Belknap County sheriffs to get new computers for patrol cars with grant


LACONIA —Aging mobile data terminals used by county sheriffs will be replaced with tablet devices, after the Belknap County Commissioners Wednesday morning unanimously approved acceptance of $1,164 in federal grant funds.
Sheriff Craig Wiggin explained that the money represents 7 percent of a $16,714 grant which is being sought by the city of Laconia, and, which according to grant guidelines, must be shared with the county.
Wiggin said that the grant, which will be used by the Laconia Police Department for the purchase of 15 semi-automatic, 5.56 mm caliber urban patrol rifles, is the same kind of Justice Assistance Grant which the city and county partnered on earlier this year.
Laconia received $11,641 for nine urban patrol rifles as its share of the earlier JAG grant, while the Sheriff''s Department received $3,000 for radar units.
"The patrol rifles are very much like machine guns," said Wiggin. They are M4 carbines, a shorter and lighter version of the M16A2 assault rifle, with a 14.5-inch barrel and a 30-round box magazine with a high rate of fire.
The commissioners also approved a three-year contract with the American Institutional Medical Group LLC to provide physician services for the Belknap County House of Corrections for three years. The contract calls for fees of $8,013.16 per month in the first year, $8,253.56 a month in the second year and $8,501.10 per month in the third year.
Commissioners approved transfer requests of $500 for the Department of Corrections law library and $800 for full-time wages in the Belknap County Nursing Home due to an unanticipated retirement. Those transfers will need approval from the Belknap County Delegation's Executive Committee.

Northfield Public Works employee dies on job

NORTHFIELD — A employee of the Public Works Department died Thursday following an incident that happened at 8:30 a.m. while moving equipment behind the town garage.

Fifty-six-year-old Tom Wooten was taken by ambulance to Franklin Regional Hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.

"This has been a tragic and heart-breaking time for all of us," said Town Administrator Glenn Smith, who said the incident appears to be nothing more than a "tragic accident."

Smith said the incident is being investigated by the state Department of Labor.
The Belknap Regional Accident Investigation Team was also called to assist.

He added that crisis counselors have been made available by the town to the employees of the Public Works Department. In early May, the town garage was heavily damaged by fire and much of the town's equipment was damaged or destroyed.

Police Chief John Raffaelly said it appears Wooten was helping to move a box trailer.

— Gail Ober

Overdoses spike in city, 55 so far this year


LACONIA — The city has seen a recent spike in the number of heroin overdoses over the past two weeks, Police Chief Chris Adams told the Police Commission this week. With five suspected deaths, he said the number of overdoses so far in the city is at 55 for the year.

In response to a question from Commissioner Thomas Tarr, Adams said the state lab is overburdened with possible heroin/ fentanyl overdoses that, in some cases, autopsies are not being performed on all potential victims.

He said even with the additional money from the recently passed biennial budget, the lab is still overwhelmed.

Lt. Detective Thomas Swett said the city will be getting four traffic grants, including two annual repeating awards for DWI patrols and community patrolling. He said there are two new awards for a 50/50 equipment grant and a distracted driver grant that will be primarily targeting people using electronic devices.

Also at the meeting, Adams thanked the many people who have sent support letters, texts, emails and cards to the department and its officers in the wake of the police shootings in Dallas, Texas.

He said that while it is a troubling time for the men and women in law enforcement, he and employees were really overwhelmed with the support they have seen locally.

"One little boy named Oscar brought us Gatorade," he said, adding that it is important to him and his entire staff to enjoy such community support.

Adams said the department is still planning on equipping officer with body cameras and said his department would be seeking grants after they compete their certification review.

When asked, he said they are part of the five-year strategic plan and that he considers them worthy of a annual budget request. No final decision have been made by the commission as to body cameras or their funding.