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Night club owner not happy Gilford taking its sweet time with dancing permit

GILFORD — The owner of a local night club whose "exotic dancing" permit is being held at bay by selectmen, told the board last night that he was "tired"of the town's not working with him and his attorney.

Willard Drew, the owner of the former King's Grant Inn, blamed the town in general and Town Administrator Scott Dunn specifically, for slow-walking his approval for a live entertainment permit that includes "nearly-naked" women.

"We all try to do what's right," said Drew. "I would think the town administrator would feel the same way."

Drew has owned the former King's Grant Inn, more recently known as Mardi Gras North and before that Kokomo's for 22 years. About five weeks ago, he applied for a live entertainment permit with what the town refers to as exotic dancing. He was told that his permit would not be granted until the state gave him a liquor license and the town attorney reviewed his answers to some questions posed by the town in the wake of a 2011 drug raid at the business that he was leasing to Mardi Gras North.

About three weeks ago, selectmen gave him and his business partner Tom Lyons a live entertainment license but without exotic dancing, saying the town attorney hadn't gotten back to them. Thinking he was on tonight's agenda, Drew flew home from Florida before learning today that he was not on the agenda.

He said his attorney spoke with Dunn at 4 p.m. and was told the town attorney hadn't reviewed his application and the answers to the town's questions. He said he was not only angry about the hold up but said he was extremely angry that neither he or his attorney were told they weren't on the agenda after being told they would be on it in "early November."

One of the questions was how Drew was going to address people coming into his establishment who may have "drugs" on them.

"The same way you do," Drew answered, reading from three Gilford news stories that appeared in The Daily Sun within the past two weeks — one that involved an arrest for a marijuana growing operation on Governor's Island, one that involved a man arrested for snorting narcotics at the Elementary School, and one that involved under-aged drinking in a local motel.

"You have a Fire Department, a Police Department and roads," he said. "They all do the best they can do."

He said he will have "bouncers" or security staff, trained bartenders, and other employees the public may not see but who are needed to run a business — like a dishwasher.

Drew said he paid $33,000 in back property taxes to the town just so he could operate his business — along with a 12-percent penalty.

He said it's not just the money. It's his frustration with the people who want to control (the town) who, in what he said was their own opinions, don't like exotic dancing so they seek to prevent it.

"The correct opinion is the legal opinion," he said. "It's time to make a legal opinion whether you like it or not."

In the not-so-distant-past, Drew sued the town in federal court over his First Amendment right to operate a strip club. He said since then the town has gradually taken pieces of his business away including "invading" his building in October of 2011 and damaging the premisis.

"I've done nothing illegal," he said, noting he has put five children through Gilford's schools, has never done anything illegal and doesn't plan to start anytime soon.

"Stop lollygagging around," he said.

Tim Sullivan, who was the only resident other than staff who attended the meeting, said he agreed with Drew. He said he remembered the same thing happening 25 years ago when the rock band Steppenwolf was scheduled to play a concert and it was canceled at the last minute because it was "hard rock".

He told selectmen that it was hard enough to run a business and pay taxes without them getting in the way. ''It's better to have a property tax-producing business."

Lyons, Drew's partner, made an impassioned plea to the board on behalf of all the lonely men out there who are willing to pay someone to be nice to them even though they know it's not real.

"We all like wrestling," Lyons said. "But we know it's fake."

Selectmen said nothing. Nor did Dunn.
At the end Drew stood up again and said he wanted to thank the police, fire, town clerk, and the public works director for always working with him and, with one exception, trying to accommodate his business.

"I have to say that I appreciate the people who work for you," Drew said.

To date, all of the department heads who have to okay any live entertainment license have done so. Selectman Gus Benavides has voted in the past to grant Drew his license however Selectman's Chair Kevin Hayes and Selectman John O'Brien have not.

Last Updated on Thursday, 07 November 2013 02:34

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Man accused of exposing himself to kids held in lieu of $50k cash bail

LACONIA — A city man is being held on $50,000 cash only bail after allegedly exposing himself to some under-aged children Monday night.

Timothy Donehey, 58, of Union Avenue is charged with one felony-level count of indecent exposure and lewdness according to paperwork obtained from the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division.

Police said the two children told them an "intoxicated" man came up to them and asked them to "hold his beer" while he tried to get into his apartment building.

The children said he pointed to a star and asked them what it was and they told him it was a star. He said "that's right" and then "he bent over, pulled down his pants and exposed his genitalia to them."

Donehey allegedly continued to say "I love you kids" and "come up to my apartment."

The children told an adult who called the police. Affidavits said when police got there and spoke to Donehey he said "Yeah, sorry about that, I thought it was really funny."

When police asked him if he was a registered sex offender, he said that he was but that he still thought it was pretty funny. Police described him as being highly intoxicated.

Although Donehey was taken into custody on Monday at 9:29 p.m., The Sun has learned that he was unable to face a judge on Tuesday because at 7 a.m. his blood-alcohol content was allegedly at .144 — almost two times the legal driving limit of .08.

He appeared by video yesterday morning at 10 a.m.

During his arraignment, City Prosecutor Jim Sawyer argued for the high cash bail telling Judge Jim Carroll that Donehey had three similar convictions — one in 1993, one in 1996 and one in 1999.

Sawyer said the paperwork from the Massachusetts State Court system showed in 1999 Donehey exposed himself to children while on Boylston Street in Boston by opening his fly and swinging his hips.
In August of 2013, Donehey was indicted by a Belknap County grand jury for failing to register as a sex offender.

"This is no joke," Sawyer said. "This is a serious offense."

Sawyer said Donehey's alleged actions and cavalier attitude when approached by police show he has a "lack of appreciation" for the severity of his act and a "lack of control" over his behavior.

Public Defender Allison Schwartz said that Donehey should be released on $2,000 cash bail — an amount that more closely reflects what he is able to post.

Schwartz said he is a Mohegan Indian who gets a fixed amount of income from his Connecticut tribe and could not possibly post $50,000. She also said he was "intoxicated" and admits he has a drinking problem. She said he has been going to AA meetings and is more than willing to abide by any conditions set by the court including no contact with minors.

She also said his Massachusetts convictions are "somewhat removed in time."

"Alcohol is not an excuse," said Sawyer. "He exposed himself. He invited them up to his apartment."

Judge Carroll said he had "grave concerns for the safety of the public" and set his bail at $50,000 cash. Should he post bail, he is ordered not to have unsupervised contact with anyone under the age of 16 and to report daily to the Laconia Police Department for a portable breath test for alcohol.

Last Updated on Thursday, 07 November 2013 02:22

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Ad hoc committee going down other path on jail planning

LACONIA — While the Belknap County Commission continues to plan for construction of a new county correctional facility, some members of the Belknap County Convention have begun exploring alternative mean of addressing the shortcoming of the county jail.

Representatives Bob Greemore (R-Meredith), Richard Burchell (R-Gilmanton) and Mike Sylvia (R-Belmont), together with David DeVoy of Sanbornton, who ran unsuccessfully for the commission in 2012 , and George Hurt of Gilford, a former state representative, have been meeting as an ad hoc committee to consider how to ease the most severe shortcomings of the existing facility.

"The commission is going down one path," Greemore said yesterday, "and we're saying no, no no. We understand there is a problem and we want to solve it," he stressed, "but not with the Cadillac of all jails."

In a letter printed in yesterday's edition of The Daily Sun, in quintet presented five options, in no order of preference, aimed at improving conditions for housing women, who are held in attic with inadequate heating and cooling systems and insufficient bathing and toilet facilities. They suggest building a free-standing pod as temporary quarters or a new wing separated from the main building by a fenced exercise yard or an extension on to the rear of existing jail. Alternatively, the county commissioners and administrators could be relocated to rented space until a wood frame building could be built to house them and their original quarters occupied by women inmates. Or, the county could lease space on the site of the former Laconia State School from the state to house female inmates.

"Each option will have strengths and weaknesses," the group wrote, "and these, together with associated costs, will to be weighed."

Burchell said that the county convention is concerned by the deficiencies at the jail and the lack of progress in addressing them. He said that the commission has spent "several hundred thousand dollars on analysis and planning" and presented a plan for a new facility estimated to cost $42.5 million that met with widespread disapproval. "The commission has not given serious thought to alternatives," he said. "We are where we are because of the actions and inactions of the commissioners."

"We have to do something," said DeVoy, who intends to run for commissioner again. "If I am elected this is something I'd have to deal with. To make happen.
The commissioners can't seem to get the ball moving."

Burchell said that the ad hoc committee came together for lack of a formal means of participating in the process. He said that the Jail Planning Committee convened by the commissioners included "stakeholders," who he described as "everyone who had a stake in building a new jail. The stakeholders didn't include the convention or John Q. Public." Although the committee has since been expanded to include members of the public but not of the convention.

Burchell recalled a meeting of the county convention in August when Representative Lisa DiMartino (D-Gilford) wondered what role members could play in the planning process, he suggested forming a study committee,. But, he said he was "shot down" by Rep. Frank Tilton (R-Laconia), who said that planning county facilities was not the responsibility of the convention.

Greemore said that he and his colleagues have been through the jail, some more than once, and met with Dan Ward, the Superintendent of the Corrections Department. "We've done a lot of homework, individually and together," he said. "We're trying to get a dialogue going with people outside the Jail Planning Committee to see what we can to get this thing moving."

Last Updated on Thursday, 15 May 2014 12:14

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Belmont selectmen want second opinion on Engine 2 before refurbishment

BELMONT — Selectmen have asked Fire Chief Dave Parenti to get a second opinion about the condition of a fire engine before any decisions are made to refurbish it.

Parenti told selectmen during his budget presentation last month that he may ask for about $200,000 to refurbish Engine 2, but wanted to make sure that it would last eight to 10 years before the town spent the money.

Saying body rust was one of the key problems, he suggested taking it to Repair Service of New England — or RSNE — of Gilford to make sure the frame rails were not rusted and selectmen agreed.

On Nov. 4, selectmen were forwarded a letter sent by RSNE owner Rick Gagnon which concluded, "In our opinion, it isn't likely this unit will be reliable for the next 10 years."

RSNE expressed concerns about the integrity of the frame air system, the brakes, the air lines, the radiator, the water piping and the injectors. They tested the transmission and engine oil but said the results weren't back yet.

What was not in the report, said Selectman Jon Pike, was any mention of the condition of the frame rails.

"I don't like this letter," Pike said.

His interpretation of the RSNE letter was that Parenti, who was not at Monday's meeting, was against refurbishing the truck.

Pike also said that for years the Fire Department used Winnipesaukee Truck Repairs and said he was under the impression the selectmen were going to get an evaluation of the frame rails from RSNE.

"I think we need two opinions," Pike said.

Selectman Ron Cormier and Selectman Ruth Mooney agreed.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 06 November 2013 04:20

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