Judge will allow tape of Clay speaking at previous Alton meeting into evidence

ALTON — A 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division judge ruled this week that the state could introduce into evidence a video of a local man's speech to selectmen recorded six weeks before he was arrested and removed from a subsequent Selectboard meeting.

Judge Jim Carroll said he would allow the video of a December 15, 2014 meeting for the sole purpose of establishing Police Chief Ryan Heath's state of mind on February 3, 2015 when he arrested Jeffrey T. Clay after Clay refused to leave a selectmen meeting after he asked him to three times.

Clay's is charge with one misdemeanor count of disobeying an officer. Because the offense charged is a Class B misdemeanor and there is no possibility of jail time associated with a conviction, Clay's case will be heard by Carroll in a bench trial and not before a jury.

Alton Prosecutor Anthony Estee had asked for recordings of both the December 1, 2014 and the December 15, 2014 meetings to be introduced as evidence. He said the request was not to prejudice the court against Clay because of "prior bad acts," which are normally not admissible against a defendant at trial, but only to show that the Alton Police had dealt repeatedly with Clay at selectmen's meetings.

Estee said Heath believed that unlawful conduct was imminent based on his prior experiences with Clay at Town Hall.

Defense Attorney Jared Bedrick had objected to any videos of previous meetings being viewed by the court because he claims each was a separate circumstance unto itself and not relevant to the meeting in which Heath arrested Clay.

Specifically, Bedrick said the selectmen had not imposed any time constraints on public comment before Clay spoke and was arrested on February 3 so what happened before was immaterial.

Clay was arrested by Heath about four minutes into his five minute allotted time to speak because he refused to stop talking when board Chair R. Loring Carr demanded it. Clay was protesting the general work of the board and asking for their resignations. Selectmen have said he was slandering them. Selectman David Hussey left the room and returned to it with Heath following him. Heath allegedly asked Clay to leave three times before arresting him.

Also pending before the court is a motion to dismiss the case filed by Bedrick and its response filed Thursday by Estee. Clay's trial is scheduled for May 8 at 8:30 a.m. in Laconia.

City marks belated Arbor Day with Wyatt Park tree plantings

LACONIA — Yesterday, a week after the official date of Arbor Day, the city marked the annual celebration of trees, along with its 25th anniversary as a Tree City USA, by planting two trees at Wyatt Park in the South End.

Mayor Ed Engler recalled that the first Arbor Day was celebrated in Nebraska, then a vast expanse of treeless prairie, in 1872, where the occasion featured the planting of a million trees. In New Hampshire Arbor Day has been celebrated for the past 129 years.

To mark the city's quarter century as Tree City, the New Hampshire Division of Forests and Lands donated a sterling silver linden tree, which was planted in the corner of the park near the junction of Champlin Street and Center Street. Amy Lovisek of the Parks and Recreation Department said that the tree will reach a height of 45 feet with a canopy 30 feet around. Its heart shaped leaves, she said will turn bright gold in the autumn.

In addition, the Arbor Day Foundation contributed a selection of 10 redbud, dogwood and hawthorne seedlings, which Lovisek said would be suited to plant in 8 or 12 years.

Close to the playground the city has planted a London plane tree, which Lovisek said could grown to a height of 85 feet capped by a crown stretching 70 feet across. "It will provide plenty of shade for the kids on the playground," she remarked.

Kevin Dunleavy. director of of Parks and Recreation, told the half dozen children on hand that one day, when they bring their children to the park, they can can point to the mature trees and remember that they were there when they were only freshly planted saplings.

Scott Rolfe, community forester at the Division of Forests and Lands, said that trees were especially important in urban surroundings where they hold the topsoil, absorb stormwater and filter pollutants. "They are the hardest working trees in the country," he said

Lovisket said that the celebration was delayed a week to allow the ground to thaw for the planting of the trees.


CAPTION: A group of children playing at Wyatt Park joined city officials for a belated Arbor Day observance on Friday morning. At rear from left to right, Kevin Dunleavy, director of Parks and Recreation, Mayor Ed Engler, Amy Lovisek, assistant director of Parks and Recreation, Scott Rolfe, community forester at the New Hampshire Division of Forests and Lands, and Sally Perino, president of the Wyatt Park Association. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Michael Kitch).

Minivan jumps curb to tak out BMW Z3

GILFORD — A man escaped serious injury yesterday afternoon after he apparently drove his minivan over a curb defining the Wendy's restaurant parking lot, struck a BMW Z3 and pushed it through the wall of German Motorsports on Lake Shore Road.

Police at the scene said it appears the man was pulling into a parking space at Wendy's but failed to stop, crossing over an 18-inch wide raised curb before striking the other car.

The force of the crash pushed the right rear quarter of the BMW through the building, knocking a toolbox belonging to one of the mechanics off its base.

"I was just working under a car (on a lift) when, bam," said the mechanic who gave his name as Bill. "I almost had a heart attack."

A view from the inside of Bill's work bay showed crumbled cement blocks and stucco on the floor with the rear quarter of the BMW jutting about four inches into the building.

Bill's toolbox was pushed about four inches away from the wall.

Gilford Fire Captain Rick Andrews said the driver declined to be transported by ambulance to the hospital but said he would likely seek treatment on his own, accompanied by a family member.

Andrews said Building Inspector Dave Andrade came and inspected the building and declared it sound before the car was pulled out of it.

Both cars were towed.

CUTLINE – (BMW Z3 into wall) A BMW sits crushed between a minivan and a wall yesterday afternoon at German Motorsports on Lake Shore Road in Gilford. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Gail Ober)

(BMW Z3 into wall) Stucco and cement blocks strew the inside of one of the work bays at German Motorsports on Lake Shore Road in Gilford yesterday afternoon after a BMW was pushed through the wall by a minivan. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Gail Ober)