Gilmanton Historic District protester withdraws name from consideration for spot on governing commission

GILMANTON — The Meeting House Road man who had asked voters to have his property removed from the historic district around the Smith Meeting House on Tuesday night withdrew his request to serve on the district's board.

Craig Gardner of 533 Meetinghouse Road had petitioned to have his property removed during the March election after learning a fence he constructed was not suitable to the Historic District Commission.

"I've been on a lot of committees in my life," Gardner told the Selectboard. "The most dishonest thing a person can do is come on a committee with a cause."

Gardner said he wondered if he could ignore his cause (to remove his property from the district) and decided he could be more honest as a member of the community.

"I appreciate your honesty," said Selectboard Chair Don Guarino, who agreed that Gardner could be very active as a member of the community.

Gardner and Roland Huber, a second property owner in the district, both petitioned the town to have their properties removed from because of what they considered unreasonable restrictions. A slim majority of voters ultimately agreed with them but their petitions were challenged by abutters, including former Historic District Chairman George Roberts, who attended Tuesday's meeting, who filed "protest petitions" that meant, under state law, Gardner and Huber needed a two-third majority vote to prevail.

Although the town received the protest petitions in a timely fashion, when officials contacted the town attorney about what to do with them, administrators were told to ignore it, said Town Administrator Arthur Capello.

While one condition of the protest petition was satisfied according to RSA 675:5, a second condition requiring the town to post the protest petition and announce it at the beginning of town meeting, in this case, the deliberative session, was never met.

Town attorneys have brushed off the posting and announcing portion of the law as a "minor procedural error" but Gardner disagrees.

He said that had he known about two-thirds vote needed for him to succeed, he would have approached the matter differently and could have possible prevailed.

The posting matter is still being discussed within the town between administrators, town counsel and Gardner.

With Gardner's last-minute withdrawal for consideration for the Historic District Commission seat, selectmen nominated Betty-Ann Abbott to serve for a three year term.

In her application, Abbott said she had an interest in the area and would be mindful of residents rights while being holding true to the mission of the Historic District.

Under state law, the Planning Board can also have one of its members serve on a historic district. Selectman Steve McCormack, who is the board's representative to the Planning Board, said Roy Buttrick had volunteered.

Lakeland School students mark Earth Day by breaking ground on new flower & vegetable gardens

MEREDITH — Students at Lakeland School, a private K-8 school located on the Meredith Center Road, overlooking the southern end of Lake Wicwas, celebrated Earth Day Wednesday by starting work on gardens where they will soon be raising flowers and vegetables.
The garden project has been in the works for nearly a year according to Christina Reynolds, first and second grade teacher at the school, who says that the students have played a big part in planning for the gardens by helping design them and decide what plants to grow.
There will be two 10 foot by 4 foot plots which will be framed with wood and filled with composted soil to create raised beds.
Middle School students from grades 5-8 used shovels, rakes and other garden tools Wednesday morning to clear the ground which will be used for the gardens and are very enthusiastic about the project, according to Reynolds, who notes that the project offers an opportunity for the students to develop their math and science skills.
Students say they are planning to grow pumpkins, cucumbers, watermelons, carrots, tomatoes and sunflowers in the gardens. Tyler Morrissette, 13, of Gilford, says he'd like to grow some potatoes as well.
Reynolds said that there will also be a composting area near the gardens where such items as banana peels, orange rinds and leftover lettuce from salads will be combined with other organic ingredients to provide compost for the gardens.
Some third and fourth graders have already collected some red wriggler worms from the school grounds which they are keeping in containers in their classrooms and which will be placed in the composting area. A worm kit has been ordered and the thousands of worms which it will produce will be busy turning the organic material into compost.
Reynolds said the school has been aided by local Master Gardener Dee Sargent in designing the garden and that the school is very grateful to carpenter Morgan Reynolds for building the frames and to Petal Pushers Farm in Laconia for providing the composted soil which will b.e used to grow the plants.

Lakeland School students Claire Gardner, Michele Loyer, Nicole Turin, Abigail Johnson and Nicole Bahder celebrated Earth Day by clearing ground for a garden project at the school. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Alton crash leads to DWI arrest

ALTON – A 21-year-old Wolfeboro man has been charged with felony-level driving while intoxicated charges for allegedly crossing the center line and striking a SUV on Rte. 28 Wednesday at 5:15 p.m.

Police said John-Luke Gauthier was driving a Volkswagen Passat and headed north when he completely crossed the center line and struck head-on a GMC Yukon being driven by Renee Choinard of Middleton who was driving south.

Gauthier's passenger, 37-year-old Kristy Arthur of Barnstead, was seriously injured and, after being taken to Huggins Hospital, was airlifted to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center.

Choinard was transported to an area hospital and treated for minor injuries. As of Wednesday night Gauthier was in Huggins Hospital with what police are calling serious injuries.

Police said preliminary witness reports indicate Gauthier was driving erratically prior to the crash.

Alton Police, assisted by the Belknap Regional Accident Reconstruction Team continue to investigate the crash.