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After 6 years on school board & 6 years on selectboard, it's time for some travel

GILFORD — After serving as an elected official for 12 years, on March 12 Selectman Kevin Hayes will chair his final board meeting.

Hayes, who served for six years on the Gilford School Board and six years as a selectman, chose not to seek re-election for an additional three-year term.

"I have absolutely loved being a selectman," Hayes said last week as he read through one of his final packets of information before one of his final meetings.

In the past 12 years Hayes has seen Gilford through some trying times, like three police chief changes, as well as some prominent successes, like the clean up of lower Liberty Hill.

"When I first ran in 2008, were were doing a site study at Liberty Hill," he said.

"It's taken six years to get here," he said. By here he means that nearly 10 years after a natural gas company notified the N.H. Department of Environmental Services about a forgotten toxic coal tar dump site and six years of working with the state and the various entities deemed legally responsible for the toxic waste, site remediation is slated to begin in the spring of this year.

"We've also been able to control the growth of town government and keep the tax rate level over the past six years," he said, recalling having to make some very painful decisions about eliminating positions, not giving raises, redefining some of the duties of existing employees, and not filling empty positions as a way of keeping the costs of government down.

Hayes said he believes that under his watch, Gilford has hired a great town administrator and a great finance director and under the board's guidance, the town has prospered without overspending. He also said it was challenging to go through two police chiefs but said, without tipping his hand, that he is confident the board has had three excellent choices to take over the department and hopes to name a new chief within a week.

He remembered that the day after he was first elected selectman, the former board fired former Town Administrator Evans Juris.

"What the hell did I get myself into," he said was his first thought, adding that since then the town went through two interim town administrators before hiring Scott Dunn.

Another challenge, he recalled, were the issues the town faced over the former Kings Grant Inn night club.

One of his biggest ongoing concerns is the recent increase in drug abuse and the crime that comes with it. Hayes serves on the Gilford Alcohol and Drug Task Force and hopes the new Board of Selectmen will allow him to continue on as the selectman's representative to the task force.

Reflecting on his time on the school board, Hayes said he was a member of the board during the time when the Middle School built. He was one of the members who opposed building in the Gilford Meadows but was outvoted by his fellow board members.

"I think we have a very good model in the schools right now," he said, saying he like the idea of having all three school close together and virtually sharing one campus but yet able to keep the younger children (the fifth graders) at the middle school separate from the older children.

He said he worked very closely with some people during the building process who really didn't want to spend the money on the school but said the board and the some of the naysayers on the Budget Committee came up with a school building plan that would get everybody's support.

Looking forward, he said he is "cautiously optimistic" that the proposed police station expansion and renovation is passed at the March 11 town vote.

"I would have liked to see it done five years ago," he said.

When asked what he would miss about being selectmen, he said he would miss the town employees the most, followed closely giving the speech at the Memorial Day celebrations and marching in the Old Home Day parade.

"I won't miss the time commitment," he said.

As for his future, Hayes, who is a civil engineer, says he plans on working for another four years but, because he runs his own business, hopes to incorporate a little more travel time with his wife Pam into their near future.

"We love to travel," he said, saying he and Pam spent a few weeks traveling in France last year and had a wonderful time. "We really want to do more of that."

He said he wants to spend as much time as he can being outside and enjoying long-time family pursuits of walking, skiing, hiking and biking. He also likes going to his alma mater, UNH, and watching their hockey games.

When asked what he was most proud of in his years of service, he said it was the great inter-municipality working arrangements Gilford enjoys.

"We have no border wars," he said.

"I'll really miss it," he said, adding that he hopes that if the new board has any questions about anything they wouldn't hesitate to call.

CUTLINE:(Hayes) Outgoing Gilford Selectman Kevin Hayes sits at his desk in the selectmen's room on the second floor of Town Hall. After serving six years on the school board and six years as selectman, Hayes decided not to seek re-election. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Gail Ober)

Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 March 2014 02:02

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At the moment, all roads that lead to wood pellets appear headed for Meredith

MEREDITH — The winter that won't go away has placed a significant stress on the wood pellet supply across the Lakes Region, as it has throughout all of New England, and last weekend saw many retailers in the area without a single bag of pellets available for people looking to stock up in anticipation of another blast of arctic air moving through the area.
Typical of those out searching for pellets were Patti and Andy Johnson of Northfield, who went to a half dozen places in Tilton, Belmont and Laconia area before finally locating some at EnergySavers atop Ladd Hill on Rte. 3 here.
''We go through about two bags a day and were really getting low. We were able to get 10 bags and feel that we were really lucky to find them,'' said Johnson.
The Johnsons weren't the only people who sought out wood pellets at EnergySavers that day according to Joe McClure, who works there. ''We had people from all over, Maine, Vermont, even as far away as Rhode Island show up Saturday to buy pellets,'' said McClure.
He said that the company got a 10-ton shipment of 30-pound bags last week and is limiting customers to 10 bags at a time in order to have some on hand for those who may need them until a 30-ton shipment they have on order arrives next week.
On Monday, Kim Bannon of Campton arrived at EnergySavers in mid afternoon and picked up 10 bags of wood pellets to make sure that she had enough to get through the winter. ''We get a couple of tons a year and we're getting low and want to make sure we get through the year. We have oil heat but we'd rather not use if we don't have to,'' said Bannon.
''It's been a really cold winter. People who normally go through three tons a year are deep into their fourth ton or starting their fifth ton. We usually have a good supply year round as a service to our customers who don't have storage space, so we're in pretty good shape,'' says McClure.
He said that many of the larger retail outlets have run out because they are in the process of shifting to their spring inventory and don't want to have any pellets left over once the heating season ends.
Demand is still high all over the state according to McClure, who said that he had talked with people at a North Conway store who received a shipment of 17 tons of pellets last Friday and were sold out by noon on Saturday.
Charles Nieibling of Innovative Natural Resource Solutions of Amherst, a consultant with New England Wood Pellet in Jaffrey, where he was general manager for seven years, says that the company produces 250,000 tons of pellets a year and runs seven days a week, 24 hours a day.
''We build up a huge inventory built up during the summer and it was completely gone by the middle of November. We're shipping everything as we make it. There's no extra inventory,'' said Niebling, who says the company allocates its production to try and ensure that all of its regular customers get a supply.
He said that in recent years consumers have shifted from buying a large supply of pellets in the spring to smaller and more frequent buys during the heating season.
''They could drive into places like Lowe's and Home Depot on Saturday when they started to run low. But with this winter's big demand, places like that have run out,'' said Niebling, who points out that heating oil and propane prices have risen and that there have been concerns about possible shortages for those energy sources.


Kim Bannon of Campton holds a 30-pound bag of wood pellets, one of 10 that she was able to purchase Monday at EnergySavers in Meredith. Joe McClure of EnergySavers said that people from all over New England showed up at the store Saturday to buy wood pellets, which are in scarce supply over the entire area. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 March 2014 01:52

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Defense lawyer alleges Belmont stabbing victim is a drug dealer

LACONIA — After a hearing in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division yesterday, a judge found there was probable cause to send the case against Robert Rama for physically restraining someone who was trying to come to the defense of a Belmont stabbing victim to a grand jury for indictment.

Rama, 22, formerly of Concord, is charged with out count of criminal liability of another for allegedly choking Corey Cromwell's girlfriend, Natasha Bruce, when she went to help break up a fight between Cromwell and John Drouin.

Drouin, 26, is charged with one count of first-degree assault for allegedly stabbing Cromwell eight or nine times on February 24 at just after 1 a.m. He faces a second count of first-degree assault for allegedly stabbing John Hynes three times during the same altercation.

The alleged stabbings occurred in what was described as a common hall that led upstairs to at least two small apartments above Lakes Region Dock — a business that is closed for the winter. The state has alleged that Rama and Drouin waited for Cromwell, who lives in the apartment, by hiding in a common bathroom at the top of the stairs.

According to Belmont Det. Raechel Moulton, who was Asst. Belknap County Attorney Carley Ahern's, only witness at yesterday's probable cause hearing, a video and audio tape obtained from Cromwell's apartment at 252 Daniel Webster Highway (Rte. 3) and installed by Cromwell shows Cromwell, Hynes and Bruce leaving the apartment at midnight on Monday.

Moulton said about an hour after the three left the video shows a car backing into a spot at nearby Bladecki's Auto and two men entering the door that leads upstairs to Cromwell's apartment.

She said a short time later, the video showed Cromwell, Hynes and Bruce arriving back at the apartment and reentering the building. Moulton also said she could hear a "commotion" on the tape after which the outside door opened and five people came out.

She said Hynes is heard on the tape saying "what do you want" and some one else was heard saying  he "wanted the stuff."

She said the audio recorded a lot of "commotion" and the video appears at one point to show all five of them at the bottom of the stairs in the lighted hallway trying to exit back into the parking lot.

Moulton also said she could hear the names John Drouin and Robert Rama being spoken by someone on the audio portion, which is consistent with the information Bruce gave Moulton about who allegedly attacked them that night.

Moulton also testified that Bruce told her Drouin had the knife.

In a brief cross examination, Rama's lawyer Ted Barnes asked Det. Moulton if the three victims told her they were driving around aimlessly that evening, which was what was printed in the initial affidavit.

"You know that to be a lie?" he asked her, inferring that Bruce lied to police about what the trio was doing just before the attack.

Moulton answered that she didn't know (it was a lie).

"You haven't figured out they )the three victims) went to buy drugs?" asked Barnes, pressing, again inferring that if Bruce lied to her about what the three did before the attact, then she could be lying about Rama allegedly choking her.

He also asked Moulton if she knew whether Cromwell had a jewels in his apartment. She said he didn't.

"Isn't that the only reason Corey would have surveillance (or) was he was a drug dealer?" asked Barnes, noting that Cromwell had installed the video and audio surveillance in the hallway and the front door and it must have been for a good reason.

"I don't know," replied Moulton.

Barnes asked Moulton if Bruce told her Rama allegedly choked her and whether it was possible he was trying to extricate her from the fight.

"I was told she was being choked and not being helped," replied Moulton.

In closing, Barnes argued that Rama didn't do anything except not be helpful that night and the state hadn't met its burden of probable cause.

Carroll determined the testimony by Moulton was that Bruce was choked by Rama when she was trying to aid Cromwell. He ordered Rama's bail to be continued at $50,000 cash only.

The next step in Rama's case is that it will be presented to a Belknap County grand jury for possible indictment.

John J. Drouin has a probable cause hearing scheduled for tomorrow.

Probable cause is not a trial and is not an indication of guilt or wrongdoing. It is a hearing to determine whether or not there is enough evidence to proceed to trial in a Superior Court.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 March 2014 01:45

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Lakeport fire consumes Lakeport garage & vehicle in it

LACONIA — Fire destroyed a detached garage, along with the car inside it, at 110 Belvedere Street in Lakeport yesterday morning.

Firefighters arrived around 10:35 a.m. to find the wood-frame garage engulfed in flame as thick black smoke drifted through the neighborhood. Although the fire was quickly brought under control, gasoline in the car continued to burn while the garage was shrouded in steam for some time.

Fire Chief Ken Erickson said that heat from the blaze broke a window in the house less than 10 yards away, but the fire did not reach the residence, which escaped damage apart from the broken window. The garage, the car and everything else in the garage was completely destroyed, the chief said.

Although Erickson declined to specify the cause of the fire, he said that the garaged car was on a battery charger when the fire broke out. He said that Lieutenant Chad Vaillancourt's crew was first on the scene, but since the department was engaged in training there was no shortage of personnel to fight the fire.


CAPTION: Flame and smoke from a garage afire at 110 Belvedere Street yesterday morning were visible from School Street. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Michael Kitch)

CAPTION: While firefighters cleared burnt rubble and doused stubborn flames as fire destroyed a frame garage and the car inside it , Captain Bob Landry (left), Lieutenant Chad Vaillancourt and Deputy Chief Kirk Beattie (right) discussed the next steps. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Michael Kitch)

Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 March 2014 01:35

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