Campton principal: School is safe

By ADAM DRAPCHO, LACONIA DAILY SUN

CAMPTON — The principal of Campton Elementary School has assured students and parents that the school environment is safe following an incident involving a student's use of social media on Sunday which prompted intervention by local police.

Principal Jim George declined to offer further comment on Tuesday, other than to say that he was satisfied with the way the situation was handled. 

On Monday, George distributed a message to parents in the school community: "There was a posting on SnapChat made on Sunday evening by one of our students that was inappropriate and was viewed by some students and found to be concerning. Steps were taken immediately this morning by administration and staff to reassure that all students and staff were very safe in our building. Campton Police Department was immediately contacted for assistance with the situation. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to call me. Please know that the safety of our students and staff is our number one priority and we continue to be vigilant."

George said that several parents had contacted him with concerns. Meanwhile, others were distributing their own reports of the incident, including one which alleged that a student had come to the school armed with a gun. Campton Police Chief Christopher Warn said no such thing had occurred.

  • Written by Adam Drapcho
  • Category: Local News
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Laconia prepares for the worst

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During an active-shooter exercise Saturday, two Laconia police officers check the parking lot at Woodland Heights Elementary School after “neutralizing” a second “shooter.” (Alan MacRae for The Laconia Daily Sun)

First responders carry out active-shooter exercise at Woodland Heights School

By ROGER AMSDEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — In a training scenario that played out Saturday, a man armed with a semi-automatic rifle and wearing a backpack entered Woodland Heights Elementary School during what participants pretended was its afternoon release period and "shot" into the office area, leaving a "dead body" and others "injured." He then moved into a classroom, yelling, “Barbara where are you?” and "shot" other people, telling students not to move.
When the first police officers arrived at the scene, the intruder started shooting into the ceiling and the officers moved immediately to the classroom area on the second floor, where they surrounded and took out the "shooter" in an exchange of play-acted gunfire.
A few minutes later a second "shooter," who had been hiding in a truck in the parking lot, got out of the truck and started "firing." He, too, was taken out by a second team of officers who had arrived.
Meanwhile, emergency medical personnel hurried into the building to treat the "wounded" as armed police escorted actors portraying students from the high school. Those playing wounded patients, who wore peach-colored shirts, were then transported to Lakes Region General Hospital.

Laconia Police Chief Matt Canfield said that his department's officers performed well in the active shooter training exercise.
“They had to react to an unfolding situation in real time and rely on their previous training in making their response. It was a very good training exercise and they reacted very appropriately. It had the same fast pace as a real-life situation and we learned a lot about what we did well and what we could have done better,” said Canfield.
Canfield said the active shooter full-scale training exercise was funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and was in the planning process for eight months.
“It's one of the worst-case scenarios that can be imagined, but we have to train for these situations so we can be prepared if it ever does (occur),” said Canfield, who said that achieving operational coordination between police, fire and emergency medical personnel was a major goal of the exercise.
In addition to the Laconia police, fire and school departments, participants included the hospital, Lakes Region Mutual Fire Aid Dispatch, safety officers from the University of New Hampshire and the New Hampshire Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department.
The entire process was observed by evaluators, who will compile a final report to be shared with all participants.
Canfield said that an even larger regional exercise is being planned for next year.

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A Laconia police officer checks on an injured “victim” in the lobby of the school. Those playing the injured wore peach-colored shirts in the exercise.  (Alan MacRae for The Laconia Daily Sun)

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A team of Laconia police officers make their way into Woodland Heights Elementary School, where they played out a scene that included a dead body and two people shooting at the school. Laconia Police Chief Matt Canfield said the officers performed well, and they learned a lot about how to react should such a scenario play out in real life. (Alan MacRae for The Laconia Daily Sun)

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Laconia Fire Department Deputy Chief Shawn Riley coordinates emergency medical services during the active shooter exercise at Woodland Heights Elementary School on Saturday. (Alan MacRae for The Laconia Daily Sun)

  • Written by Roger Amsden
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2017 shaping up as another good tourist season for Lakes Region

By RICK GREEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — With Columbus Day still a few weeks away, this year's tourist season isn't over yet, but business leaders like what they have seen so far.

Jay Bolduc, general manager of T-Bones Great American Eatery and Cactus Jack's Grill & Watering Hole, said his business has been trending up.

“This was a fantastic year for us,” he said. “Our sales have grown at a pretty steady pace over the last decade.

“This was our 10th summer and the best one yet for sales.”

Bolduc said the heart of the tourist season runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day, although it seems that the busy period has been starting earlier and continuing later.

Statewide tourism numbers have also been trending up, with the Lakes Region contributing greatly, New Hampshire Revenue Commissioner John Beardmore said.

“Meredith, Moultonborough, Laconia, the Squam Lake area – they are an important part of the economy,” he said.

A good way to measure tourism is through the meals and rentals tax, which is assessed on people who stay at hotels, eat in restaurants and rent motor vehicles.

Receipts for August totaled $35.8 million statewide, which is $1 million, or 2.9 percent above the previous year. Year-over-year increases in this category have averaged 5 percent to 6 percent since 2013.

Beardmore said that when he tries to develop an overall picture of the economy, the meals and rental tax and the real estate transfer tax are the two most important barometers.

In Belknap County, there were 2,454 real estate transactions in the 2017 fiscal year, compared to 1,620 in 2011.

“Folks only do those things when they have money to spend,” Beardmore said.

“If they don't have money to spend, they also don't go out to eat.”

“We have pretty high employment numbers and there's also strong employment in other states. People have jobs and they come to visit us and that is reflected in monthly figures.”

The strong employment market cuts both ways. It can also make it hard for some local businesses to find employees, said Karmen Gifford, president of the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce.

“Businesses are struggling to find staff,” she said. “It's a problem across the United States. There are a lot more jobs than people seeking jobs. The hospitality industry has been impacted also by difficulties in getting work visas for international employees.”

Meanwhile, increasing numbers of events and activities seem to be attracting more paying customers to these businesses.

“People go to the lake and swim and boat, but there are also breweries and wineries and a lot more arts and cultural events, with live performances at the Whiskey Barrel, Pitman's Freight Room, the Winnipesaukee Playhouse, even places like the Naswa Resort,” Gifford said.

Gifford also said the Pumpkin Festival, set for Oct. 13-14, will be attracting people to Laconia and the fall foliage will be a draw that will bring visitors to the region late into the year.

  • Written by Ginger Kozlowski
  • Category: Local News
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