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Man charged in home invasion released from jail, re-arrested


LACONIA — One of two local men arrested over the summer for a home invasion on Church Street and inadvertently released from jail was re-arrested by Laconia Police over the weekend after he failed to show up for his court date.

Belknap County Melissa Guldbrandsen said Zachary Estevez, 19, of Laconia and Ryan Chase, 21, of Moultonborough were both arrested in early August and each charged with one count of robbery and one count of burglary.

Both were being held on high cash bail.

However, said Guldbransen, under the new way Belknap County Superior Court processes criminal complaints, the prosecutor's office has two months or two grand jury sessions, whichever is less, to indict someone who is incarcerated or to negotiate a resolution.

In the case of Estevez, Guldbrandsen said she had her indictment ready but learned he had been automatically released from jail by the system.

"I didn't know about it for a week," she said, adding that she accepts full responsibility for his inadvertent release.

In Chase's case, he had agreed to serve 12 months for burglary and he turned himself in and accepted his sentence.

In Estevez's case, he was indicted but failed to show up for his court date. A warrant was issued and he was arrested over this past weekend.

He is being held on $50,000 cash only bail or $100,000 corporate surety.

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Street light conversion on track in Laconia


LACONIA — The conversion of streetlights throughout the city from high pressure sodium (HPS) bulbs to light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs, which will improve the quality and lower the cost of street lighting, will likely begin in February and conclude in March.
City Manager Scott Myers said this week that the city is in the process of contracting with Siemens AG, a German firm headquartered in Munich, to undertake the project. He said Siemens bid $340,000, well below the original estimate of $470,000. The first step in the process will be to conduct a field audit of the approximately 1,345 street lights to confirm the precise number and different types of fixtures to be converted, which could lead to some adjustment to the cost of the project.
The city currently budgets $214,735 for street lighting, which would be approximately halved by replacing HPS bulbs with wattages ranging between 50 watts and 400 watts with LED bulbs of 25 watts, 65 watts and 100 watts that provide the same amount of light. In addition, by converting, the city could qualify for a rebate of $100 per fixture to a maximum of $100,000 from Eversource.

LED lighting consumes less energy and has a life span of 10 to 15 years, two to four times longer than conventional street lighting, which spares maintenance costs. LED lights turn on and off quickly and restart immediately after a power outage. By directing light downward on to the roadway, LED lights cast less glare into the eyes of motorists.

Myers described the project as "self-financing," explaining that by applying the savings to service the debt incurred to install the lights, the project, with the $100,000 rebate, would pay for itself in three years without requiring an upfront cost or increasing the operating budget. Alternatively, by extending the term of the borrowing, the project would generate a positive cash flow from the outset rather than require three or four years to realize any savings. Myers said that the Finance Committee will ultimately determine how to finance the project.

Sanbornton seeks firefighting assistance from Belmont


BELMONT — The town of Sanbornton is looking for some firefighting assistance, and on Monday night they came to Belmont as part of their ongoing efforts to find it.

The committee of eight from Sanbornton, led by David DeVoy, asked Belmont selectmen if and at what price they would be willing to offer some assistance in the area near Lake Winnisquam.

"We've been meeting since August to see if we can reach out to our neighboring communities," said DeVoy who, though he is a Belknap County Commissioner, was acting solely on behalf of his hometown.

Sanbornton faces a complex firefighting dilemma. With a population of just under 3,000 people, a largely residential tax base, and 49.77 square miles of territory, the fire department has but one full-time employee, Chief Paul Dexter.

With Dexter and an array of per diem firefighters, the town is able to provide fire and emergency services during the day from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The times when Sanbornton could use some assistance is from 5 to 8 a.m. and 4 to 7 p.m.

Because people are getting out and about in the morning and returning home in the evening, coupled with a lack of manpower at the Sanbornton Fire Station, those six hours present a "hurdle to get a truck on the road," said Dexter. He added those times represent about 8 percent of Sanbornton's total call volume.

The question presented to the Belmont selectmen is whether they are willing and able to assist during those hours, primarily with medical calls.

"What I hear," said selectmen's Chairman Ruth Mooney, "is that we have a full-time fire department and you don't."

Mooney went on to say that it makes her a little nervous and she would not agree to any commitment without Sanbornton having a full-time department.

"What if we pay you?" asked DeVoy.

Fire Chief Ken Erickson said he didn't think that Belmont is necessarily the best town to assist Sanbornton because of the location of the Belmont Fire Station.

"It's a 20-minute response time," said Erickson, who noted that Laconia or Tilton-Northfield is probably better located physically than was Belmont for that area of Sanbornton.

When someone mentioned "mutual aid," Dexter was quick to say that this is not a mutual aid concern.

Mutual aid is called when one community needs another community's assistance, however, each individual community must be able to put the first piece of equipment on the road. In other words, if there is an accident in Sanbornton, the first piece of equipment like an ambulance or a fire truck must come from Sanbornton. Should there be a need for a second piece of equipment or manpower, a nearby community will be called.

Sanbornton needs someone who can get the first piece of equipment on the road during those certain times of day.

Erickson suggested that Sanbornton needs to define for itself what risk level they are willing to accept.

"It's a complicated issue," Erickson said. "You have to decide what you want and what you're willing to pay for."

Erickson also reminded the Sanbornton delegation that this is a political discussion.

"Fire chiefs can't change anything," he said. "It requires the politicians to get involved."

Erickson said that, in his opinion, regionalization is the way to go, but local people in New England would have to be willing to shed 400 years of history to make it happen.

"Historically, we were all villages and that's where all our fire stations are," he said.

Belmont Selectman Ron Cormier said that no one has ever come up with a county-wide plan, saying everyone always worries about who's getting the better end of a deal. He said he'd be interested in seeing someone come up with a map of what regionalizing fire services would look like for Belknap County.

Dexter and Erickson both told him that the conversations and cooperation between chiefs are much more frequent and beneficial now than they were even 10 to 15 years ago, especially for large equipment purchases.

So while it appears that Sanbornton may have left Belmont empty-handed for the moment, the meetings its committee has scheduled with government bodies in its surrounding communities may soon start a discussion about regionalizing some services that many in the room Monday night felt should have begun years ago.