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Gilford Commons has new look; second entrance on the way

GILFORD – With the restoration of the exterior of the Gilford Commons shopping center nearly completed, Stuart Scharff of WJP Development says it time to start working on a site plan for the rest of the project.

Scarff said the work done over the summer included a complete upgrade of the interior of the Gilford Cinema 8, which renewed it's long-term lease recently.

"They've spent quite a bit on money, "Scarff said.

"They have digital projection, new seats, a whole new lobby and new fabric in the walls," Scarff said. "It looks wonderful."

Gilford Commons, or what used to be know as the Airport Plaza, is now ready for a major expansion said Scarff.

He said the N.H. Department of Transportation has signed off on allowing them to create a new entrance just opposite end of the Laconia Bypass on Route 11.

"The long eared bat and the spotted begonia will live on," he said, referring to the work the company did with various conservation stakeholders in Glford and with the state to protect some endangered species in the proposed new road way.

He said that now the company is working on a complete site plan that includes the new entrance off Route 11 and upgrades to the parking lot and the lighting.

As for new tenants, Scharff is playing those cards very close to his vest.

He said he has had considerable interest from a few major chains as well as some local businesses who may look to relocate to the expanded shopping plaza once it is complete.

Scharff said his team of engineers continues to work with the Gilford Planning Department and the Planning Board and that the relationship between them has been very productive.

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Tools & dealer plate stolen from Belmont auto shop recovered

BELMONT — In a joint effort with other police agencies, police recovered a stolen dealer license plate and a number of other tools reported stolen in a burglary at an auto shop in Belmont Tuesday night.

Lt. Rich Mann said the perpetrator or perpetrators used forced entry to access the business. He said details about the stolen license plate and the items were dispersed to neighboring departments and a neighboring agency recovered the plate, along with several of the reportedly stolen items early on November 25.

"The amount of thefts in the general area is alarming and multiple police agencies are working on it," said Mann, who added that a number of local individuals have been identified as possible suspects.

Mann said the vehicle with the stolen plate is being held in a secure police facility and they are waiting for a search warrant to search it.

"We are hopeful we can recover some stolen property and get it back to the business owner so he can continue to provide service for his customers," Mann said.

Earlier this week and last week, Belmont and Laconia Police reported a number of thefts from vehicles in Laconia and from unsecured outbuildings like garages and sheds in Belmont.

Police encourage people to write down the serial numbers of all of the electronic items, like tools and generators, they purchase because in the event they are stolen, it helps police identify them sooner.

Mann said it can also help when dealing with a loss through theft or a fire to insurance companies.

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Dueling toxicologists front & center in crematorium lawsuit

By BEA LEWIS, for THE LACONIA DAILY SUN

MEREDITH — A lawsuit claiming a local couples' public complaints that a crematorium spews noxious odors and ash-like particles has defamed the funeral home that runs it, appears poised to became a showdown between experts.

According to a report of an industrial toxicologist, testing of a sample collected by co-defendant Douglas Frederick showed high levels of 19 heavy metals.

Dr. Hildegarde Staninger wrote in a report dated Nov. 17 that the specimen she tested contained high amount of mercury, arsenic, lead, zinc, cadmium and tin, the amounts of which were "extremely over any acceptable reference ranges as found in the literature and GLP standards. There is deep concern for public safety and health due to the combined metal exposure, as well as the significant increase of a toxic dose over time by the community," she wrote.

But the legal team representing the Mayhew Funeral Home and its owners, Peter and Kelley Mayhew, submitted an affidavit from a scientist they have hired who is in the process of writing his own report.

Edmund Crouch Ph.D., vice president and senior scientist at Green Technology, said he visited the funeral home on Nov. 3, and watched the operation of the Power-Pak II crematorium that is designed to cremate human remains and produce "negligible noxious emissions." While still drafting his final report, Crouch wrote that based on the design of the crematorium, any particulate matter emitted would be of such a small size and of such a low heat capacity that they would not cause the cider-like burn holes in a canvas cover on a motorcycle on an abutting property.

He asserts that the deposits that Douglas and Leslyee Fredericks and their business the American Police Motorcycle Museum have complained of could be road dust or grime, as funeral home neighbor Monica Bennett attested to in a letter submitted to the court. The source could also be another neighbor who lives on the opposite side of Cataldo Road from the funeral home, whom Mayhew and others claims burns household garbage in her fireplace, Crouch said.

In his own affidavit filed with the court, Peter Mayhew said Meredith Bay Crematorium performs 200 to 225 cremations a year, for both his own clientele and other funeral homes in the region. Being able to offer cremation and funeral services conducted in one location is a valuable service for his customers as it saves mourners both emotionally and financially as it makes it unnecessary to transport the body to Concord and back to the funeral home which had operated in Meredith since 1983.

Attorney William Woodbury of Laconia, who represents the Fredericks and their business, has asked a judge to grant an injunction on the grounds that the crematorium is a nuisance and that it should either be shut down or its operation limited to early morning or late night hours.

If an injunction is imposed, Mayhew said, he would be forced to lay off one full-time employee and pay for a service for which his business currently derives income.

The Mayhews' lawyer argues that it shouldn't be granted as the Fredericks have failed to show they will suffer irreparable harm as their museum closed its doors on July 18.

"There is no need to shut down a successful funeral business to protect a defunct entity," he wrote.

Woodbury countered that the museum was driven to involuntary closure as a result of the noxious conditions they allege are caused by the abutting crematorium.

The defendants have presented photographic, video and testimonial evidence of the problems and condition that the Fredericks and members of the public have been forced to endure, Woodbury wrote.

Meanwhile, attorney Marc van Zanten filed a motion asserting a failure of due process, as he didn't show up for an Oct. 17 hearing, as the court sent the email notice to a defunct address.

During that hearing, a dozen witnesses the majority retired or active police officers testified that while at the museum property they experienced a foul and noxious odor, which for many left a lingering taste in their mouths.

Following the hearing, Judge Amy Ignatius decided to allow the Mayhews' legal team to have copies of the photos and video recordings that were submitted as evidence as well as a recording of the testimony. Their deadline to file a response was extended to Nov. 18.

A final pretrial hearing in the slander suit is now scheduled for March 30. The case is being heard in Carroll County Superior Court in Ossipee as a result of a conflict with a Belknap County judge.

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