Hawkins Brook Nature Trail plan shown to Meredith committee

By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN

MEREDITH — The Village Pathways Committee this week unveiled the designed the design of the Hawkins Brook Nature Trail, almost six-tenths of a mile passing through wetland and woodland to link Meredith Bay and Prescott Park.

Josh Ryan of Timber & Stone, LLC of East Montpelier, Vermont, who has designed dozens of trails in a half a dozen states, took residents on a virtual tour of trail, emphasizing that it is designed to be accessible to all, including those requiring wheelchairs.

Ryan said that 1,665 feet of the trail would be surfaced with stone dust while the remaining 1,450 feet would consist of a boardwalk fashioned from the wood of the black locust. Where the boardwalk is 30 inches or more above the ground it would be railed with white oak and elsewhere it would be be curbed. The trail would be studded with five observation decks and one bridge along its length.

Angela LaBrecque, the town planner, said that since the project was originally conceived five years ago the committee has been working closely with the schools, which have incorporated the ecology of the Hawkins Brook watershed in the science curriculum. She said that the observation decks are designed to serve as outdoor classrooms and placed to offer access to both wetland and upland environments.

"The trail will be an incredible resource for the schools," she said.

LaBrecque said the committee is in the process of seeking wetland permits from the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services. She said the cost of constructing the trail is estimated to fall between $417,000 and $448,000 depending on the materials used and the project will be financed by donations and grants. She said that because the trail is accessible to so many different constituencies serves so many constituencies, the project will be eligible for an array of grants.

In 2018 Meredith will celebrate its 250th anniversary and LaBrecque is hopeful that the ribbon on the Hawkins Brook Nature Trail will be cut in time for the festivities.

Hawkins Brook Trail Alignment 2015

The proposed route of the Hawkins Brook Trail. (Courtesy graphic/Google maps)

More file for Belknap seats at State House

By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN

CONCORD — The field of candidates for the 18 members of the New Hampshire House of Representatives elected in Belknap County has grown with filings posted by the New Hampshire Secretary of State Tuesday.

The 18 seats are spread among nine districts.

In District 2, which returns four representatives from the towns of Gilford and Meredith, Democrat Nancy Frost of Gilford has joined Lisa DiMartino, Dorothy Piquado and Johan Anderson to ensure the party a full slate of candidates.

In District 4, where two members are elected in the towns of Sanbornton and Tilton, Republicans Tim Lang and Robert White, both from Sanbornton, entered the race alongside three other Republican candidates from Sanbornton — Dennis Fields, John Vorel and Richard Brothers — expanding the GOP field to five.

In District 5, the towns of Gilmanton and Alton which elects two members, Democrat Hammond Brown of Gilmanton and Elizabeth Abbot of Gilmanton as well as incumbent Republicans Peter Varney and Gerald Theodora, both of Alton, have joined Michael Mahoney of Gilmanton to swell the field.

In District 6, the town of Belmont with two seats, incumbent Republican Mike Sylvia and Democrat George Condodemetraky filed providing each party with two candidates.

In District 7, the town of Barnstead which elects one representative, Democrat Bruce Marriott entered the race to fill the empty slot on the ballot.

With these filings the Republican Party has fielded a full to overflowing slate of candidates for all 18 seats in the county while the Democrats have left one slot in District 5 and another in District 8, the towns of Alton, Barnstead and Gilmanton, where Republican Ray Howard remains the only candidate to file.

Cotton swabs and bloodshot eyes questioned as reason to search car

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — A Superior Court judge will have to decide if bloodshot eyes and two unused cotton swabs in the back seat of a car is enough to warrant a field interrogation and search of car that was stopped for having one of two license plate lights out.

As a result of the traffic stop on Route 3 in Laconia at 2:20 a.m., a state police trooper testified Tuesday that he has learned through his training that cotton balls and cotton swabs can be used as a way to filter material from drugs injected through a needle.

He also admitted under cross examination that the only cotton swabs he ever found in a car in his career were used for legitimate hygiene purposes.

The defense team for Dawn Miller, who is charged with possession of drugs in a car and possession of drugs, argued that Adderall pills found in her wallet should not be admitted as evidence.

The state argues that the Miller's admission to him that she doesn't use drugs and only smokes marijuana, for which she had a prescription issued from Maine. Miller told him she smoked some 90 minutes previous to their encounter, which the trooper said was enough information to continue his interrogation.

The trooper testified that he continued to question her and that she told him she used rolling papers and took them from her wallet. He said he noticed marijuana in plain sight in her car.

He also tried to testify that one of the reasons he continued his questioning was because she told him she was employed by a specific company. The defense successfully objected to his speculations on how her employment was relevant.

The trooper said that he was initially concerned about her ability to drive but said under both direct and cross examinations that once Miller got out of her car, he realized she was able to drive.

Once out of the car, Miller voluntarily gave him the additional marijuana she had in the car but reiterated that she didn't use any drugs except that which was prescribed to her.

He said she gave him verbal consent to search the rest of her car, although the defense contends that there is no signed consent form in his report nor is there an statement that he told her she had two options, which were to let him search the car or to temporarily impound it and have a judge decide if there is enough evidence for a search warrant.

As Miller was walking away, she was holding her wallet in her hand. The trooper physically blocked her from leaving and said he wanted to search her wallet as well. In it he found the two Adderall pills.

The defense elicited from him that there was no smell of marijuana in the car, that there was no sign of impairment, and there was nothing else in the car in plain view that would have caused him to think there were any drugs in the car except for the cotton swabs.

He said that once a person is involved in a traffic stop, he or she is not able to leave. The defense argues that his continued interview of her while after she gave him the marijuana was custodial and that she should have been read her Miranda rights.

The court gave both sides permission to submit additional briefs. The prosecution's brief is due on Wednesday and the defense has until June 21 to respond.

Jury selection is slated for June 27.

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