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Diplomacy called for in negotiations between selectmen & library board

MEREDITH — With a draft "Statement of Understanding" from the Library Board of Trustees in hand, the Board of Selectmen began the process of placing the relationship between the town and the library on an even keel at a workshop yesterday.

In a cover letter Rhetta Colon, who chairs the trustees of the library, expressed "hopes that the board will understand that this is the first step in a back-and-forth process in completing the final document."

The current relationship dates to February, 1993 when, at the recommendation of the town manager and financial officer, the trustees agreed to transfer payroll and bookkeeping services "for all monies generated by the town's tax revenue which were given to the library" to the town. The library director and trustees track all spending and approve all bills, including payroll, before submitting them to the town for payment. The trustees create a separate budget for expenditures from trust funds, private donations and fee income.

Town Manager Phil Warren noted that the trustees agree to be "guided" by the personnel policy of the town, but with the exceptions that the trustees, through the director, oversee the management of all library personnel and reserve the right to retain and adopt policies different from those of the town. Warren called this provision "problematic."

Selectmen Lou Kahn, who also serves as a Trustee of the Trust Funds, questioned the authority of library trustees manage trust funds and investments, referring to state statutes that provide that unless specified by the donor, the authority to manage such such is vested in the trustees of the trust funds.

Kahn was also troubled by an expectation that the town should "continue to fund the operating expenses of the library at a level consistent with the type and size of a public library appropriate to Meredith," which he found "really vague." Nor did he accept a presumption that the selectmen have agreed to set aside funds for the expansion or renovation of the library or that the board was bound to accept recommendations of the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) Committee to spend or reserve funds for maintenance of the library.

Calling the draft "long overdue," Selectman Peter Brothers reminded his colleagues that "this is a first draft." While he acknowledged "we can't be doing one thing for library employees and another thing for town employees," the differences and details would have to be resolved in "eyeball to eyeball meetings" between the library trustees and selectmen. He urged the board to "get off on a positive foot," but conceded "it's not going to be an easy road."

Former selectman Jim Hughes cautioned that agreement would require "diplomacy" and "give and take on both sides."

NOTES: When the Board of Selectmen met yesterday, Town Manager Phil Warren noted that all town roads have been posted and vehicles of more than six tons require a permit from the Department of Public Works. He again reminded residents and contractors not to plow, blow or shovel snow into the public right-of-way then proclaimed "there will be no more snow." . . . . . . Warren said that the New Hampshire Department of Transportation (DOT) intends to pave 4.8 miles of Rte. 25 from the junction with Rte. 3 in Meredith to the Center Harbor-Moultonborough town line and 1.7 miles of Winona Road from NH Route 14 north to Waukewan Road. However, he said that DOT has apparently abandoned Meredith Neck Road and Barnard Ridge Road, both unnumbered state roads since 1940s. Warren said that Chris Clement, the commissioner of DOT, has said that neither road belongs in the state highway system and the department will not improve roads not in the system. Warren noted that Meredith Neck Road "is getting to the point where it could be deemed hazardous" and urged the town not "back off" in pressing the DOT to undertake improvements.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 March 2014 01:19

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Man who kicked house guest to death denied work release

LACONIA — A Belknap County Judge ruled last week that a man who kicked one of his house guests to death in May of 20122 would not get work release from prison.

Jason Durgin, 40, had asked the court for work release or a halfway house, saying that he had no infractions while in the N.H. State Prison.

Durgin kicked Leo LaPierre while the two were inside his mobile home located off South Main Street. LaPierre was able to leave the home under his own power but was found unconscious and leaning against a fence on the property by two people who later came to visit one of Durgin's roommates.

He was taken to Lakes Region General Hospital and transferred to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon where he died of his injuries without ever regaining consciousness.

After a trial, Durgin was sentenced to 3 1/2 to 7 years in the N.H. State Prison. He was credited with 406 days of pre-trial confinement.

The N.H. Supreme Court rejected his appeal of the guilty verdict saying his case was a "classic" jury case in which the jury weighed the evidence and the credibility of the witnesses and came to a just conclusion.

The N.H. Department of Corrections Prison Board said Durgin would benefit from work release and a halfway house.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 March 2014 01:02

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Richard Hanson adds Center Harbor selectman to resume

CENTER HARBOR — In the race to succeed David Hughes on the Board of Selectmen, Richard Hanson on Tuesday topped Mark Stearns by 155 votes to 68 votes. Meanwhile Hughes lost his bid for Trustee of the Trust Funds to Lee Woodworth, 130 to 72.

Last Updated on Saturday, 15 March 2014 12:59

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Judge still not buying theft case against former firefighter

GILMANTON — Circuit Court Judge Jim Carroll has denied a motion to reconsider his decision to dismiss the state's case against a former firefighter who had been accused of attempting to steal gas from the town pumps.

Carroll ruled yesterday that he made his decision based on a legal argument made by Bryon McSharry's attorney Mark Sisti.

"The Court does not find any facts nor any legal analysis which the court misapprehended," wrote Carroll.

Gilmanton Police charged McSharry with theft in early November of last year when someone allegedly said they saw him take the gas key from the Fire Department's forestry vehicle, disappear in the direction of the town's pumps, and them return it to the forestry vehicle.

The town prosecutor dropped the charge of theft but went forward with the charge of attempted theft.

When the case was initially dismissed two weeks ago, the prosecutor asked Carroll to reconsider his dismissal, arguing that the case should go to a bench trial at which the judge could determine the credibility of the witnesses and the evidence for himself.

Last Updated on Saturday, 15 March 2014 12:54

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