Judge: Tilton did not prove Bestway has damaged aquifer

LACONIA — Despite concerns over the safety of its drinking water, a Belknap County Superior Court judge has determined the town of Tilton does not have the right to sue the Belmont Planning Board about Belmont’s decision to grant Casella Waste Management, d.b.a. Bestway, from expanding its operation to include household waste processing because there has been no damage by it to the aquifer the business sits upon.
In his dismissal of a case filed by the town of Tilton against the planning board, Judge James O’Neill III said the injury is “highly speculative” and the town of Tilton’s use of the word “possibility” allows that it is speculative.
“Additionally, beyond noting that the [Casella] facility lies on the aquifer in question, the appellant has asserted no facts that show that this facility poses any threat to the aquifer,” said O’Neill.
He said the sole injury to the town of Tilton was the “’real and substantial possibility of damage to [Tilton’s] aquifer,’” including the contamination of the appellant’s drinking water and to the aquifer itself.”
He said that since the allegations were unsubstantiated, the court “’must look beyond’” when it determines whether or not the appellant has sufficient grounds for relief.
During a public hearing held by the board, a number of people from the towns of Tilton and Northfield appeared to voice opposition to the plan. All three towns use the aquifer and their primary source of drinking water including the Tilton-Northfield Water Company. Thirty-one days after the Planning Board decision was made on July 26, 2015 the town of Tilton challenged the ruling in the Belknap County Superior Court.
In the time between when the suit was filed and O’Neill’s decision, the state Department of Environmental Sciences granted conditional approval to Casella’s request to expand it operations to include household refuse.
O’Neill also determined the suit was not filed with the court within the 30-day time limit given to appellates or intervenors to challenge a planning board decision in court. Citing specific New Hampshire cases, he said the law regarding a 30-day right of appeal is clear and longstanding and there can be no excuses for a late filing, except in cases when draft minutes aren’t prepared within the five-day limit set by the state’s Right To Know laws.
Belmont resident George Condodemetraky plans to host a public meeting on Wednesday at 5 p.m. at the Belmont Corner Meeting House to discuss a petition to keep any further industrial development above the aquifer.

Gilford woman allegedly held hostage, escapes after 16 hours

Russell HollidayRussell Holliday

• GILFORD — A local woman is fortunate to have escaped serious physical harm over the weekend when her estranged boyfriend allegedly held her handcuffed in her Annis Drive home for nearly 16 hours at gunpoint.

Police and affidavits said at some point the woman was able to get the gun away from Russell Holliday, 56, of 2644 Lakeshore Road, and hide it in her boot. She was later able to escape when she convinced him to let her go outside and have a cigarette.

Lt. Kris Kelley said the woman left her home in Holliday's car and made it to the police station. Affidavits said she had red marks on her wrists consistent with being held in handcuffs, and gave to police a .22 caliber loaded handgun that had a bullet in the chamber.

Holliday was charged with kidnapping, being a felon in possession of a weapon, criminal threatening, and reckless conduct. He is being held at the Belknap County House of Corrections on $100,000 cash-only bail.

Affidavits said the incident began around 11 a.m. on Saturday and lasted until 3 a.m. Sunday when she escaped. She told police that she was gradually able to de-escalate the situation and when she got the gun away from him she hid it in her boot.

She also told police Holliday allegedly made a device he could use to hold her in handcuffs. Affidavits said police found a 4-foot by 4-foot piece of lumber with two makeshift "D" rings bolted to it on the floor in the closet along with a chain with Styrofoam covering. Police also found two other lag-bolted "D" rings behind the bed that could "feasibly" have been used to confine her.

During her confinement, the woman told police he made sexual threats toward her.

Once police learned of the incident, they obtained an arrest warrant for Holliday and accompanied the Belknap Regional Special Operations Group to Annis Drive to arrest him. Sheriff Craig Wiggin said the team was there from about 5 a.m. Sunday to 7:30 a.m. when they got the arrest warrant and went to the home only to discover Holliday was gone. He said residents were kept in their homes and away from the area during this time.

Police and special operations group members learned he had gone to a home in Moultonborough. A Gilford Police Detective was able to contact him by phone and convince him to surrender to Moultonborough Police, who had surrounded the home. Holliday was taken into custody without further ado.

Holliday appeared by video in the 4th Circuit Court Monday, where a public defender agreed to $100,000 cash bail and reserved the right to argue bail at the future date.

Belknap County Attorney Melissa Guldbrandsen attended his brief court appearance and later said the case is still under investigation and additional charges could be forthcoming.

Affidavits said Holliday's criminal history spans six states, including Indiana, California, South Carolina, Vermont and Florida. His convictions include unlawful trespass, robbery, battery, evading a police officer with death or injury resulting, forgery, disorderly conduct, interference with liquor investigation, and witness tampering in Laconia.






WEEKEND FRONT A celebration of life - John Ganong invites public to mark his five-year anniversary with a new heart

LACONIA — They say that there's no wealth like health, and that's something John Ganong knows all too well. He can also affirm another truism: there is nothing so valuable in life as time.

Ganong, who ran a real estate office on Weirs Boulevard for many years, suffered congestive heart failure in 2003. Yet, he's still walking, talking and smiling, thanks to care provided to him by Tufts Medical Center, which fitted him with a heart transplant on Jan. 3, 2011. To show his appreciation, he has held an annual "Celebrity Bartender" benefit at Faro Italian Grille, where Ganong works the bar and donates all tips to a fund that assists other patients at the Cardiac Transplant Division at Tufts Medical Center.

This year's event will be held on Saturday, Jan. 9, beginning at 7 p.m. Ganong has raised about $8,000 in the previous four years combined, he hopes to eclipse $10,000 with this year's gains.

"We'll have some fun and raise some money," he said.

Ganong's ordeal began 12 years ago, with open-heart surgery to replace valves and repair damage, and the installation of a pacemaker. That fix lasted for about six years, until the left side of his heart collapsed and a pump was installed to keep his heart inflated. Ganong had to wear a vest containing a computer and battery pack to power the pump while he awaited a transplant.

"It was a tightrope walk for a pretty long time," he said, ending with his transplant at the beginning of 2011.

Ganong calls himself the "luckiest man you'll ever meet," and is glad to have an opportunity to celebrate his caregivers, his friends and the fellow cardiac patients he's met.

"It's all about the people in the area ... This area's incredible," he said, specifically thanking the owners and bartenders at Faro for hosting and helping put on the event.

"I've got the best of the best as far as surgeons, and the best of the best as far as friends. It all comes together that night," he said.

After all he's been through, Ganong now has a new view of life to go along with his new heart.

"I had the fastest motorcycles, I had the fastest cars. The fastest thing is life – don't blink," he said.

He knows his life very easily could have ended five years ago. Since then, he's been able to attend his daughter's wedding, watched a grandson race his dirt bike in Las Vegas, and met two other grandsons that were born since 2011.

"When you run out of time once, the rest of the time you have, you treasure it more. There's things that are more important than others that used to be not important ... Time is very important. We take it for granted."

He encourages everyone to attend the fundraiser on Jan. 9.

"It's an open house to everybody, please stop by," he said.