House race: HK Powersports owner, Motorcycle Week director face off


LACONIA — Charlie St. Clair and Steven Whalley, candidates seeking to succeed Robert Fisher as state representative, are both familiar with hard work.
The opening in District 9, which takes in Laconia and Belmont, was created when Fisher, a Republican, resigned in a scandal over his creation of a website critical of women.
St. Clair, a member of the Laconia Planning Board and the executive director of the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association, is the Democratic candidate on the Sept. 12 ballot. He drove a cab in Boston for 17 years.
Whalley, who owns HK Powersports and whose brother was a prominent legislator, is the Republican in the race. He put himself through college with grueling jobs, including chipping mortar off old bricks at 3 cents a brick.
Their work ethic could come in handy in Concord, where the winner will be one of 400 representatives in the Republican-controlled House.

Charlie St. Clair
St. Clair, a native of Laconia, said he is not beholden to a party platform but instead wants to leverage his background and experience to make a difference on issues like transportation, health care coverage and school funding.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Colorado, with a minor in education, and believes people who refuse to learn from history repeat mistakes of the past.
Charlie St. ClairAt age 67, he said he doesn’t feel much different than when he was 47, but thinks his experience is a plus in public service.
“I think I’d rather be 67 than say 27 today because of my life experiences,” he said. “I’m not so sure I could have those same life experiences today if I was 27 because so much in the world has changed and you don’t get to do the same things I was able to do.”
St. Clair worked as a teacher and owned a video store in Boston, while maintaining a job as a cab driver. He sold the store in 1991 and went to work for the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association. He has also run a night club at The Weirs and owns an antique store downtown.
Before he became eligible for Medicare, he maintained his own primary health insurance and said he was happy to see his yearly premiums decrease by $4,000 after passage of the Affordable Care Act. He supports New Hampshire’s expanded Medicaid system, which would have been cut back if the Senate had passed legislation to repeal Obamacare.
He said that as a former teacher in elementary and high schools, be believes in public schools and is against anything that would dilute classroom funding.
“I think it’s great if people want to take their kids out of public schools and put them in private schools. That’s their choice,” he said. “However, I firmly believe that the public schools are the basis for the education in our state and in our community.”
St. Clair said he is a big supporter of maintaining public roads, but is also a fan of public transit, including Amtrak’s Downeaster with service from Boston to points in New Hampshire and Maine.
“The Downeaster has proved to skeptics that rail transportation is not only popular but practical,” he said. “I know we have a mindset in Concord that that is just outrageous thinking, but people I talk to around here say, ‘That makes so much sense.’ Some people will say, ‘But Charlie it doesn’t pay for itself.’”
St. Claire rejects that argument.
“It’s public transportation,” he said. “The roads don’t pay for themselves. The bridges don’t pay for themselves. The buses don’t pay for themselves. I don’t mind paying taxes, it’s just what they are used for sometimes.”
His Republican opponent is concerned about too much government spending.

Steven Walley
Whalley, whose business sells motorcycles, snowmobiles and other off-road vehicles in stores in Laconia and Hooksett, worries about the rising cost of health care.
Steven Whalley“I generally have a conservative  fiscal attitude,” said Whalley, who became an entrepreneur after putting himself through the University of New Hampshire and graduating with a business degree.
“I look at our health care system. We talk in circles about what’s better, what’s worse, but insurers are leaving the state.
“Our health care system, the way it is going, is basically going broke. If it’s costing more and more and people are getting services they not paying for, then it has to implode, as Donald Trump says, and we all have to realize that.”
He also said he has experienced his share of red tape and government inefficiency as a businessman and would like to see what he can do to address that if elected.
Whalley said he would like to restore the “New Hampshire Advantage,” under which the state provided an example of best practices in numerous areas and attracted a young, talented work pool.
Now, the state is trying to attract younger residents, while fighting an opiate crisis that is rendering some young people unemployable, Whalley said.
“Besides the death, the effects on personal life, the opiate crisis has had an effect on being able to work in a job,” he said. “We know it has had a huge impact on the ability to hire people.”
His brother was state House Minority Leader Michael Whalley, R-Alton, a one-time assistant House Speaker who died in 2008 at age 54 from complications from a fall while he was fighting brain cancer.
Steven Whalley said he and his brother were among five children.
“We were raised to give something back to the community,” he said.
“As one of 400 people, I know I can’t go in and change the world, but we have a very popular governor now and it’s an exciting time to get involved in politics and furthering some of the things we believe in.”


Private road problems

City Council now reviewing some building permits, adding layer of bureaucracy


LACONIA — For people living on certain private roads in Laconia, it just got a little more complicated to obtain a building permit.

The city's Planning Department typically handles such permits, but now the City Council must weigh in as well for applicants who live on private roads that have not gone through a subdivision review process. Also, the owner must file a form acknowledging that the property is on a private road and must waive liability associated with the road. There are more than 200 private roads in the city.

Two such permits were approved at last week's City Council meeting, each for demolition of a home on Eastman Shore Road North and the construction of a larger home, and more will be on the agenda for the next meeting. While the council quickly approved both requests, this represented a new layer of bureaucracy and the chance that someone could have objected.

Owners of homes in established subdivisions on private roads, as is the case in neighborhoods like South Down Shores, would not need to receive City Council approval for building permits.

The Public Works Department has been researching which streets are public and which are private. As part of this research, it was discovered that state law specifies the City Council is the authority that must authorize the issuance of certain building permits, Planning Director Dean Trefethen said.

The state law has been in place for a number of years, but the city was not aware of its requirements until recently. Trefethen said he's not sure of the rationale behind the law, but said that in some cases it helps for the City Council to have this additional oversight.

“We've got some old roads that were developed as camp roads in the 40s, 50s and 60s, and they don't have the infrastructure, drainage or systems present in other roads,” he said. “To put more homes on some of these roads could be a problem for the ecology. You would get water runoff and possible damage and that would not be a good situation.”

City Manager Scott Myers said it's possible the City Council could ultimately give him permission to approve these permits, and said that option will be explored. Meantime, the council will continue to consider such permits.  

State law also says public funds can't be spent on private roads. However, the law does allow the city to continue basic maintenance, including snow plowing, on emergency lanes for purposes of ensuring access to firefighters, police and paramedics.

Public Works Director Wes Anderson said there are 200 roads in Laconia that are private and privately maintained.

For another 47 roads, the city has been providing maintenance, but there is no record that they are owned by the city.

On Aug. 28, the City Council will consider designating seven of those roads as emergency lanes: Cotton Hill Road, Dell Avenue, Eastman Shore Road North, Lucerne Avenue, McKinley Road, Regis Road and Wentworth Avenue.

Meantime, the city will continue working on making a determination of the ultimate designation for the remaining 40 roads that receive city services without evidence of city ownership.

Traffic stop in Tilton last year lands man in jail for drug trafficking

CONCORD — Bryan Franklin, 42, formerly of Penacook, was sentenced to 120 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to possession with the intent to distribute fentanyl and methamphetamine and unlawful possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime in Tilton, said Acting United States Attorney John J. Farley.

According to court documents and statements made in court proceedings, on Sept. 24, 2016, the Tilton Police Department conducted a traffic stop of a vehicle operated by Franklin that was found to contain multiple needles, cut plastic baggies, and other items associated with drug use. A subsequent search of another vehicle owned by Franklin resulted in the seizure of a lock box that contained approximately $15,958 in cash, approximately 750 grams of fentanyl, assorted prescription pills, a quantity of methamphetamine, a thumb drive, and two digital scales. Additionally, a backpack in the vehicle contained a tin box that contained an additional quantity of fentanyl, a drug ledger, and a loaded semi-automatic handgun that had been reported to law enforcement as stolen. Franklin pleaded guilty to the charges that resulted from this investigation on May 12, 2017.

“The aggressive investigation and prosecution of individuals engaged in fentanyl trafficking in New Hampshire remains a top priority of the United States Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners at the local, state and federal level,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Farley. “As New Hampshire continues to face an unprecedented number of overdose deaths directly caused by opioid use, we will continue to work tirelessly to prosecute those who are responsible for distributing these dangerous drugs in our state. Most drug deaths in New Hampshire are associated with fentanyl use. The quick-thinking law enforcement officers who seized this large quantity of fentanyl and prevented it from being distributed may have saved several lives.”

“Those suffering from the disease of opioid addiction need access to treatment and recovery,” said Special Agent in Charge Michael J. Ferguson. “But, those responsible for distributing lethal drugs like fentanyl to the citizens of New Hampshire need to be held accountable for their actions. DEA and its local, state and federal partners are committed to bringing to justice those that distribute this poison.”

Franklin was sentenced to 60 months’ imprisonment on the drug trafficking charge and a consecutive mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of five years on the firearms charge, for a total sentence of 120 months’ imprisonment.

This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and the Tilton Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Cole Davis prosecuted the case.