Atkinson Town Hall

Atkinson Town Hall
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Welcome Message and Mission Statement

Welcome to the NEW Atkinson Reporter! Under new management, with new resolve.

The purpose of this Blog is to pick up where the Atkinson Reporter has left off. "The King is dead, Long live the King!" This Blog is a forum for the discussion of predominantly Atkinson; Officials, People, Ideas, and Events. You may give opinion, fact, or evaluation, but ad hominem personal attacks will not be tolerated, or published. The conversation begun on the Atkinson Reporter MUST be continued!

This Blog will not fall to outside hacks from anyone, especially insecure public officials afraid of their constituents criticism.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Mr. Groski, my the hypocrisy is strong with this one.

For those who did not know, Selectman Groski is running for County attorney. Given this office's history of ethically challenged opportunists, who do not give two shits about justice, He should fit in splendidly.

However, Mr. Groski penned a LTTE to the Carriage Towne News this week criticizing his opponent Pat Conway. He did so NOT by criticizing her actions, performance of duties, or any other such honorable method of discourse, NO, he chose to criticize her for the actions of her deputy. THEN, he devoted an inordinate amount of space to the derision of Laurie list cops, evidently the husband of Ms. Conway is on this list, but that did not stop him from using this to smear Ms. Conway. What this has to do with her job performance no one knows other than the mudslinger himself.

It falls to this blog to remind Mr. Groski of a few points, YOU EMPLOY A LAURIE LIST COP YOURSELF! Detective Nick Fiset. Nicky baby is apparently so dishonest that the County Prosecutor Jill Cook, did not even attempt to call him as a witness to a case in which he is the chief investigating officer. Have you ever heard of a criminal case in which the investigating officer does not testify as to his methods and findings?  What makes this worse is that it is believed that this officer fabricated a case against a resident, and has dragged it out for 20 months without trial. Mr. Groski, this is under YOUR alleged leadership.

You further decry the settlement expenses involved in civil litigation against the County Attorney's office, $80,000, Right Jason? But you are a staunch defender of your fellow Selectmen Phil Consentino, who just, what, two to three years ago cost this town and it's insurers $100,000 pursuant to a sexual harassment complaint? And this was just the latest expense in his storied career of bullying, harassing, and oppression, and the resulting litigation. His career has cost this town and it's insurers hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not over a million. No comment about that, right Jason?

You criticize Pat Conway, because the Judge had harsh words for HER DEPUTY. Words like; " “single-minded, zealous advocacy (that) clouded her higher duty to honor the defendant’s constitutional rights.”" But, Jason, Buddy, you defend Phil, about whom the following comments were made; "cease and desist" "bullying, harassing and intimidating his employees" by the NHPELRB. or "It is difficult for the Court to believe Mr. Consentino did not understand the terms of it's May 10, 2005 Order. Mr. Consentino testified that his attorney explained the Order to him" Rockingham Superior Court Judge McHugh, in his Contempt Order. From the same Order; "From the Defendant's demeanor, it is clear that he believes that because he was elected selectman he can do or say anything" "Apparently he concludes this entitles him to consider Atkinson "his town"". Because the Court finds that Philip Consentino has wilfully violated its order the Court grants the Plaintiffs motion for Contempt." THIS is what you defend.

Tell me Jason, you had no problem with the conflict of interest inherent in your wife's hiring as a consultant to TRSD. You have actively participated in town business meetings that violated RSA 91A. When this was pointed out, you defended the boards actions, obfuscating the issue, and refusing to address the simple legal requirements of going into a non public meeting. Hardly honorable.
You even attempted to use your standing as an attorney to give undue weight to yours and the boards wrongheaded theory that they enjoyed some authority over the Conflict of interest committee. Try reading the law, Jason, before you attempt to twist it.

Remembering these perfidities, and balancing them against your sanctimonious LTTE, reminds me of the parable about those who live in glass houses, throwing stones.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Nun accused in hit and run hopes to move on

By JASON SCHREIBER


PLAISTOW — Sister Rachel Dumont is trying to put the stress of the last several months behind her.

The 84-year-old Atkinson nun, who has been at the center of a criminal hit-and-run case, is hoping to move forward and continue her volunteer work.

“I want peace of mind,” she said Thursday.

Dumont, who’s been a nun for the last 65 years, was charged with conduct after an accident in February after Plaistow police investigated a report of hit-and-run accident outside the Kohl’s department store last Dec. 16.

She pleaded no contest to the violation-level offense last month, meaning she neither admitted nor denied guilt. A judge then found her guilty and fined her $250, which was suspended.

Despite the finding, Dumont maintains her innocence.

“I was not involved in that. I didn’t hit anybody,” said Dumont, who taught in Catholic schools in New Hampshire and several other states for more than 50 years.

Police have said their investigation showed Dumont backed her car out in the parking lot and hit another vehicle that was parked. Dumont was then accused of leaving the scene before she and the driver of the other vehicle could exchange information.

Dumont insists she wasn’t parked in the area where the accident happened and had no damage to her car to suggest it was involved.

Her defense lawyer, Skip Campbell, said he believes the case would have resulted in a not-guilty verdict had it gone to trial.

The misdemeanor conduct after an accident charge was reduced to a violation. Pleading no contest and avoiding a trial was a move to get the case out of the court system, according to Campbell.

Dumont and Campbell also claimed that she was treated unfairly by Plaistow police with some of the questioning, and was viewed as uncooperative when she was interviewed at the police station.

Dumont said she has faced harassment from police and the public, especially after her arrest was publicized in February.

“Being a nun and believing that God allows all things to happen, I figured there was a good reason for it. I never knew the reason, but I accepted it. Emotionally I was upset, but spiritually I was all right. I just want to put it behind me,” she said.

Police Chief Kathleen Jones insists that police didn’t mistreat Dumont and that she wasn’t harassed.

“I stand by the actions of my officer. There was no inappropriate behavior or conduct. We felt Sister Rachel was treated appropriately during the investigation and subsequent arrest,” Jones said.

She said she understands that it was a difficult situation. However, she said, “we did have a victim in this matter. We needed to conduct a thorough investigation.”

Dumont’s good friend, Pauline Labbe, said she believes the sister wasn’t responsible for the accident.

“It’s been a nightmare. I’ve been trying so hard to clear her name,” she said.

Dumont is now trying to keep focused on helping others. She said she takes those in need of help to doctor’s appointments, the grocery store and on other errands. She said she’s helped the sick, volunteered at the Pregnancy Care Center in Haverhill, Mass., walked for several different causes over the years and been involved in other charity work.

“I do it out of the love of my heart,” she said.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Timberlane pays $95k to settle 1st amendment suit

By Breanna Edelstein

PLAISTOW — A $95,000 settlement has been reached between Timberlane Superintendent Earl Metzler, the school district and Carolyn Morse, a Timberlane Regional High School Spanish teacher, following a lawsuit that cited First Amendment rights violations.

It was a year ago when Morse filed a complaint, saying the district wrongfully punished her for a comment she posted on Facebook.

The comment referred to foreign language consultant Elizabeth Metzler, the superintendent's wife, when high school teachers were asked to tutor a kindergarten teacher in Spanish.

"Shouldn't this be the job of the consultant and not paying us additional money that comes from the (school administrative unit)," she wrote on Facebook.

The complaint said Metzler reacted by starting an investigation, threatening Morse with dismissal via the School Board, and coaxing her into waiving her rights to a School Board hearing.

She was also stripped of her position as the coordinator for the world languages department, which came with a $3,500 stipend.

According to the school district's ethics policy, "all employees of the district are expected to maintain high standards in their conduct both on and off duty."

When asked about the situation a year ago, the superintendent said all employees are expected to follow the rules, and anyone using social media inappropriately would be held accountable.

But Morse's lawyer, Jon Meyers of Backus, Meyer & Branch, said at the time that the discipline went too far, and the district's policy cannot supersede the First Amendment.
Terms of a settlement agreement, sent to Metzler on April 28 from Primex, an insurance company, explained the details of Morse's impending compensation.

For compensatory damages, lost wages and medical expense reimbursement, Morse will receive $36,000 — $30,000, $4,500 and $1,500 respectively.

Morse's attorneys will be compensated $59,000.

A statement released with the settlement said "the Timberlane Regional School District honors the rights of its employees guaranteed by the Constitution to express themselves in their private lives on matters of public concern except in instances where that speech is unprotected."

The discipline imposed on Morse was rescinded.

"To the extent that discipline was perceived as an infringement of her rights, it was not intended as such but rather was intended to protect the privacy rights of District employees," the statement said.

Metzler and Morse both declined comment Wednesday.

Marijuana charges against Atkinson man set aside

By Kiera Blessing

BRENTWOOD — An Atkinson man accused of growing more than 7 pounds of marijuana in his home will not be convicted of the crime.

Robert Zdrada, and the state settled on a diversion agreement in Rockingham Superior Court Tuesday, in which Zdrada will not be convicted of any felony charge in exchange for completing 100 hours of community service. His criminal record will remain clean.

"It certainly is a relief because this has been very stressful," Zdrada told The Eagle-Tribune following the hearing. "I've probably lost another 10, 12 pounds because of it and it will take me over a year to try to get that back."

Zdrada and his wife Valerie were arrested Oct. 19 and charged with one count each of cultivating marijuana and possession with intent to distribute. All charges against Valerie and the distribution charge against Robert were later dropped after their lawyer, Alan Cronheim, showed the court that Zdrada suffers from cancer and was growing the drug for medicinal purposes.

"We're happy that it's done," Zdrada said. "I'm most happy that Val is out of the picture on this — she never had anything to do with the drugs."

Though medical marijuana was legalized in New Hampshire in 2013, the first dispensary in the state did not open until last month. The state only began distributing medical identification cards late last year; Zdrada received his in January.

While free on personal recognizance bail, Judge Sharon DeVries of Plaistow ruled that Zdrada was permitted to use medical marijuana with his identification card as long as it was a part of his treatment plan discussed with a doctor.

Tuesday, Zdrada appeared with Cronheim in superior court for a plea and sentencing hearing. In exchange for making the diversion agreement with the state, Zdrada waived his right to trial. If he were to default on the terms of the deal, he would be sentenced to 12 months in jail suspended for one year.

Zdrada will also have to pay a $50 per month fee for one year while he completes the community service requirement.

It's early in his treatment plan, but Zdrada said the medical cannabis has been helpful. He told Judge David Anderson that he "deal(s) with a lot of pain" and "every day is a struggle."

"Right now, it's try," he said of using medical marijuana.

"It has been heart breaking watching my husband suffer with cancer issues during this most difficult time," Valerie Zdrada said in an email Tuesday. "I would like to thank all of the compassionate people in the community who have reached out and supported him."

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Congratulations SRHS class of 2016!!!

May you enjoy a lifetime of benefits from attaining this goal.


Thursday, May 5, 2016

Hearing to remove Salem Selectman canceled

By Kiera Blessing - Eagle Tribune

BRENTWOOD — A hearing scheduled to decide the fate of Salem Selectman Stephen Campbell was canceled Wednesday after a series of closed-door conversations.

Campbell left Rockingham Superior Court with his lawyer, who declined to comment on why the hearing did not occur.

On March 29, Salem selectmen voted 4-1 to ask the court to remove Campbell from the board. 

Earlier that month, Robert Morin, a police captain and head of the Salem Public Administrators Association, accused Campbell of violating state public record laws by bringing information about the internal investigation of a former police employee to The Eagle-Tribune in 2014.

Though he was not named in Morin’s complaint, former Deputy Police Chief Shawn Patten is at the center of the dispute.

 A former Police Department employee, Steve Malisos, sent a letter to the town manager in October 2014, accusing Patten of falsifying records and theft, according to selectmen’s complaint against Campbell. Patten was eventually cleared through an internal investigation and by the attorney general’s office.

The official complaint filed against Campbell also mentioned an incident from February 2015, when Campbell posted comments about Salem Police Chief Paul Donovan’s suspension on his Facebook page. 

The suspension had previously been kept from the public as a private personnel matter. The board voted to “condemn” Campbell’s actions in 2015 but did not take the matter to court.

Campbell did not deny either accusation but denied any wrongdoing. He said that he received information about a town employee through a right-to-know law request years ago and believed this information fell under the same rules for public access, rendering it not confidential.

Town Manager Leon Goodwin and Board of Selectmen Chairman James Keller said they could not comment on why the hearing did not take place, or whether this marked the end of the effort to remove Campbell from office.

“We were prepared up until the last minute to have a hearing,” Goodwin said.

He declined to comment on which side of the legal battle approached the other prior to the hearing.

Keller said Campbell is still a selectman.

Campbell did not return requests for comment.

Morin, the police captain who made the initial complaint about Campbell to selectmen, said he didn’t know why the hearing was cancelled but that he “would imagine” both sides of the issue are “coming to a resolution.” 

“I think that the law and the violation is clear...and I think the remedy for that is to remove him from office,” Morin said. “Do I think that Stephen Campbell is going to terrorize Salem anymore? Nah, I think he’s done. I think he’s done, and even if he survived this, he’d be done at the polls in March.

“I, as a taxpayer in Salem, am disgusted that he didn’t resign when he had the opportunity to and save us all the aggravation.”

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Atkinson selectman pleads no contest

By Kiera Blessing

PLAISTOW — Atkinson Selectman Harold Morse pleaded no contest Monday to a disorderly conduct charge stemming from an incident in September that led to his arrest.

Morse received a $300 fine, suspended for six months, on the condition of good behavior during his trial in 10th Circuit Court.

A no contest plea is when a defendant admits no guilt, but chooses not to dispute a criminal charge. 

Morse's attorney, Gerard LaFlamme, asked Judge Sharon DeVries to accept the plea "in the interest of justice in this case."

In "this particular case, I think this is warranted," LaFlamme said, referencing the legal definition of disorderly conduct, which states a person must leave a "public way" if told to do so by a police officer.

Prosecutor Jill Cook agreed not to prosecute Morse on a second charge of resisting arrest, for which he could have faced up to a year in jail. 

"I think this sounds like a resolution that makes sense under the circumstances," DeVries said as she accepted Morse's plea.

Morse and his wife, Christine Lewis Morse, declined to comment on the case. LaFlamme also declined to speak to the media.

On Sept. 16, Morse began directing traffic on Route 121 near the intersection with Route 111 in Hampstead, where a construction project was underway. When an officer directing traffic asked him to stop, Morse refused, ultimately leading to his arrest. 
It became clear during the trial that the construction company working on the road was Lewis Builders, an Atkinson-based company where Morse is the general manager. His wife is president of the company.