Commission majority asking for investigation of alleged Burchell leak of confidential information to county employee

LACONIA — Belknap County Commissioners voted earlier this month to investigate leaks of information from non-public meetings with an eye to censuring Commissioner Richard Burchell (R-Gilmanton). Commission Chairman Dave DeVoy (R-Sanbornton) has accused of providing a county employee with information discussed in a non-public meeting.
Burchell has denied the allegation, which DeVoy made at a June 4 meeting of the commission, and questioned the accuracy of the minutes of that meeting at yesterday's meeting of the commission.
DeVoy repeated his claim yesterday, saying that Burchell left a meeting off the commissioners which was still in progress and went to an employee where he shared information abut what was taking place behind the door he had just closed.
''You left the meeting and went right to the employee, where sensitive information was leaked out,'' DeVoy said, adding that when he went to talk to the employee after the meeting the employee told him that he already knew what he (DeVoy) was going to tell him.
DeVoy also said that Belknap County Sheriff Craig Wiggin had received a phone call about leaked information and that the call would be one of the subjects of an investigation which he and Commissioner Hunter Taylor (R-Alton) have authorized.
DeVoy said yesterday that Taylor will contact the Belknap County Attorney Melissa Guldbrandsen about an investigation and that if she has reservations about undertaking one that Taylor will contact the state Attorney General's office.
Burchell has said that he has read quotes from newspapers of non-public records which were cited by Taylor, an allegation denied by Taylor, and said that if there is an investigation that it should look at all three commissioners.
DeVoy said that although the June 4 meeting was open to the pubic that news media were not present nor was the meeting videotaped by Lakes Region Public Access television.
There was also discussion yesterday of the Jail Planning Committee, which is headed by Commissioner DeVoy, and whether two commissioners could be at a meeting without it requiring the posting of public notice of a meeting of the commission. Burchell had said that he did not think it would be considered a commission meeting if he attended and felt it important that his views be represented, as he has a different view than the other two commissioners.
Burchell has said that he expects the cost of a proposed community corrections facility will be closer to $10 million than the $7 million which DeVoy has set as a target for the architectural firm working on a schematic design of the proposed facility.
Commissioners also took up Burchell's request for e-mail records of communications between County Administrator Debra Shackett and DeVoy as well as department heads. He said that he didn't think he should have to file a Right-to-Nnow request in order to gain access.
His fellow commissioners said that requests for specific information was fine but that broad requests for hard copies of a large number of e-mails which created a huge workload for the administration department were not.
Burchell said he had dropped his request for hard copies of the e-mails and his fellow commissioners said that blanket requests, which Taylor characterized as ''a witch hunt'', could not be undertaken without the approval of the other commissioners.

Retiring Laconia police officer thanked for 17 weeks of Motorcycle Week 'street smarts'

LACONIA — Laconia Police Lt. Al Lessard was honored at a Laconia Motorcycle Week Association press conference held Wednesday morning at the Naswa Resort..
It was the last day on the job for Lessard, who is retiring after 17 and a half years with the Laconia Police Department.
He was called to the front of the room by Laconia Motorcycle Week executive director Charlie St. Clair, who said that Lessard was a joy to work with during Bike Week over his 17 years with the department because of his ''street smarts".
St. Clair presented Lessard with a 100th anniversary commemorative shirt and said that since he was retiring to South Carolina, site of an annual Bike Week event at Myrtle Beach, that he expected him to be a good will ambassador for Laconia Bike Week, which celebrates its 92nd anniversary this week.
He also said that since the exact dates of Laconia's 100th anniversary event are on the shirt, Lessard has no excuse for not showing up for it.
Lessard joked that in anticipation of his move he had even sold his car and would need a ride home after work.
St. Clair said that 200 riders showed up Wednesday morning for a 200-mile Gypsy Tour ride which took in at least 10 covered bridges in New Hampshire, the largest contingent of riders for any of the week's events so far.
On Thursday there will the annual ''Ride to the Sky'' up the Mt. Washington Auto Road, which is open only to motorcycles and the 22nd annual POW/MIA Freedom Ride from Lowe's parking lot in Gilford to the POW/MIA monument at Hesky Park in Meredith. The ride gets underway at 6 p.m.
St. Clair said that the American Police Motorcycle Museum in Meredith drew its largest crowd ever on Monday, when rain was falling and that it was nice to see people taking in local attractions.
He said that a custom bike show and slow race will be held in downtown Laconia today and that the 11th annual City of Laconia Bike Show will be held Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Opechee Park.

Burglar(s) attempt to gain access to Belmont Firearms store & range

BELMONT — Local police are investigating an attempted burglary at the Belmont Firearms and Range on Route 106.

A person or people broke the glass in the front door but were unable to get past the common hallway. There are three doors at the Belmont range, the front door, a door about half-way down the hall and a third door that leads into the business itself.

Police said they are reviewing video surveillance to see if any suspects or cars can be identified.

Owner Bob Gillespie said yesterday that he thinks they walked to the second door and saw there was a light on in the range portion of the building and may have thought someone was inside.

"Nobody got into the gun shop," Gillespie said.

The business is closed on Mondays and Gillespie said he will occasionally hold special classes and events but that he didn't this past Monday.

He said the attempted break in occurred at 1:05 a.m. yesterday.

Gillespie said it appears as though the person or people tried to go around the back but were unsuccessful.

He said one of the neighboring shop owners in the building came to work yesterday morning at 8 a.m. and saw the broken glass. He said his neighbor called police immediately and they thoroughly examined the hallway area.

Gillespie said that breaking into or attempting to break into a firearms store is a federal offense and he believes the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has been notified.

Anyone with any information is urged to call the Belmont Police at 267-8350. Callers can remain anonymous.


CUTLINE: (Belmont Firearms) Workers from Granite State Glass replace the window in the front door of the Belmont Firearms and Range yesterday. Someone or some people attempted to break in to the firearms store and range at 1:05 a.m. but were unsuccessful in getting beyond the common door.

Children's Auction distributes $493K

LACONIA —The final NH1 Children's Auction, staged in December of last year, has disbursed $493,729 to 49 charitable organizations, civic groups and social services throughout the region. Beginning this December, the event, which began as the WLNH Children's Auction, will be run independent of a media organization and will be called the Greater Lakes Region Children's Auction.

Funds raised by the auction were distributed among four categories —A,B, C and D — designating nonprofit organizations that provide the essential needs of children and seek to eliminate the need for essential and extended services to children, as well as capital projects that enrich the lives of children or strengthen the agencies that serve them and agencies offering educational and recreational opportunities that children may not be able to afford.

In the first category the Salvation Army was awarded $8,000. Got Lunch-Laconia $30,000, Gilford Police Relief Association $5,000, Mrs. Santa Fund $6,500, Laconia Police Family Fun $10,000, St. Vincent dePaul Children's Foundation $20,000, Christmas Village $5,000, Greater Lakes Region Santa Fund $22,500, Inter-Lakes Christmas Fund $5,000, Got Lunch-Lincoln and Woodstock $2,000, Got Lunch-Gilford $5,000, Got Lunch-Inter-Lakes $6,000, Got Lunch-Ashland-$1,000, Tilton-Northfield Christmas Fund $19,500, Tilton-Northfield Fire-Operation Warm $1,750, P.I.C.K $1,500, Belmont Police Explorers $3,750, 68 Hours of Hunger $5,000 and Hands Across the Table $1,500.

In the second category the Appalachian Mountain teen Project received $20,000, the Central New Hampshire Visiting Nurse Association Pediatric Program $35,000, Health First Family Center $15,000, Lakes Region Community Services $20,000, Lakes Region Child Care Services $30,000, Ossipee Child Care $5,000, New Beginnings $15,000, Greater Lakes Region Child Advocacy Center $15,000, Hunter School $10,000, and Parkview Preschool $14,000.

In the third category Genesis Behavioral Health was awarded $5,000, Inter-lakes day Care abd Nursery School $3,729, Elks Lodge 876 Children's Programs $3,000, Eastern Adaptive Sports $20,000, LRGHealthcare Hugs & Kisses Program $22,500, Dover Children's Home $2,500, WOW Trail $10,000 and Rochester Salvation Army $2,500.

In the final category the Boys and Girls Club of the Lakes Region received $10,000, Tapply Thompson Community Center $7,500, Tilton-Northfield Recreational Council $5,000, Gilford Youth Center Drop-In Program $5,000, Pittsfield Youth Workshop $2,000, Project Extra $7,000, Circle Program $10,000, Tiny Twisters $5,000, Boys and Girls Club-Bradley Street Unit $10,000, Boys and Girls Club of Franklin $10,000, Spaulding Youth Center, $10,000 and Laocal Family Fire Relief $5,000.