Remaining 2 Gilmanton selectmen will interview Currier, Forst & Hatch on Tuesday

GILMANTON — Selectmen decided last night to hold open interviews with the three people who expressed a desire to fill the seat left vacant when Steve McCormack resigned. The interviews will be conducted on Tuesday, July 28 at 6 p.m.

The decision to interview Brett Currier, Brian Forst and Rachael Hatch came after Chair Don Guarino reviewed the pertinent state laws, the town's own policies, and the procedure used the last time two board members needed to fill a vacancy.

"I think we should take our time," said Selectman Michael Jean. "It's an important decision."

Guarino said he wanted to make it sooner than later but agreed another week wouldn't be too burdensome.

Jean made his statements after letters of interests that were submitted by Forst and Currier were read aloud. Both were at the meeting but Hatch was unable to attend. Guarino said Hatch didn't submit a letter but both he and Jean determined she was a qualified applicant.

Forst, who is the chair of the Budget Committee said he would like to fill the vacancy until March elections because he has served on the board before, is the chair of the Budget Committee, and is familiar with the way the town if operated. Forst said he would step down as Budget Committee chair should he be chosen.

Currier, who served a three-year term that ended in March but nevertheless mounted a last-minute writ- in campaign and finished second, wrote that tradition in Gilmanton says the person who finished second in the last election should be named to the open seat. He cited the time that Hatch was the second vote getter to David Clairmont who died while in office. Hatch filled his term and went on to win a full term at the next election.

He also said that he had stayed involved in the town, serves on the road committee and was often the only member of the public at many board meetings.

Two letters of support for Currier were read to the public — both saying he had the necessary expertise to fill the vacancy and both cited previous tradition in town.

There were also two nearly identical letters sent by two townspeople who didn't want Currier to sit on the board because his son was going to be police chief, beginning in January.

Both said Sgt. Matt Currier was an excellent supervisor and would make an excellent chief but felt he would do better if he was chief without having to answer to his father, who would be his direct supervisor if he was named selectman. The writers said it was different during Currier's last term because Joe Collins was (and is) chief and Matt Currier worked for him.

Guarino read the state's nepotism rules but noted that when he called the local government center for advice on the Curriers, he was told that in some small towns in New Hampshire it was not unusual to have similar potential conflicts of interest. During the time Currier was selectmen, he was careful to recuse himself from any police department business that involved his son.

Next week's interviews begin at 6 p.m. and only the selectmen and Town Administrator Paul Branscombe — who officially starts Monday but who sat in on last night's meeting — will be asking questions.

Guarino said the interviews will be the first thing on next week's agenda and the interviews can be attended by the public but there will be no public input during that time. The regular business meeting of the board will begin after the interviews.

Neither Guarino or Jean said definitively whether or not the board would make their decision next week but it is anticipated an appointment will be made then.

Blankenship arrested at Loudon hotel, more charges pending

BELMONT — A former Orchard Street man who was the subject of a joint U.S. Marshal's Task Force and Belmont Police Department search was captured by Loudon and Concord Police after they got a tip he was staying at a hotel on Rte. 106, near the line between the two municipalities.

Kenneth Blankenship was initially wanted for failing to show up in the Belknap County Superior Court for a hearing to revoke his bail for allegedly disobeying the terms while he is awaiting trial for a Gilford burglary.

Blankenship relocated to Belmont — without telling the court — and was arrested by Belmont Police for domestic violence assault on March 26.

Additionally, Blankenship was arrested by Belmont Police on June 16 for multiple counts of domestic violence assault and on June 20 for witness tampering. On June 20 he was held by the court on $2,000 cash bail, which he posted.
Belmont Police said yesterday that during their investigation of the June 16 alleged assaults and the June 20 alleged witness tampering charge, they learned of a third domestic assault that began on June 13 and stretched into June 14.
Police affidavits obtained yesterday from the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division said on June 13 the victim was in a car with Blankenship and he allegedly pushed her head into the passenger side window while in Route 107. When the two returned to Orchard Hill Road, the victim told police he took a large kitchen blade and held it to her throat and threatened to kill her.
Early in the morning on the next day, Blankenship allegedly picked her up by her hair and threw her around the room, eventually pulling out a clump of it. About an hour later, police allege he began kicking her while she was in a fetal position position in the corner.
For the June 13 and 14 charges Blankenship faces an additional four charges of domestic violence of simple assault and one count of domestic violence criminal threatening.
During his video appearance in the 4th Circuit Court, Judge Jim Carroll ordered him held on $10,000 cash-only bail — $8,000 for the felony and $2,000 for the misdemeanors. Blankenship was already free on $2,000 cash-only bail however Carroll said this would not apply to the additional cash bail conditions set yesterday.

Daily Sun partnerning with Meredith committee to mark town's 250th birthday

MEREDITH — The 250th Anniversary Celebration Committee has entered a partnership with The Laconia Daily Sun to finance and promote the activities and festivities that will mark the sestercentennial in 2018 and make it a year to remember in Meredith and throughout the Lakes Region.

Steve Durand, master of the Wicwas Lake Grange and chairman of the committee, said yesterday that the budget for the celebrations is expected to fall between $40,000 and $50,000. The Greater Meredith Program (GMP) has accepted the responsibility for financing and organizing the celebration and convened the committee to lead the planning and fundraising efforts. Durand said nearly 30 residents and town employees have volunteered and at least half that number attend the regular meetings on the fourth Monday of each month.

Durand said that the Wicwas Lake Grange began by pledging to donate $250 in each of the four years leading to 2018 and challenged individuals, businesses and organizations to follow suit. He said that 25 donors have accepted the challenge, representing total pledges of $25,000. The Board of Selectmen appropriated $5,000 for the celebration in the 2016 budget and, Durand said, will likely be asked for another contribution.

Meanwhile, to boost the fundraising campaign and support the celebration itself, The Daily Sun has contributed $25,000 worth of in-kind services, consisting primarily of advertising space, to the committee to solicit donations and advertise events. "We need lots of PR," said Durand, "This is a win-win for us." He said that the publicity provided by the newspaper will help the committee to raise funds as well as promote the celebration. He explained that in 2018 every month will be highlighted by a special event staged by a different sponsor.

At the same time, The Daily Sun will publish a hardbound book recalling the experience of Meredith in photographs and words from the 18th to the 21st century. Modeled after a similar venture undertaken in Concord, the book promises to be among the most popular of the mementos offered for sale in the celebratory year. The newspaper will bear the cost of publishing the book and retain the proceeds from its sale.

Adam Hirshan, publisher of The Daily Sun, said that the partnership offers a unique opportunity for the paper to develop a closer relationship with the town by contributing to its 250th anniversary celebration. "We look forward to working with the committee and others in the community to ensure the success of this venture," he said.

Durand said that arrangement will provide committee with resources it needs when it needs them while the book will add an extra dimension to the celebration while offering the paper an opportunity to share in its success.