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Parent-excused absences said a big problem at LHS

LACONIA — High School administrators reported last night that from 2011 to 2013 the number of students who were truant or absent from school without a reason has dropped by nearly 50 percent.

In 2011 the district reported 1003 truancies while in 2013 there were 456.

Administrators told the School Board last night that positive interventions and improving the school culture were some of the leading reasons for the improvements in attendance.

As to the number of students who needed to be disciplined, the number of out-of-school suspensions dropped from 72 in 2011 to 52 in 2013. The number of in-school suspensions had also dropped from 364 in 2011 to 203 in 2013.

Administrators said they added an administrative detention period in 2013 as well as a student support system that helped 535 students overcome some issues that they were having either in school, at home, or otherwise.

"It's all about climate, culture and consistency," said Principal Jim McCollum who took over as high school principal in the 2012-2013 school year.

McCollum said the biggest problem facing the high school right now is excused absences and those are more difficult to control. In 2013 there were 2,596 excused absences.

For the purposes of record keeping, and excused absence is defined as a student missing one or more blocks of school with parental consent or a student that is more than one-half hour late for school again with parental consent.

He said that if a parent calls the school and notifies it that their son or daughter will be absent or late, then there's not much the school can do about it.

McCollum said the part of the positive behavior intervention system at the school constantly reinforces the notion that a student has to show up in order to be productive.

He said statistics show that overall a student who misses six or fewer days in a school year will have a grade point average of 3.3 or higher. A grade point average declines as the number of absences — excused or unexcused — increases.
"It's what we hear from employers and it what we hear from the community college. You have to show up," McCollum said.

Commenting from the audience, retired civics teacher Richard Coggin said that was the best presentation he's heard in about five years.

Coggin called out some of the existing board members for letting good attendance records slide and and disciplinary incidents increase under the administration of former Principal Steve Beals.

Long-time member Joe Cormier said he didn't necessary agree with Coggin stating that his view was "skewed."

However Coggins assessment got a back-handed approval from the newest board member Mike Perssons, who said that the recent increase in the number of programs and academic offerings as well as the leadership of the current administrative team at the high school have made a big difference in the truancy and discipline issues.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 April 2014 01:08

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Belmont couple comes home to find intruder

BELMONT — A Cross Street man who came home to find an intruder in his house suffered a hand injury during his encounter with the burglar, according to affidavits submitted by police.

The affidavits said some blood was found on Robert Martel's pants after police caught him on Interstate 93 after a police chase that began on Route 3 in Tilton.

Police said Martel, 30, whose last known address was 336 Central St., Apt. 24, in Franklin had allegedly parked his SUV in the driveway of the Cross Street home and entered it. When the couple returned from running some errands, they pulled their car in behind his in the driveway blocking him from leaving.

Martel is charged with Class A felony burglary for breaking into the house and hurting the victim, and was also charged with auto theft for taking the couple's Ford Taurus.

After appearing by video in the 4th Circuit Court yesterday, Martel was ordered held on $100,000 cash-only bail. His defense team reserved the right to argue bail at a later day. Martel asked the judge for less bail but was told to speak with his attorneys and not to address the court directly through the video.

The victims told police that they thought they had company when they arrived home at 12:27 p.m. Friday. But when they entered the home they came face to face with Martel who was allegedly carrying a pillow case filled with their belongings.

The man yelled to his wife to call 9-1-1 while Martel allegedly ran past the two into the driveway. The male victim wrestled briefly with Martel who allegedly stole his car and fled at a high rate of speed.

The victim's parked car was blocking Martel's SUV in the driveway.

Lt. Rich Mann said two Belmont officers were at the victim's home within 90 seconds, and offered medical assistance to the male victim

Police issued an alert for the stolen Taurus. Tilton Police Chief Robert Cormier heard the alert and spotted Martel traveling west on Route 3 by the Tanger Outlets. He said he was "at the right place at the right time" and was driving an unmarked cruiser.

Cormier followed the car onto Interstate 93 and officers from Belmont, Northfield, Tilton, Sanbornton and State Police were able to stop Martel just south of the I-93 Exit 19. One of the southbound lanes was closed during the arrest.

Police said some jewelry reported stolen from the home was found inside the victims' stolen car.

Additional conditions placed on Martel require that should he post bail he is not to consume any alcohol or non-prescribed drugs, must not go south of the intersection of Route 106 and Route 140 so that he stays away from the victims' home, and is to live a 336 Central St. in Franklin.

A representative of the N.H. Judiciary call center said Martel has previous convictions for criminal trespass and unlawful possession from about 10 years ago and a driving while intoxicated in 2012 and a bail violation in 2013 – both out of Merrimack County.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 April 2014 01:26

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Laconia man charged with kicking holes in emergency room wall

LACONIA — A city man is being held on $1,000 cash bail for allegedly kicking two holes in a wall in a section of a hospital  emergency room after being taken there for evaluation by police Saturday night.

Affidavits said Noah Rafuls, 20, of 21 Academy St. had gone to Lakes Region General Hospital on his own but had walked away from the emergency room while he was being seen for "suicidal and homicidal" statements.

Hospital staff notified police, and an officer located Rafuls walking down Gilford Avenue. When the officer stopped and asked Rafuls to talk with him he reported that Rafuls continued to walk away and was swearing at the top of his lungs.

Rafuls allegedly kicked a street sign and was making so much noise that neighbors were coming out of their homes to see what was happening.

A police supervisor joined the officer and Rafuls continued to walk away from them. The two officers each grabbed one of the man's arms and tried to calm him down.

Affidavits said Rafuls struggled aggressively, so he was taken to the ground and handcuffed. Police returned him to the emergency room where he continued to swear and scream at hospital and Genesis staff.

At some point, hospital staff was able to calm him to the point where they asked the police to remove his handcuffs. Police did so. However, as soon as the cuffs were removed, Rafuls allegedly began to scream profanities.

He allegedly kicked the stretcher against the wall and kicked two holes in the wall of the emergency room.

Police said hospital staff said they were unable to control him because of a shortage of staff. Two officers returned to the observation room and ordered Rafuls to lay on his stomach or he would be Tased.

Rafuls complied and was taken to the Belknap County House of Corrections where he refused the services of a bail commissioner.

Judge Jim Carroll ordered him held on $1,000 cash for the disorderly conduct and the criminal mischief complaints, but ruled that if Rafuls could be admitted to an in-patient mental health care facility, the bail would be reduced to personal recognizance.

Carroll also ordered that the court can monitor his progress once in treatment and that once he is released his bail will revert back to $1,000 cash.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 April 2014 01:04

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Long winter feeds dreams of warm climes – 'Passport to the World' travel show draws record crowd

LACONIA — The third annual Passport To The World travel trade show attracted its largest crowd ever at the Margate Resort Saturday.

Many of those attending the show, sponsored by Penny Pitou Travel, said that it felt good after being cooped up inside by a long, harsh winter to be able to get out in some warmer weather and look at travel brochures showing them warm climates and visualize themselves on cruise ships and in exotic destinations.

''We go on cruises a lot, and we've been dreaming a lot this winter about places we'd like to go. This is a great travel show to come to because they have so many presentations about places that you don't know about,'' said Tammy Calley, who was there with her husband, Steven.

Mark Taroberelli, one of the presenters from Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, agreed wholeheartedly. It's his second time at the show, and he couldn't have been happier with the reception he was receiving. ''It's a wonderful show, well attended by people who are really interested in travel and very sophisticated about what they're looking for. It's the only one like it in the Northeast,'' said Taraborelli.

Kim Terrio, office manager of Penny Pitou Travel, said that she could sense a pent-up demand for travel among those who turned out Saturday.

She said the show enjoys a good reputation among those in the travel industry. ''They like to come to Laconia. They like the people here and think they're friendly and eager to learn and they get lots of business while they're here.''

Karmen Gifford, executive director of the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, who attended the show with her her husband, said she was impressed with the large turnout and the enthusiasm being shown by both the public and those presenting information on behalf of the resorts, tour groups and attractions.

''This is one of the best attended travel shows I've ever been at,'' said Roberta Diaz of Delta Vacations, who covers an area from New York City to Maine and said that she was so busy that she ran out of brochures before noon.
Penny Pitou said that the travel representatives love the show. ''We greet them with a cocktail party Friday night and keep them fed all weekend. They love it here and always eager to come back.''

Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 April 2014 12:44

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