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Gammon feels vindicated by Ward 5 vote recount

LACONIA — When the ballots cast in the Sept. 10 primary election for the City Council seat in Ward 5 were recounted yesterday, the results confirmed, as Dave Gammon believed, that former mayor Tom Tardif received three write-in votes, qualifying him for a place on the general election ballot in November — if he wants it.

City Clerk Mary Reynolds has written to Tardif, who has yet to indicate his intentions, advising him that he has 10 days to decide whether or not to be a candidate for City Council in the general election on November 5. Tardif could not be reached after the recount, but Gammon said that he told him he intended call at City Hall and inform Reynolds of his decision some time today.

The City Charter stipulates that the two candidates receiving the most votes for each office in the primary election shall advance to the general election in November. In Ward 5, incumbent City Councilor Bob Hamel, who ran unopposed in the primary, was declared the winner with 39 of 47 ballots cast. Although election officials reported no write-in votes for city councilor, a computer print-out indicated that three write-in ballots were cast in the race.

Gammon claimed that he, his wife and another woman cast write-in ballots for Tardif. Election officials reported that Tardif received three of four write-in votes cast for ward clerk, but none for city councilor.

When Reynolds and Kaileif Mitchell, the moderator in Ward 5, counted the ballots by hand yesterday Tardif received all three of the write-in votes for city councilor. On three ballots the space for write-in votes for ward clerk was circled, but no name was written on the ballot.

Although Gammon questioned the results days after the election, the deadline for requesting a recount had passed. Instead, Gammon petitioned the Belknap County Superior Coiurt to order City Clerk Mary Reynolds, who otherwise has no authority to open the ballots, to conduct a recount. After a brief hearing on Wednesday before Justice James D. O'Neill, III, Reynolds and Gammon entered an agreement, which was ratified by Justice Larry Smukler of Merrimack County Superior Court, to hold the recount yesterday.

Gammon had also asked the court to order the city to reimburse him for his $278 in court costs. A hearing on the issue is scheduled in Merrimack County Superior Court on November 19, but in the meantime city attorney Laura Spector-Morgan offered to approach City Manager Scott Myers about footing the bill to spare the city further legal costs.

"I've been vindicated," said Gammon. "Now I want my money back."

Reynolds said that the dispute has already delayed her preparations for the general election on November 5 by more than week. She said that if Tardif has not notified her of his decision by the end of this week, she will order the ballots to be printed and the machines programmed for Wards 1, 2, 3 ,4 and 6 on Monday. "I was trained to avoid paying the set-up fee twice," she said, explaining that to print and program for Ward 5 separately could add $500 or more to the cost of preparing election materials.

Reynolds said that she aims to print the general election ballots and distribute absentee ballots at least 30 calendar days before the general election. She expects to distribute absentee ballots next week.

Last Updated on Friday, 04 October 2013 02:13

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Sanbornton man charged with firing plastic pellets at school bus carrying Winnisquam High School students

SANBORNTON — Police have charged a local man with two counts each of reckless conduct and criminal threatening after he allegedly fired plastic pellets from an Airsoft pistol at two school buses Wednesday afternoon.

Chief Stephen Hankard said Tarance Piper, 24 of 753 Sanborn Road claimed the incident started when some of the high school students on one of the buses made obscene gestures while he was in a car that was traveling behind the bus.

Hankard said Piper is known to police.

Hankard said the incident unfolded just before 3 p.m. Wednesday when a Winnisquam Regional School District bus carrying high school students was headed into Sanbornton on Route 132 and the car in which Piper was a passenger passed the bus after it pulled over near Lanchaster Hill Road.

He said the bus driver saw the car in her rear view mirror and said it appeared the driver of the car wanted to pass so she pulled to the right. As the driver was passing the bus, Hankard said students heard the pinging of the little green pellets and saw that it was Airsoft gun.

After the car passed the first bus, Hankard said it got behind a second bus and Piper allegedly fired pellets at that bus as well. He said the first bus driver had contacted the second bus driver who had called 9-1-1.

Police intercepted the car just north of the intersection of Route 132 and Route 127 and found Piper sitting in the back seat with the air-powered pellet gun.

Hankard said they took Piper into custody and he allegedly told them he was firing in the air, but both of the bus drivers and the students told police they could hear the pellets pinging off the side of the bus.

Piper was officially charged yesterday morning and and released on $6,000 personal recognizance bail. He is scheduled to appear in the 6th Circuit Court, Franklin Division on November 7.

Superintendent Tammy Davis said the school bus drivers both did what they were supposed to do and called the police. She said they didn't drop off any of the students until police had apprehended Piper and made sure the buses were safe.

She said an e-mail blast was sent to all of the parents of the children who were on the bus. Davis said she notified the School Board about the incident and said she was very grateful that no one was injured.
Hankard said the students recognized that Piper was allegedly firing an Airsoft gun and not a real pistol, and that was the report that was sent to police. He said the Airsoft guns look very much like real pistols except for an orange tip on the barrel.

Last Updated on Friday, 04 October 2013 01:52

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Mutual Fire Aid formally asks to be dropped from 2014 county budget

LACONIA — The Lakes Region Mutual Fire Aid Association (LRMFAA) has notified the Belknap County Commission that it will no longer seek funding through Belknap County for the 11 communities in the county which are members of the association.
The letter, signed by LRMFAA Chief Jim Hayes and Deputy Chief John Beland, asked commissioners to remove the mutual fire aid appropriation line from the 2014 county budget and thanked the county for the cooperation over the nearly 40 years that the county has carried a portion of the mutual aid bill in its operating budget.
The letter said that mutual aid will now bill the 10 towns and the city of Laconia directly for their annual assessments, which will now change due to a difference in the formula used by the mutual aid for its 26 other member towns and that used by the county. The county assessments were based 100 percent on property values, whereas the Mutual Aid formula also takes population into account.
Based on this year's bill of $554,037 which was billed through the county tax, Alton paid $81,048, Barnstead $27,350, Belmont $34,381, Center Harbor $22,457, Gilford $88,631, Gilmanton $25,680, Laconia $106,731, Meredith $100,545, New Hampton $17,528, Sanbornton $22,072 and Tilton $27,614.
Billed directly, according to the formula applied by the LRMFAA, four towns would have paid less; Alton would have saved $18,922, Center Harbor $4,721, Gilford $14,326 and Meredith $25,445. The other seven which would have paid more were: Barnstead $9,206, Belmont $18,290, Gilmanton $6,237, Laconia $17,606, New Hampton $3,372, Sanbornton $4,527 and Tilton $4,176.
Earlier this year commissioners were notified by Meredith and Center Harbor that they would pay their mutual aid assessments directly, effectively ending the current system because there was no way the county could separate out the mutual aid funds from the rest of the the money the towns pay as part of their assessed share of the county budget.

Last Updated on Thursday, 03 October 2013 03:16

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Rash of burglaries in Belmont this month

BELMONT — Police are reporting an increase in the number of burglaries reported in town, confirming they are investigating six of them since September 13 and eight since September 1.

Logs show that with two exceptions, all of the break-ins have been in the Union Road/Laconia Road (Rte. 3) area of town.

The two exceptions involved copper thefts from an abandoned house on Concord Street and from a bath-beach house near one of the seasonal parks.

Lt. Richard Mann said at least two of burglaries, one reported on September 26 and one reported on September 27 but that likely occurred the day before, involved homes where the residents had been gone for the day.

Mann said a in a burglary on Union Road reported September 26, the house appeared to be ransacked and a jar of change, among other things, was taken.

He said a home owner on Dutile Road returned home the night of September 26 and thought there was a drawer that was left open. He said the homeowner went to sleep but when he couldn't find his laptop the next morning, he called police.

He said police have no reason to think the two are related but said they are increasing patrols in the area.

Other burglaries reported include two on Laconia Road, one of Scenic Drive and one on Lakewood Drive.

Mann said anyone who sees any suspicious activity should report it to the police. He also said that if anyone has any information about any of the above burglaries they should call 267-8351. He said callers may remain anonymous.

He also said people should lock their doors when they are not home and make sure their cars are locked when not in use.

Last Updated on Thursday, 03 October 2013 03:13

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