Mello sworn in as Laconia’s newest police commissioner

11 13 Mello sworn in

City Clerk Cheryl Hebert swears in Frank R. Mello Jr. as police commissioner Monday in City Hall. He succeeds Armand Maheux, who retired from the panel after a 22-year run. (Rick Green, Laconia Daily Sun)

By RICK GREEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — Frank R. Mello Jr. has been a firefighter, a policeman, a U.S. Air Force staff sergeant and a state Transportation Department superintendent. Now he can add police commissioner to the list.
Laconia City Clerk Cheryl Hebert swore him in Monday during a ceremony at City Hall.
Mello, 81, ran unopposed in last week’s election to succeed Commissioner Armand Maheux, who retired after a 22-year run on the panel.
“It’s an honor to serve after Armand,” Mello said.
“I have no idea of changing anything because I think we have one of the best police departments in the state. We have a wonderful chief and we have a lot of guys who are really good.”
Police Chief Matt Canfield attended the swearing in as did Maheux, Mello’s wife of 54 years, Marilyn, and their grown children, Shawn, Heidi and Rae.
Mello was born and raised on Cape Cod.
He joined the Air Force as a senior in high school and served in New York, Wyoming, South Korea and France, working as a teletype mechanic and a trainer.
He served for nine years on the Gilford Fire Department and had stints as a police officer in Plymouth and Massachusetts.
He was with the state Transportation Department for 28 years, and retired as a bridge construction superintendent overseeing temporary bridges.
He has also held leadership positions in the local Elks Lodge chapter.
Mello said Maheux encouraged him to run for police commissioner.
“I’ve always wanted to be a police commissioner,” Mello said. “I told Armand, ‘If I lose, I lose,’ but he said, ‘You’re not going to lose, you’re going to win.’”
He joins Commissioners Tom Tarr and Doug Whittum.
The commission meets on the third Thursday of every month at 3 p.m. It works with the police chief in setting policies for the department and sets wages and benefits for non-union police employees. It also works with the patrol officers’ union in constructing and approving a contract for the unionized employees.

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Norton honored for support of bill to increase access to mental health care

By ROGER AMSDEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN
TILTON — Ken Norton, executive director of the New Hampshire Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, was among those honored in a ceremony held recently in the Executive Council Chambers at the New Hampshire State House.
At the awards event hosted by the New Hampshire Governor’s Commission on Disability, Norton was presented with a special recognition award by Gov. Chris Sununu.
He was recognized alongside legislative leaders Senate President Chuck Morse, Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, Speaker of the House Shawn Jasper and Rep. Dave Danielson. The award ceremony was held to honors those who embody the spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act,
The five men were honored for their efforts during the last legislative session to craft and successfully pass House Bill 400, which will improve access to timely mental health treatment.

Problems in New Hampshire’s mental health system have been building for years and one of the primary symptoms is the average of 50 people per day waiting in emergency departments around the state for inpatient psychiatric treatment.
Gov. Sununu has termed the situation a crisis, and he as well as Morse, Jasper and Bradley each visited emergency departments to speak with patients, hospital staff and family members to learn first-hand about the problem. At the awards ceremony, Gov. Sununu lauded the efforts of the award recipients while noting, “HB 400 is only the first step and there is more work to be done.”
Norton led advocacy efforts to improve access to timely mental health care. He testified at numerous public hearings and worked closely with legislators on drafting and revising the proposed legislation.
During the awards ceremony Sen. Bradley said “Ken Norton from NAMI NH is tireless in his advocacy efforts and serves as the conscience for improving mental health services in New Hampshire..”
NAMI NH is a state wide grass roots non profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of all people impacted by mental illness through support, education and advocacy. This year marks their 35th year of service in New Hampshire and their staff and volunteers serve over 12,000 people per year. NAMI NH’s Connect Suicide Prevention Program is a national best practice that has trained in over 40 states, 25 tribal nations and five countries. More information can be found at www.naminh.org.

11 13 Ken Norton award

At an awards ceremony at the New Hampshire State House are, from left, House Speaker Shawn Jasper, Rep. Dave Danielson, Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, NAMI NH Executive Director Ken Norton and Gov. Chris Sununu. (Courtesy photo)

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No injuries as car goes into marsh


ALTON — A young driver who failed to negotiate a sharp turn drove a car into a marsh off Route 28, but was unharmed and the vehicle sustained only minor damage.
Police Chief Ryan Heath said the driver was northbound toward the traffic circle and went off the side of the road where there “wasn’t much of a shoulder, and the water is close to the roadway at that location.”
The car was barely into the water and did not submerge, so it was an easy job to pull it out, the chief said.

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