Bestway gets OK to expand - Tilton, Northfield residents worried Belmont transfer station might poison aquifer business sits on but state puts strict water monitoring plan in place

BELMONT — Despite worries over possible contamination of drinking water, approval was granted Friday to Casella Waste Management/Bestway Disposal Services to accept municipal solid waste and to increase its total capacity from 153 to 503 tons per day.
The state Department of Environmental Services approval includes a modification to the initial request that requires Casella to construct and maintain a containment pad for temporarily staging leaking vehicles and for containing and extinguishing hot loads or those that are smoking or on fire.
In addition, the state will require Casella to monitor groundwater at the site because it is located over an aquifer used for drinking water for the communities of Tilton and Northfield. The company will also be required to produce and present a plan that identifies procedures for waste water and to assure that it won’t overflow.
As it stands right now, the Casella facility accepts only construction debris and recyclables at the site. That material is packed together and brought to Massachusetts for sorting and final disposal.
The new proposal, which has tacit approval from the Belmont Planning Board should all of the conditions of the DES be met, will allow household waste to be brought there by haulers, loaded into trucks and taken to one of Casella’s facilities in Berlin or Allenstown.
The proposal to accept municipal solid waste at the plant on Industrial Drive met with strong opposition from residents of Tilton and Northfield, whose interests were represented by the Tilton-Northfield Water District.
Their primary concern was permanent damage to the aquifer from spillage or fires. To address this, the water district said it plans on asking for the highest classification of groundwater monitoring and the state said it would support its request.
The Department of Environmental Services addressed other concerns submitted by residents in its order, including one addressing the above-ground fuel storage tank, which the agency said is permitted and up to standards, and leachate, which the agency said is not relevant to the proposed expansion.Editor’s note: The author has a financial interest in Casella Waste Management.

Laconia police offer program on how to survive an active shooter

LACONIA — In light of recent attacks on innocent people both at home and abroad, the Police Department is offering a presentation to educate and prepare members of the public should they find themselves involved in such a situation.

Capt. Matt Confield said the department developed the presentation , titled "Surviving an Active Shooter: Response for Civilians," in 2013, and has presented it to a number of civic groups and private employers.

The presentation begins with a description of active-shooter incidents, distinguishing them from other threatening situations involving firearms. How the police will respond to an active shooter will be explained. Although these incidents are difficult to foresee, the presentation will indicate the kinds of suspicious activity that should be reported to the police. Finally, the "run, hide, fight" response to an active shooter will be presented. Canfield said the presentation incorporates principles and concepts developed by the police department of Houston, Texas.

Canfield said the Laconia Police Department has been training to respond to active shooter incidents for some time and is preparing for a significant drill in the spring.

"We constantly follow these events and seek to learn what we can from each of them," he said.

For example, he said that prior to the shooting in San Bernadino this week, a neighbor observed people coming and going from the shooters' apartment at all hours of day and night, but never reported that to the police.

"We're quite in tune with active-shooter situations," Canfield said.

Canfield said the department has identified the locations in the city that are most susceptible to an incident and planned an appropriate response for each. However, he noted "these incidents can occur anywhere and everywhere." He emphasized that, in offering the presentation, the department has no intent of alarming residents, but instead seeks to assure them that officers are prepared for an untoward incident and is offering members of the public an opportunity to prepare themselves.

The presentation will take place Tuesday, Jan. 12, from 6 to 8 p.m., at the Laconia Police Department. For more information or to register, contact Cheryl at 524-5257, ext. 322. There is no cost to register, but seating is limited and registrations will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

Lawyers argue illegal search led to meth discovery

LACONIA – A local man charged with felony possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute has asked the court to dismiss the charge against him by claiming the search of his car by city police was illegal. The case is being heard in the Belknap County Superior Court.

Police stopped Peter Dauphin, 43, of 19 Appleton St. around 10 p.m. April 25 on Sheridan Street just before the intersection of Appleton Street because he had allegedly squealed his tires in Lakeport Square and police felt he was speeding. When asked for his license and registration, Dauphin produced a bill of sale for the car and told officers he was using the previous owner's plates until he could get it registered.

The officer said he would have to take the plates because they were not Dauphin's and the car would need to be towed. Since Dauphin's home was visible from where the stop took place he said he asked and was given permission by the officer to have the car towed to his home. Dauphin made his own arrangements with the driver from Gulbicki's Towing and paid him $125 to take the car to his driveway.

While the car was being loaded on to the flatbed, the officer told Dauphin it was police department policy to search it. Since the car was locked, the officer reached his hand into an open passenger side window and triggered the alarm. Dauphin turned off the alarm. During the search, the officer found a sunglasses case under the seat and in it was about an ounce of methamphetamine. Dauphin was arrested and taken to the police station where he was interrogated. He told police there was more methamphetamine at his home and where it was. Police got a search warrant and found several ounces of meth in his home, along with $11,000.

Dauphin's attorney Mark Sisti argues in his motion to suppress the evidence filed in court that the car was registered to the prior owner and there is nothing in state law that says a car can't be driven by someone other than the person who holds the registration.

Sisti said that according to state law, a car can be ordered towed by police only under certain circumstances and that none of those were applicable that night. He said the car was not unattended nor was it going to be, it was not obstructing a road because it was already on the flatbed when the officer initiated the search, there was no complaint of obstruction, it was not stolen and it was registered, and Dauphin was not incapacitated.

The Laconia Police towing policy, said Sisti, is also inapplicable because a car is searched only when it taken into custody or towed under orders of a member of the department. In this case, he said, the car was being towed to Dauphin's home and the tow contract was negotiated with him and not police. The police left the details of the towing to Dauphin and the tow truck driver.

He also said they was no need to protect Dauphin from damage or loss to the contents from police because the car was being towed to his house. In addition, he said there was no reason for the police to protect themselves against any false claims by Dauphin regarding his personal property because the car was not going to be in their custody. At the time the car was loaded onto the tow truck, Dauphin was not under arrest.

Sisti argues that because the search of the car was illegal, the statements he made to detectives at the police station, which are the continuation of the same event and that led to the search of his home, are "fruits of the poisonous tree" and should also be dismissed.