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Meredith says 'no' to 2-lane roundabout

MEREDITH — The committee of local stakeholders working with the New Hampshire Department of Transportation (DOT) to improve the flow of traffic through the U.S. Route 3/N.H. Route 25 corridor yesterday rejected the option of a two-lane roundabout at the village center junction.

Modellng by McFarland Johnson, Inc., project manager for DOT, indicates that a two-lane roundabout at the primary intersection offers the most effective means of relieving congestion. Nevertheless, the committee agreed that it would have an adverse impact on both the abutting properties and the entire downtown.

"You want the most efficient way to move traffic through town," Lou Kahn, who chairs the panel, told DOT offiicals. "You don't worry too much about what it does to the towni." He said that a two-lane roundabout would "cut the town in two," making it difficult to travel from one side to other. "You've got to fix the traffic problem without harming the town."

Rusty McLear of Hampshire Hospitality Holdings, whose inn at Bay Point on the southeast corner of the intersection would be affected by a two-lane roundabout, cautioned against looking for the perfect solution.

The committee returned to two alternatives for the intersection, improved signalization or a one-lane roundabout, with two right-turn lanes from Rte. 3 on to Rte. 25. Gene McCarthy of Mcfarland Johnson was asked to position the roundabout to minimize its impact on surrounding properties. Both options will be considered when the committee meets again in September.

McCarthy emphasized any improvements at the junction of Rte. 25 and Pleasant Street must correspond to those at the intersection of the primary intersection. In other words, either roundabouts or signals must be paired to ensure traffic flows efficiently. Several members of the committee though that a roundabout or signal at Pleasant Street could ease access and egress to businesses along Rte. 25, particularly the Hannaford supermarket.

The committee also discussed ways of managing foot traffic back and forth across Rte. 3 at Lake Street and Dover Street, which contributes to slowing traffic and increasing congestion on the highway. If the central intersection continues to be managed by traffic signals, signals to control pedestrian crossings could be coordinated with them. However, it would be more difficult to coordinate pedestrian crossings on US Route 3 with a roundabout at the intersection.

McLear pointed to the success of pedestrian underpasses in Holderness and New Hampton, reviving the notion of constructing a tunnel under the highway from Hesky Park. McCarthy said that 10 feet of clearance would be required together with graded approaches to accommodate those with disabilities. "It can be done," McLear insisted, asking "what's the cost?"

The committee will next meet on Thursday, September 18.

Last Updated on Friday, 22 August 2014 12:51

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Hosmer raising far more money than Republican challenger from Franklin

CONCORD — Financial reports filed this week show a wide gap in the funds raised by the candidates for the New Hampshire Senate in District 7 — the Democratic incumbent Andrew Hosmer of Laconia and his Republican challenger Katheen Lauer-Rago of Franklin.

Between June 18 and August 20 Hosmer added $35,020 to his balance of $79,613 for a total of $114,633, During the same period he reported expenditures of $35,896, leaving him with $78,737 in hand.

Lauer-Rago raised $6,536 and spent $3,199 and has a balance of $3,230.

Hosmer counted 111 individual contributors, including three of $1,000 and 10 of $500. He also received contributions from 29 businesses, labor unions and trade associations totaling $13,100. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, who share Hosmer's support for the Northern Pass project. He received $1,000 from the New Hampshire Automobile Dealers Association. (He's an executive at AutoServ of Tilton.) The New Hampshire Association of Realtors kicked in $2,000.

Lauer-Rago received 30 contributions, most of them from individuals. With a contribution of $2,000, the political action committee of Senator Chuck Morse of Salem, the president of the N.H. Senate, represented nearly a third of all her funds while Senator John Reagan of Deerfield and the Merrimack County Republican Committee each contributed $500.

District 7 consists of the city of Laconia and towns of Belmont,and Gilford in Belknap County and the city of Franklin and towns of Andover, Boscawen, Canterbury, Northfield, Salisbury, and Webster in Merrimack County.

Last Updated on Friday, 22 August 2014 11:49

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Police say Laconia man video recorded his own drug deals & they have the images

CIRCUIT COURT — An alleged drug trafficker is in Belknap County Jail on the strength of evidence gleaned from the elaborate surveillance system installed to protect the apartment where police claim he sold drugs.

Matthew Perkins, 24, of 57 Holman Street in Laconia, who was arrested on Thursday charged with two counts of selling a narcotic drug, a class B felony, was held in lieu of $5,000 cash bail following his arraignment in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division yesterday.

Keith Lafoe, 40, of 736 Union Avenue, who was also arrested on Thursday charged with one count of selling a narcotic drug, was released on personal recognizance bail and scheduled for arraignment in October. Both men were arrested with incident at their homes.

The arrests stemmed from a investigation that began with an arrest on drug charges in March and remains ongoing.

According to the affidavit of Detective Christopher Noyes, police searched the person, vehicle and apartment of Roger Perkins at 25 Gale Avenue. There they found a surveillance system with eight cameras both inside and outside the building connected to an Ipad in a bedroom and a television in the living room.

Crack cocaine, cocaine, marijuana and methylone were found in the vehicle. In the apartment, police found equipment used to package drugs as well as to cook cocaine into crack cocaine. In a closet, police found two firearms and a large safe containing bags of crack cocaine, cocaine, marijuana and psychedelic mushrooms along with a pair of firearms, two scales and $1,200 in cash.

Obtaining a second search warrant for the digital video recorder (DVR), Noyes viewed more than 1,000 hours of footage captured by the surveillance cameras, which recorded 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The DVR displayed the date and time of the footage recorded by each camera.

Noyes alleges that at 4:48 p.m. on March 23, 2014 a man he recognized as Lafoe entered the apartment. Minutes later a camera records Matthew Perkins walking into the closet where the safe was found and returning with a bag containing a white substance., which Noyes claims to some sort of drug. Then Lafoe joins Perkins in the bedroom, puts cash on a table and examines the bag while Perkins counts the money.

Noyes reported that Perkins unties a baggy and dumps something on to an envelope then goes back to the closet and returns with a box of bags. Perkins fills two bags, which Lafoe ties off before leaving through the back door. Afterwards Perkins continues to fill and tie what Noyes said were at least five bags of the white substance. Noyes claimed the cameras recorded a drug deal, adding the drug appeared to be cocaine or crack cocaine.

About 45 minutes later, the same day, the camera captured Matthew Perkins in the bedroom constantly checking his phone and the Ipad connected to the surveillance camera as if expecting someone. Soon Perkins let a man, who Noyes identified as Micah Niles, through the back door and locks it behind him. Perkins took several bags from the table and handed them to Niles, who put money on the table. After counting the money, Perkins took another bag from his pocket and handed it to Niles, who put it in his mouth then left through the back door.

Last Updated on Friday, 22 August 2014 11:03

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Defense for man found slumped over wheel arguing heroin was discovered illegally

LACONIA — A local public defender is using a previous ruling by the same judge to bolster his case that the evidence in a current trial for possession of heroin should also be suppressed.

Evidence in the first case, a drug arrest in 2010, was suppressed by Judge James O'Neill in circumstances that Public Defender Wade Harwood says are almost identical to his current case.

In both cases, the defense argued that police should have gotten a warrant to search a vehicle in order to seize evidence in plain view because there was no chance the evidence would be destroyed before the warrant was obtained.

Harwood is defending Kory MacDonald, 28, formerly of Meredith Center Road who was allegedly found slumped over in his car in the downtown Laconia Parking Garage by a Laconia Police officer.

The officers affidavits said that during what she described as an inventory search, she recovered heroin, an uncapped needle, a burned spoon and a knife.

Harwood's initial motion to suppress was predicated on what he had gathered from the affidavit — that it was an inventory search. He filed a motion for suppression on April 25 using the reasoning that the police department's own regulations about towing were violated and that since the officers didn't have any reason to tow the car, they would have had plenty of time to getting a warrant before searching it.

Asst. Belknap County Prosecutor Carley Ahern filed a "place holder" response in which she briefly stated that the items were seized as part of a legitimate inventory search and she was reserving her right to file a memorandum of law at a later date.

That later date came the morning of the suppression hearing that was scheduled for 1 p.m. the same day. In her response she offered a completely different set of circumstances surrounding MacDonald's arrest and how the drug evidence came to be in the possession of the police.

Ahern's version of events was that the officer found an unconscious man in a car that was running and not parked in a designated parking space at 11:22 a.m. The officer went to the car and knocked on the window a few times. When she got no response she called for additional officers and an ambulance.

She testified at last week's hearing that she saw a spoon, a lighter, and a plastic baggy containing what she is trained to believe is illegal drugs in plain sight from her vantage points, first at the passenger side window and then at the driver's window.
When MacDonald began to stir, she said she ordered him to put his hands on the steering wheel but said he kept putting his right hand down toward the center console.

Ahern wrote that she immediately opened the door and ordered MacDonald to show his hands. She said he refused to cooperate and kept moving his right hand down toward the center console.

She said she removed MacDonald from the car and pushed him against the side of the car. She said she was afraid he was reaching for a weapon but said he told her he thought he had a needle but wasn't sure where it was.

At one point she said MacDonald became upset because he was on parole and didn't want to be arrested. She said he was away from the car and seated on the ground. When he requested a cigarette, she retrieved one for him from his car.

Two additional police officers had arrived and MacDonald was placed under arrest. The officer testified she removed the baggie, the needle and the spoon that were in plain site. She said and uncapped syringe was on the front driver's seat and MacDonald had apparently been sitting on it.

She also found a four-inch folding knife in the front console with the blade open.

Ahern argues that MacDonald's suspicious actions and his refusal to follow directions created an immediate circumstance requiring her entrance into the car to prevent any destruction of evidence.

Ahern said once MacDonald was under arrest, she removed the drugs and related items that were in plain site. The officer testified at the hearing that she found the knife as the result of the inventory search but the rest of the search was conducted by a second officer because her supervisor told her to take MacDonald to the Police Department for booking.

At the hearing, Harwood told O'Neill he felt that the late filing of Ahern's motion and the revelation of a different theory of how the evidence was gathered was distinctly "unfair." Judge O'Neill didn't necessarily disagree with him.

Harwood also said that he had just been told by Ahern that if he didn't want to argue the suppression motion, then she would not prosecute the case and seek a second indictment before this month's grand jury.

Harwood objected because MacDonald has been in jail since his arrest and has been unable to post the $10,000 cash bail required for release.

He said his entire first motion to suppress was framed as a inventory search and it was only a few hours before the hearing that he learned something else allegedly happened. He also noted that at MacDonald's probable cause hearing in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division, two officers testified that the evidence seizure was made a the result of an inventory search.

Ahern said she didn't have the transcripts from the probable cause hearing and was unprepared to address them.

O'Neill said that she made allowances that the search was an inventory search to which Ahern agreed, but said she changed her tack when she got the first round of discovery from the police.

The judge agreed to a brief recess to see if the technology was available to replay the crucial components of the probable cause hearing but after about 20 minutes Ahern and Harwood came to an agreement about certain passages that could used for suppression.

Harwood also said he was prepared to go forward as long a Judge O'Neill gave him a few days to file his own legal supplement before the ruling. O'Neill agreed.

During her testimony, the officer said that she accidentally wrote in her affidavit that the evidence other that the knife was seized during an inventory search. All parties agreed it was not a deliberate misrepresentation.

Harwood filed his supplemental argument on Friday. In it, he cited the case of the State of New Hampshire verses Gary Gach, who was charged with possession of narcotics after a Laconia Police officer seized a crack pipe from his car that was in plain view.

O'Neill ruled in 2010 to disallow the evidence of the pope because despite the fact that it was in plain view, the arresting officer had enough time to get a warrant to search the car.

Harwood argues that in MacDonald's case the same situation applies. He said there were a total of three police officers including a supervisor who ultimately responded to the parking garage.

He argues that MacDonald was under arrest and the evidence in the car wasn't going anywhere.

He said that the officer had to open the car door to remove MacDonald from the car but didn't deem it necessary to seize the items until after he was placed under arrest.

Harwood noted that she actually went back into the car to get a cigarette for MacDonald before his arrest but didn't seize the evidence at that time.

He said since she was able to open the car door, it was clear that the car was unlocked and because there were two other police officers present, there was no danger of the evidence being removed or destroyed, making her warrantless seizure unconstitutional and inadmissible.

Judge O'Neill is expected to make a ruling some time after Labor Day.

Last Updated on Friday, 22 August 2014 10:16

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