Barry Ladd closes Meredith Center Store he's owned for 18 years

MEREDITH — "I feel bad for our good, loyal, steady customers," said Barry Ladd, who yesterday confirmed that he was closing the Meredith Center Store to retail trade. Ladd said he will continue to butcher animals, domestic and wild, by appointment, but shutter the remainder of the business he has owned and operated for past 17 years.

"There are so many more stores in the area," Ladd said of the mounting competition, "and every year I end up putting more and more money into the store just to keep it going." He said that expenses, particularly utilities and insurances, rise every year and there is a growing burden of regulation and paperwork. "It's not a good business climate for the small business person," he remarked.

"I've reached retirement age,"Ladd continued. He said neither his son, a college student, nor his son-in-law was interested in carrying on the business. "I hated to do it," he said, "but I couldn't keep it going myself."

Ladd recalled that the store first opened in the 1920s. After working as a butcher at Walter's Market in Laconia for 14 years, he acquired the store from Joe and Cynthia Pelczar in 1997.

With half-a-century of experience in the meat business, Ladd featured a wide array of select cuts along with freshly made sausage, corned beef and jerky, winning accolades from his customers. "We became a specialty store with the butcher shop and delicatessen," Ladd remarked.

Noting that a number of traditional country stores have closed, Ladd said that he heard regularly from vendors that the small stores they served in rural communities were struggling to make reasonable returns on the investment of time and money required of their owners.

"I'll miss it, " Ladd said. "I'll miss the people coming in. But, I'll also enjoy my retirement."

Alton wants court to view evidence that Jeffrey Clay complied with selectmen's order to stop talking at pair of previous meetings

ALTON — Town Attorney Anthony Estee has filed a motion with the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division that, if granted, would allow him to introduce as evidence video and audio footage of Jeffrey T. Clay's actions at selectman's meetings held prior to day he was arrested during one.

The footage, said Estee, will provide the court with descriptions of situations that occurred at previous meetings and he said it will help the court understand Chief Ryan Heath's state of mind when he arrested Clay at the December 10, 2014 meeting and charged him with disorderly conduct.

Clay was arrested by Chief Heath after refusing to stop talking during his five-minute allotted time to address the board. He used about four minutes of his time to accuse selectmen of not being transparent and demanded their resignations.

Heath initially asked Clay to leave, but when Clay asked him what he had done, Heath said the selectmen want you to leave. When Clay refused, Heath arrested him. Charged initially with two counts of misdemeanor disorderly conduct, one charge has been dismissed and the other is still pending.

Estee said the videos he wanted introduced as evidence will show that at three prior meetings, selectmen made the decision to terminate Clay's speech and in the three prior incidents Clay cooperated with police officers who asked him to stop.

Estee said Chief Heath was aware of Clay's prior behavior and this evidence is needed to determine his state of mind when he asked Clay to leave the meeting.

Because Clay chose to stop talking and leave, when asked, during his previous three encounters with selectman, he said the tapes are not to indicate Clay's prior bad conduct, which is typically not allowed as evidence, but to show Clay's actions in not leaving were a departure from his previous conduct.

Estee said the introduction of this evidence will not be unfairly prejudicial to Clay because it is not likely to appeal to the courts sympathies, arouse its sense of horror or provoke its instinct to punish.

Deal with church will net city 7 more downtown public parking spaces

LACONIA — The City Council this week approved an arrangement with the Congregational Church of Laconia that will enable the city to add a half dozen public parking space to the central downtown lot.

Endorsed by the Downtown Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Advisory Board, the arrangement arose from the church's construction of a public walkway between the church and parish hall connecting the parking lot and Veterans Square beneath a pedestrian bridge between the two buildings.

The church has granted the city an easement with a term of 50 years at the rear of the church for nine parking spaces, which the city will construct and pave at an estimated cost of $35,000 to $40,000. Six of the spaces will be open for public parking and three spaces will be reserved for the church. The driveway curb cut leading from Pleasant Street to rear of the church buildings will be closed, enabling the city to stripe an additional parallel parking space on Pleasant Street.

When Councilor David Bownes (Ward 2) questioned the arrangement, City Manager Scott Myers explained that the city had relinquished two parking spaces to make room for the dumpster required by the Holy Grail Restaurant and Pub along with several spaces behind the old police station on Church Street to accommodate its conversion to the studios of Binnie Media. The church, he said, offered an opportunity to recover foregone parking spaces.

NOTE: Two snow storms and freezing rain in March added to the deficit in the winter maintenance budget, which will rise again when the cost of the April snowfall is tallied. The March storms cost $44,716, pushing expenditures to $489,226, or $83,226 more than the $406,000 budgeted.