Laconia police prepare to destroy old guns


LACONIA — Police have asked a judge to allow them to destroy about two dozen guns, some used in crimes, some used in suicides and others simply found on land or in a river.

The weapons include shotguns, pistols and bolt-action rifles.

Police Chief Matt Canfield said the department could sell some of these guns, but chooses instead to have them cut into pieces.

“We don't want to sell them because we are concerned they could later be used in a crime,” he said. “Then it would be traced back as coming from our evidence locker.”

He said the evidence storage locker tends to get filled up with these weapons. Knowing when to dispose of them can be tricky.

After a suicide, for example, the department will call a family to ask if they want the gun back. Sometimes, that's a conversation that can be upsetting. Often the family wants nothing to do with the weapon, but occasionally they want it returned.

Police have latitude in destroying some guns, but there are gray areas when the ownership of a gun may be in doubt. In other cases, police will ask people if they want a gun back, and the call is not returned.

Eleven states have passed NRA-backed laws encouraging or requiring police to resell confiscated guns, but New Hampshire is not one of those states.

However, just to make sure all legalities are observed, police seek a judge's permission before destroying weapons.

That was the case on Aug. 17 when County Attorney Andrew Livernois filed a petition with the Belknap Superior Court, seeking a court order to permit police to destroy 22 guns.

Presiding Justice James D. O'Neill III declined to immediately grant the request. He said in criminal cases, defendants should be notified of the motion to destroy the weapons and given an opportunity to respond.

In cases in which people simply turned in weapons, police do not need court permission to destroy them, he said.
“Accordingly, the pending petition is held in abeyance pending compliance with the above,” he wrote.

Canfield said he expects the court will eventually grant permission to destroy the weapons, which is accomplished by cutting them into pieces at a factory.

The 22 guns include a Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun used in a suicide on July 7, 1988, two Glock 40-caliber semi-automatic pistols a citizen found in a river on April 1, 2007, and a muzzle loader found on someone’s property on Jan. 19, 2015.

There is also a AK-47 military-style rifle, a Kel-Tec P-32 pistol and a .38-caliber chrome revolver, among other weapons.

In addition to the guns that were turned in, police also have weapons involved in cases such as stalking, domestic violence, reckless conduct and felon in possession of firearms.

Winnisquam Marine dips toe in Winnipesaukee with purchase of Channel Marine


LACONIA — Winnisquam Marine, a family-run business founded 40 years ago and which has grown to become that largest pontoon boat dealer in New England, has made a splash in the Lakes Region boating industry by purchasing Channel Marine. The deal was finalized on Thursday evening.

The acquisition gives the Crawford family more boat storage space, more valet capability, more service and rental capacity, and, for the first time, a presence on Lake Winnipesaukee.

Winnisquam Marine was founded by Ed Crawford in 1977 near the Mosquito Bridge that crosses the channel on Lake Winnisquam. Today, Ed is joined in the company by his wife, Sheila, who serves as office manager; daughter, Julie Marsh, executive director, and; son, Ryan Crawford, who fills the role of vice president.

Ed said that Winnisquam Marine is "one of the bigger" marinas in the Lakes Region, and sells between 300 and 400 boats per year – the bulk of which are Bennington pontoon boats. While sales is the strong point for Winnisquam Marine, Ed said that the marina has to offer service to keep the customer happy. And, said Julie, doing so was a challenge without a location on Winnipesaukee.

"Our main customer base is over here, and we never had a location here," Julie said, speaking on Friday morning in the Channel Marine office.

Channel Marine, perched on Lake Winnipesaukee's Weirs Channel, covers nearly four-and-a-half acres, and includes 34 boat slips on the water, a valet building with room for 150 boats, and room to store 500 boats. Channel was founded by Vin Callahan in 1946, and sold the wooden GarWood boats. Bill Littlefield bought the business from Callahan, then in 2000 sold to Vin Mullarkey and Doug Hammond.

Mullarkey and Hammond had been in negotiations to sell the business earlier this year, but that deal fell through. When Ed heard that, he said, he said, "We approached them and came to terms." Within the space of two months, he and his family were signing the documents.

Being on Winnipesaukee opens a new category of sales for the business, said Julie. Selling from their location by the Mosquito Bridge, they were mostly limited to boats smaller than 26 feet – boats that could easily be transported on a trailer. People on Winnipesaukee, who have boats larger than 26 feet, wouldn't want to pull their boat out of the lake when it needs service.

"When you get into that big of a boat, the customer wants to be able to boat to you," she said.

By the time that the Crawford family took it over, Channel Marine was primarily a service business, servicing up to 400 boats each year, while selling about 50 new boats. Under their management, the Crawfords hope to greatly increase the sales figures out of its new location, which it will rename Winnisquam Marine on Winnipesaukee.

Winnisquam Marine will bring its brands of Bennington, Bayliner, Crownline and Heydey, and they think their sales philosophy, which has garnered them increases of 20 to 30 percent in the past few years, will translate to Winnipesaukee.

The Crawfords have built thier business by carefully managing the customer experience. 

"We don't use the 'hard sell,'" said Sheila. While other marinas might hire experienced salespeople, Winnisquam has instead sought boaters and trained them to sell.

"We try to find the right fit for the customers," said Julie.

Sheila said, "Boating's supposed to be fun. You want to make it fun from the moment they walk in."

Winnisquam Marine plans to retain all of the employees that had been working for Channel, which will help ease the transition for their new customer base.

"We're excited to be on the big lake," said Ed. "This was always kind of a road block as we were growing. The purchase of Channel Marine removes that road block. If our customer needs help, we can do it quicker, we're here now."


10 06 Winnisquam Marine on Winnipesaukee

The Crawford family, which owns and operates Winnisquam Marine, closed on the deal to purchase Channel Marine on Thursday. The acquisition gives the growing marina a presence on Lake Winnipesaukee for the first time. From left are Ed Crawford, Ryan Crawford, Julie Marsh and Sheila Crawford. (Adam Drapcho/Laconia Daily Sun)

Man thought to have set fire in one house, damaged others

PLYMOUTH — The man authorities have charged with several felonies involving burglaries and arson in Grafton and Belknap counties remains at the Grafton County Department of Corrections jail in lieu of $20,000 cash bail.
A judge upheld the initial bail amount for Jacob A. Cohen during his arraignment on Thursday, according to investigator Matthew Wilmot of the New Hampshire State Fire Marshal’s Office.
Cohen, 20, whom authorities list as being homeless, was arrested on Oct. 4 in Plymouth by the Fire Marshal’s Bureau of Investigations and the State Police Troop E Detective Division, with assistance from the Plymouth Police Department and State Police Troop F.
Wilmot said the charges are the result of a coordinated effort by law enforcement to solve the break-ins that occurred at  properties in the Winona Road area of New Hampton in early May. Fires were set in one house, and there was damage unrelated to fire at several other properties, Wilmot said.
Cohen faces one Class A felony charge of conspiracy to commit arson, two Class B felony charges of burglary, two Class B felony charges of criminal mischief, and one Class B misdemeanor charge of fuel gas fitting without a license.
“We incorporated other law enforcement agencies to assist, and this investigation wouldn’t have been possible without the resources from multiple agencies working together for a successful conclusion,” Wilmot said.
In addition to the agencies already listed, those participating in the joint investigation included the New Hampton Police Department, Ashland Police Department, Center Harbor Police Department, and Belmont Police Department.
Wilmot said no trial has yet been set, and other felony charges are likely.