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Attorney says no new evidence to charge Clairmont with 7 additional counts of arson in Laconia

LACONIA — The probable cause hearing for convicted arsonist Jason Clairmont was postponed yesterday because his defense lawyer had just gotten a transcript of a police interview and needed more time to review it.

Clairmont, 34, formerly of Gilmanton, was charged last month with setting seven fires within the city of Laconia — including one of the two fires at Pitman's Freight Room — a local night club and meeting facility.

In February of 2014, Clairmont pleaded guilty to three other counts of arson and was sentenced to serve one to five years in the N.H. State Prison. Laconia Police brought forward seven additional arson charges on November 14 — one day before Clairmont was scheduled to begin his parole process.

Police believe Clairmont is responsible for a string of arson fires between September of 2013 and January of 2014, including one of the two fires at Pitman's on New Salem Street. Although Clairmont was officially living in Gilmanton at the time of the suspicious fires, his family home is also on New Salem Street.

Of the seven additional charges faced by Clairmont, Judge Jim Carroll determined there was no probable cause for three of them on November 18, the day of his arraignment.

Yesterday's probable cause hearing was for the four remaining new charges.

Attorney John Bresaw has argued that there is no new evidence against Clairmont and that all of the evidence against him was from a single 5-hour interview conducted by a Laconia Police detective in the days after a January 25, 2014 car fire on Bowman Street and a lattice fire on Highland Street.

Clairmont pleaded guilty to those two fires plus an additional car fire that occurred outside the Funky Monkey night club on Main Street in September of 2013.

Bresaw argued last month that if his client were to be charged with any additional crimes, he should have been charged after the interview and not months later.
Laconia Prosecutor Jim Sawyer argued that police charged Clairmont with the three fires they knew they could prove at the time so they could get him off the streets. He said the investigations into the other fires during that time has been ongoing and now police are ready bring forward more charges.

Yesterday's probable cause hearing was not a trial but rather a way to get the state to submit some of its case before the trial. From that evidence, Carroll is to determine if there is enough evidence to bind the cases over to Superior Court.

Bresaw said yesterday that he had just received the complete transcript of one of Clairmont's interviews from Sawyer minutes before the hearing and needed time to review it.

Sawyer didn't object and the probable cause hearing will be held in early January.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 10 December 2014 01:45

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Weare construction company awarded bid to construct new Gilford Police HQ for $1.2 million

GILFORD — Selectmen awarded the bid to expand and renovate the Police Station at Town Hall to Chicoine Construction of Weare yesterday but not before learning some things will have to be eliminated, including a clerk of the works.

The town appropriated $1,213 million for the project and was able to secure an additional $169,000 grant through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for a total of $1,239,077.

To date, the town has spent $143,347 on design and dispatch services which leaves a balance of $1,239,000 to be awarded for building construction.

Town Administrator Scott Dunn said Chicoine recently built a police station in Hampstead and built the Moultonborough Public Safety Complex and he got good reports from both town administrators. Police Chief Anthony Bean Burpee said he spoke with the Hampstead Police chief, who said the company was very good to work with.

Chicoine came in with an initial bid of $1.365 million meaning the town had to negotiate $126,000 worth of changes to come in at the bid price.

This year the Police Department is projected to run a surplus of $92,000 so selectmen voted to use $78,424 of that for the project.

In lieu of a clerk-of-the-works, selectmen decided to have the construction company meet weekly with Bean Burpee and the other town officials who will oversee the project.

Bean Burpee expressed initial trepidation about not having a clerk because he said he doesn't know much about construction, but Dunn said that the town just couldn't afford to have one.

Bean Burpee also said he didn't think that $92,000 would be enough to install two new dispatch consoles. The Homeland Security grant pays for one of them but Bean Burpee said he would like to see two working consoles for the department.

He said last night that the current dispatch console is antiquated and he doubts it can be used with the new state-of-the-art console in the bid. "We can use some old equipment for a while," he said.

Dunn said he is also "absolutely depending" on Chicoine to identify cost savings as the project progresses in hopes that some of the things that were eliminated (most of them materials changes) could be done as the architect initially planned.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 10 December 2014 01:36

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Binnie Media donates $5,000 to Public Access TV

LACONIA — Binnie Media presented a $5,000 check to Lakes Region Public Access TV during the opening day of the the annual NH 1 Children's Auction on Tuesday. The funds will underwrite the production costs for LRPA-TV for this year's auction.
Lee Kinberg, executive vice president of NH 1 News, said ''we thought it was the right thing to do. It costs a lot to provide this coverage of the auction, which is the most wonderful, wonderful cause we've seen.''
From the start known as the WLNH (or just LNH) Children's Auction, the event is now being promoted as the NH 1 Children's Auction. The auction was started on WLNH radio in 1982 by Warren Bailey and has grown over the years, especially after LRPA started covering it live in the late 1990s, to the point where it raised $510,801 last year.
WLNH is now owned by Binnie Media and broadcasts from the NH 1 bureau which is located in the former Laconia police station on Church Street.
''We think it is appropriate for us to underwrite the cost of production for LRPA-TV,'' Kinberg told Shari Small, NH1 news anchor and reporter, as she interviewed him for a live broadcast of the check presentation at the Opechee Conference Center, site of the auction broadcast.
''We're very thankful. As we go forward we'll have an even better partnership,'' said Denise Beauchaine, LRPA-TV station manager, as she accepted the giant check. She had earlier accepted the real check from Kinberg and shown it to members of the LRPA crew who were broadcasting the event and smiled after seeing how much it was for.
The WBIN news operation is headquartered at the former Walker School in Concord, where people will be able to drop off contributions for the auction. Kinberg said the station is running a commercial-free segment from noon to 2 p.m. on each of the first four days of the auction, which runs Dec. 9-13 and is broadcast in its entirety locally by Lakes Region Public Access TV (MetroCast Channel 25).
''Our signal reaches across the state and we'll be introducing the auction to a lot of new viewers by helping with our coverage,'' said Kinberg.
The auction will be carried live on LRPA-TV from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday. Patrick's Pub will hold it's annual Pub Mania event from 9 a.m. Thursday until 9 a.m. Friday.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 10 December 2014 01:31

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Messer Street facelift. . . one house at a time

LACONIA — Messer Street has begun to undergo a facelift as a pair of investors have followed in the footsteps of Harry Bean by purchasing and rehabilitating residential properties on the busy thoroughfare.
Bull Fish Investments, LLC, a partnership of Matthew Bull and Ron Haddock, have acquired two older homes, one at 95 Messer Street and the other at 101 Messer Street, which they are in the process of rehabilitating for sale. Two years ago Harry Bean bought and rehabbed the home at 94 Messer Street, which was sold in 2013 for $175,000.
Bull said that work at 101 Messer Street, a one and three-quarter story single-family home built in 1902, is virtually complete. He said that the entire interior of the building was removed and remodeled with new plumbing, electrical and heating systems and a full upper story was added to the building. "It's a brand new home brought back to its old glory," he said. Bull expected to finish the rehabilitation of 95 Messer Street, which currently consists of three rental units in the spring.
Bull, who has also acquired similar properties in Franklin and Ashland, said that the work on Messer Street attracted attention of passersby who were pleased by the improvements to homes in the neighborhood. Bull remarked that because the street serves as a leg of the Winnisquam-Opechee-Winnipesaukee (WOW) Trail, he thought the facelift would be especially welcome.
Bull said that he and his partner intend to focus on properties in Laconia, Gilford and Belmont, adding that the abundance of older single-family homes and multi-family dwellings in the city offered abundant opportunities for acquisition and rehabilitation.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 10 December 2014 01:22

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