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Al Lessard retiring after 17+ years on Laconia Police force; 2 officers promoted to master rank

LACONIA — Police commissioners accepted the retirement of Lt. Alfred Lessard yesterday after 17 1/2 years of service to the Police Department.

Since becoming a lieutenant, Lessard has been responsible for coordinating hiring and training for the department as well as other administrative functions. He is also one of the public faces of the department for clubs and associations that work to eliminate alcohol and drug abuse among teens and young adults.

When he was a sergeant, Lessard is perhaps best remembered for his July 2010 daring rescue of a teenager who had jumped off the Fair Street railroad trestle and failed to resurface.

Lessard, stripped down to a T-shirt and pants, dove repeatedly to the bottom of the Winnipesaukee River until he found the girl lying face down on the bottom and was able to bring her to the surface.

Two other police officers administered CPR until EMTs arrived moments later.

The girl, a Manchester resident, made a full recovery after being airlifted to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and spending weeks in the intensive care unit.

Lessard's last day will be October 31.

In other business, Commissioners promoted officers Kevin Shortt and Kendra Neri to the rank of Master Patrol Officer. Chief Chris Adams said both had to have a minimum of seven years of service and have passed the sergeants test.

Commissions also approved Officer Eric Adams for the new position of Prevention, Enforcement and Treatment for drug abuse in Laconia.

Chief Chris Adams, (no relation) said Eric Adams was the perfect choice because of his experience as a corrections officer, as a former member of the N.H. Drug Task Force, and his work as a patrol office in Laconia.

Eric Adams is tasked with developing and bringing to fruition a specific program designed to better coordinate the efforts of police with those of the rest of the Laconia community like the jail, the social services agencies and the school district to better combat drug abuse in the city.

The money for the pilot program, $50,000, was made available to the Police Department by the City Council for use in combating the recent spate of drug overdoses — especially heroin.

CUTLINE: Police Chief Chris Adams pins newly promoted Master Patrol Officer Kevin Shortt at yesterday's Laconia Police Commission meeting. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Gail Ober)

Last Updated on Friday, 19 September 2014 01:08

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Meredith eliminates tunnel & 1 other 3/25 traffic congestion antidote

MEREDITH — An advisory committee working with the New Hampshire Department of Transportation (DOT) to improve the flow of traffic through the U.S. Route 3/N.H. Route 25 corridor yesterday rejected two options under consideration but couldn't reach a consensus on what option it will recommend.
Pressed by Selectman Lou Kahn, who chairs the committee, to reach a decision in time for public hearings to be held on whatever plan emerges before selectmen finalize the proposed town budget, only two members of the committee indicated that they were prepared to action one of the three options Kahn says the group faces.
He said that those options included a single-lane roundabout at the Rte. 3-25 intersection, a new intermediate traffic signal at the intersection, or taking no action at all.
In the hope of speeding up the process, Kahn has called for the next meeting of the committee to be held on Thursday, October 9 at 3 p.m.
The committee, which last month had rejected a proposal for a two-lane roundabout which planners from McFarland Johnson, Inc., project manager for DOT, had recommended, deep sixed two other options yesterday.
One was for a bypass which would consist of a new two-lane, one-way road carrying westbound traffic on Rte. 25 from its intersection with Pleasant Street across Hawkins Brook to Rte. 3, north of the US3/NH25 intersection, where a roundabout would be constructed south of the sewer pump station. The other was for a pedestrian tunnel across Rte. 3 from the Mills Falls Marketplace Dover Street parking lot to Hesky Park.
Gene McCarthy of McFarland Johnson, Inc., had recently told the committee the bypass plan had serious traffic flow flaws and would reduce the number of spaces in parking lots owned by the town and Meredith Village Savings Bank by half, as well as requiring significant environmental mitigation.
He told the committee yesterday that the proposed pedestrian tunnel would have to be 13 feet below Rte. 3 and would require relocation of both water and sewer lines. It would also have been eight feet below the level of Lake Winnipesaukee and require sump pumps to keep it dry.
The tunnel would also have been much longer than the distance across Rte. 3 as it would have had to meet federal standards which require a landing for every 18 inches of steps in a series of switchback ramps and would have had to be maintained by the town, including snow removal.
The adverse report prompted Rusty McLear of Hampshire Hospitality Holdings, who had suggested the idea of a tunnel be studied, to say ''that was really dumb idea,'' drawing a laugh from other committee members.
The options which remain under consideration include a single-lane roundabout, which the committee had asked to be designed so that it didn't encroach on the Bootleggers property at the intersection, and an intermediate traffic signal.
McCarthy said that the one option for the roundabout would require taking some of the Zachy's Pizzeria property and that the roundabout would be difficult to align with Main Street. It is also likely that, even if a slip lane to the north is built, it will not improve the current situation.
He said that traffic models through 2035 show that the roundabout will be overwhelmed by the growth in traffic over that time while a signalized intersection will handle traffic better. The traffic signal approach would require construction of a slip lane and a fifth eastbound lane which might encroach on the Inn at Bay point property as well as Scenic Park along Rte. 25.
Other options still under consideration include pedestrian traffic lights on Rte. 3 near Dover Street as well as a possible roundabout or traffic light at Pleasant Street which would prevent left hand turns onto Rte. 25 from the Hannaford parking lot and improve traffic flow.

Last Updated on Friday, 19 September 2014 01:01

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Laconia School District will spend $20,000 on reconstruction of bus turnaround in front of LHS

LACONIA — The School Board voted Tuesday night to spend up to $20,000 to reconstruct the school bus turnaround in front of the high school.

Facilities Chair Joe Cormier said the city approached the school with an offer to split the costs of rebuilding the turnaround as part of the Union Avenue reconstruction project.

The city used the area as work space and had already agreed to repave it in return for letting the construction teams use it.

Cormier said the project will entail installing granite curbs around the perimeter and making some green or garden space between the turnaround and Union Avenue.

He recommended doing the project largely because it will make the turnaround more handicap accessible and make the area match the new granite curbs the city is installing along Union Avenue.

In other School Board news, the city told the administration that Union Avenue will be paved in time for the Homecoming Parade that begins at 4 p.m. Friday afternoon.

Following the parade, the Alumni gathering will be from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Meredith Village Savings Bank Culinary Arts Center in the Huot Technical Center. The homecoming football against Manchester West kicks off at 7 p.m.

On Saturday, soccer games begin at 9 a.m. and end at 3 p.m., field hockey games begin at 3:30 p.m. and end at 6:30 p.m. and volleyball matches begin at 3;30 p.m. and end at 6:30.

All of the outdoor sports will take place at the Bank of New Hampshire Stadium while the volleyball games will be in the high school gymnasium.

Last Updated on Thursday, 18 September 2014 12:53

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Laconia Library patrons now have free access to over 200,000 movies, etc. through download service

LACONIA — The Public Library recently added more than 200,000 movies, television shows, educational programs, instructional manuals, music albums and audiobooks to its collection, all of which can be downloaded by its cardholders 24 hours a day, seven days a week at no charge.

Librarian Randy Brough said that the library is the second in the state to partner with Hoopla Digital, the service that provides the content to 387 public libraries — and more than 4,000 branch libraries — in the United States and Canada. Since Hoopla Digital was introduced last month, Brough said that about 80 cardholders have enrolled and he expects that number to increase significantly as more residents learn about the service.

Michael Manning, a spokesman for Hoopla, said that the firm has partnerships with movie studios, book publishers and recording companies to make their output available to public libraries. He said that e-books will be added to the inventory in the new year. The content can be downloaded via a browser as well as by mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. No advertisements or commercials accompany the content.

"When I was a kid the newest thing libraries had was the latest issue of a magazine," Manning said. "Now when a popular band releases an album, you can download it for nothing the day it's released with your library card." He said that content is added to the inventory everyday, including between 10 and 20 movies a week.

Brough said that whatever Hoopla offers is automatically added to the library catalogue. Cardholders can access the service with their library card number and a PIN, consisting of the last four digits of their card number. He pointed out that there is no waiting list for the material. Nor is there a risk of failing to return it on time and incurring a late fee since the content disappears automatically after a specified period of time — three days for movies and television shows, seven days for music and 21 days for audiobooks.

Last Updated on Thursday, 18 September 2014 12:50

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