Trustees vote: Meredith Library to move


MEREDITH — The Board of Trustees of the Meredith Public Library voted Tuesday to leave the Benjamin M. Smith Memorial Library building, where the institution has operated for the past 115 years, for a new home to be constructed at a location and at a time that remains to be determined.

Duncan McNeish said that although the board divided 5 to 2, the dissenters agreed that the library should move to a new location while preferring to defer a decision and announcement until a suitable property was found and acquired. He said that the vote carries the caveat that the trustees could rescind the decision in light of "unforeseen circumstances."

The vote followed nearly a decade of discussion among successive trustees about the future of the library overshadowed by the steady deterioration of its historic building and mounting pressures on its limited space.

McNeish said that the majority of the board favored a timely decision to assuage residents who, after a series of public forums on the future of the library, wondered "Are we staying or leaving?" At the same time, he said the decision affords the Board of Selectmen and the town plenty of time to decide what to do with the original library building.

"We're not leaving tomorrow," he said, adding that the process of raising funds, purchasing land and constructing a library could take three or four years.

In the meantime, the decision poses practical and legal issues for the town, which the trustees outlined for the selectmen earlier this week. First, as town manager Phil Warren, the Benjamin M. Smith Memorial Library is in need of some $750,000 worth of repairs in order to comply with building and fire codes.

Attorney Andrew Livernois, representing the trustees, explained to selectmen that because the library building sits on land owned by the town, but was built and donated by a benefactor, if it no longer serves as a library, the town will be left a building subject to the law governing charitable trusts, which is administered by the New Hampshire Department of Justice.

In particular, the library would become subject to a section of the law, known as "cy pres," from the French meaning "as close as possible." The doctrine of "cy pres" provides that if an original charitable purpose can no longer be fulfilled, an interested party may petition the court to pursue another purpose which "is useful to the community and which fulfills as nearly as possible the general charitable intent of the original donor."

In other words, if the town chose to puts the building to another public purpose, it could negotiate an arrangement with the Division of Charitable Trusts and file a "cy pres" petition with the probate court legitimizing the changed use of the building. However, if the town chose to sell the property to a private party, it would be required to compensate the Meredith Public Library with the proceeds from the transaction to fulfill the charitable intent of the original benefactor.

Likewise , Livernois reminded the selectmen, the library was awarded a $70,000 grant by the Land and Community Heritage Program to replace the copper gutters on the building. Livernois said that if the building were sold to private party, the town would likely be required to refund the grant.

Furthermore, in 1985, the Benjamin M. Smith Memorial Library was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

McNeish emphasized that "the library trustees want to work collaboratively with the selectmen and the town to ensure a smooth transition."

Meredith Public Library 2016

The Meredith Public Library (Laconia Daily Sun file photo)

Convicted former deputy sheriff wants four rape cases heard separately


LACONIA — Former Deputy Sheriff Ernest Justin Blanchette was in Superior Court Tuesday to argue that the four of the remaining cases for rape against him remain separate.

The state has asked the cases be tried together, citing the cases are logically connected in that Blanchette allegedly used the same method of operation to coerce his victims into either having sex with him, having sex with each other, or having sex with each other while he watched.

His methodology, said the state, was to use cigarettes, cell phones and special privileges to coerce people he transported to engage in some kind of sexual act. Assistant Prosecutor Adam Wood said yesterday that all of the allegations occurred at, in or near a transport van, that in all cases Blanchette was the only person in authority there, and that all of the victims were selected from inmates at the Belknap County Jail.

Wood said he told them not to do anything that would get him fired.

Blanchette's attorney, Brad Davis, said he wouldn't object to the two cases that involve the same alleged victims being tried together, but feels they are distinct and separate from the other two. He said the remaining two are distinct from each other.

In other words, the state wants one trial and Davis wants three trials.

He said trying all of the cases at the same time will confuse the jury, and the only commonality they all share is the same set of investigators and maybe one witness from Belknap County who would testify to internal regulations.

"Even if the court agrees they're related, you can decide to keep them severed to get a fair determination," Davis said to the court.

Davis has also filed a motion to dismiss the cases based on the theory that Blanchette was not employed by the Department of Corrections as is stated in the statues.

The same argument is being used in Hillsborough County by Judge Gillian Abramson as she decides whether or not to overturn the a jury verdict of guilty in Blanchette's trial there.

Belknap County Attorney Melissa Guldbrandsen said that in Blanchette's Hillsborough case, the judge determined where Blanchette was employed was not an element of the case.

It is Davis's argument that the law doesn't address sheriff's or police officers but only corrections officers, probation and parole officers and staff at secure psychiatric facilities.

Yesterday, Judge James O'Neill asked Davis why he shouldn't wait until Abramson had made her ruling.

Davis agreed to wait for Abramson's after O'Neill assured him that Abramson's ruling wasn't going to be the the absolute law as it applied to his four trials in O'Neill's court.

Alton Central students leave for D.C. tonight


ALTON — After three years of fundraising and almost as many years of administrative indecision, 27 students of the Alton Central School leave Wednesday night for their graduation trip to Washington, D.C., and Arlington National Cemetery.

The school trip to Washington has been in the making since 2014 when some of the then fifth-graders came up with the idea as a senior class trip.

Fundraising began that year, and in the past three years the students gathered a little over $18,000.

"I'm glad for the kids," said parent Judy Ingoldby, whose daughter was one of the students who came up with the idea.

"They've raised everything themselves," she said. "Anyone who would sit and listen to them, they went."

The trip almost went down the tubes last school year when teachers gave the seventh-grade students a confidential survey about it and reported that only four of them wanted to go to Washington, D.C.

After it was canceled by the administration, the students went before the School Board and asked them to reinstate it. After considerable discussion, the board voted 4 to 0 with one abstention to allow the students to continue with their fundraising while assuring the many taxpayers who were there that no tax dollars would be spent.

Ingoldsby said the trip was school-sanctioned until February, when the administration gave over control of the money and the fundraising to the parents.

She said she they chose an educational travel agent that has been used by other school for similar trips and all of the chaperones are parents.

Ingoldsby said Sen. Kelly Ayotte arranged for the students to have a tour of the White House Friday morning. The students will also visit Arlington National Cemetery, the Holocaust Memorial, the Capitol Center, Union Station and all of the museums on Saturday.

05-18 Alton DC trip fundraiser 1

Kathryn Curran, Jordan Ingoldsby, Ashlyn Dalrymple helped with a fundraiser at the Alton Rotary Craft Fair in 2015. (Courtesy photo)

05-18 Alton DC trip fundraiser 2

Jordan Ingoldsby, Mackenzie Bicknett, Ashlyn Dalrymple had a table at the Alton Home and Garden Show last year. (Courtesy photo)

05-18 Alton DC trip fundraiser 3

Ashlyn Dalrymple, Jordan Ingoldsby, Noah Brown and Mykel Whitehouse helped the American Legion place flags on local veterans' graves for Memorial Day 2015. (Courtesy photo)