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Funds for crime lab, victims programs approved

December 08. 2016 11:14AM

The governor and Executive Council approved a contract Wednesday that will help the New Hampshire State Police Crime Lab become more efficient and chip away at a backlog of drug-related cases.

The state Department of Safety was authorized to use $100,000 from state drug forfeiture funds to buy a gas chromatograph/mass spectrometer for the crime lab.

The additional equipment, which analyzes complex mixtures of illegal drug compounds in an automated fashion, will allow the lab to be more efficient, according to Attorney General Joseph Foster, whose office entered into a sub-grant with the Department of Safety.

“Currently, the controlled drug section of the state police forensic crime lab is facing a major case backlog due to an increase in demand for analysis. The backlog impedes criminal prosecutions,” Foster wrote in seeking governor and council approval for the acquisition.

Other Executive Council actions included:

• Authorized the Department of Justice to accept and spend $6.9 million from the federal office of Justice Programs, Office for Victims of Crime, to support programs for victims of crime. The money, which is 100 percent federal funds, was due to an unexpected increase for programs nationwide. The funds will go to existing programs in the Granite State, including New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence and its 14 member agencies, Court Appointed Special Advocates of New Hampshire, and Child Advocacy Centers, according to Foster.

• Authorized $1 million, from federal funds via U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to be used to acquire a conservation easement on 1,110 acres in Epping and Nottingham. The easement is to be held jointly by New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, New Hampshire Fish and Game, and the Southeast Land Trust. The total value of the easement is $2,830,000, with additional funding beyond the $1 million coming from other federal and private sources, according to DES Commissioner Thomas S. Burack.

“This project has unusual conservation significance for southeastern New Hampshire in that it is one of the largest single contiguous parcels of land in Rockingham County,” Burack wrote in seeking governor and council authorization. The land has diverse habitat and the agreement will maintain opportunities for hunting, fishing and wildlife-related activities. The law office of H. Alfred Casassa, the closing agent for the state, is working on the acquisition on behalf of Applehurst Farm LLC, in an amount of $1,384,000, according to state documents. 

• Authorized the Community Development Finance Authority to award the town of Exeter $499,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant money to assist with purchasing equipment at its new facility on Epping Road in Exeter. The funds go through the Rockingham Economic Development Corp. The investment will result in 25 new full-time jobs, 15 of which will be for individuals with low- to moderate- incomes, according to the contract.

• Approved an $8.5 million contract to rehabilitate two red-listed bridges that carry Interstate 93 northbound and southbound over the Winnipesaukee River in the towns of Northfield and Tilton. The funding for the state transportation priority is for fiscal years 2017, 2018, and 2019.

• Reappointed Assistant Attorney General Jeffery A. Strelzin, at a salary of $102,250, from Dec. 29, 2016, to Dec. 29, 2021. 

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