LACONIA — "One hundred years is not common," said Bob Diettz, partner at Normandin, Cheney & O'Neil, PLLC, which has stood among the premier law firms in the Lakes Region for the past century. The longevity of the firm reflects a skein of strong family ties and a close relationship with Laconia Savings Bank (now Bank of New Hampshire) that together have run throughout its history.
F.E. Normandin began the practice in 1914 in rented space he shared with with a brother, Armand, and sister, Alice, who together pursued a medical practice. In 1937, F.E. Normandin was joined by his nephew, 19 years his junior, F.A. Normandin, practicing in the Normandin Block — originally the Avery Block — which was razed to make space for Stewart Park during urban renewal. The Normandin Block was directly across the Winnipesaukee River from the offices of Laconia Savings Bank, which would provide the firm with a steady flow of business for much of its history.
That same year F.E. Normandin successfully defended Lewis Wilkinson, a local undertaker, against a suit brought in federal court by a New York advertising agency charging that Wilkinson used copyrighted material to advertise in the Laconia Evening Citizen without authorization. Normandin claimed Wilkinson was not informed the materials protected and that the mark, designated them as protected, could not be identified with the naked eye.
Although the firm is not known for criminal defense, in 1947 the Normandins took part in a significant case made memorable for resonating in the pages of "Peyton Place," the best-seling novel by Grace Metalious. Barbara Roberts, then 20, shot and killed her father four days before Christmas in 1946 and with her teenage brother, William, buried the body in the barnyard of their Gilmanton farm. After Roberts pled guilty to second-degree murder and sentenced to 30 years in prison, Ben Bradlee, later editor of the Washington Post but then a reporter for the New Hampshire Sunday News, found that the father had regularly abused his daughter for years, the Normandins as defense counsel persuaded the state to change the charge to manslaughter, reducing her sentence to months rather than years.
In 1948 Thomas Cheney, Jr., whose father served as New Hampshire Attorney General, joined the firm and four years later the triumvirate became complete with the addition of A. Gerard O'Neil, a nephew of F.E. Normandin. In 1955, F.E. Normandin's son Paul joined his father and two years later his sister Margaret "Peg" Normandin, came aboard as a title examiner, a position she held for more than 50 years.
While F.A. Normandin was a staunch Democrat and a leading figure in city politics, the firm rose to political prominence in the 1960s as one of several epicenters of the Democratic ascendancy in Laconia. Paul was a delegate for John F. Kennedy when captured the presidential nomination at the Democratic National Convention in 1960 and was rewarded with an appointment as Assistant United States Attorney for New Hampshire, a post he held from 1961 to 1965.
In 1962, Thomas J. McIntyre won a special election to complete the unexpired term of Republican Styles Bridges in the United States Senate, becoming the first Democrat elected to the Senate in New Hampshire in 30 years. McIntyre, who had practiced as a sole practitioner, become an associate of the firm in 1963 and was twice re-elected to the Senate.
Meanwhile, the firm represented Alfred Rosenblatt, a columnist at the Laconia Evening Citizen, in a liable suit brought by Fritzie Baer, the champion of motorcycling in the Lakes Region, which was ultimately decided by the United States Supreme Court. Baer, managed the Gunstock Recreational Area from 1950 until 1959 when the Belknap County Commissioners terminated his contract and established the Gunstock Area Commission. In s column published in 1960, Rosenblatt noted that since the change Gunstock's financial performance improved "literally hundreds of percent better" and asked "what happened to all the money last year? and every other year?"
Baer sued, claiming the column alleged mismanagement, even criminal conduct. A jury in Belknap County Superior Court agreed and awarded Baer damages and the decision was upheld by the New Hampshire Supreme Court. The newspaper appealed to the United States Supreme Court, which overturned the decision. Earlier the court had ruled that freedom to criticize public officials could not be hindered unless it could be proven that the criticisms were made with "actual malice".
When the senior Normandins — F.E. and F.A. — both passed away in 1967 and Cheney died three years later, leadership passed to O'Neil, and Paul Normandin.
Paul Normandin had an active trial practice for many years before turning his energies estate planning and probate, real estate and commercial law. He also found time to serve in the New Hampshire House of Representatives, on the Laconia City Council and Gunstock Area Commission, all the while contributing his time and talent to any number of civic and service organizations.Like his father, who served as president of Laconia Savings Bank, Normandin became a corporator and trustee of the bank before serving 17 years as chairman of the board. He also was a director of the Citizen Publishing Company.
With Normandin's passing earlier this year the family tradition fell to the O'Neils. In 1980, O'Neil was joined by his son Jerry O'Neil, Jr., whose daughter Kaitlin is the newest addition to the team.
"It was a family firm and still is a family firm," said Dietz, who interned with the firm while in law school, returned after graduation and came to stay in 1979 after serving in the United States Air Force and working at the New Hampshire Department of Employment Security.
"We have always pursued the general practice of law," Dietz said, explaining that as young attorneys have joined the firm they have been exposed to all aspects of the law. "We're regimented," he noted. "We rely on people to do their own work, to be responsible and industrious." He stressed that "the firm has enjoyed many years of continuity" with little turnover in personnel. "We've always tried to stay reasonably small," Dietz said, adding that the firm has seven attorneys, each steeped in the law yet with a more specialized niche.
For instance, Dietz heads the commercial practice, which serves as general counsel to more than 220 businesses of all types and sizes both inside and outside the state. O'Neil leads the firm's litigation team, which includes his fellow partner Jim Lafrance, while maintaining a personal injury practice. Regina Nadeau, who joined the firm in 1996, handles all aspects of real estate law — property transactions, environmental regulation, local permitting and development projects. development and environmental regulation. Together with Donna Depoian and Tim O'Brien, Dietz handles estate planning, along with the administration of probate and trust, a mainstay of the firm's practice since it was founded in 1914. Family law, along with criminal cases and civil rights, is the primary preserve of William Woodbury.
Dietz said that as lawyering has grown more competitive and less collegial, success depends more than ever on relationships that breed relationships. As Normandin, Cheney & O'Neil enters its second century it has a wealth of professional continuity and settled relationships to draw on.
Last Updated on Monday, 13 October 2014 11:31
SUPERIOR COURT — A Belknap County grand jury has indicted a Sanbornton man who allegedly shot his son repeatedly in the lower extremities during an argument at his home on August 10.
Lloyd Steven Barnard, 61, of 228 Steele Hill Road was indicted last week on one count of first-degree assault, one count of second-degree assault and one count of reckless conduct.
Police said the altercation happened in the drive way of Barnard's home and the victim was struck by bullets from two guns — a .22 caliber handgun and a .45 caliber handgun.
During his initial hearing in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division, Barnard's attorney indicated there was a potential self-defense claim. During his appearance Barnard had injuries to his head and face.
The grand jury also indicted a Laconia man for one charge of first-degree assault and two counts of second-degree assault.
Police said Carroll Akerman, 44, had been drinking on High Street with his alleged victim when the two got into a fight about 8 p.m.
Akerman allegedly struck the victim multiple times with the victim's own cane until a third man on the property was able to wrest it from him.
Police indicated Akerman has been drinking.
The grand jury also indicted Joseph Bavis, Jr. for possession of a controlled drug and three counts of theft by deception in Laconia; Judith Bayly was indicted for prohibited acts, Public Welfare; Daniel Brochu was indicted for theft by deception for an incident in Sanborton, and Kenneth Brosnahan was indicted for motor vehicle penalties after an arrest by the N.H. State Police.
Euclid Cantin was indicted for motor vehicle penalties for an incident in Laconia: Jeremy Carter was indicted for two counts of possession of narcotics and two counts of possession of narcotics with intent to distribute them for an incident in Belmont and Michael Carter was indicted for violation of the controlled drug act following an investigation by the Belknap County Sheriffs Department.
Caleb Catalano was indicted for possession of narcotics after being arrested by Laconia Police; Robert Celata was indicted for possession of controlled drugs after being arrested by Belmont Police; and Jon Daigle was indicted for possession of controlled drugs after his arrest by Belmont Police.
Amanda Fortin was indicted on three counts of possession of controlled drugs after a Belmont investigation; Philip Gross was indicted for one count of burglary and one count of theft by unauthorized taking after an Alton Police investigation; Brian Hardwick was indicted for one count of theft by deception after a Tilton Police investigation and Keith Lafoe was indicted for one count of violating the controlled drug act in Laconia.
Matthew Perkins was indicted for two violations of the controlled drug act after a Laconia investigation; Douglas Peters was indicted for three violations of the controlled drug act after an investigation by the Belknap County Sheriff's Department; Suzanne Richards was indicted for theft by unauthorized taking after an arrest by Gilford Police and Crystal Smith was indicted for two counts of violating the controlled drug act after an investigation by the Belknap County Sheriff's Department.
Henry Stanley was indicted for two counts of theft by unauthorized taking after an investigation by Tilton Police, Wendy Stevens was indicted for one count of theft by deception and one count of violation of Public Welfare; Bradley Swinton was indicted for one count of theft by unauthorized taking after his arrest by Gilford Police, and Scott Tripp was indicted for three counts of sales of a controlled drug.
Last Updated on Monday, 13 October 2014 11:21
LACONIA — The City Council will weigh the future of a strip of land along Union Avenue owned by the city and leased to the Lakeport Landing Marina when it meets on Tuesday night.
The property, 0.81 acre, lies between Union Avenue and the parallel railroad tracks and runs from Elm Street northward to halfway between Harrison Street and Walnut Street. In 1987 Lakeport Landing constructed a 35,284-square-foot building on the lot. The property has an assessed value of $331,400, of which the building represents $263,200.
The property was leased to Lakeport Landing in 1985 for 10 years with two ten 10-year renewal periods, which have been exercised. The lease expires on November 1, 2015 and cannot be renewed or extended. At the termination of the lease all buildings and improvements on the lot become the property of the city. In a memorandum to the council, Purchasing Officer Jonathan Gardner explained that the owner of Lakeport Landing had asked about the city's intentions in anticipation of the expiration of the lease.
Gardner explained that the council may choose to sell, lease or hold the property. To sell the property the city manager would be required to certify that it has no immediate or foreseeable use and declare it surplus. Then a public hearing would be held, after which the council may reconsider or reaffirm its decision to proceed with a sale.
Gardner recommended that the council chooses to lease the property that a public advertisement, including the terms of the lease, be placed and the city seek the highest rent for the property.
Last Updated on Monday, 13 October 2014 11:16
SANDWICH — There were 184 yoke of oxen exhibited at the very first Sandwich Fair back in 1886 and that tradition continues today with agriculture and farm animals still at the heart of the fair, which features competitions involving every imaginable kind of farm creature, from sheep, pigs, goats and chickens to draft horses, oxen, milking cows and beef cattle.
Mike Brooks of Chocorua View Farm in Madison had his Angus beef cattle at this year's Sandwich Fair, which he's been attending as an exhibitor for over 30 years. He watched from the stable area as his 6-year-old daughter Alyssa hitched a lead line to a three-month old calf, Missy, and led up her up and down between the buildings.
Alyssa had to give Missy a tug to get her to leave the comfort of her mother's side at first but showed composure and command as she led Missy back and forth.
And while she was a bit too young to show an animal on her own she did get to get into the beef cattle show ring with her 13-year-old brother Jonathan as he showed one of the farm's 16 cattle in the 4-H Beef Show.
Nearby, members of the Torsey family from Breezy Ridge Farm in New Hampton continued their 48 year tradition of showing milking shorthorns at Sandwich Fair.
Family matriarch Patricia Torsey, 81, said that the family had done well in Sunday's open dairy show and that her nephew, Stephen Uhlman, 23, of Ashland, had handled the farm's cattle.
Her late husband, Ken, who died in 2011 and who was honored by having that year's Sandwich Fair booklet dedicated to him that same year, drove the family of five all the way to northern Maine in 1966 to pick up a milking shorthorn calf because there none in New Hampshire at that time. That was the start of the family tradition.
At the oxen barn Tyler Enos, 13, of Jaffrey had his team of Brown Swiss, Willey and Jack, entered in the under 2,500 pound class in the Oxen and Steer Cart Obstacle Course. He's been showing oxen at the fair for seven years and hopes to compete in future years in the over 2,500 pound class as they're a little over a year old and still have lots of time to get bigger.
Jenna Brown of Strafford had a pair of Holstein oxen, Snoopy and Peanut, taking part in the same competition. She's been showing oxen for Willey Pond Farm for over 10 years and says that it's fun getting the large animals to cooperate with each other and pull at her command.
fair 1 and fair 2
Alyssa Brooks, 6, of Madison shows her calf handling skills by leading Missy, a three-month-old Angus, through the cattle barn area at the Sandwich Fair. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)
Jenna Brown of Willey Pond Farm in Strafford with her team of oxen, Snoopy and Peanut, took part in the Ox and Steer Cart Pulling competition Monday at the Sandwich Fair. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)
A competitor urges his team on in the oxen pulling matches Sunday at the Sandwich Fair. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)
A judge hands out grades in the 4-H sheep show at the Sandwich Fair Sunday. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)
Last Updated on Monday, 13 October 2014 11:13
- Public Access throws up 'Hail Mary' to stay on air
- Police charge Belmont man with sexual assault of 13-year-old
- Large number of employees outraged as county home head gets his job back
- Officials shutter Laconia house apparently occupied by squatters; water & sewer had been cut off
- WEEKEND - Knowing a little about its history adds to enjoyment of the Sandwich Fair
- Cars runs up into back of paving truck on Rte. 106 in Belmont