Bluebird pairs making themselves at home at Laconia Transfer Station

LACONIA — Despite stiff competition for seasonal housing from aggressive sparrows, several pairs of eastern bluebirds nested at the Transfer Station off Meredith Center Road again this year.

In 2011, 10 bird houses were erected at the Transfer Station as part of an initiative taken by the city, Waste Management Inc. and the Wildlife Habitat Council to add the 25 acres to the 73 other transfer stations, landfills, and disposal sites certified by the council as providing food, water, shelter, cover and space suited to wildlife. Some 30 members of local 4-H clubs and Scout troops erected bird houses and bat boxes on the property with direction from Scott McPhie of the Planning Department and members of the Conservation Commission.

Ever since, two or three pairs of bluebirds have taken up residence each year, while barn swallows and house wrens fill the remaining vacancies. Al St. Cyr of Waste Management Inc., who has been recording the comings and goings of the bluebirds with his camera, said that apart from the birds, he has even found a young flying squirrel in one of the bird houses. "I opened it up to clean it out," he recalled, "and this little flying squirrel jumped out, went into a tree and sat looking at me for five minutes."

Bluebirds are about 6 1/2 inches long. The brilliant, royal blue back, wings, tail and head above a rusty breast and white belly distinguish the male while his less flamboyant partner accents her buff back, crown and throat with flashes of blue in her wings and tail. Bluebirds prefer open spaces, fields and meadows, perching above them, with an alert, upright posture, on utility wires, fence posts and low branches from where they search for prey below. With a fluttering of wings they drop from their perch to seize insects, showing a preference grasshoppers, crickets, katydids and beetles.

Once common as robins, eastern bluebirds have dwindled in number as house sparrows and European starlings have taken their nest sites. Bluebirds are cavity nesters, making their homes in holes abandoned by others, which makes them ideal tenants for bird houses.

McPhie said the persistence of the bluebirds is remarkable in light of their annual struggle with the growing number of sparrows at the Transfer Station. Sparrows will invade the bluebird's nest, destroy the eggs or kill the chicks, and occupy the bird box.


CAPTION: A male bluebird flashes his colorful wings as he returns to his next in one of 10 bird boxes art the Laconia Transfer Station. Each year bluebirds take up residence in three or four of the boxes. (Courtesy photo. Al St. Cyr, Waste Management Inc.)

Alexandria man still wanted by New Hampton police

NEW HAMPTON — A Belknap County grand jury has indicted a man on a count of burglary who is also on the run from the New Hampton Police relative to a variety of motor vehicle-related issues.

Randall C. Root Jr. 22, of 38 Bailey Road in Alexandria is alleged to have burglarized a Gilmanton home on Middle Route some time between Aug. 22  and Aug. 23, 2014. He is scheduled to be arraigned on Aug. 20 in the Belknap County Superior Court.

Root is actively being sought by New Hampton Police for allegedly being found by an officer on routine patrol passed out behind the wheel of a running car that was in gear with his foot on the brake. He appears to have nodded off while exiting the Circle K Store onto Rte. 104.

When the officer succeeded in waking him, Root put the car in park and gave him his driver's license. He was told he was not free to leave by a Sanbornton officer who had arrived to assist. Root fled when the officer returned to his cruise to validate his license and both officers gave a brief chase however when Root reached I-93, he allegedly drove erratically and hit speeds topping 95 mph and the police stopped. They issued an all-points bulletin but Root could not be found.

According to personnel at the N.H. Court Judicial Call Center, Root has an extensive criminal record dating back to 2010 and 2011 when he was convicted in Grafton County of receiving stolen property, witness tampering and bail jumping.

On May 19, 2015, Root was sentenced to serve a 12-month sentence in Rockingham County Jail. But between his good time and 266 days credited, he was released on the same day. He also received a 3- to 6-year sentence in the N.H. State Prison from Rockingham Superior Court for receiving stolen property. The sentence was suspended pending five years of good behavior.

New Hampton Police Sgt. Michael Grier said Wednesday they have reason to believe Root is in the Bristol, Alexandria, Ashland area. A day after he fled from police, he left the car that belonged to his mother in Ashland. Anyone who has any information about Root's whereabouts is asked to call the New Hampton Police at 744-5423.


Naked man pulled from big lake off Pendleton Beach

LACONIA — A naked man was pulled from the waters of Lake Winnipesaukee off Pendleton Beach Road shortly before 9 p.m. Wednesday evening.

Fire Chief Ken Erickson said that the original 9-1-1 call reported a disturbance aboard a boat in the vicinity of the Weirs Channel, to which the New Hampshire Marine Patrol and Laconia, Gilford and Belmont fire departments responded. The boat was found motoring along without running lights.

About 20 minutes later, at 8:30 p.m. the fire departments were notified that there was a man overboard and in distress near Pendleton Beach Road. Two residents had launched their boat and found the man, who was naked and distressed, in the water and drew him to the side of their boat. The crew from the Weirs Beach Station arrived, took the man aboard the fire-rescue boat and transported him to the dock at Weirs Beach. The Belmont ambulance took the man to Lakes Regional General Hospital where he was evaluated.

Capt. Chris Shipp of the Laconia Fire Department explained to the residents that because the initial call referred to a disturbance aboard a boat firefighters were delayed into reaching the man in the water and expressed the appreciation of the department to them for assisting with the rescue.

Erickson said that it is not unusual for residents and boaters to come to the aid of others in distress on the lakes.

Gaining momentum among N.H. Republicans, John Kasich addresses local group

BELMONT — John Kasich, the next to last of the 17 Republicans to enter the starting gate for the presidential stakes, rode the crest of a swelling wave to the Top of the Town restaurant this week where his conservatism, leavened by dollops of pragmatism and compassion, played well to a packed house hosted by the Belknap County Republican Committee.

Kasich announced his candidacy on July 21, performed well in the Fox News debate, invested heavily in television advertising and came in third — behind Donald Trump and Jeb Bush — in a poll of New Hampshire voters this week. He has quickly shown himself a strong competitor alongside Bush and Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, for the centrist/conservative vote, which since undeclared voters can take either ballot in the New Hampshire Primary could determine its outcome. By the same token, centrist candidates will likely face stiffer challenges in primaries in states with more conservative GOP electorates, particularly in the South.

"Kasich would be a very strong candidate in a general election," said one party insider, "but, the question is whether he can win the nomination."

Kasich, 63, who served nine terms in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1983 to 2001 — six of them as chairman of the Budget Committee — and is serving his second term as governor of Ohio, is the most experienced candidate in the field. "I've written 16 budgets," he remarked.

Kasich responded to questions directly, displaying a sure command of the issues. He defended his decision to overcome opposition from fellow Republicans in the Ohio legislature to expand Medicaid, insisting that the program benefited the most vulnerable and least fortunate. Although he authored a health-care proposal based on a mandate requiring individual to purchase insurance, he said that would repeal Obamacare and replace it with plan designed to "to keep people healthy rather than treat them when they're sick." He likened primary care physicians to "shepherds" and would empower them to provide regular examinations and routine care at lower costs, emphasizing "quality not quantity medicine."

Kasich also called for measures to control the cost of Medicaid and reform Social Security by enabling younger employees with the opportunity to invest a share of their contribution to private accounts, which he said would ensure the program remained solvent.

Major changes to the health care system and Social Security, Kasich stressed, must be undertaken by a bipartisan coalition. "You don't want to do it with one party," he said, pointing to the dissension arising from introducing Obamacare without Republican support.

"You eat an elephant one bite at a time," Kasich remarked in addressing the deficit. He recalled his experience as chairman of the House Budget Committee in the 1990s when he worked with Clinton administration to reduce the deficit, balance the budget and generate a surplus.

On immigration, Kasich said his first priority would be "build the wall" and return those who breach it to their country of origin followed by a guest worker program and pathway to "legal status" for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants residing in the country. "I'm not for calling these people names or shipping them out," he said. When challenged, he replied that mass deportation is "not practical. I'm not for doing it and not changing my position to gain a vote."

Kasich, who has endorsed the national Common Core education standards, said that 40 percent of high school graduates enroll in remedial courses in college and called for more demanding standards while ensuring local control of school curriculum. He said that the cost of higher education can be reduced by identifying and addressing the factors driving increasing costs.

Kasich left Bob Selig of Laconia impressed. "He's very articulate, answers questions directly and is aggressive, but not negative," he said, then added that he has not yet decided who to vote for.