New Hampton cops save man from heart attack in courtroom

LACONIA — When New Hampton Police Sgt. Michael Grier went to the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division last Friday, it was for a brief testimony regarding a civil case. Instead, he ended up saving a man's life who suffered a heart attack while testifying in a different case.
Grier said he was sitting in the middle of the courtroom in his business suit because it was his day off and listening to the cases that were preceding his.
He said he saw the man begin to slump in the witness chair and said Judge Jim Carroll reached out and stopped the man from falling.
Grier jumped from his seat, ran to the witness stand, grabbed the man from behind and laid him on the floor. The man was not breathing and had no pulse. He began performing CPR and hollered for Court Security Officer Carl "Buddy" Bauer to grab the AED, or automated external defibrillator.
Bauer ran into the second floor lobby, grabbed the defibrillator and within seconds gave it to Grier, who was able to successfully zap the man and get a pulse.
"He was not conscious but did take a breath," said Grier, who said during his training and multiple deployments with the U.S. Army he had successfully used AEDs. He had just completed his mandatory CPR re-certification in November of 2015.
Grier continued CPR, and within minutes the Laconia Fire and Rescue team arrived. By the time the man was taken from the courtroom he was conscious and breathing.
As a police officer, he said he's used CPR on many people but "this was the first time I've ever seen a person go into cardiac arrest." He said as a police officer he usually arrives after the attack and in response to a medical call.
According to Jason Jordanhazy, the head of court security for New Hampshire, the man who literally died and was brought back to life was the beneficiary of a brand new effort on the part of the state judiciary to "protect the safety and security of all those who enter our court rooms."
In December of 2014 he said the decision was made that AEDs would be installed in all 40 total sites throughout New Hampshire's courts. In Laconia, he said there is one in the lobby of each of three floors.
The program was to put 62 AEDs in strategic places within three years. Jordanhazy said the program is ahead of schedule and so far 40 AED have been installed in 28 different places. He hopes the initial placements will be completed by July of this year.
He said the decision to install them came about from general knowledge that things like medical emergencies happen in courthouses and this incident is a prime example.
He said this is the second time an AED has been taken to an incident in a courthouse but the first time the victim needed it.
For Grier, it was easy. He said the machine does all of the work.
"It's pretty simple," he said. "Just look at the pictures and follow the directions. The machine determines whether or not someone needs to be zapped."
Fire Chief Ken Erickson said Grier's description of the level of difficulty involved in their use is pretty accurate but that it was "a phenomenal case of trained CPR," referring to Grier's and Bauer's quick response.
Erickson said the ambulance crew was returning from a call and were at the Main and Court Street intersection when they got what was initially a medical call. He added that they heard the dispatcher say she had overheard Grier calling for the AED and with this information, he said the responders had a very good idea of what they would find.
"It was the perfect storm of good work by Grier, the location of the ambulance crew, and the heads up listening by the dispatcher to pass on what was happening in the court room," he said.
Grier agrees. He said he's really happy the man survived and is now meeting with his chief to see if there is a grant the department can secure to add AEDs to all of its cruisers.
When asked if he stayed to testify in his own case, Grier laughed and said "he did an adrenaline dump" and prepared himself for his own testimony.
He said he had told his wife he would only be a short time in court that day.
"I ended up being there all afternoon," he said, adding he is just glad he was there to help.
Erickson said the man was taken to Concord Hospital and was responding positively that day to some of the treatment he was getting. As of yesterday he said he didn't know his medical status.

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Controversial movie spurs protest in Plymouth

PLYMOUTH — A century-old movie that has been reviled for its racism but lauded for its cinematic innovations has prompted protests of its showing in Plymouth.
"The Birth of a Nation" is the story of two families during the Civil War and Reconstruction, an adaptation of the novel "The Clansmen," by Thomas Dixon Jr. It portrays the Ku Klux Klan as a heroic force, and black men as stupid and sexually aggressive to white women. According to IMDb, it was banned in many cities over the years and is one of the most controversial movies ever made.
The silent movie is set to be shown at The Flying Monkey in Plymouth on Thursday, complete with live accompaniment by Jeff Rapsis. Rapsis chose the movie to mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day, saying "It's a chance for today's audiences to consider first-hand evidence of the obstacles to race equality that existed a century ago, to think about what progress has been made, and to also ponder how many of the prejudices on display in this film that we may still harbor, even unconsciously."
The president of the Black Student Union at Plymouth State University said he was '"shocked" to hear the film would be shown, and other members of the university community have expressed their opposition to the movie, prompting Rapsis and Alex Ray of The Flying Monkey to send a response.
"On 'The Birth of a Nation,' we understand and share your concerns," they said in an email to PSU. "All along, our goal has been to screen the film in a way that acknowledges these concerns up front and as an integral part of the presentation through our press materials, in remarks at the screening, and by engaging community members such as yourselves. We feel the screening should go on as scheduled due to the film's unique and undeniable impact on cinema and culture. We hope you understand our perspective. While there's no question the film contains objectionable material, it remains a significant and influential work and an integral part of the silent film canon."
Neither Rapsis nor Ray felt removing the movie from the schedule was the best way to address concerns.
"Rather, screening the film will give those who wish to experience it as intended – in a theater, with live music, and with an audience – a chance to understand how pervasive racism was at the time the film was produced, and also to contemplate what role racism still plays in our society today," they wrote. "Regarding the connection to Martin Luther King Jr. Day, you have helped us understand how this link is something of a "stretch" in terms of programming, and have challenged us to address this more effectively and sensitively in the time left prior to the screening."
Because the movie is nearly three hours long, there isn't time for a panel discussion, but Rapsis does plan opening remarks about what he calls a "though-provoking" movie.

Agritourism – State legislation is proposed to clear up just what is allowed on local farms

agritourismCONCORD – A bi-partisan group of state legislators has introduced a bill into the State Senate that would define agritourism as an accessory use that attracts visitors to farms to attend events like, but not limited to, corn mazes, eating meals, making overnight stays and otherwise enjoying farm activities.

The bill was sponsored by District 16 Sen. David Boutin, R-Hooksett, co-sponsored by District 7 Sen. Andrew Hosmer, D-Laconia and provides a framework under which town planning departments can create their own ordinances.

"The most important thing is that it prevents towns from unreasonable restrictions on agritourism," Boutin said.

The changes to the existing law are that, if this bill should be enacted into law, agritourism would be included in agriculture and not as a separate stand-alone definition as it is now. It contains a purpose statement which, according to both Boutin and Hosmer, is such that it goes to the long-term sustainability of agriculture and the success of New Hampshire farms.

It addresses the "failure of local land use authorities to recognize that agriculture and agritourism as defined in RSA 21:34-a ... when practiced in accordance with applicable laws and regulations, a traditional, fundamental and accessory uses of land throughout New Hampshire and that prohibition of these events cannot necessarily be inferred from the failure of an ordinance or regulation to address them."

In preparation for the bill, Boutin said he put together a group of 25 people and included planners, the New Hampshire Society for the Protection of Forests, farmers and their advocates and fellow senators. He said they ended the series of meetings with 13 separate proposals that they were able to condense into three. By consensus, Senate Bill 345 was born.

Boutin said his bill does not target individual farmers and is not designed to redress concerns from Stephen Forster of Henniker or the Howes or their abutters in Gilford, but is a legislative and reasoned approach to the Supreme Court decision reached in 2013 titled Forster v. Henniker regarding agritourism and its definition under state law.

In that decision, the court determined that as the current state law is written, agritourism is separate and distinct from agriculture. In reality, said Boutin, it has been an obstacle to having communities address it at the local level, which is what he prefers.

"I think we've struck a very good balance between promoting local communities and their farmers," said Boutin.

Moulton Farm operator John Moulton said for him the bill "doesn't change a heck of a lot."

He said his business, which includes farm-to-table events and corn mazes along with an extensive farm stand, is largely supported by local people, second-home owners who live in the area year-round, and people who come to the area on vacations.

He said Sen. Jeanie Forrester discussed the content of the bill with him and he said that he supports it "as long as there is a strong farm-to-agriculture connect."

Moulton said he spoke in favor of the Howes during the first Zoning Board of Adjustments meeting but agrees individual communities should have the right to regulate through ordinance the parameters of agritourism activities.

"There needs to be a true farming enterprise," said Moulton.

Hosmer said he agrees with Boutin's assessment. He added that he was propelled to sign on to the bill as a sponsor because it has a lot to do with preservation of land.

He also said it was so some family farms could have to opportunity to expand their businesses.

While he declined to specifically address the issue between the Howes and Twomeys, Hosmer said he is aware of how the town of Gilford, which is in his District 7, is trying to strike a "delicate balance" between the rights of farmers as well as the rights of property owners who live near farms.

Hosmer said he sees a burgeoning market in New Hampshire for agritourism and some of the events that stem from the expansion of accessory uses in agriculture.

Boutin said its crucial to attract a younger generation into farming and agriculture and to keep New Hampshire's long traditions of family farms alive for the future.
He added that in the past 50 years, the number of family farms has declined from about 20,000 to about 400 in the state.

"These events encourage people to buy local food," Boutin said.

Both agreed that this bi-partisan approach is important in promoting a bill that cuts such a wide swath across the state.

"It will clear up some ambiguities and let local municipalities decide on the reasonable limits of any proposals," said Hosmer.

As to any effect this could have on the Howes or the Monique Twomey, Planning Board Chairman John Morgenstern said he hasn't read it and won't be commenting on it.

While the Senate bill still needs to go through the entire process of legislation, meaning committee meetings, public hearings, a trip to the House and its committees and its public hearing and then to the governor's desk, it could be a while for this bill to pass.

The Gilford Planning Board is holding a public hearing on Jan. 19 when it will decide if the newly crafted proposed zoning ordinance for agritourism ordinance will receive majority support and appear on the town ballot.