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Police & Boys & Girls Club team up at critical crossroad

LACONIA — City police and the Boys and Girls Club often find themselves at the crossroads of juvenile delinquency and are working collaboratively to save young lives that may be in jeopardy.

Yesterday, Police Chief Chris Adams and Boys and Girls Club Executive Director Cheryl Avery explained how their two missions overlap and complement each other.

"We want to initially catch kids while their in middle school," said Avery, who noted that's when disruptive and potentially dangerous behavior often begins to manifest.

The Boys and Girls Club has three program goals — academic success, leadership, and supervision and structure. They accomplish this thorough sports and extra curricular activities, said Avery.

"For kids, it has to be fun," she said.

Adams said that every child who gets involved in structured and extra-curricular activities like the Boys and Girls club is much less likely to wind up in the juvenile justice system.

Statistically, the local numbers are dropping slightly. In 2011, there were 356 juvenile matters reported to the police, of which 167 were criminal matters. In 2012, of the 390 incidents reported to police, 176 were criminal matters while last year, there were 135 criminal matters of the 323 reported incidents.

For the police, crimes involve juvenile petitions, an adjudicatory hearing, and disposition that can include everything from counseling to incarceration. The Police Department has a detective specifically assigned to juveniles and many of the encounters of regular beat officers involves children under 17.

What alarms Adams is that the vast majority of the criminal reports in all three years involved crimes against persons. Typically that category includes assault, criminal threatening, and fighting. Other categories of crime include crime against property, which involves thefts, trespassing and vandalizing and crimes against society that involve drugs or alcohol.

In 2011 67 percent of reported incidents took place after 2 p.m., in 2012 65 percent were after 2 p.m. and in 2013 57 percent occurred after 2 p.m. Incidents reported during school hours were about one-third of those reported during times that school isn't in session.

"Crimes against persons are huge," said Adams. "They involve a lack of respect."
"If we show them respect, they'll should others respect," he said.

Avery and Adams hope that the Boys and Girls Club can be one of those vehicles that provides the structure and supervision children need after school and during the summer.

Adams said Capt. Bill Clary has offered to coach and teach softball while Capt. Matt Canfield has offered to teach some weight training.

Avery said along with basketball, the club has reached out the Appalachian Mountain Teen Project with the goal of getting children outside and into nature. She said the close proximity to Opechee Park means some of the children will be able to take swimming lessons and perhaps do some canoeing.

"Look where we live," she said acknowledging the lakes, mountains, and forests that should be natural playing grounds for children.

Avery said the Boys and Girls Club has a number of success stories as well including one young woman named Sara who was named Youth of the Year four years ago and who has returned to the club to do some mentoring and teaching.

Both agreed that the real focus of both the club and the police is to break the cycle of poverty, drugs, abuse, and alcoholism many at risk children encounter on a daily basis.

Avery and Adams said the Boys and Girls Club open house is Friday from 4 to 6 p.m. and this weekend is the Rotary Club Pancake Breakfast at the club with all the proceeds to go to the club. The breakfast is Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The club is located at 888 North Main Street in Laconia, across the street from Opechee Park.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 March 2014 01:07

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County Reps Split on Medicaid Plan

CONCORD — The Belknap County Delegation split largely along party lines when the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted 202 to 132 in favor of the Senate plan to use federal Medicaid funds to provide private health insurance for adults earning less than 138 percent of the federal poverty limit, or $15,856 for a single person.

Ten of the 11 Republican members present voted against Senate Bill 413 when it came up for a vote last week — Reps. Richard Burchell of Gilmanton, Guy Comtois of Barnstead, Jane Cormier and Stephen Holmes of Alton, Dennis Fields of Sanbornton, Bob Greemore and Herb Vadney of Meredith, Bob Luther and Frank Tilton of Laconia, and Michael Sylvia of Belmont. Reps. Colette Worsman of Meredith and Charles Fink of Belmont were absent and did not vote.

Rep. Don Flanders of Laconia, the other Republican present, joined the five Democrats in the delegation — Reps. Beth Arsenault and David Huot of Laconia, Lisa DiMartino of Gilford, Ruth Gulick of New Hampton and Ian Raymond of Sanbornton — in support of the bill. Flanders was among only a dozen House Republicans who voted for the plan, which earlier carried the Senate by a bipartisan majority of 18 to 5.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 April 2014 12:56

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Man wanted on armed robbery charge turns self in

LACONIA - Joshua McNeil, whom police had been seeking following an incident on Sunday afternoon, turned himself in to the police on Monday evening.

Police issued an arrest warrant for McNeil, 31, with a last known address of 239 Winter Street in Brockton, Mass., on Sunday after a report of an armed robbery at 4:09 p.m. Police reports state that McNeil was riding in the back seat of a car traveling on South Main Street when he produced a gun and ordered the man in the passenger seat to exit the vehicle. When the car continued onto Joliet Street, McNeil allegedly demanded money from the driver. When the driver showed McNeil that he had no money, McNeil struck him on the head with the gun and fled on foot.

Police said the driver sustained a lump on his head from the incident but was otherwise unhurt.

After turning himself in on Monday night, McNeil was arrested on the charge of armed robbery. He refused the services of a bail commissioner and is scheduled to be arraigned on Tuesday, March 25, in fourth circuit district division Laconia Court.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 March 2014 02:52

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City Manager’s budget funds new fire station, road works

LACONIA — With one-time revenues of $300,000 along with increased revenues from sources other than property taxes, City Manager Scott Myers last night presented the City Council with a 2014-2105 budget that would increase city expenditures by $973,495, while limiting the amount raised by property taxes to within the bounds of the tax cap.

Myers proposes expenditures of $22.4 million, 4.5-percent more than the $21.4 million appropriated in 2013-2014. However, $300,000 of the increase represents an increase in the outlay for street repairs — from $1.3 million to $1.6 million — funded with a one-time credit from the Concord Regional Solid Waste Resource/Recovery Cooperative. Save for this windfall, Myers projects revenues from sources other than property taxes to rise by 2.9 percent, the largest annual increase since the advent of the recession.

Less the one-time expenditure for street repairs and $130,000 for membership in the Lakes Region Mutual Fire Aid Association, which for the first time was billed directly to the city rather than included in the county assessment, the increase in budgeted appropriations would be 2.5 percent.

Myers said that the budget includes funding for wage adjustments anticipated as result of new collective bargaining agreements, which are currently being negotiated with the State Employees Association (SEA) , American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Laconia Professional Firefighers and Laconia Police Association. Likewise, the budget funds the employer contribution to health insurance premiums, the increase of which will not exceed 7.22 percent.

Myers said that budget funds the addition of a third mechanic. The city once employed four mechanics, but now has only two, he explained. The hours of a part-time fire inspector, would be increased to sustain inspections, especially of multifamily buildings. The budget provides for three-quarters of the salary and benefits for the additional police officer hired during the current fiscal year as well as five weeks compensation and benefits for the four firefighters hired in May 2013 for two years with a federal grant that expires at the end of 2015.

Myers proposes appropriating $2,021,000 in the operating budget for capital projects. Apart from street repairs, these include bleachers and tennis courts at Memorial Park, sidewalk and guardrail repair and replacement, traffic signals at Court and Fair streets, repair to the deck of the parking garage and drainage improvements throughout the city. In addition, Myers recommends borrowing $4.1 million to renovate and expand Central Fire Station, $1.2 million to address contamination at the abandoned dump on Frank Bean Road and $800,000 for the city's share of reconstructing the Main Street Bridge.

Myers projects that with an increase in the total assessed valuation of $19-million, the proposed budget would add 18 cents to the city portion of the tax rate, which would rise from $8.55 per $1,000 of assessed value to $8.73. The local school tax rate is projected to increase by 27 cents. Meanwhile, the county tax rate is projected to drop by four cents and the state school tax rate by 10 cents. Consequently, Myers projects a net increase in the municipal tax rate of 31 cents, from $22.08 to $22.39.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 March 2014 01:17

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