Great Dane owner in court

Superior Court judge punts case to circuit court


OSSIPEE — Carroll County Superior Court Judge Amy Ignatius on Wednesday declined to wade into a civil case involving Wolfeboro resident Christina Fay, who is seeking to gain back control of the dozens of Great Dane dogs that were seized by authorities earlier this year.

In June, police and members of the Humane Society of the United States 84 dogs from locations in Wolfeboro and Bartlett.

Fay, 59, was charged with two misdemeanor counts of animal neglect for allegedly keeping the dogs in squalid conditions.

Another nine dogs were taken to the Conway Area Humane Society before the raid.

The rest of the dogs are being kept in an undisclosed location, held as evidence by the Humane Society of the United States.

Fay filed pleadings in both Superior Court and Ossipee District Court on Aug. 10 to try to gain more control over her dogs. Her attorneys said she is trying to find out where the dogs are.

In the pleadings, she asserted her "ownership rights" over the animals.

Fay's attorneys, Kent M. Barker of Winer and Bennett LLP of Nashua and James. P. Cowles of Walker & Varney PC of Wolfeboro, went before Ignatius on Wednesday, arguing that Fay should be given more control over and more information about the dogs.

Seated in the gallery were over a dozen people who came to support the humane societies. Several others also apparently came to support Fay.

The attorneys said that although the animals belong to Fay, she's getting no medical reports on their care . They added that the Humane Society of the United States has allowed six dogs to undergo operations for a condition called cherry eye without telling Fay, who learned about the surgeries through the media. They also hoped that the court would allow her to rehome some of the dogs.

"We found out that two dogs died since they have been in the care of the Humane Society of the United States," said Barker. "We also learned the day of the seizure all of the dogs were vaccinated. They have already been vaccinated. Whether that is harmful to them, we don't know."

Representing the town of Wolfeboro, attorney Simon Brown of Preti Flaherty of Concord, said that Superior Court was the wrong jurisdiction in which to seek the relief Fay wants. He said Ignatius should dismiss the case.

"There is no reason whatsoever for the plaintiff (Fay) to be allowed to leapfrog from District Court to a higher court to argue these issues," said Brown, adding that she could have been allowed to file a pleading in the other court. "I don't think this court has jurisdiction."

During the hearing, Barker said Gov. Chris Sununu recently held a press conference in Wolfeboro and that one of Fay's dogs was "put on display" in order to raise money for the Humane Society.

"That would be like my car being an exhibit in a criminal case and the state took it to the local dealer," said Barker.

Ignatius agreed that this case is "unusual."

After about 30 minutes, the judge said she mostly sided with Brown.

"I don't see why it's appropriate at this point to be at the Superior Court," said Ignatius, though she stopped short of dismissing Fay's civil case against the town.

Barker asked the judge for an injunction to prevent further unauthorized surgeries on the dogs, but Ignatius said she didn't think that is an issue for Superior Court.

Ignatius said she would hold the motion to dismiss in abeyance pending further action in the circuit court, which will next hear Fay's case Sept. 6.

Fay's trial is scheduled in October in circuit court, but that could change at the Sept. 6 hearing.

In a post-hearing interview, Barker said everyone on Fay's team is deeply concerned about the animals.

Cowles said that according to media reports, two puppies have died and a third ate something that caused an obstruction.

Approached outside court, Lindsay Hamrick of the Humane Society of the United States declined to comment about whether any dogs had died but did say the dogs held by the Humane Society were getting professional care. She said the dogs' conditions were improving.

"I can't speak to those situations," said Hamrick when asked if any dogs died. "All I can say is that any decisions that were made about the medical care of those animals is made under the direction of veterinary professionals."

She also said that the Humane Society of the United States is only a support agency and Wolfeboro Police Department would be the agency responsible for sharing information about the dogs with Fay.

Deb Cameron of the Conway Area Humane Society said that most of the Great Danes that had been at the shelter have been adopted out and that only two remain under their care.

"All the others went home," said Cameron.

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Christina Fay leaves Carroll County Superior Court with her attorney, Kent M. Barker of Winer and Bennett LLP of Nashua, after Wednesday’s hearing in the civil case she brought against the town of Wolfeboro following the seizure of 84 Great Danes from her possession. (Daymond Steer/Conway Daily Sun)

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Back to class

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Miss Sapack and her kindergarten students were prepared and ready to start their first day of school at Elm Street Elementary School in Laconia Thursday morning. (Karen Bobotas/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Students start school with new teachers, new principal at Laconia High School 


LACONIA — School district administrators were busy over the summer finding more than a dozen new teachers to replace instructors who left after last school year.

There was a full complement of teachers on hand when students returned to class Thursday, Assistant Superintendent Amy Hinds said.

“We did have some staff that chose to go to other school districts and a number of faculty retired,” she said. “We did have openings at all levels and we were able to fill all those positions.

“The new contract helped in recruiting.”

That 5-year contract, which went into effect July 1, included significant raises for teachers. By the end of the pact, their salary is expected to be at or above compensation levels in most other districts in the area.

One of those who left was New Hampshire Teacher of the Year Tate Aldrich, who earned $39,700 annually as chairman of the English department at Laconia High School. He took a position at Kingswood Regional High School in Wolfeboro paying $51,500.

The district had hoped to hire a new teacher who would allow Laconia High School to reopen its wood shop and offer woodworking as an elective course for students.

However, no appropriate candidate for the position was found, Hinds said. Schools offer fewer such classes than they used to, and it is difficult to find a qualified teacher to run a woodshop course, she said.

“We had a few candidates but they just weren't a good fit or didn't accept the position,” Hinds said.

She said there has been demand for such a class, which could also prove valuable for students wishing to get early exposure to building trades. Students who had signed up for the class were shifted to other courses.

There is a new principal at the high school this year. Michael Fredericksen was hired at a salary of $108,500 to succeed David Bartlett, who left to become an assistant principal at Rundlett Middle School in Concord. Fredericksen was an interim assistant superintendent in the Nashua School District.

The high school has about 570 students this year, which is part of an overall student population in the district of about 2,000, including children attending pre-kindergarten.

That's about the same number as a year ago, but is down about 300 students from a decade ago.

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Mitchell Day is all smiles with his mom, Sarah Lamontagne. Day began his first day of kindergarten on his 5th birthday. (Karen Bobotas/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

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More parking seen as key to keeping Meredith library in place

MEREDITH — Additional parking at the rear of the Meredith Public Library is seen as one of the key elements of improving the historic library in its current location.
Jack Carty, a member of the Meredith Library Improvement Feasibility Study Advisory Committee, said the willingness of the Price family to sell the property it owns directly behind the library to the town would enable the library to add 35 parking spaces and make it more accessible to the public.
Last week, the committee voted 5-3 to accept a conceptual plan, submitted by Samyn-D’Elia Architects of Ashland, which shows a portico being constructed over a new rear entrance at the back of the building. Carty said he supports the proposal because he felt it was the most functional.
The current rear parking lot, which provides ground level access to the building, has space for only eight vehicles.
Voters at Town Meeting appropriated $50,000 to investigate what can be done to improve the public library at its current location.
Selectmen appointed the committee on May 1. It is chaired by Andy Lane with at-large members Carty, Rusty McLear, Jeanie Forrester, and Ed Touhey, with Paula Wanzer serving as the alternate. Library trustees Jim McFarland and Pam Coburn and selectmen Raymond Moritz and Jonathan James also serve on the committee.
Library trustees have been wrestling with building needs for six years, after learning that the third-floor children and young adult balcony area did not meet current life-safety codes. The area is accessible by a steep, narrow staircase, and several other sections of the library also do not meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Through the years, the trustees have compiled several reports and evaluations, including looking at ways the library might expand. They originally looked at purchasing the church next door, but the congregation has decided to remain there for the time being. Trustees also looked at other sites and had supported building a new, 14,000-square-foot building on another site.
The most promising of the other sites was the Robertson property at the intersection of Route 3 and Parade Road. Consultant Ron Lamarre estimated it would cost $3.15 million to build a 14,000-square-foot library. The current library has 7,800 square feet.
The trustees’ decision aroused the concern of the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program, which in 2014 awarded the library a $70,000 matching grant to make repairs to the building. Dijit Taylor, executive director of the Land and Community Heritage Program wrote to Beverly Heyduk, who chairs the board of trustees, to say that her “board members were taken aback to learn of the possible plan to relocate the library.” In her letter, Taylor cited the library’s grant application, which carried “the clear message... that the building will continue as the public library in its current location for many years to come.” She closed by strongly urging the library trustees to reconsider their decision.
The LCHIP program last year listed the Meredith Library as one of its Seven to Save historic buildings.
The Benjamin M. Smith Memorial Library was dedicated in 1901 and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. It was described as “not only Meredith’s finest public building, but also one of the Lakes Region’s most attractive libraries.”

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