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Laconia Community Center has a new gym floor for the first time in 83 years

LACONIA — "It was much needed and will be well used, said Amy Lovisek, assistant director of parks and recreation, eying the new floor at the Community Center.
Lovisek said that the original birch floor was laid in 1931 when the building, which began life as armory, was constructed. During the past five weeks the playing surface has been replaced with a top-grade maple floor over half-plywood, which features the city's logo in green at center court. The floor is lined for basketball and two pickle ball courts. She said that the floor has five coats of urethane and is scheduled for a sixth coat later this year.
The Parks and Recreation Department began requesting funds to replace the floor in 2005. Lovisek said that the floor had been sanded and refinished five times and had become thin and spongy in places. "There were dead spots where you'd dribble the basketball ball and it would just stop," she explained.
Lovisek said that the project cost approximately $65,000, which was drawn from a reserve fund for the maintenance and repair of municipal facilities.The work was done by O'Sullivan Flooring Inc. of Quincy, Mass.

"It will get lots of use," she continued.

The gymnasium hosts 34 different programs with almost 27,000 participants each year and is in use approximately 64 hours during a normal week. Last weekend, the center began opening on Saturdays, when families are welcome between 10 a.m. and noon, pickle ball players from 1 to 3 p.m. and basketball players from 3 to 5 p.m.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 June 2014 12:27

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Indicted man called ‘a dealer of significant amounts’

LACONIA — A Belknap County grand jury has indicted a man who split his time between Laconia and Metheun, Mass., for two counts of possession of controlled drugs with intent to distribute.

Roger Perkins Jr., 31, was also indicted for one count of possession of controlled drugs.

Since his arrest on March 25, Perkins has been being held on $100,000 cash-only bail in the Belknap County House of Corrections after a video appearance before Judge Jim Carroll in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division the day after his arrest.

On the day of his arrest, police estimated he had two ounces of cocaine in various forms in his glove box and they described him a "a dealer of significant amounts of illegal drugs in the Laconia area."

After getting a warrant to search him, his car, and his apartment at 23 Gale Ave., police set up a surveillance team and observed him coming into town driving a black Acura MDX with Massachusetts plates.

During the course of the arrest, police found two bags of psilocybin mushrooms, a bag of hashish in the apartment. They also found two handguns, one of which loaded.

Police said the exterior of the apartment building had a video surveillance system for both the inside and the outside that was attached to iPads and televisions throughout the apartment.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 June 2014 01:39

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Commission finds officer violated LPD policy

LACONIA — The Police Commission has determined that a letter of reprimand issued by superiors to Officer Brandy Enis was warranted and said it will schedule an imposition of discipline hearing.

Enis was issued a letter of reprimand by Sgt. Michael Finogle after he reviewed a report she filed about a civil standby on Elm Street on April 17 and determined she violated department policy and the tenants 4th Amendment rights for entering his apartment with a landlord but without his permission.

Finogle said she should have made a better effort to locate and speak to the tenant before entering his apartment and should also have contacted him before she followed the landlord inside. He said her violation of the tenant's rights but that accidents have consequences and he felt she should be reprimanded.

When Finogle recommended to Capt. Bill Clary that she be issued a letter of reprimand, Clary reported back to Finogle that this was Enis's third letter of reprimand for "unsatisfactory performance" in four months and that the violation should be elevated to a Class III as opposed to Class II reprimand.

Finogle recommended a two-day suspension and Enis filed a grievance with the Laconia Police Association, later asking that her hearing in front of the commission be held in public. She was represented at the hearing by attorney Brad Davis, who was hired by the union.

Although many local landlords attended the hearing to support Enis and, by extension, their rights as property owners, the commissioners didn't address landlords in their letter but wrote only of internal departmental policies and whether or not they were violated.

The commission said that after the hearing, Enis continued to believe she had the right to enter the apartment although she said that if the situation were to happen again, she would contact her supervisor before entering.

"This matter was properly elevated to a Class III violation, wrote the commissioners who also said this violation was "similar in nature" to the two previous violations "in that you failed to make proper inquiries before entering an apartment without consent."

The commission determined that while the landlord had the right to enter the apartment, she did not and she didn't stop to question herself.

"The commission finds you liable for that mistake," they wrote.

The Police Commission is chaired by Warren Clement. Other members are Douglas Whittum, and Armand Maheux.

Last Updated on Friday, 06 June 2014 12:52

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70 years ago today: Bob Giguere was tossing grenades into German bunkers above Omaha Beach

LACONIA — It was 70 years ago today that 17-year-old Bob Giguere headed towards Omaha Beach as part of D-Day, the largest amphibious invasion in history.
A member of the 6th U.S. Naval Beach Battalion, Giguere had been trained in demolitions and it was to be his job to help clear obstacles from the path of the men who were hitting the beach in hundreds of landing craft. Little did he know that he was destined to play a far different role and fight alongside the infantry whose path he was supposed to clear.
His heroics that day are featured in ''D-Day: A Day That Changed America'', a history book published by Hyperion Books for Children in 2004 in which he is one of five servicemen who is profiled.
As a member of what has widely been called ''The Greatest Generation'', the Laconia man says he's never been ready to claim that what he did that day was heroic. ''The real heroes are those guys who didn't come back. And there were plenty of them that I knew.''
Giguere, the oldest of 10 children, had to have his mother's permission to join the Navy at the age of 17 and shortly after he started boot camp in Rhode Island his father died.
''I remember sending my allotment home to my mother,'' says Giguere, who says that he 's not sure why he was assigned to the beach battalion but thinks it may have had something to do with his marksmanship score.
''I was pretty good with a rifle before I enlisted because I had done a lot of hunting. But one of my buddies and I kept score for each other on the firing range and inflated our scores a little so that we could qualify for an extra $5 a month in pay,'' he recalled.
It was cold and dark and the seas were running high when the LCI-85, carrying about 185 soldiers and with a crew of 20 Coast Guardsmen, headed out from Southampton, England as part of the third wave of the invasion, headed for the Easy Red section of Omaha Beach.
He still vividly recalls that day. ''It was supposed to be June 5th but was held off for a day because of the weather. The sea was rough and I was seasick, just like a lot of the other guys on our ship. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. For us it was like a training exercise. Then the shooting started. There's nothing that can prepare you for that. It was an awful thing we were going into.'' says Giguere, whose memories of that day are so intense that he still can't bring himself to watch vintage film.
''I watched part of ''Saving Private Ryan'' (Stephen Spielberg's D-Day movie) a while ago and I couldn't sleep for two nights,'' he said.
When Giguere's ship reached the beach it grounded too far out for the ramps to be put down and was moving to another section of the beach when, as reported by the LCI-85 captain, ''as the ship grounded, a teller mine exploded under the bow splitting the void tank. The port ramp went down and the troops began going ashore. Shells and machine gun fire began to hit us. About 50 troops got down the port ramp before a shell hit it and blew it off the sponsons and over the side. As the starboard ramp had not gone down and the wounded men were jamming the deck, we backed off the beach again.''
Giguere recalls that there was carnage on the deck and that he was standing near a soldier from New York City named Peterson. ''I heard him groan and turned and asked 'are you all right, Pete? and he was gone. The shot must have missed me. It could have been me.''
Giguere realized that he would have to get off the ship soon or suffer the same fate and went down the half open starboard ramp. ''I threw away my backpack and jumped into the water with just my rifle. The water was up to my chest,'' he recalls.
Then he felt something like a bee sting on his left shoulder. He put his hand on his shoulder and felt blood but kept moving to shore, where he took shelter behind a large steel beam obstacle where he dressed his wound and then ran across the beach looking for his unit, his rifle jammed with sand. Taking shelter behind a seawall, he helped a pull a wounded man ashore and saw that the beach behind him was becoming smaller as the tide rolled in and was clogged with men lying shoulder to shoulder, who were being ordered by the beach master to move inland and get off the beach, which was being hit by withering German fire.
Giguere recalls that a barbed wire barrier which kept the American troops pinned on the beach was finally breached by soldiers using a bangalore torpedo (an explosive charge within a tube), allowing troops to head up a ravine. Responding to a call for a demolition man, Giguere headed toward the ravine and was given two grenades and told to toss them into a concrete bunker up the ravine about 100 yards away, on the other side of an antitank barrier. He crawled through a gap in the wire and moved towards the bunker, pulling the pin on the grenades and threw them into the opening of the gun emplacement. He remained there and caught about six grenades tossed to him by a soldier on the other side of the antitank barrier and pulled the pins and tossed them into the bunker.
''Then I got out of there because the last one was a smoke grenade was used so that the destroyers just off the beach would have something to shoot at,'' said Giguere.
He continued to remain with 15 or so soldiers he had teamed up with when he walked past the bunker again, where more grenades were thrown in for good measure, and then along a hedgerow, where a German patrol was spotted. Giguere was given two more hand grenades and as the Germans approached threw them toward the enemy as American riflemen opened fire. Giguere said as many as two dozen German bodies were later seen lying in the field.
The group then moved into a small nearby town, Colleveill-sur-Mer, where a German spotter was surveying the area from a church steeple, which later was destroyed by shells fired from American ships just off the beach. ''We got out of there because we knew it was going to get hit a lot by our ships,'' he says.
Giguere then went back down to the beach to try and locate his unit. He was talking with an officer when a German shell exploded, killing the officer, knocking Giguere out and leaving him with shrapnel wounds which still set off metal detectors when he passes through them.
When he woke up four days later on June 10, his 18th birthday, he was in the 40th Army Hospital in Southampton, England. Sent back to the United States aboard the Queen Mary in July, Giguere says that English Prime Minister Winston Churchill was also on the same ship, headed for a conference in Canada with American President Franklin Roosevelt.
''I had a 30-day leave but when I got back to Laconia, I got an emergency call back and went to Oceanside, California'' says Giguere, who was sent to Pacific Theater, where he took part in the invasion of the Philippines.
At one point he was behind enemy lines for 14 days, delivering supplies to Navajo code talkers in the mountains.
He then took part in the invasion of Okinawa in April of 1945 where he received his third Purple Heart. One of the first ashore, Giguere was a few days later sent out to round up some of his fellow servicemen after Japanese snipers started to infiltrate the area they were in.
''There was a cemetery near a village there and some of the guys would go up there and smash funeral urns because they thought there would be gold teeth in them. Just as I got there I got shot in the foot by a sniper,'' Giguere recalls.
He was slated to be in the invasion of Japan but was spared that experience by the Japanese surrender after two atomic bombs had been dropped on that island nation.
''I guess you could say the A-bomb saved my life. I'm one of the lucky ones who survived those invasions,'' says Giguere.
After the war, Giguere came back to Laconia where he married Rachel Simoneau. He worked at Scott and Williams in Lakeport until they closed and he and his wife raised five children.
He is now married to his second wife, Claire Nedeau,.
In addition to his three Purple Hearts, Giguere was also awarded the the Silver Star and the highest military honor the French government can award to an American, the French Legion of Honor. 

Giguere will be 88 on Tuesday.

Bob Giguere, who landed with American troops on Omaha Beach on D-Day, looks at an illustration of him approaching a German bunker in the book "D-Day: A Day That Changed America" which was published in 2004. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Bob Giguere, who landed with American troops on Omaha Beach on D-Day, holds a collection of the medals he was awarded and a photo of him taken shortly after he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun).

"D-Day: A Day That Changed America" features Bob Giguere's story of what happened to him on D-Day. (Courtesy photo)

Last Updated on Friday, 06 June 2014 01:51

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