Bishop beats Guarino

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Marshall Bishop speaks at a candidates' forum. (David Carkhuff/The Laconia Daily Sun)

Gilmanton selectmen’s race was a fierce battle


GILMANTON — After a contentious campaign, Marshall Bishop, incumbent selectmen's candidate, defeated Don Guarino in a heated race, 493-311, in Tuesday's town voting.

On the town ballot, challenger Guarino and incumbent Bishop vied for a three-year seat on the board of selectmen.

The race grew acrimonious. Bishop's opponents criticized him for ongoing litigation between his business, Gilmanton Winery, and the Gilmanton Planning Board over the requirements of site-plan review. Guarino's opponents pointed to his Feb. 15 arrest for failure to appear in a civil case.

Critics of Bishop, including Guarino, have asserted that he has cost the town nearly $5,000 due to his litigation. Critics of Guarino have pointed to his run-ins with the law.

Rick Watrous, a former legislator who lives with his wife in Concord, said he hired Guarino as a contractor in November 2013 to work on the couple's sunroom and to shore up the foundation, but that much of the work remained uncompleted. In 2015, Watrous won in small claims court. The court ruled that Guarino failed to fulfill the contract. When Guarino failed to appear in court three different times, arrest warrants were issued, the last resulting in his arrest.

Previously, the former Gilmanton selectman ran afoul of the law as a selectman in late 2014. He pleaded guilty Dec. 4, 2014, in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division, to a violation level charge of forging a vehicle inspection sticker.

For town offices, three people filed to run for two three-year terms on Budget Committee: Deborah Fletcher, incumbent Brian Forst and Grace Sisti. Sisti won one seat with 511 votes, and Forst the other with 495 votes. Fletcher finished with 287 votes.

In another contested race, incumbent Glen Waring faced challenger Joseph Haas in a bid for treasurer. Waring prevailed with voters, 539-149, over Haas.

Incumbent John L. Dickey was sole filer for a three-year seat on the cemetery board. Dickey and Robert E. Richards filed for re-election to two, three-year terms as trustees of trust funds. Incumbent Martha Levesque was sole filer for a three-year seat on the library board. Michelle Descoteaux, Bambi Benton and Nancy MacArthur — all appointees to the supervisor of the checklist — filed for three positions on that board of varying terms. Incumbent Debra A. Cornett was sole filer for a three-year term of town clerk/tax collector.

Funding for the Gilmanton Year Round Library passed at the polls, 465-369.

The Gilmanton Year-Round Library, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, relied on fund raising last year after a 2016 warrant article was narrowly voted down by 51 to 49 percent. The request for $48,500 was designed to supplement a total operating budget of $77,833, officials said. Tax impact from passage was estimated to be $0.11 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, or $22 on a $200,000 property. The elderly exemption passed 638-160.

An article for a computer technology capital reserve fund of $20,000 failed, 327-485.

The town operating budget of $3,619,691 passed 663-134. The default budget was higher, at $3,649,393.

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Grace Sisti. (David Carkhuff/The Laconia Daily Sun)

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Brian Forst. (David Carkhuff/The Laconia Daily Sun)


Man found on Gunstock ski trail dies

GILFORD — A 65-year-old man who was found face down on a trail at Gunstock Mountain Resort Wednesday morning was later declared dead at Lakes Region General Hospital.

Greg Goddard, general manager of the ski resort, said they got a call about the man, who was unresponsive, at 11:15 a.m., and that the safety crew performed CPR on the man until Gilford Fire-Rescue could take over. Goddard said the man was a guest at the resort.

"While we can't disclose the name," he said, "this is a longtime member of the ski community and we are devastated by the loss."

Goddard added that they will be doing what they can for the man's family in the wake of his death.

– Ginger Kozlowski

Gilmanton endures election night without power, Internet

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Gilmanton Town Clerk/Tax Collector Debra A. Cornett (left) and Kathy Brooks manually count votes by lamp light during the March 14 town election, when a nor'easter knocked out power and Internet. (Courtesy photo)



GILMANTON — Tricky driving and whiteout conditions during Tuesday's nor'easter weren't the only challenges facing town election officials, and impacts from the storm carried over into Thursday's business operations at Town Hall.
A sign on the door Thursday read, "Systems are down due to the storm. We cannot process at this time. Sorry!"
The Internet remained down so the clerk's office staff could not process motor vehicle registrations or other state agency business.
A section of Route 140 between Gilmanton and Belmont also remained closed Thursday afternoon because of lines and trees down.
"We had a big mess. It was very interesting. But I was very impressed with our turnout," said Gilmanton Town Clerk/Tax Collector Debra A. Cornett.
Out of 2,679 eligible voters, 859 voted, Cornett reported. Thirty-two percent turnout marked one of the highest reported in the area.
"We're rugged here," Cornett said.
Gilmanton was one of several towns to opt to continue with voting on Tuesday, despite forecasts of the record-setting March blizzard bearing down on New England. Partly due to confusion at the state level over whether local officials could reschedule Town Meeting voting, many towns balked at changing the date.
Everything started without too many snags on Tuesday. The town of Gilmanton, like others in the county, had tested its ballot-counting machine, the AccuVote scanner, earlier on March 7.
The Secretary of State's Office issued the AccuVote machine to the town years ago. Cornett explained that because Gilmanton maintained only one voting place, and did not have wards, the state allocated only one machine.
Trouble started midway into the blizzard. The power went out about 4 p.m. on Voting Day, Tuesday.
Ballot inspector Brenda Currier went home and gathered up all of her oil lamps and brought them back so the elections staff could have some light to count absentee ballots.
But the outage had already inflicted its damage. "Because it was a brownout, it fried our machine and our card," Cornett said. "I had my old wooden ballot box, so anybody that was putting in ballots, we had to put them in and lock them into the wooden ballot box and secure that for the night."
Someone reported seeing the lights come back on at Town Hall around midnight Tuesday, but the power outage had delayed ballot counting.
LHS Associates, a Salem-based company that maintains a supply of AccuVote machines in the region, arrived the next morning with a replacement ballot scanner.
"Luckily I had purchased a spare card that was ready to go, so we were able to use that and we had to reprocess every one of the ballots," Cornett said.
"We had to go through the whole process," she said. Ballots were rescanned. Then, officials had to confirm the number of voters. By 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, officials finally found the one voter who had eluded them in the count, and the results were posted. By 5 p.m. Thursday, the town was reporting that Eversource crews had restored power in the area. Metrocast was still working to restore Internet service on Thursday afternoon, according to the town website,