NHDES puzzled by air quality data


LACONIA — Data collected by the air monitoring station at Wyatt Park indicate that while air quality has remained well within safety standards during the winter months, sporadic spikes in particle pollution have piqued the interest of Dr. Jeff Underhill, chief scientist at the Air Resources Division of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services.

Underhill explained that fine particulate pollution is a function of temperature inversions, which occur when the normal pattern of warm air below and cool air above is reversed, a phenomenon common to valleys in the winter months. Particulates, primarily from the smoke of wood-burning heating devices, instead of being carried aloft and dispersed by rising warm air, become trapped as the warm air acts as a lid.

Fine particles are generally no more than 2.5 micrometers around, which is 30 times smaller than a strand of hair. Concentrations of particles are measured in micrograms per cubic meter and the health standard of 35 is akin to one grain of salt in a liter bottle of air. Fine particulate pollution poses a risk to those with heart and respiratory disease, who may experience shortness of breath, chest pain and palpitations. Underhill said that for air quality to be considered unhealthy, the concentration of particles must be at or above 35 for a 24-hour period.

Concentrations measured at Wyatt Park have not approached this level. For instance, for 60 of the 72 hours ending at 1 p.m. on Thursday concentrations reported at Wyatt Park were seldom above 10, easily within the range of "good" air quality. However, on three occasions concentrations reached 20 and once, at 9 p.m. on Tuesday, climbed to 25, the highest level recorded so far but within the range of "moderate" air quality." Underhill said that the highest concentrations are usually reported at night, when the winds are generally calm and residents are heating their homes.

Underhill said that although the readings give no cause for immediate concern, "if the data looks interesting enough the monitoring program, which is scheduled to end in March, could be continued. He noted that this has been a relatively mild winter with higher than normal temperatures.

"In a colder winter," he said, "we could see higher concentrations."

He said that the concentrations recorded exceeded those reported in Concord and Manchester and "We're not sure why." Stressing that there was no need to issue an advisory, he said monitoring may be extended to find an explanation for the high concentrations.

The Department of Environmental Services installed the monitoring station last October. The station records both weather conditions and particle concentrations with the intention of developing a capacity to forecast the likelihood of poor air quality and issue advisories before they arise.

Pair sought in MVSB robbery are arrested


LACONIA — The woman who allegedly robbed the Meredith Village Savings Bank on Jan. 11 could be arraigned in the Belknap County Superior Court as early as Friday afternoon.

01-11 Riley401-11 Chaka1Detective Sgt. Kevin Butler said Kristi Riley, 31, of Laconia, and her companion Chaka Meredith, 41, of Laconia were caught around 7 p.m. Wednesday night as they were walking down the street in Lawrence, Massachusetts.

He said Riley is expected to be charged with robbery, has waived extradition and will be returned to New Hampshire.

Butler said he was told a patrol officer and supervisor recognized them thanks to photos from bank surveillance cameras, including two Lawrence banks that Meredith allegedly robbed. The two were arrested without incident.

He said Meredith has allegedly confessed to his role in robbing a total of seven banks, which include his role as accomplice to the MVSB robbery and a second robbery in Plaistow.

"I believe he has confessed to seven bank robberies, including ours," Butler said.

Butler said the two remained on the run for a month and that various police agencies in New Hampshire, Massachusetts along with the FBI are still sorting out what charges each will face in their jurisdictions.

He said Meredith is alleged to have committed bank robberies in Laconia, Plaistow, two in Lawrence, at least two in Boston and one in Pepperell.

WMUR-TV reports that Meredith's attorney said his client has no criminal record and in fact was a police officer previously. He said Meredith was injured and became addicted to Percoset and then heroin.

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Children’s Auction distributes $225,000 to nonprofits

GILFORD — The Greater Lakes Region Children's Auction distributed checks for $225,106 to 18 different non-profit organizations Wednesday night at Patrick's Pub.
The checks went to Process B organizations which work to eliminate or mitigate the need for basic and extended services for children and to Process C organizations for capital expenditures to improve the lives of children.
Auction chairperson Sandy Marshall said that the 2016 auction raised $452,706 and that the Greater Lakes Region Charitable Foundation for Children received requests for $742,083.
One organization, the Appalachian Mountain Teen Project, received checks in both categories, $25,000 in Process B and $10,000 in Process C. .
The largest single grant was $35,000 for Lakes Region Child Care Services.
Checks were presented by Marshall, charitable Foundation chair Mike Seymour and Tony Felch of the auction disbursement committee to the following organizations.
Process B:
Lakes Region Child Care Services - $35,000
Lakes Region Community Services Family Resource Center- $25,000
Belknap House - $10,000
Communities for Alcohol and Drug-free Youth- $10,000
Circle Program- $12,000
Voices Against Violence - $5,000
Whole Village Family Resource Center, Granite United Way - $15,000
CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocates- $10,000
Genesis Behavioral Health- $9,423
Greater Tilton Area Family Resource Center- $10,000
Pemi Youth Center- $5,000
Greater Lakes Child Advocacy - $15,000
Laconia Area Community Land Trust - $10,000
Appalachian Mountain Teen Project - $25,000
Total: $191,423
Process C:
Appalachian Mountain Teen Project - $10,000
Easter Seals NH-Camp Sno-Mo $5,000
Eastern Adaptive Sports $10,000
Kidworks Learning Center - $2,300
Interlakes Day Care Center- $6,383
Total: $33,683
B&C total $225,106
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Process B non-profit organizations received checks from the Greater Lakes Region Children's Auction for $191,423 at Patrick's Pub Wednesday night. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)

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Process C non-profit organizations received checks from the Greater Lakes Region Children's Auction for $33,683 at Patrick's Pub Wednesday night. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)