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9 time sex offender agrees to spend a minimum of 20 years in prison

LACONIA — A former Union Avenue man will serve 25 to 50 years in state prison for having sexual contact with two minors behind the Gilford Cinemas in October of 2013.

David Ferland, 38, pleaded guilty yesterday to one count of felonious sexual assault, one count of sexual assault, one count being a sex offender and of failing to register an on line identity with authorities, and one count of failing to report.

Judge Larry Smukler accepted Ferland's plea yesterday in the Belknap County Superior Court. He also ruled that should Ferland complete a sex offender's education program while in prison, five years of the minimum sentence can be suspended.

Deputy Asst. Belknap County Attorney Carley Ahern told Smukler that Ferland has nine previous convictions for felonious sexual assault and 21 convictions for possession of child pornography. Because of his record, he could have been sentenced to life in prison.

Ferland was sentenced to 25 to 50 years for the felonious sexual assault, 3 1/2 to seven years not registering an on line profile with police, 3 1/2 to seven years for sexual assault, and 12 months in the house of corrections for failure to report to police.

The two other prison sentences will be served concurrently with the primary sentence while the 12 months in the house of corrections was suspended pending good behavior.

The charges came to light when one of the victim's parents noticed some images on his daughter's cell phone and notified the Gilford Police. Investigators realized the same baseball cap was in both photos and showed the photos to other law enforcement agencies including the N.H. Division of Parole and Probation.

Ferland's parole officer recognized the chest of drawers in one of the photos and told police he knew where the photo was taken.

During his interview at the jail, police said he told them he agreed to buy some flavored vodka for the two 15-year-old victims in exchange for the digital penetration of one while the other touched him.

Ahern told Smukler that the police were in agreement with the negotiated plea bargain and that she had spoken to both victims and their parents. She said one of the victims felt Ferland deserved the death penalty but she explained to her and her family that it wasn't possible.

Neither victim was in court yesterday. Ferland chose not to speak.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 July 2014 12:12

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Council cuts a little from Wow Trail before adopting FY2015 budget

LACONIA — The City Council formally adopted the 2014-1015 municipal budget on Monday after approving a mix of budget adjustments — revenue increases and expense reductions — that trimmed the amount to be raised by property taxes by $122,000 and kept the projected rise in the property tax rate to about 25 cents.
The grand total appropriation for the fiscal year that began July 1, including the city budget, school district budget and county assessment, is $62.3million, an increase of $2.7 million or 4.5 percent. However, since revenues from sources other than property taxes grew $1.7 million, or 7 percent, to $26.3 million, the amount to be raised by property taxes rose by $988,873, or $2.8 percent, from $35-million to $36-million.

The property tax rate is projected to increase from $22.08 to $22.33, although the exact number won't be determined until the state certifies the total value of taxable property in the city.
After weighing changes to the budget originally proposed by City Manager Scott Myers in March two weeks ago, the council confirmed them this week. Myers recommended raising the projected revenues from motor vehicle registrations by $30,000, from $2,150,000 to $2,180,000, reducing the appropriation for the employer's share of health insurance premiums by $30,000 and eliminating a $20,000 appropriation for preparing the Master Plan to reflect receipt of a grant for the purpose.
At the same time, the council agreed to eliminate $25,000 for a study of the intersection of Court Street and Fair Street from the capital outlay budget and reduced the appropriation for Lakers Region Public Access Television by $10,000. School Superintendent Terri Forsten and members of the School Board the council agreed to increase School District revenues by $30,000 and council agreed to decrease expenditures by the same amount for a net impact of $60,000.
Meanwhile, the council agreed to appropriate an additional $50,000 to the Police Department to strengthen targeted patrolling for drug enforcement as well as to coordinate community programs aimed at preventing and treating drug abuse. Councilors also added another $10,000 to the overall budget, $7,000 to service the debt on the high estimate to construct a new fire station and $3,000 increased dues to the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association. Altogether the additional expenditures amount to $60,000.
Altogether the adjustments, higher revenues and lower expenses amount to $175,000. Less the $60,000 in additional expenditures, the net effect reduced the tax commitment by $115,000.

In addition, the council, by a vote of five-to-one, endorsed a proposal by Councilor Brenda Baer (Ward 4) to reduce the appropriation for the Winnipesaukee-Opechee-Winnisquam (WOW) Trail from $15,000 to $8,000, to bring the total reduction in the amount to be raised by property taxes to $122,000.
Two other proposals failed to gain a consensus of the council. Baer proposed eliminating the $32,000 appropriated to fund the salaries, benefits and related expenses of four firefighters for five weeks. The firefighters were hired with a Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant of $642,028 from the federal government, which expires in April 2015. Baer said that since there is no plan for funding the positions once the grant expires and the additional personnel have not led to a significant reduction in the cost of overtime, she believes the positions should be eliminated for the last five weeks of fiscal year 2015 budget.

Although a majority of the councilors shared Baer's view that it is unlikely the four positions will be funded when the grant expires, only Councilor David Bownes (Ward 2) supported her motion, which failed by a vote of four-to-two.

The council agreed to apply $500,000, received from the Concord Regional Solid Waste Resource/Recovery Cooperative, to the contingency account. Myers explained that the funds, not previously anticipated, represented monies escrowed in anticipation of closing the ash landfill in Franklin, the cost of which is projected to be less than originally estimated.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 July 2014 12:01

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3 eaglets in a nest on island in Squam Lake

HOLDERNESS — A pair of bald eagles nesting on an island in Squam Lake is raising three eaglets this year. The nest, located on Long Island in the middle of the lake, is viewable on special lake tours conducted by Squam Lakes Natural Science Center. Bald eagles have nested on the lake since 2003 and have been very successful in the number of chicks reared.

This is the third set of triplets raised in this nest in the last four years, making it one of the most productive nests in the state.

Iain MacLeod, executive director of the Science Center and a raptor expert has been monitoring the success of this pair and other Lakes Region eagles for several years. Last year the pair failed in their nesting attempt during a day-long ice storm in April, so MacLeod is delighted to see them bounce back this year.

"The pair chose a new, more sheltered nest site than the one they have used in previous years, perhaps because of the ice-storm trauma in 2013, said MacLeod. "The pair was incubating eggs in their new nest by April 1 (which is a couple weeks later than normal) and hatched their first chick by the first week of May," he added. The chicks are now within a couple week of taking their first flights and the nest is getting crowded reports MacLeod. "As far as we know this is the only bald eagle nest in the state with triplets," added MacLeod.

The Science Center runs Explore Squam cruises every day at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3p.m. through the middle of October as well as additional Nature of the Lakes cruises on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 4 p.m. through the end of August. The 3 p.m. cruise on Mondays and Fridays are special Loon Cruises in partnership with the Loon Preservation Committee. The bald eagle nest is a stop for all Squam Lake Cruises.

For cruise details including pricing please visit http://www.nhnature.org/programs/lake_cruises.php or call 603-968-7194.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 July 2014 01:12

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Changes planned for dangerous stretch of Rte. 104

MEREDITH — A design team from the New Hampshire Department of Transportation (DOT) outlined measures that could be taken next year to enhance safety along the stretch of Rte. 104 between Chase Road and Meredith Center Road for some 15 residents of the area at the Community Center last evening.

Michael Dugas of DOT recalled that the project originated in 2007 when the Lakes Region Planning Commission identified the risks to eastbound traffic on Rte. 104 turning left on to Chase Road and northbound traffic on Meredith Center Road turniong on to Rte. 104. Three year later, officials of DOT, along with municipal and public safety officials conducted a road safety audit, which led the DOT to launch the project.

Dugas said that Rte. 104 carries an average of more than 13,000 vehicles per day throughout the year with the volume of traffic rising to between 16,000 and 18,000 vehicles per day during the summer months. Between 2002 and 2011, there were 16 accidents, seven of them with injuries, near the Chase Road intersection and 23 accidents, 14 of them with injuries, near the Meredith Center Road intersection. The incidence of accidents, Dugas said, qualifies the stretch of roadway for funding distributed through the federal Highway Safety Improvement Program, which will defray 90-percent of the cost of the project.

Jon Hebert of DOT identified major concerns near each intersection. First the narrow shoulders on Rte. 104 west of Chase Road increases the risk of vehicles turning left on to Chase Road being struck from behind by eastbound vehicles. Hebert said that a dedicated left-turn lane was considered, but rejected in favor of adding a tapered by-pass lane, with a guard rail, that would enable through traffic to pass turning vehicles.

Traffic entering Rte. 104 from Meredith Center Road, Hebert explained, have an inadequate line of sight to the west. DOT proposes designating and segregating a lane for eastbound traffic on Rte. 104 turning right on to Meredith Center Road and placing a traffic island in Meredith Center Road before its junction with Rte. 104.

Several residents told Dugas and Hebert that excessive speed was a significant hazard and suggested reducing the speed limit, installing a blinking yellow light and adding extra signage to slow traffic. Dugas acknowledged that speed is an issue, but said that motorists tend to ignore blinking yellow lights and stressed that whatever the speed limit, only close enforcement will foster compliance.

Paula Trombi, whose home is off Rte. 104 just west of Meredith Center Road said that closely following vehicles increase the hazard of turning right into her driveway and suggested that the shoulder of the highway be widened to offer safer access.

Dugas agreed to consider measures to improve access to driveway off Rte. 104 in the course of preparing a final design, which he expected would be complete early next year. He said the project is estimated to cost $500,000 and, if the funding is available, indicated that construction would begin next spring. However, he noted that there is an impending shortfall in the federal highway trust fund that could jeopardize the project.


CAPTION: Jon Hebert of the New Hampshire Department of Transportation describes measures the agency proposes to improve safety along Rte. 104 between its junctions with Chase Road and Meredith Center at a public meeting at the Meredith Community Center. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Michael Kitch)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 July 2014 01:05

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