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Judge rules police lacked probably cause to charge Belmont man who held gun

CIRCUIT COURT — A judge dismissed a single charge of criminal threatening with a gun levied against a Belmont businessman yesterday after determining there was no probable cause for his arrest.

Belmont police charged Henry Dionne Jr. of Laconia Road with criminal threatening after a woman he knows accused him of putting a gun on her shoulder. The woman was apparently in a  truck on his property while attempting to retrieve some things she said were hers.

Under direct examination, police said they responded to Dionne's home on April 2 after getting two phone calls from 9-1-1 — one from a man who was a friend of the woman and later one from the woman herself.

Her statement was that as she went to light a cigarette, Dionne, who was also in the truck at that point, put a gun on her shoulder and said something like "why don't you light it with this." She described the gun as silver.

Under cross examination by Dionne's attorney Bob Hemeon, the officer said Dionne was cooperative during the entire investigation and had opened the safes where he kept his guns.

He said the alleged victim told him she had asked Dionne to get out of the truck and put the gun in a safe. The officer also said that she said Dionne never pointed the gun at her.

Police said Dionne was nowhere near the truck when they got there and was inside his home. He came out on the porch when police asked him too.

Under cross examination, Hemeon also got the officer to say that the alleged victim never called the police until after she spoke with her friend and after he had already called them.

In addition, Hemeon said the woman allegedly sent Dionne a letter in the mail changing her story and Dionne turned that writing in to police.

Judge Jim Carroll determined that the police didn't provide enough probable cause to sustain a felony charge of criminal threatening with a deadly weapon and ordered the case dismissed.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 July 2014 12:05

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Come together: Cleveland Place neighbors rally to replace car for young couple who lost theirs in fire

LACONIA — Saturday was a day of celebration on Cleveland Place after neighbors of the close-knit south-end neighborhood presented a Chevy van to two young women who lost both of their cars in a suspicious middle-of-the-night fire on June 4.

Lindsay and Rebecca Thayer and their son were truly taken by surprise when they learned the freshly paint van decorated with balloons was theirs.

"Look Mommy, I have a car that's not of fire," the boy said when she saw a car seat in the back of the van, according to neighbor Loriann Poole.

The Thayers were both sound asleep when they were awakened by neighbors who told them their cars were both on fire. In all, three cars burned that night and the siding of the building next to where the cars were parked was melted and scorched.

Fire Chief Ken Erickson said yesterday the fire is suspicious and is still under investigation.

Poole said she and the rest of the neighbors came up with the idea of getting a car for the Thayers and her son, Kevin Hutchins, who owes a car restoration business, put a notice on Craig's List about looking for a car that could be fixed up.

Poole said both women work and have another child on the way. She said neighbors had been pitching in to get the two women back and forth to their jobs since they lost both of their cars.

She said a man from Derry donated the 1998 Chevy Venture and Hutchins, Jesse Garneau, Christian Brown and Jen Merrill worked with local businesses to get paint and parts donated for the restoration project. She said they replaced the rocker panels, the brakes lines, the air conditioning system and the fuel line to get the vehicle street worthy.

Poole said Lindsey Thayer even did some of the work on it, thinking it was for one of Kevin Hutchins' clients.

On Saturday, the neighborhood had an block party complete with a food cart, a neighborhood yard sale, and a bake sale. Poole said they decorated the van and sneaked in up Clay Street and parking it behind the concession stand so the Thayers couldn't see it.

Poole said the neighbors told the Thayers the bake sale was to raise money to get the street paved.

"They fell for it," said Poole, laughing about how the entire neighborhood was able to fool them into thinking they were raising money for street paving.

Poole said they people who live in the area are more like a family than a neighborhood.

"We cover each others backs and take care of each other," Poole said. "This is a great place to live and we all help each other out."

She said the Thayers had enough money to register and inspect the van and "everything worked out the was it should have."

As for getting their street paved, Poole said that's a job for another day and she doubts a bake sale is going to do it. "We really would like to have the city pave this street," she said. "We barely have any pavement left and the cold patch only lasts a few days."

Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 July 2014 12:00

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Community mourns death of recent GHS graduate

MEREDITH — A recent graduate of Gilford High School and alumnus of the school's varsity football program has died, said the coach of the team yesterday.

According to Gilford Police Chief Anthony Bean Burpee, police responded a few days ago to the family home of Austin Blais, 18, because of a call reporting some kind of reckless conduct — either fireworks or gunshots.

He said police did an investigation but two days ago he said Blais's mother came in and filed a missing person's report regarding her son.

Bean Burpee said his officers learned that Blais had a girlfriend who lived in Meredith and police in that community were notified.

Lt. Keith True said Meredith Police and officers from the N.H. Fish and Game Department worked to locate him but declined to comment further.

Football coach Shawn Garrett said he was notified Tuesday night that Blais had died.

He described him as a spirited young man who was always smiling and who loved playing football.

"He loved the game. He liked being out there," Garrett said.

He said he had been with some of the Gilford football team members Tuesday night and yesterday morning at the locker room where many of the boys he played with came to grieve.

School Board Chair Sue Allen said the school district is providing grief counseling to students who need it. Speaking for the board and the administration she said she wished to offer her deepest condolences to Blais's family.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 July 2014 11:56

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Zero interest expressed in moving & restoring Hathaway House

LACONIA — City Manager Scott Myers confirmed yesterday that the efforts of the Heritage Commission to solicit an developer willing to acquire, renovate and relocate the Hathaway House have failed to elicit a response.

At the same time, Cafua Management Company, which seeks to redevelop the upper Union Avenue property it acquired in 2000, must assess the historic significance of the site in the course of applying to the United States Environmental Protection Agency for a permit required by the federal Clean Water Act.

Last September, Cafua, which owns and operates the adjacent Dunkin' Donuts restaurant, applied for a permit to demolish the Hathaway House, sparking a frantic effort to preserve it. After meeting with Greg Nolan, development director of Cafua, to discuss alternatives to demolition, the Heritage Commission ultimately conceded that if the building was to be preserved, it would have to relocated. In May the commission agreed to place a series of advertisements seeking a private party interested in moving and owning the building. The deadline of June 18 passed without a response.
This spring Cafua was granted a permit to demolish the Hathaway House and submitted plans to redevelop the property. The firm proposes to construct a 4,850-square-foot retail building on the northern half of the 1.6-acre lot, which includes the Dunkin' Donuts outlet. The building would be reached by a spur off the existing entryway to Dunkin' Donuts, eliminating the need for a fresh curb-cut. The building would be divided into three units, two of 1,650-square-feet and one of 1,550-square-feet and would be served by 27 parking spaces, 11 more than required.
In the meantime, Cafua applied to the EPA, which regulates waste and storm water discharge, for a "national pollutant discharge and elimination system" (NPDES) permit, triggering a review of the historic significance of the property required by Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966.
Brandee Loughlin of the Planning Department, who managed so-called Section 106 reviews in both Massachusetts and Texas, explained that they are triggered by an application for federal permits or funding. She said that the EPA has sought the advice of the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources, which in turn has informed the city of the review.
Cafua has hired a consultant to take inventory of the historical and archeological resources on the site, which would include the Hathaway House, and determine their significance. Loughlin said that once the review is complete the next step is for the EPA to determine whether the project proposed by Cafua will have adverse impacts on historical resources and if so, how they can be avoided, minimized or mitigated. She stressed that the federal law does not require that historical resources be preserved. But, she said in the case of buildings, the EPA could require salvage of architecturally significant features as well as a photographic record or measured drawings of the structure. Throughout this process Nolan has indicated his willingness to allow significant features of the Hathaway House to be salvaged as well to permit the building to be photographed.
The Planning Board was scheduled to hold a public hearing on Cafua's plan for the property this week, but at the company's request postponed the hearing until the board next meets on August 5. This spring Nolan indicated that he expected to begin work on the project during the current construction season.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 July 2014 11:52

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