Bike-Walk Alliance asks city to take 'complete streets approach' to roadways

LACONIA — The City Council on Monday night was asked to join the "Mayor's Challenge for Safer People and Safer Streets, an initiative by the United States Department of Transportation, to encourage municipalities to take steps to enhance the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians. Nearly 200 cities across the country have accepted the the challenge.

Tim Gagnon of the N.H. Bike-Walk Alliance, explained that the challenge is based on "the Complete Streets Approach" to transportation, which treats cycling and walking as equal to other modes of transportation, especially automobiles. Cities and towns can meet the challenge by incorporating measures that accommodate the interests and protect the safety of cyclists and pedestrians into the design of roads and management of traffic.

Councilor Bob Hamel (Ward 5) reminded Gagnon that with the construction of the WOW Trail and downtown riverwalk the city was "ahead of the curve" in expanding access and ensuring safety for cyclists and pedestrians. But, Councilor Armand Bolduc (Ward 6) questioned whether there is room for vehicles and bicycles on city streets. "If there is room in your heart," Gagnon replied, "there is plenty of room in the streets."

Alan Beetle, president of WOW Trail, urged the council to consider accepting the challenge, stressing that easing the way for bicycle and foot traffic was especially important for a city that considers itselgf a tourist destination. "It's a great way to look at our streets," he said.

Mayor Ed Engler invited John Rogers of the Laconia Artea Bicycle Exchange to develop a specific list of suggestions that would make the city more "bicycle and pedestrian friendly."

Got Lunch! Laconia begins 5th year providing summer groceries for children

LACONIA — Got Lunch! Laconia marked the start of its fifth season feeding school aged children in Laconia during the summer months as volunteers gathered at the Laconia Congregational Church Monday morning to pack food and fresh vegetables which were delivered to homes later in the day.

The program is now widely emulated around the state, according to John Walker, who along with
the Rev. Paula Gile, associate pastor of the Laconia Congregational Church, helped get the ball rolling to establish the program, who noted that it has now spread to 18 towns in New Hampshire.

He said that more than 600 children will receive food from this year's program, which this year has added fresh vegetables and organic eggs thanks to a partnership with the Lakes Region Agricultural Collaborative which will provide vegetables such as lettuce, cucumber, radishes, summer squash, zucchini and carrots for distribution to families in the city.

''It's a real partnership. We've very glad that the local farms have joined the effort,'' said Walker.
Among those volunteering to help pack the shopping bags for distribution this morning were two college students who just completed their freshman year, Aaron Kelleher, an engineering student at North Carolina State, and Chelsea Marshall, who has completed her first year in the physical therapy program at Simmons College in Boston.

Kelleher says that it's his fifth year as a Got Lunch! volunteer, and that he enjoys taking part in a community project. ''It's a great program that really helps people,'' said Kelleher, who added that he also volunteers for a number of community organizations in college.

It's the fourth year for Marshall, who said that it was a shock to realize how many families she knew who were recipients.

''I like volunteering for my community. What a great way to give back,'' she says.

Got Lunch was formed in 2011 to help provide meals for needy students during the summer months when there are no student meal programs in city schools, where 60 percent of students are eligible for free and reduced-price lunches.

Laconia Mayor Ed Engler credited Walker and Gile with having the vision to get the program started and noted that Laconia's 60 percent eligibility for free and reduced lunches is twice the statewide average of 30 percent.

''Stop and reflect on that,'' said Engler, who said ''we wear ourselves out by patting ourselves on the back about what a great state we are. We should have a conversation with our local and state officials about this and what can be done to make the situation better,'' said Engler.


Gilford man arrested twice in one day

GILFORD — A Gilford Avenue man has posted $1,000 cash bail after being arrested twice last Saturday.

Det. Sgt. Christopher Jacques said Monday that Douglas Walker, 50, of 233 Gilford Avenue was charged with one count of domestic-related simple assault, one count of domestic-related criminal mischief and one count of possession of marijuana.

Jacques said Walker was released on $2,400 personal recognizance bail later that morning and the judge distinctly ordered two bail — one being that he stayed away from the victim and another being that he cede control over a truck that is co-owned by both Walker and the victim.

At 10:15 p.m. Gilford Police received a call from someone at 60 Weirs Road reporting the aforementioned truck — a 2014 Chevy 1500 — had been stolen.

Police began looking for it and and located it as it was being driven by Walker. They stopped the truck and Walker was re-arrested and charged with aggravated DWI as his blood alcohol content was allegedly greater that .19 which is more than twice the legal limit.

Walker was also charged with DWI — a subsequent offense as court records show he was convicted of DWI in 2010 — and two counts of violation of a a court order the first being that he allegedly took the truck and the second was because he allegedly violated an emergency order of protection.

Walker was held over the weekend without the possibility of bail because he allegedly violated the protective order.

During his video arraignment, Judge Jim Carroll ordered that he post $1,000 cash and $2,500 personal recognizance. Walker posted the cash on Monday.

Jacques explained that despite the truck being reported as stolen, because Walker is a co-owner the vehicle, laws regarding stolen motor vehicles don't apply in this case.

Four police officers in Belknap County affected by faulty DWI test certification process

CONCORD — The recent release of the names of police officers in the state who were — through no fault of their own — not certified to perform Intoxilyzer tests indicates that four officers in Belknap County were affected. None of them have any cases that were jeopardy according to state officials.

The certification issues, said state officials, stemmed from an glitch in the online recertification process. The online test had two components: the completion of a virtual Intoxylizer test and the completion of the refusal process. The state learned that if an officer chose to take the refusal process first, he or she could bypass the Intoxlyzer portion and still get a passing grade. The state is no longer using the online recertification process.

Laconia Det. Dan Carsen was one of them. Capt. Bill Clary said yesterday that because of his general duties, Carsen rarely if ever performs Intoxilyzer tests and should he make a DWI stop, there are generally other police officers on duty who are certified.

"We always have the option to take someone to the hospital for a blood test," said Clary explaining that a person who has been arrested for DWI can refuse any testing but the kind of test — Intoxylizer or blood — is at the discretion of the supervisor at the time.

Clary said the vast majority of the city's officers are certified and since there were no open cases involving Carson, he wasn't overly worried.

Gilford Police Chief Anthony Bean Burpee said last week that one of his officers was affected and had three cases that were possibly impacted, however no officers who were on the Attorney Generals' release were from Gilford. He said Sgt. Prosecuter Eric Bredbury was working with the defense lawyers in all three instances.

The other three Belknap County officers were Sgt. Ernest "Justin" Blanchette, who was properly re-certified on December 15, 2014, and Andrew Salmon and Mathew Dawson of the Tilton Police Department. Salmon was recertified in April of 2015 and Dawson has yet to recertify. None of these officers have any arrests that were called into question.

Deputy Attorney General Ann Rice made the list of officers available after a coalition of defense attorneys learned of the anomaly and petitioned a court for the names of the officers involved.

Rice also disclosed that there is another anomaly with the testing and "there is a remote possibility" that some officer who took the online test and received a passing score of 12 could have been given credit for a question he or she was not entitled to.

She said the vendor has no way of identifying them and the Department of Safety "views passing scores as valid."

She said that she is working with the vendor and will be disclosing the names of all officers who scored a 12 in the future.