Gilmanton treasurer's race pits finance professional against outsider

03 10 election gilmanton 7 Joseph Haas

Joseph Haas is running for town treasurer in Gilmanton, vowing to comply with state law requiring "collateral" in coin and to dispense with checks as a form of payment. (David Carkhuff/Laconia Daily Sun)

 

 

By DAVID CARKHUFF, LACONIA DAILY SUN

GILMANTON — In a small town, paths cross. But in Gilmanton, a candidate for treasurer reported encounters with two judges who adjudicated a small claims case involving selectman's candidate Don Guarino.

Maybe this coincidence is less startling when the candidate in question is Joseph S. Haas, someone with a record of challenging legal processes in New Hampshire.

The Nashua Telegraph reported that Haas was accused of threatening future U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte and her family in 2004 when she was New Hampshire Attorney General. Haas said he approached Ayotte about the speedy-trial rule on behalf of a friend, and he said she rebuffed him. He then made the analogy of Pharaoh facing plagues in the book of Exodus for not letting Moses and the chosen people go. This remark was construed as a threat, he said. He was arrested but then released on bail.

Three years later, the Telegraph reported, Haas was convicted of criminally threatening Lebanon City Councilor Terri Dudley. Haas said he used the expression "wise up or die," and invoked an image of Dante's Inferno, in regards to Dudley, who opposed one of his initiatives.

More recently, Haas brought charges of "official oppression" against former Grafton County Superior Court Clerk Robert Muh in 2012 and then-Gov. Maggie Hassan in 2014, according to the state judicial branch, the Telegraph reported. Both were dismissed, the newspaper reported.

Haas said he was a landlord in Ashland, and then later he lived in Concord, but he acquired a house in Gilmanton and the woodlot with neighboring cabin in Boscawen.

He has a trust fund from his late parents which allows him to pursue his legal endeavors.

The two judges that Haas encountered who intersected with Guarino's small claims case — a case which resulted in Guarino's Feb. 15 arrest in Belknap County — were Kristin Spath, who used to be the attorney general assistant for the ballot law commission, Haas said.

"There's a statute on the books that says that all candidates shall pay at the time of filing, and I said, 'Well, a check is not payment, a check is an order to pay, and Federal Reserve notes are promises to pay, and until the actual payment is made, the applicant is not a candidate.' So what I did is I took that argument to the ballot law commission."

Haas recalled his mixed feelings about Spath, who ruled against Guarino and held him in breach of contract over a contracting job, "Now she's a judge. I appeared at her confirmation hearing, and I said, 'Yes, she's very nice, but as far as making decisions on the law, you've got to watch out for her,'" Haas said.

Judge Edward Gordon also was involved in the Guarino case, issuing orders to pay. Haas said, "When I was a landlord in Ashland, he was my state representative."

Haas said he mailed letters to Gordon's home, but they were thrown in the fire, according to the feedback he received.

Haas said he believes in silver dollars as currency.

"If I'm a town official, I can say if you don't do it, I will go to another bank," he said.

Haas filed a lawsuit against the town of Boscawen a year ago over taxation. He said there is no connection between him running for treasurer and his case in Boscawen.

03-11 Glen Waring 2017Belknap County Commissioner Glen Waring is also running for town treasurer, and he addressed two campaign points by Haas at a Wednesday candidates' forum.

A collateralization agreement is due to any excess funds beyond $250,000, Waring said, and he said the town maintains such an agreement with Meredith Village Savings Bank to insure town funds. And he mentioned the silver dollar currency argument.

"Employees certainly do receive a paper check. However, that paper check can be brought to any Meredith Village bank and they can receive cash in hand," Waring said.

Waring has been the town treasurer for Gilmanton since 2009, when he was first appointed. He then took office March of 2009.

"Professionally, I've got 25 years as a finance professional," he said.

Waring worked as a financial officer in various auto dealerships throughout New Hampshire and Massachusetts, and in 2011, he took the position of finance director for Belknap County.

In January 2015, his position was on the verge of being eliminated, so he became business administrator in Greenville and New Ipswich for the Mascenic Regional School District. Waring accepted the full-time position of Gilford finance director on Sept. 19, 2016. Then, last year, he ran for county commissioner to represent District No. 2, which includes Barnstead, Belmont, Gilmanton and Tilton, and won in the primary and ran unopposed in the general election.

The duties of the treasurer are certainly governed by statute.

"The town does have a finance officer, and I do work closely with that finance officer," Waring said, noting the treasurer is more of an oversight position.

"Certainly having 25 years in as an accounting finance professional I feel I'm quite qualified for the position. There are certain overlaps of information knowledge between the town here and the selectmen and up to the county level," he said.

Waring said he has been a Gilmanton resident for almost 20 years.

"They've had clean audits for several years. It's a nice little community," he said.

Voting takes place Tuesday, March 14, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Gilmanton Academy Building, 503 Province Road.

Child’s call points up limitations of 911 emergency system

Child's call points up limitations of 911 system

By RICK GREEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA _ A boy's call to 911 helped save his father's life but also pointed up limitations of emergency systems.

Wanda Bowers, a spokeswoman for the state's Bureau of Emergency Communications, said the Laconia child was using an old cell phone that no longer had an account associated with it. Such phones can be used to call 911, but emergency dispatchers are unable to get a home address that would be associated with an account.

The best dispatchers can do in that case is determine a caller's general location based on the 911 towers being used.

That was the situation with the little boy who called 911 on Jan. 19. He managed to indicate his father had diabetes and could not be awakened, but he couldn't articulate his apartment's address.

A local officer happened to be familiar with the man involved and knew where to send the ambulance, otherwise the incident might have had a bad ending.

Bowers said this case points up the fact that unlike landlines, the address does not immediately pop up on dispatchers' screens when a cell phone is used to call 911.

People should be ready to provide their location whenever they use a cell to call in an emergency.

Those with permanent medical conditions can get on a supplemental database that will immediately provide dispatchers with medical information and a home address. People with land lines and registered cell phones can be added to this database _ called Supplemental ALI, or Automatic Location Identification _ by filling out a form available online at www.nh.gov/nh911 or by calling the 911 business office at 603-271-6911 and asking for the form.

Bowers said this database becomes increasingly important as an increasing percentage of people only use cell phones and do not have land lines.

"About 85 percent of the calls we get are placed from cell phones," Bowers said. "It's a night and day difference from when I started 20 years ago."

The ALI database once helped save a woman whose trained dog knocked the phone off the hook when the alarm sounded on her breathing machine. The dog pawed a speed dial where all the buttons were set up to dial 911.

As soon as the call went through, dispatchers quickly realized this number was associated with a woman with respiratory problems and promptly sent medical help.

Still, the best advice is to know where you are at all times and be able to communicate this important information.

"Sometimes hikers go out with cell phones and want to use them in an emergency, but they don't know their exact location, or the phone may have lost its electrical charge," Bowers said.

For people who are unable or afraid to speak into a phone during an emergency, such as a home break-in, 911 can also accept text messages. Such a text should include the location of the caller and the nature of the emergency.   

Belknap House opens at last for homeless families

03-11 Belknap House now open

Belknap House opened at the end of February to offer shelter to homeless families in Laconia and neighboring communities. (Courtesy photo)

By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — After eight months of renovations, capped by several weeks of fits and starts, Belknap House, the emergency cold weather shelter for homeless families, opened at the tail end of February and is already fielding requests and inquiries from people seeking a roof over their heads.

The building at 200 Court St. has been completely renovated. The wiring and plumbing, along with the furnace and water tank, have been replaced. A sprinkler system, together with the water main supplying it, has been installed together with fire alarm and security systems. A kitchen and laundry were added to the building, which now has new doors, windows , flooring and carpeting. The kitchen is fitted with two stoves, microwaves, refrigerators and ample secured cupboards.

The shelter will have space to house six families, up to as many as 19 individuals. Only families referred by the welfare director of either the city of Laconia or one of the 10 towns in Belknap County will be housed at the shelter, which will be a "dry" facility, allowing no alcohol or drugs. The originating municipality will be responsible for any costs or services associated with sheltering the families.
Belknap House will operate as a shelter in the cold weather months from Oct. 15 to May 15 and as a hostel during the remainder of the year. The shelter will operate around the clock — 24 hours a day, seven days a week – on an estimated operating budget of between $110,000 and $120,000. Fees from operating the hostel are projected to contribute some $40,000 towards the operating budget.
Karen Welford of Laconia, who was among the founders of Better Together, serves as executive director with responsibility for overseeing and managing all aspects of the operation of Belknap House as well as for pursuing partnerships with local businesses, governments and civic organizations. Tammy Emery serves as family support coordinator, responsible for assisting families overcome the challenge of homelessness and placing them in transitional or permanent housing.
With four part-time members of staff managing the shelter, Belknap House is relying on volunteers to fill five shifts seven days a week. Volunteers working in the shelter must undergo a background check and complete at least two hours of training. Volunteers are also needed to assist with landscaping as well as making the the transition from shelter to hostel. Anyone wishing to volunteer should sign up on the Facebook page — Facebook.com/belknap house — or call Belknap House at 527-8097. For more information, to volunteer or to donate visit the Belknap House website at www.belknaphouse.org.
Belknap House plans to celebrate its opening by inviting the public to tour the facility sometime in May, when the facility is transitioning from a shelter to a hostel.

03-11 Belknap House kitchen

The building at 200 Court St. that has become Belknap House had no kitchen. Now it does. (Courtesy photo)

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