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Graphic description of teen sex in assigned reading sends Gilford High School parent through the roof

GILFORD — William Baer, who recently moved his family here from New Jersey, said yesterday he is "outraged" to find what he described as a "pornographic" passage in a book, "Nineteen Minutes" by Jodi Picoult, assigned to his 14-year-old daughter, by the teacher of her 9th grade honors English class at Gilford High School.

Baer said that he intends to appear before the School Board when it meets on Monday evening and ask the members to read the passage in question. "I'd like to see them read this. To see them squirm," he declared.

Picoult, who lives in Hanover, is a popular author known for her topical tales. The 2007 book's title refers to the duration of a school shooting at a fictitious New Hampshire high school, which is portrayed through a series of flashbacks recalling schoolyard bullying and sexual aggression. The passage Baer objects to describes two teens, Josie, once a friend of the shooter who abandons him for the popular clique, and her boyfriend Matt, who abuses her and bullies the shooter, engaging in intercourse — aggressive on his part but resigned on hers. The language is graphic.

"I'm outraged that Gilford High School would require my daughter to read this kind of material," Baer said, adding that he was all the more troubled by the failure of the school to notify parents that the book had been assigned and offer them an opportunity to request an alternative. "I feel that I'm in the process of being violated by the state of New Hampshire's education system," he continued. "It's not there place to dictate."

Baer said that he "stumbled" on the passage when a friend leafing through the book randomly happened upon it. "He read it and asked ''have you read this?'' he said. "Then I read it and my wife read it. We were outraged."

Baer asked that The Daily Sun print the passage. Otherwise, he expected readers would dismiss his response as that of "an uptight, over-protective, over-reacting parent."

Editor Ed Engler declined, saying he thought some of the description rendered were not suitable for publication in 99 percent of daily newspapers in America, "Maybe 100 percent".

Baer noted that the (Manchester) Union-Leader, too, flatly refused to print it, asking "it's not fit to print, but it's okay for my daughter to read it and discuss it? My goal is to have everyone in the United States read what's on page 313 of that book," he declared, "except my daughter."

Soon after discovering the passage, Baer said that he e-mailed the principal, Peter Sawyer, to request a meeting, only to be informed one could not be arranged yesterday.

Meanwhile, later in the day, Kent Hemingway, the Superintendent of Schools, Sue Allen, who chairs the School Board and Sawyer issued an "informational statement" to local media. They said that students in English classes at the high school were assigned "Nineteen Minutes" on Monday, April 28 and explained it has been a selection open to high school staff since 2007, the year it was published. They describe the book as of "thematic importance," noting that it contains scenes of physical and sexual violence.

The statement reminds parents of the school district's policies, which refer to the procedures bearing on controversial material.

The officials said that when "Nineteen Years" was assigned in past years, parents were notified for their approval and concede this procedure was not followed this past Monday. However, they assured parents that notification will be sent to the parents of all students who have been assigned the book.

Baer suggested the notice include the passage on page 313. "If the text were not included, do you know any parent ,or student, for that matter, who could reasonably expect such content to be in a 9th grade assigned book?" he asked. "I think if they put that text in the notice, the vast majority of parents and possibly students would opt out."

Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 May 2014 01:32

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Gilmanton selectmen step back from association with Y-R Library

GILMANTON — Selectmen voted unanimously at their last meeting to withdraw the board's official representative to the Gilmanton Year-Round Library Board.

Minutes of their meeting indicate that selectmen were somewhat put off by the GYRL statements made after the appointment that an official selectman's representative was a good step toward its ultimate goal of eventually becoming an official department of the town.

Currier said that at this time it is not the will of the selectmen to begin any discussions about incorporating the Year-Round Library into the town in any official capacity.

Selectman Chair Brett Currier said the initial appointment of an official representative was to act as a steward for the $52,000 of tax dollars approved by the voters to fund some of the operations costs of the library.

Selectman Steve McCormack had been the representative but agreed that he didn't want to be a voting member on the board.

Currier said selectmen agreed that McCormack was welcome to attend the meetings as an observer and report back to the board.

He said the entire board agreed that having an official representative was too political for the board of selectmen.

Funding for the Gilmanton Year-Round Public Library has been controversial ever since the library began coming to the town for money for operating expenses. Some years a majority of voters have said "yes" and other years "no".

Many in town believe that the original deal with the town allowing the construction and opening of the Year-Round Library was that there would be no taxpayer money used to fund it.

Others believe the time has come for the town to fund the library and in March of 2014 a warrant article requesting $52,000 passed by 17 votes. A vote in March of 2013 failed by an equally small margin.


Last Updated on Saturday, 03 May 2014 12:35

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State moves to confiscate $1,500 taken from alleged pot dealer's car in Belmont

LACONIA — The Office of the Attorney General has filed a request to seize $1,560 taken from a Belmont man who was arrested on March 20 for possession of marijuana.

According to the filing, a Belmont Police officer was patrolling the Park and Ride lot on Rte. 106 when he noticed Ryan Davis, 20, of Brown Hill Road sitting alone in a gray pickup truck.

The officer approached Davis to see if everything was alright and said he noticed a strong smell of marijuana coming from the truck. Davis agreed to get out of the truck and speak with the officer. He allegedly admitted to having a glass bowl of marijuana near the stick shift and a jar of marijuana in the backseat.

Davis signed a consent form and police found the pipe, a metal marijuana grinder in the front seat and a white container with pot residue in the back seat.

In a backpack were a digital scale and $1,000 in cash. An additional $560 was found in an overhead storage compartment.

After being read his rights, Davis admitted to selling marijuana in the past but said it wasn't his full-time job. He said the money in the back pack was from selling pot but the money in the overhead storage compartment was from his paycheck.

The state argues that the law allows them to seize any money that cannot be accounted for legitimately. Asst. Attorney General James Vara said all of the money was found in the proximity of illegal drugs and is therefore subject to forfeiture.

A hearing will be scheduled on the merits of Vara's argument within 90 days.

Davis is charged with one count of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute it.

Last Updated on Saturday, 03 May 2014 01:27

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Judge denies alleged Governor's Island marijuana grower's request to depose his landlord

LACONIA — A Belknap County Superior Court judge denied an accused pot grower's request to depose his former landlord about what she may have seen at his Governor's Island rental home and what and when she told the New Hampshire State Police about it.

Judge James O'Neill ruled Thursday that Corey LaPlante, 28, acting through his attorney Mark Sisti, had failed to meet his burden for compelling property owner Jennifer Truman to be deposed.

"Upon review, the court find a deposition of Ms. Truman is inappropriate because the defendant has failed to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that her deposition is necessary," he wrote.

He noted that during the motion hearings that the N.H. Assistant Attorney General James Vara has already provided Sisti with all discovery related to Truman, including her contact information and that he had made no effort to contact her.

Sisti asserts that Truman may have been acting as an agent of the police when she walked through LaPlante's home and reported what she saw to the police. His argument is that if she had previously been on the property without notifying LaPlante, then her second visit is tantamount to a warrant-less search of his client's home.

O'Neill agreed with Vara who said that any information Sisti seeks is available through other investigatory methods and a deposition is not warranted.

Truman lives in another state and Vara pointed out during the hearing that a court ordered deposition could be time consuming and expensive.

LaPlante is charged with two counts of manufacturing a controlled drug, two counts of possession of a controlled drug with intent to distribute it, and one count of possession of a controlled drug.

After raiding the home in October of 2013, members of the N.H. Drug Task Force found what they described as a "significant" marijuana growing operation, marijuana, hashish, six weapons and $33,000 in cash.

LaPlante is free on bail.

Last Updated on Saturday, 03 May 2014 01:23

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