Ayotte visits Aavid Thermalloy, addresses health, Northern Pass


LACONIA — U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte brought her re-election campaign to the Lakes Region this week with a visit to Aavid Thermalloy that came on the heels of news that the firm, which designs and manufactures thermal management systems for a myriad of applications, won a contract that will add another 30 to 40 employees to its payroll.

Ayotte, a Republican serving her first term, is defending her seat against a stiff challenge from Gov. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat. The most recent polls indicate the two are running neck and neck, with Hassan ahead by a legible margin in race expected to go down to the wire.

At Aavid, Ayotte met with President and Chief Executive Officer Alan Wong and the management team, from whom she learned that the company provides the systems that cool a vast range of electronic devices from individual iPhones to massive data centers. Describing the firm as "the gold standard" of the industry, Wong said that Aavid's products support the infrastructure of the information technology and telecommunications industries. Ayotte drew an immediate response from the executives when she stressed the importance of reducing and reforming corporate taxation with the aim of stalling "inversions," the migration of companies overseas, and repatriating capital of American firms parked abroad.

After touring the facility, Ayotte met with some 50 employees in the cafeteria. Recalling her tenure as New Hampshire Attorney General, she remarked that her experience as a "murder prosecutor was sometimes good training for Washington." As a member of the Senate Armed Services, Homeland Security and Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committees, she said that she is experienced and placed to assist firms like Aavid.

Ayotte began by addressing what she called the "unprecedented" epidemic of opiate addiction, by summarizing the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, stressing her role in the bipartisan legislation that combines a "public health response" of education, treatment and recovery with aggressive efforts to stem the flow of heroin into the country, especially across its southern border. At the same time, she noted that 99 percent of prescribed painkilling medication is consumed in the United States and the legislation also includes measures to monitor and oversee prescribing practices.

Turning to the cost of health care, Ayotte referred to the Affordable Care Act, not "Obamacare," which she said was primarily intended to expand access to health insurance rather than to manage the cost of health care. To address costs, she said that there should be a wider variety of health insurance plans and more competition among health insurance carriers, along with greater transparency in the pricing of medical services and procedures. She said there are taxes in the Affordable Care Act, including a tax on medical devices and the so-called "Cadillac tax" on overly generous insurance plans, that contribute to high costs.

Relying to a question about the Northern Pass project, Ayotte said flatly "bury it." She pointed out that Eversource has buried the transmission lines for similar projects in other states, Vermont among them, and should do the same in New Hampshire.

08-17 Ayotte at Aavid 1

 Alan Wong, President and Chief Executive Officer of Aavid Thermalloy, a designer and manufacturer of thermal managment technology describes the firm's products and markets for  U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who visited the global company's headquarters on Tuesday. (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)

08-17 Ayotte at Aavid 2

U.S. Senator Kelley Ayotte fielding a question during a Q & A with employees of  Aavid Thermalloy during a visit to firm's headquarters in Laconia on Tuesday.

Man nearly drowns in Moultonborough

MOULTONBOROUGH — An unidentified man was flown to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon after nearly drowning at a home on Moultonborough Neck Road on Monday.

Fire Chief Dave Bengston said firefighters were called to Senyan Road for a report of a man in his late 60s who nearly drowned. He said initially they thought the man was still in the water and asked Tamworth Fire and Rescue to respond as well.

Bengston said the man was on a rubber raft and that others who were in the water had been able to bring him to shore, so Tamworth assistance was canceled.

Bengston said people said he had been swimming and at one point didn't resurface.

He said firefighters performed CPR on him until he arrived at Lakes Region General Hospital from where he was taken by helicopter to Dartmouth.

As of 11 a.m. Tuesday, he said he hadn't had any update on the victim's condition.

He said Marine Patrol is investigating the incident.

– Gail Ober

Thrift store asks customer to take gun outside, companion complains


LACONIA — A recent incident at the thrift store and food pantry operated by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul on Union Avenue threw the conflict between the right to carry a firearm and the right to private property into stark relief.

A nurse, caring for a 5-year-old disabled boy in a wheelchair and openly bearing a holstered firearm, entered the store. According to Erika Johnson, president, "A couple of our customers freaked out." She said she told the woman that the customers were upset and that firearms are not permitted in the store, then asked her to take the gun to her car and return without it. Johnson said that the woman had walked to the store and had no place to safely store the firearm.

"She did not complain," Johnson said. "She was very nice."

Johnson said she called the Police Department and spoke with an officer, who assured her that she is entitled to exclude firearms from the store.

Capt. Matt Canfield confirmed that in New Hampshire, which is among 28 "open carry" states, no license is required or any restriction placed on an individual's right to openly carry a loaded firearm in public spaces. At the same time, owners of private property otherwise open to the public, may lawfully exclude firearms from their premises.

Soon afterward, the woman's companion, Randy Comeau, in letter to The Laconia Daily Sun, which appears on page 6, wrote that "It saddens me that ignorant and judgmental people discriminate against those who would put themselves in harm's way to protect them." Comeau said Tuesday that he is a former military policeman and corrections officer, with 10 years experience in law enforcement, who is thoroughly familiar with the laws governing firearms. He was not present when the incident occurred, but noted that the nurse was "exercising her Second Amendment right and carrying a firearm, which she is highly trained and permitted to carry."

Comeau said Tuesday that the couple visits the thrift store regularly — "at least once a week" — and, although armed, had never been asked to leave before. Nor, he said, was a notice prohibiting firearms in the store posted. He acknowledged that just as individuals have a constitutional right to openly carry a firearm, so a private property owner has a right to prohibit firearms on their property. But, he said "If you don't want them in your store, put a sign on the door."

Some champions of the Second Amendment claim that for a private property owner whose premises are otherwise open to the public to exclude an armed person would be an act of illegal discrimination on a par with refusing to serve someone because of their race, creed, gender or sexual orientation. Comeau stopped short of this position, but pointed out that barring firearms amounts to "taking away your right to protect yourself."

Johnson said that following the incident, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul has posted a notice at the thrift store that firearms are not allowed on the premises.