet on October 27. She explained that because of significant turnover there are sufficient funds in the budget to pay the employer's contribution, but the funds are not in the appropriate lines.

"The executive committee is hell bent to destroy the benefits of our employees," said Thomas, who noted that Reps. Frank Tilton (R-Laconia) and Herb Vadney (R-Meredith) both draw pensions and benefits funded by taxpayers.

Philpot ventured that based on what the convention budgeted and how it has advocated for its budget, the executive committee would not approve the transfers. "We're at the end of what we can do," he said.

Nevertheless, the commission unanimously approved the transfers Shackett recommended and agreed to present them to the executive committee.


Tilton man faces host of charges in multiple towns

LACONIA — A Tilton man who was wanted on a variety of charges stemming from the theft and burning of a Volvo last month appeared in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division.

Corey Cromwell, 26, of 18 Pine Street also faces charges of criminal mischief for damages he allegedly caused on September 28 to St. Andre Bessette property while fleeing from police.

He is additionally charged with disobeying an officer and receiving stolen property - a silver Volvo C 70 valued at $30,000.

According to police affidavits, Cromwell was arrested by Tilton Police Tuesday night after police detained one of his friends for shoplifting at WalMart.

Tilton Police said Cromwell was not involved in the shoplifting but was wanted by Laconia Police on outstanding warrants for the September 28 incident.

During his arrest, police said they found one Adderall pill and a plastic bag with what police believe was heroin residue. He faces two counts of drug possession.

Police also learned Cromwell was on bail for having a false inspection sticker and transporting alcohol in an open container from Sanbornton as well as being on bail from Belmont for possession of drugs.

Detective Sergeant Chris Jacques said yesterday that Gilford Police are planning on indicting Cromwell for one count of arson for allegedly burning the Volvo in the woods after fleeing from Laconia Police.

Judge Jim Carroll ordered him held on a total of $4,000 cash bail.