Alton Selectboard has speaker removed by police

ALTON — A Mallard Road man is facing two counts of disorderly conduct after police arrested and removed him from a selectman's meeting on February 3.

Jeffrey T. Clay, 56, is charged with one count of failing to move from a public place after being ordered to do so by a police officer and one count of disrupting a public meeting.

Both of the above charges are class B misdemeanors and punishable by a fine if he is convicted.

Clay becomes the second man in as many years in Belknap County to find himself facing criminal charges for trying to speak his mind at a public meeting during a public input portion of a meeting.

A similar case against a Gilford resident who objected to a reading assignment given to his 9th grade daughter in May of 2014 was dismissed by Judge Jim Carroll of the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division on December 19.

Carroll ruled that while Baer was impolite the night he spoke out at the Gilford School Board meeting, he had done nothing criminal.

In the Alton case, Clay attended the February 3 selectman's meeting and objected to a revised public input policy that had just been adopted. He called for the resignation of many of the board members as well as the resignation of Town Administrator Russ Bailey.

During his allotted time to speak — Clay had brought and set a timer so he wouldn't exceed five minutes — he accused the board of deliberately trying to circumvent the N.H. Right-to-Know law by holding "workshop" sessions at odd hours of the day and making decisions during them that were not transparent.

Clay didn't raise his voice or use any profanities during his time to talk, however he made some remarks about what he felt was continuing illegal action on the part of individual board members regarding public transparency.

The video of the meeting shows Clay sitting and talking at the visitor's microphone. About one minute into his talk, Chair R. Loring Carr began banging his gavel in an attempt to silence Clay while Selectman David Hussey went out into the hall and returned with Police Chief Ryan Heath.
Heath went up to Clay and asked him three times to leave the room. Heath was polite but firm. On the third time he told Clay that he would be arrested if he didn't leave.

Clay stayed and kept talking so Heath removed Clay from the room by holding Clay's arm behind his back. Out of the view of the camera, Heath said he called another officer who came and took Clay to the station, booked him, and released him on personal recognizance bail.

For the past few months, meeting minutes indicate Clay was continually at odds with selectmen. His complaints remained consistent — that the board was deliberately violating the N.H. Right-to-Know law.

He would repeatedly ask for some if not all of the selectmen to resign. He objected to the board having a uniformed police officer at all of their meetings by calling it intimidation.

Minutes show he was escorted out three previous times by police, but the February 3 incident is his first arrest.

Clay was also present at the widely attended meeting of the Alton School Board earlier this week, as was a uniformed police officer who stayed toward the back of the room near the exit.

In a statement made before the meeting convened, Clay told attendees not to be intimidated by the police and encouraged them to say what they felt they had to say.

During the course of the meeting, Clay addressed the board a number of times but was not removed from room by police, nor did he exceed the five-minute rule.

It is not known if Clay has obtained legal services for his impending court case. He said Tuesday he had approached someone.

Alton Prosecutor Tony Estee said he expects Clay's first court date will be in the end of March or beginning of April.

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Alton School Board approves D.C. trip with conditions

ALTON – After listening to a presentation from seventh-grade student Tuesday night, the School Board agreed the children who have raised money to take a class trip to Washington, D.C., should be able to go.

Krista Ingoldsby, flanked by three of her classmates, said they had been raising money for the trip since the sixth grade but were recently informed by the associate principal that the trip was off because most of the class wanted to go camping instead.

The trip was planned as an eighth-grade class trip.

"A teacher did an anonymous poll," began Associate Principal Linda Wilmer. She explained that the poll was done in silence and the students were asked only one question at a time to avoid confusion and so as not to influence the vote. "It was in silence."

The results of the poll, said Wilmer, were that of the 42 children in the seventh grade, eight of them voted to go to Washington, D.C.

According to Ingoldsby, the students came up with the D.C. trip when they were in fifth grade and got approval for fund-raising from former Principal Sydney Leggett when they were in the sixth grade.

Krista told the School Board and the nearly 70 people in the room that the students had been raising money through community events, a spaghetti dinner sponsored by the Lions Club, and working at Winter Carnivals. She said they have raised $4,000.

School Board members Terri Noyes and Krista Argiropolis questioned polling the children without board approval and without telling their parents. They were also upset to learn a trip that was out of state was approved by an administrator and not the School Board, as is stated in policy.

Board members also learned that some of the teachers didn't want the trip, and didn't want to chaperone it.

Krista's father Karl Ingoldsby, said there were other teachers who were willing to take the children to Washington. He said his family had contacted one of the education groups in the Capital that organizes the educational trips and were told the company would pay for the insurance if the children raised enough money and still wanted to go.

Member Stephen Miller said he felt the students should go to Washington, D.C., and was personally disappointed that more of them preferred camping to seeing the nation's capital.

Four of the members agreed the trip could go forward provided the board was given much more information about it and within the proper timeframe.

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Young man dies of apparent suicide at Community College

LACONIA — The death of an unidentified 18-year-old man found inside a car parked at the Lakes Region Community College is considered an apparent suicide, Laconia police report.

The man apparently shot himself inside the vehicle which was parked in the main parking lot at the college at 12:05 p.m. Tuesday.

Police did not release any additional information.

Police said the investigation in being conducted with the assistance of the N.H. Medical Examiner's Office.

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