Bristol restaurant spared in New Year’s Day fire


BRISTOL — An early morning fire that authorities say started with a pellet stove damaged a storage area, but firefighters were able to stop it before it spread into the restaurant at 90 Lake St.
A passing driver saw smoke coming from the back of the former Parkhurst & Company hardware store, and drove across the street to the Bristol Fire Station to alert the on-duty firefighters at 7:20 a.m. Monday.
The first crew to arrive found heavy fire that extended up the rear of the building, and called for additional help, but they were able to quickly extinguish the flames to prevent the fire from spreading into Kathleen’s Cottage, the restaurant at the front of the building. The fire crew remained there to take care of smoldering building materials and clear smoke from the building.
Fire Chief Benjamin LaRoche said the fire appears to have started around the vent of the pellet stove, which was used to heat the storage area.
New Hampton and Bridgewater firefighters, along with Bristol police and the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, assisted the Bristol crew.


Help on the way for police department fighting drug war


LACONIA — The police department will soon have some new officers in uniform.

Police Chief Matt Canfield on Tuesday night briefed the City Council on plans to fill four vacancies in the department's ranks and hire a new officer through a federal grant.

During budget hearings last spring, Councilor Brenda Baer had requested an additional officer who could focus on the downtown area.

The city applied for and received a three-year U.S. Department of Justice community policing grant that will pay 75 percent of a new officer's salary, with the city picking up the remainder.

Adding this new policeman will allow the department to free up a seasoned officer who would be assigned to a role addressing “quality of life” issues downtown, Canfield said.

The officer would also initiate a Neighborhood Watch program and a crimeline in which people could call in tips and information about suspected criminal activity.

Canfield said programs that enlist help from the public in fighting crime can be quite successful.

“Tips from the public often generate leads,” he said. “People don't realize we are looking for that type of information. They say, 'I didn't want to bother police. I didn't want to call dispatch.'”

Some downtown business owners and others have complained about drug activity downtown and problems associated with the homeless population.

Baer said an officer focusing on downtown should help.

“It is just my feeling that the community would feel safer seeing an officer downtown,” she said Wednesday. “It could sort of eliminate some of the bad element downtown.

“They are not going to hang around if they see an officer. It would also promote goodwill with store owners.”

Canfield also said the department is doing background checks on applicants for four vacancies. He hopes to have those positions filled in February. Once those openings are filled, the department would be fully staffed at 41 officers, or 42, counting the one to be hired with grant money.

Justice Department statistics show that cities of Laconia's size have an average of two officers per 1,000 population. Laconia has about 16,500 people, but that number grows substantially during the tourist season. 

Canfield would like to add three more officers as part of a five-year plan targeting the opioid crisis.

One would be a school resource officer at the middle school, who would implement a comprehensive drug prevention program that would also involve the Police Athletic League.

There is already a resource officer at the high school.

“Middle school is a very pivotal point,” Canfield said. “We want to put a lot more effort into education and prevention. Once somebody is addicted, it's a lifelong struggle, even if they do get into treatment and recovery.”

A second officer would work as a drug detective, and a third would be a uniformed patrolman focusing on drug interdiction.

“This plan makes sense, and doing it through a five-year strategic plan takes in the city's financial situation,” Canfield said. “On top of that, we'll be eligible to apply for another community policing grant next year.”

He has put together updated drug statistics showing the growing scope of the problem in Laconia.

Canfield said there have been eight overdose deaths so far this year, and what appears to be a ninth overdose death that occurred recently but hasn't been officially classified because toxicology reports have not been completed. That compares to five overdose deaths last year.

Overall, there have been 144 reports of drug overdoses in the city this year, compared to 81 last year.



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Nicholas Randos, a senior at Belmont High School, will be attending Yale University after being accepted through the early action program. (Tom Caldwell/Laconia Daily Sun)

Belmont High School senior accomplishes challenge of getting to Ivy League school

BELMONT — Having developed an interest in politics with the 2008 election, followed by studying law and governance in the Advanced Studies Program at St. Paul’s School in Concord last summer, Nicholas Randos set his sights on getting into Yale — an accomplishment he also described as his greatest challenge.
“At the start of my senior year, I cast a wide net of potential colleges,” Randos said. “I attended numerous college fairs, researched innumerable schools, and toured several areas. Only one school stood out: Yale.”
Randos applied through Yale’s restricted early action program, and won acceptance by the elite university, which also provided a generous financial aid package.
“When I visited, I had one of those moments that so many talk about having with their future college,” Randos said. “Equally important was the ASP College Fair where I attended a Yale information session. The collaborative environment, academic rigor, and diversity found at Yale were on display throughout the presentation and I immediately clicked with all that Yale has to offer.”
Yale has a reputation for having one of the best political science departments, as well as a politically active community, and Randos plans to major in political science.
“I remember using a TV tray as a mock debate stage, pretending to be one of the candidates,” he recalled of the 2008 election. “My theatrics soon morphed into an actual interest in politics and I found myself reading up on a variety of issues.”
The summer at St. Paul’s School gave Randos a chance to explore potential career paths and he came to focus on becoming a civil rights attorney to fight for social justice.
Yet his interests go beyond politics. Belmont High School offers a range of core classes, and Randos said he enjoyed science classes as well.
“Many of my friends are especially good at science, so pushing myself and learning from them has helped me develop a valuable breadth of scientific knowledge,” he said.
Randos spent the first six years of his life in Burlington, Vermont, and then moved with his mother to Manchester to care for his grandmother until she was able to live on her own again. He and his mother then moved to Belmont.
“While I may not be a Belmont native, the town has welcomed me into their tight-knit community through which I have made incredible friends” over the past eight years, he said.
He said he grew up watching sports which led to his joining Little League baseball and later playing basketball and soccer.
“However, it was only when I joined outdoor track in eighth grade that I discovered my passion for running,” he said. “Now I run all three seasons with an amazing team that feels like a second family.”
During high school, Randos assumed a variety of leadership positions, including class president and president of the National English Honor Society.
“I enjoy organizing and volunteering at events, knowing that a successful fundraiser can help ensure that all of my classmates, regardless of income, can participate in class activities like our senior trip,” he said.
Randos said he could not have succeeded without the support of his mother.
“She taught me what it means to work hard and how valuable empathy is,” he said. “She has always selflessly provided for me even if it means sacrificing something for herself.
“I strive for success in life in part to be able to take care of her the way she has always taken care of me. When we found out I got into Yale, I told her, ‘We did it,’ because her unconditional love, support, and teaching have made me who I am today.
“I would also like to thank all of my teachers, coaches, mentors, and friends at Belmont High School who have always believed in me and pushed me to be the best version of myself.”
He specifically named Meagan Leddy-Cecere, an English teacher who had attended Dartmouth College and convinced him he was capable of getting into Yale; and Aaron Hayward, a science teacher and cross-country coach who “inspired a passion I didn’t know I had, and taught me to run well and be a leader.”
The guidance department also was helpful and he singled out Judy Haubrich, who had helped with everything from scheduling problems to meeting challenges. “She was open and understanding, and the whole guidance department was amazing,” he said.
As for Yale, “I am beyond grateful that Yale has given me this extraordinary opportunity and am excited to begin my college career in their incredible community,” he said.


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Nicholas Randos, a senior at Belmont High School, will be attending Yale University after being accepted through the early action program. (Tom Caldwell/Laconia Daily Sun)

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