Sophisticated signal program proposed for 3/25 intersection

MEREDITH — After again discussing what can be done to ease congestion along the Route 3/Route 25 corridor with the Board of Selectmen last night, officials of the New Hampshire Department of Transportation (DOT) agreed to return with a proposal for coordinated signalization to improve the flow of both traffic and pedestrians.

Gene McMarthy of McFarland Johnson engineering company, the project manager, said that the equipment that controls the signal at the 3/25 intersection can manage whatever coordinated system of signals is proposed. In particular, he explained it could handle vehicles passing through the intersection along with a signal controlling pedestrians crossing Rte. 3 and do so continuously in real time as the volume of traffic and number of pedestrians traffic changed. This system, called "adaptive control", is slated to be installed for the first time in New Hampshire in Lebanon later this summer.

"The issue is capacity", McCarthy emphasized, explaining that without increasing the width of the roadway to accommodate the volume of traffic "not much can be done." However, he agreed that adaptive control of the signal at the intersection and another at a pedestrian crosswalk between Lake Street and Dover Street could offer some improvement.

In light of the antipathy of residents to roundabouts along the corridor, Jonathan James asked, with some trepidation, if any consideration has been given to constructing a roundabout at the junction of Rte. 25 and Pleasant Street. McCarthy cautioned against what he called "mixing and matching", or controlling one intersection with a roundabout and a nearby intersection with a signal. "They do not work well together," he said. "The signal stops the traffic, which then backs up into the roundabout."

Initially DOT had allocated approximately $6 million to address congestion through corridor. However, after the town soundly rejected a proposal to construct three single-lane roundabouts at Lake Street, the 3/25 intersection and Pleasant Street, the funds were assigned to other projects, leaving $1.75 million for Meredith.

Don Lyford, project manager for DOT, estimated that since much of the technology is already in place, enhanced signalization would cost approximately $250,000. McCarthy said that a proposal would be prepared and presented to the Selectboard later this summer.

Blankenship remains held in lieu of $30k cash bail

LACONIA — After a bail hearing Monday in Belknap County Superior Court, Judge James O'Neill refused Kenneth Blankenship's request to allow $30,000 cash-only bail be converted to corporate surety (from a private bonding company).

Belknap County Prosecutor Roni Karnis said Blankenship, 33 of Orchard Street in Belmont, had a history of running from the police and not showing up for court dates. She added that he continually lied to her office about where he lived, gave police in three different jurisdictions three different addresses on three separate occasions after he had told her office he was living on Elm Street in Laconia.

Public Defender John Bresaw said the only two things that can be considered when setting bail are whether or not a defendant was going to flee or if he/she was dangerous.

He said corporate surety will involve a bond company that employs it own conditions as well as the court-appointed conditions. "Thirty-thousand dollars cash is $30,000 surety and someone is liable if that is posted," he argued.

Bresaw said Blankenship pays child support, has been employed by the same company for four years and has signed a year-long lease for his apartment in Belmont.

"This is the only shot he has if he can find a bond company that will take him," Bresaw said.

Blankenship was the subject of a state-wide manhunt that involved the Belknap County Sheriffs Department and the U.S. Marshals who, along with Loudon Police, caught up with him last week while he was staying at a Loudonhotel. He is wanted for failing to show up in court for a pre-trial hearing where he faces a count of burglary in Gilford.

As to the second prong of whether or not Blankenship is dangerous, Karnis told the court he had been charged by Belmont Police for three separate domestic violence assaults on a girlfriend after he was charged and released in the wake of the Gilford burglary. She said the assault charges are in circuit court right now but may be bound over for indictment in Superior Court.

O'Neill kept bail at $30,000 cash only. Should Blankenship post bail, O'Neill added bail conditions in addition to those set by 4th Circuit, Laconia Division Judge Jim Carroll. Carroll ordered Blankenship was prohibited from owning or having a firearm in his possession, must maintain a set mailing and physical address, keep all of his court dates, and stay out of trouble. O'Neill added that he not leaving the state, consume no alcohol or non-prescribed drugs, be subjected to a source of funds hearing should he post bail, and be on bail supervision.

Campton man convicted in federal court of running pot manufacturing operation

CONCORD — A U.S. District Court jury has found a Campton man guilty of manufacturing marijuana on his property. Peter Apicelli, 31, will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Joseph DiClerico on November 12. He faces a maximum term of 5 years in federal prison.

According to Acting U.S. Attorney Donald Feith, police got a tip that Apicelli was growing marijuana on land he was renting. Authorities found outdoor marijuana growing about 200 yards from Apicelli's house in September 2013. A surveillance camera then captured video of the suspect tending to the plants.

Police then obtained a search warrant for the house itself and located an indoor marijuana grow in the basement, as well as drying marijuana, packaged marijuana, scales and packaging material. Over 120 marijuana plants were seized from the house and grounds.