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Jail superintendent leds charge to give county department heads more freedom to set policy

LACONIA — The Belknap County Commission is looking at a revising its policy manual to give department heads more control over developing policies specific to their departments.
A proposed revision in the policy procedure was circulated at Wednesday morning's meeting of the commission and was prompted by concerns raised by Belknap County Corrections Department Superintendent Daniel Ward at the March 19 meeting of the commissioners.
At that meeting commissioners agreed to a request by Ward that he be allowed to adopt policies for the jail which he said are needed and are his responsibility under state law 43:24.
''The law is very clear on what my responsibilities are,'' said Ward, who said that the policies are separate from those contained in the county's policy manual.
County Administrator Debra Shackett said that the manual has procedures for departmental specific policies and asked commissioners whether that policy which was put in place in 2010 should be followed or whether Ward should be allowed to develop policies without direct authorization from commissioners.
Commissioner Richard Burchell, who was ousted as commission chairman at the March 2 meeting, said that he thought the former commissioners had abrogated authority to themselves, which was contrary to state law and that it is Ward's responsibility to handle operational details specific to correctional facilities.
Commissioners agreed that Ward had the authority to develop the policies and asked that they be informed by e-mails of the new policies which have been adopted.
Prior to that meeting Ward had sent an e-mail to all department heads as well as county commissioners detailing his concerns about the procedures which had been adopted in 2010, which directed all department heads to work through the county administrator in the development of policies and required that they be reviewed by the county administrator, who would determine if further review was needed, before being implemented.
He wrote that the commissioners at that time ''felt they could rest all of their power and authority in just one person'' and said that it had created a situation in which the professionals running the departments were unable to draft policies or needed approval from an individual who had no knowledge or experience in the area in question.
The proposed policy manual revision drops the language about the county administrator being the designated agent of the commissioners and provides that all newly developed policies be forwarded to the county administrator and that in the case of conflicts that the policy adopted by the county commissioners shall prevail.

Last Updated on Friday, 03 April 2015 12:54

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$2 million from sale of Laconia State School is in revenue budget passed by House

CONCORD — Governor Maggie Hassan's proposal to sell the former Laconia State School property on North Main Street was included in the biennial budget adopted by the New Hampshire House of Representatives this week.

The governor directed the Department of Administrative Services to sell the property and included $2 million in proceeds from the transaction, which represents the selling price of the property, among the revenues in her proposed 2016-2017 budget. Although some members of the the House have opposed selling the property in the past, the budget writers left the governor's proposal intact. The Senate, including Senator Chuck Morse (R-Salem), the president of the Senate, has favored selling the property, not least because the state is spending nearly $300,000 a year to secure and maintain it.

In 2012 an appraisal prepared for the state by the Bureau of Right-of-Way of the New Hampshire Department of Transportation placed the value of the site at $2.16 million. In April, 2012 the Laconia City Council offered to purchase the property, together with the Robbie Mills Sports Complex, an abutting 10.2-acre parcel owned by the state and leased to the city for 99 years, for $2.16 million. The state, through lack of action, declined the offer.

Ed Engler, the mayor of Laconia has said that he would advocate for acquiring the property if it were offered to the city for its appraised value.

The terms of the proposed transaction are stipulated in House Bill 2, the so-called "trailer bill" that accompanies the budget, which directs the commissioner of the DAS to execute the sale. The transaction would be subject to the requirements of RSA 4:40, the statute governing the sale or lease of state property, which stipulates that it must be first be offered to the municipality or county where it is located. But, the transaction from the review and approval of both the Council on Resources and Development, a panel representing executive departments and agencies, and the Long Range Capital Planning and Utilization Committee, consisting of four members of the Senate and four members of the House of Representatives, as the law requires.

The property consists of 202 acres bounded by North Main Street to the east, Meredith Center Road and Eastman Road to the north and Ahern State Park to the west and south and divided roughly in half by Right Way Path. Among the 26 buildings on the site, the appraiser found less than a handful salvageable and estimated the cost of demolishing the rest at more than $2 million.

Last Updated on Friday, 03 April 2015 12:47

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Woman alarmed by discovery of discarded needles near city's now dump

LACONIA — Jennifer Perkins was walking her dog on South Street, near the city's sledding hill, where the Department of Public Works dumped most of the snow it cleared from streets this winter, when she found five hypodermic needles exposed in a melted snow bank.

"I was pretty shocked,"Perkins said. "I have a five year old daughter who plays out here all the time. I wouldn't want her to find them."

Discarded needles, like needles shared by intravenous drug users, harbor a residue of blood that may carry disease, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes AIDS, and the hepatitis C virus, both of which are often transmitted through intravenous drug use. These diseases are infectious and pose a grave risk to the health of individuals and the public.

Perkins said that she called the Police Department and an officer soon appeared and took the needles for disposal. However, Perkins said that she remained concerned that as the snow collected from the streets continues to melt more needles will be exposed. "I'm concerned because there are so many children in this area," she said.

Officer Eric Adams, who is assigned exclusively to issues arising from substance abuse, cautioned anyone finding discarded hypodermic needles against touching them. "Don't touch it," he said. "That's the first thing." Instead, persons should call either the Police Department at 524-5252 or the Fire Department at 524-6881 and an officer or firefighter will respond to the scene, collect the needle and dispose of it properly. Discarded needles are medical waste with the potential to spread infectious disease and should be disposed of by the Fire Department or Lakes Region General Hospital..

Adams urged those reporting the discovery of discarded needles to remain at the scene to direct the officer or firefighter to needle. "It is very important to stand by," he said.


CAPTION: Jennifer Perkins, who found five discarded hypodermic needles in a melting snowbank on South Street yesterday, reported her discovery to the police, who disposed of the threat to public health. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Adam Drapcho) 

Last Updated on Friday, 03 April 2015 12:34

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Man said to have threatened wife with a knife

LACONIA — A North Main Street man remains behind bars as of yesterday after allegedly threatening to harm his wife with a knife during an argument the two had early Wednesday morning.

Police affidavits obtained from the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division said officers responded to Jason Samson's home at 1156 North Main Street at 3:58 a.m. regarding a domestic disturbance.

When police entered the apartment, they noted that Samson had his hands in his sweatshirt pockets. He complied with a police request to put his hands in the air and told them he had a fixed-knife blade in one of his pockets.

An officer removed the knife while a second one went into a different room to speak with the alleged victim, who told the officer she and Samson had been arguing for hours about what he perceived as her having an affair.

She said he got "so worked up" that at one point he stabbed the wooden dining room table with the knife and allegedly ordered her to send her alleged lover a text message so he would come to the apartment and Samson would allegedly stab him.

At one point, she told police she went to go to the bedroom to get away from him and he grabbed her by the arm so hard that he left a bruise. She told police she was afraid of Samson and feared him "to be capable of inflicting serious bodily injury to her," read the affidavit.

She gave police permission to seek an emergency protective order against him, which was granted by Judge Jim Carroll.

She showed police where he had grabbed her and they noticed a bruise consistent with being grabbed by the upper arm with force.

Affidavits said Samson didn't necessary deny any of her accusations but tried to downplay his alleged role in them.

Samson was arrested and refused the services of a bail commissioner. After his appearance in court yesterday morning, he was ordered held on $5,000 cash-only bail and given a probable cause hearing date of April 10.

Officially, paperwork says he is charged with two felony counts of criminal threatening with a deadly weapon, one felony court of domestic violence criminal threatening with a deadly weapon, one count of simple assault, and one count of domestic violence simple assault.

Last Updated on Friday, 03 April 2015 12:27

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