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School Board aims to get public involved in developing its new strategic plan

LACONIA — The Strategic Planning Committee of the School Board is targeting October 18 as a day for school "stakeholders" to come together and provide their individual thoughts about the School District's goals for the next five to seven years.

Committee members said last night that they would be sending invitations to a wide variety of individuals in Laconia, including business owners and leaders, parents, politicians, as well as former students and local college administrators, for their input into Laconia's education goals.

The subcommittee said it wants a multi-generational look at the School District and suggestions on what the district should look like in the future.

A strategic plan identifies the short, medium, and long-term goals of a school district and how to best deploy available resources to achieve those goals.

Although no decision has been made, there was some discussion Tuesday night about hiring a facilitator and/or adviser to oversee the process.

Strategic Planning Committee Chair Mike Persson initially said he thought a facilitator would be useful for the October 18 goals meeting.

Member Joe Cormier said he felt the district should hold the October 18 before making a decision to hire a facilitator. "Let's have this group get together and then look at the results from the October 18 meeting and create a bullet document about what we've surmised," he said.

Once the committee has heard the goals as identified by the people in the community they will most affect, Cormier said it then would be the time to reorganize and refine the community input, define specific focus areas, and possibly consider a facilitator to help move the plan to completion.

Persson suggested using a neutral facilitator like New Hampshire Listens. He also suggested that there are members of the Laconia community who are experienced facilitators who already know the community and the school system who would be willing to help.

Cormier also noted that the Laconia Planning Department is working on a revise of the city master plan and he said it might be a good idea to look at what the city is doing and engage some of the same resources.

Superintendent Terri Forsten said she has already spoken with city Planner Shanna Saunders who said that if any portion of her master plan work is related to the Laconia School District she would inform her.

According to the city of Laconia website, as part of the City of Laconia's Master Plan Update Process, the city has been awarded a number of planning grants to help it with its goal of developing a new master plan.

Last Updated on Thursday, 18 September 2014 12:28

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Clarification: Bobbie Miller & her dog were not necessarily shot with same gun

CLARIFICATION - In an article that appeared on Page 1 of Tuesday's Daily Sun, N.H.Asst. Attorney General Ben Agati is quoted as saying that both Roberta Miller and her dog Scout were killed by shotgun blasts. He has since clarified that he is not 100-percent certain the same shotgun killed both.

Last Updated on Thursday, 18 September 2014 01:08

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Laconia Country Club course earns high praise from best senior golfers from throughout New England

LACONIA — Laconia County Club won praise from golfers from all over New England who took part in the 17th annual New England Senior Amateur Championship which concluded yesterday after two days of play.
''It's a hidden gem, an absolutely fantastic golf course. The condition of the course was absolutely superb,'' said Dick King of Hyannisport. Mass., winner of the Super Senior award for lowest score (152) for a golfer over 65.
His praise was echoed by Harry B. McCracken Jr., the executive secretary and treasurer of the New England Golf Association, who was the head official for the tournament., and Dick Osborn of the Bay State, president of the association.
''The greens are fantastic and they all play so consistent,'' said Osborn, who presented LCC President Randy Annis with a citation honoring the club for hosting the tournament while singling out LCC's green superintendent Tom DiFonzo and LCC pro Todd Rollins for special praise.
Annis said that LCC was proud to host the championship, which featured over 100 of New England's top age 55 and over amateur golfers.
The tournament was won by Jim Romanello of Shorehaven Golf Cub in Connecticut, who posted a 145 score to edge Bruce Carter of The International in Massachusetts by one stroke. Finishing third with a 147 was Brian Secia of Miaconnet Golf Course in Connecticut.
Top New Hampshire finishers were Phil Pleat of Nashua CC with a 148 and Craig Steckowych of Portsmouth CC and Robert Linn of Franconia CC, both with a 149.
Bill Everett, former Laconia Country Club golfer who now plays at Owl's Head CC and lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, was in contention after the first day with a 73, which trailed first day leader Paul Mitchell of George Wright GC in Massachusetts by three strokes, but shot a 77 Wednesday, finishing at 150.
''The course was great. I just wish I'd played a little better,'' said Everett.
One of the officials, Tom Lane of Connecticut, said that he attended Boston College with Jack Irwin, whose family at that time owned the Winnipesaukee Gardens and Irwin Marine, and didn't realize for years that Irwin's was such an important part of the Lake Winnipesaukee and New England boating world.

CAPTION:

lcc honor

Richard Osborn (left), president of the New England Golf Association, presents a citation honoring Laconia Country Club for hosting the 17th annual New England Senior Amateur Championship to Randy Annis, president of Laconia Country Club. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

lcc winner

Richard Osborn, president of the New England Golf Association, presents a trophy to Jim Romanello of Shorehaven Golf Club in Connecticut, winner of the 17th annual New England Senior Amateur Championship which was held at Laconia Country Club the last two days. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)

Last Updated on Thursday, 18 September 2014 01:05

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Hate crime conviction upheld by Supreme Court

CONCORD — The N.H. Supreme Court has upheld the conviction of a Belmont man who threatened two Wal-Mart employees in Tilton in 2010 because he thought they were Jewish.

Paul Costella was convicted after a jury trial in 2013 in the Belknap County Superior Court of two counts of criminal threatening and one count of disorderly conduct. He was sentenced to 12 months in jail — an extended term of punishment because of the N.H. hate crime statute.

The case began on November 29, 2010 when Costella went into the Walmart in Tilton for an oil change. While driving his car into the service bay, one of the victims noticed a photograph of Costella and his daughter standing in front of a red flag with a swastika. In the photo Costella and his daughter were performing a "Heil Hitler" salute.

The woman told Costella she could refuse service to someone with whom she was uncomfortable and Costella asked her if she was Jewish. She replied "what's it to you" or something like that and Costella told her that not enough Jews were killed during WWII. He also asked if she saw his "Jew killing gun" in the car.

The oil change was completed and a second employee returned Costella's car to him while the female victim processed his paper work. When she told him her uncle had been burned alive by the Nazis, he told her that he hoped "that Jew bastard" suffered when he died.

As he left, he said to no one in particular that he was going to his car to get the gun to kill the Jew bitch behind the counter.

When the store manager overheard the conversation he came over and Costella asked him if he was Jewish. The manager didn't respond and Costella said he was going to kill "both you Jews." He restated he had a "Jew killing gun."

The manger called police and Costella was charged with two counts of criminal threatening and disorderly conduct. The N.H. Belknap County Attorney decided to seek enhanced penalties under the hate crime statute and gave Costella notice.

Costella argued that Judge James O'Neill erred when he didn't dismiss the case as a hate crime because the state couldn't prove that either of the two victims were Jewish.

He argued that the hate crime statute (RSA 651:6, I(f)) was only applicable if the state could prove beyond a reasonable doubt that his actions were motivated by their actual religion.

The court relied on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling regarding a Wisconsin hate crime statute as one the singles out bias-inspired conduct because this conduct is thought to inflict greater individual and social crime. The U.S. ruling said bias-motivated crimes are more likely to provoke retaliatory crimes and incite community unrest.

"The specific community here resulting from a hate crime flows from the defendant's bias-motivated actions, rather than the victim's actual status as a member of a protected class," wrote N.H. Supreme Court Associate Justice James Bassett in his opinion.

"Society is harmed by a bias-motivated crime regardless of whether the victim is, in fact, a member of the protected class the defendant has targeted," he continued.

The court also ruled it would be "absurd" for the state to conclusively prove any victim was a member of a specific protected class, asking rhetorically what evidence a jury would use to prove that a person was Jewish or Native American or of mixed race for example.

The court determined that the state had to prove only that Costella was sufficiently motivated to commit the crime because of his hostility toward what he perceived to be the victim's religion.

The four other N.H. Supreme Court justices concurred with the ruling.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 September 2014 12:53

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