Drowning victim at Gilman Pond identified by state Marine Patrol

ALTON — Marine Patrol has identified the man who drowned in Gilman Pond on Wednesday as Raymond Tam, a 66-year-old from Malden, Massachusetts.

Tam was fishing with 67-year-old Mo Wong, of Portsmouth, on Wednesday, when Tam felt a fish bite his line. He fell out of the boat when he attempted to set the hook. Wong remained in the canoe but was unable to save Tam, and called 911 at about 10:50 a.m. Divers from the New Hampshire Department of Fish and Game located Tam's body at around 6 p.m. that evening. His identity was withheld until Friday morning so that authorities could notify his family.

An earlier account had incorrectly reported the drowned man's age as 67, and the survivor's age as 66.

— Adam Drapcho

Laconia is safe, say police

Recent home invasions ‘targeted’ victims

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — Two recent home invasions were targeted toward specific people and were more likely than not drug related, said Police Capt. Matt Canfield yesterday. He said these were not random acts of violence and that city residents should know that Laconia is a safe place to live and work.

"These home invasions were very targeted and (the perpetrators) knew what they wanted," Canfield said.

On July 27, three people armed with baseball bats and pipes targeted some people who were in an apartment at 72 Batchelder St. Three people were injured in that attack.

On Aug. 3, two men were arrested and charged with armed robbery, burglary and conspiracy to commit armed robbery after attacking two other men in an apartment at 93 Church St.

Canfield said police have a number of leads in the Batchelder Street incident and are still investigating the Church Street case. He said police don't think the two are related.

Police and the community have taken a number of steps to address the growing drug problem and its fallout in the city. Two years ago, city police created the Prevention, Education and Treatment (PET) program and dedicated Officer Eric Adams to work with those in the community who are addicted to drugs and who want to get clean. Not only does he  help people anonymously get into treatment programs, Adams goes to all drug overdoses and drug-related crimes with the goal of offering assistance.

The community has also rallied around Stand-Up Laconia, a civilian-based education program that provides support to the community and works to band together those who want to address the drug problem.

Four year ago, Presiding Justice Jim Carroll of the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division pioneered Recovery Court – an all-volunteer effort to help a limited number of people who are facing jail or prison because of addiction problems but who want to go through recovery. Police agree that is has been an effective program and Laconia City Prosecutor Jim Sawyer is one of the key volunteers.

"We have taken the approach that we will help those who are addicted and who want help," said Canfield. "We also take the enforcement position that if people want to continue to use and sell drugs in Laconia, we're going to take a hard line."

Canfield said Laconia is a fairly good-sized city and is not immune to the misfortunes of drug activity and its fallout. But, he said, New Hampshire is a safe state and Laconia is a safe city.

While he said it is not uncommon for police to deal with drug dealers who have guns, knives and other weapons, police statistics show that the violent crime rate, or the "crimes against persons" rate, has been steadily dropping in the city, with the possible exception of domestic violence.

"I don't think the community is getting more violent," he said.

He said violent drugs crimes are often committed against "like-minded" people.

"If you're going to deal in that kind of environment, then that's what coming to you," he said. "If you want help, we'll help. If you don't, we'll put you in jail."

Gilmanton officials dispute change in meetings location

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

GILMANTON — It's been a topic of discussion for years, but the meeting office space next door to the town clerk/tax collector's office is now a private office for that official and the supervisors of the checklist, despite the desire of many board members who met there to stay put.

According to Town Administrator Paul Branscombe, all boards will now meet in the upstairs auditorium.

But, and according to multiple emails obtained from the town, with the exception of the selectmen, most chairmen of town boards and the recently ousted former selectmen's Chairman Michael Jean were not in agreement.

"I guess I find (this) hard to understand when our town has functioned so well with our meetings downstairs," wrote Zoning Board Chairman Elizabeth Hackett in an email to the assistant town administrator.

"I still want to use the small conference room as do most of the Planning Board members," wrote Planning Board Chairman Wayne Ogni.

One of the problems with using the auditorium is acoustics.

"I wish they could consider what could be done to improve sound muffling upstairs," wrote former selectman Betty Ann Abbott.

Branscombe said Thursday that curtains have been installed to close off the stage area and he is looking into some prices for some portable microphones.

"In the summer, if memory serves, it is unbearable upstairs," said Abbott.

Branscombe has recommended purchasing a few ceiling fans to try and cool the area in the summer and to circulate the air in the winter.

Former Chairman Michael Jean said earlier this week that he thinks his reluctance to agree with the other two selectmen had something to do with his ouster as chairman.

"I didn't agree with that decision," he said, adding he's not exactly sure when the decision was made or who made it.

"I left you a message to say that you were quite correct we do not need to bring this matter up at a BOS meeting as it has nothing to do with the general public," wrote Branscombe to board member Steve McWhinnie on May 31 in an email not included in The Laconia Daily Sun's Right-To-Know request for all of the emails regarding this decision but one that was widely circulated and reached a quorum of the selectmen.

Jean said earlier this week he thinks that because all of the town's board meetings were held in that room, it should have been discussed and voted upon in public. He said he voiced that opinion to Branscombe in a private email on July 1.

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