Judge Carroll honored for potecting free speech

MANCHESTER — Judge James Carroll of the fourth Circuit Court, Laconia Division, who dismissed charges against two citizens who were arrested while speaking at public meetings, has been honored with a Quill & Ink Award by the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications for his staunch defense of the right to freedom of speech.

"It is an honor," Carroll said yesterday, "and I'm humbled by it. But, I was just doing my job. I'm pleased to accept the award on the part of every judge who are doing their jobs."

Police removed William Baer from a meeting of the Gilford School Board when, after challenging a teacher's decision to assign ninth grade students a book he deemed inappropriate, he continued speaking after being ruled out of order. Baer was charged with two counts of breaching the peace and one count of disobeying a police officer.

In dismissing the charges, Carroll described Baer's behavior as "impolite but not criminal." The case, he wrote offers "an excellent civics lesson, a perfect case for modeling free speech guarantees." Baer's arrest, the judge ruled "cause pause by the court as to the chilling, if not silencing, of a citizen by the state for actions which do not warrant a criminal arrest or conviction."

In Alton, Jeffrey Clay began claiming that the Board of Selectmen regularly flouted the Right-to-Know law in December 2013 and obeyed when asked to leave a meeting a year later. In January 2015, the selectmen adopted rules for for members of the public to follow when commenting at meetings. A month later, when Clay repeated his charges against the selectboard, he was ruled out of order and when he continued to speak was removed from the room, placed under arrest and charged with disorderly conduct by the police.

In dismissing the charges against Clay, Carroll found that "the silencing is nothing less than censorship of the defendant's criticism given at a time and place designated by the board itself for public input.." Furthermore, the judge noted that Clay "was acting within the very rules promulgated by the board as well as within his constitutional rights."

Carroll said it was "unusual" for a district court judge to have an opportunity to rule on a constitutional issue, let alone "to have lightning strike twice in the same place." He said that in both cases he considered the circumstances of the defendants before the court and the interests of the state and wrote orders protecting the right of individuals to speak freely before public bodies.

Carroll said that while his orders addressed the two particular cases before the court, he expected "they would have some deterrent effect. We need to ensure that our constitutional rights are kept alive and well."

Carroll was appointed to the bench by Governor John Lynch in January, 2011, during his second term as Belknap County Attorney. A 1969 graduate of the College of the Holy Cross, he received his law degree from Franklin Pierce Law Center in 1987. Long a mainstay of the local community, Carroll has been honored with its highest awards for community service the Norman Marsh Award for Leadership and the James R. Irwin Award of the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce for Community Service.

The award will be presented at the 13th annual First Amendment Awards ceremony at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord on Thursday, November 12, at which Chris Matthews, the host of "Hardball" on MSNBC, will be the keynote speaker.

Pumpkin Festival schedule announced

LACONIA — Let It Shine, Inc., in partnership with Sterling Design and Communications and the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, this week announced the schedule for the Pumpkin Festival, which will be held downtown on Saturday, October 24, beginning at 10 a.m.

An hour before food and craft courts open and the ferris wheel spins at 10 a.m. , walkers and runners in the Runaway Pumpkin will cover their choice of five or ten kilometers , following a scenic course that includes the WOW Trail. Participants register at the Laconia Athletic and Swim Club at 827 North Main Street.

Lead by Cinderella's pumpkin coach from Story Land, the Children's Costume Parade, starting on Church Street and looping through Pleasant Street, Main Street and Beacon Street East, will begin at 12:30 p.m.

Canal Street will become PumpCANALy with a ribbon-cutting after the parade. Painted orange, the street will filled with carved pumpkins, lined with orange trees and lit by pumpkin street lights to serve as a venue for games, face painting, balloon artistry, caricaturists, magic shows, story telling, musical performers, photo booths and giant inflatable characters. All crowned by Nazzy & Mya's Block Party.

Pop the Pumpkin, Pumpkin Toss, Fish for Pumpkins and Pumpkin Ring Toss will be played throughout the day. Meanwhile, there will be pumpkin pinatas from 10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m., Donuts on a String from 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., musical pumpkins from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. and pumpkin pass from 2 to 2:30 p.m., hosted by the Laconia Kiwanis Club and Laconia High School Key Club. And from noon until 6 p.m. pumpkins will be rolling and candlepins falling at the pumpkin bowling alley at the Bank of New Hampshire.

The Pumpkin Express, operated by the Hobo and Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad, will run excursions throughout the day of the festival, leaving the Railroad Station at Veteran's Square every hour on the hour between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for children and those two and younger ride free.

Meanwhile, more than three dozen schools in the Lakes Region have registered for almost 4,000 pumpkins. Registration for free pumpkins closes on Friday, October 9. Any business or individual wishing to sponsor a school should contact Ruth Sterling, the event manager, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Pumpkins will be distributed from the parking lot at Vista Foods.

Welcome centers will be open at several entrances to downtown where visitors can log in their carved pumpkin or arrange to carve a pumpkin at the Community Carving Center at the Bank of New Hampshire.

The lighting of the pumpkins will begin at 4 p.m. The festival has been registered with Guiness as an attempt to break the world record for the most lit jack-o'- lanterns in one place of 30,581, which was set in Keene in 2013. With the jack-o'-lanterns lit at 6:30 p.m. the attempt to break the record will be made at 6:50 p.m. and the final count announced at 8 p.m.

When the festival ends at 8:30 p.m. the Pumpkin Dump Derby begins as competing teams race to collect the pumpkins within designated zones. The chosen charity of the first team to clear its territory will we awarded $1,000 and all teams that clear their territories will receive $100 for their favorite charity. The derby is sponsored by Casella Waste Systems, Inc.

The Franklins: 100 years of age and 77 years of marriage

MEREDITH— Almost a year after his wife of 77 years Agnes celebrated her 100th birthday on election day, George Franklin this week also celebrated reaching the century mark with ice cream, cake and song at the Meredith Colony Club.

Franklin grew up on a dairy farm in Jefferson , New York, but when tuberculosis claimed the herd the family moved to Johnson City, near Binghamton, where he worked at the Endicott-Johnson Corporation (EJ), the country's largest manufacturer of shoes and boots, then became a toolmaker at the IBM plant in nearby Endicott, where one of his innovations spared the company $1-million in unnecessary costs.

The Franklins first met at a Baptist church service. Agnes, who came to America from Belfast as a girl of 14, served as a housekeeper to one of the executives of EJ. Franklin's sister spotted Agnes at church and told her brother there was girl there he might fancy. Agnes recalled that a week later he came to church and kept looking at her while George insists she had her eye on him, but confessed to winking at her.

"He married me," Agnes remarked, explaining the couple's secret to long life, and "I put up with him all these years," she added, explaining the longevity of their marriage. The Franklins have two children, five grandchildren and eleven great-grandchildren, nine of them boys.

Their son, Don Franklin of Hebron, said that his parents lived in Endicott, in a house his father all but built and carefully maintained, until three years ago when they came to Meredith after George suffered a stroke and a fall. Although the assisted living units are designed for one person, he said that a doorway was opened to join two units so that the Franklins could live together as one as they had for three-quarters of a century.

Hassan nominates Sanbornton man for judgeship

SANBORNTON — Michael Garner of Sanbornton, who has served as a marital master for the past 15 years — primarily in the Laconia Family Division — has been nominated to serve as a judge on the Circuit Court by Governor Maggie Hassan.
Garner, a graduate of Colgate University who earned his law degree at Cornell Law School, began his career as an assistant district attorney in Rochester, New York. From 1986 until 2000 he operated a private practice in Meredith with family and municipal law his strong suits.
As a marital master, Garner's recommendation that a ten year old daughter of divorced parents attend public school at the wish of her father but over the objections of her mother, who home schooled her child in both academic subjects and religious beliefs, sparked litigation arousing heated controversy about both home schooling and religious freedom that drew national attention. His recommendation included the finding that the girl's "vigorous defense of her religious beliefs . . . suggests strongly that she has not had the opportunity to seriously consider any other point of view." Garner's recommendation was accepted by Justice Lucinda Sadler of the Laconia Family Division and appealed by the girl's mother to the New Hampshire Supreme Court, where it was unanimously upheld. In its opinion, the Supreme Court held the issue was not about either religion or home schooling, but instead strictly about a dispute between parents with equal rights who disagreed about the education of their child. The justices concluded that " the evidence concerning daughter's experiences in her home school and public school settings, along with the evidence demonstrating the impact of her religious convictions upon her interaction with others, including her father, provide an objective basis for the trial court's decision and we cannot say that it is unreasonable."