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Pelham~Windham News


Pelham~Windham News Volume 8 Number 29 February 11, 2011 16 Pages


Recent Pelham Standoff Proves Expensive


by Andrea Ganley-Dannewitz The January 13 standoff with police in Pelham that lasted nearly 34 hours has proved to have been pretty pricey to the agencies involved, costing between $43,000 and $50,000. Those police agencies, including Pelham Police Department, New Hampshire State Police, Southern New Hampshire Special Operations Unit, Nashua Police Department’s Special Response Team, and the Hillsborough County Sheriff Department, may now be seeking reimbursement from the suspect that created the fiasco in the first place, George LaBonte, Sr., 72, of Pelham. Police in Pelham originally responded to LaBonte’s


Jones Road home on January 13 around 7 p.m. for the purpose of a well-being check, as LaBonte’s wife had gone to Pelham Police Department around 6:23 p.m. to speak with an officer regarding her husband’s state of mind and to report that he had sent her away from the residence after she had returned home from shopping because he claimed he intended to end his life. She claimed to police that he said, “She didn’t need to see this.”


When several Pelham police officers arrived at the LaBonte home, he allegedly stated to the officers that they had better get off his property or “I will kill all of you!” Police in Pelham have had several encounters with LaBonte in the past, including a standoff that lasted over five hours in 2007. Due to LaBonte’s aggressive behavior and threats that he made to the officers at the scene and the fact that they knew LaBonte was in possession of several firearms, those responding officers backed off and created a perimeter around the residence. It was then that officers made the decision to activate and request the assistance of the Southern New Hampshire Special Operations Unit. The standoff, which lasted nearly 34 hours and occurred on a day with frigid temperatures, resulted in several different SWAT teams responding to relieve officers at the standoff due to frigid temperatures and the length of time these officers were exposed to such frigid weather and a stressful situation. Pelham Police Chief Joseph Roark said, “We believe that LaBonte wanted us to enter his home and fatally shoot him.” Over 90 officers responded to the scene at one point or another between Thursday, January 13, and Saturday, January 15, when LaBonte ultimately gave in and exited his home after hours of no contact with police negotiators, surrendering at 4:30 a.m. Pelham Police Lieutenant Gary Fisher says this is the first time Pelham Police Department has considered request for restitution for an incident such as this. A law passed in 1999 states a person’s liability for expenses “shall not exceed $10,000 for any single public agency’s response incident.” A town can seek restitution from an individual under the law if a judge finds “a person takes another person or persons hostage or threatens to harm himself or another person” or “recklessly or intentionally creates a situation requiring an emergency response.” How this turns out will ultimately depend on a ruling by a judge. However, Pelham Police Chief Roark and Lieutenant Fisher both feel confident that this law can be applied to this case. A motion regarding restitution from LaBonte was filed on Monday, February 7. George LaBonte, Sr. was jailed in Manchester, held on $50,000 cash-only bail. He is due back at Salem District Court on February 22 for trial, but his bail conditions were changed Monday, February 7, by a judge at Salem District Court, allowing him to be transferred by police to Elliot Hospital in Manchester for evaluation. Doctors at Elliot Hospital are to evaluate LaBonte to determine if “inpatient emergency admission” to the Concord State Hospital is warranted. If they do feel that it is and Concord State Hospital will admit him as a patient there, his bail would be changed to $50,000 personal recognizance. However, should he be released from the hospital, his bail would change back to $50,000 cash-only bail, so it does not appear he will be heading to his Jones Road residence anytime in the near future. Pelham Police Department must be notified by law if the hospital wishes to discharge him and he will be returned to the jail. According to Judge David Huot, a new bail order would be placed in order upon any release from hospitalization. His imprisonment was based on charges of criminal threatening and resisting arrest. The reasoning for such high bail resulted in the ruling made by Judge Michael Sullivan at his court arraignment. Both Judge Sullivan and Pelham Police Department prosecutor Dennis Mannion agreed that LaBonte posed a danger to society and was a flight risk. Both also cited that LaBonte has a criminal record dating back to 1969.


Ice Puts Out the Fire at PelhamWinterFest ECRWSS


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Pelham Fire and Pelham (Police) Ice pond hockey teams play it up for charity during the Battle of the Badges charity ice hockey game on Saturday at the Pelham Ice Garden. Te Pelham Police Department earns its bragging rights this year with a final score of 22-17


by Karen Plumley The second annual Pelham WinterFest event took place on Saturday, February 5, at the Pelham Ice Garden at Lyons Memorial Park. From 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., Pelham area residents kept the cold at arm’s length while enjoying steamy hamburgers and hot dogs, drinks, family ice-skating, hockey competitions, and many on-ice games. Some of the games included ice-skating races, seal races, and chuck-a-duck. Guests of all ages were bundled up and enjoying the company of friends. At noon, the crowd gathered around the rink


Delaney Stevens, 4, of Pelham helps pick the winning raffle ticket


for yet another thrilling bout of the “Battle of the Badges,” with the Pelham Police (Ice) pond hockey team taking on their fierce rivals, the Pelham Fire Department (Fire). The charity ice hockey game was a close one, with the police department enacting their revenge in the rematch and emerging as this year’s victors, earning much- deserved bragging rights. The final score was 22-17. WinterFest sponsors, including TSR Hockey,


Pelham residents Kyle Frank, Timothy Anderson, and Philip Dumont arrive with their hockey gear to check out the pond


Alison (6) and Nicole (3) Ringdahl ready to skate


Pinball Wizard, and Suppa’s Pizza, gave away well over $1,000 in prizes to guests in an exciting raffle that took place just before the charity hockey game. Such prizes as a free snow plowing, gift cards, and hockey equipment were won by guests. Returning sponsors included A Handy Co., Cakes 5th Avenue, and Chunky’s, as well as members of the pond hockey league. According to event organizer Chris Mader, approximately 60-70 people were in attendance this year and had a great time. Additionally, Battle of the Badges veteran


Pelham Police Department Officer Dave Deroche is once again helping raise funds for Children’s Hospital in Dartmouth. He is thrilled to report that this year’s Pelham WinterFest helped him to raise over $200 so far. Officer Deroche has been chosen to play in the statewide 2011 Battle of the Badges charity hockey game for CHaD for the fourth year running. This event will take place on Saturday, April 9, at 5 p.m. at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester. The event raised over $200,000 last year and is hoping to continue its successful run. To learn more, visit www. chadhockey.org.


Pelham Fire and Pelham Police face-off PES Fourth Annual Spelling Bee by Karen Plumley In a six-round competition,


sPelham fourth grader Natalia Villanueva emerged victorious at the Pelham Elementary School’s (PES) fourth annual spelling bee, held in the gymnasium on Friday, January 28. “The words in this year’s competition were really tough, and it is great that a large portion of the kids went so many rounds,” noted PES Assistant Principal and Reading Specialist Michelle Viger. During the bee, classmates in grades three through five cheered on their friends. Also attending were many supportive and excited parents. “The event is really stressful for the kids, but the parents sometimes are even more tense,” Viger said. The judges presiding over the event on Friday were School Board member Debbie Ryan, PES School Council member Deb Leuteritz, and Assistant Principal/Math Specialist Jessica VanVranken. Title 1 Teacher/Coordinator Sue Malloy was the spelling bee recorder, with Assistant Principal Michelle Viger announcing. According to Viger, the spelling words got even more difficult as the rounds progressed. “There were words such as ‘grievance’ and ‘retrospective,’” she said. In the end, Natalia spelled the word “whisperer,” beating the very notable runner-up, fourth grader Jenna CaraDonna. Natalia, who was the PES Spelling Bee runner-up last year as a third grader, will go on to compete in the regional spelling bee on March 12 in Salem. The winners of each of their individual classes’ spelling bees competed in


the school-wide competition on Friday. After winning in their classrooms, students were provided with the intimidating 2011 Spell It! to prepare for the bee—a 14-page word origin study guide booklet that included sections in both Latin and Arabic.


Te Pelham Elementary School 2011 Spelling Bee winners were fourth graders Natalia Villanueva (first place) and Jenna CaraDonna, posing here with PES Principal Alicia LaFrance and Assistant Principal Michelle Viger


Squire Armour Residents Want Another Sound Test Conducted


by Barbara O’Brien Residents of Squire Armour Road in Windham probably feel as if they’re “banging their heads against a stone wall” in trying to convince State officials from the Department of Transportation that they need and deserve to have a sound barrier built along the adjacent I-93 corridor. On January 31, for the second time in recent months, those who live in this development showed up at a selectmen’s meeting en masse, nearly filling the room to capacity. Also in


attendance were New Hampshire Department of Transportation representatives. No one at either the State or Federal level of the I-93 project is contesting that the widening of the north-south highway is generating an increase in noise. What these officials are saying, though, is that not enough households are being affected so as to warrant spending so much money to construct a sound barrier at this location. According to Peter Stamnos, Project Manager for the I-93 project, federal regulations state that


no more than $30,000 per home can be spent on erecting a sound barrier and this sound barrier must be capable of reducing the noise level by a minimum of five decibels. The cost is determined by dividing the total cost of the construction by the number of homes affected. Stamnos said there are a total of 35 locations along the I-93 corridor, between the Massachusetts State Line and Manchester, that have been slated for testing for noise issues. He cited three basic criteria that are used in


determining the need for sound barriers: • The site meets or exceeds a noise level of 66 decibels;


• Construction of a sound barrier is feasible at that location; • The cost is reasonable and does not outweigh the benefits.


Of the 35 homes that were considered, 11 were actually tested, on two occasions, Stamnos said. The sound level did exceed the criteria, being continued to page 13- Sound Test


courtesy photo


staff photos by Karen Plumley


courtesy photo


photo courtesy of Deb Leuteritz


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