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Moultonborough Planning Board members to get letter detailing charges against them

MOULTONBOROUGH — Two members of the Planning Board — Josh Bartkett and Judy Ryerson — facing a public hearing before the Board of Selectmen, who will determine if there is sufficient cause to remove them from office for "inefficiency, neglect of duty or malfeasance, will soon be informed of the specific charges pending against them as well as the date and format of the hearing.

Town Administrator Carter Terenzini said yesterday that a letter specifying the circumstances that prompted the selectmen to initiate the removal proceedings and setting the ground rules for the public hearing will be mailed to Bartlett and Ryerson on Friday. He added that once the two have been informed the letter will be released to the public.

Meanwhile, Bartlett and Ryerson, together with Paul Punturieri, a third member of the Planning Board, have asked the chairman, Tom Howard, to convene a special meeting of the board, a request the rules of the board entitle them to make. Howard has seven days to reply. Punturieri said yesterday that the three believe the board should discuss the matter.

Terenzini said that last month the selectmen voted during a non-public session to instruct the town counsel, Peter Minkow, and the town administrator to arrange a public hearing, which state law requires be held before removing appointed or elected members of either the Planning Board or Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA). He emphasized that the purpose of the hearing is for the selectmen to hear the case against the officials together with their rebuttal of the charges then decide if there is cause to remove them.

At the same time, Terenzini and Minkow were told to meet with Bartlett and Ryerson and offer them the opportunity to resign rather than undergo a public hearing. Both have flatly refused to resign and Bartlett, speaking to the selectmen when they met last week, said "I'm eager to have a public hearing."

Bartlett and Ryerson have claimed that apart from a reference to the case of Bear's Nest Trail, LLC, they have not be offered an explanation of the proceedings brought against them. When Bartlett pressed the point with the selectmen last week, Terenzini countered that he was informed, but conceded that the letter would provide "greater specificity." Likewise, Terenzini indicated that communications from "outside people," who he declined to identify, contributed to the decision of the Selectboard to proceed against the two.

Yesterday Terenzini confirmed that the proceedings arose from the conduct of Bartlett and Ryerson when, on July 10, the Planning Board approved Bear's Nest Trail LLC's construction of an observation tower on the east slope of Red Hill. The firm built the tower without obtaining the requisite permits and, after not seeking permission and sought forgiveness, by asking the ZBA and Planning Board to approve the project after the fact.

The ZBA granted a variance and referred the case to the Planning Board for a conditional use permit (CUP), which required meeting 11 criteria. The minutes record that Peter Jensen, the acting chairman, "polled" the seven members of the board on the 11 criteria. Two of the 11 failed when the board split evenly — three-to-three — with Bartlett abstaining and Ryerson voting no. However, neither believed it was the best interest of the town to require the structure be dismantled. Ryerson changed her "no" to "yes," breaking the stalemate in the "poll," and Bartlett offered a motion to grant the CUP, which carried five-to-two.

Last Updated on Thursday, 08 August 2013 01:52

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Sheriff wants officers regularly patrolling Gunstock on weekends

GILFORD — A recent increase in the number of weekend calls at the Gunstock Mountain Resort has prompted Belknap County Sheriff Craig Wiggin to call for weekend patrols at the county-owned recreation area.
''Gunstock has kept us busy this summer, and there's a need for an increased presence on weekends,'' Wiggin told Belknap County Commissioners when they met Wednesday morning.
He said that during the annual SoulFest event, which drew thousands to the resort last week, his department responded to 45 calls.
Wiggin said that there was also an increase in calls on other weekends in the campground area and that some of those calls were for domestic violence situations and fights, as well as assaults. There were also a number of responses for lost children.
''It is in our best interest to have a detail there every weekend,'' Wiggin told the commissioners, pointing out that the it is actually less costly to patrol the area on weekends than to pay the cost of call-outs for each incident the department responds to.
Wiggin said that he was looking to have a conversation with Gregg Goddard, Gunstock's general manager, about the situation and to try and work out some arrangement which would allow his department to have working space at Gunstock.
County Commissioner Steven Nedeau of Meredith, who worked as an officer with the Sheriff's Department, observed that at one time the department regularly patrolled Gunstock on weekends.
''We used to have people burning picnic tables back then,'' said Nedeau.
County Administrator Debra Shackett observed that the large number of calls were also a function of increased activity at Gunstock during the summer months, which is good for the area's economy, but also has an impact on law enforcement and emergency responses by the Gilford Fire Department.
Commissioners also heard an update on the Belknap County Nursing Home from Mat Logue, home administrator, who told them that revenues and admissions were up over last year due in large part to short term stays for physical, occupational and speech therapy.
In the first six months of the year there were 46 admissions compared to 12 in the same period last year with 43 discharges this year compared to 10 last year. Last year there was only one admission from Lakes Region General Hospital but this year there have been 23 from the hospital, mostly for short-term stays.
The Belknap County Convention earlier this year approved a $200,000 supplemental appropriation for the nursing home to continue to provide the skilled nursing care which is reimbursed by Medicare at 14 percent above costs and is expected to generate an additional $200,000 net gain in nursing home revenue over the next year.
Logue said that as of yesterday all of the beds at the home were occupied and that the average for the year to date is seven empty beds a day.
He said that the nursing home expenses are currently $200,000 under what was budgeted for this time and that the nursing department is working to fill several vacancies.
Commissioners also approved the transfer of funds into three budget line items which will exceed the amount budgeted for them:
— $4,500 for the Belknap County Convention, for legal costs and meeting costs;
— $5,500 for the Finance Department to cover increased health insurance costs;
— $10,500 for Department of Corrections salary account.

Last Updated on Thursday, 08 August 2013 01:49

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3 vehicle crash by Winnipesaukee overlook takes 1 life

GILFORD — A three-car accident on Route 11 in front of the scenic area overlooking the Broads of Lake Winnipesaukee took the life of a woman who was driving one of the cars yesterday at 11:55 a.m.

Four other people were taken by ambulances from Gilford and Laconia to Lakes Region General Hospital for what fire officials describe as non life-threatening injuries.

Det. Sgt. Chris Jacques, who is also a member of the Belknap Regional Accident Investigation Team that investigated the crash, said police are not releasing any details at this time until family members can be notified and the reconstruction is complete.

According to Gilford Fire Chief Steve Carrier, there were three people in a silver Toyota sedan, one person in a dark colored sedan and one person in a dark SUV involved. He said the female driver of the Toyota was killed and a "toddler" from her car was one of those taken to the hospital.

He said the silver car was the most seriously damaged. Carrier said the child was in a car seat that appeared to be properly installed and he said he "believes it significantly reduced the (child's) injuries."

He said the two other people in the silver sedan and the driver of one of the other vehicle needed to be extricated. The other driver was able to get out of his car.

Two young men who were visiting a friend who lives off Scenic Drive said they walked up through the woods and up the hill to the rest area to see what happened. They said the occupants of the home heard the crash.

"The silver car looked like a crushed beer car," said one of the men. He said they didn't see any people except police and rescue workers near the cars.

They said the silver car was in the center of the road and from their vantage point, they were only able to see the Toyota and the dark sedan. The SUV was further west and was in the scenic pull off area.

In yesterday's crash, police said they don't think speed, alcohol or drugs were a factor.

The road was closed from noon until just 7:18 p.m. while BRAIT and Gilford Police investigated. Carrier said there was quite a bit of oil from the crash that needed to be absorbed before the road was reopened.

Traffic was re-routed down Scenic Drive.

Last Updated on Thursday, 08 August 2013 01:44

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Dump Run Cafe brings Gilmanton together

GILMANTON — The Dump Run Cafe, which is open every Wednesday morning in the basement of the Gilmanton Community Church (Four Corners), has become the hub of community activity ever since it opened last June.
''It's a place for people to hang out after they go to the dump on Wednesday,'' says Roger Beaudet, the self-proclaimed ''roadie'' who sets up the sound equipment for the Dump Run Gang, a dozen or so musicians who gather each week and play old time favorites like ''Wabash Cannonball'', ''Glory Train'' and ''Temperance Reel.''
Beaudet, whose wife plays autoharp with the band, says that the cafe caught on right away and has become the place to be on Wednesday mornings.
''Everybody is having a good time and it shows,'' says Beaudet, who was one of the few men who got out onto the dance floor when a square dancing session was held this week.
''There were three musicians when we started this last year. Now there are at least a dozen every week and it's like that all the time. We usually have at least 60 people here — they come from all over,'' says Pastor Chris Stevens of the Gilmanton Community Church.
He said that the cafe was started to meet a perceived need in the community for a place where people could sit down together and socialize.
''There's no community center, no coffee shop or place for people to mingle. We at the church thought 'why can't we fill that need?' and started looking for a way to do it. We were waiting for the right person to take the lead and found that person in Judy Rouleau, who was a new member of the church,'' says Stevens.
He says that Rouleau and her husband, Louis, set out to organize the cafe on the same basis as that of a town dump, where people meet and socialize every week. They chose Wednesday, because that's the day the older residents of the town make their dump run to the town transfer station, which is about a mile away from the church.
Stevens says that about half of those who show up are members of he church and half are not, which is the way it was intended.
''We see this as a community effort, not a church effort, and it's part of our social outreach to provide a place for people in the community to meet and have fun together,'' says Stevens.
Among the many volunteers helping out each week are Julie Perkins, who heads up the kitchen crew, which makes coffee, doughnuts, pastries and breakfast sandwiches; Ray Wyss, who cooks the doughnuts, and Ginny Hiltz, who for years supervised the cooking of the bean hole beans at Gilmanton's Old Home Day.
Audrey Danielson of Pittsfield, a fiddle teacher, shows up every week to play, says that she loves the atmosphere of the church hall and enjoys entertaining those who show up.
The Cafe, which is open from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m., has expanded to open on the first Saturday morning of each month so that people who can't get there on weekdays can have the opportunity to experience the fun environment.
''You can feel the energy in the building when the people are here and the music is playing. Happiness is something that we need in the world today, and it makes all the people who show up here to take part in the cafe happy to be a part of it,'' says Stevens.

CAPTION:
The Dump Run Gang plays an old time favorite ''The Wabash Cannonball'' at a gathering at the Dump Run Cafe in the basement of the Gilmanton Community Church. About 60 townspeople and guests from surrounding communities meet every Wednesday morning for music, coffee and doughnuts and socializing. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Last Updated on Thursday, 08 August 2013 01:39

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