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Gilford shuts down nightclub for safety code violations; manager questions timing

GILFORD — The Lakes Region Cafe and Tavern closed at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, election day, when the Deputy Chief Brad Ober of the Gilford Fire Department revoked its assembly permit.

The action by the Fire Department was taken two weeks after Will Drew — the owner of the property, but not the owner of the business — filed suit in United States District Court against the state of New Hampshire and the town of Gilford, along with half a dozen agents of each, charging that their actions before and after October 18, 2011 when the New Hampshire Drug Task Force raided the nightclub, which was then operating under independent management as Mardi Gras North, violated his constitutional rights and damaged his reputation.

Although Drew, doing business as Kelsey's at the Grant, owns the property at 15 Kimball Road, his partner Tom Lyons owns and operates the business, a restaurant and bar featuring exotic dancing, on the premisses.

Zachary Joseph, the general manager of the business, said that officials of the Fire Department inspected the building last summer and cited a number of violations, some minor and some major. He said that the minor infractions were corrected in a timely manner.

According to Joseph, the Fire Department recognized that addressing the major issues would require significant investments of time and money and required the owner to submit a "course of action" by October 28, which specified when the building would be brought into compliance. In the meantime, he said, the business would be allowed to continue operating. Joseph noted that many of the conditions cited in the inspection had persisted for years without prompting action by the town.

Joseph said that the "course of action" was submitted on October 27, a day before the deadline, and a week later the assembly permit was revoked. He is urging patrons of the nightclub to attend the meeting of the Board of Selectmen on Wednesday , November 12 to show their support for the establishment. (See letter to the editor on page 5.)

In his lawsuit Drew alleges that town officials, town administrator Scott Dunn in particular, wrongfully sought to deny him the live entertainment license required to offer exotic dancing at the property.

Last Updated on Saturday, 08 November 2014 01:54

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Sanbornton saying goodbye to gracious former Selectboard Chair Patsy Wells

SANBORNTON — Patricia "Patsy" Wells idea of service knew no bounds, say those who knew her. Whether as member of the town's Board of Selectmen, an active member of her church, the assistant to four Tilton School headmasters, or her outreach to women prisoners, Wells is remembered as competent, forward-looking, and above all, gracious.

Wells died last Saturday, Oct. 29, at the age of 69. Her funeral is planned for this Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Sanbornton Congregational Church.

"I had a soft spot in my heart for her," said Guy Giunta who served with Wells for two years (2005-06) on the Board of Selectmen. "My memories of her are as one who was devoted to the town." He remembers Wells as an effective and visionary leader. He said one example of Wells' vision was the leadership she showed in building public support for the so-called Y Project, which resulted in major improvements to Upper and Lower Bay roads which needed serious work.

She exhibited a thorough knowledge of the selectman's job. "She kept us on our toes," Giunta recalled with a chuckle. "But she wasn't one to make herself look important." One sign of that, he said was that when Wells was head selectmen, she didn't in the center seat at the selectmen's table, as is customary for the chair to do.

Giunta also said he remembers Wells as a person deeply committed to her faith and her church.

"She was a hard worker and was always able to lighten up a difficult situation," said Dennis Akerman, director of music at the Sanbornton Congregational Church where Wells was a long-time active member. She served on the church committee that had charge the congregation's charitable outreach.

Akerman's wife, Barbara, said Wells was truly concerned about those less fortunate or who had to cope with setbacks in life. For example, she said Wells would to the state Women's Prison to give sewing lessons. "She found what was needed and how to do it."

Michael Baker, headmaster at Tilton School from 1987 to 1995, said it is hard to imagine how he could have done his job as effectively without Wells as his assistant.

"She was one of the kindest people I ever met in my life," he said. And one of the most discrete.

"My first day at Tilton she met with me and said, 'The main word of secretary is secret.' She could be trusted with anything." And, "She was scrupulously organized."

Baker said that Wells' sense of organization and her know-how gave him the ability to focus on his job. A big part of a private school headmaster's job is fund-raising, which Baker said meant he had to travel a lot to meet with school alumni and other potential donors.

"Often at these fund-raising gatherings someone would ask, 'Who's in charge of the place when you're gone?' and I would reply, 'The same person who's in charge when I'm there." Baker said his audience knew he was referring to himself, but in the back of his mind he couldn't help but think of Patsy Wells. "She easily could have run her own operation."

Former Selectman Steve Ober, who served with Wells during her last year on the board, credits Wells for showing him how to be a good selectman.

"I had no clue about the job," Ober recalled. "But she guided me right into the job and did it respectfully. She was a great person and great friend."

Last Updated on Friday, 07 November 2014 01:51

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Former home of Music Festival vandalized

CENTER HARBOR — Police are seeking assistance from the public in identifying two individuals who vandalized the property at 52 Symphony Lane, which most recently housed the New Hampshire Music Festival.

According to Police Chief Mark Chase, evidence collected at the scene indicates that two persons broke into the main house and an outbuilding and caused damage to both estimated at approximately $10,000. The break-in and vandalism occurred between Tuesday, August 12 and Thursday, August 14.

The owner of the property has offered a reward of $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.

Anyone with any information is encouraged to contact the Center Harbor Police Department at 253-9756. All information will be kept strictly confidential.

Last Updated on Friday, 07 November 2014 01:33

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Rago asks for recount of Senate 7 votes

LACONIA — Kathleen Lauer-Rago of Franklin, the Republican candidate for the New Hampshire Senate in District 7 whose challenge to incumbent Democrat Andrew Hosmer fell 132 votes short, yesterday requested a recount.

"I've had so many people call me and tell me I should ask for a recount, I feel it is my duty," Lauer-Rago said Thursday.

Hosmer polled 9,543 votes to the 9,411 cast for Lauer-Rago. Another 24 ballots recorded write-in votes. Hosmer's margin of victory represents less than 1 percent of the total of 18,978 votes cast. If 67 votes changed hands in Lauer-Rago's favor, the outcome of the election would be reversed.

Hosmer was the only Democrat elected in Belknap County in Tuesday's election. Of the three municipalities in the county in District 7, Hosmer carried two — Laconia by 89 votes and Gilford by 5 votes — while Lauer Rago won Belmont by 219 votes.

Requests for recounts must be filed with the New Hampshire Secretary of State by the close of business on the Friday after the election. The recount process would begin on the first Wednesday after the election at a site in Concord determined by the Secretary of State.

State law entitles any candidate to request a recount if the difference between the winner and loser is less than 20-percent. However, the candidate requesting the recount must pay a fee, which rises as difference increases. If the difference is less than 1 percent the fee is $50, but doubles if the difference is between 1 and 2 percent and doubles again if the the difference is between 2 and 3 percent. If the difference is more than 3 percent, the fee is $200 plus costs set by the Secretary of State.

District 7 consists of the cities of Laconia and Franklin and towns of Andover, Belmont, Boscawen, Canterbury Gilford, Northfield, Salisbury and Webster.

Last Updated on Friday, 07 November 2014 01:31

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