Oak gets reprieve - No decision on felling tree until January

LACONIA — If a tree could speak, it might put voice to a note pinned to its trunk, asking to save its life.
The future of the oak tree on the corner of the lot where Cafua Management Inc. recently constructed a commercial building will come before the city Planning Board when it meets in January.
Last week, Cafua Management Inc. asked the Planning Board for approval to remove the tree, which it claims poses a safety hazard. When board members approved the site plan for a commercial building there, they stipulated that "the large oak tree near the northeast corner of the property is a monumental shade tree, and as such shall be protected and maintain(ed) during and after construction."
The request to fell the tree will be presented to Technical Review Committee, whose members represent various city departments, on Dec. 9, which will submit a report to the Planning Board. The Planning Board may require Cafua Management to commission, at its own expense, a professional arborist to assess the condition of the tree as well as a traffic engineer to determine if the tree obscures the line of sight along Union Avenue.
Meanwhile, the site plan for the commercial building, which was approved by the Planning Board, shows the tree standing entirely within the lot owned by Cafua Management Inc. However, a portion of the trunk is within a short stretch of sidewalk belonging to the city. In other words, the trunk of the tree appears to straddle the property line.
In September, when it was first reported that Cafua Management Inc. inquired about removing the tree, Arthur Costonis, who described himself as an arborist, told the Planning Department that the tree is healthy, but recommended removing the pavement covering its exposed roots and replacing it with loam, as well as fertilizing the tree by injecting nutrients around its roots. No action has been taken by either the city or Cafua Management Inc.

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Fire Averted

LACONIA — The watchful eye of a neighbor and prompt response of Officer Erik Benoit of the Laconia Police Department averted what Fire Chief Ken Erickson said could have become "a very serious fire" early yesterday morning.

At 3:49 a.m., someone reported flames against the rear porch of a three-story apartment building at 104 Academy St. As police and firefighters raced to the scene, with crews from Gilford and Belmont close behind, Benoit was the first to arrive and quelled the fire with a portable fire extinguisher. Firefighters from Central Station confirmed the fire was extinguished and overhauled the burnt area.

Erickson said the fire was starting to climb the rear wall of the building and the timely report and response prevented a more threatening incident in light of the size of the building and hour of the day. No one was injured and occupants returned to the building. Damage was confined the vinyl siding and a doorway at the back of the building.

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Man arrested after six-hour standoff in Franklin; police feared wanted felon Geddis was armed

FRANKLIN — Police arrested a man wanted on several outstanding felony warrants following a nearly six-hour standoff Tuesday afternoon during which a New Hampshire State Police SWAT team was called in due to fears that he might be armed with a gun.
Benjamin Geddis, 27, of 68 West Bow St. was arrested at 4:50 p.m. after SWAT team members were able to convince him to come out of the home.
Franklin Police had tried to arrest Geddis at about 10:40 a.m., according to Franklin police Sgt. Daniel Ball. He said Geddis refused to come out of the home, and the SWAT team was called in after it was feared that Geddis might be armed. Police would not comment on whether a weapon was found, citing an ongoing investigation.
Police said that there were outstanding warrants for Geddis from Merrimack County for felony second-degree assault and from Belknap County on two felony counts of being a habitual offender, one count of felony possession of fentanyl, two misdemeanor counts of simple assault and one misdemeanor count of theft by unauthorized taking.
Franklin police were assisted by officers from the Merrimack County Sheriff's Department, the Belknap County Sheriff's Department, and police officers from the Tilton, Northfield, and Sanbornton police departments, and the Franklin Fire Department according to Ball.

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Mom, kids rescued from swamp

NORTHFIELD — A young family is lucky to be warm and dry after their afternoon walk turned into a rescue from a swamp.
After searching for nearly an hour and a half, firefighters and police rescued a mother and her three children Wednesday evening after they wandered knee-deep into a swamp about a quarter mile from their home near Bay Hill Road and Turnpike Road.
The mother and children were mired in 2 or 3 feet of water and mud. All were wet and cold, and the children had lost shoes in the mud.
According to Michael Sitar, Chief of Tilton-Northfield Fire and EMS, the mother and her children, ages 11, 8 and 4, left home around 3:30 p.m., following a stream through a wooded area. As darkness fell, the woman realized they had lost their way. She called first her husband and then 911. At 6 p.m., Northfield Police Sargent Michael Hutchinson asked Tilton-Northfield Fire and EMS to mount a search.
Twenty minutes later, a joint operation was underway with three police officers, 11 firefighters, an engine, two ambulances and two off-road vehicles, assisted by several officers of the New Hampshire State Police, two K-9 units and dispatchers at the Belknap County Sheriff's Department.
Although the battery of woman's cell phone was failing, her call to 911 enabled dispatchers to plot GPS coordinates and locate the family. At 6:47 p.m., two firefighters and a police officer were deployed in the woods and five minutes later were speaking with the mother, but another 24 minutes passed before they reached the family.
Emergency personnel waded into the swamp and carried two of the children to safety. By 7:46 p.m., the mother and children, all without injuries, were escorted to an ambulance where their condition was checked and, when they chose not to be taken to hospital, they were released.
Capt. David Hall of the Tilton-Northfield Fire and EMS said that the incident demonstrates the importance of taking precautions when walking in the woods, especially near nightfall. He said someone should be informed where you are going and when you expect to return. He noted that the hunting season has opened and anyone in the woods should be wearing blaze orange or bright clothing.

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