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Ward 5 ballot box will be opened today

LACONIA — The 47 ballots cast on September 10 in the primary election for the City Council seat in Ward 5 will be recounted today at City Hall beginning at 4:30 p.m., as the result of a brief hearing before Justice James D. O'Neill III of Belknap Superior Court yesterday.

Dave Gammon, who believes former mayor Tom Tardif received enough enough write-in votes to earn a spot on the general election ballot, asked the court to order the recount. Tardif has yet to indicate whether he will be a candidate, saying that he would await formal notification from City Clerk Mary Reynolds.

"It's a family decision," he remarked.

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 indicates 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. If Tardif received a majority of the write-in votes, he would be entitled to a place on the general election ballot, which he has ten days to either accept or decline. After the deadline for requesting a recount passed,

Gammon petitioned the court to order City Clerk Mary Reynolds, who otherwise has no authority to unseal and open the ballots, to conduct a recount. Attorney Laura Spector-Morgan, representing the City Clerk, endorsed the call for a recount, but also asked the court to require Tardif to decide whether or not to become a candidate "immediately upon completion of the recount."

When the parties appeared in court, O'Neill asked Gammon and Spector-Morgan to approach the bench, where he explained that, as in past matters to which Tardif was a party, he would recuse himself from the case. He asked Gammon and Spector-Morgan to draft an agreement to hold a recount then forward it to the Merrimack County Superior Court, which would order Reynolds to conduct it.

O'Neill said that a hearing on Gammon's request that the city reimburse him for his $278 in court costs would be scheduled in either Merrimack County Superior Court or Carroll County Superior Court at a later date.

Outside the courtroom, Spector-Morgan and Gammon reached an agreement, written in longhand, to recount the votes for councilor and ward clerk in Ward 5. When Spector-Morgan asked Tardif if he would make his decision once the recount was over he initially suggested he might defer his decision pending the outcome of the hearing on court costs. He said that Gammon should not have to incur expenses for protecting the integrity of a municipal election.

Later Tardif said that he would not tie his decision to the question of court costs.

However, when he and Gammon suggested that since Gammon paid to correct an error by election officials, the city should bear the cost, Spector-Morgan agreed to approach City Manager Scott Myers about picking up the tab. She noted that if the city simply paid his costs it would spare itself the costs arising from another court.

Reynolds said that she has drafted a letter to Tardif in anticipation that the recount will confirm he is entitled to a place on the general election ballot. She said that she will hand deliver the letter once the ballots are counted.

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.

Last Updated on Thursday, 03 October 2013 02:32

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Police investigating toddler's fall down stairs in Belmont home

BELMONT — Police remained at the Concord Street apartment building last evening where a 2-year-old girl fell down a flight of stairs and sustained a head injury earlier in the day.

Although authorities are releasing no information, the door to one of the apartments in Building 2 of the Belmont Village Apartments is sealed with crime scene tape.

Police and emergency responders from the Belmont Fire Department were called to the home yesterday morning after a report of the child falling down the stairs.

Dispatches heard over the Lakes Region Mutual Fire Association radio and later confirmed by Fire Chief Dave Parenti said the child was unconscious but breathing.

Parenti said it appeared as though she fell from the second floor to the first floor. He said the stairs were carpeted as was the floor where she landed and there was no apparent obstacles in the stairway.

He said he immediately called for a DHART helicopter and had hoped it could land in Belmont but said it was refueling and would fly to Lakes Region General Hospital in Laconia.

Parenti said they took the child to LRGH where she was stabilized by emergency room personnel and then flown by helicopter to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon.

He said the child's mother was at work and she was being cared for by an adult.

Last Updated on Thursday, 03 October 2013 02:19

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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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