DeVoy re-elected as Belknap County Commission chairman


LACONIA — David DeVoy (R-Sanbornton) was re-elected as chairman of the Belknap County Commission when commissioners met for an organizational meeting Tuesday morning.
Newly elected Commissioner Glen Waring (R-Gilmanton,) who shortly before the meeting had taken the oath of office, was elected vice chairman, and Commissioner Hunter Taylor (R-Alton) was named clerk.
Waring replaces Richard Burchell (R-Gilmanton), whom he defeated in the Republican primary 1,078-678, and went on to win a four-year term in November. Burchell had frequently been at odds with his fellow commissioners and had been ousted as chairman in March of 2015 following disputes with DeVoy and Taylor.
Both DeVoy and Taylor said they are pleased Waring is joining the commission. He currently serves as finance director for the town of Gilford and formerly was the finance director for Belknap County.
Waring said he is pleased by the response to his candidacy by the voters who saw his experience in county government, where he served as finance director from 2011 to 2015, as a plus. He said he is looking forward to working in a professional and collaborative manner with his colleagues .
Also taking the oath of office Tuesday as commissioner was Taylor, who two years ago was appointed to the commission. Taylor defeated Jonathan Smolin of Alton 2,035 to 591 in the District 3 commission primary race and won a two-year term in November.
Burchell became commissioner after defeating incumbent Commissioner John Thomas (R-Belmont) in the 2014 GOP primary 808-671 and winning an uncontested general election. He had campaigned in opposition to the existing commissioners and their assertion of authority over budget transfers, an issue which was later resolved in court in favor of the county delegation.
After Burchell was elected to the county commission, Commissioner Stephen Nedeau (R-Meredith) resigned his seat, saying he was unable to work with the new commissioners, leaving only Burchell and DeVoy, both of whom were newly elected. Burchell became chairman, but when the county delegation appointed Taylor to fill the vacant seat, he soon found himself a minority of one. At a clamorous meeting in March of 2015, Burchell was ousted as chairman by a two-to-one vote, which he challenged without success in Superior Court.
The relationship between the three current commissioners continued to remain stormy. At a June 4 meeting in 2015, commissioners Taylor and DeVoy censured Burchell for leaking information from a nonpublic meeting to former Belknap County Nursing Home Administrator Matthew Logue, held while Burchell was still chairman.
DeVoy and Taylor again censured Burchell in May of last year for what they said was official misconduct in connection with his attempts to access protected medical records in the state Department of Health and Human Services database. Burchell maintained he was only seeking the information in order to find out how state reimbursements to county homes are determined.

David DeVoy 2014David DeVoy

Glen WaringGlen Waring

Hunter TaylorHunter Taylor

Dick Burchell 2014Richard "Dick" Burchell

State may phase in expansion of veterans tax credits


CONCORD — After enabling municipalities to provide property tax credits to a greater number of veterans last year, this year the Legislature will consider a bill that would lessen the immediate impact by permitting cities and towns to phase in the program over three years.

The legislation enabled municipalities to extend eligibility for the veterans tax credit beyond those who served in a qualified war or armed conflict to all who served not less than 90 days and received an honorable discharge. In effect, the bill makes eligible veterans who served between the end of World War II and the start of the Korean War, from the end of the Korean War to start of the Vietnam War and from the end of the Vietnam War to the invasion of Grenada.

In 2015, the city of Laconia provided 741 qualified veterans each with a $500 credit against their property tax bills, representing $438,450 in foregone revenue from property taxes that is reflected in both the level of the property tax rate and the distribution of the property tax burden. The legislation provides that if a municipality votes to extend the credit, the amount must be the same as that of credit already in effect, which in Laconia is $500. City Manager Scott Myers estimated that if the city chooses to expand eligibility, some 378 additional veterans would receive the $500 credit, increasing the allocation for veterans tax credits to $641,950. The increase would add approximately nine cents to the property tax rate.

Senators David Waters (D-Dover), Lou D'Alessandro (D-Manchester) and Gary Daniels (R-Milford) are introducing the legislation that would authorize municipalities to phase in the projected increase over a three-year period. Myers said that the bill may be fast-tracked so that either the selectmen or petitioners will have an opportunity to present a warrant article to expand eligibility for the credits to Town Meeting in March.

Meanwhile, the City Council referred the issue to its Finance Committee, which is scheduled to address it on January 23. Myers said that since the deadline for applying for the veterans credit is April 15, if the council acted no later than March the eligibility could be extended to all veterans in the 2017-2018 city budget.

Gilford man to be tried again for rape after mistrial


LACONIA — The Belknap County Attorney's Office has scheduled a second trial for a Gilford man whose rape trail ended last month with a hung jury and a mistrial.

Carroll Thompson, 45, of Gilford stands accused of two counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault, or forcible rape, for actions he allegedly took against his girlfriend in January 2016 when she tried to leave his home and take their daughter.

A new jury will be selected on Jan. 23.

Thompson is also charged in a lower court with eight misdemeanor counts of breach of bail for allegedly calling the woman while he was incarcerated and awaiting trial.

Following a week-long trial that began on Dec. 6, the prosecution and the defense gave their closing arguments on Dec. 13. The jury deliberated for nearly two days and told the judge they were deadlocked, with 11 members voting to acquit him and one holding out for a guilty verdict.

Following the mistrial, Assistant Prosecutor Adam Wood argued that Thompson should continue to be held on $25,000 cash-only bail, however presiding Judge James O'Neill determined he should be released on personal recognizance bail.

Thompson went to the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division the next day for a bail hearing on the eight misdemeanors. Judge James Carroll also determined he should be released on personal recognizance bail.