On the record - how your representatives voted, Feb. 23

The New Hampshire State Senate met on Thursday, Feb. 22, and took some recorded votes of interest to local residents:

On SB 8, which allows a public school district to contract with a private school if there are no public options for certain grades, Sens. French, Giuda and Gray voted YES when the bill passed 14-9.

On SB 43, which makes it clear that no student is required to participate in school surveys or questionnaires without parental approval, Sens. French, Giuda and Gray voted YES when the bill passed 13-10.

On SB 44, which prohibits the State of New Hampshire from requiring implementation of Common Core standards, Sens. French, Giuda and Gray voted YES when the bill passed 14-9.

On SB 191, to fund full-day kindergarten, Sens. French and Giuda voted YES, Sen. Gray voted NO. The bill passed the Senate 22-1.

On Inexpedient to Legislate for SB 192, which would have restored state aid for school building projects,

Sens. French, Giuda and Gray voted YES when the Senate killed the bill 14-9.

On SB 193, which establishes education freedom savings accounts using a portion of state education expenses toward alternate education settings, Sens. French, Giuda and Gray voted YES when the Senate passed the bill.

On SB 224, which prohibits persons licensed to provide counseling services from counseling a person under 18 about changing his/her sexual orientation, Sen. Gray voted YES, Sens. French and Giuda voted NO, when the bill passed the Senate 15-8.

The Senate convenes again on Thursday, March 9, at 10 a.m.

The New Hampshire House did not meet this week. It will meet at the “Call of the Chair” but members have been advised to keep both Wednesday, March 8, and Thursday, March 9, available as possible session days.

– Kate Miller, former state representative

Dead or on the run? 1997 arson case revived


MEREDITH— "It's kind of a catch-me-if-you-can situation," said Sgt. Bill Wright of the Belknap County Sheriff's Department, who is still pursuing a man who allegedly set fire to a home in 1997, fled the state in 1998, twice faked his death and has not been seen since 1999.

"Just because it's an old case and no one was injured," Wright said, "doesn't mean it didn't happen and doesn't mean it's over." He added that "the people of Belknap County expect us to do what we can to bring this man back."

03-04 James Lyman HillThis week, the U.S. Marshals Service named James Lyman Hill, 73, who was indicted on a charge of arson in April 1998, its "Fugitive of the Week" and requested the assistance of the public in bringing him to justice.

"We've tried to reinvigorate the case every couple of years," said Wright, who recalled receiving "hundreds of tips" when Hill was featured on America's Most Wanted in November 2009. These included one from a woman in Phoenix, Arizona, who said she dated Hill, and said he ultimately stole her car and disappeared, and another leading police to interview a school teacher in California whose alibi was as strong as his likeness to Hill.

The chase began when Hill was indicted after allegedly setting fire to the empty home of his former girlfriend on Meredith Center on Dec. 13, 1997. Wright said that before the warrant for his arrest was issued, Hill, together with an associate, flew to Florida. Wright said that Hill, who worked as a carpenter and handyman, frequented marinas in south Florida where he reportedly sought advice about reaching the Cayman Islands. Later he learned from one the few members of Hill's family willing to speak with authorities that he was "infatuated" with the Caribbean islands, particularly those without extradition treaties with the United States.

Not long after arriving in Florida, Hill was suspected of stealing a 39-foot sailing yacht, valued at $150,000, in the Florida Keys. The yacht was recovered run ashore near Key Largo. Although there was no sign of Hill, his identification and belongings were found on board. After a search and investigation by the United States Coast Guard and local law enforcement agencies found no trace of Hill, he was presumed lost at sea and declared dead. Not long afterward, Wright said that Hill was spotted in southern Florida and when Hill's belongings but not his body were found in a stolen vehicle that went into a river after crashing on a bridge, the death certificate was rescinded and the search resumed.

Wright said that there have been no confirmed reports of Hill's whereabouts since 1999, but he is presumed to be still alive and living, probably under a new identity, among the islands of the Caribbean. At the same time, Hill, who was born in Vermont, is believed to still have extensive ties, including family, to New England.

Hill is described as 6 feet tall, weighing about 200 pounds with brown hair and hazel eyes. He is reportedly fond of gambling and prone to "violent tendencies," especially when drinking. Anyone with information about his whereabouts or who has seen someone matching his description would contact the United States Marshals Fugitive Task Force at 603-225-1632 or Sgt. Bill Wright at the Belknap County Sheriff's Department at 527-5454.

Groups: Increased use may explain litter in bay

03 04 meredith bay trash folo

Geese bob near the docks in Meredith Bay Friday. Groups such as the Meredith Rotary Club and the Lake Winnipesaukee Association try to educate the public about preserving the natural beauty of the lake while enjoying its recreational opportunities. (David Carkhuff/The Laconia Daily Sun)



MEREDITH — After residents complained about a proliferation of trash and debris on Meredith Bay, a representative of the Meredith Rotary Club said the group emphasizes a "pack it in, pack it out" ethic to participants in the Rotary's annual fishing derby.
"It only takes a few bad apples to spoil it for the rest of us," said Tim Bergquist, chairman of the Great Meredith Rotary Fishing Derby, which was held Feb. 11 and 12.
This week, town crews gathered three dump truck loads of debris that had been hauled off of Meredith Bay. Staff at the town transfer station confirmed that Department of Public Works workers brought in the piles of trash for processing after residents helped collect and haul it off of the ice.
Recovered items included a futon couch frame with the full-size futon mattress, four metal fire pits, a 55-gallon steel drum full of wood planks, beer cans, trash, plastic bags, plastic bottles, beer cans, plastic netting, extension cords and a 6x6 fence post.
The volunteers were not able to collect everything — left behind were cement blocks, wooden pallets, planks, cord wood and a pile of wood chips.
Bergquist said the Meredith Rotary Club does its part to deal with lake litter, hosting a biannual cleanup in the spring.
"We do a biannual cleanup of the whole bay. Basically, we gather up 30 or more people in boats and skim through the lake. We do scuba diving, picking up debris," Bergquist said.
"We try to do as much as we can if not more. We're really there for the community in trying to give back to the community," Bergquist said. "We have a regular time that we go through and do a Meredith Bay Clean-up. It's amazing how much debris we can pull out of there."
The group conducted its most recent cleanup last spring.
Now is not the time to try to remove lingering litter, Bergquist cautioned. He urged the public, even those concerned about remaining debris, to stay off the ice. It's not safe to venture out this late in the season.
"There are still a few piles of debris but at this point it's just not safe to get anything out," he said.
Bergquist said warnings against littering appear prominently in the fishing derby rules, in its application materials and on its website — the rules note: "Littering of any New Hampshire lake is a violation of the law and nature. Anything left on the ice will, at some point, be released into the lake. Please keep America clean. Do the right thing! Carry off what you carry on."
During the derby, it's simply not possible for the Meredith Rotary Club volunteers to monitor what participants are doing with trash.
"We can't do anything out on the ice, it's not our role. We can't go out there and monitor people and tell them to clean up. We can only ask them," Bergquist said.
Patricia Tarpey, executive director of the Lake Winnipesaukee Association, said the nonprofit group, which focuses on lake issues and the land surrounding the lake, has heard complaints about litter and debris on the ice.
Tarpey said she has increasingly noticed that people who venture onto frozen water treat it like land, as though the items left behind can be recovered later.
"We've had more complaints in the last couple of years," she confirmed.
The Meredith Rotary Club, she agreed, tries to educate the public about not leaving trash behind.
"I do think it's an area (of concern) because we've seen complaints and we are seeing more activities in the winter on the lake," Tarpey said.
Bergquist agreed that littering may be getting worse because of increased activity on the ice.
"Always with crowds, you can end up with issues like that," he said.
This year's derby ended abruptly with a Sunday afternoon snowstorm, leading to a quick exodus for many participants. But Bergquist reported, "There was some additional cleanup done in the following week by fishermen who were out there."
Bergquist reported that the 4,703 tickets sold for the derby was slightly below an average of 5,000 in past years, but that roughly $141,090 in ticket-sale revenue still provided revenue for scholarships and community projects. Based on past years, the derby netted about $80,000 in revenue for the community.

For more information about the fishing derby, visit https://www.facebook.com/Meredith.Rotary.Club/?fref=ts.

To visit, the Winnipesaukee Gateway website, a vehicle for the association and its partners to educate the public on a range of issues relating to the lake and water quality, go to http://winnipesaukeegateway.org.