City's first general enrollment pre-school set for November startup at Pleasant Street School

LACONIA — Preparations for a pilot program for a four-hour pre-school are nearly compete at the Pleasant Street School.

The program, said Principal Dave Levesque, will be the first pre-school program in Laconia that doesn't target special needs students, who are entitled to pre-school services under a federal Title 1 grant, and the only one this year that will serve children without special needs. It is funded partially through the School District and partially through a state grant.

"We want to get young students in our building earlier," he said.

Levesque said the class, which will be taught by Kiersten Foster, will be offered first to four-year old children who have older siblings in the building. If there is any additional room for the 12 to 16 projected students, he said it will be offered next to residents in the catchment area for Pleasant Street School. It will meet from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and parents will have to provide transportation for their children.

Levesque said the goal is to have this program running by November 1 and to expand 4-hour pre-school to the entire district within the next three years.

"It's an academic curriculum with academic play," said Foster, who is originally from Maine and who came to the School District from Lakes Region Community Services. She said all children are screened in the same way kindergarten students are screened.

She said she plans on having an assistant because they want to keep the student-teacher ratio low. While working with the school to set up the program, Foster has also been helping in the other grades and has made friends with those children as well.

The classroom Levesque set aside for the program is ideal in his mind because it has an exit directly on to the playground, has it's own bathroom, and is relatively self-contained yet near the kindergarten classrooms.

He said the truly unique portion of the Pleasant Street School pre-K program is that it is a parent- and community-based and part of the School District.

"At least once a month our plan is to have a parent activity from 1 to 2:30 p.m. that involves local community service agencies," said Levesque. "Another part of our program is to have parents connect monthly."

He said the School District wants to help parents give their children the things they need at home and that's why the community-family portion is embedded in the program.

"We believe if parents are invested early (in their children's education) that they will continue to be invested," Levesque said. "We want them ready for kindergarten."

"We want all of them at parades and assemblies other school and community events," he said.

The School District reached out to parents yesterday through letters in the "Friday folder" that goes to all Pleasant Street School parents and posters have been placed throughout the city.

Anyone who is interested in enrolling their 4-year olds in this program should call Pleasant Street School at 524-2168.

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140+ volunteers answer call for Day of Caring

LACONIA — Nearly 150 volunteers fanned across the Lakes Region yesterday to lend a hand to nearly 30 nonprofit agencies — eight of them in Laconia, undertaking some 65 projects on the annual Day of Caring of the Granite United Way Central Region, sponsored by AFL-Noyes of Belmont.

Aqualogic, Inc. of Gilford partnered with the city's Conservation Commission to remove trash and debris from the upper reach of the Winnipesaukee River above the Avery Dam. John Jude of Aqualogic deployed the craft he uses to remove milfoil from water bodies, along with two divers — his son Dominic and Wayne Kreiensieck — who worked together with Scott McPhie of the Planning Department, Michael Foote of the Conservation Commission and Lisa Morin of the Belknap County Conservation District.

By the lunch hour Dominic Jude said they had pulled three bicycles, a wheelbarrow and a shopping cart from the river, along with several barrels of smaller items like bottles, cans and hub caps. Foote, who cruised the river in a canoe, said that several larger items, among them a 55-gallon drum and pickup truck cap, were marked with buoys and will be removed when the water level is drawn down next month.

Meanwhile, a team from Hannaford supermarket was busy at the Boys & Girls Club of the Lake Region. In the basement, Rose Lafamme and Peg Frankel spent the day moving the art room to new quarters where there is a working sink and organizing a myriad of art supplies and materials. Together they meticulously sifted and sorted buttons, beads, crayons, colored pencils and other supplies, placing each in its own container and arranging them neatly on shelves. "We're getting through this," Laflamme said, wondering how long everything would remain in its place.

Upstairs Mike Harrison, an experienced who maintains the meat department at the supermarket while pursuing his education in health science and administration, cleaned and stained a pair of picnic tables. Suspecting he might not finish the job, Mariah Hoffman, unit director of the club, told him not to worry, since the boys and girls from Laconia Middle School would relish putting the final touches to the tables. Harrison said that employees from Hannaford often volunteer, adding that recently he and others ran five kilometers in support of the troops.

Other teams did painting, landscaping, cleaning and repairing at the Greater Lakes Child Advocacy, Laconia Area Community Land Trust, Salvation Army and Carey House, Lakes Region Child Care, Belknap Mill, New Hampshire Catholic Charities and St. Vincent de Paul.

The day began with a breakfast for volunteers at the St. Andre Bessette Parish Hall and ended with a reception at the Christmas island Steak House.

 CAPTION: Dominic Jude, a diver with Aqualogic of Gilford, scours the bed of the Winnipesaukee River near the trestle on Messer Street searching for trash and debris. He, together with his father John and fellow diver Wayne Kreiensieck, volunteered to work with the Conservation Commission to clean up the river on the Day of Caring, sponsored by Granite United Way. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Michael Kitch)

CAPTION: Peg Frankel (left) and Rose Laflammer (right) of Hannaford's volunteered to relocate and reorganize the art room at the Boys & Girls Club of the Lakes Region on the Day of Caring. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Michael Kitch) 

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Homeless man facing all kinds of charges in Gilford

GILFORD — A local man is being held on a number of criminal charges after two police officers found him hiding in the woods Thursday after he allegedly broke into a truck parked at the trail head of Boyd Hill Road, which is off Morrill Street.

Christian St. Cyr, 22, transient, is charged with two counts of receiving stolen property, two counts of forgery, one count being a felon in possession of a weapon and one count of possession of a controlled drug (marijuana).

He was ordered held on $10,000 cash-only bail that could revert to personal recognizance should he get a placement in a residential drug treatment program.

Police said the victim, who had been hiking for between one and two hours, reported that someone had broken into his truck and taken his wallet that contained his license, credit cards and about $50 in cash. For this he faces one count of receiving stolen property.

Affidavits obtained from the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division said police and St. Cyr's parole officer had already been looking for him and thought he was living in the woods. When two bicyclists in the Boyd Hill Road area said they saw someone fitting his description, police began a search.

Two officers found him in the woods and allegedly located the victim's wallet. Some marijuana and a Winchester knife were allegedly found with him. Affidavits said he went with police without incident.

Included in Thursday's charges was a second count of receiving stolen property because on September 1, St. Cyr allegedly sold a Play Station 4 to a local game store that had been reported stolen from a home on Intervale Road. Affidavits said St. Cyr knew the victim's daughter. A jar of loose change was also reported stolen.

Affidavits said the two counts of forgery stem from a report filed on August 28 from a Henderson Road woman who reported two of her checks were stolen by a friend of her son's who had been hanging around her home earlier in the month. Affidavits said both checks were made payable to St. Cyr and were cashed by him at a local bank. The Henderson road victim also reported that two rings, a mother's ring with six stones and a ring that belonged to her grandmother, were also stolen. She also reported cash was missing.

Police said St. Cyr's criminal record dates back to October of 2010 when he was convicted of simple assault. Affidavits said he also had convictions in Belknap County Superior Court for two counts of burglary and one count of receiving stolen property from 2014.

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In Laconia, Clinton hosts forum on substance abuse

LACONIA — Hillary Clinton, the former First Lady, United States Senator (N.Y.) and Secretary of State who is making her second bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, joined more than 200 people at a community forum to address substance abuse at the Boys and Girls Club of the Lakes Region yesterday afternoon.

New Hampshire State Senator Andrew Hosmer, a Laconia Democrat, welcomed everyone to what he called "a round-table discussion" of the challenge of curbing the use of prescribed and illicit drugs, noting that last year overdoses of heroin and other opiates claimed more lives than traffic accidents in the state.

The club, housed in what was built as St. James Episcopal Church on North Main Street, was ringed by police. Everyone  passed through a cordon of security, their bodies scanned and pockets emptied under the watchful eyes of officers of the United States Secret Service. A bank of television and video cameras, mounted on a raised dais toward the back of the hall aimed at a row of folding chairs beneath a large New Hampshire state flag hanging from the wall at the opposite end. As the hall filled, the heat rose steadily as the crowd, a smattering sporting the red T-shirts of the Stand-Up Laconia organization, awaited Clinton's arrival. Apart from a small fan at the rear of the hall, the air was still and soon stifling. Before long campaign aides scurried about distributing bottled water.  

Clinton was introduced by Governor Peter Shumlin of Vermont, which like New Hampshire has been ravaged and scarred by the rising numbers suffering from addiction and dying from overdoses. He recalled that Clinton, after campaigning in New Hampshire and Iowa, told him she often heard people tell her "I've lost my son, daughter, grandchild, father or mother to addiction" and declared "she listened".

It's been widely reported that Clinton became aware of the gravity of the scourge of substance abuse, especially heroin addiction, when, during a campaign stop in Keene, a woman told her of having to care for her grandson because of his mother's addiction. Within a month senior advisers to her campaign were approaching drug counselors, medical practitioners, law enforcement officers and political leaders in New Hampshire and Iowa with an eye to making the issue a major theme of her campaign. Tym Roark, who chairs Governor Maggie Hassan's Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and participated in those discussions, said "I sense they were surprised with the depth of the problem and how lacking we are with treatment access."

Earlier this month Clinton, writing in the New Hampshire Union Leader, outlined a 10-year plan with a $10-billion price tag to assist states address substance abuse. She proposed adding $2.5-billion to the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant program and applying $7.5-billion to a program that would provide states with $4 for every $1 they invested in prevention and treatment efforts. In addition, she would ease restrictions on the authority of clinicians to prescribe medications like suboxone to treat addiction.

At the same time, Clinton would encourage law enforcement officials to divert non-violent offenders to treatment programs, replacing incarceration with rehabilitation. The costs spared, she believes will fund a significant share of the cost the plan.

Outlining her plan yesterday, Clinton acknowledged that "I didn't expect to talk so much about substance abuse," but quickly added that her commitment to addressing the challenge "started in the earliest days of this campaign." Noting that while the abuse of opiates, particularly heroin, has overshadowed the current crisis, she said that alcohol and prescription painkillers must not be overlooked She said that opiates "have been much too broadly prescribed," explaining that many of those who became addicted to medications turned to heroin, which is much less expensive and more easily obtained, to "accelerate this epidemic".

Then Clinton largely listened — for more than an hour. Police Chief Chris Adams and Officer Eric Adams spoke about the innovative program pursued by the department that steers addicts to treatment and recovery rather than court and jail. Defining addiction as a disease, Adams said that "these are people with a purpose in life and we in law enforcement can't look at them in any other way."

Jacqui Abikoff of Horizons Counseling Center in Gilford pointed to Jeff and Caitlyn, both recovering addicts, whose success she called "the first step in prevention for the next generation." Later Jeff remarked "I've lost more friends than I can count on the fingers of my two hands. I don't want to go to any more funerals."

Two mothers spoke passionately of the anguish of losing children to addiction for want of sufficient treatment facilities. Hosmer pointed out that there are approximately 100,000 people in New Hampshire with addictions requiring treatment, but there is capacity to treat only 6,000.

In closing, Clinton said that all she heard has "inspired us" and pledged herself to continuing to work to ensure that "every child has a chance to grow up and fulfill their dreams."

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