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Charges stem from June 2013 accident

BELMONT — The driver of an SUV that allegedly cross the center line on Route 106 and crashed into a passenger vehicle on June 27, 2013 has been charged with two counts of vehicular assault.

Police affidavits said Aaron Downing, 29, of 38 Concord St. was in the oncoming lane when the two vehicles collided at 7:12 a.m. Rte. 106 was closed for eight hours while members of the Belknap Regional Accident Investigative Team investigated.

Downing was charged one day shy of the first anniversary of the crash. He was arraigned by video from Merrimack County House of Corrections, where he is serving a sentence for an unrelated incident.

Police affidavits said two witnesses told police that Downing was turning onto Rte. 106 headed north when his car swerved entirely into the southbound lane.

"I saw Aaron come around the corner fast and he swerved into her lane and hit her. She wasn't at fault," police report one eyewitness telling them.

The force of the crash caused both vehicles to land entirely in the northbound lane. When police arrived the female victim was in trapped in her car and Downing was sitting on top of his.

Firefighters had to cut off the top of the woman's car to free her. She was taken to Lakes Region General Hospital and then flown to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon for treatment of life-threatening injuries.

Affidavits said she suffered liver damage, a concussion, broken ribs with damage to her right lung, a broken wrist, finger, and two broken femurs.

Affidavits said Downing's blood was seized and tested at LRGH and tested by the N.H. State Police Toxicology Lab, where they determined it contained benzoyecgonine, morphine, methadone, cocaine, opiates, and traces of codeine.

Each count represents a different theory of the alleged crime. The first contends Downing failed to maintain lane control while the second contends he had consumed illegal drugs.

Last Updated on Friday, 27 June 2014 11:57

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Bolduc Park course said to be favorite of young campers in traveling golf program

GILFORD — Ted Foster has been operating a junior golf camp in the Manchester area for 21 years and bringing those young golfers to Bolduc Park on the Laconia-Gilford town line ever since the second year of the program
''It's the favorite course of our campers and the best par three golf course in the state,'' says Foster, whose young golfers play three different par 3 golf courses throughout New Hampshire each week and are at Bolduc Park every Wednesday and Friday.
The nine-hole course, with holes 85 to 140 yards long, is operated by the non-profit Bolduc Park Association and has been providing a unique and relaxing setting for local golfers, many of them juniors who are taught by golfing instructor Randy Annis, who is also the president of Laconia Country Club.
Bob Bolduc, owner of Piche's Ski Shop opened the park to the public in the 1990s and has high praise for the volunteers, like grounds superintendent Alan Hopkins, who keep the course and its greens in immaculate condition.
Foster says that he has 14 junior instructors in his program, all of them junior golfers who attended Foster's Golf Camp, and that many of the state's top golfers at one time or another attended the golf camp he runs.
Among those golfers who learned the game through Foster's Golf Camp is 14-year-old Lauren Thibodeau of Hampstead, who has won the New Hampshire Junior Golf Tournament women's championship for the last three years and will be competing in the New Hampshire Women's State Amateur event.
Foster predicts that she will win that championship this year, which would make her the youngest to ever win the title. ''She's playing on her home course at Windham Country Club and that should be an advantage for her.''
Another young golfer who has taken part in the Foster's Camp is 13-year-old Michelle Loyer of Gilford, who is a volunteer instructor in the junior Golf League at Bolduc Park and will be taking part in its annual tournament in August.
Foster says that campers ride to and from the Lakes Region in a air-conditioned bus with state of the art surround sound and watch instructional videos on the rides. On Wednesday afternoons, after the morning lessons, they go to Weirs Beach and on Friday afternoons go to Funspot for video game fun and an awards ceremony.

Foster's Golf Camp owners Susan and Ted Foster were at Bolduc Park on the Laconia-Gilford town Friday along with Ann Marie and Gwenny Labbe and Lily Madore and campers from the Manchester area who were learning to play golf at the park. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Last Updated on Friday, 27 June 2014 11:53

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Diehards determined to resurrect tennis in Laconia

LACONIA — This summer, the Lakes Region Tennis Association, in partnership with the Parks and Recreation Department, is offering free tennis lessons for children of Laconia between the ages of seven and 18 — and their parents —  at Memorial Park.

Now in its fourth season, the association, founded by Robert Ronstadt and Phillip Eisenmann, of Gilmanton, has fostered the sport in the Lakes Region by underwriting youth programs in Alton, Belmont, Franklin, Gilford, Gilmanton, Sanbornton and Tilton and this year has added Laconia to its list of venues.

Ronstadt said that when the program began, 30 children were enrolled, a number that more than doubled the following year and reached 165 in the third season.

Tim James of Laconia, a director of the LRTA, donated $10,000 to support the program in the city as well as provide scholarships and purchase equipment for youth enrolled in the association's other programs. Raised in Gilford, James was drawn to tennis as an eight-year old by a free program offered by the town. His play at Gilford High School earned him a full scholarship to Iona College in New York State, where he was the top player in both singles and doubles.

"I wanted to give back and hopefully have some other children discover the fun and many benefits of tennis," James said yesterday. "No kid with an interest in playing the game should be unable to get instruction."

Ronstadt described the LRTA, which is accredited as a "community tennis association" by the United States Tennis Association, as a "facilitating organization" that provides qualified coaches, with experience and success teaching tennis to young players and imparting a lasting enthusiasm for the game. "We teach tennis etiquette as well as the basics of the game," he said. "We're teaching tennis differently," he explained, likening the approach to "Little League" baseball. "We use smaller courts, smaller racquets and low compression balls for the younger players."

James recalled when he was beginning to play in Gilford, there were eight tennis courts at Opechee Park, where today there are none, and noted that Laconia High School could not field a boys tennis team this year.

"We hope to change that," Ronstadt remarked.

Ronstadt said that apart from physical conditioning, strength and coordination, tennis breeds sportsmanship, friendship and integrity, all valuable traits that enrich all aspects a child's life. Growing up in California, he remembered coaches and parents saying "keep the kids on the court and out of court." Still a competitive player at 70, Ronstadt called tennis "a game for life."

Amy Lovisek of the Department of Parks and Recreation, who worked with the LRTA to arrange the program, said "I couldn't be more happy. They're adding a program for free and it will be a real benefit for the kids. My oldest is going!"

The program will run from July 8 until August 14 on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at Memorial Park. Classes for seven to 10 year olds will run from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., for 11 to 14 year olds from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. and for 15 to 18 year olds from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. If necessary racquets will be provided. Parents must remain at the park during the lessons and will be offered an opportunity to take instruction themselves at 8 p.m.

To register, contact the Laconia Parks and Recreation Department at 306 Union Avenue or 524-5046 or by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Last Updated on Friday, 27 June 2014 11:44

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Sex assaults on young girl said to have occurred over 4 years

LACONIA — Mark Thurber appeared by video in the 4th circuit Court, Laconia Division yesterday and was ordered held on $5,000 cash-only and $50,000 personal recognizance bail. He stands accused of raping a young girl over an extended period of time.

In addition, the 42-year-old Meredith man was ordered not to attend any church services or to participate in any church activities that involve minors even if he is supervised. He can get pastoral counseling and can worship with his pastor in private, ruled Judge Jim Carroll.

Thurber faces one count of aggravated felonious sexual assault for alleged having intercourse with a girl who was under the age of 13 during the months from January 2007 through December of 2010.

Police affidavits supporting Thurber's arrest are sealed by the court, however the court held open arguments for bail conditions.

Meredith Lt. Prosecutor Keith True argued Thurber should be held on $50,000 cash-only bail. He noted that Thurber recently returned from a trip to Alaska and though he didn't know if he had a passport, said he fear both a risk of flight and for the safety of the community.

True noted Thurber had $1,000 in cash on him when he was arrested.

Defense attorney John Bresaw said Thurber has no money to speak of and at most could raise $2,000 in cash.

He also said this was an uncorroborated allegation from a single person and said Thurber maintains his innocence.

He said Thurber is not a flight risk, that his biological parents are in Laconia and that he has been a resident of the state his entire life. He said he is employed locally as a plumber and has been living at his current residence for three or four years.

Bresaw said Thurber also agrees to any restrictions placed upon him by the court.

Should he post bail, Thurber in not allowed to go to Tilton or to Campton, not to drink alcohol or take any non prescribed drugs, and to check in with the Meredith Police twice daily — once at 7 a.m. and once at 7 p.m.

When Judge Carroll issued his ruling about Thurber's restrictions from attending church, Bresaw objected. He said he wasn't prepared to make an argument against the restriction yesterday but did want his objection on the record.

Thurber is a member of the Grace Capital Church said Pastor Mark Warren of Laconia. He said he is not an employee of the church or a youth councilor.

"We really focus on strong child safety mechanisms," said Warren, who added it is a sad situation about which he knows nothing.

Last Updated on Friday, 27 June 2014 11:28

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