Alton wants court to view evidence that Jeffrey Clay complied with selectmen's order to stop talking at pair of previous meetings

ALTON — Town Attorney Anthony Estee has filed a motion with the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division that, if granted, would allow him to introduce as evidence video and audio footage of Jeffrey T. Clay's actions at selectman's meetings held prior to day he was arrested during one.

The footage, said Estee, will provide the court with descriptions of situations that occurred at previous meetings and he said it will help the court understand Chief Ryan Heath's state of mind when he arrested Clay at the December 10, 2014 meeting and charged him with disorderly conduct.

Clay was arrested by Chief Heath after refusing to stop talking during his five-minute allotted time to address the board. He used about four minutes of his time to accuse selectmen of not being transparent and demanded their resignations.

Heath initially asked Clay to leave, but when Clay asked him what he had done, Heath said the selectmen want you to leave. When Clay refused, Heath arrested him. Charged initially with two counts of misdemeanor disorderly conduct, one charge has been dismissed and the other is still pending.

Estee said the videos he wanted introduced as evidence will show that at three prior meetings, selectmen made the decision to terminate Clay's speech and in the three prior incidents Clay cooperated with police officers who asked him to stop.

Estee said Chief Heath was aware of Clay's prior behavior and this evidence is needed to determine his state of mind when he asked Clay to leave the meeting.

Because Clay chose to stop talking and leave, when asked, during his previous three encounters with selectman, he said the tapes are not to indicate Clay's prior bad conduct, which is typically not allowed as evidence, but to show Clay's actions in not leaving were a departure from his previous conduct.

Estee said the introduction of this evidence will not be unfairly prejudicial to Clay because it is not likely to appeal to the courts sympathies, arouse its sense of horror or provoke its instinct to punish.

Deal with church will net city 7 more downtown public parking spaces

LACONIA — The City Council this week approved an arrangement with the Congregational Church of Laconia that will enable the city to add a half dozen public parking space to the central downtown lot.

Endorsed by the Downtown Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Advisory Board, the arrangement arose from the church's construction of a public walkway between the church and parish hall connecting the parking lot and Veterans Square beneath a pedestrian bridge between the two buildings.

The church has granted the city an easement with a term of 50 years at the rear of the church for nine parking spaces, which the city will construct and pave at an estimated cost of $35,000 to $40,000. Six of the spaces will be open for public parking and three spaces will be reserved for the church. The driveway curb cut leading from Pleasant Street to rear of the church buildings will be closed, enabling the city to stripe an additional parallel parking space on Pleasant Street.

When Councilor David Bownes (Ward 2) questioned the arrangement, City Manager Scott Myers explained that the city had relinquished two parking spaces to make room for the dumpster required by the Holy Grail Restaurant and Pub along with several spaces behind the old police station on Church Street to accommodate its conversion to the studios of Binnie Media. The church, he said, offered an opportunity to recover foregone parking spaces.

NOTE: Two snow storms and freezing rain in March added to the deficit in the winter maintenance budget, which will rise again when the cost of the April snowfall is tallied. The March storms cost $44,716, pushing expenditures to $489,226, or $83,226 more than the $406,000 budgeted.

Aluminum dock thefts being discovered

GILFORD — A number of second-home owners have returned to their summer retreats on Lake Winnipesaukee to find little or nothing remaining of their aluminum boat docks and lifts, which had been pulled from lake and stored on shire. They had been broken down and likely sold as scrap.

Jim Hatem, a resident at Chanticleer Shores who lost the frame to his dock and parts from his lift, said yesterday that several of his neighbors suffered similar losses., including the disappearance of a 40-foot dock from a property near Ellacoya. He added that he heard reports of similar incidents on Dinsmoor Point Road and at Ames Farm in Gilford, at Locke Lake in Barnstead and at a marina in Moultonborough.

"I've never seen anything like it before," said Paul Goodwin of Watermark Marine Construction, "ever". Noting that his firm removes and resets docks at between 400 and 500 properties, he said that "a lot of people are not here yet" and suspected that many more waterfront residents will report damaged and missing docks and lifts in coming weeks. .

From what he had seen, Goodwin believed the thieves were somewhat organized and well equipped. "They must have had power tools, may be even a small generator, to cut up frames," he said, "along with a truck or snowmobile and sled to haul away the aluminum. Hatem said that at his property there was no sign a vehicle had been driven to the shoreline. Instead, he thought the thieves traveled across the frozen lake.

Lieutenant Kris Kelley of the Gilford Police yesterday confirmed that his department was pursuing three investigations. He said that as with any theft of metal the scrap dealers have been contacted and alerted. Kelley said investigating the incidents is challenging because the docks could have been ransacked almost any time after residents closed their seasonal homes. He urged all victims to report the incident to their local police department.

Goodwin said the cost of docks and lifts varied with their size, but pegged the cost in "thousands of dollars". He said there is little that can be done to safeguard docks and lifts through the winter. The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services requires them to be hauled ashore, eliminating the option of moving them to deep water. They can be secured with cables or chains, but that would not prevent them from being taken apart or cut into pieces. The cost of storing them securely would be significant.

Docks and lifts are not necessarily covered by all homeowners' insurance policies. Hatem said that he had heard of some not covered at all and none with complete coverage. some are not covered at all.

"It's very discouraging," Goodwin said, repeating "I doubt we've heard the end of this."