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Local officials dismissive of Calif. real estate company's labeling of Laconia as 'dangerous'

LACONIA — "There are three kinds of lies," quipped Mark Twain, "lies, damned lies and statistics" and Movoto Real Estate, an online brokerage headquartered in San Mateo, California, which this week ranked Laconia the second most dangerous place in New Hampshire," relishes the third.

The report is getting plenty of play on social media and WMUR-TV, earlier in the week, made it the subject of a story.

Like David Letterman, the Movoto Real Estate Blog fancies top ten lists — most affordable, most costly, most caring, most proud, most hairy, most "holiday-tastic and most stressed out — compiled by statistical sleight-of-hand.

After acknowledging that New Hampshire is the safest state in the Union, Movoto reported there are places in the state that are "downright dangerous". These they found by surveying 20 municipalities with more than 10,000 people, using the FBI's uniform crime report for 2012, calculated the number of murders, violent crimes, property crimes and total crimes per capita. Then each municipality was ranked in each category of crime with a score of 1 to 20. The four categories were weighted, the first three at 30 percent and total crimes at 10 percent, and the weighted scores averaged into the "Big Deal Score," with the municipality scoring the lowest crowned the most dangerous. Got it?

Somersworth topped the list, followed by Laconia. Both cities reported high numbers of property crimes and total crimes while Laconia posted the third highest number of violent crimes, mostly assaults and rapes. Movoto concluded that "residents had a 1 in 21 chance of being the victim of a crime."

The other "dangerous places," in order are Manchester, Claremont, Rochester, Keene, Lebanon, Concord, Nashua and Portsmouth — all cities.

Police Chief Chris Adams discounted the list. "Yes, we have our issues," he said, "but Laconia is a very safe place. Stranger on stranger crime is very rare. Shootings and stabbings are very, very rare," he continued. "People can walk the streets of the city in safety," he insisted.

Mayor Ed Engler was equally dismissive. "I would imagine one could make a statistical case that there is a 'most dangerous' part of Bedford," he said, but that doesn't make it any less ridiculous to use 'Bedford' and 'dangerous' in the same sentence. Do all of our communities have more crime than we would like? " he asked. "Of course. But that is not say that any of us would label any part of New Hampshire as 'dangerous'."

When WMUR featured the list, one viewer commented on the station's website "I live in Laconia and I would walk down any street any time of day. Another asked simply: "Pfft. How do you see this as worthy of publication, WMUR?"

Movoto applied the same criteria and analysis to compile a list of the ten "safest places" in New Hampshire. Exeter topped the list, followed by Londonderry, Durham, Hanover, Berlin, Hudson, Hampton, Milford, Derry and Portsmouth, which attained the curious statistical distinction of ranking at one and the same time as the tenth most dangerous and tenth most safe place in the state.

Movoto's analysis recalls a report in The Onion minimizing the loss of 142 lives in a plane crash by pointing out that they were 80 times more likely to have perished in an automobile accident and 11 times more likely to have died crossing the road.

"Facts," said Twain, "are stubborn things, but statistics are more pliable."

Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 December 2014 12:57

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Local businesses & organizations helping to provide books for children in foster care all over Granite State

LACONIA — Foster children throughout New Hampshire will receive books this holiday season through a literacy promotion initiative ''Foster a Love of Reading'' developed through N.H. Foster and Adoptive Parent Association and children's book publisher Educational Development Corporation (EDC).
"Children's books change lives," says Carol Varney, of Belmont, who works directly with EDC, a Tulsa-based distributor of Usborne and Kane Miller children's books, and who spearheaded the initiative.
Using EDC's "Literacy for a Lifetime" matching grant program, Varney was able to secure a 50 percent match from the publisher for all monies raised resulting in over $9,000 worth of award-winning books being distributed statewide to every child in N.H.'s foster care system.
"I was very encouraged when my first contact resulted in a Gold Sponsorship of $1,000 from Granite State Credit Union," Varney said. Additional $1,000 Gold Sponsorships also came in from Bank of New Hampshire, Danconia Media of Weare, and the Concord Rotary Club. Other supporters at various levels included Penny Pitou/Milo Pike Foundation, Northeast Delta Dental, Northland Restaurant in Berlin, Merchant Motors, Benson Auto, AutoServ and Andrew Hosmer, Kelley Potenza of Danconia Media, Centerpointe Church, Kiwanis of Laconia, Irwin Motors, Mr. Mac of Manchester, Merrimack Lioness Club, Casella Waste Systems, and other private donors.
Working with Kathy Companion of NH's DCYF Foster Care program and Denise Christianson of the N.H. Foster and Adoptive Parent Association, Varney was able to ensure that age-appropriate books were obtained for each child in both home-based foster care as well as those in center-based care including the Sununu Youth Development Center. Upon receipt of the large shipment, the books then needed to be sorted by age group and geographical location. This was accomplished with the assistance of volunteers at Workplace Success in Laconia, a Belknap-Merrimack Community Action employment preparation program affiliated with the DHHS NH Employment Program.
Program volunteers, aided by additional community volunteers, sorted and packed boxes of books which were then delivered to DHHS Foster Care staff, who in turn transported them to local offices where foster parents received them for the children in their care.


CAPTION:
Helping pack children's books at the Lakes Region Family Center in Laconia Monday for shipment to foster care system offices throughout the state were representatives of local organizations which contributed, including Betty Ballantyne of Irwin Automotive Group, Meredith Horton of the Laconia Kiwanis Club, Tiffany Benton of the Bank of New Hampshire, Penny Pitou of the Penny Pitou/Milo Pike Foundation, Denise Caristi of the Granite State Credit Union and Carol Varney, local representative of Usborne and Kane Miller children's books. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 December 2014 01:32

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Police looking into unattended death on Harvard St. - 51

LACONIA — Police said an unidentified 26-year-old woman was found deceased in a house at 32 Harvard Street early Monday morning.

Police said they are investigating because it is an unattended death but said there doesn't appear to be anything criminal or suspicious.

"This appears to be accidental," said Capt. William Clary yesterday.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 December 2014 01:16

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Judge says plea deal in the works for man accused of serial rapes of 2 Barnstead girls back in the 90s

LACONIA — The Epsom man who allegedly raped two girls repeatedly over a period of time in the 1990s in Barnstead has apparently reached a plea deal with the Belknap County Attorney's office.

Kenneth Day, 67, was scheduled to appear yesterday in the Belknap County Superior Court for his final pre-trial hearing but he was a no-show.

Speaking from the clerk's office, Judge James O'Neill told awaiting media that Day is scheduled for a plea hearing on January 5. Details of the proposed plea agreement were not made available.

Day has been indicted by a Belknap County Grand Jury for multiple counts of rape that include two charges of pattern rape. Last month, a Merrimack County Grand Jury indicted him for seven counts of rape regarding two additional victims, including two charges of pattern rape, according to the Concord Monitor.

The case began when two people, now adults, walked into the Barnstead Police Station in July to report they had been repeatedly assaulted by Day in a school bus he had converted to a house from 1991 to 1996.

The Belknap County Sheriffs Department launched an investigation and believe Day could have assaulted the two Barnstead children as many as 300 separate times.

Even though the attorneys have reached a tentative agreement on the Belknap County charges, O'Neill must agree to the terms and conditions of any possible sentence. It is not known if the proposed plea and sentencing includes the Merrimack County charges.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 December 2014 01:13

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