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Mass. man pleads guilty to rapes at New Hampton campground

LACONIA — A former auxiliary police officer in Whitman, Mass. was sentenced to serve five to 10 years in prison yesterday for digitally penetrating his 11- and 12-year-old granddaughters while on a family camping trip in Yogi Bear Camp Ground in New Hampton in August of 2014. One year of that sentence can be suspended for good behavior.

Irving Small, 70, was also sentenced to a second 10- to 20-year term — all suspended — provided he be of good behavior and complete a year-long sexual offender program while in the New Hampshire State Prison. Should he not complete the program, the 10-to 20-year sentence would be served consecutively to his first sentence.

"I'm totally ashamed of myself," Small said barely choking out the words through his tears. "I totally hurt my family."

Some members of Small's family were in the court room including his two victims. The girls' mother told O'Neill she accepted the sentence because she didn't want to put her children through a lengthy trial.

Small said he wanted to apologize to them however, after a side bar consultation between Assistant Belknap County Attorney Carley Ahern and Small's attorney Howard Clayman, O'Neill said Small could address the court but not look at the girls while he spoke.

"I want to tell my grandkids I'm very, very sorry," he said.

O'Neill wanted to know why he should accept such a light sentence when if Small had pleaded guilty to all four of the aggravated sexual assault charges he was initially indicted for, he could sent him to jail for up to 60 years.

Clayman said Small's health has suffered in the 192 days he has been incarcerated while awaiting trial. He said his client has high blood pressure, depression and has been treated at the hospital on more than one occasion. He has lost more than 50 pounds during that time.

He said Small has a stomach aneurism that will need surgery within a year and the surgery could be fatal.

"Five or four years could be a life sentence," Clayman said.
Clayman also noted that if Small is released from prison in New Hampshire he faces similar charges in Massachusetts.

"The (Commonwealth) of Massachusetts will deal with him how they will assuming he is alive," said Clayman.

The youngest of Small victim's had Belknap County Victim's Advocate Brenda Belmont read her statement to the court for her.

The girl told the court that she has nightmares and she used to cry everyday. She said sometimes she feels completely numb and that she is "sad when there is no reason to be."

She said she was learning to accept what had happened to her and "it will always be a bad memory of the past."

She also told O'Neill she would not let what happened to her define who she is.

After deliberating for a moment or too, O'Neill chose to accept the plea bargain.

He told Small that his "betrayal of his family was completely unacceptable" and that they have in some part forgiven him by not objecting to what he considers a light sentence.

Last Updated on Thursday, 20 February 2014 01:08

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Petitioned warrant articles would do away with Alton planner & assessor

ALTON — The Planning Board has placed seven amendments to the zoning ordinance on the 2014 warrant while petitioned articles would eliminate the position of town planner and secede the town from membership in the Lakes Region Planning Commission (LRPC). A third article would do away with the position of town assessor.

Loring Carr, who chairs the Board of Selectmen, said that he was not aware of who initiated the petitioned articles, but said that there were some 40 signatories to all three.

Both the Selectboard, by votes of three-to-one, and the Budget Committee, by votes of five-to-zero with two abstentions, recommended against the articles to eliminate the positions of planner and assessor. Moreover, at the deliberative session amendments explaining the fiscal impact were attached to both articles.

Carr said that when the position of planner was vacant the town contracted for services in the interim, noting that the amendment drew on this experience to estimate that it would cost $120,120 plus mileage to hire a consultant, compared to the $64,040 plus benefits paid to the planner.

Carr suspected that the article, together with the other not to fund membership in the LLRPC, stemmed from the controversy sparked by the decision of the Planning Board to recommend amending the zoning ordinance to provide for the development of so-called workforce housing. The proposed amendment, which would bring the town into compliance with state law as well as match the housing goals of its Master Plan, is the first of the seven proposed by the Planning Board.

Two forums on the issue, sponsored by the Alton Business Association, were overshadowed by charges that LRPC, in league with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), was seeking to impose an agenda of "smart growth" and "sustainable development" under the aegis of the "Granite State Future" project. Representative Jane Cormier (R-Alton), who this year introduced legislation to do away with all nine regional planning associations, was a featured speaker at the second forum and a signatory to the petitioned article.

The article to eliminate the assessor was also amended to explain the fiscal impact of replacing the position with a contractor. Carr said that information from Meredith, Moultonborough, Gilford and Wolfeboro indicated that the cost of contracting for assessing services would be $95,000 per year plus $125,000 every five years for a revaluation compared to the $68,599 plus benefits paid to the assessor.

Last Updated on Thursday, 20 February 2014 01:04

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Gilmanton School Board & teachers come to terms

GILMANTON — The School Board and the Gilmanton Education Association have tentatively agreed to a three-year collective bargaining agreement that includes a raise in salary and allows credit for experience ("step" increases) as well as an increase in the employee contribution to health insurance premiums.

The contract provides for a salary increase of approximately six percent over the three years, which includes in addition to salary longevity health insurance and fixed costs. The increases are 1.07-percent, or a total of $26,777, in the first year, 2.2-percent, or $55,562, in the second year, and 2.82-percent, or $72,825, in the third year.

With concern over the litigation surrounding the Local Government Center, the district has chosen to place its health insurance program with the only other available carrier, School Care. Consequently, the number of plans on offer was halved from four to two and the $1 mail order prescription rider was eliminated

Currently the premium contribution for employees enrolled in the two-person and family plans are 21 percent and 31 percent respectively while the school district pays the entire premium for those with single-person plans. Under the proposed contract employees would share premium costs for all plans, including the single-person plan.

These changes would reduce the district's share of health insurance costs by more than $23,800 in the first year and is expected to lead to further savings in subsequent years.

The agreement will appear as a warrant article when the town votes on Tuesday, March 11 at the Gilmanton Academy.

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 February 2014 02:34

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Democrats almost pull off miracle county budget move

LACONIA — With 14 of its 18 members present and voting — one by telephone — the Belknap County Convention last evening came within a whisker of adopting the 2014 budget as originally proposed by the Belknap County Commission in December, which the convention has spent the last six weeks preparing to cut by more than $850,000.

A full-house of Democrats was joined by two Republicans in almost pulling off a gigantic political upset. But a tie vote meant defeat and

lawmakers will now wait another week to try and pass a budget.

Despite the snowfall, Rep. Colette Worsman (R-Meredith), who chairs the convention, rejected suggestions to postpone the scheduled meeting. But after waiting nearly 30 minutes for a quorum of 10 members to appear, she then proposed recessing and reconvening later in the week. Instead the members chose to proceed and before long their numbers had grown to 13 and Rep. Guy Comtois (R-Barnstead), who was tending to a failing roof, had joined by telephone.

The issue before the convention was the budget prepared by the Republican majority, which would reduce expenditures recommended by the commission by $858,350, virtually all of it represented by personnel costs. This year like last, the convention proposes to strip a 1.6-percent cost-of-living adjustment and 3-percent step raise for eligible employees, together with the corresponding funds for payroll taxes and retirement contributions, from the commission's budget. The majority would also eliminate funding for bonuses paid for unused sick time and length of service. Finally, funding for the employer's share of a 7.3-percent increase in health insurance premiums in 2013 and 13.4-percent increase in 2014 are also on the chopping block.

Opening the debate, Rep. Ruth Gulick (D-New Hampton) called the convention's budget "the worst thing we've ever done" that showed nothing but "disrespect for county employees, who are real people doing real work."

Quickly Rep. Beth Arsenault (D-Laconia) moved to adopt the commission's budget and was seconded by Rep. Lisa DiMartino (D-Gilford). Ultimately the motion failed on tie vote, seven-to-seven, leaving the convention to tackle the budget again next week.

Rep. Richard Burchell (R-Gilmanton) insisted that he had "no intent to disrespect anyone," but added that the responsibility of the convention is "to walk the line between the taxpayers and the employees." The cost of health insurance, he said, is "unsustainable."

Rep. Frank Tilton (R-Laconia) explained that the effect of Arsenault's motion would be to adopt a budget that raised property taxes 8.2 percent. He said taken together the wage increase and health insurance amounted to a pay raise of 11 percent for county employees. "Blanket approval of the commissioners' budget," he charged, "is really taking it to the taxpayers. It's not feasible, not realistic."

The majority of the convention, said Rep. David Huot (D-Laconia) "has been working to find a lot of money in one place — personnel — and is balancing the budget on the back of employees." He noted that the increased cost of county government has been hidden from property taxpayers by drawing from the undesignated fund balance to reduce the amount raised by taxes and warned "the fund balance is not going to last forever. We're punishing the employees," he continued, "to make it look like we're saving money. We need to step up and do what's necessary."

Rep. Herb Vadney (R-Meredith) charged that the commissioners have "not admitted there are any problems with their budget, shown an unwillingness to compromise and failed to negotiate with the unions as necessary."

Reminding Vadney that he is selectman in Meredith, Commissioner Steve Nedeau began reeling off the salaries of town officials, beginning with $103,000 paid to the town manager, who also receives a car and telephone allowance, and proceeding to the director of administrative services, public works, police chief and fire chief, all of whom he reported earn between $89,000 and $100,000.

Worsman said the remarks were not germane to the discussion, cutting off his soliloquy before Vadney could respond.

With that the motion to adopt the commissioner's budget was put to the vote. Arsenault, DiMartino, Huot and Gulick were joined by fellow Democrat Ian Raymond of Sanbornton and two Republicans — Don Flanders and Bob Luther of Laconia — in favor. Burchell, Comtois, Tilton, Vadney and Worsman, along with fellow Republicans Bob Greemore of Meredith and Michael Sylvia of Belmont — voted against.

Republican Representatives Jane Cormier and Stephen Holmes of Alton, Charles Fink of Belmont and Dennis Fields of Sanbornton were absent.

As it happened, supporters of the commission came within minutes of prevailing. As the meeting adjourned Sheriff Craig Wiggin received a telephone call from Fields, a persistent and outspoken critic of Worsman's leadership of the convention, who was surprised to learn the meeting was convened in spite of the weather. Had Fields called 30 minutes earlier, he like Comtois, could have participated by telephone and almost certainly would have cast his vote for the commission budget, which would have carried eight-to-seven.

The convention will meet on Monday, February 24, beginning at 5 p.m. when it is expected to vote once again on the 2014 county budget.

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 February 2014 01:27

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