Land and Lake Poker Run looks to top $1 million mark since 2001

LACONIA — Over 500 participants are expected to take part this year's 16th Annual HK Powersports Land and Lake Poker Run to benefit Easter Seals New Hampshire which will be held Saturday.
The event, which is dedicated to Peter Makris, the late owner of the Naswa Resort, sees participants travel by cars, motorcycles, boats, personal watercraft, trucks and Jeeps, around or in Lake Winnipesaukee, collecting poker cards as they go which make them eligible for prizes which are awarded at a gathering Saturday afternoon at the Naswa.
Last year's event raised a record $88,000, bringing the total raised since 2001 to $931,000 according to Christine Pederson, Easter Seals New Hampshire's director of event and corporate relations. She says that this year the goal is to raise enough money to pass the $1 million mark.
"The majority of our participants have been involved in this event since 2001 and we pride ourselves in bringing something new to the day to keep it exciting and fresh for all. Our event committee, made of up passionate community leaders, makes sure it is a memorable and fun day for everyone," says Pederson. She noted that for nearly 80 years, Easter Seals New Hampshire has provided services to ensure that all people with disabilities or special needs and their families have equal opportunities to live, learn, work and play in their communities.
Among those helping plan the event is Cynthia Makris, general manager of the Naswa, who serves on the board for Easter Seals. "Since Easter Seals helps people through the whole life cycle, with a broad range of services for everyone, from disadvantaged children to veterans, to adults with disabilities and the elderly, it offered the perfect match for the Naswa family," said Makris. "We are grateful for the popularity the Naswa enjoys and wanted to work with an organization that serves more than just our neighborhood. We wanted the benefits to extend across the state and also across age and demographic lines."
Participants register at the Naswa at 9 a.m. and depart at 10:30 a.m. to four destination points around the lake where they collect sealed playing cards before returning to the Naswa. Land participants make stops at Tanger Outlet Center in Tilton, HK Powersports in Laconia , Patrick's Pub in Gilford and Lago Restaurant in Meredith. Lake participants stop at the town docks in Weirs Beach and Center Harbor, Shibley's at the Pier in Alton and Lago Restaurant dock in Meredith.
Back at the resort, participants play their poker hand and enjoy a beach party which includes a buffet by Sysco, music from Crown Entertainment, water games sponsored by Coors Light and The Cohen Family, and other family-fun activities throughout the day, including an exciting live auction which last year raised almost $15,000.
Prizes awarded in a raffle include a grand prize of a Sea Doo Spark 900 HC with trailer, an $8,693 value, donated by HK Powersports. Second prize is a Saber grill with cover, a $1,200 value, donated by Fireside Living. Third prize is an Old Town Guide 147 canoe, an $824 value, donated by Irwin Marine and fourth prize is an Old Town Vapor 10 Kayak, valued at $565, donated by Irwin Marine.

Giant snapping turtle in Tilton draws concern


TILTON — A snapping turtle is neither a common nor a popular pet, but "Shellhe" has made his home in an aquarium with Chuck Drew, the owner and operator of Camaro Heaven, since he was a hatchling 18 years ago, much to the chagrin of one woman who finds his confinement nothing short of cruel.

Hillarie Goldstein of Franklin has complained that this turtle, "as far as I can tell, he's being tortured." On visiting Camaro Heaven in search of an auto part, she told The Daily Sun, "It had no room to move. All it could do was bob up and down and swim a foot or two in either direction." And she said a friend told her the turtle could not turn around and it "is literally stuck up against the sides of the tank."

Drew said Friday that he is familiar with the lady and dismisses her concerns as exaggerated and misguided. He recalled that "Shellhe," who was christened by one of his children who said the turtle was a "he" and lived in a shell, was among some two dozen hatchlings to emerge near his business, which then operated in Rochester.

"We saved him," Drew said. "That's how we look at it." He said that the turtles hatched near a roadway, where many perished.

"Shellhe" began life the size of a quarter in a five-gallon tank, but now, with his shell measuring about a foot from one end to the other, he has graduated to 70 gallons of filtered water. His shell easily clears both sides of the tank and he smoothly reverses direction. However, Drew said that "the next step is a bigger tank."

Drew said that more than once Conservation Officer Chris Brison of the New Hampshire Fish & Game Department has visited in response to complaints about the treatment of the turtle and has occasionally stopped when in the neighborhood. In New Hampshire there is no prohibition against keeping a snapping turtle as a pet. He said the officer has always found "Shellhe" well fed, living in clean, filtered water and in sound health.

Joe Chase, the shop foreman, said that Brison told him that he doubted the turtle the would fare well in the wild after living his entire life in captivity.

Shellhe is fed every morning, usually by the office staff, who supplement his diet of fish with crab legs. "He eats as well as we do," Chase joked. Drew said if he has good luck fishing he will share his catch with Shellhe.

"He'll eat an 8-inch trout like that," he said.

07-05 Shellhe 1

"Shellhe" the snapping turtle looks out of his 70-gallon tank at Camaro Heaven in Tilton. (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)

07-05 Shellhe 2

Blanchette appeals rape conviction


CONCORD — The attorney for convicted rapist and former Belknap County Sheriff Ernest Justin Blanchette has filed an appeal with the state Supreme Court seeking to overturn his April conviction.

Attorney Brad Davis what he said are multiple errors of law made by the Hillsborough County North Judge Gillian Abramson during the course of Blanchette's trial.

Initially, Davis said, the court never should have allowed evidence of Blanchette's alleged prior bad acts, which include a sexual encounter with the victim that took place prior to that for which he was convicted. Davis said the state failed to tell him in the amount of time he needed to prepare for trial and that it should not have been admitted at trial.

Secondly, he said Abramson erred when she denied his request to set aside the verdict by concluding that he had direct supervision over her by virtue "where the actor was employed." Davis has long said that the law is specific only to corrections officers and that Blanchette was a deputy with the sheriff's department and not a corrections officer.

Davis said Abramson committed an error when she reviewed the language of the specific law when the statute is "clear and unambiguous." He said the Supreme Court should decide if there was enough evidence at rial for the jury to conclude Blanchette was employed by the New Hampshire State Prison where the victim was incarcerated.

He is also challenging the sentence, which he said took into consideration a prior bad act for which he was not convicted.

Davis is also challenging the evidence, saying it was not proved beyond a reasonable doubt that he "coerced" the victim into having sex with him by allowing her to use his cell phone during transports and for giving her cigarettes.

Blanchette was convicted of one count of aggravated felonious sexual assault when he had intercourse with a woman in Bedford while he was transporting her from the Belknap County Court House to the N.H. State Prison for Women in Goffstown on July 2, 2015.

He is facing multiple indictments in Belknap County Superior Court for similar acts he alleged committed while transporting other inmates, including his first victim, in Belknap County.

Belknap County Presiding Justice James O'Neill has said he doesn't want to try the Belknap County cases until the Supreme Court rules on the Hillsborough North case.

Blanchette was sentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison with two of the minimum term suspended provided he be of good behavior and successfully complete a sexual offender course while incarcerated.