Meredith Library move concerns LCHIP

$70,000 grant may have to be repaid if building does not meet requirements

By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN

MEREDITH — The Board of Trustees of the Meredith Public Library are expected to reach a decision about where to construct a new library in next several weeks. Meanwhile, the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program has expressed its concern about the future of the Benjamin M. Smith Memorial Library, which has served the town since 1901.

Duncan McNeish, now in his 34th year as a trustee, said Monday that he expects the board to reaffirm its intention to build a new library and choose a site for the facility in the next several weeks. Earlier this year, the trustees hosted several public meetings at which the structural deficiencies and spacial constraints of the existing building were presented along with conceptual designs of a single story library built on a 4-acre lot with adequate space for parking. Since then, the trustees have considered several locations, including a 4-acre parcel at the junction of Barnard Ridge Road and Pleasant Street set aside by the Conservation Commission in the course of its initiative to add some 200 acres to the Page Pond Forest.

Meanwhile, on July 29, Dijit Taylor, executive director of the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program wrote to the library trustees to say that the directors of the program were "taken aback to learn of the possible plan to relocate the library."
She reminded the trustees that in the course of seeking a $70,000 grant toward improvements to the Benjamin M. Smith Memorial Library in 2013 they assured the program that the library "was, and would continue to be, an important part of the fabric of downtown Meredith."

Taylor said on the strength of such assurances the grant was awarded and that "the current proposed change in the use of the Meredith Library building is directly opposite that expected when the grant was made." The board of the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program, she continued "strongly urges the Meredith Library Trustees to reconsider the option of retaining the library in its historic downtown building and location." Moreover, Taylor added that should the trustees "pursue the change in use," the town must advise the program "to be sure the requirements and possible costs triggered by a change in use of the building are well understood."

Taylor's letter came as no surprise. Earlier this summer, when the library trustees advised the Board of Selectmen of their intentions, attorney Andrew Livernois explained that if the library building were not put to another public purpose, the town could be required to repay the $70,000 grant. Likewise, McNeish said that the trustees have every intention of working with the selectmen to put the library building to an appropriate public purpose and maintain its architectural integrity to ensure the town neither incurs unnecessary costs nor compromises its relationship with the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program.

Serious crash ties up traffic in Tilton

TILTON – A press time, the Belknap Regional Accident Reconstruction Team was investigating a serious car crash on Route 3 in the area of the Anchorage Inn.

No further details are available, however there were multiple reports of traffic being backed up for miles in either direction.

Records at the Lakes Region Mutual Fire Aid on line website show Tilton-Northfield rescue crews arrived at 4:40 p.m. and were still there at 7:53 p.m.

Murder trial delay - Miranda rights at issue in drug-related death

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — The jury trial of a Northfield man accused of selling a Tilton man the heroin/fentanyl that police say killed him, has been postponed until Sept. 12.

Jury selection for the trial for Brian Watson, 51, was scheduled for Monday morning however his attorney has challenged the court's determination that Watson was told of his rights before his interview.

In addition, the hearing to determine if key witness Teanna Bryson would incriminate herself should she testify in the case was rescheduled until Sept, 6.

Watson is accused of selling 21-year-old Seth Tilton-Fogg some heroin/fentanyl in early April of 2015. Tilton-Fogg died as a result.

Bryson and Tilton-Fogg allegedly knew each other from high school. Bryson is Watson's girlfriend.

Watson's attorney, Mark Sisti, had filed a motion to suppress all of the statements made by his client to Tilton Police because he said Watson never waived his Miranda Rights – or the right to not be interviewed and the right to have a lawyer present during any interview as guaranteed by the First and 14th Amendments.

On July 28, Belknap County Presiding Justice James O'Neill ruled that the two Tilton Police detectives who interviewed Watson the day of his arrest read him his rights at the time of his arrest and asked him if he still understood them before his interview. O'Neill made his ruling after listening to the entire half-hour interview, which was played in open court.

On Monday, Sisti filed a motion asking O'Neill to reconsider his ruling because the state of New Hampshire requires the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a "knowing, intelligent and voluntary waiver of rights has been made."

"Knowledge on one's rights and waiver of those rights are not the same," wrote Sisti, quoting from a ruling made on July 14 by Carroll County Superior Court Judge Amy Ignatius in an unrelated case.

In both the Watson case and the Carroll County case, the defendants were read their rights but didn't overtly waive them either verbally, in writing or "even by a nod of the head."

Sisti said Watson was asked by Tilton's lead detective, Corporal Nathan Buffington, if, knowing his rights, would he still be willing to listen to him? He said the exchange between Watson and Buffington lacks a waiver because Watson only agreed to listen and not to answer questions.

In the event the court doesn't overturn its order, Sisti has also asked to exclude parts of the interrogation because he says Buffington made  inflammatory statements to Watson that indicated he was cold-hearted and lacks remorse. He said the statements Buffington made were conclusionary and didn't have any evidence to support them.

Sisti also asked the court to not let the jury hear toxicology evidence from a Pennsylvania lab because the doctor interviewed by the Belknap County assistant county prosecutor was not the person who performed the tests.

Sisti said Dr. Daniel Isenschmid didn't oversee the test, didn't conduct the tests, didn't observe the individuals who conducted the tests and had no personal knowledge of any of people who did.

He said that a person should be able to confront his accusers in court as is specified in the Sixth Amendment, and since Isenschmid didn't perform any of the tests, Watson's rights would be violated by his testimony.

Sisti also questioned the chain of evidence, saying it was not known to either the state or the defense until July 28, and that any results related to any alleged compounds that were the subject of an April 21, 2015, report should not go to the jury.

Assistant Belknap County Prosecutor Carley Ahern has not responded to any of the latest motions.

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