To The Daily Sun,
Monday afternoon, on our walk home from Lakes Region Child Care Services, where I have been employed since 2009, and where my three children attend all-day care, we saw Maureen Bieniarz-Pond fixing her mural, facing the WOW Trail, that was recently vandalized.
As we approached the mural, that we talk about ever a.m. and p.m. on our walk, my girls ran up to Maureen, telling her how happy they were to see her fixing it and how sad they are that some people ruined it. Maureen, through tears, told me she felt the same, and that my children had made her joyful. Maureen works multiple jobs and does this in her "free" time.
It was great to have met this wonderful person and artist. I'm thankful for life experiences, such as this one, as teachable moments for my children. After we left Maureen to continue painting, my daughter Sabrina told me, "She's lovely mom. And so is her art." This from the mouth of a 5-year-old. To bring this story to an end, I later found out that Maureen did some of the paintings at Lakes Region Child Care Services.
A quote from Maureen's Facebook page: "This is the reason to keep the murals and WOW trail going ... these little girls and their mom enjoying the WOW trail-feeling awesome at The WOW Trail."
Last Updated on Friday, 27 June 2014 09:27
To The Daily Sun,
I would like to take a moment to publicly thank some people who have been an important part of my life. Next week will be the three year anniversary of my arrest on some pretty serious drug charges. I was a low that I never imagined I would ever get to and I needed help. It was then that two angels in uniform came to my door and took me into custody. That day was the start of my life. Unfortunately, my children were also taken and placed into foster care but that would also turn out to be a blessing in disguise.
The people that were brought into my life due to this event have been nothing short of amazing and have helped me to become what I have today. Because of these amazing people, I am now a healthy and sober parent to my children. I am a support to other parents who are struggling through my job as a parent consultant for DCYF. I am now a productive member of my community and I am a strong advocate for people currently struggling with addiction.
So to the members of the Laconia Police Department, the staff at the Laconia District Office of DCYF, the wonderful foster parents who cared for my children when I was unable to and continue to be dear friends to me today, and everyone else who has played a role in supporting me through this journey, I thank you all from the bottom of my heart. You gave me the chance to be great and to achieve goals that I thought were beyond my reach. My family and I will be forever grateful to you.
Last Updated on Friday, 27 June 2014 09:18
To The Daily Sun,
I am writing in regards to the recent article that was published about the Northfield man who received life-threatening burns cutting a propane tank.
My grandmother told me about the article that was published in the Concord Monitor and Laconia Citizen about Keith Dame and how that papers trash-talked him by going into detail about his criminal past at a time when people should be offering up support to the victim's family rather then point the finger at the victim. She thought it was terrible they mentioned his past when it has nothing to do with what happened. I do too.
Why is the media trying to form an opinion of the public as if his past record makes what happened to him any less tragic? This is an extremely difficult time for his family, and for this article to be out there is very disrespectful. The reporters claim they are stating the facts, but they don't state any facts that show his good qualities or the hardships of his life that have influenced him to make bad choices.
However, I'm not here to write Keith's eulogy because he is a tough guy and he is going to get through all of this. But I am going to defend him. The people that really know him know that he has a good heart under a rough exterior. Those close to him know what happened to him at a young age I was there, and I wouldn't wish what happened to him on my worst enemy. I have know him since we were kids and looking back with a son of my own I truly empathize with him losing his father at 16 years old. I can only imagine that being my son and being alone to assist his father only to have him die in his arms. We don't hear about those facts in the paper though do we?
Keith and I have loved, hated, but above all we have respected one another. So, if the media is going to pick on him at a time he cannot defend himself you better believe I am going to pipe up and speak for him. Everyone one makes mistakes, and so this one that almost costed him his life shouldn't be played out like he was up to no good because we all know that is what the media's intent is. Every life matters people.
I have such a hard time understanding why people don't let others grieve and be supportive instead of adding more insult to injury? Please remember that Keith has kids, one of whom is mine, and she is old enough that all this negativity is hurtful. Keith also has a grandmother and mother. His mother is very upset, as if she needs anymore stress. This is going to be a long road to recovery and the family needs support and prayers at this time not slander.
Last Updated on Thursday, 26 June 2014 09:55
To The Daily Sun,
This letter is in regards to Motorcycle Week that takes over the Lakes Region every year, not just Laconia anymore. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the event. But why is this event sponsored by alcohol? Why can't the organizers find non-alcoholic sponsors say Yamaha, Indian, or Honda. As we all know, alcohol and motorcycles do not mix. In fact, in 2010, 29 percent of fatally injured riders were above the legal limit the highest among all motorist. Even more frighting is the fact that motorcycle deaths have increased 14 of the last 15 years while other motorist have lowered.
How much of the $100 million generated was because of alcohol sales to bikers? How many motorcyclist drove drunk in Moultonboro, Wolfeboro, Ashland, Plymouth, Gilford, and other surrounding areas because law enforcement was focused on a few areas. In the time I spent at Weirs I watched numerous individuals slam drinks and walk to their bikes and ride away. Remember the legal limit only allows for two drinks per hour. Not two shots and two beers per hour. In fact, yesterday you had an article that had a quote from the fire chief stating, "One dead and three serious. That is a great bike week." Really chief! It was not a great week for the family making funeral arrangements this week. When all visitors go home safely it will be a great week. What are the statistics from New Hampshire for that week? How many dead? How many arrested for DUI? How many serious injuries? Even the police chief quoted that there were 95 arrest, which is more than last year, with 45 arrest because of intoxication. Great, out of 100,000 people only 45 were arrested for being intoxicated. Good numbers. But how many drove away without getting caught?
Again this a great event for the Lakes Region and most of the bikers I encounter are friendly and respectful. But why does the association need to have alcohol as the main sponsors? Why are events sponsored by alcohol? Maybe before this event turns 100 the association will realize their sponsors are indirectly responsible for the individuals that go home in a box not on a bike. They need to look for other revenue sources and leave the alcohol out of it. Considering nationwide the numbers are proof that alcohol and bikes do not mix.
Last Updated on Thursday, 26 June 2014 09:52
To The Daily Sun,
As a member of the Belknap County Community Corrections/Jail Planning Committee, I felt it necessary to respond to the recent letter submitted by David DeVoy of Sanbornton, who proposed what he calls a "Smart Plan" for the critical issues we are facing at the County Jail and House of Correction. I should note that these views are mine alone, and do not necessarily represent those who have served and are currently serving on the committee, nor do I speak for the commissioners.
I have great respect for Mr. DeVoy and like him personally, but quite frankly, his plan is not a viable solution.
I have served as sheriff for seven years and our staff interacts with the jail on a daily basis. I have worked in a law enforcement capacity in this county for over 30 years, and so I believe that I am competent to offer an opinion here.
So, let's break down Mr. DeVoy's "plan" by his own bullet points:
1. The current jail facility is beyond repair or restoration. Several experts affirmed that the current building, sections of which are very old, it is not suitable for cost-effective renovation. The committee proposed replacing the HVAC system with one that could be transferred to new construction. The Belknap County Delegation has rejected that. They also rejected a proposal to bring in secure, temporary housing to alleviate the overcrowding issues. In the meantime, as we approach the summer months, the facility is an unhealthy and very unpleasant place for inmates, visitors, and staff.
2. Placing a larger number of defendants on electronic monitoring (GPS bracelets) is not as simple as it sounds. Neither the county commissioners nor the superintendent of corrections controls the demographics, classification, or conditions of the sentences of anyone who comes to our jail. The superintendent has limited authority to place sentenced inmates on furlough or work release. The reality is that many of these individuals are in jail because they made very bad choices and they require close supervision, monitoring, and intensive counseling. Simply putting an inmate with serious mental health and/or substance abuse issues back in the community too soon can be a mistake that results in rapid recidivism.
A so-called "non-violent" offender may be the one that breaks into your home and steals your property. Or, they may remove their bracelet and flee the area, resulting in a costly and potentially dangerous search to return them to custody.
3. The current administrative wing at the county complex, which includes the large public meeting room that is utilized frequently, was renovated recently and is nowhere near as spacious as Mr. DeVoy suggests (please feel free to stop by and take a tour for yourself). It was originally part of the old Nursing Home and was never designed to be a jail facility for female inmates, many of whom pose serious security concerns. The cost of retrofitting office space to a secure, disconnected area of this complex and relocating the administrative area to the Superior Court building would be substantial.
4. The offices in the administrative wing would be quickly consumed with residential space for inmates if Mr. DeVoy's plan were to come to fruition. His suggestion that there would be ample room for useful programs and educational classes is not realistic as we look toward the future. The female inmate population in our facility has been has high as 28 in the recent past and is only expected to increase. Quite frankly, Mr. DeVoy's proposal is the equivalent of placing a bandage on a severed artery. It is not going to solve our problem, even for the short term. Furthermore, it is unfortunate that the majority of our state representatives made the choice to kick the proverbial can down the road. This situation is not going away and the next county delegation and commissioners will be forced to deal with it.
The only alternative suggested by any of our representatives was from delegation Chair Colette Worsman, who says we should simply close the jail and send our inmates to other facilities. This suggestion quite frankly, is ludicrous. There is no guarantee that other jails would accept our inmates on a daily basis for the long term, nor are they obligated to do so. The logistics and costs of transporting inmates to and from other facilities and subsequently all over the state would be astronomical. Is it practical, or even lawful to expect every law enforcement agency in Belknap County to drive to another county jail in the middle of the night and leave their jurisdictions with their arrests? The legal barriers and liability issues here are highly problematic to say the least.
Rep. Herb Vadney agrees that the HVAC system (and the jail) need to be replaced, criticizes the proposed plan, but has offered no alternative except to spend less money. As Rep. David Huot correctly pointed out, the vacuum of leadership in the current delegation, the majority of which chose to do nothing and at the same time blame the committee and the commissioners simply because they don't like what they hear, will only serve to cost taxpayers money in the long run.
Lastly, Mr. DeVoy and Rep. Richard Burchell, both of whom are running for county commissioner, have each publicly stated that the committee and commissioners have tossed out irresponsible threats, suggesting that our jail is a lawsuit or federal court action in the making. It is a stark fact that this sort of situation has happened in other regions of the country and costly litigation is exactly what can result from overcrowded and unsafe jails. Rep. Burchell, in his never-ending quest to get in the last word, has written several times about this issue, most recently criticizing the views of Rep. Huot, one of the members of this delegation who truly understands the extent of the problem.
Mr. DeVoy went so far as to say that the committee members and the commissioners seem delighted by the potential for legal action. If Mr. DeVoy and Rep. Burchell had attended the numerous meetings and listened to (or better yet participated in) the discussions surrounding the dire nature of our jail crisis, perhaps they would understand that this is of grave concern to every member of the committee and that none of us likes the situation with which we are faced.
What we are hearing and reading from some of those currently in office and those running for important elected positions in Belknap County is not real leadership and does not represent what the future of our correctional facility should be going forward.
Belknap County Sheriff
Last Updated on Thursday, 26 June 2014 09:49