MeredithMay2017

State joins Gilford investigation into severe beating of man

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

GILFORD — The New State Police Major Crimes Division is now assisting Gilford Police detectives in the investigation into the circumstances surrounding the severe injuries suffered by a 66-year-old man Sunday evening.

Gilford Police Lt. Kris Kelley said Tuesday that the man remains in critical condition after allegedly suffering punches to his face and neck by Danny Osbon, 30, of 9 Sargent Place.

The victim was found lying outside of a friend's home, also of Sargent Place, with significant injuries and going in and out of consciousness. Kelley said Osbon was located at home and police noticed he had blood on his clothes and injuries to his hand that are consistent with punching someone.

Kelley also said Osbon is a fugitive from justice from Missouri, and Missouri authorities are willing to come from the Midwest to retrieve him. Kelley was unsure of the charges Osbon faces in Missouri. He is being held on an additional $10,000 cash bail for the Missouri warrant.

He said police also found some marijuana in Osbon's possession for which he is being held on $500 cash.

Osbon is being held in the Belknap County House of Correction on $150,000 cash only bail for the second-assault charge.

The victim remains in Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center and Kelley said it would be at least two days until he gets an update on his condition.

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12-22 Study: NH leads nation in youths binge drinking, abusing opiates

12-30 youth drug abuse needle

A discarded heroin needle in the Northeast is a symbol of rampant opiate abuse. (Courtesy photo)

By DAVID CARKHUFF, LACONIA DAILY SUN

Young adults in New Hampshire between the ages of 18 and 25 misuse alcohol and opiates such as prescription drugs and heroin at the highest rate in the nation when compared to other young adults across the United States, a new report has determined.
The study, titled "The Voice of New Hampshire Young Adults," provides a snapshot of young people's attitudes and perceptions surrounding substance misuse. The study was released earlier this month by the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services' Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services.
In Laconia, police recognize that heroin has become a cheaper alternative to prescription drugs, and that underage drinking is a persistent problem that they tackle with awareness events.
"We do a pretty big awareness campaign before prom season," Laconia Police Capt. Matt Canfield said, referring to efforts to deter young people from underage drinking. Called "fatal reality," the mock crash scene with a drunk driver includes a re-enactment of the extrication, arrest and other aspects of a tragic drunk-driving fatality.
Officer Steve Orton, Laconia's school resource officer, works with students, especially at the high school, Canfield said.
Police offer awareness talks in schools, and the Drug Abuse Resistance Education, or DARE, program operates in fifth grade and elementary level, with a condensed version in the winter at the middle school.
"One positive thing here in Laconia is that there's a lot of commitment from the school district, particularly the high school and the middle school," said Canfield, pointing to community support and activities by groups such as Stand Up Laconia (http://www.standuplaconia.com).
"Unfortunately we do see kids who get out of high school who are in questionable situations where they're tempted or peer pressured to try drugs, and the problem with opiates like heroin is they're super addictive, so if you try it one time, you can develop an addiction just based on that. Unfortunately, we see that here in Laconia," Canfield said.
A goal of the study, according to the Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services, was to identify "opioid misuse prevalence" among two primary groups, 18– to 20-year-olds and 21– to 25-year-olds, in an effort to better understand the patterns of use relating to binge drinking and use of opioids.
The study ran from October 2015 to December 2015 with participation from the 13 Regional Public Health Networks under contract with the Department of Health and Human Services. With support from DHHS and the department's contracted Center for Excellence, officials conducted 57 focus groups with 366 young adults. The project also used geo-targeted Facebook ads to reach New Hampshire residents in this age range, and conducted an online survey that included the participation of more than 4,330 young adults living in New Hampshire.
Results included:
• "Participants felt that youth and young adults are exposed to binge drinking at earlier ages. One participant said, 'Boredom is the primary reason for drinking. Many teens just want friends and to fit in, so they start drinking. Drinking helps you relax.' Boredom, stress-relief, and peer pressure were the most common reasons given as to why young people choose to binge drink."
• "The general consensus was that prescription drugs are very easy to get and always available. Over one-third of the groups (34 percent) mentioned it being easy to get prescription medication from a doctor, friends, or a home medicine cabinet."
• "Heroin is, according to the respondents, becoming a fad and just a normal thing to do. One participant said, 'In [my town] it is easier to get heroin than to get pot; people are switching over.'"
• "Nearly one quarter of the groups (24.1 percent) shared comments related to heroin being the cheaper alternative to prescription drugs. One respondent stated, 'The cheap price made me think that I was getting more out of it and higher from using heroin, when really I didn't even know what's in it.'"
• Parents can't count on learning about a child's misuse of alcohol or drugs. The study found that 62.8 percent of young adults "reported that they would consult a friend if they needed to talk to someone about a serious problem, whereas only 51.3 percent of young adults would consult either their parents or guardians about a serious problem. These findings indicate that the youth are more likely to consult their peers in time of need."

In the past five years, New Hampshire has seen a 191 percent increase in drug overdose deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The number of drug overdose deaths in New Hampshire in 2016 is expected to exceed 500, based on data from the New Hampshire Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Approximately 83 percent of all known drug overdose deaths are related to opiates, and about 68 percent of all overdose deaths have involved Fentanyl, a synthetic pain killer, officials reported.
State officials ordered 6,000 kits of the opioid overdose reversal drug Naloxone in 2015 to help combat the opioid crisis. According to the new report, young adults in New Hampshire (18 to 25 years of age) are using prescription painkillers non-medically at higher rates (9.8 percent) than other states in the Northeast region (7.8 percent) and the rest of the nation (8.3 percent).
In "The Voice of New Hampshire Young Adults" study, focus group participants were recruited by coordinators from various venues such as bookstores, coffee shops, vaping lounges, tattoo parlors or laundromats, state officials reported.
"Over one third (34.5 percent) of survey respondents stated that they have had five or more drinks of alcohol in a row, within a couple of hours in the past 30 days. Of those, half (50.6 percent) expressed that they had five or more drinks of alcohol in a row on 1-2 days out of the past month. ..." the study's author reported.
The study found that college students fit the stereotype of partying drinkers, with "a relatively high rate of binge drinking. ... When looking at patterns of use by age, the respondents in the 21-25 age group reported significantly higher rates of binge drinking and cocaine use, while the 18- to 20-year-olds reported higher rates of e-cigarette and marijuana use."
Again, New Hampshire led the country on rates of binge drinking and drugs.
"New Hampshire's young adults reported higher rates of binge drinking in the past 30 days then the Northeast region or the country as a whole. ... (And) 34.6 percent reported using tobacco and 28.6 percent reported using marijuana in the past month. Five percent (4.9 percent) indicated they had used a prescription drug without a doctor's orders in the past month," the study reported.
Marijuana use may shift now that Maine has passed a legalization measure.
After recounting 30 percent of the statewide vote, the "No on 1" campaign in Maine has conceded and withdrawn their recount request, meaning marijuana will officially be legal in Maine following a referendum vote, advocates of legalization reported this month. Marijuana possession and home cultivation will become legal 30 days after Gov. Paul LePage proclaims the election results, according to the "Yes on 1" campaign.
In the New Hampshire study, marijuana use (for non-medical purposes) ranged from 34 percent of 18- to 20-year-olds; 27.7 percent of 21- to 25-year-olds; and 25.4 percent of 26- to 30-year-olds, based on responses.

This study, supported by funding from the Federal Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration, "will serve as a blueprint for targeted prevention efforts in New Hampshire, assessed young adults' risk behaviors, perceptions, and attitudes related to binge drinking and the illicit use of opioids (including prescription drugs and heroin)," according to the Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services.
To read a copy of "The Voice of New Hampshire Young Adults," visit http://www.dhhs.nh.gov/dcbcs/bdas/ and scroll down to the study link.

12-30 youth drug abuse graph

Young adults in New Hampshire experience a higher rate of illicit drug dependence and abuse (8.2 percent) than other states in the Northeast region (7.6 percent) and the rest of the nation (7.0 percent), according to the newly released "The Voice of New Hampshire Young Adults" report.

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Vehicle storage at The Weirs scuttled again

By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — In a decision that highlighted an anomaly in the zoning ordinance, the Zoning Board of Adjustment scuttled a proposal to build a heated indoor storage facility holding automobiles, recreational vehicles, all-terrain vehicles, trailers and watercraft on Watson Road near its intersection with US Route 3 at The Weirs.

Charlie Morgan, the owner of Vault Motor Storage of Merrimack, proposed constructing an 80,500-square-foot building on five acres of the 6.55-acre lot that houses the Boot Hill Saloon, which would remain on the western portion of the property. The property lies within the Commercial Resort District where the zoning ordinance allows commercial boat storage, self-storage units, outdoor storage, commercial parking lots and even sexually oriented businesses, but prohibits the commercial storage of vehicles. Consequently, Morgan required a variance to house vehicles in the proposed storage facility.

Eric Mitchell of Mitchell Engineering explained the the facility would be built parallel to Watson Road on land sloping to the northwest. With a peaked roof, the building would be 26 feet high at the front and, with the slope of the land, 40 feet high the rear, well within the maximum height allowance of 60 feet.

"We are very mindful of the view of the building," he noted.

He said that everything would be taken in and out of the building by an employee and nothing would be stored outside the building. Traffic in and out of the facility, he said, would be heaviest for several weeks in fall and spring and otherwise minimal.

"It's a warehouse," said Elizabeth Stone, "and it doesn't belong in our neighborhood. It belongs in an industrial park." A former member of the Conservation Commission, Stone said that the removal of trees would increase storm water run-off on the sloping land, where the water table is high. She also warned against the adverse effects of light pollution and increased traffic.

"I can't see how this would enhance our neighborhood," said Stone. She described Watson Road as "a pristine area with spectacular views" that would be marred by a "highly visible building."

Stone was echoed by a number of other residents, all of whom said the facility would be an inappropriate use for the property, and that it would have adverse impacts on the natural environment and impair the values of nearby properties. In addition, another eight property owners, most from Watson Road and Scenic Road, wrote letters to the board in opposition to the proposal.

Russ Poirier, a real estate agent representing the owner of the property, reminded the members of the ZBA that a number of other uses, all of which would have the same or similar effects that neighboring property owners feared, would be permitted on the property as a matter of right, with no requirement for a variance or special exception. At the same time, he said that there are similar buildings in the vicinity, including strip malls on US Route 3 and Funspot.

Board members were not persuaded, but instead found the proposal contrary to the public interest and the spirit of the ordinance. Moreover, the board ruled that there is no reason to suppose the project would not impair the value of neighboring properties or impose a hardship on the applicant since there are other suitable sites for an indoor storage facility in the city.

Originally Morgan sought to build a 140,000-square-foot tiered indoor storage facility on the 11.3-acre property that was once home to Surf Coaster USA, which closed a decade ago. However, he abandoned the project even before seeking the required variance when it met with stiff opposition from residents and business owners at The Weirs.

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