LACONIA — A Belknap County Superior Court judge has denied a former Laconia man's request to suspend two years of his 35-to-life sentence for gunning down his wife on Court Street in September of 1984.
In his ruling Judge James O'Neill said Richard Pliskaner Jr. has not shown remorse and has not acknowledged the substantial impact his actions had on his late wife's Debra's family.
O'Neill also determined that Pliskaner is not sufficiently rehabilitated to the degree he would no longer be a threat to Debra's family.
Pliskaner represented himself in court Tuesday afternoon. Tall, wearing thick glasses, and a green prison suit, his hands shook as he tried to convince the judge that he was remorseful for his actions and that he was no longer a threat to his wife's family or society in general.
"I can't make this wrong into a right," he said, saying he wished he could bring back Debra and "remove the pain he has caused."
He referred to Debra as a very special loving person. "Please forgive me. I am a changed person," he said.
While Pliskaner spoke, Debra's daughter and sister sat in the courtroom but refused to look at him. They were assisted by victim's advocated from the N.H. Attorney General's Office.
Senior Asst. Attorney Jeff Strelzin said Pliskaner committed the worst kind of domestic violence there was. He detailed how Pliskaner stalked his wife in the days after she left him and how police removed guns from him once only to have him buy another one with a false name and address.
Indicted for one count of first degree homicide, Pliskaner pleaded guilty to second degree homicide and was sentenced to 35 years to life in prison. He is eligible for parole in five more years.
Strelzin emphasized that almost one half of the homicides committed in New Hampshire are the direct result of domestic violence. He asked Judge O'Neill to send the message that in New Hampshire "We won't tolerate domestic violence in this state."
Statements against Pliskaner's early release from Debra's daughter and her sister were read into the record by one of the victim's advocates.
"He killed my mother and I became an orphan," said Debra's only child who was 10-years-old when her mother was murdered.
She said she needed her mother to be with her during all of her life experiences and Pliskaner took her life with a mother away in "one cowardly act." She said that he killed her mother with conviction and purpose and she and her family continue to live in fear of him.
The statement from Debra's sister Donna noted that before Debra's murder, Pliskaner had threatened to kill all of them.
Her statement recalled a day when she and her sister were eating at the Soda Shoppe when they looked out a window and saw Pliskaner "whistling, smiling and laughing" while patting his waist band where they knew he kept a gun.
She said her and Debra hid in a stall in the ladies room and they could hear Pliskaner walking down the hall whistling and looking for them. She said they stayed hidden until another woman came in and verified that he was gone.
She noted that they called the police that day for what she said was about the fifth time.
At the time, said one local attorney who remembered the case, police didn't have the ability to place a 72-hour domestic violence holds on someone who has threatened harm to another in a domestic violence case.
He noted that there were about three or four domestic violence related homicides in the state during that same time period that provided the Legislature, the courts and the police with the impetus they needed to rewrite and enforce some of the laws regarding domestic violence.
Last Updated on Thursday, 25 September 2014 12:39
LACONIA — The City Council this week reversed its decision to hire a construction manager rather than a general contractor to undertake the renovation and expansion of the Central Fire Station amid concern that the selection process slighted local firms.
Unlike a general contractor, who is awarded a contract through a bidding process once the project is designed and engineered and works to the prescribed specifications, a construction manager is hired for a fee, participates in designing and engineering the project, chooses the general contractor and sub-contarctors and oversees the work.
To chose a construction manager a select committee of four — City Manager Scott Myers, Deputy Fire Chief Charles Roffo, Purchasing Officer Jonathan Gardner and Jonathan Halle of Warrenstreet Architects — was formed and invited applicants to submit their qualifications. A dozen firms applied. Each member of the committee independently scored the firms based solely on their qualifications, not the cost of their services. The shortlist of four firms chosen by the committee, excluded all of the local firms that applied.
The reaction prompted the council to reconsider its decision to hire a construction manager. When the council met this week Councilor Brenda Baer (Ward 4) expressed her displeasure that four "fully qualified" local contractors were not shortlisted. She said that local contractors employ local residents, who spend their earning with local businesses. "Think local," she declared. "That's the fair and right thing."
Myers reminded the councilors that the process of awarding contracts is prescribed by a city ordinance and cautioned that openly giving preference to local firms could dissuade others from making applications or submitting bids, which by dampening competition could raise costs.
However, Councilor Henry Lipman (Ward 3) countered that "the advantage of being local should be incorporated in the bidding process."
Meanwhile, the council unanimously voted to reconsider its vote to hire a construction manager in favor of awarding the contract to a general contractor through a straight bid process. Myers noted that completed drawings and specifications would be complete in two or three weeks and a bid package could be prepared by the middle of October with an eye to opening the bids, awarding the contract in the middle of November and beginning work in early December.
He suggested that winter conditions could add to the cost of the project.
Lipman suggested that the site work, which is most liable to weather conditions, could be put to bid separately and earlier. He also proposed expanding the selection and building oversight committee to include the three members of the council, appointed by the mayor.
Last Updated on Thursday, 25 September 2014 12:31
BELMONT — Members of the Shaker Regional School Board asked the facilities director Tuesday night to get an updated estimate for the demolition of the of Gale School building.
The board directed Doug Ellis to get two separate quotes — one for demolishing the building and one for saving the bell tower and demolishing the rest of the school.
The school is located on a perch behind the Middle School, on the edge of Bryant Park.
Member Donna Cilley, who serves as the school board's liaison to the Save the Gale School Committee said the district should have a "concrete number" so that if the district decides to put some form of demolition on the 2015 warrant, the voters will know what it's really going to cost them.
The disposition of the school built in 1894 has long been controversial in Belmont. In the mid 2000s, an ad hoc group called Save the Gale School Committee formed with the intent of enticing and leveraging some kind of state and/or local historical and heritage preservation grants to relocate and save the school.
Its efforts waned until about two years ago when the Shaker School Board, in the wake of a town-wide property assessment that determined the Gale School wasn't in good enough shape to be moved or saved, renewed its efforts to make so final decision about the fate of the building.
The property assessment team, led by the Code Enforcement Officer Steve Paquin, performed only a cursory look at the building because it belongs to the school district and not the town.
Paquin said that the Gale School, with the possible exception of the bell tower, has no real significant historical or architectural value, though he acknowledged it has sentimental value to the people of Belmont. He said that the school would likely collapse if it were to be moved.
Its efforts rekindled by the town's assessment, the Save the Gale School Committee hired their own consultant who said that other than the foundation the school was sound and could be moved.
In August of 2013, the Gale School Committee also produced evidence that the school has been eligible for the National Register since 1985. The letter, sent by the N.H. Division of Historical Resources, said the school is part of the Factory Village Historic District and was listed as "an important Colonial Revival style building in the town."
A few weeks later, the Gale School Committee recommended that the building be moved to the corner of Concord Street and School Street and used as the town library.
Library Trustees were not interested in the plan and the Gale School Committee approached the town for its permission to be the applicant for a grant for moving and preserving the school.
After considerable amount of discussion, the selectmen determined that it didn't want to be the applicant for a grant because if there was a matching portion and the town was not in a financial position to incur further costs.
On Tuesday, Cilley told the Shaker board that she met with at least one member of the committee who she described as disappointed that the town was not interested in applying for the grant but who said he understands the reality of the situation.
Ellis said he would reach out to some people who specialize in this kind of demolition and will bring some solid costs figures to the board for its November 11 meeting.
Last Updated on Thursday, 25 September 2014 12:23
GILFORD — Selectmen authorized the expenditure of $49,975 for Busby Construction to build the concrete pad for the Police and Public Works Department's 80-foot radio tower that will be built on Mount Rowe.
Selectmen learned Wednesday night that $158,000 approved by the voters to construct the tower at the March 2014 annual town meeting will not be enough to build the concrete pad that supports it.
Town Administrator Scott Dunn said the project has evolved to the point where he estimates there will be about $1,000 of the $158,000 left over from the purchase of the equipment itself, meaning the project needs another $48,075 at a minimum to be completed.
Dunn said that because the project benefits equally DPW and the Police Department, $25,000 will come out of each agency's 2014 budget.
Because of the location and the steepness of the grade, DPW Director Sheldon Morgan said he thought it would be preferable and safer to have Busby build the base.
He said they have the equipment to bring the heavy loads up the side of the mountain and he does not.
"We're not set up for that kind of work in that kind of terrain," Morgan said, noting that the project requires the use of a ledge truck.
He noted that Busby said they could complete the project in one week, where as Morgan said it would take his department as much as three weeks because of all the other things it has to do.
"This could happened within a week to 10 days," he said, after selectmen voted to spend the money.
When the project began, selectmen had hoped to get a spot on the existing tower on Mount Rowe. After being told it would cost $700 a month, the board went in another direction and worked out an agreement with the Gunstock Area Commissioners to build a smaller tower near the same location.
The tower is needed to improve radio communications for the DPW and the Police Department. Both departments have a number of "dead spots" and have said the new tower would eliminated them.
Last Updated on Thursday, 25 September 2014 11:51
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