French to challenge Hosmer in District 7 (432)

FRANKLIN — Harold French, a Republican serving his first term in the New Hampshire House of Representatives, announced yesterday that he will run for the Senate in District 7, the seat held for the past two terms by Democrat Andrew Hosmer of Laconia.

A real estate broker, auctioneer and folk art sculptor, French, who is originally from Concord, has lived in half a dozen towns in Merrimack County and graduated from Hopkinton High School and attended Plymouth State University. Along with his deep roots in Merrimack County, he operated the Gold Street Gallery in Laconia for several years during what he called "my art phase" and was was among those led by the late Wanda Tibbetts who began the Lakeport Association.

French represents Wards 1 and 2 in Franklin and the town of Hill in the House, where he is a member of the Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee.

In formally announcing his candidacy, French said in a prepared statement "I am now ready to work for my constituents in the Senate." Noting that he has done business with people throughout the district, he said that "very few have have told me that they think we do not pay enough taxes already" and "the overwhelming majority are opposed to tax increases. " He pledged to continue to oppose any new taxes.

"I just know from my experience," he said Monday, "that we're really tapped out right now."

Instead, he called for easing the regulation of business and lowering the cost of energy to generate opportunity for those seeking better jobs and higher wages. "The more people there are doing business, the more money will be flowing," he said. French also stressed support for "all our schools," including home schooling and charter schools.

French said that state lawmakers file some 1,200 bills each year, three-quarters of them unnecessary and 60 percent of them backed by both parties.

"Then it gets philosophical," he said. "I didn't realize how far apart we are on some things." Nevertheless, French said, "I eat lunch more often with Democrats than Republicans. We just don't vote the same way."

In 2014, Hosmer withstood the challenge by Republican Kathleen Lauer-Rago of Franklin to hold his seat by 155 votes — 9,543 to 9,423 — following a recount. French said that Lauer-Rago indicated to him that she would not run this year, adding that "if she were running, I probably would not be."

Lauer-Rago did not return calls yesterday.

Senate District 7 consists of the city of Laconia and towns of Belmont and Gilford in Belknap County, and the city of Franklin and towns of Andover, Boscawen, Canterbury, Northfield, Salisbury and Webster in Merrimack County.

Man hides under blankets but is found by police

LACONIA — Joshua Umlah, 32, of New Hampton, was arrested at a residence on Shingle Camp Road in New Hampton on Wednesday, April 27, for failure to appear in court. He was found hiding under the blankets of a bunk bed.

Umlah had been indicted in Belknap Superior Court for the charge of possession of heroin. His underlying offense in Grafton County was operating after deemed a habitual offender.

Members of the New Hampshire Joint Fugitive Task Force including Deputy Sheriffs from Belknap, Hillsborough, Rockingham and Strafford Counties located Umlah after warrants were issued for his arrest from both Belknap and Grafton County Superior Court for his failure to appear.

Umlah is currently being held without bail at the Belknap County Jail on both charges awaiting hearings in both Belknap and Grafton County Superior Courts.

Meredith man extinguishes small porch fire

MEREDITH — A Stone Dam Circle man's home escaped serious damage Saturday around 2 a.m. when a bird's nest built on a light on his porch apparently ignited.

Fire Chief Ken Jones said Monday that the fire burned two walls on the porch and melted a window on the house side of the wall before the homeowner woke up and extinguished it with a hose.

"He got very lucky," Jones said, noting that the man was sleeping in a chair in the living room.

He said firefighters initially called for a first alarm when the call first sounded because there is no municipal water at the end of Meredith Center Road. He said firefighters from Meredith spent a few hours at the home making sure the fire hadn't extended into the home. He said they released the extra help that came from Laconia and surrounding towns for the alarm.

Jones said he estimated there is about $3,000 to $4,000 in damage to the porch and siding but said the house is inhabitable.