Newspapers join N.H. Supreme Court in sponsoring essay contest for middle & high school students that focuses on possible limits to 1st Amendment right to free speech

CONCORD — The New Hampshire Supreme Court and 11 newspapers are inviting students to enter the 2015 Constitution Day Essay Contest and discuss a topic that tests the potential limits of our right to free speech: dress codes and/or restrictions.

In 2004, Congress directed that Constitution Day should be observed in schools of September 17 with educational programs about the history and signing of the document. Newspapers, including The Laconia Daily Sun, have joined the Supreme Court and Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications to present an essay contest for students in grades 5 through 8 and 9 through 12.

The 2015 Constitution Day essay topic is: Schools and other public places (including government buildings and sports venues) frequently mandate dress codes or ban certain types of messages, such as those conveyed through T-shirt slogans. In your opinion, do such bans or dress restrictions violate First Amendment rights of free speech? Do such messages or choice of clothing, in fact, constitute "speech"? Are there valid reasons for such bans, such as safety considerations? Does the subject matter of a message make a difference? Who should be responsible for determining whether such messages do violate free speech rights?

Essays must be 350 to 500 works in length and be submitted to The Laconia Daily Sun (1127 Union Ave. 03246) or another participating newspapers by October 6. Other participating newspapers are: Concord Monitor, The Conway Daily Sun, Derry News, Foster's Daily Democrat, The Keene Sentinel, Lawrence Eagle-Tribune, Nashua Telegraph, N.H. Union Leader, Portsmouth Herald and Valley News (Lebanon). Participants must live in a host newspapers general circulation area.

Each participating newspaper will select two local winners from grades 5 through 8 and up to two local winners from grades 9 through 12. These local winners will become statewide finalists. From these finalists, the state Supreme Court will select one statewide winner in each age category.

All statewide finalists, their families and teachers will be honored at a reception at the Supreme Court building in November.

For complete rules, research links and a required entry form, please visit



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Laconia Police issue warning about countefeit bills

LACONIA — Police are warning residents that there have been several incidents of counterfeit bills being passed in the city.

Most of them have been $50 and $20 bills and police said they are very good likenesses.

The LPD is working with the Secret Service (a Division of the U.S. Department of Treasury) on the matter.

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Belmont police recover van allegedly used for construction site equipment heist

BELMONT — Police said they have recovered stolen items from a 2000 Dodge mini-van that eluded police late Sunday night but was later located in Laconia. An as yet unknown driver steered the vehicle from Sun Lake Drive down an embankment, exiting at Aaron's Furniture and Appliance Store, and then jumped a median on Rte. 3 before and heading off toward Laconia in the wrong lane.

Lt. Rich Mann said yesterday that a police officer on patrol originally noticed the van enter a "closed business" in the Sun Lake neighborhood, which is a new home development. He said the officer got close enough to get the license plate before the driver of the van took off.

Mann said Laconia Police were immediately notified but the van crashed into a parked car in the driveway of a residence on Court Street and the driver fled. Laconia Police logs indicate they assisted Belmont just before midnight.

Police said tools and equipment from a home construction site were missing and the van was impounded after the crash so that police could get a search warrant yesterday.

Mann said Belmont's K-9 and handler conducted a foot search for the driver Sunday night and early Monday morning but were unable to find him or her.

He said Sun Lake Drive is very close to a different construction site where construction tools were taken on July 20, most of which were recovered from pawn shops outside of the Lakes Region. Mann noted that because of the earlier theft and an uptick in the number of thefts from construction sites, police had been patrolling more regularly in the general area.

Mann also recommended that contractors should photograph their tools and equipment and keep records of the serials numbers so they can be easily identified should they be stolen and recovered.

He said anyone with information about these thefts should call the Belmont Police at 267-8350.

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Coffee lovers swarm downtown Laconia during Saturday's festival

LACONIA — "I was behind the expresso for six hours," said Karen Barrett of Wayfarer Coffee Roasters, "and we went through 50 gallons of iced coffee" while Kevin Groleau of Woodshed Roasting Company remarked, "we spent the day trying keep up with making the coffee and didn't stop until nearly four o'clock."

John Morierty of the Main Street Initiative, which sponsored the second New Hampshire Coffee Festival last Saturday, said that two measures were applied to track the size of the crowd, but both failed. "We only know there were a lot of people," he said, adding that he met visitors from Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont and New York, some "who made the trek and others who were passing through and stopped."

Barrett said "there was a line out the door all day" and Groleau said that at least 10 people were queuing for coffee during most of the 4-hour festival. The team from A & E Roastery of Amherst was so pleased with the event that they spoke of returning next year before it was over.

While coffee captured the headlines, other vendors also thrived. Happy Cow of Laconia sold out of ice cream. Production never stalled at Cider Belly Donuts of Sanbornton. Baked good sold briskly at Rollin' in the Dough. The Laconia Antique Center, including the lunch counter at the Finer Diner, were busy. Jim Daubenspeck of Daub's Cobbler Shop on Canal described the day as "phenomenal." He said "there must have been at least 400 people in the shop during the day. I didn't get out between eleven and four,"

Moriarty said he had yet to speak with all the downtown merchants, but the opinions of those he has heard from ranged from "a good day to the best day of the year."

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