Pemaco Building under agreement

By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — The Pemco Building on Main Street, which houses the Garden Theater, is under a purchase and sales agreement, Chris KellyRe/Max Bayside confirmed Wednesday.

Built in 1926, the Pemaco Building offers 19,115 square feet of space on three floors, the second of which is dominated by the Garden Theater with seating capacity for 500 people. There are five commercial units on the ground floor and apartments on the top floor. The building, which the city has assessed for $161,300 was listed at $299,900.

Kelly declined to identify the prospective purchaser, but described him as "a fond investor in Laconia real estate" who has acquired a number of well-worn properties and transformed them into "outstanding properties. He said that his goal is to own and operate the building while leaving the theater intact. "He appreciates what is there," Kelly said.

Kelly added that Re/Max is negotiating offers for two other downtown buildings — the Cook Building next door to the Pemaco Building at 610-618 Main St., and the triangular McIntyre Block at 12 Pleasant St. All three buildings were purchased by Dwight Barton in 2007 and listed for sale in April.

Kelly said that "the timing is right," adding that the announcement a year ago that the Colonial Theatre would be restored and reopened has spurred interest in downtown properties.

Pemaco building 2016

The Pemaco Building. (File photo)

Mayor says ‘no’ to putting Free the Nipple on city agenda

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — Mayor Edward Engler has declined to recommend adding Free the Nipple NH leader Heidi Lilley to the City Council agenda.

Engler said Wednesday that Lilley had contacted him about being on the June 13 agenda as part of her effort to get the city to repeal its ordinance that bans toplessness and harassment to go topless.

"Typically, agenda items are reserved for legislative action and I said I was proposing no such action," he said on Wednesday. "We don't just put things on the agenda for a discussion."

Engler said there is a process to being part of the council agenda and that agenda items are typically reserved for legislative items. He said a person can either make a request to be on it through the city manager or city clerk or to get a city councilor to sponsor them. Lilley called Ward 4 Councilor Brenda Baer on Tuesday but she declined as well.

Lilley and her friend Kia Sinclair were arrested Tuesday by city police after someone reported that they were topless on the beach and there were small children nearby. Both were cited for public nudity, which is a violation punishable by a $250 fine.

Engler told Lilley that she could speak to the City Council during a public comment session.

He said although she is a resident of Gilford, Engler said she is challenging a Laconia ordinance and should be able to speak briefly to the council about it.

Additional Blanchette trials could be delayed for court ruling

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — While a former Belknap County deputy is already serving time for one rape conviction, he still faces charges in several other similar incidents.

The trials of Ernest Justin Blanchette, 37, on multiple counts of rape could be delayed for up to a year if his attorney appeals a ruling to the state Supreme Court made regarding his employment in his recent Hillsborough County trial.

Blanchette appeared briefly in the Belknap County Superior Court Tuesday. Presiding Justice James O'Neill said if attorney Brad Davis appeals Hillsborough North Judge Gillian Abramson's ruling regarding Blanchette's specific place of employment, he would like to wait to start the trial in his courtroom until after the high court rules.

Blanchette was convicted by a jury last month for one count of rape of a female prisoner he was transporting to the New Hampshire State Prison for Women in Goffstown in July 2015. He was sentenced to serve 10 to 20 years in prison with the possibility of parole in eight years if he completes a sex offender program while incarcerated.

In Belknap County, he is charged with multiple counts of aggravated sexual assault that allegedly involve three separate victims, one of whom is the same victim in Hillsborough County.

Davis said the law regarding custodial rape in Blanchette's case is specific only to corrections officers and Blanchette was employed by the sheriff's department. Abramson decided against his request that this be part of the jury instructions and instead told the jury that the victim was in the custody of the State Department of Corrections and that Blanchette was acting as its de facto agent during her transport.

Belknap County Prosecutor Melissa Guldbrandsen has said Abramson's ruling applies in her cases as well.

She said she doesn't want to wait until the Supreme Court rules on Davis's possible appeal and has said that she could amend the indictments to reflect his place of employment and the custodial charge she believes he had of the victims in Belknap County.

She said the law as it is written is vague, but that the intent of the legislature in passing it was to protect inmates from abuse while incarcerated or in any type of official custody.

Guldbrandsen also said that new information has come to light in her cases against Blanchette and has asked the court for time to consider it and will provide it to Davis as part of future discovery. She told the judge she needed about a week.

Davis said he was willing to agree to a continuance if its purpose is to wait for a state Supreme Court ruling but not if it was so the County Attorney could consider new evidence.

Blanchette's first trial is scheduled for the middle of this month.