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N.H. legal community honors the late Judge Perkins

LACONIA — Family, friends and former colleagues, including all five members of the New Hampshire Supreme Court gathered at the Belknap County Superior Courthouse yesterday to honor the late Presiding Judge Harold W. Perkins, who was remembered as a down-to-earth man who saw the human being in every person he met.

Those who spoke, recounted more than just Perkin's judicial acumen and his ability to mentor those who came with and behind him. All told comical "Harry" stories and recalled times they all shared drinks after work, listened to his fishing stories, and showed his love for New Hampshire.

N.H. Supreme Court Chief Justice Linda Dalianis spoke first and pointed out yesterday's "glorious" weather. She said it was the kind of "vibrant and perfect day" that Perkins loved so much.

"He lived for the day and he lived for the moment," Dalianis said, saying Perkins was always one who never squandered time worrying about the things he couldn't control.

Perkins was admitted to the New Hampshire Bar in 1963 and was named to the Superior Court bench in 1988. He presided over the Belknap County Superior Court until his forced retirement at age 70 in 2006 and worked on his 70th birthday. After retirement those remembering him said he remained active as a mediator and mentor.

Dalianis also remembered the comical side of Perkins.

He loved fly-fishing she said, quipping that from 1999 to 2006 he tied $10,000 worth of fishing flies for some "extra-judicial" income.

"Since he was forced out, it's good he had those things to fall back on," Dalianis said, gently calling to the fore one of Perkins' pet peeves — the mandatory judicial retirement age of 70.

Dalianis also remembered him as an "integral part of our bricks and mortar system."

"He loved the law, he knew its grandeur, and he knew what it could do for people," she said, adding he especially loved and appreciated the jurors who he always addressed personally rather than in formulaic jury instructions.

Yesterday, his veiled portrait was carried into the courtroom and placed on an easel near the judge's bench by a Sheriff's Department, Court Security honor guard and before it was unveiled, senior Court Security Officer Ray Wakeman rang the buzzer in the judge's chambers and declared, "All rise."

The judge's bench sat empty through Dalanis's remarks. After her, Superior Court Chief Justice Tina Nedeau unveiled Perkin's framed photographic portrait — captured by former Citizen reporter Gordon King — before she briefly addressed the people who came to honor him.

Senior Asst. Attorney General Lauren Noether, who cut her teeth as the Belknap County Attorney during Perkins time on the bench in Laconia, read a letter that she wrote posthumously to Perkins thanking him for all of the legal and life lessons she learned from him.

She recalled that Perkins gave each defendant their dignity — even at their lowest moments. "Nobody left your courtroom feeling ignored," she said.

"Judge Perkins," she said to a framed photograph of him that presided over the courtroom. "You were a gifted judge of character...thank you for helping me grow."

Colebrook Atty. Philip Waystack remembered how Perkins loved fly-fishing in the North Country and how people in the north could always count on him to take the bench in Coos County when other judges were reluctant to do so.

He said above all else, Perkins was a great mentor, telling the nearly 150 attendees stories about how Perkins helped him learned the ropes when he was a young lawyer.

Judge Larry Smukler, who also acted as emcee, recalled his old friend with fondness and with laughter. He said Perkins always found something he liked about a case and that was because he liked people.

"I could always call Harry. His advice was always good," said Smukler, who told a story about Perkins final days and his visit to the rehabilitation center where the judge had convinced the nursing staff to let him have his one cocktail a night.

He said the two were sitting in Perkins's room, after Smukler had also been provided with a glass with ice and scotch by the nurses, and learned that Perkins had recently given advice to one of his nurses about how to get out of jury duty. And Smukler was the justice who excused her.

Supreme Court Associate Justice Gary Hicks recalled always being able to call Perkins for advice — even when he was presiding on the bench.

Hicks recalled one time that the bailiff slipped a note to Perkins after which he called a recess during his own trial to call Hicks and help him out with his.

"He called me back and got me out of a jam," Hicks said.

But it was former law partner and retired N.H. Supreme Court Judge Charles "Chuck" Douglas who knew him as well as anyone and had some wonderfully funny stories about the two of them.

He had the attendees laughing out loud as he told a story about being courtroom adversaries in Family Court during the time when the two had just met and a group of students from New England College was observing that day. He said Perkins refused to waive the reading of a complaint against his client, including all its salty language, regarding a domestic squabble.

Douglas said he was a little confused by that move but "if Harry wasn't waiving, he wasn't waiving" and he also asked for the clerk to read aloud the charges against his client, despite the fact the the squabble took place in a parking lot where each of their clients said the same things to each other.

"I got my first lesson in judicial marketing," Douglas recounted, saying the two went for a beer immediately after the hearing.

Douglas said Perkins told him to realize they were speaking in front of a group of students — some of whom were likely to need legal assistance some day — and that he should present himself as "somebody they'll want to call."

The two went into a legal partnership shortly after that.

He said he learned, most of all, that even after a person became a judge that he or she was to always remember that "once a lawyer... always a lawyer."

Douglas referred to Perkins as a Teflon judge in that it was rare to have one of his rulings overturned. "Even when he was wrong, he was right," said Douglas.
"Do what's right, do what's fair, and do what's just," Douglas said.

Perkins died on August 23, 2013. His two daughters, Tammy Lui and Linda Walsh, were among the many who honored him yesterday.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 October 2013 01:51

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24 condo units overlooking Scenic Drive approved by planning board

LACONIA — The Planning Board last night approved the plan of Southworth Development, LLC, the managing developer of Meredith Bay at The Weirs, to add a mid-rise building with 24 condominium units to its growing inventory along either side of Scenic Road.
North Lodges at Meredith Bay is planned on a 6.7-acre lot at the foot of Brickyard Mountain, across Scenic Road, just north of the Town Homes at Meredith Bay, which line the shoreline northward from Look Off Rock. The four-story building will house units of one-bedroom units of 1,400-square-feet and two-bedroom units of 1,900-square-feet, both with dens. There will be six units on each floor served by elevators from the underground parking garage that open directly into the individual units.

Chris Duprey, project executive for Southworth Development, said that 5.4 acres of the steeply sloped site will be left undisturbed as the building will be constructed on a shelf overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee. The building will resemble the Town Homes, 19 two-bedroom townhouses on three levels divided among five buildings along the shoreline, accented with timbered trusses, stone work , clapboards and shingles.
Duprey told the board that two issues arose in the planning process. Although obliged to install sidewalks on Scenic Road, he said that a deep drainage swale along the front of the property renders a sidewalk impractical. Instead, he proposed extending the sidewalk built on the east (lake) side of Scenic Road to serve the Town Homes northward to the entrance to to North Lodges where a crosswalk would be installed. The existing sidewalk would also be extended southward to the entrance to Akwa Marina. Alternatively he suggested setting aside funds, based on the estimated cost of a linear foot of five-foot-wide sidewalk, for the construction of sidewalks to the city's design. The Planning Board agreed to both alternatives pending further design work by the Department of Public Works.
Duprey also requested that the board waive development impact fees in return for a contribution toward increasing the capacity and efficiency of the sewer pump station on Scenic Road to accommodate the additional development. In addition to the Town Homes and North Lodges, Southworth Development has received approval to construct three mid-rise buildings, each with 24 condominium units on four stories on the west side of Scenic Road just south of the North Lodges.

The cost of upgrading the pump station is estimated at $230,000. Southworth Development agreed to pay half the cost up to $115,000 and in return impact fees of $41,000 will be waived.
Southworth Development expects to break ground for the North Lodges in six weeks.
Duprey explained that with the construction of the North Lodges, Southworth Development will diversify its inventory to include single-family homes and house lots at Meredith Bay, townhouses on three levels at the Town Homes and condominiums on one level at the North Lodges. He said with the completion of the three remaining mid-rise buildings, which have not been scheduled for construction, development the firm's shorefront properties would be virtually complete, leaving space only for a few single-family homes or duplexes.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 October 2013 02:18

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After fire, LRGHealthcare must replace ability to do 1 million pounds of wash a year

LACONIA — With the loss of its laundry facilities in the fire that destroyed the commercial building at 161 Court Street 10 days ago, LRGHealthcare has begun looking for a new space where it can wash its dirty linen.

Sandy Marshall, director of public relations for the hospital company, said yesterday that the laundry operates two shifts seven days a week, processing approximately a million pounds of wash a year. The laundry serves all the corporation's facilities, including the two hospitals — Lakes Region General Hospital and Franklin Regional Hospital — Laconia Clinic, Hillside Medical Center, Inter-Lakes Medical Center and physician practices.

The laundry operated in 6,616-square-feet at the Fair Street end of the building. Although much of the equipment was damaged or destroyed by smoke and water, the laundry was the only one of the seven businesses in the building spared from the flames. Marshall said that three of the four dryers were ruined, the folding machine was damaged and all the laundry carts were lost, but the washing machines escaped intact. "Of course, everything must be cleaned," she said. Trucks garaged in the building were also spared severe damage and firefighters salvaged much of the finished laundry that was packaged for return to the facilities.

Marshall said that the hospitals have linen supplies for two or three days on hand. After the fire LRGHeathcare contracted with Kleen Linen of Lebanon to do their wash and kept the laundry employees on the payroll by reassigning them to other duties.

Marshall said that the search for new space to house the laundry has just begun. Since the bulk of the laundry is generated by facilities in and around Laconia, she expected the facility would be located in or near the city.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 October 2013 02:13

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Laconia schools awarded $2.2M grant to target wide array of behavioral goals

LACONIA — The school district has been awarded a collaborative community federal grant that will bring about $2.2-million to the city schools to promote positive behavioral education over the next four years.

Superintendent Terri Forsten said Laconia teamed with Rochester and Concord to apply for the N.H. Safe Schools, Healthy Student State Program, N.H. Communities for Children grant and have been working on it for a number of months.

"This is going to make a difference," she told the School Board at its regular meeting last night.

The purpose of the four-year grant in Laconia is to provide support for the district's ongoing work in the areas of early childhood and court liaison programs as well as supporting student assistance programs, behavior models, and a health and wellness academy, said Forsten.

Laconia's primary agency support came from Genesis Behavioral Health — the regional mental health agency — and Forsten said she worked closely with Lisa Morris who is the executive director of the Lakes Region Partnership for Public Health, which partners with others to provide expertise, information, and tools to protect people's health.

Forsten said the district identified six goals for the four-year grant, including creating and sustaining a state-level collaborative cross-agency structure for sharing data and evidenced-based results and improving the social and emotional skills and preparedness for the educational success of children from birth to age 5.

She also said the grant will be used for improving the mental and behavioral health of children to reduce school violence, bullying, substance abuse, and other disciplinary problem by targeting the children with the highest needs.

Engaging families is key to the success of the program said Forsten and the program will also work to reduce risk factors such as alcoholism and drug use within families of school-aged children.

Board member Scott Vachon said he wanted to make sure the coordinator's position that will be created with grant funds will be one that doesn't supplant any existing programs or personnel within the district.

"I hope it comes with that stipulation," he said, making of point of saying that the $550,000 annually is not to be considered as part of the annual school budget.

Forsten assured the board that the grant would also be used to only develop and implement the program to continue beyond the four-year term of the grant.

"We have a great window of four years and we'll use the money to look at resources to continue," Forsten said.

Board member Mike Persson said he already sees a great deal of "cross-agency" work in the city and he is excited that the grant will bring more opportunities for that type of coordination.

"I hope you bring all the agencies in, like the United Way, to use and develop the program over the four years," he said.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 October 2013 02:10

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