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Return of cancer forces Ray Burton to cancel re-election plans

CONCORD — After representing the northern half of the state, including Laconia, on the Executive Council for 35 years, Ray Burton of Bath announced on Sunday that with the return of the cancer that slowed him earlier this year he will not be seeking re-election to either the Executive Council or Grafton County Commission in 2014.

Burton, 74, opened a formal statement by saying "It is with a heavy heart that I inform you that my cancer has returned. After several days in and out of the hospital I will be heading home to Bath, New Hampshire to rest." After announcing his retirement, he quickly and characteristically added "I will fulfill my duties entrusted in me. My office is always willing to assist the constituents of Grafton County and Executive Council District 1."

The announcement immediately prompted a flurry of tributes from public officials from one end of the political spectrum to the other. "For me it is a very sad day," said State Senator Jeanie Forrester (R-Meredith), and it's a sad day for all Ray's constituents. No one does it it better than Ray Burton," she continued. "If all our public servants followed the Ray's model, we would all be a lot better off." She said that the Grafton County Republican Committee created an extraordinary service award in Burton's name and honored him as the first recipient. "But, with Ray it was never about Republicans and Democrats," she remarked. "It was always about the people."

Peter Powell of Lancaster, longtime director and past president of the North Country Council, recalled that Burton, then a young man of 19 or 20 helping to elect his father, Wesley Powell. governor in 1958. "Ray grew in, with and for the North Country," he remarked, "and became an icon for the place. You couldn't look at him without thinking of the North County." Noting that the authority of executive councilors appears limited, Powell said that Burton "turned his position into one of significant power, which he used to the advantage of the people he represented. He is on the minds and hearts of everyone up here," he said.

Governor Maggie Hassan, the last of the 10 chief executives to serve with Burton, called his record of public service "unmatched" and said "I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to serve alongside Councilor Burton." John H. Sununu spoke of his "his dedication and deep commitment to his constituents," noting that his "bipartisan leadership will be missed." United States Senator Kelly Ayotte described Burton as "a passionate and tireless voice for the North Country for decades" while for United States Congresswoman Annie Kuster he was "a fixture of governance and service In New Hampshire since I was a young girl."

Following treatment for kidney cancer in February and March, Burton said in April that as tests showed no sign of the disease he intended to run in 2014 and 2016. However, his health faltered earlier this month when he was unable to attend the meeting of the Executive Council on October 16 and a week later, was not on hand to accept a lifetime achievement award from the North County Council at its annual meeting.

First elected to the Executive Council in 1976, Burton lost his seat two years later, but regain it in 1980 and has held it ever since, almost always by a wide margin. He has also served on the Grafton County Commission for the past 22 years. But, he never forgot the lesson of his only loss. "I'm always running a two votes behind," he said of every campaign, right up to election day.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 October 2013 02:34

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Man charged with trying to sell his dad's truck

GILMANTON — A Loon Pond Road man is being held on $3,000 cash only bail after allegedly stealing his father's car and trying to sell it.

Paperwork obtained from the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division, said Gilmanton Police charged Tony A. Hartford with one count of theft of a motor vehicle.

Sgt. Matt Currier said Hartford's father called police at 4 p.m. on October 25 and said he just learned his son had taken his 2008 GMC pickup and had tired to sell it to a used car dealer on Seavey Road in Belmont.

Hartford's father (who is also named Anthony) said he didn't have his permission to sell the truck and learned from one of his friends that young Hartford was heading to a used auto dealer in Laconia to "see if they'd give him more money."

Currier said he called the manager at the Laconia dealership and got of description of young Hartford. He also learned from the manager in Laconia that young Hartford was returning to Seavey Road in Belmont so Chief Joe Collins called the Belmont Police who also went to Seavey Road.

When Belmont Police arrived they saw a 2008 GMC pickup parked in the back parking lot with the same plate number Hartford senior reported. Currier reported that when he arrived, young Hartford was removing the plates from the truck.

Belmont Police also learned that Currier had already arrested young Hartford because he had an outstanding warrant from the Tilton Police.

At some point, Hartford's father showed up at the Seavey Road dealer and he identified the GMC as his. He told all of the officers from both community's that his son did not have his permission to drive or sell his GMC.

Affidavits also said that when Anthony Sr. asked his son if he was trying to sell the truck, young Hartford admitted it.

After speaking with the people who own the business on Seavey Road, police learned they gave young Hartford $4,000 saying he had the title to the truck and the name "Anthony Hartford" was on it. Belmont Police charged Hartford with receiving stolen property.

As to the charges from Tilton, Detective Cpl. Matt Dawson said yesterday young Hartford had been implicated in the theft of 12 computers from Walmart.

Dawson said young Hartford has a court date next month in the 6th Circuit Court, Laconia Division.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 October 2013 02:25

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Rx take-back day Saturday in Laconia

LACONIA — As part of their Red Ribbon Week, the Laconia Police and the federal Drug Enforcement Agency will today (Saturday) be hosting a drug-take-back day at the city police station.

The service is free and anonymous and people can safely dispose of their unused, expired, or unwanted medication.

In the past five years at these event, police said the DEA and their partners took back nearly 2-million pounds of pills and medication.

Unused or unwanted medications are more likely than others the end up in the hands of people who can abuse them and the Laconia Police encourages residents to use the service. Police will have representative on hand to answer any questions.



Last Updated on Saturday, 26 October 2013 03:11

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Belmont to consider property upkeep ordinance for village

BELMONT — The town's Planning Department is a considering the adoption a property maintenance code for the immediate village area, said selectmen earlier this week.

Town Administrator Jeanne Beaudin said Monday that Town Planner Candace Daigle and the Code Enforcement Officer Steve Paquin had spoken to her about concerns with garbage piling up in front of some homes.

"I think it's worth pursuing," said Chair Ron Cormier, saying that the village district looks so nice now that Phase 1 of the Village District Revitalization Plan is completed.

Cormier suggested that if the town were to adopt a property maintenance code that he would recommend the town create an official overlay district and adopt an ordinance for that district only.

Selectmen Ruth Mooney said she is a little concerned about the code enforcement officer having to deal with property maintenance and said she didn't want to see something overly restrictive like regulating how high someone's grass can grow.

None of them suggested anything as draconian as that but all said they would be interested in something that would help keep the village looking as nice as it does now.

All selectmen agreed that since the first phase of the Village Revitalization Project has been completed that many people in the village area have made efforts to keep the outsides of their property nicer.

Daigle said Belmont has a designated Village District for zoning purposes but it encompasses more area than the area officials may regulate through an ordinance. She said should the Planning Board decide an ordinance is appropriate and needed, she would recommend creating an official overlay district called the Village-Factory District which is confined to the immediate village.

Daigle said yesterday that she spoke with Laconia City Planner Shanna Saunders, who said Laconia adopted the International Property and Maintenance Codes of 2006.

Saunders said yesterday that the city most often used the code as an enforcement tool for junk and debris that pile up in yards. She said the bulk of the violations in Laconia occur in absentee-owner properties.

Daigle said the Planning Board is scheduled to review all ordinances and suggestions at the meeting scheduled for November 4.

Last Updated on Saturday, 26 October 2013 02:42

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