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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.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Grosky named Selectmen Chair



ATKINSON — The Atkinson Board of Selectmen voted unanimously to name Selectman Jason Grosky the new chairman of the board Monday night, replacing the recently reelected Harold Morse.
Although Grosky is entering the last year of his first term on the board, it’s not the Salem prosecutor’s first rodeo in a chairman’s seat.
He served as Timberlane Regional School Budget Committee Chairman in 2014.
“I’m honored that my colleagues gave me the opportunity and trusted me in doing this,” Grosky said when reached for comment. “That was very kind of them.”
“Before becoming a selectman, I was chairman on the school budget committee over at Timberlane, which, at different points in time, can have significant upheaval,” he said, noting that he had learned a great deal on the committee.
Selectman Phil Consentino, reelected vice chairman, said he had been slated to become chairman this year, but recused himself from the role for health reasons.
“I turned it down because of my health,” Consentino said. “And I let Grosky take chairman.”
When asked to clarify about his health, Consentino explained that he did not want to leave the board short if he were to be indisposed by illness.
Grosky explained that he does not see a big difference in power between the chairman and the rest of the board.
“The chairman has no more power than any individual member has,” Grosky said, adding that the difference is that he and the town administrator set agendas for each meeting.
“My vote is 20 percent and it is no greater than that or less than that, whether I’m chairman or not,” he said.
He sees the next year as a continuation of providing services with an eye towards keeping costs down.
“As far as the next year, it’s a lot of the same issues that you deal with in town government, trying to make sure that you’re providing the services that your neighbors need, that you’re doing so at a reasonable cost,” Grosky explained.
“Atkinson is known to have a very low tax rate, despite being a community that has very little business base, and that’s definitely our target.”
As to what projects Grosky thinks the board will tackle during his year-long tenure, he pointed to long-running issues facing Atkinson, including adding a cell tower and studying the police station.
“The building of a new cellphone tower at the highest point in town ... that hasn’t been resolved yet,” he said, adding that the access road, High Hill Road, poses problems related to repair and ownership.
“The Atkinson Police Department is in an old, almost one-room school house if you will — it’s nowhere near a modern police station,” Grosky said.
“So those discussions have just started, as to what the needs are going forward,” he added, saying that the time frame is years, rather than months, on big changes.
The headliner event for the year, he noted, has to be this summer’s celebrations for the town’s 250th birthday.
“We’re going to have a great celebration — if there is a headliner for this year it would be that,” Grosky said.
Town Administrator Alan Phair, who works closely with each chairman, said that Grosky will bring new energy to the board.
“I think he’s a bright young man and I think that he’ll bring a lot of energy to the board, not that we haven’t had it in the past, because I thought that (former) chairman Morse did a very good job,” Phair said.
“(Grosky) has got a good background, so I think he’ll do well,” he added.
Grosky himself feels that the opportunity is a good book end to his first term as selectman.
“This is a nice way to wrap up this first full term,” Grosky said.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Really NH????

Bride, 13, was divorced in 4 months


Four months after a judge gave permission for a 17-year-old Newmarket boy to marry his 13-year-old pregnant girlfriend, the girl was back in court - seeking a divorce.

The teens had told the court their religious beliefs compelled them to marry after they found out she was pregnant.

"We are 6-months pregnant, and it is important to us that the baby is born to a set of married parents, as we have been taught by our Southern Baptist church home," they wrote in a marriage petition filed on April 11, 2013, in Dover.

"We know we are young, but with the support of our parents and the congregation, we are committed to bringing our son into a loving and healthy environment."

A state law dating back to 1907 allows girls as young as 13 and boys as young as 14 to marry, with permission of a parent or guardian and approval by the family court.

That remains the law of the land after the House on Thursday effectively killed a bill that would have raised the minimum age for marriage to 18 and eliminated the court review process.

According to state vital records, courts have allowed 810 minors to marry here since 1989. The 13-year-old bride in 2013 is the youngest person granted permission during that period.

A judge from the 7th Circuit Court family division agreed to allow the marriage after a 30-minute hearing on April 24, 2013, in Dover, where the teens appeared with both of their mothers.

In her May 8, 2013, order, Justice Susan Ashley clearly had misgivings. "The initial thought of a 13-year-old getting married weighs heavily against granting this marriage petition," she wrote. "Nevertheless, this very idea is clearly contemplated, and allowable, by the ... statutes."

Ashley noted that the family court only sees the unsuccessful marriages. "To be frank, this court could imagine protecting (the teenagers) from the emotional havoc from 'marrying too young.' Yet, the court also knows all too well that such havoc may ensue whether or not (they) marry each other," she wrote.

Ashley said "trying to protect and guide these two young people is simply not the job of this court; it is the job of their parents."

All four parents had given permission for the teens to marry, she noted, and she cited their "desire to act in accordance with the tenets of their religious instruction" for her decision.

At the hearing, the couple "spoke of their Christian beliefs, which prompt them to take responsibility for their actions and do what is best for their child," the judge wrote. "They believe that their child should be born to married parents, as a symbol of their commitment to each other and their child."

The couple's baby boy was born on Aug. 3, 2013, according to court documents.

On Sept. 20, the girl, who had turned 14, filed a petition for divorce, citing "infidelity and domestic abuse" as the cause. The following January, she filed a motion to amend the petition, changing the cause to "irreconcible differences" (sic).

The divorce was granted on Jan. 9, 2014.

Efforts to reach the teenagers and their parents last week were unsuccessful.

Judge Edwin Kelly, administrative judge of the circuit court, said the judge's order in the 2013 case makes it clear she was concerned about the girl's young age.

But, he said, "it's pretty hard to say no when you've got a statute staring you in the face saying yes.

"Despite the fact it is 100 years old, it wasn't changed on the date that this case was heard. A statute in most cases will create a presumption that it's OK."

Rep. Jacalyn Cilley, D-Barrington, was the prime sponsor of House Bill 499, which would have raised the legal age of marriage to 18. She said the House vote to "indefinitely postpone" the bill last week was "devastatingly disappointing."

Her original bill would have raised the marriage age to 18, but allowed teens aged 16 or 17 to petition for court approval. The House Children and Family Law Committee amended it to remove the judicial review, and voted 11-0 to recommend it "ought to pass."

On Thursday, however, five members of that committee, including its chairman, Kimberly Rice, R-Hudson, and vice chairman, Daniel Itse, R-Fremont, voted to indefinitely postpone the bill.

Opponents argued that such a law would prevent young service members from marrying their teenage sweethearts before deployment, depriving them of family benefits.

The motion to postpone passed 179-168.

Watching from the House gallery on Thursday was Cassandra Levesque, a 17-year-old senior at Dover High School.

She began researching the effects of child marriage two years ago as part of her work on advocacy for her Gold Award, the highest award in Girl Scouting. It was Levesque who approached Cilley about sponsoring the legislation; she also testified before the committee.

After the House limited debate on the bill and then voted to kill it, Levesque said, she was "a little bit discouraged."

"But then I took a breather and said, I'm not going to give up. I'm going to keep fighting for this bill and this cause," she said.

Levesque said the argument that it would harm military members isn't accurate. "I'm from a military family," she said. "Getting married, when you're in the military, that young is not a good start."

Changing the marriage age is a policy matter that is up to the Legislature, Judge Kelly said, noting the current law "is pretty wide open."

But here's his perspective: "On the one hand, if you were to ask people what's the youngest age at which someone should get married, I doubt they would say 13 and 14."

However, he said, "I do think whatever system we have ought to maintain flexibility for special circumstances and put someone who is neutral in the middle to make that determination, which is the role of the court."

Cilley said she won't give up on changing the law, but the House vote to indefinitely postpone means it cannot take up similar legislation for two years.

"That drove a stake through the heart of this bill," she said.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

HONOR, INTEGRITY, AND CONFLICTS OF INTEREST

Please accept the following Article submission, Sincerely Mark R. Acciard

HONOR, INTEGRITY, AND CONFLICTS OF INTEREST


"Public officials must act with a higher standard for avoiding the appearance of impropriety, as a condition of the public trust bestowed upon them"- Mark Acciard, May 5, 2005.



Mr. Metzler has been the main cheerleader for a new reading program to help kids improve their reading comprehension with informational texts. This program is proffered by a company called Achieve 3000. A Company Mr. Metzler's wife just happens to work for. She is in charge of "program implementation"for the Northeast region for Achieve 3000, and has been working with them for over a year. Coincidently, the very same year that her husband has been pushing the district to spend $167,000 on this very program. Monies that were not appropriated for this purpose we might add. Also, this $167,000 represents a 50% discount of the total cost of the program for it's first two  years.


It appears that Ms. Metzler began working for Achieve 3000 in or around Sept. 2015. Strictly coincidently we are certain, Mr. Metzler began pushing their reading program in Sept. of 2015. It was first mentioned at the meeting of the curriculum and assessment committee on Sept. 22. Subsequent minutes revealed that this was recommended by Mr. Metzler. The curriculum and assessment committee decided to adopt a pilot program to assess the students, and to begin training teachers to use it. Mind you, no presentation to the school board. No decision to buy the program. No appropriation of funds for it. And perhaps even more outrageous in the underhanded means in which this program was foisted upon the taxpayers, This was happening during the budget season, and no mention of this program was made to the budget committee, nor was a request for appropriation made to purchase or implement this program made. It should be noted that the "pilot program" is actually the initial implementation of Achieve 3000. It gathers the student assessment and base level data, trains teachers to use it, establishes the website, and assigned reading for each lexile level. The only thing missing IS BUYING THE PROGRAM THE DISTRICT IS ALREADY IMPLEMENTING!


At the curriculum and assessment committee meeting on February 16, 2016, it was reported that the assessment of students had been completed, teachers trained, and the program proceeding. STILL no mention to the school board, no vote to purchase the program, no vote to implement the program, no monies appropriated for it, and no disclosure of Ms. Metzler's role in the company.

At the curriculum and assessment committee meeting Sept. 6, 2016 the ball really began rolling, They reviewed progress to date, and Mr. Bealo(also chair of the school board, although he had yet to mention this program to them) made the motion to vote to present this program to the school  board, at their Sept. 15, 2016 meeting. It was also revealed that Achieve 3000 had provided to the district a phonics program, SmartyAntz, as an additional incentive for "agreeing to purchase" the reading program. NOTE, as of  this time there had been NO presentation to the school board. NO vote to buy the program. NO appropriation of monies to buy the program. and NO disclosure of Ms. Metzler's unique role in this debacle. Tell us, Mr. Bealo, who "AGREED" to purchase Achieve 3000 at that point? You?


The Sept. 15, 2016 school  board meeting showed a high pressure sales presentation that was not presented as a sales pitch but as a fait accompli. It was presented WITH MR. METZLER'S ACTIVE HELP AND COERCION, as if the decision to purchase had already been made. The usual board bobble heads made the usual bleats about the wonder of this incredible program, the usual representatives of the taxpayers raised the usual questions about the process, only to be shot down, as usual, by the entrenched purveyors of the status quo.


Now, the PROPER course of action, would have been for Metzler to plainly, and publicly state; "In full disclosure, my wife is employed by this vendor, Achieve 3000, and therefore I will be recusing myself and not participating in the discussion of this program" But that would have required a sense of honor and integrity evidently missing from the gentleman in question.


And, as usual, the school  board, Mr. Metzler, and the SAU also ignored their own policies, to advance their own personal agendas. The school board has a policy governing curriculae adoption, the salient portion of which reads as follows;


"The School Board will support efforts to investigate new curricular ideas, develop and improve programs, and evaluate results through appropriation of funds for specific curriculum development proposals approved by the School Board. The Superintendent will make recommendations to the Board regarding the specific level of funding for approved proposals.
The School Board will review all curricula developed and written by the professional staff in the schools. No basic course of study shall be eliminated or new courses added without approval of the Board, nor shall any significant alteration or reduction of a course of study be made without Board approval. No action will be taken on proposed changes by the Board until the meeting following the presentation by the administration so that Board members may have the opportunity to review the proposed program."  Note the emboldened passage.


Further Mr. Metzler never disclosed his family's relationship this vendor. Now OF COURSE, the SAU lacks an ethics, or conflict of interest policy like most government bodies have, which allows corrupt administrators to act with appalling abandon to theirs and their families interestss. It is high time to correct this problem.

Justice Louis Brandeis was correct; Sunlight is the best disinfectant. It is high time for the district, INCLUDING THE SAU, to have a stringent conflicts of interest ordinance. It is high time for the secrecy, and refusal to produce public information to stop. It is time for Mr. Metzler to understand that his  bosses are the school  board and their bosses are the taxpayers.

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."