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Disputing priorities, lawmakers refuse transfer to pay county legal bills

LACONIA — The Executive Committee of the Belknap County Convention last night turned down a request from the Belknap County Commission to transfer $28,000 in order to pay the county's unpaid legal bills, which now amount to some $24,000.
The action came on a 6-3 vote on a motion made by Rep. Colette Worsman (R-Meredith), chairperson of the convention to deny the request. She was supported by Executive Committee Chairman Frank Tilton (R-Laconia), Rep. Richard Burchell (R-Gilmanton), who will be sworn in as a new member of the county commission on January 2, Rep. Guy Comtois (R-Barnstead), Rep. Robert Greemore (R-Meredith) and Rep. Herb Vadney (R-Meredith). Opposing the motion were Rep. Don Flanders (R-Laconia), Rep. Ian Raymond (D-Sanbornton) and Rep. David Huot (D-Laconia).
Worsman moved to deny the transfer request after questioning county officials on why the legal bill from the Hatfield and Upton law firm of Concord, which represented the convention's Personnel Committee in the appeal of the commissioner's dismissal of Belknap County Nursing Home Administrator Mathew Logue, hadn't been paid yet but that payments had been made to attorneys representing the commission in its dispute over budget line item authority with the convention.
''The oldest bills were paid first,'' said Belknap County Administrator Debra Shackett, who said that she expects that the county will be receiving more legal invoices in the near future, which will have to be paid.
Worsman said that at the Executive Committee's October 27 meeting a transfer of $8,000 to the convention's legal line budget was made and maintained that the money was intended to pay for the Hatfield and Upton law firm's work with the Executive Committee, which had reinstated Logue by a unanimous 3-0 vote.
But Shackett and County Financial Director Glenn Waring challenged Worsman's account of that meeting, as did Commissioner Steve Nedeau (R-Meredith), who said that the convention lacks the authority to direct commissioners on what bills should be paid.
Committee Chairman Tilton said that the procedure on appropriating funds for the convention's legal expenses and those of the county commissioners had been changed several years ago and that with the commissioners already having expended $16,609 of the $17,000 budgeted by the convention that he thought it was ''not a good use of money'' and that he was opposed to adding more funds for legal fees.
Rep. Burchell told the commissioners ''you continue to throw away money on a issue that will go away on January 2'', referring to a statement that he and fellow incoming commissioner Dave DeVoy (R-Sanbornton) issued recently saying that they plan to drop an appeal commissioners are planning to make to the state Supreme Court of the Personnel Committee's reinstatement of Logue as head of the nursing home.
But Nedeau said that Burchell may not be able to cast a vote on that issue, maintaining that there may be a conflict of interest as Burchell serves as a member of the Personnel Committee and voted to reinstate Logue.
Rep. Huot argued for approving the transfer, maintaining that ''it's not a good idea for the county not to pay its bills'' and said that the committee's action exceeded its authority. He said that action was tantamount to saying ''we're not going to authorize the payment of bills now in hand because we don't like the actions taken by the commissioners.''
He said that the legal battle over line item authority in the budget took place in court long after the 2014 budget had been approved and that resulted in running up legal bills beyond what had been appropriated and that the only resort for the commission if the transfers were denied would be to seek a supplemental appropriation.
The meeting also saw another transfer request denied for $2,4000 in the part-time wage account of the Belknap County Registry of Deeds to its full-time wages. That also came by a 6-3 vote.
The committee did approve the transfer of $5,000 in the Sheriff's Department for vehicle maintenance and another $1,500 for vehicle repair, $64,000 from various accounts to pay the nursing home's $485,000 bed tax and $4,400 for medical examiner costs for the County Attorney's office.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 December 2014 02:42

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Correction/Clarification: Only 1 relative of Tilton police officer involved in use of stolen credit card incident

The plural version of the noun "relative" was inadvertently and incorrectly used in a story — "2nd man indicted in credit card theft" — that was published on the front page on November 22. A stolen credit card with $2,000 worth of merchandise credit on it was allegedly sold by Richard A. McNeil to an uncle of Tilton Police Officer Matt Dawson for $600. At the time, Dawson was a detective and McNeil had served as a confidential informant for him. Dawson told investigators from the Merrimack County Sheriff's Office that he put McNeil and his uncle together on the deal but that McNeil had assured him the card was not stolen. The card was used twice, once in Gilford for a small amount and then again in Littleton for $1,900. McNeil has been indicted by a Belknap County Grand Jury for receiving stolen property. Dawson has not been charged with any crime and the only relative of his who has been implicated in any way in the incident is the uncle who bought the card from McNeil.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 December 2014 02:04

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Gilmanton police say man with suspended sentence over his head allowed 10-year-old to drive a car

GILMANTON — A local man who was sentenced to serve a 2-to-4 year prison term for reckless conduct in 2013 was arrested Friday on a warrant for allowing a 10-year-old to drive a car. His original sentence was suspended conditional on five years of good behavior.

Police said Sean Mulcahy Sr. 42, of 15 Spaulding Road is facing one count of allowing an improper person to drive a car and one count of endangering the welfare of a child.

Police alleged Mulcahy allowed a 10-year-old to drive a Saab on the roads of Gilmanton.

Mulcahy was released on personal recognizance bail and was given a count date of January 8, 2015 in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division.

In September of 2013, Mulcahy — a certified habitual offender, according to Gilmanton Police — was arrested after leading a local police sergeant on a high-speed chase through some back roads near Crystal Lake.

The sergeant stopped the chase when he realized there were two small children in the back of Mulcahy's car. During the chase, at one point Mulcahy doubled back on the police car and forced it off of the road.

He also pleaded guilty to one count of operating after suspension.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 December 2014 02:01

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Bicycle Exchange gets $5k donation

LACONIA — The Laconia Area Bicycle Exchange has received a $5,000 donation according to founder John P. Rogers, who says that the money came from generous donors from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation and was arranged by Peter Benson.

Rogers says that he is still looking for volunteers to join the advisory board of the exchange, which will meet this Thursday at 4 p.m. at the Laconia Middle School as part of the monthly Better Together meeting. The exchange was formed earlier this year as an initiative of Better Together.

Since it was formed the organization has given out over 90 bicycles, according to Rogers. The exchange, originally located near the Big Banana store on Messer Street, moved to a new location during the fall at 343 Court Street, located in part of the Eased Edges building owned by Brian Flanders.

Rogers says things are relatively quiet at the exchange but there remains plenty of work and planning to do. "I will be sending out a fundraising letter in a the first week of December, to ask for tax deductible donations to help pay the monthly rent and to add to account for publicity costs. Mike Sweet of Laconia has been working on bikes no longer usable, saving parts, and selling scrap metal or aluminum,'' says Rogers.

He says that an important next step for the exchange is to advertise for a volunteer or paid position, and with some grant funding in place the process can begin. "We will be looking for someone who can take over the publicity, advertising, and communications activities of the Exchange. From April to November, I have devoted about 20 hours a week to keep this program moving and serving the community. Your suggestions and input will be greatly appreciated.'' says Rogers.

The purpose of the Laconia Area Bicycle Exchange (LABE) is to provide a means of inexpensive alternative transportation in the form of refurbished used bicycles, made available to people who would benefit with greater mobility as it relates to work, family and personal living. The focus of the exchange is for people who have no means to afford an automobile or who have no valid drivers license.

For more information on the program call Rogers at 603-630-7571 or by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 December 2014 01:56

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