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Grand jury indicts local contractor on tax evasion charges

NORTHFIELD — Local contractor Ronald W. Martin has been indicted by a federal grand jury on three counts of income tax evasion for the years 2008, 2009 and 2010, the U.S. Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service announced yesterday.

Martin was indicted on July 23 in the District of New Hampshire. The indictment alleges that for the three years Martin evaded federal income taxes on approximately $400,000 of income by directing earned income to be paid to a third party and depositing a small share of his earnings into his business bank account in an effort to conceal its source. Martin, who owns and operates Martin Construction, allegedly instructed customers to record payments made for services rendered to a third party then deposited "a small fraction" of the income earned by his company into its account at Franklin Savings Bank in Tilton.

The indictment is the most recent entry to Martin's criminal record, which dates at least from 1975 and includes conviction and incarceration for eight counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault, as well as charges of issuing bad checks, criminal threatening, disorderly conduct and cruelty to animals.

In 2006 and 2007 several fires at a salvage yard Martin owned in Alton were deemed suspicious, but no charges were filed.

In 2008 he was investigated when 1,000 gallons of heating oil were dumped into Kimball Brook in Gilmanton, which flows into Rocky Pond. The truck carrying the oil was owned by Martin's nephew and was parked on property Martin owned when the dumping occurred. But again charges were never filed.

A year later Martin was charged with five misdemeanors for alleged unlawful dumping in Northumberland in Coos County.


Last Updated on Saturday, 02 August 2014 12:01

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Gilford Police proposed cell tower at Planning Board

GILFORD — After two years of working to finding a place for a new communications tower, the Police Department has submitted a plan for a 80-foot tower to be constructed on Mount Rowe very near the existing communications tower.

According to Police Chief Anthony Bean Burpee, the bottom line is the Police Department and the Public Works Department each need more comprehensive radio coverage than they have now.

"We even have a hard time with portable-to-portable radios," Bean Burpee said. "It's an officer safety issue."

While radio communications between police officers has always been spotty in places in the relatively hilly and sprawling community, last year's FCC requirement that that all police switch to a narrow-band radio signal has enhanced the need for a new communications tower.

The town was in communication with the owners of the big communications tower on Mount Rowe, but when it learned the lease agreement for a spot on it would be too costly, the focus changed to building its own tower.

In 2013, voters approved the expenditure of $158,000 for the police to build a tower.

Town Administrator Scott Dunn said yesterday that the town was unable to get grant funding for the this particular project.

He said he has been working with the Gunstock Area Commissioners about a license agreement, and said there is a tacit agreement about the site. The said the proposed agreement is for $1 annually and "other valuable considerations."

The application to the Planning Board for a public hearing was signed by Gunstock Mountain Resort General Manager Greg Goddard.

The Planning Board will be scheduling a public hearing on Aug. 18 at 7 p.m.

Last Updated on Friday, 01 August 2014 11:23

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WEEKEND: Antique Lovers Finding Treasures at Lakes Region Shops (848)

LACONIA — It's Antiques Week in New Hampshire and there are a lot of outstanding dealers and antiques shops in and around the Lakes Region offering a wide variety of collectibles, furniture, fine jewelry, china, glass and memorabilia.
One of the newest shops in the area, now in its fourth year, is Paws Antiques and Collectibles, located on the Meredith-Laconia town line.
Owner Scott Grant says that the group shop, located in the former Hearth and Home furniture outlet, has more than 5,600 square feet, has 103 dealers and offers high-end china and glassware as well as art, furniture and estate jewelry.
Grant has been into antiques virtually his whole life and recalls selling furniture to the "On Golden Pond" movie makers back in the 1980s and having his own stall at Burlwood Antiques shortly thereafter.
Now a resident of Alexandria ,Va., Grant says that he's always wanted to have his own antiques business, and in 2010 opened the pet-friendly antique shop which also sold pet items with proceeds going to support animal shelters like the New Hampshire Humane Society. and local police K-9 units.

Grant says that he's constantly working to upgrade the quality of what is offered at Paws and has seen steady growth over the last four years, so much so that he was able to expand to a year-round business last winter by keeping the shop open from Friday through Monday from November through April.

He says high-end items continue to sell briskly while low-end items also make their way rapidly out the door.
''There's no middle. Items priced $30 and under sell quickly while those $130 and up also are selling. But there's little action on those items priced in between,'' says Grant.
That observation is shared by Link Fournier at the Laconia Antique Center in downtown Laconia, who says that ever since the recession, which started in 2007, prices for antiques have dropped. He noted that the only place they have remained stable or actually increased are for the high-end items which only a few can afford.
''The good news for buyers is that prices are down for things like furniture, so they're less expensive and more affordable. The bad news is that there are fewer middle-class buyers because they were hit so hard by the recession.''

Located in a former Newberry's Department Store, the Laconia Antique Center, with 22,000 square feet on two levels, is central New Hampshire's largest antique and collectibles emporium featuring more than 150 dealers.

There are bookcases filled with vintage books in a comfortable reading area, a wide variety of furniture, lamps, art, maps, prints, glassware, dishware, china, Depression glass, stoneware, copper, primitives, estate jewelry, coins, currency, radios, lanterns, bottles, movie posters, advertising, railroad memorabilia, World War II memorabilia, nautical items, ephemera, plus many one-of-a-kind items, like a sign from the former Barracks at the Gunstock Inn which advertises ''rugged food and comfortable beds.''

The center also is home to the Laconia Downtown Deli run by Drew Seneca which also offers ice cream.

''Our customers will get something to eat there and his customers will browse the aisles and buy our antiques,'' says Fournier.

Downtown Laconia is real treasure trove for antique hunters, with a number of other interesting shops that are within easy walking distance. including:
Second Feature Antiques and Collectibles at 611 Main St., with country furniture, toys and dolls.
Newffies Antiques at 14-16 Pleasant St., with furniture, jewelry and vintage clothing.
Willow and Sage Boutique, 108 Beacon Street West, glassware, china, art and jewelry.
Curiosity & Company, 110 Beacon Street West, Miss Mustard Seed Milkpaint supplies and workshops.
New England Porch Rockers, 2 Pleasant St., chair caning, vintage wicker household items.
Too Good To Be Threw, 84 Union Ave., which at 6,000 square feet is the largest consignment furniture and home décor store in the Lakes Region.
Carriage Barn Antiques and Collectibles, 249 South Main St., paper, glass, linen, tools and collectibles.

In Gilmanton the Four Corners Brick House offers a wide variety of antiques in a spectacular setting, an 1810 home which was lovingly restored years ago by Doug Towle and purchased in 2009 by sisters Anne Bartlett and Karen Jenkins.

With its hand hewed floor boards, working fireplaces, matchstick mouldings, murals and meticulously painted rooms, the Four Corners Brick House turns shopping into an extraordinary experience. On special days, there might even be a fire in the Keeping Room fireplace.
There is an extensive and eclectic inventory of treasures from 18 different dealers as well as high quality consignments.

''Lately we've been selling more furniture than anything else,'' says Donna Mooney, who looks after the shop when the sisters aren't there.

There are also collectibles and primitives being offered at Thistle & That Farm at 120 Middle Route Road in Gilmanton.

Those looking to take to the road to find antiques will enjoy stops at such places as the Thrifty Yankee at 121 Rte. 25 in Meredith, where they will find an eclectic mix of jewelry, clothes and furniture or, for the more adventurous there is Freedom House Antiques on Old Portland Road in Freedom where vintage kitchenware, linens and collectibles are featured.

Last Updated on Friday, 01 August 2014 03:37

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Father who was arrested at Gilford School Board meeting files motion to dismiss.

LACONIA – An attorney for William Baer, a Gilford parent accused of three counts of disorderly conduct for his alleged actions at a May School Board meeting during a discussion about a book assigned to his daughter, has filed a motion to dismiss all three charges.

Baer's attorney, Mark Sisti, breaks the charges into two separate categories. The first contains two alleged offenses – that he caused a breach of the peace by disrupting a School Board business meeting, and the second being that he refused to obey a lawful order issued by a peace officer to move from any public place. The second category is that Baer's actions did not rise to he level of disturbing the peace.

The Gilford Police Department, which is prosecuting Baer, has 10 days to file a response.

Baer was arrested at a May 5 School Board meeting which he attended to voice his opposition that his daughter, a student in the ninth grade, had been assigned to read book containing graphic sex scene between two teenagers, without the he or other parents being notified of the reading assignment.

Sisti argues the charges should be dismissed because each of these complaints seek a criminal penalty rather than a civil remedy. He said the prosecution seeks to limit the rights of Baer's free speech in public – something that lies at the heart of the First Amendment.

He said the speech occurred during a public hearing that is a "designated public forum" because it was open to facilitate public discourse. He said this type of speech can be limited by reasonable time, place and manner but only "where such regulation narrowly tailored furthers significant government interests and does not foreclose other opportunities for expression."

Sisti wrote that Baer was not just prohibited from speaking, but removed from the public event entirely. He noted that New Hampshire's history shows the citizenry places a high value on civic participation such that the Constitution includes provisions for open and public forums.

"The state alleges that the lawful order issued to Baer was one requesting his removal, not his silence or anything else," said Sisti. He said the Constitution goes further than the Right to Know law because it guarantees access to governmental proceedings and attendance at one cannot be unreasonably restricted.

He argues that Gilford Police Lt. Jim Leach's order to Baer to leave the meeting was unreasonable. He cited case law that says one cannot be punished for failing to obey the command of an officer is that command violates the Constitution.

He said Baer's arrest and removal cannot be reasonable because there are "less intrusive ways of maintaining order at a meeting" and Leach had two other less drastic measures available to him including, first asking him to be quiet, and then warning him if he did not do so, he would be removed.

Sisti said the discovery shows that the order to remove Baer originated from School Board Chair Sue Allen who also never warned him he could be removed.

"To allow this complaint to stand, this Court must find an implied authority to a board chair to command a police officer to remove a participant without warning that the person could be removed," he wrote.

He said the availability of other options coupled with Leach's decision not to use them must be weighed against the "strong constitutional protections" afforded to Baer as a member of a public forum.

As to the third complaint of "beach of peace," Sisti argues that no breach occurred.

He said disruption must be "narrowly tailored" so that it is necessary to avoid unreasonable interference. In this case, he notes that Baer's entire interruption lasted 25 seconds and did not interfere with the ongoing business of the School Board.

He notes that after Baer initially spoke, he sat through two additional speakers, and was responding to comments made by Joe Wernig, albeit without recognition. He also said the business of the board continued unabated.

Sisti argues that Baer did nothing to suggest he was going to cause a breach of the peace and was acting only as a concerned citizen.

In summation, Sisti quoted the late Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black who said, "... (the) policeman's club can take heavy toll on a current administration's public critics ... (c)riticism of public officials will be too dangerous for all but the most courageous."

"The School Board must tolerate mild interruptions without resorting to arrest or removal," Sisti said arguing all three charges should be dismissed.

Last Updated on Friday, 01 August 2014 12:36

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