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3rd piece of Snake River west bank offered for conservation easement

MEREDITH — The grant of a third conservation easement promises to forestall development along nearly the entire west bank of the Snake River, which runs for little more than a mile between Lake Winona and Lake Waukewan, enhancing protection of the quality of the town's water supply.

Speaking to the Board of Selectmen at a workshop this week, Mark Billings, chairman of the Conservation Commission, said that Donald and Patricia Bergeron of New Hampton have offered to 5.09 acres, with 720 linear feet of riverbank, of their 11-acre property, to the town as a gift in memory of Donald's mother. The town of New Hampton will take ownership of the land while the Meredith Conservation Commission would hold the conservation easement.

Billings described the property as a wetland that would not support either development or recreation. "It is not a buildable lot," he said.

The partnership between the two towns mirrors the arrangement for owning and managing two other properties along the river. In 2010, the towns, together with the Waukewan Shore Owners Association, which is now known as the Windy Waters Conservancy, purchased 8.57 acres with 2,841 feet of frontage on the river from Jacqueline Spear. Earlier this year the partners acquired 8.1-acres with 1,480 feet of shoreline abutting the Spear property to the south, formerly owned by Elizabeth Clingan Baird, with a $100,000 grant from the Aquatic Resources Mitigation Fund administered by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services and $30,000 in matching funds. Like the Bergeron bequest, New Hampton owns both the Spear and Baird properties, on which the easements are held by the Meredith Conservation Commission.

With the Bergeron property , which abuts the Spear property to the north, some 5,000 feet of contiguous riverfront will be protected in perpetuity. Meanwhile, Center Harbor has designated the west bank of the river as a prime wetland, affording it protection under state law. Billings explained that the Meredith Conservation Commission has contributed $10,000 toward developing a stewardship plan for all three of the parcels on the west bank of the river.

Apart from heavy runoff and rains in the spring, the Snake River, which is choked with vegetation, flows sluggishly, making navigation challenging. However , Billings stressed that the river serves as a filter, capturing impurities that flow into the Lake Winona watershed, which sprawls over 3,317 acres.

Selectman Herb Vadney noted that the riverbank lies in New Hampton and questioned why Meredith would "get entangled" in the project. Selectman Nate Torr, who chairs the board, replied that "this is a partnership, not an entanglement" while Billings said the conservation easements held by Meredith ensured that this source of the municipal supply would forever be safeguarded from development.

At town meeting in 2009 the voters of Meredith authorized the Conservation Commission to contribute to qualified organizations to purchase property as well as to apply its funds to acquiring land beyond the town lines.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 December 2013 01:54

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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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