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School district responds to threats scrawled on bathroom wall

LACONIA — For the past week, school officials and police officers have been investigating two messages found on bathroom walls at the High School, which though somewhat unclear could be taken to threaten a shooting at the school on Tuesday, June 10.

In a formal statement issued yesterday, school Superintendent Terri Forsten said that the investigation will continue and meanwhile school will be open on Tuesday, June 10 with "an increased police presence throughout the school day at Laconia High School." Twice in her statement she said that neither school nor police officials considered the messages to represent a "credible" threat to the safety of students, teachers or staff.

Forsten said that the first message was discovered on Friday, May 30 and the second on Wednesday, June 4. Speaking yesterday, she described the first message as "cryptic, but the second as "more clear," adding that it referred specifically to June 10.

Students are scheduled to be taking final exams on that date.

Captain Matt Canfield of the Laconia Police said while the first message was "small" and not easily legible the second was "much larger and more noticeable."

Canfield said that police have reviewed video footage as well as spoken to students and teachers in the course of their ongoing investigation. He stressed that when the person or persons responsible are identified appropriate criminal charges will be filed. In the meantime, he said that the police presence will be increased at all the school, but particularly Laconia High School on Tuesday. "We will be very visible," he said.

Forsten said that recently a similar threat was made at Exeter High School and, on comparing notes with her counterpart there, became more comfortable with the situation. She said that for her the most difficult task was "rocking everybody's boat" by advising the community of the threatening messages.

"We're going to be safe. We're going to be fine," she said.

Last Updated on Friday, 06 June 2014 11:54

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Laconia man indicted on three felony drug charges

LACONIA — A Belknap County grand jury has indicted a Meredith Center Road man for three felony drug charges relating to a incident where he was found slumped over in his car while in the downtowon parking garage.

On April 7, 2014, police said at 11:30 a.m. an officer found Kory MacDonald, 28, slumped while sitting in a white Subaru with what was allegedly heroin in his lap and a large knife in the center console.

When he exited the car, the officer allegedly found a needle in the front seat.

MacDonald has been indicted for one count of possession of heroin, one count of falsifying physical evidence for attempting to hid a spoon, a lighter, and a while baggy while being questioned by police, and for one count of being a felon in possession of a deadly weapon.

MacDonald is being held on $20,000 cash bail imposed by 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division Judge Jim Carroll following his appearance there the day after his arrest.

An indictment is not indicative of guilt or innocence but a consensus by an independent grand jury that enough evidence exists to warrant a trial.

MacDonald is also currently on parole for a 2012 felony drug conviction. He served one year of a two year sentence.

Last Updated on Saturday, 07 June 2014 12:31

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Kale Poland becomes one the few to ever complete the Peak 500 mile Ultra Marathon

LACONIA — "Overall I would definitely do it again," Kale Poland of MC Cycle & Sport told the interviewer from WCSH-TV of Portland, Maine, just days after becoming just the fourth man to finish the Peak 500 Ultra Marathon.

The event, which began on May 22, consists of hiking 50 circuits of a rugged 10-mile course up and down Joe's Mountain in Pittsfield, Vermont in less than 10 days.

Poland, whose business card reads "Kale like the veggie, Poland like the country," said that since "entering a triple triathlon on a whim, I've always had a passion for this kind of thing." In 2012, he finished the Deca Triathlon in Mexico, completing 10 triathlons in 10 days by swimming 24 miles, running 262 miles and cycling 1,120 miles.

"You can't really prepare for this physically," Poland remarked. "You have to be inside your own head and suffer. It's a mental game."

The Peak 500 Marathon is run on property owned by Joe DeSena, a Wall Street investor and endurance athlete who created "The Death Race," a 24-hour competition over obstacles and the more popular, less demanding "The Spartan Race," also run over obstacles. Poland said that 50 times around the course on Joe's Mountain is the equivalent of climbing the 29,029 feet to the summit of Mount Everest four-and-a-half times. Since the Peak 500 Marathon began five years ago only four competitors have finished, two this year.

"It's pretty bare bones event," Poland said. This year there were five entrants, three of whom failed to finish. "The attrition rate is huge. You're on your feet between 18 and 20 hours a day and you never get a full night's sleep."

Poland found himself competing against Nick "Storm Trooper" Bautista, who after dropping out on his first try spent the year in planning and preparation. An account of the event, written by Margaret Schlachter for the blog "Dirt In Your Skirt," noted that he plotted his strategy, prescribed his diet, rationed his sleep and equipped himself to the teeth with the latest gear. "He looked like he was going into battle," Poland recalled. With assistance from a pair of pacers, he never wavered from his plan. Schlachter likened him to a machine.

With a small Jansport backpack, Poland arrived alone with a pair of Sketchers that he abandoned for sneakers from Walmart midway through the event and an assortment of food that would turn a nutritionist pale . "Nothing healthy," he confessed," but lots of dense caloric intake. I don't think you can eat enough." And he had no plan. "It's too much to think about all at once," Poland explained. "You just take it day-by-day."

But, Poland did attract a crew of supporters. "The locals just helped me out," he said. "I had no idea who these people were. Now they're my best friends." He said that there was always someone to bring him food or Red Bull when he needed it. "Without their help I would have had a hard time finishing," he confessed.

Although it rained heavily the first two days, Poland recalled that "after the first 100 miles I thought 'this is great.'" He said that first two nights he slept about four hours, but then three, then two until he was resting an hour every 20 miles. "When I got sloppy and staggering," he said, "I slept."

Poland said that he covered the last 350 miles "absolutely, completely solo" and found himself hallucinating on the last two laps around the course. "It's definitely a mental thing," he said. He finished in time to enjoy the barbecue set out for contestants in shorter races and to welcome Bautista, who arrived a few hours later.

Poland estimated that he shed at least 10 pounds. "My ring doesn't fit on my finger, my legs are smaller and my clothes fit differently," he said. At the same time, his feet are much the worse for wear. Not a week has passed since the event and he is still wearing sandals on his swollen feet and taking anti-biotics to chase an infection. "Right now I'm just recovering," he smiled. "But, it was a confidence builder."

Poland said that he is eying the Appalachian Trail, expecting to go from one end to the other in about 45 days, as well as the Long Trail, 275 miles through Vermont, which will take less than a week. "There's something about covering a large amount of mileage," he remarked.

Last Updated on Friday, 06 June 2014 02:18

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Defense trying to discredit witness at Tilton rape trial

LACONIA — Lawyers for alleged rapist Thomas Gardner spent most of yesterday reviewing accuser Mark Corente previous criminal record, getting him to confirm that he has a previous conviction for heroin possession in 2007, and calling 9-1-1 to report to police that someone had a gun when it was untrue in 2014.

Corente, who spent most of the day on the witness stand, admitted that he wasn't a perfect person and was initially hostile to many of the questions about his record asked by defense attorney Amy Ashworth.

At one point he said he wanted to "plead the Fifth" but since they were crimes for which he had already been convicted, it didn't apply.

When she asked him about giving a false name to a hospital emergency room to get out of paying a $75 bill, he smiled.

Corente is one of two people who said they saw what they thought was a child performing fellatio on Gardner while all four were at the former Sherryland (mobile home) Park in Tilton on January 17, 2013.

Corente and Joseph Ersnt said they were there looking for a trailers to buy when they saw Gardner's Volkswagen and went up to him to ask if he was the owner.

Gardner has said that he and the young man, who was in his care, had gone to the park to see if they could see their house because some trees had been cut down in logging operation.

Yesterday, Corente testified that he pulled up about eight feet away from Gardner's car and when Ernst got out of the passenger seat to approach Gardner, he saw a black head pop up into the passenger seat. Until he saw the disabled man head, he said he thought Gardner, who he said he doesn't know, was alone in the car.

Corente described the alleged victim as having jet black hair and large teeth. He said he would never forget the victim's "smile."

Physicians testified Wednesday that the alleged victim is short, has scoliosis, as well as a number of neurological problems. They said he has jet black hair and large teeth that show when he smiles. The alleged victim is also largely uncommunicative but does make sounds and occasionally words. All described him as hard to control and very active.

Ashworth also challenged Corente about when he first saw Gardner's car and where he was when he saw it.

A Tilton Police detective testified Tuesday that Corente and Ernst told them Gardner's car passed theirs on his way to the place where he and the alleged victim were parked. Corente said yesterday that he first saw Gardner's car after he and Ernst had looked at two trailers and were driving up a buff in the park.

Corente testified that he called 911 when he saw what he says was a sex act between Gardner and what he thought was a child but the call was disconnected. Corente said he gave either 911 or Wiggin a plate number but it was wrong by one number.

A tape of the call indicates it was disconnected and Tilton Police Dispatcher Terri Wiggin testified she dispatched all available officers to look for the car while she tried to recover Corente's phone number from 911. She said she called back but there was no answer.

She said she never heard from him again.

Corente also said after he was disconnected he saw the police in a different trailer park and flashed his lights but didn't stop. He testified that he wanted to get home and call police back from a land line.

He said that about an hour later he went down Route 132 (Sanborn Road) to take Ernst home and saw Gardner's car parked in the accused's driveway.

Corente testified he called Detective Nate Buffington.

Buffington testified Tuesday and said he spoke to Corente on the phone and that he told him he saw Gardner's car parked on Route 132.

Last Updated on Friday, 06 June 2014 01:07

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