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Free State Project celebrity arrested for DUI by Laconia police

LACONIA — A self-proclaimed anarchist associated with the Free State Project spent Friday night in the Belknap County House of Corrections after refusing to cooperate with a police officer who stopped her after she allegedly ran a red light.

According to Laconia police logs, Amanda "Billyrock" Johnson, 27, of 105 Windsong Ave. in Manchester is charged with one count of disobeying an officer, one count of resisting arrest, one count of transporting alcoholic beverages (for allegedly having an open container containing alcohol in her car), driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and possession of controlled drugs.

Johnson allegedly refused to tell police her name or cooperate with the police.

For the next 12 hours, Internet sites associated with the Free State project and other libertarian causes buzzed with tales of Johnson's "kidnapping" by the Laconia Police and subsequent "caging" at the Belknap County House of Corrections — where she was taken after she allegedly refused the services of a bail commissioner. Readers of the sites were urged to call the county jail in protest.

Johnson, whose Internet name is "Amanda Billyrock", is referred to online as an "epic figure" in the libertarian world. She calls herself an anarchist and has said she came to New Hampshire to join the Free State movement and liked it here. She is from Utah.

At one point, she moved to New Zealand because police there don't carry guns and stayed for a period before returning to the United States. One of her webcasts said she moved to New Hampshire after attending a Free State event earlier this year.

A video filmed by one of the other people in the car during her encounter with police was posted to YouTube but has been removed — apparently by Johnson. A statement on her Facebook page yesterday said she was preparing to issue another statement within 24 hours.

Johnson's lawyer, Seth Hipple of Concord, said yesterday that Johnson had a valid Utah driver's license and a New Hampshire registration for her car and gave them to the police officer who stopped her. Hipple said his client's birth date is on both documents.

He said she was not intoxicated and the drugs in her possession were prescribed to her by her physician. As to the open container charge, he said Johnson didn't have an open container and was unaware if one of her two passengers did.

He also said he was the one who advised her to take down the video that had been posted on her Facebook page.

He said she complied with the police to the degree the Constitution requires and did not talk to them, which he said is her right.

When contacted yesterday, Police Chief Chris Adams initially didn't know who Amanda Johnson was. After being told, he said his officers treated her the same way they treat anyone who allegedly commits similar violations and misdemeanors.

Beyond that, he said he didn't have anything to add.

Belknap County Superintendent Daniel Ward said Johnson was incarcerated for a little over 12 hours. He said she initially refused bail but when her lawyer arrived Saturday afternoon she agreed to cooperate.

Video posted recently to the Free Keene website ("A New Hampshire Liberty Activism Destination") show an anchorman sitting at a desk in front of a map of the world appearing to have a phone conversation with a Laconia police supervisor about Johnson's arrest. The supervisor didn't answer any of the man's questions. It is not known from where the man was broadcasting.

A second website hosted by Copblock aired a second conversation a caller had with a person who answered the phone at the Belknap County jail.

Ward said the jail employees got about six phone calls from individuals another two from newspapers and another two from television stations — most of them from the Midwest.

"No big deal," he said.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 December 2013 04:53

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State wants 2nd competency evaluation for man accesed of McGrath St. murder

LACONIA — Asst. N.H. Attorney General Geoffrey Ward said yesterday the state would be seeking a second competency evaluation for a 20-year-old local man who is charged with strangling his roommate on June 10, 2013 while the two were living in a mental health support home on McGrath Street.

Kasey Riley, 20, appeared yesterday in the Belknap County Superior Court for a brief hearing regarding his bail. Wearing orange and shackled, Riley stood quietly. His lower right arm appears to have been freshly bandaged.

N.H. Public Defender Tracy Scarvelli said the interviews for a competency hearing ordered by Judge Jim Carroll are completed but she is still waiting for the report.

Ward said the prosecution will likely file a motion in Belknap County Supreme Court seeking a second evaluation, and Scarvelli told the court she would likely oppose it.

Both defense and prosecution agreed that Riley will continue to be held in Belknap County House of Corrections without bail.

Riley allegedly strangled Zachary March after the two had an argument around 2 a.m. about what Riley was watching on his telephone. Two other people in the unsupervised support home were there the night of the alleged homicide.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 December 2013 01:22

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Woman who writes the payroll checks in city Employee of the Year

LACONIA — Honored as "Employee of the Year" at the annual Christmas luncheon for city personnel and volunteers yesterday, Gail Denio, who administers the city's payroll from the Finance Department, admitted she is popular among her colleagues — "on Fridays."

Denio has lived in the city for the past 38 years and and worked at City Hall for the last 17. In presenting the award, City Manager Scott Myers said that "she has worn many hats," always with a professional demeanor and helpful and friendly manner.
She started in personnel then moved to finance, where she managed accounts payable before administering payroll.

"I appreciate the award," Denio, said. "It is especially nice that people thought enough of me to nominate me for it." She stressed that that she could not have earned it without the help and cooperation of her fellow employees. "I am very grateful for what they do to make my job easier," she said, explaining that she relied on members of other departments to provide her with the information she needs to cut the paychecks on time.

Apart from her job, Denio also serves on the Planning Board. The City Charter provides for the city manager to appoint one administrative official to the board. Denio is serving her second term and said she has enjoyed contributing to the life of the community.

More than two dozen employees who have served the city for five years or more were also recognized for their length of service, topped by Director of Public Works Paul Moynihan, who has been with the city for 35 years. Captain Bill Clary and Lori Marsh of the Police Department celebrated a quarter of a century of service and Robin Moyer of the Police Department and Joan Bernett of the Water Department two decades of service.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 December 2013 01:16

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Meadowbrook outlines another round of improvements

GILFORD — Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion at Meadowbrook is planning a multimillion-dollar expansion program to add facilities and increase the capacity of the outdoor music venue.
Meadowbrook President R.J. Harding and land survey engineer Steven Smith outlined the key points of the project at the Planning Board meeting Monday evening. Meadowbrook expects to present a formal site plan application in January, Smith said.
As envisioned, the three-phase project will include improvements to parking areas, new concessions and amenities, improvements to the backstage area, as well as the addition of about 450 parking spaces. Harding said that once completed, Meadowbrook will have a capacity of 9,500 to 10,000 concertgoers. Currently the venue can accommodate 8,300 people. Harding estimated the cost of the entire project at about $5 million.
Smith said that Meadowbrook hopes to start work on Phase 1 of the project in the spring. That phase will involve improvements to the backstage area, where trucks load and unload equipment for the various performances. Dressing rooms for performers will also be constructed. In addition there will be expansion to the concession area and construction of a building for use by the Police Department and other public safety personnel.
Smith said Meadowbrook hopes to complete work on the first phase before the 2014 concert season starts in late spring. Work on others phases should take place after the concert season ends in the fall, with the balance of the work scheduled for the spring of 2015.
The second phase will involve regrading lawn parking areas. While Phase 3 will consist of building a two-story building that will include a VIP lounge. It also calls for improvements to the VIP lawn parking areas.
In addition to Planning Board approval, Smith said Meadowbrook will also need to apply for state permits.
Meadowbrook opened in 1996 with a temporary stage and room for about 4,500 concertgoers. The venue's permanent stage and covered pavilion were constructed in 2002 and added on to last year.
Over the years it has hosted concerts by a variety of popular music performers. It has also staged concerts by the Boston Pops Orchestra, as well as a live broadcast of Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion" on National Public Radio.

NOTES: The Planning Board voted to place six proposed zoning amendments on next March's local election ballot. One proposed change would require a 25-foot buffer along wetlands where virtually all construction and excavation would be prohibited. Two amendments seek to change the buildable area requirements regulations for excavation in steep terrain of new and existing lots. Another would amend the frontage requirements for certain lots. One amendment would rezone about 35 acres on the north side of Lake Shore Road — or Route 11 — from industrial to commercial. The land involved includes the Walmart Plaza and from there east to Lily Pond Road. An amendment to change the definition of a street will be scheduled for a second public hearing.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 December 2013 01:02

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