The cases resolved in Cheshire County Superior Court this month included a Rindge man who pleaded guilty to stealing more than $1,000 worth of tools from Home Depot in Keene and possessing additional stolen merchandise.
Brian L. Hall, 35, pleaded guilty last week to felony theft by unauthorized taking for stealing a power saw and a jump pack from the store Nov. 14, as well as a felony count of receiving stolen property for possessing, on Nov. 21, other merchandise stolen from the store, including a buffer, a nailer, a radio, propane packs and a DeWalt combo kit, worth more than $1,000 combined. He also pleaded guilty to an unrelated felony charge of operating after being declared a habitual offender of motor vehicle laws, for driving in Swanzey in October in violation of an order from the N.H. Division of Motor Vehicles prohibiting him from doing so.
Hall was sentenced to a year in Cheshire County jail, with 275 days of that suspended for five years on condition of good behavior. Hall served 62 days awaiting the resolution of his case, leaving 28 more days to serve.
He was also sentenced to two years of probation and a suspended prison sentence of one to three years. The sentence is suspended for five years on condition of good behavior. He was ordered to pay $149 in restitution to Home Depot.
A charge of attempted receiving stolen property was dropped pursuant to a plea agreement.
Others sentenced recently include:
* James C. Johnson, 22, of Charlestown, R.I., pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana with intent to sell or dispense, a felony. According to the charge, Johnson possessed an ounce or more of the drug in Rindge on May 16. He was sentenced to one year in jail, all of it suspended for three years on condition of good behavior; two years of probation; and $434 in fines and penalties. He can request that his conviction be reduced to a misdemeanor after two years of good behavior.
* Paul J. Laprise, 54, of Winchendon, Mass., pleaded guilty to two felony counts of theft by unauthorized taking. According to the charges, Laprise stole razors and sweetener from the Hannaford in Rindge in August 2017 and razors and a can of food from the same store in September 2017. The charges are felonies because Laprise has at least two prior theft convictions, according to court documents.
Laprise was sentenced to one year in jail, all suspended for two years on condition of good behavior, and two years of probation. He was ordered to pay $80.94 in restitution to Hannaford.
* Jacob B. Marandino, 26, of Claremont, pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine, a felony, and resisting arrest, a misdemeanor. Marandino possessed the drug in Keene in October and ran from two police officers after being handcuffed, according to the charges.
Marandino was sentenced to six months in jail, to be served after he finishes a separate sentence in Sullivan County, and three years of probation. He was credited with four days served awaiting the resolution of his case.
Another six months in jail were suspended for three years on condition of good behavior. He was ordered to obtain a substance-use evaluation after his release.
Sentencing documents in his Cheshire County case do not indicate when his Sullivan County sentence ends or what it was for.
Dispatchers at Southwestern N.H. District Fire Mutual Aid in Keene handled requests for medical aid and fire calls on Friday, Jan. 24, Saturday, Jan. 25, and Sunday, Jan. 26, including:
12:05 a.m., Harrisville Fire Department to 1 Mason Road, fire alarm.
6:30 a.m., Westmoreland Fire Department to Route 63, vehicle crash with no medical transports.
8:44 a.m., Keene Fire Department to School Street, vehicle crash with no medical transports.
9:34 a.m., Keene Fire Department to 136 Arch St., fire alarm.
10:52 a.m., Peterborough Fire Department to 395 Old Street Road, fire alarm.
12:14 p.m., North Walpole Fire Department to 14 Vine St., carbon monoxide call.
2:48 p.m., Richmond Fire Department to Route 32, mutual aid.
7:08 p.m., Rindge Fire Department to 40 Sawmill Road, fire alarm.
8:35 p.m., Keene Fire Department to Gilsum Street, car leaking gas.
10:19 p.m., Keene Fire Department to Route 101, brush/smoke investigation.
1:49 a.m., Rindge Fire Department to 37 Pierce Drive, fire alarm.
8:05 a.m., Swanzey Fire Department to Whitcomb Road, vehicle crash with no medical transports.
9:31 a.m., Greenfield Fire Department to 1 Verney Drive, fire alarm.
11:56 a.m., Dublin Fire Department to 29 Nancys Way, fire alarm.
1:18 p.m., Swanzey Fire Department to Old Homestead Highway, vehicle crash with no medical transports.
2:39 p.m., Keene Fire Department to 10 Schult St., appliance problem.
3:03 p.m., Keene Fire Department to 49 Water St., fire alarm.
4:51 p.m., Jaffrey Fire Department to 218 Fitzwilliam Road, chimney fire.
7:02 p.m., Keene Fire Department to Pine Street, tree/wires/transformer.
1:34 a.m., Keene Fire Department to 317 Maple Ave., fire alarm.
9:12 a.m., Keene Fire Department to 148 Castle St., odor investigation.
9:33 a.m., Keene Fire Department to 60 Winter St., municipal fire system call.
11:04 a.m., Swanzey Fire Department to Swanzey Lake Road, vehicle crash, one medical transport for hand laceration.
12:37 p.m., Walpole Fire Department to Dwinnell Street, vehicle crash, no medical transport.
1:05 p.m., Alstead Fire Department to Walpole Valley Road, hazmat call for diesel fuel on the side of the road. Container was disposed of.
3:44 p.m., Keene Fire Department to 631 Main St., reported structure fire, was pellet stove smoke.
4:15 p.m., Keene Fire Department to 118 Sparrow St., gas investigation.
8:21 p.m., Peterborough Fire Department to 1 Jaffrey Road, fire alarm.
10:36 p.m., Rindge Fire Department to East Monomonac Road, outside/dumpster fire.
10:46 p.m., Swanzey Fire Department to West Swanzey Road, vehicle crash, no medical transport.
11:20 p.m., Keene Fire Department to 48 Summit Road, report of oven sparking.
In committee meetings last week, Keene city councilors considered accessibility, speed limits and a controversial holiday.
Councilors conduct most of their work in committee meetings, where members of the public can offer input and ask questions. The committee’s recommendations then go to the full council for a final vote.
Speed limits in neighborhoods
Councilor Kate M. Bosley and then-Councilor David C. Richards pitched the idea of reevaluating all neighborhood speed limits in September, shortly after the council approved a request from a group of residents to lower the limit on their streets to 25 mph.
All city-owned streets carry a speed limit of 30 mph unless specified otherwise.
Bosley has said that, until now, these changes have been complaint-driven on a case-by-case basis, and she argues the council should take a more holistic approach to make families feel safer in their neighborhoods.
At the municipal services, facilities and infrastructure committee meeting Wednesday, staff offered an outline of how City Manager Elizabeth A. Dragon would proceed with analyzing crash data over the past four years, but councilors rejected that idea.
Instead, they unanimously directed staff to create a map that would identify Keene’s neighborhoods by density, since no such definition or map currently exists. Bosley and other councilors suggested they could then easily point to the map and pick the streets that should have lower speed limits.
Public Works Director Kurt D. Blomquist said he should be able to return to the committee sometime in March.
Renaming Columbus Day
Fifty-five people signed a petition asking the City Council to change the name of the holiday recognized on the second Monday in October to Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Peter Majoy, who sent it to the city, told the finance, organization and personnel committee Thursday night that Christopher Columbus was “an absolute horror show.”
His request comes during a national movement to scrap the explorer’s name and instead celebrate the native people who were victimized by European colonization and are often overlooked, advocates say. At least 10 states recognize some form of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, as have many colleges and more than 100 municipalities and counties, according to an October article by NPR.
Efforts to change the holiday at the state level have stalled in the N.H. Legislature for the past two years.
Committee members were supportive of Majoy, but City Attorney Thomas P. Mullins said New Hampshire municipalities don’t have the authority to declare a name change because holidays are laid out in state law.
Two towns have already made the switch, however. Durham began celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day in 2017, and Hopkinton renamed the holiday last October.
The Keene committee recommended drafting a resolution to recognize the holiday, which Mullins noted would be “aspirational” in nature and Dragon said would essentially be a step up from a similar proclamation by former Mayor Kendall W. Lane last year.
Accessibility at city facilities
Councilor Robert C. Williams, a new councilor and member of the municipal services committee, moved forward on an issue for which he advocated during his campaign in the fall.
He presented his colleagues with a graphic indicating several spots at the recreation center that would benefit from curb cuts, the small ramps that allow strollers or wheelchairs to roll up onto a sidewalk. Williams stood outside the rec center on election day, since it was a polling place, and he recalled watching senior citizens struggle to lift their feet high enough to clear the curb in some areas and remembered seeing a man fall.
Aside from the rec center, Williams also hopes to enlists city staff’s help in a review of accessibility at all city facilities, particularly polling locations and bus stops. The polling places and bus stops comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act — noted Parks, Recreation and Facilities Director Andy Bohannon — but staff members still planned to meet with Williams to examine how to potentially make facilities more user-friendly, rather than simply meeting standards and code requirements.
The committee voted unanimously to put the item on more time while staff confers with Williams.
City officials are looking into the effects of shifting parking enforcement in downtown Keene into the evening hours.
The council’s finance, organization and personnel committee recommended at its meeting Thursday that the city manager look into the fiscal impacts of changing the enforcement hours to start and end later in the day. No specifics on those hours were discussed.
This comes on the heels of a request by the Keene Downtown Group to offer free morning parking from 8 to 11. The goal was to give drivers a positive view of Main Street parking and increase business for merchants, according to Good Fortune Jewelry owner Roger Weinreich, who presented the proposal on behalf of the group.
The downtown group pitched its plan in a letter in November. Weinreich later met with staff and laid out the details of the group’s vision: a 12-month trial of free parking on Main Street, from Dunbar Street to Central Square, with no two-hour limit. The information would be indicated with signs on the meters, he said, which the group offered to buy and install.
But city Economic Development Director Medard K. “Med” Kopczynski said staff identified a few problems with the proposal. Limiting the free parking to certain streets would mean different rules for different parts of the city, he said, which would make enforcement complicated. Removing the two-hour limit discourages circulation on Main Street, which Kopczynski said is the goal of the parking program.
And last, he said there’s no way to track how the plan is faring, especially if the downtown group wants to see an uptick in business for merchants.
“The fact that there’s more vehicles parked on the Main Street in the morning is not a measure of whether or not there’s actually increased business,” he said. “It’s just a measure of, there’s more cars on Main Street.”
Instead of moving forward with the downtown group’s proposal, Kopczynski suggested allowing City Manager Elizabeth A. Dragon to investigate the feasibility and revenue impacts of shifting the enforcement hours into the evening. If that change were made, it would accomplish the same goal, since there wouldn’t be a fee for parking in the early morning.
He referenced a report he presented to the council in June 2018, which offered several recommended changes to downtown parking, including later enforcement hours.
Kopczynski estimated he could return to the committee with more information in a month or two.
Meanwhile, city staff has been updating the 2018 report and intends to present it to the council in late spring.