Police seek armed Laconia man

LACONIA – Police are searching for a local man who allegedly went to an apartment at 40 McGrath St. at 2:30 a.m. yesterday and threatened the occupants with a gun.

Police said Chad O'Connor, 24, whose last known address was 58 Girard St. allegedly knocked on the door but the residents didn't let him in. He was seen waving around a gun and wearing some kind of a mask.

Responding officers were unable to locate O'Connor.

Police said O'Connor can usually be seen riding a bicycle in the Fair and Bay streets area of Laconia but could be anywhere.

Police said O'Connor is wanted on two warrants plus a warrant for criminal threatening from his allegedly actions yesterday morning.

On Oct. 12, 2014, O'Connor led police on a foot chase that ended up with him jumping into the Winnipesaukee River to evade them. At the time, he was wanted on a warrant for three counts of simple assault from Laconia, an outstanding warrant for resisting arrest from Belmont, and an outstanding warrant for criminal trespass from Gilmanton.

In 2010, O'Connor was charged with felony second-degree assault. He pleaded guilty to a Class A misdemeanor in the Belknap County Superior Court and was sentenced to 12 months in the Belknap County House of Corrections with all but three months suspended.

According to NH1 news, O'Connor allegedly slapped a woman four days ago and fled. Police followed him to the shores of Lake Opechee and the fire department readied for a possible search, but he could not be located.

Police said yesterday that O'Connor should be considered armed and dangerous. Police asked that anyone who sees him should not approach him but instead should call the Laconia Police at 524-5252 or 524-1717 or your local police department.

Parents win; Gilford High reinstitutes grade weighting

GILFORD — The School Board has voted to re-institute grade weighting for Honors and Advanced Placement classes at the High School.

The 5-to-2 vote at Monday's nights board meeting, also made grade-weighting retroactive, meaning that the students who are in ninth grade this year, which doesn't have grade weighting, will have their grade point averages adjusted accordingly.

"I was on the fence," said Chair Karen Thurston, according to draft minutes of the meeting made available yesterday. "I think eventually, whether we like it or not, we are going to have to change this."

Last year, the board eliminated grade-weighting after a presentation by Principal Peter Sawyer in which he said that weighted grades are not factors when it comes to college acceptance because most colleges strip out the weights and apply their own standards.

Sawyer's research showed that the students who were in the top 10 and in the top 10-percent of their class were almost always the same students and not weighting grades would not significantly affect class rankings.

However, some of the parents pushed back and said that without weighted grades for more rigorous classes, many students would be inclined to take the easier class if they are going to earn the same grade-point value.

Parents also said that it takes away some of the leverage they have over their children to get them to take the more difficult class and challenge themselves.

About 35 of them came to a School Board meeting in early April and then attended a specially held Policy Committee meeting where they overwhelmingly supported re-instituting the weighted grade system.

According to the minutes, the vote was taken after considerable discussion.

Member Jack Landow, who is on the Policy Committee, said he felt the decision should be made based on facts and not emotion. He noted that while the letters and comments he received were "courteous, logical, coherent and persuasive," he felt those qualities didn't necessarily made the arguments for grade-weighting valid.

He noted the only facts he had heard were from Sawyer and from Gilmanton member Frank Weeks, whose brother is on an admission team at the University of Pennsylvania, both of whom did not support grade-weighting.

Weeks echoed Landow and said he never thought he should give a bonus to his children when they were doing well.

The other members felt that grade weighting, while not the end-all-and-be-all of college acceptance, still motivates students to try to push themselves a little harder than they otherwise would.

Thurston, Vice-Chair Rae Mello-Andrews, Chris McDonough and Sue Allen all said it seemed to be the will of the parents who made their voices heard. They said they felt that adding a carrot would encourage students to be more aggressive in their studies.

"The way I'm going to vote is for the people who voted for me to represent them on the School Board," McDonough said. He is the other member of the Policy Committee.

Gilmanton member Adam Mini said he saw and understood both sides of the issue — both as a parent and a former student. He noted that when he was in high school, he could have used some incentive to take harder classes.

Mini also noted that conversely, while competition is healthy and an important motivator, he didn't want to see competition over class rankings become destructive.

The new policy also mandates that school guidance counselors from the eighth grade forward work with students and parents to see that students are taking the most appropriate classes for their skill levels.

Clinton campaign organizing event in Meredith tonight

MEREDITH — Hillary for New Hampshire's supporters and volunteers will host a grassroots Open House this evening at 6:15 p.m. at 17 Birch Ledge Road.

Organizers said event is part of a series the campaign is holding in each of New Hampshire's 10 counties, building on Hillary Clinton's first trip back to New Hampshire.

At the open houses, Hillary for New Hampshire will ask volunteers to activate and organize friends and neighbors in their community to take part in the campaign.

Belmont/Northfield 'swamp' fire spreads

BELMONT/NORTHFIELD — A five-alarm brush fire that has charred at least 30 acres was threatening homes in the Gardners Grove community last night as crews from as far away as Chichester, Bristol, and Meredith struggled to stop its spread.

According to Tilton-Northfield Fire District Capt. Dave Hall, the fire began in the middle of a huge swathe of swampy wetlands around noon yesterday and spread quickly toward the Northfield Business Park on Rte. 140.

Hall said helicopter crews were helping monitor the spread of the fire from the air while WMUR television reported Gov. Maggie hassan had mobilized four helicopters to assist with this fire as well as one in Ossipee and one in Merrimack.

Rte. 140 was closed to traffic around noon except for people and employees who live on the south-west side of Rte. 140 from Shaker Road in Northfield and Jamestown Road in Belmont. At 6 p.m., Jamestown Road was closed to traffic.

At 4 p.m. the fire went to a fifth alarm that brought fire teams from Concord and other communities in the capitol area. Hall estimated that between 30 and 40 acres of grasslands had burned by that time.

Hall explained that the fire was burning dried grasses that have been exposed to sunlight and wind for about a week.

One Tilton-Northfield call firefighter said he's lived in Northfield his entire life and had never seen the "swamp" burn.

At 6 p.m., and according to the Lakes Region Mutual Fire Aid transmissions, two tankers were requested from neighboring communities to protect the homes in Gardners Grove on Silver Lake.

At 7:20 p.m., Belmont Fire Chief Dave Parenti confirmed a third command post had been set up at Gardners Grove.

A team from Lakes Region Mutual Fire Aid as well as Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) were assisting with water, power drinks, shade and food for the crews — some of whom had been fighting the fire for better than six hours.


CUTLINE: Acres of grassy swamp land burned yesterday in a five-alarm brush fire that brought 19 teams to Northfield and Belmont. Smoldering hot spots can be seen as crews from Meredith prepare to put them out with rakes, shovels, and portable water packs.

CUTLINE: A team of Meredith firefighters get ready to attack a grass fire that had charred about 30 acres in Northfield yesterday afternoon.