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Successor to Kings Grant Inn told it can't have adult entertainment permit

GILFORD — Selectmen last night voted to grant the Lakes Region Cafe & Tavern — the former King's Grant Inn — a live entertainment permit but not a so-called adult entertainment permit. Owner Will Drew, his business partner Tom Lyons, and his lawyer David Bownes had asked for both.

In a new twist to an old story, the latest town objection to nearly-naked dancers comes from the planning director, who noted in a memorandum addressed to Drew on September 23 that exotic entertainment was included in his last permit however it was a "non-conforming use pursuant to the provisions ... of the Gilford Zoning Ordinance."

Town Planner John Ayer wrote that a non-conforming use allowed to lapse for one year or more or that is superseded by a conforming use, may not be resumed. Translated, it means that if Drew and Lyons wants to have any adult entertainment on the premises, which included wet T-shirt contests, hot legs contests, and the like, he must go to the Gilford Zoning Board of Adjustments and appeal Ayer's decision. Selectmen had already "carved out" the exotic dancing portion of the approval.

According to materials distributed at last night's meeting, Fire Chief Steve Carrier has approved all of Drew's and Lyon's required place-of-assembly permits. There was no written or verbal communication offered last night from Acting Police Chief James Leach.

Drew was represented by Bownes at last night's meeting, who agreed to the conditions offered by selectmen, telling them he expected the liquor commission to issue the permit within a few weeks at the longest. He also assured the selectmen he would be taking the zoning restriction to the ZBA.

Selectmen also met Lyons, Drew's new partner, for the first time last night. He told them he lives in Hampton, is a commercial fisherman, and owns and operates a vending machine and video game company. Among his local clients, he said, is the Winnipesaukee Pier.

Lyons told selectmen he would be at the cafe six days a week and that he didn't expect to have live entertainment on Sundays but would likely have a sports night. Drew, who lives on the property in a separate home, said he too would be an active manager in the business. In its Mardi Gras North days, Drew leased the business to a company and played little to no day-to-day role in its management.

He also said the business would be run differently than the Mardi Gras North night club — a business that ended up the target of a N.H. Drug Task Force raid in October of 2011 that resulted in seven arrests, five of whom were strippers who worked or had worked at the club.

Four of the strippers were convicted or pleaded guilty to a variety of drug charges in Belknap County Superior Court and served or are serving sentences. At press time the outcome of one of the dancers and the two male patrons who were also arrested is unknown.

"It will be clean," Lyons said. "No Hell's Angels."

Lyons was likely referring to a rumor that spread through Gilford after the drug raid that identified the establishment as a popular spot for members of the motorcycle club. The truth or falsity of that rumor has never before been discussed in public and there is nothing unlawful about members of any motorcycle club patronizing any business.

He also assured selectmen that he runs a "tight ship" or people will be fired.

He also said he wasn't a fan of "the juke box crowd" but preferred live bands that draw a different kind of crowd.

Lyons told selectmen he and Drew deliberately chose to open the business in the fall so they could iron out the kinks before the busy summer season arrives that is traditionally kicked off by the annual Motorcycle Week in June.

Last Updated on Thursday, 26 September 2013 02:38

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Coal tar removal will take 2 years & require 12 to 16 truckloads a day

GILFORD — Work to remove tons of toxic coal tar contaminated soil from lower Liberty Hill could begin as early as next March in a massive $13 million cleanup project which will take two years to complete, according to plans presented at an informational meeting at Gilford Town Hall last night.
Officials of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) and GEI Consultants, Inc., representing Liberty Utilities, presented the plan to about 40 people, many of them residents of the Liberty Hill area.

The tar was dumped into pits on lower Liberty Hill and then covered over in the 1950s, after a fire at a gas plant along the Winnipesuakee River in Laconia. The substance was a biproduct of the gasification process.

The presence of the deposits was not made known to the public until about 10 years ago and came as the result of testimony offered in a private-party lawsuit.
Michael McCluskey, an engineer with the state Department of Environmental Services' Waste Management Division, said that the conceptual plan for cleaning up Liberty Hill was approved last year and that the design plan for the project is still being finalized by GEI and will be presented to the DES next month.
John Ash, vice president of GEI Consultants Inc., said that the plan which will be presented for approval calls for 93,000 cubic yards of soil to be excavated, with between 39,000 and 44,000 cubic yards removed from the site for treatment.
Another 54,000 cubic yards will be stored on site and reused in the backfill operation.
In all some 66,000 tons of material will be removed by large dump trucks over a two-year period.
Ash said that he anticipates that 12 to 16 trucks a day will be hauling contaminated material from the site, but that work will be suspended during the winter of 2014-15.
Truck traffic will be tightly controlled according to Ash, who said that the plan calls for four trucks at a time to enter the site, where none will leave until they are all filled, and there will be flaggers directing traffic at the junction of Liberty Hill Road and Country Club Drive.
He said that work will be done in two phases, with the South phase being completed in the first year and the North phase in the second year. The first phase will see the work area completely backfilled and covered before the second phase starts.
The area to be excavated includes four house lots — 69, 77, 83 and 87 Liberty Hill Road— with the densest concentrations of coal tar on numbers 77 and 83.
The plan calls for excavating an area shaped like a figure-eight stretching more than 500 feet parallel to Liberty Hill Road and extending to more than 200 feet at its widest point above the waist at 83 Liberty Hill Road. It will be enclosed by 1,748 feet — the length of nearly six football fields — of six-foot high fencing which will be screened with fabric to make excavation work less visible.
A number of site controls will be in place, including an air monitoring system which will check for volatile compounds, dust and odors.
Ash said that since coal tar contains naphthalene, an ingredient used in mothballs, there may be a smell similar to mothballs at times but that the level at which it would be considered harmful is many times higher than the level at which it is detected by human smell.
There will also be vibration monitoring and noise monitoring, as well as a system for de-watering and treatment of excavated materials.
''That water will be run through de-watering and treatment and the water will be tested before any of it is discharged,'' said Ash.
The projected schedule for the project includes demolishing of structures in October, presentation of the final design plan in October, selection of a contractor in January, another public meeting in Gilford in February and the start of construction in March.
Kathy Lacroix, a Liberty Hill resident, asked if the de-watering operation on site would lower the natural water table of the area and Ash said it wouldn't.
She also questioned whether any of the work would be done on weekends and was told that Saturday was a potential work day and that any hauling would be dependent on the pace of the project and meeting deadlines for completion of each phase.
Selectman Kevin Hayes asked if the contractor would be asked to repair any of the road damaged by 6,000 loads of material being moved over it and officials from Liberty Utilities said that at the end of the project damaged parts of the road would be repaired or resurfaced.
Residents of the area were advised that Liberty Utilities would have a process in place to document the condition of their homes, including cellar walls and chimneys, prior to the start of construction, which would be useful in the event of any construction-related damage claims.

Last Updated on Thursday, 26 September 2013 03:04

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Northfield's Bert Southwick celebrates 90th birthday at dedication of school grounds' shelter for his old egg wagon

NORTHFIELD — This community's beloved ''egg man'' celebrated his 90th birthday in a very public way yesterday, at a dedication ceremony at the school which bears his name and the shelter which houses the horse-drawn wagon that he used for 75 years to deliver eggs to homes in Tilton and Northfield.
Bert Southwick, who still lives on the same 250-acre farm his family bought in 1918 on Zion Hill Road and in the same house where he was born, has been widely celebrated in feature articles in newspapers and magazines as well as on television for his simple, frugal Yankee lifestyle and droll New England humor.
With the exception of a few years with the National Guard in the late 1940s and a brief stay in Franklin Hospital shortly after Christmas of 2001, when he suffered broken ribs and a bout with pneumonia as the result of an accident when he was run over by his delivery wagon, Southwick has spent every night at the farm.
He says that he's never taken a vacation, nor eaten a meal in a restaurant, and that the wagon that he has used all these years was purchased for $25 in Laconia in 1937 and was in constant use every Friday until he retired it about a year and a half ago due to problems with a leg that make it difficult for him to get in and out of it.
But he still delivers eggs every Friday, riding in a pickup truck driven by his friend Harold Kelley, who filled in for him while he was hospitalized and has been driving him on his route during the winter months.
Each week he delivers about 100 dozen eggs, priced at $2 a dozen, and can recall years in which he delivered as many as 250 dozen. In all he's delivered over six million eggs and chalked up enough miles on his egg wagon to have crossed the United States from coast to coast eight times.
He never married and has been alone at his farm, which is still heated by wood, ever since his late sister Edna moved into an assisted living facility about 12 years ago.
Southwick sold land to the Winnisquam Regional School District in 1994 for a new elementary school, which would later be named the Southwick School by a vote of students at the Union-Sanborn School, who were selected to choose a name for the new school.
Over the years he's been a constant friend of the school, bringing cornstalks and pumpkins to the school every fall according to Southwick School Principal Rich Hines, who told people at yesterday's gathering at the school that Southwick donated his egg wagon to the school a year and a half ago.
Dylan Hoffman, a former student at Southwick School who was looking for a project to earn his Eagle Scout badge, decided to build a shelter for the wagon so that it could be displayed on the school grounds.
''It was a lot of work and doing the research was hard. But a lot of people helped me out.'' said Hoffman at yesterday's ceremony as he described how the shelter was built and how those who worked with him cleaned and painted the wagon so that it now looks, as he says, ''as good as new. ''


Dylan Hoffman and Bert Southwick stand at the shelter Hoffman built for Southwick's horse drawn egg wagon at Southwick School in Northfield. The Eagle Scout project was dedicated in a ceremony held at the school celebrating Southwick's 90th birthday yesterday. (Roger Amsden/for tThe Laconia Daily Sun)


Last Updated on Thursday, 26 September 2013 02:49

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LaFond charged with manslaughter & negligent homicide

LACONIA — Six months after the car she was driving struck two girls at the Messer Street Bridge, taking the life of Lilyanna Johnson, 14, and severely injuring Allyssa Miner, 14, Amy LaFond, 52, was arrested at her home at 10 River Street shortly after 7 a.m. yesterday on charges of manslaughter, negligent homicide and assault — as well as on two drug offenses and three traffic violations.

About 15 relatives and friends of the girls and LaFond's husband sat quietly as LaFond was arraigned in 4th Circuit Court-Laconia later in the day. LaFond entered no plea on four felony charges and pled not guilty to a misdemeanor and three violations. Judge Jim Carroll ordered her held in lieu of $30,000 cash bail on the four felony charges and set $5,000 personal recognizance bail for one misdemeanor drug offense and the three traffic violations. Should she post bail, Carroll ordered her not to operate a motor vehicle, confined her to the state and required her to report to the police daily at noon.

Johnson and Miner were struck while on the sidewalk at the crosswalk at the south end of the Messer Street Bridge at approximately 2:30 p.m. on April 19. Lafond was traveling northbound on Messer Street toward its intersection with Opechee Street. A car going in the same direction had stopped at the crosswalk, apparently to enable a number of middle school students standing at the corner to cross the street. Lafond is alleged to have skirted the stopped car, crossed into the southbound lane of Messer Street and mounted the raised sidewalk, hitting the two girls.
In charging manslaughter, a class A felony, the state alleges that LaFond recklessly caused the death of Lilyanna Johnson by driving while distracted at an excessive speed after consuming drugs. Alternatively, she is charged with negligent homicide, a class B felony, for "failing to maintain a proper lookout" while driving.

The two charges represent different degrees of culpability. Manslaugher presumes recklessness, or consciously disregarding "a substantial and unjustifiable risk" of causing injury or death despite being aware of that risk. The risk must be of a kind that, in the circumstances, to disregard it would be inconsistent with the conduct of a law-abiding person. On the other hand, a person acts negligently by failing to become aware of "a substantial or unjustifiable risk" of a nature and degree that a reasonable person would observe.

La Fond is charged with second degree assault, a class A felony, for recklessly injuring Allyssa Miner, who suffered a fractured pelvis, lacerated spleen and bruised lung, by driving at excessive speed while distracted and after taking drugs.

Speaking to the press prior to the arraignment, County Attorney Melissa Countway Guldbrandsen noted that LaFond has not been charged with driving while impaired, but "we are alleging that the accident occurred after she consumed drugs."

LaFond is also charged with possession of narcotic drugs, specifically oxycodone, a class B felony, and unlawful dealing in prescription drugs, gabapentin or Neurontin, a class A misdemeanor. The state alleges that both were found in her possession, though she had no lawful prescription for either. Finally, LaFond faces three traffic violations — speeding, failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk and crossing the double yellow line when it was not safe to do so.

At the press conference Police Chief Chris Adams acknowledged that the lengthy investigation was "a very difficult time for the families" and thanked them for their patience. He was echoed by Guldbrandsen who said "this was a very thorough and careful investigation by the Laconia Police Department, in which nearly every officer participated." She said that the Belknap County Accident Reconstruction Team, led by Sergeant Al Graton of the Laconia Police, conducted an extensive investigation that only concluded last month and laboratory analysis was performed not only by the New Hampshire State Police but also by a laboratory in Pennsylvania. "Many different factors contributed to this accident," said Guldbrandsen, who said she still considers the case "an ongoing investigation."

At the arraignment Guldbrandsen, stressing the seriousness of the offenses and the danger LaFond posed to the community asked to court to set cash bail at $50,000. Describing what happened on April 19, she told the court that "the accident alone represents her dangerousness to the community."

Guldbrandsen then turned to the evidence, noting that blood tests found "numerous prescription drugs in her (LaFond's) system," including highly elevated levels of oxycodone.

Attorney John Bresaw, representing LaFond firmly objected to introducing evidence, which he had no opportunity to assess. But, Carroll let Guldbrandsen proceed to explain that although LaFond had been prescribed oxycodone, she was found in possession of a 30 milligram tablet, for which she had no prescription. When she went on to claim that LaFond had illicitly purchased oxycodone on the day of the collision, Bresaw again objected.

Noting that LaFond also possessed gabapentin without a prescription, Guldbrandsen said that it reflected "a course of conduct of abusing non-prescription and prescription drugs," prompting another objection from Bresaw.

Guldbrandsen further disclosed that both records and witnesses indicate that LaFond was using her cell phone either to speak or text when the collision occurred. Likewise, she said that evidence collected by the Belknap County Accident Reconstruction Team suggested that LaFond was driving at 40 miles per hour, 10 miles above the posted the speed limit, when there were many pedestrians, most of them schoolchildren, in the area.

Guldbrandsen reminded the court of LaFond's criminal history, which began with convictions for disorderly conduct in 1985 and criminal trespass in 1994, both in Manchester, and included two cases of willful concealment, one in Franklin in 2011 and another in Laconia in 2013, and theft by unauthorized taking in Laconia in 2012.

Bresaw countered that "Amy is not a threat to anyone." Reminding the court that six months have passed since the accident, he said "if the state had a concern they would not leave her in the community for six months. There was no concern in that interim," he said, describing LaFond's criminal record as "minimal" and including "no track record of violence or doing harm to others." He remarked that Guldbrandsen repeatedly referred to "an accident" and said "that's exactly what this was, an accident."

Furthermore Bresaw said that LaFond was suffering from "several serious medical conditions," including a degenerative bone disease, lesion on her spine and problems with her esophagus.
LaFond, Bresaw insisted, posed no risk to flee. He told the court she has lived with her husband and 13-yearold son at 10 River Street for six years and has "every available tie to the community." He remarked that she has been "cooperative" throughout the investigation and was arrested at her home.

Bresaw called Guldbrandsen's request for $50,000 cash bail "egregious" and "very high," which was "sanctioning her for the charges."

Guldbrandsen told the court that the state is "well aware" of the time that passed between the accident and the arrest, but repeated that "the accident was an egregious offense."

Last Updated on Thursday, 26 September 2013 02:31

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