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Casino has been paying down back tax bill to Town of Belmont; slots removed

BELMONT — The assessed value of the 213 acres of land and 35,000-square-foot buildings of the Lakes Region Casino, which has been put up for sale with an asking price of $3.5 million, is $2,070,000, which is $1-million less than when it changed hands in 2005.

Belmont town administrator Jeanne Beaudoin said that the Lakes Region Casino was steadily reducing it arrearage in property taxes owed to the town. After peaking at around $250,000, the total back taxes have been reduced to $175,700. She said that the casino has been paying $3,000 a week for some time and the arrangement is working well.

The venue is owned by Potts Gaming, LLC, whose principal Craig K. Potts of Scottsdale, Arizona, the former president and chief executive officer of Cash Systems, Inc., then the largest provider of cash access services to the gaming industry, operates gaming establishments in Alabama and the Carribean. Potts partnered Marlin Torguson Torguson Gaming Group, which owns casinos on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, when he acquired what had been Lakes Region Greyhound Park in 2005. In 2006 Potts held an $8,150,000 mortgage on the property and financed operations until securing sole ownership in 2011.

What began as The Lodge at Belmont, a pari-mutuel venue with wagering on live greyhound races as well as simulcast greyhound, thoroughbred and harness racing, has become a charitable gaming facility. The facility has rooms for table games — roulette and craps— and bingo and stages two poker tournaments , some with guaranteed winnings of $1,000, nightly.

The venue employs about three dozen people and contributes to about 20 charities in the region. According to data tabulated by the New Hampshire Pari-Mutuel Commission the Lakes Region Casino reported proceeds from charitable gaming after awarding prizes of $1,139,960, of which $398,614 was allocated to some three dozen charities, most of them in the Lakes Region, during the fiscal year 2013-2014.

Last week, the management removed the so-called redemption slot machines from the venue. Paul Kelley, director of the New Hampshire Racing and Charitable Gaming Commission said yesterday that the decision was prompted by legislation that will become effective on July 1, 2015 prohibiting slot machines that pay out in cash or cash equivalents. The machines at the casino, he said, paid winnings in credit or debit cards and would become illegal under the new law.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 September 2014 01:42

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Boats collide on Lake Winnipesaukee, off Fort Point in Alton

ALTON — A collision between two powerboats near Fort Point on Lake Winnipesaukee on Saturday night left one passenger injured, though both vessels departed the scene under their own power.

According to the New Hampshire Marine Patrol, a 24-foot powerboat with Justin Rivet, 34, of Tyngsborough, Mass. at the helm collided with a 26-foot powerboat driven by Michael Donahue, 51, of Moultonborough around 9:25 p.m.. Personnel from the Alton Fire Department transported a passenger aboard Donahue's boat to Huggins Hospital in Wolfeboro with injuries to the lower body

Sergeant Joshua Dirth of Marine Patrol reported that alcohol was not a contributing factor to the accident.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 September 2014 01:38

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Judge rules heroin use evidence on car seat is in

SUPERIOR COURT — A Belknap County Judge ruled last week that the drug evidence seized from the car of a man found by police slumped over his steering wheel in the downtown parking garage can be used against him.

Conversely, Judge James O'Neill ruled that a knife seized as part of an inventory search of Kory MacDonald's car was obtained by police without a lawful warrant and won't be allowed.

MacDonald is charge with once count of possession of controlled narcotic drugs (heroin), one count of falsifying physical evidence (for attempting to hide the heroin), and one count of being a felon in possession of a deadly weapon (the knife).

He was allegedly found slumped over the steering wheel of his car on April 7 at 11:22 a.m.

The responding officer said he saw a spoon, a baggie, and a lighter in MacDonald's hand. After waking him, she said he tried repeatedly to move his right hand toward the center console of the car, either to hide the alleged evidence or reach for a weapon.

After MacDonald ignored repeated orders for him to put his hands on the steering wheel where she could see them, she removed him from the car.

She seized the baggie, the spoon, and a needle found in plain sight on the drivers seat.

The knife was found as part of an inventory search conducted before the car was towed.

O'Neill ruled that the officer didn't need a warrant to seize the drug evidence because is was a "plain view exception" of a need for a search warrant because she had reason to believe that he had recently used and was under the influence.

O'Neill ruled that the initial intrusion, which afforded the view was lawful; and that the incriminating nature of the evidence was immediately apparent.

He said the state didn't determine that her initial intrusion into the car — to remove MacDonald — afforded her a plain view of the knife in which case, O'Neill said the police should have gotten a warrant.

MacDonald is scheduled for a jury trial in early October.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 September 2014 01:29

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Arsenault resigns from school board after 16 years of service

LACONIA — Ward 2 School Board member Beth Arsenault has resigned after serving for 16 years.

Chair Chris Guilmett said her resignation came in the form of an e-mail dated August 17. Arsenault cited her increasing obligations elsewhere as the reason she can no longer serve on the board.

During the past year, Arsenault has attended few of the board's bi-monthly meetings.

Arsenault made her place on the board primarily in the areas of policy and facilities and was one of the members who was instrumental in getting the Laconia Middle School built and the Huot Technical Center renovated.

Arsenault is also a N.H. State Representative who serves the combined district of Laconia and Belmont. A Democrat, she is the deputy majority leader in the House and sits on the Education Committee.

Member Joe Cormier said he served with Arsenault the entire time he has been on the board and described her as a catalyst for community forums and change.

"She will be sorely missed," Cormier said.

Arsenault's mother, Judith Reever, served on the School Board from 1976 to 1997.

Since the filing period for the upcoming primary in September and general election in November has long past, the now vacant Ward 2 seat will be filled by the School Board.

Guilmett said the district will be accepting letters of interest until September 23 and any person interested in serving must be a registered voter in Ward 2.

He said the Budget and Personnel Committee, that consists of Scott Vachon, Mike Persson, and Cormier will hold public interviews for any and all candidates with the goal of making a recommendation to the full board for appointment on October 20.

Letters of interest should be sent to the Laconia School District Superintendents Office at 39 Harvard St. Laconia, N.H. 03246.

Former civics teacher and retired Laconia Education Association president Richard Coggon said he felt it was the responsibility of the entire School Board to publicly interview all of the candidates for the seat.

Although it's been a long time since there was the need for an appointed position — Cormier said he thought he was the last person appointed to fill a vacancy and that was many years ago — Coggon said having a subcommittee interview prospective board members was a departure from the past.

Persson said that if there was a division within the Budget or Personnel Committee or if one of the other three remaining School Board members felt strongly either for or against their preferred candidate, then the interviews could always be done by the entire board.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 September 2014 01:57

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