To the Laconia Sun,
Many people in the Lakes Region are aware of the growing drug epidemic in our community and are greatly saddened by the loss of life due to this issue. In the past two weeks alone, families and friends have grieved the loss of four loved ones. It can be very easy to become overwhelmed, frustrated, angry and slip into the mode of blaming or claim "that's it ... I am moving out of this town!"
As chair of the Stand Up Laconia substance misuse prevention coalition, I have heard those comments often and, to be honest, have at times felt that same way myself. However, in my heart, I know the Lakes Region is a special place with incredibly decent and caring residents. I also know the drug epidemic is not unique to Laconia, the Lakes Region, or New Hampshire. It is an issue in all communities throughout the United States. The difference here in Laconia is that we have opted to acknowledge it and to try to turn the tide on this issue by not sweeping it under the rug. Will this be easy? No. Will it take perseverance and a vast majority of our community coming together to tackle this issue? Yes!
Having resided here and been involved in this community for 17-plus years, I know it is an incredibly caring and connected community. This has become all the more evident in the past few months as an increased number of individuals are reaching out to the Stand Up Laconia coalition and saying what can we do? How can we help? Community members are already beginning some amazing initiatives. The interest and passion is real and everyday citizens like you and I can, have and will make a difference ... but only if we get involved.
Our community and Stand Up Laconia coalition is incredibly fortunate to have the involvement and support of the Laconia Police Department, the Laconia School District and organizations such as Lakes Region Partnership for Public Health and The Greater Laconia Ministerial Association. This collaboration of many is to be applauded and one of the reasons I am proud to say I live in Laconia.
However, this is a pervasive issue and will not be easily or quickly solved by any one person or group in isolation. We will need many involved and will need patience and stamina. In my humble estimation, the only thing that will hinder us in being successful in decreasing substance abuse issues in our neighborhoods is feeling un-empowered and taking the attitude of "What can one person do"? One person or organization cannot make a significant difference. However, together we can and will succeed in decreasing the drug issue, and most importantly saving lives and the fabric of our community!
Please join us this Thursday evening, Nov. 13, at Laconia Middle School and become part of the solution! From 5:30 to 6:15 p.m. the Laconia Middle school JAG (Jobs for American Graduates) students and Stand Up Laconia members will be serving soup to benefit the Empty Bowls program, and directly following at 6:15 p.m. we will begin our forum on substance misuse. Stand Up Laconia will be partnering with The Greater Laconia Ministerial Association and the Laconia Middle School JAG (Jobs for American Graduates) to host this forum and the Laconia Police Department, the Laconia school system and Stand Up Laconia will be presenting. There will be opportunity to ask questions, share ideas and get involved in upcoming initiatives. Laconia and the greater Lakes Region it is time. Let's Stand Up together, work together, support each other and decrease substance abuse and the havoc and destruction it causes in the lives of those we love and the very fiber of our community.
Chair – Stand Up Laconia.
Last Updated on Monday, 10 November 2014 09:18
The good news is that Marine Sgt. Tahmooressi, a combat veteran suffering from PTSD, was released from a Mexican prison after being arrested for bringing illegal firearms into that country. Mexican jails are horrible places and the Mexican government is to be commended for releasing him on humanitarian grounds.
The bad news is that a lot of conservative "Obama Bashers" want to politicize this case by claiming that the Ppesident did not "do enough" to secure Sgt. Tahmooressi's release. This is a preposterous charge. Of course, for some people, Obama will never do anything right but in this case, there was actually little even the president could do. In reality, more was done in this case than is usually done by the U.S. government for Americans incarcerated abroad. Even when cases are resolved diplomatically, it often takes time.
This was not a unique case. Actually, Sgt Tahmooressi was very lucky. Dozens of Americans are arrested every year in Mexico-including members of the military-for disobeying Mexico's gun laws. It does not matter that Sgt. Tahmooressi's military-grade weapons were legally registered in the U.S. Mexico is not the U.S. Even if they are not enforced uniformly, Mexico has very strict gun laws and when they are enforced, they are enforced harshly.
Anyone who travels abroad should know that when an American citizen is arrested overseas, there is little the U.S. government can do to secure his or her release. Passports come with a clear warning that while in a foreign country, you are subject to that country's laws, not U.S. law. It does not matter that your actions were legal in the U.S. Other countries have different laws and often, different legal systems where a person may spend a long period of pre-trial confinement while the case is investigated.
If those who criticize Obama on this issue were to read U.S. State Department and consular notices and policies (available online) regarding the arrest of a U.S. national overseas, they would realize that Mexico has strict gun laws. Claiming you did not know the law or that you did not know you had the guns will not help you.
They would also know that U.S. consuls, under international and U.S. law, can do very little to help an imprisoned American. They can visit the prisoner, inform family and friends, forward money, provide a list of local English-speaking lawyers, explain the local legal process, and perhaps make diplomatic representations about inhumane treatment.
But, they cannot demand the release of a U.S. citizen. Even if the local system is slow or corrupt, a U.S. citizen must go through the legal process of that country. This has been U.S. consular policy for years, long before Obama took office.
State Department official policy is to respect the sovereignty of other countries. Many conservatives are obsessed about surrender of "U.S. sovereignty." How would they feel if another country demanded that we release their citizens charged with breaking our laws?
Nor is it appropriate to compare this case to the case of Army Sgt. Bergdahl. The Right is demanding to know why Sgt. Bergdahl was welcomed back by the president but Sgt. Tahmooressi was not. The two cases are not similar. Sgt. Bergdahl was a P.O.W. and, until a military court-martial rules otherwise, that is all he is. Those who want to politicize this case accuse him of desertion to the enemy, but have they forgotten that even under military law, an accused person is innocent until proven guilty?
Sgt. Tahmooressi was not a P.O.W. or a political prisoner. He was arrested, rightly or wrongly, for violating Mexican criminal law. Virtually no one released from custody for criminal offenses overseas gets a Presidential welcome. His supporters likely would not be upset about the numerous other Americans in jail overseas who have been charged with crimes. Do these conservatives really think we should have declared war on Mexico over this issue? It is disturbing that some wish to use this issue to further their own agendas.
(Scott Cracraft is an American citizen, taxpayer, veteran, and resident of Gilford)
Last Updated on Monday, 10 November 2014 08:58
To The Daily Sun,
On behalf of the Lakes Region Community College community and its Student Veteran Association, I would like to take the opportunity to invite members of our local community to our annual Veterans' Appreciation event.
Since the college is closed on Veterans Day, we will be holding our ceremony the day after, on Wednesday, Nov. 12, at noon in the college's new Academic Commons. We will be honoring all who served their country in uniform and will have veterans of different military branches and
generations speak. Refreshments will be served.
Please come out an honor our veterans.
Professor, History and Social Sciences
Adviser, Student Veterans' Association
Lakes Region Community College
Last Updated on Friday, 07 November 2014 12:46
To The Daily Sun,
With the official results all in, I am excited to report that I will be serving as State Senator for District 2 for another term. I thank my constituents for their votes, their support, and their efforts!
I'm proud that my campaign was positive and stayed on the issues. I'm also proud that those who supported me also stayed positive — I am convinced
that voters are tired of negative campaigning.
I sincerely appreciate my constituents' confidence in me, their friendship, and their support.
To them I say, the success of this election was made possible by you. Many thanks for your financial support, hosting a sign on your property, joining me as I knocked on doors, standing at the polls, and last but certainly not least, thank you for going to the polls and casting your vote for me.
Thank you also to Carolyn Mello, my general election opponent, for her willingness to serve. Stepping up and running for office is no small decision or task and I appreciate all those who put their name on the ballot for consideration in 2014.
My pledge is to you is, as it always has been, to continue listening to your concerns and ideas, being there for you in the District, and serving you in Concord.
N.H. State Senate District 2
Last Updated on Friday, 07 November 2014 12:41
To The Daily Sun,
I am proud to say that I am taking part in this year's Laconia Citizens Police Academy. This is something I highly recommend to any of you who truly would like to know of the arduous and fantastic job the police and their legions of volunteers are doing for this town.
However, that is not my reason for writing this letter. Last night we took a "field trip" and it was to the county jail.
There has be much back-and-forth about the condition of the jail, the overcrowding, the willingness of many to "patch it up" rather than spend money to build a new one or perhaps a total rehab, whatever. I believe all you armchair pundits who sit back and want a quick fix and a slap-dash patch that will fall apart in five years and don't want to spend tax dollars, take a tour. It was beyond disgusting in that building.
The last update I believe was in the 1990s, and they are still utilizing the part of the building built in the 1800s. They have no choice.
They are overcrowded. There is an iffy at best sewer system. The smell is beyond nasty in some areas. There are very few areas for classrooms as they have had to give those areas up to new inmates arriving. The gym that they once were able to use for the winter-month exercise, not only is that in the falling-down part of the building from the 1800s, but it is now the womens' section. Deplorable is not enough to describe that. Falling-down walls, damaged partially exposed pipes, and it's hotter than belief in that room. No control.
There is barely one room to use for classes, and yes they are trying very hard to rehab these men and women before their sentence is up. Many get their GED's, learn a new trade and they're taught by many wonderful people who are professionals in the fields of choice. They are doing everything to get them back to productive citizens. There is no lying in your bunk 24/7. They are required to participate. But there is nowhere to do that.
Okay, you've had just a small overview of what we saw and many are probably thinking, "So what, they're criminals" Okay, I'll let you have that petty thought. However, what about the fantastic staff who are working there so hard to help them? They also have to be in these conditions as well, and they have to deal with many, many nasty conditions a lot-diseases brought in, and more. They are to be commended and should be given the ability to work in sanitary conditions.
To the Belknap County Commission I implore you to find a way for a win-win solution for all of them. No matter what you think of these people, both good, bad and indifferent, they are human beings first, last and always — and that jail is disgusting.
There has to be a way to fix it. You must be willing to think outside the box and put some conscious thought into this matter. What about the old prison? What about other buildings on the State School grounds — something? And, yes, you will need to spend money. No matter how you look at it you will have to spend money. Why not spend it to make it worthy instead of just habitable?
Last Updated on Friday, 07 November 2014 12:38