Copper-pipe thieves leave home in danger of exploding

Firefighters in Laconia, N.H., say an unoccupied house was very close to exploding from a natural gas leak caused by thieves who stole copper piping in the basement.

Fire Chief Ken Erickson said when firefighters arrived at the home Thursday afternoon, they could smell the gas.

Erickson said it appeared that the copper pipes were cut with either a bolt cutter or pruning shears. He said whoever stole the copper crimped the pipe, but not enough to stop gas from leaking.

Authorities were able to shut off the gas and power to the home.


Man walking along I-93 had ski rack, not gun, police say

New Hampshire State Police say reports of a man seen with a gun along Interstate 93 in Derry are wrong — it turned out he had a ski rack.

Police said they received calls Thursday morning about a man walking in the center median of I-93 southbound with an object that resembled a gun. A small gray vehicle was parked near his location in the breakdown lane.

Troopers looked for the man, but were unable to find him. They later got a call from a man who said he believed he was the person they were searching for. He said his ski rack had fallen off of his car and landed in the center median. He parked in the breakdown lane and crossed I-93 southbound to retrieve the ski rack.


Ex-postal worker admits stealing packages of drugs

A former employee of the St. Johnsbury post office has pleaded guilty to two counts of embezzlement after being accused of stealing packages of prescription drugs that were mailed to veterans.

Traci Nelson of Lyndonville was indicted by a federal grand jury. The indictments state that Nelson knowingly embezzled and stole a package and the contents twice in February. The package was from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and contained prescription drugs.

Nelson pleaded guilty Monday in federal court in Burlington.

Her sentencing hearing has been scheduled for April 1, 2013.


Panel reaffirms vote to keep fluoride out of public water

A Vermont town commission that handles water and sewer matters has reaffirmed its vote to stop putting fluoride in the water supply.

Robert Nutting, chairman of the Bradford Water and Sewer Commission, said he favors eliminating fluoride because he’s unaware of “how much is too much” to add. The Valley News reports that he said he understands the state recommended a safe dosage, but he said the combination of fluoride in the water supply, toothpaste and other products could push a person over that limit.

Currently, 44 percent of Vermont towns don’t fluoridate their water supply.

Dr. Robert Munson, a dentist, said the decision is doing a disservice to residents. He said he was planning to start a petition to put the vote to residents.


Penn National wants to be sole casino in western Mass.

A company that hopes to develop a casino in Springfield says it has paid $650,000 in application fees to the city and state.

Penn National Gaming said in a statement Friday it had submitted a nonrefundable, $400,000 application fee to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission that was required by Jan. 15 for the company to be considered for a casino license.

The Pennsylvania-based company said it also submitted a $250,000 fee required by the city of Springfield, which has its own review process.

Penn and MGM Resorts International, which also says it’s paid the state fee, have both proposed casinos in Springfield. Mohegan Sun has proposed a casino in the town of Palmer.

The state commission will make the final decision on awarding the sole western Massachusetts license.