Belmont Police arrest would-be burglar

BELMONT – Police arrested a Laconia man after he was caught red-handed climbing through the window of a woman's home on Jamestown Road yesterday at 12:56 p.m.
Steven M. Belanger, 30, no street address given, is charged with one count of burglary, one count of operating a motor vehicle after a license suspension and one court of misuse of plates. He is being held on $5,000 cash-only bail and is scheduled to appear in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division this morning.
Police said the woman told them that she heard a saw an unknown man knocking on her door. She didn't open the door but watched him as he walked to the rear of her property and then called the police.
While still on the phone with police, she reported to them he was opening a window in the rear kitchen of her home and was crawling through it. When he encountered her, she told them he ran from her back deck and got into a black four-door sedan that was parked in her driveway.
Police said she was able to photograph the car and give police a description such that patrol officers located the car quickly and arrested Belanger. Where the police stopped him is unknown at this time.
Police said the resident did the right thing by not opening the door to a stranger and alerting them in time to make an arrest.

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Belmont roads to benefit from found grant money

BELMONT — The town coffers got a small boost last night when selectmen voted unanimously to accept $11,521 from the state Department of Transportation grant program in money not previously allocated or calculated during the process of setting the recent tax rate.
Town Administrator Jeanne Beaudin said the money comes from some kind of excess harvested through taxes by the state and was not included in the annual transportation grant distributed to each state community.
"This is the first time this has ever happened," Beaudin said.
She said the money will be allocated to the Public Works Department and spent for road maintenance as is the money that comes annually from the state transportation grant.BELMONT — The town coffers got a small boost last night when selectmen voted unanimously to accept $11,521 from the state Department of Transportation grant program in money not previously allocated or calculated during the process of setting the recent tax rate.
Town Administrator Jeanne Beaudin said the money comes from some kind of excess harvested through taxes by the state and was not included in the annual transportation grant distributed to each state community.
"This is the first time this has ever happened," Beaudin said.
She said the money will be allocated to the Public Works Department and spent for road maintenance as is the money that comes annually from the state transportation grant.
In other business, Beaudin was given the go ahead by the board to apply for a USDA Community Facilities Rural Development Grant to upgrade four heating system in the four buildings current operated by the town.
She said the total project for 2016 would cost $62,000 and the 15 percent offset from the grant would reduce the cost by $9,300. The Budget Committee included upgrades for three of the four systems in their proposed 2016 budget but with the grant, Beaudin said all of them can be done.
Because of the most recent census report regarding low- to moderate-income families, she said Belmont is eligible for 15 percent.
The board also granted permission to take the money from the Building and Maintenance Capital Reserve fund rather than the general administration budget so the town can show a capital offset for the grant.
The board also advised her to place a warrant article on the the 2016 ballot so the general public can see where the grant offset will be.
In other business, Beaudin was given the go ahead by the board to apply for a USDA Community Facilities Rural Development Grant to upgrade four heating system in the four buildings current operated by the town.
She said the total project for 2016 would cost $62,000 and the 15 percent offset from the grant would reduce the cost by $9,300. The Budget Committee included upgrades for three of the four systems in their proposed 2016 budget but with the grant, Beaudin said all of them can be done.
Because of the most recent census report regarding low- to moderate-income families, she said Belmont is eligible for 15 percent.
The board also granted permission to take the money from the Building and Maintenance Capital Reserve fund rather than the general administration budget so the town can show a capital offset for the grant.
The board also advised her to place a warrant article on the the 2016 ballot so the general public can see where the grant offset will be.

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Recovery Court - one small effort at battling addictions

Treatment, not jail. That's the goal of drug courts. Despite the limited capacity and mixed results of the of the Recovery Court at the Fourth Circuit Court, Laconia Division during the past four years, those engaged in the process welcome the initiative of the governor and lawmakers to establish and fund so-called "drug courts" in each of the 10 counties of the state.
Belknap County Attorney Melissa Guldbrandsen said the Recovery Court has capacity for 10 clients at any one time, and since the first was enrolled in 2011 has had 21 participants, five of whom have graduated. Another eight were terminated, an equal number of cases are pending and at least one has died from an apparent overdose.
Guldbrandsen explained that the court is intended for those addicts with extensive criminal records facing prison sentences for their most recent offense who, if left to themselves, run the highest risk of committing more crimes to support their addiction. She stressed that these individuals have histories of property crimes, but are not considered dangerous to others.
Applicants are screened by a team consisting of the county attorney, city prosecutor and probation officer, along with officials of the New Hampshire Public Defender, Belknap County Restorative Justice program, Belknap County Department of Corrections and Horizon Counseling Services. Those accepted are subjected to an intense regimen of outpatient treatment and counseling, accompanied by close monitoring and supervision, that requires between one year and two to complete.
Participants are required to appear in court each week , attend a specified number of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings each week, perform 250 hours of community service and, if without work, search for employment. And they are always subject to random drug tests.
Each week Horizons Counseling, which manages each case and provides the treatment, reports to the team, which may impose sanctions or grant rewards according to the conduct of the participants, with the stiffest sanctions reserved for failing to tell the truth.
"If they relapse, there is no sanction," Guldbrandsen said. "But if they relapse, then deny it, they are sanctioned for lying. They learn to be truthful."
Tym Rourke of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, who chairs the Governor's Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, Treatment and Recovery, described drug courts as "a piece of the puzzle." He explained that they cater to "a small cohort of the those at greatest risk without placing an added burden on the limited capacity for treatment. These are the individuals at the deep end of the pool," he said.
At the same time, Jacqui Abikoff, executive director of Horizons Counseling Services in Gilford, which provides case management as well as counseling treatment services to the Laconia Recovery Court, said that the additional responsibilities have stretched the resources of her agency.
Abikoff said case management requires monitoring participants in the program — making sure they search for work, attend meetings, perform community service — as well as navigating them through the process of enrolling in Medicaid and making and keeping doctors' appointments. Meanwhile, Horizons provides three-and-a-half hours of counseling and treatment for each participant each week and another two-and-a-half hours of counseling on "criminal and addictive thinking."
Currently, the Laconia Recovery Court simply represents an additional responsibility for those who manage it, without any additional funding from either the state or county. Proposed legislation would provide counties with between $100,000 and $245,000, based on their population, to fund drug courts.
Abikoff anticipates that any additional funding would be applied to offset the administrative costs of case management, which unlike counseling and treatment are not reimbursed by Medicaid. More importantly, she said the uncertainty surrounding the future of the state's expanded Medicaid program has chilled plans and investment to increase the capacity for substance abuse treatment, which would enable drug courts to increase participation. She said that Horizons has approached officials of Belknap County about funding that would enable the agency to double the number of participants in the Recovery Court from 10 to 20.
Abikoff said drug courts offer a means of addressing a particular population of addicts that spares the costs of incarceration, treating medical conditions arising from substance abuse and the corrosive impacts of addiction and crime on families. She emphasized that even many of those who fail to complete the program or return to drugs benefit from it.
"Once you are in recovery," she said, "you stay that way. Even those who relapse have returned," she said, "They say 'I've skinned my knee. Help me before I break my leg.' They've learned they can do it."

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