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Trust established to own Bert Southwick farm

NORTHFIELD — Before he passed away, Bert Southwick, an iconic figure in the town for 93 years, transferred his property to the Southwick Farm Trust with the intent that the buildings and land will forever remain a working farm.

Sean Chandler and Michael Stine, the co-trustees, have begun the process of renovating the house and barn with an eye to leasing the property to a person with the interest and experience to carry on where Southwick left off. The trust will seek to secure a conservation easement on the property, which in keeping with Southwick's wishes would forestall its development in perpetuity.

Meanwhile, Scott McGuffin, the trust protector, said that "Bert's Angels", the 4-H Club and local residents have contributed in money and in kind to begin the rehabilitation process by repairing the barn. He said that David Huckins, a local contractor, and his crew spared the structure from certain demise under the weight of snow. The house, which will require wiring, plumbing and a new well, will ultimately be renovated as well.

Anyone interested in providing either financial support or in-kind assistance to the process should contact Sean Chandler at 286-3464.

Last Updated on Saturday, 14 March 2015 12:59

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No charges to result from fatal crash in August 2013

GILFORD — Following nearly 19-months of investigating, police determined the driver of a car that caused a three-car accident in which a 59-year-old Laconia woman was killed will not be criminally charged.

The decision not to charge Brendon LeFavor-Hanson, 24, was made earlier this year and the case was officially closed on February 19.

Police said Hanson, then 22, of Gilford was traveling east behind a Toyota Corolla around noon on August 7, 2013 that was being driven by Kay E. Sawyer, then 59, of Laconia. Sawyer was accompanied by her daughter and her grandson.

According to the final report of the accident reconstruction team and the Gilford Police, Sawyer was traveling behind a woman driving a PT Cruiser and when the car slowed to make a right turn on to Springbrook Lane near Brookside Crossing Sawyer also slowed.

LeFavor-Hanson, who was behind Sawyer, said he had looked to his right toward the treeline for an unknown but brief amount of time, and when he looked to the front he realized he was going to hit Sawyer's car.

He swerved quickly to the right to try and avoid her, but struck her car on the rear passenger side and bumper said the report.

The impact sent Sawyer's car into the west-bound lane where she collided head-on with a car being driven by Martin Leary of Gilford.

Both Sawyer's and Leary's car continued moving uncontrollably until they came to stops on their own. LeFavor-Hanson was able to stop his own car.

Three separate witnesses gave statements that were consistent with the investigation conducted by the accident reconstruction team.

The report said Sawyer was not wearing a seat belt and was partially ejected from the car. The N.H. medical examiner said her cause of death was blunt force trauma to the torso with multiple injuries.

Police said during their investigation, LeFavor-Hanson voluntarily offered them his cell phone — it had not been used before the crash — and submitted to a voluntary blood test that indicated he was not impaired.

Tests determined there was no excessive speed by any of the people involved and there was no mechanical failure. Reports showed Sawyer's brake lights were working and although LeFavor Hanson car's had bald tires, because the pavement was dry police said it wouldn't have affected his ability to stop or swerve.

After the investigation was complete, police met with Belknap County Attorney Melissa Guldbrandsen, who determined that in light of the 2009 N.H. Supreme Court ruling that overturned a conviction for negligent homicide for a driver who accidentally crossed the yellow line and hit two motorcycles, charges would not be filed.

"Not every act of carelessness that results in a death or serious bodily injury entails criminal negligence, however, and a person charged with criminal negligence may not be convicted on evidence that establishes only ordinary negligence," reads the decision.

"Criminal negligence requires not only the failure to perceive a more than ordinary risk, but also some serious blameworthiness in the conduct that caused it," a majority of the justices conclude.

Last Updated on Saturday, 14 March 2015 12:47

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In finals for the first time, Bulldogs want to leave their mark

GILFORD — Before Dave Caron and a handful of parents took it upon themselves to create the Belmont-Gilford Bulldogs hockey team, never before in the state of New Hampshire had two different high schools come together to form a cooperative sports team. Caron got the idea from a team in Maine and sought to apply the model in Gilford, with Belmont High School as a partner.
The fruit of that effort will be on display today, as the Belmont-Gilford Bulldogs take on Berlin-Gorham's Mountaineers in the NHIAA Division III championship match, to be played at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester. The puck will drop at 12:15.
It took several years for Caron and company to get the NHIAA to finally adopt the rules necessary for a cooperative team. The team began competing at the varsity level in the 2004-2005 school year and got off to an ignominious start. The team managed to win just one game over the first two seasons, Caron recalled. That was due to bad luck as much as a new program, though, because a glut of talented players had graduated the year prior. Caron recalled a conversation with an NHIAA official during the second season when he was politely asked if he thought the team would ever be competitive.
"I said, 'yes'," Caron recalled, though he admitted that his fingers might have been crossed behind his back.
He turned out to be right. In fact, the Bulldogs this year have been more than competitive — they earned the top seed for the Division III tournament. On Wednesday, Belmont-Gilford knocked off Kennett in a tough semi-final battle and today will appear in a championship game for the first time in the program's history. Their opponent, Berlin-Gorham, has played in many title matches, most recently in 2013, but hasn't won one since 1976. "Both teams are hungry for a title, it's going to be a great game," said Caron. "Go Bulldogs!"
Caron traces Belmont-Gilford's ascendance to the point at which Jay Londer was brought on as head coach. "Jay has done a phenomenal job developing players," said Caron, noting that the Bulldogs have made the playoffs each year that Londer has led the team, whether the team had star-level players or not. "His teaching style, his coaching, his practice management, they've turned into really solid hockey players... I'm proud of the way he's built this program."
Londer, a personal trainer, said he applies his professional expertise to the hockey team. "We started building this program up with conditioning and a healthy lifestyle." He doesn't have to have the most talented or most skilled hockey players, he said, as long as he has players in the best shape. "We outworked teams."
As the team began to improve its record, community support has grown. The boosters club, assistant coaches, and new this year, a volunteer recording each game so that the team can review their play.
"We continue to get better every year, with help from the community," said Londer.
He said the team's motto this year has been "Give up what you want now for what you want most." In other words, skip the junk food for a healthier meal and turn off the Playstation in favor of a decent night's sleep. That discipline, and the conditioning, has paid off in the form of a chance to play in an historic game for Belmont-Gilford. Making it through to the championship has been the unstated goal for the season, Londer said. Speaking yesterday before the final practice of the season, he said the coaching staff doesn't plan any pep talks or chest-thumping speeches. He just wants them to revel in, and enjoy, their moment.
"It's the first time we've been in the finals. It's exciting, the kids are psyched," he said. "I like our chances. Berlin's a very good club, they've got a lot of history, a lot of pride." His team has respect for the Mountaineers, but Londer said the Bulldogs are hungry to earn respect for themselves. "We're going to go out, give it what we've got and let the chips fall where they may... The pressure is off. Our goal was to get to the final. Now that we're there, all we have to do is play."

Last Updated on Saturday, 14 March 2015 12:41

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Burchell concedes DeVoy is chair until he has his day in court

LACONIA — County Commissioner Richard Burchell acknowledged in a motion filed in Belknap County Superior Court on Friday that fellow commissioner Dave DeVoy should continue to serve as commission chairman until Burchell's suit seeking to reverse his March 2 ouster as chairman has been decided in his favor.
Burchell's motion to withdraw his request for a preliminary injunction against his fellow commissioners was granted by Judge James O'Neill III.

The judge also granted Burchell's request for additional time for his attorney, David Horan, to file responses and objections to motions and requests made by his fellow commissioners that his complaint be dismissed.
O'Neill set a deadline of March 20 for Horan's filing and a date for a final hearing on the merits of the case is being scheduled.
Granting the request removed the need for a hearing on the injunction request.
Commissioner Hunter Taylor, who is an attorney and has been representing himself in the proceedings, had asked the court to view a video of the March 2 meeting at which he and DeVoy voted to reorganize the commission.
At that meeting, Burchell presided and attempted to block any motions made by the other commissioners by repeatedly rapping the gavel and exclaiming that they were "out of order".
Burchell later on March 2 filed a motion in Belknap County Superior Court seeking ex parte relief from the action of the other two commissioners, claiming that there is no statutory basis for his removal as chairman, which he maintains will be ''an invitation to chaos". He had unsuccessfully sought an injunction before the meeting to prevent the other commissioners from taking any action.
DeVoy's filing, made by attorney Paul Fitzgerald, maintains that New Hampshire RSA 28:1 indicates that all powers of the commission can be exercised by a majority vote.
It also maintains that without the right to remove the chairman, the commission risks becoming dysfunctional if a chairperson is unwilling to allow the appropriate methodical discussion and disposition of agenda items or attempts to stifle discussion through the use of repeated and erroneous parliamentary rulings.

Last Updated on Saturday, 14 March 2015 12:29

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