Plan for Gilford trash station too high says Solid Waste Committee member


GILFORD — It was a blue collar-white collar face-off Wednesday night at the selectmen's meeting when Solid Waste Committee member and lifelong trash hauler Kevin Leandro said the engineers' estimate to build a solid waste transfer station in Gilford is at least $200,000 too high.

Engineers from CMA Engineering in Portsmouth presented two possible proposals, one of which would cost an estimated $1,009,000 that includes an alternative bid of $35,000 for a bathroom. The second was for an estimated $1,121,000 and involved a little more site work and excavating and mobilizing costs that weren't in the first one. It, too, included a $35,000 alternative bid for a bathroom.

Leandro said he liked the designs and the facility placement that the engineers presented but said he objected because there is about a 15 percent contingency built into what he called a very simple project.

He also objected to the "mobilizing" costs.

"What mobilizing costs?" he said. "It's basically a shed with electricity."

He said some of the fill required in the construction could be gotten from some of the excavation and that there is no need for a construction manager because the town could oversee the project itself and use local contractors for the work.

He also said the electrical and the ventilation estimates were way too high.

Leandro also told the board that in his recent professional experience, the costs of the facility equipment of a compactor container, two vertical balers and a skid steer are too high.

"Just the stuff I know the cost of, we're in about $784,000 with the bathroom," he said.

The two engineers had no response to Leandro, and, after listening to his statements, waited until the discussion was finished and left.

Leandro also said he was upset because he thought that the proposal that was presented to the selectboard Wednesday would come before the Solid Waste Committee for final approval before it went to the selectmen.

He suggested reviewing the figures, making some calls to local contractors and presenting a realistic estimate to the voters even if it takes another 12 months.

He told the board that building Gilford's own solid waste facility isn't an emergency and that the selectmen "can't allow the taxpayers to be screwed at the expense of urgency."

He urged them not to risk a bond issue for $1 million that would likely not get the recommendation of the Budget Committee, which would make the chance of its passing much less likely.

Last year, selectmen formed a solid waste committee to see if building their own facility would make more sense than continuing to use the one in Laconia. The committee determined it would make more sense in the long run and at the 2016 annual Town Meeting, voters approved $45,000 for studying such a facility.

Town Administrator Scott Dunn said Thursday that the chairman of the Solid Waste Committee would set a time for a final meeting but that he was inclined to take Leandro's advice and recommend the selectmen put a bond for $784,000 on the 2017 warrant and, if it passes, use local contractors and oversee the project themselves.

"We have some very capable people here in Gilford," said Dunn.

New Hampton man to serve 12 months for threatening roommates


LACONIA — A 20-year-old New Hampton man who affixed a knife to his arm and threatened to attack his three former roommates last May will spend 12 months in the Belknap County Jail.

William Clement, 20, formerly of 12 Pine Meadow Road, pleaded guilty to two counts of reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon and two counts of felony criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon. A charge of resisting arrest was dropped.

As part of a negotiated agreement, Clement will serve two concurrent 12-month sentences in jail and will seek and pay for mental health counseling within 45 days of his release.

Clement was also sentenced to two 2 ½ to 5 year sentences in the New Hampshire State Prison, which were suspended for five years. Should he re-offend, that state prison time could be imposed.

Clement will also spend three years on probation. He was credited with 136 days of pretrial confinement.

One of his victims told the court that she didn't think jail was the right place for him. She said she'd known him for a long time, that he was a wonderful person who had hit a rough patch in his life, and that she felt he needed mental health treatment and not jail.

When explaining to the judge why he thought Clement's agreement was sufficient, attorney Justin Littlefield said that his client really needs to get his mental health under control and that the May incident was a piece of that mental health issue.

Littlefield explained that Clement is very young and has never been in trouble with the law before. He also told the court that while Clement was awaiting trial, his father, who was a well-known New Hampton firefighter, died of a heart attack while in the line of duty and Clement was unable to attend his funeral.

Littlefield added that Clement's mother and sister were there in court along with some friends and said Clement will have a support system when he gets out of jail.

Under direct questioning from Judge James O'Neill, Clement told the court that he was young and dumb when the incident occurred.

"Losing my father was a real kick," said Clement, who added his father was his hero because he was always helping people. He said he wants to put his crimes behind him and also be able to help people.

"You got a break today," said O'Neill, accepting the agreement. "Don't disappoint your mother and sister,"

Judge weighs decision in dispute over work at Tenney Mountain


LACONIA — A Center Harbor man and his one-time employer faced each other in court on Tuesday after their parting left such hard feelings on both side that each filed a lawsuit.

Keith Fitzgerald claims he was hired by Tenney Mountain Development Group LLC to act as chief operating officer and oversee a major redevelopment and expansion of the shuttered Plymouth ski area.

During the course of his work, Fitzgerald maintains he supplied certain equipment, and the understanding between the parties was that a tractor and other heavy equipment were to be used during the project and that Fitzgerald would be compensated for their use.

Previously, a judge granted Fitzgerald a $375,000 attachment against the ski area's real estate pending resolution of the dispute.

Meanwhile, Michael Bouchard, the president of TMDG, who is not named as a defendant in Fitzgerald's suit, filed a counterclaim alleging that he was duped into giving Fitzgerald money under false pretenses.

Attorney James Laura of Concord, who represents Tenney Mountain Development Group LLC, acknowledged during the hearing that Fitzgerald owns the equipment that is the source of the litigation, but told the judge it is being held as collateral for the money Fitzgerald was loaned and has failed to repay.

"It's odd how the relationship started," Laura said, asserting that Bouchard's vision was to redevelop the defunct ski area and that Fitzgerald learned of those plans and approached him, saying he had considerable experience in securing EB-5 funding and that his company Golden Gate Investment Advisers could make TMDG a Regional Center for all other EB-5 activities.

The EB-5 program was approved by Congress in the 1990s, with the goal of stimulating the economy and job growth by giving foreign nationals the chance to become permanently legal residents in exchange for investing at least $500,000 to create or preserve at least 10 jobs for U.S. workers. Laura told Judge James O'Neill that Fitzgerald showed
Bouchard a stack of documents that proved false and noted that Golden Gate is not even registered as a business entity with the New Hampshire Secretary of State.

But attorney Rob Hunt of Franklin, who represents Fitzgerald, asserted that neither TMDG nor Bouchard has ever sent his client a demand for payment or ever produced any evidence of a promissory note or other loan document.

While Bouchard claims he lent Fitzgerald $20,000 to post bail on unrelated criminal charges, Hunt said, his client's arrest came 3.5 months after the alleged payout and that the court released Fitzgerald on personal recognizance that required the posting of no cash.

"Basically, they're holding the property ransom without giving a ransom amount," he asserted.

According to Laura there were no written contracts.

"Mr. Bouchard is a Knight of Malta and took Keith Fitzgerald on his word, helped him out when he thought he was in trouble as Fitzgerald had been helping him," Laura said.

Instead, Laura claimed that Fitzgerald misrepresented himself and his qualifications which prompted his client to pony up $30,000 to retain a consultant and lawyers to work on securing EB-5 financing. While the retainers were paid, Laura told the judge that Fitzgerald was able to convince the recipients to return the money, which he then pocketed.

"This was a good faith loan with nothing in writing between what we thought were two gentlemen," Laura said.

He asserted that Fitzgerald "conned his way" into the project, and then began "slandering" Bouchard to the investors.

The redevelopment of the ski area is a $450 million project and Fitzgerald's allegedly slanderous statements to investors have cost Bouchard 10 percent or $4.5 million, Laura claimed. The dispute has stalled the project and unsettled investors.

Hunt pointed out that the defendants have never provided the dates of the purported loans or whether they were made via cash or check. Bouchard's complaint to the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office about Fitzgerald prompted an investigation and a review of his client's books and his IRS 1099 showing the income he received as a

Hunt has asked the court to order the return of a number of items key among them a 4-by-4 tractor with multiple attachments, a zero-turn mower, a brush mower, a 1955 Willey's Jeep, a Honda ATV, a Motorola radio system with repeater and transceiver, a freestanding 75-foot tower, five mobile radios, a drill press and 4,000 feet of premium pine
lumber. During Tuesday's hearing, Laura represented that TMDG spent $6,000 to make the needed repairs to get the Mahindra tractor running.

Fitzgerald, 50, has been charged with five counts of theft by unauthorized taking and one count of receiving stolen property in connection with his alleged handling of his late father's assets. He recently declined the terms of a plea deal and his trial is now scheduled to begin in February 2017.

Judge O'Neill took the motions in the civil case under advisement and will issue a written order sometime in the next 90 days.

12-09 Keith Fitzgerald

Keith Fitzgerald, left, of Center Harbor, and his lawyer Robert Hunt of Franklin, appeared in Belknap County Superior Court on Tuesday. (Bea Lewis/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

12-09 Michael Boucher

Michael Bouchard, president of Tenney Mountain Development Group LLC, and his attorney, James Laura of Concord, appeared in Belknap County Superior Court on Tuesday to dispute claims by the company's former COO Keith Fitzgerald of Center Harbor. (Bea Lewis/for The Laconia Daily Sun)