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Gardner jury visits Tilton site of alleged sexual assault of disabled man

TILTON — The 14 members of the Belknap County Superior Court jury that will decide whether or not a former Sanborn Road man is guilty of rape and indecent exposure was taken to the scene of the alleged crime yesterday afternoon.

Judge James O'Neill instructed them to pay close attention to what is now Country Meadows Park because they are going to hear about this place and how it relates to the case against Thomas Gardner.

"Look as carefully as you can," O'Neill said.

Jurors walked what appeared to be a quarter-mile square block around a portion while Deputy Belknap County Prosecutor Carley Ahern and Gardner's defense team accompanied them and pointed out a mobile home and a scenic view that will factor into the testimony.

The state argues that Gardner received oral sex at that location in January of 2013 from a disabled man who was in his care at the time. He was allegedly spotted and reported by two men who said they were at the park (then called Sherryland) to look at a mobile home that was for sale.

Gardner has said he and the young man were at Sherryland Park to look at the view and see if they could see their house after a recently logging operation removed some of the trees. He argues that the two men who called police were there to do something illegal and when they realized they weren't alone, filed a false police report against him.

The trial will reconvene today at 9:30 a.m. at the Belknap County Court House where the jury is expected to hear opening arguments.

CUTLINE: Belknap County Judge James O'Neill (far right) holds a private discussion with Deputy Belknap County Prosecutor Carley Ahern (far left) and Thomas Gardner's defense team of Amy Ashworth (center left) and Wade Harwood (center right) at the place where a Tilton man is accused of raping a disabled man who was in his care. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Gail Ober)

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 June 2014 12:27

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Commissioners sign off on new deal with police officer's union

LACONIA — The Police Commissioners on Monday unanimously agreed to the terms of a new collective bargaining agreement with the Laconia Police Association after discussions in what are commonly referred to as a "non-meeting".

Details of the contract will not be made available to the public until after it is ratified by the union membership. LPA President Jeff Wholly said yesterday the 23 employees covered by the contract have a meeting scheduled for June 11.

Should the contract be ratified by a majority of the LPA membership, it will be forward to the Laconia City Council for funding approval.

The Laconia Police Associate is now operating under a two-year contract that was approved by the City Council on June 25, 2012 and that expires on July 1 of this year.

In a recent meeting, the police commission approved three years of wage increases and insurance benefit changes for it's non-union employees. At the time, Commission Chair Warren Clement said it was consistent with what the commission would like to see in the LPA contract.

The non-union pay scales include cost-of-living raises starting at 2 percent in 2014 and gradually increasing by 0.25 percent through 2016.

Other changes included the elimination of a more expensive insurance plan which will mean higher out-of-pocket expenses for employees, including an increase in the percentage each employee will contribute to premiums.
Although Wholly declined to comment on the proposed contract, he said negotiations with management and the city were amicable.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 June 2014 12:22

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Northfield woman dies in freak golf cart accident

NORTHFIELD — A Gifford Drive woman died Monday afternoon after the golf cart in which she was riding struck her front porch crushing her between porch and the cart.

Police said Sherry Isabelle, 57, was letting her 5-year-old grandchild drive the golf cart around her yard when the child lost control and hit the porch around 3:30 p.m. The front of the cart hit a porch footing and caused the porch to ride up on to the front of the cart.

The 5-year-old was taken to the hospital for evaluation but appeared unharmed while a 3-year-old child riding in the back seat of the cart was uninjured.

It appears as though the three had been driving around the front lawn said police.

Police said the 3-year-old somehow alerted a neighbor who called 9-1-1 and was able to get Isabelle off of the golf cart so he could begin administering CPR.

Firefighters and police arrived moments later but were unable to revive Isabelle and she was pronounced dead at the scene, likely from internal injuries said police.

Police are asking people to take all precautions when driving off-road vehicles including golf carts and remembers that there are risks and dangers associated with them.

Northfield Police continue to investigate but said no charges will be filed.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 June 2014 12:16

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Internet blog names Laconia 2nd most exciting city in N.H.

LACONIA — According to Movoto Real Estate Blog, the city is the second most exciting city in New Hampshire, trailing only Portsmouth and finishing eight spots ahead of Nashua, which ranked last in the top 10.

Movoto claims that it applies algorithms to calculate its rankings and "researches criteria no one has dared touch before us." Altogether cities and towns were ranked by eight criteria — night life, music venues, parks, fast food ("the fewer the better'), restaurants, percentage of young people, population density and theaters, festivals and galleries. Each criterion was scored on a scale of 1 to 15 then averaged.

Laconia scored second in night life, with the Funky Monkey given a mention as a popular dance spot. Although 18 to 34 year olds amount to less than a fifth of the population, the team at Movoto concluded that "this slightly more mature population really knows how to party. And even with the older crowd pretty much ruling this place," they continued, "there's still room for Funspot, where you can play tons of video games, bowl, and get some tasty pizza, too." Of course, Motorcycle Week also boosted the city's score.

However, when Movoto ranked the best places to live in New Hampshire, Laconia tied with Rochester at 20th.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 June 2014 01:28

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