Sawed-off rifle found in traffic stop

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

GILFORD — A woman who was wanted for drug sales by Laconia police was arrested Saturday after a patrol officer on Lake Shore Road recognized her as a passenger in a car during a routine traffic stop.

Detective Sgt. Eric Bredbury said Monica Kemper, 31, of 398 Elm St. in Laconia is also charged with one Class A misdemeanor count of changing the marks on a firearm – a bolt-action .22 caliber rifle with a sawed-off barrel and a pistol grip that appeared to have been cut from the original wood stock. The serial number had been removed.

Bredbury said Kemper was sitting in the back seat of a car that was stopped by police near Liscomb Circle. He said the officer recognized her and knew there was an arrest warrant for her from Laconia.

He said Kemper initially gave the officer a false name but after confirming her warrant and identity, she was taken into custody.

Bredbury said Kemper had a backpack next to her in the back seat but told the officer that it could stay with the car. After putting her in his cruiser, the officer returned to the driver and informed him that whatever was in the backpack was now in his custody and he would be responsible for it.

Bredbury said the driver said he didn't want anything to do with the backpack and told the officer to remove it from his car.

After getting a consent to search it from Kemper, Bredbury said the officer found the altered rifle in the backpack.

According to documents obtained from the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division, after appearing Monday for her arraignment, Kemper was ordered held on $5,000 personal recognizance bail and $500 cash-only bail. The judge also ordered a source of funds hearing should she post the cash portion.

Laconia Police Detective Lt. Tom Swett said Tuesday that Kemper was the one of the 33 people police either arrested or were seeking after a large drug sales roundup in early March. Swett said there is one more person police are still seeking.

04-13 Monica Kemper weapon

This is the gun found in a backpack during the arrest of Monica Kemper Saturday. (Courtesy photo)

No change yet to Inter-Lakes graduation venue (532)

By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN

MEREDITH — With the Inter-Lakes School Board expected to address the request of the Class of 2016 to hold the graduation ceremony on the artificial turf field at the high school when it meets tonight, there is no sign that the administration has dropped its opposition to the change of venue.

Last month, students petitioned the School Board to move the graduation from Prescott Park, which supplanted the Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion (Meadowbrook) as the venue several years ago.

Trish Temperino, assistant superintendent and business manager, said yesterday that she has no reason to believe either Superintendent Mary Ellen Ormond or Pat Murphy, principal of Inter-lakes High School, have retreated from their position that the ceremony would pose an unacceptable risk to the condition of the field.

"I'm not 100 percent opposed," conceded Mark Billings, who chairs the School Board, "but I'm close." He stressed that his overriding concern is "what are the risks to the field." After thorough briefing by the administrators as well Chris Wald, the facilities director, as well as a careful review of the arguments of the petitioners, he indicated that he found the risks outweighed the rewards. However, he added "I have no sense of the rest of the board."

The petitioners emphasized the shortcomings of Prescott Park for an event that draws more than 1,000 people. The restroom facilities, they said are distant and inadequate. During and after rainfall both the parking lot and the park are muddy and dank. The capacity of the tent is limited to 1,000. Above all they stressed that the field, where "championships were won and individual accomplishments were achieved," holds "an abundance of great memories." Moreover, the field lies between the two schools where many graduates spent most of their young lives.

When the petition was presented last month Randy Eifert, the parent of a graduating senior, reminded the board that the $10,000 cost of renting a tent, chairs, stage and sound system would be halved by changing the venue. Discounting the risk to the field, he pointed that both Laconia High School and Kingswood Regional High School hold their graduation ceremonies on artificial turf fields. and Kingswood.

Murphy was most concerned about the weather, explaining that the ceremony would be at the mercy of both rain and heat. She said the temperature on the artificial turf could be 10 or 20 degrees higher than on natural grass while a rain date would inconvenience those traveling from out of town.

Meanwhile,Temperino advised the board that interlocking plastic decking would be required to protect the field at a cost of $37,698 while the cost of transporting and raising a tent on the artificial turf would cost another $35,631. With the cost of renting chairs and a sound system, the the bill for the ceremony would approach $90,000.

Billings said that the risk to field was not limited to the turf, but also to "the 6 to 8 inches underneath it." He calculated that 1,200 people, with an average weight of 160 pounds apiece, would represent 98 tons on a concentrated area of a $1.5 million field. Moreover, he found that at Kingswood Regional High School the audience is seated in the grandstand, not on the field. "Laconia," he remarked, "may be the exception to every rule."

County nursing home employees reject contract

LACONIA — Employees of the Belknap County Nursing Home last week rejected the employment contract offered by the Belknap County Commissioners and decided to petition the Board of Directors of the State Employees Association to authorize action without indicating what steps they may take.

The county and its nursing home employees have failed to reach agreement on a contract since 2012, leaving employees without an increase in compensation for the past four years wages. The tentative agreement was rejected by a vote of 33 against and 14 in favor. Another 23 employees, who would be covered by the contract, were not entitled to vote because they do not pay union dues.

The commission's offer mirrors the collective bargaining agreements negotiated with Teamsters Local 633 representing managerial and administrative employees and the State Employees Association representing corrections officers, which have been ratified by the members of both unions and approved by the Belknap County Delegation.

The two-year agreement includes a 1.4 percent cost-of-living adjustment for each year as well as step increases, which could increase total compensation for eligible employees by 4.4 percent each year. The agreement would change the health insurance benefit from an HMO plan to a site-of-service plan, which would include deductibles of $1,000, $2,000 and $3,000 for single, two-person and family plans. In the first year of the agreement, employees are entitled to a $1,000 bonus for changing their health insurance plan.

In a prepared statement, Candie Harriman, vice president of the union local, said that "at a time when the economy is very strong and the rate of inflation is stable, it is clear that the Belknap County Nursing Home employees deserved a better contract from the commissioners."

"This was very disappointing," said Commissioner Hunter Taylor. "These people really deserve a pay raise." He said that most employees would receive an increase of more that 8 percent over the two years of the contract.

"I think it was a good contract and like every other good deal neither side got all it wanted," he said. "The county got a break on the cost of health insurance and the employees got an increase in compensation."

Rich Gulla, president of the State Employees Association Local 1984, said that the commission offered employees "a minimal wage adjustment in return for significant health concessions. The employees," he continued, "would essentially be funding their own raises by agreeing to such a low wage increase." Nevertheless, he told employees that "We are eager to get right back to the bargaining table and reach a more mutually beneficial agreement."

In the meantime, employee will work to the terms of the collective bargaining agreement reached in 2012.