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Laconia Country Club celebrates renovated club house

LACONIA — Laconia Country Club teed up its 93rd season yesterday with an open house, offering members their first taste of the renovated club house.

Tim James, president of the club, said that the club house was built in 1965 after its predecessor was destroyed by fire, and has not undergone a significant renovation since. The bar has been enlarged with the addition of a spur overlooking the deck on the west end of the building. Work is beginning to double the size and triple the seating on the deck, which will offer expansive views of the golf course. The deck is expected to be complete by Memorial Day.

Inside a new ceiling, featuring paneled sections and new lighting, has lent spaciousness to the dining room without expanding its dimensions. A sliding divider, glazed with tempered glass, enables the room to be split in two without denying natural light to either section.

The renovation was the work of Opechee Construction Corporation of Belmont, whose president Mark Woglom modestly remarked that the replacement of the tired oaken furniture represented a significant contribution to the success of the renovation. Woglom is also a member of the club.

James said that the club counts some 440 members, noting that about 60 percent are year-round local residents and the balance are seasonal residents. He said that the course is rated among the best in the state. Gene Sarazen, one of only five golfers to win all four major championships, played the course along with entertainers like Jack Benny, Mickey Rooney and Alice Cooper and athletes like Bobby Orr and Rico Petrocelli.

James said that the New Hampshire Golf Association recently announced that the club will host the New Hampshire Amateur Championship, the premier golf event in the state, in 2016.

Last Updated on Friday, 24 April 2015 12:36

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Number of homeless students in city schools said to have topped 100

LACONIA — The number of homeless children attending Laconia schools has been increasing in recent years according to Mollie Greeley, homeless coordinator for the Laconia School District, who says that this year there were a total of 106 students who at one time or another during the school year were without a home.
Greeley, who is also a guidance counselor at Woodland Heights Elementary School, outlined the extent of the problem of homeless school children in the city at Tuesday night's meeting of the School Board.
Woodland Heights Elementary School reported the most incidents of homeless students, 36, followed by Laconia High School, 23; Laconia Middle School, 22, Pleasant Street Elementary School, 17, and Em Street Elementary School, 8.
Greeley said that she works closely with other school districts in the area as part of a regional network of homeless coordinators and that Franklin schools reported 45 incidents of homeless children and Gilford had 24. The largest number in the state was 665 incidents in Manchester, the state's largest city.
She said that her role is to remove barriers for homeless students in order for them to have access to education and that involves providing immediate access to educational services, transportation, counseling as well as free and reduced school programs.
Greeley said that federal guidelines from the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act of 1987, which was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan, are used to define homeless students and the services for which they are eligible.
She said that in many cases the students or their families lack the documentation normally required and in those cases the requirements are waived in order to provide immediate access. ''We need to provide stability to the students,'' says Greeley, who says that she works closely with guidance departments at all of the district's schools to identify students eligible for services.
She said that intake meetings with new families in the School District help identify many of the needs and that in some cases of homeless children who are runaways or have been abandoned by their families immediate needs are often clothing and footwear.
Children who have been classified as homeless in the School District are often able to continue attending Laconia schools even if they obtain temporary housing in another nearby community is it is deemed in the best interest of the student she says.
Greeley said one recent success story involved a family with two young girls who had been living in the Salvation Army's homeless shelter at Carey House and was finally able to rent an apartment.
''The only catch was they had no beds for the girls. But a quick call to my Meredith counterpart helped get the beds they needed,'' said Greeley.
Another situation she is currently dealing with involves a family which has had to move out of their apartment because their electricity has been shut off and the children are staying in different homes.
''We have a moral obligation to help them.'' says Greeley, whose work was praised by School Board Chairman Joe Cormier and Superintendent of Schools Terri Forsten.

Last Updated on Friday, 24 April 2015 12:23

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Pumpkin Festival decision expected today

LACONIA — Ruth Sterling of Sterling Design & Communications, who has managed the annual Keene Pumpkin Festival in partnership with Let It Shine, Inc., will announce plans for the 2015 festival today, Friday, April 24, at a press conference at the railroad station in Veterans Square, beginning at 1 p.m.

Earlier this month the Keene City Council voted 13 to 1 to deny Let It Shine, Inc. a license to hold the event in the city this year after rioting near the campus of Keene State College coincided with the festival and overwhelmed local law enforcement agencies last October.

More than a dozen cities and towns in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, including Laconia, have expressed interest in hosting the festival in 2015.

During an interview with The Daily Sun on April 16, Sterling said it appeared "all roads lead to Laconia" in terms of where the festival might relocate to and credited Laconia Motorcycle Week Executive Director Charlie St. Clair as the reason. She recalled that her relationship with Laconia began as the Keene City Council debated the future of the event and St. Clair traveled to Keene to speak on behalf of that city keeping the festival.

Sterling had made no public statements about the festival since that interview.

More than 30,000 pumpkins were on display at the one-day Keene Festival last October.


Last Updated on Friday, 24 April 2015 12:12

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Police waited on highway for alleged heroin dealer to bring product into the city

LACONIA — Both of the men arrested Wednesday for heroin-related crimes in a drug sting are being held on high cash bail while police say nearly 40 grams of heroin were seized during the planned traffic-stop arrest.

Paperwork obtained from the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division said Jeremiah Proulx, 39, of 740 Union Avenue and David Hobbs, 29, of 742 Union Avenue were allegedly bringing the heroin into the city on Rte. 106 from some place to the south.

Police said they consider this bust one of the more significant heroin arrests the department has engineered this year.

"Police believe he (Proulx) was bringing in excess of 100 grams of heroin a week into Laconia," said Capt. Matthew Canfield. "This is a significant amount of heroin that was being brought into the city on a regular basis."

Police obtained warrants for the arrest and search of each man, each man's apartment and Hobbs's car on April 22.

According to police affidavits, a confidential informant told them that Hobbs and Proulx were "traveling south later in the day to pick up heroin".

A city police detective watched the Lakeport apartment house and saw Hobbs walk toward Proulx's apartment. A few minutes later the two left Lakeport with Proulx as a passenger in Hobbs's car.

The detective followed them south on Union Avenue and on to Province Road and to Circle K in Belmont where Hobbs stopped for gas. Hobbs and Proulx continued south on Rte. 106.

A few hours later, the same detective saw the car returning north on Rte. 106 with Hobbs driving and Proulx in the passenger seat. He notified other police units who stopped Hobbs  just above the Lakes Region Community College.

A second detective noticed Proulx appeared to be reaching down while he was seated in the car. After both men were taken to the Laconia Police Station, detectives found a Wendy's bag under the passenger seat. Hidden in the food were allegedly four "fingers" of heroin.

Police describe a "finger" of heroin as a stick that is about as long and as think as a single finger and estimate it contains about 10 grams of heroin.

Affidavits said the food appeared fresh and a receipt for it was found on Proulx's person that was dated April 22, 2015 and time stamped 2:43 p.m. at a restaurant in Londonderry.

The men were separated and put in different interview rooms at the police station.
After being read his rights, affidavits said Proulx admitted the heroin was his. He said he was unemployed, going through a divorce and was selling heroin to make money. He allegedly told police he had sold cocaine in the past and there was a large amount of marijuana in his apartment.

After Hobbs was read his rights, he allegedly told police that he would drive Proulx to his supplier in exchange for one-half gram of heroin. He told police he had been driving Proulx for a few weeks and making the trip nearly every other day.

Police said Hobbs told them he would occasionally sell heroin but "pinch" or dilute it with sugar before selling it. He also allegedly said would sell his Suboxone — a prescription drug designed to help people quit heroin — and use the money to buy heroin.

Affidavits said a search of Proulx's apartment revealed a safe that contained about $6,000 in cash, several bags of marijuana packaged for individual sale, other larger bags of marijuana, jars with marijuana buds, baggies with several pills for sale, "bindles" — or small packages used for the sale of powdered drugs — a scale and several baggies with powdery residue.

Police said Proulx's apartment was equipped with a working surveillance system with a DVR and several DVDs were found containing old footage.

Police searched Hobbs's apartment and allegedly found some drug-use equipment in the bedroom drawer next to his side of the bed. In a hollow Red Bull can they found three plastic baggies with residue. Police also recovered 25 pills bottles with varying numbers of Suboxine pills in a dresser door.

Proulx is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit heroin sales, one count of possession of narcotic drugs, and one count of possession of controlled drugs with intent to distribute.

After his appearance in court yesterday, Judge Jim Carroll ordered him held on $50,000 cash-only bail. At the request of city Police Det. Peter "Tony" Horan, Carroll also agreed that should Proulx post $50,000 in cash, a hearing would be held to determine the source of the money. As of yesterday, Proulx is represented by the Laconia Public Defenders Office.

Hobbs was ordered held on $20,000 cash only. He was not represented by counsel yesterday but Carroll ordered that as soon as he obtains a lawyer he could request a bail hearing.

Speaking from the video arraignment room in the Belknap County House of Corrections, Hobbs said there was no way he could afford $20,000.

"It's more than I make in a year," he said, as he began crying. "I really don't get into a lot of trouble."

"So I can't go home then, huh?" asked Hobbs.

Carroll shook his head and said "no".

Canfield said police spent about two months investigating the case before making the arrests yesterday.

"We consider this a significant drug bust and will continue to stop others who bring drugs in our city," Canfield said.


CUTLINE: The store front on the bottom of this four-apartment building lies vacant. Police disrupted what they said was significant drug operation when they arrested two occupants of the apartment building in a planned traffic stop Wednesday. City assessing records say the building is owned by a couple in Durham. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Gail Ober)

Last Updated on Friday, 24 April 2015 12:09

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