A lifetime of service ends - DPW Director Paul Moynihan to retire

By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — After spending nearly four decades maintaining and rebuilding the city streets, storm drains and sewer mains, as well as managing the disposal of solid waste, Paul Moynihan will retire as Director of Public Works later this summer.

Born in Laconia and raised in Belmont, Moynihan earned his degree in civil engineering at the University of New Hampshire in 1973 and went to work for Public Service Company of New Hampshire. Five years later, he said that his family circumstances changed and he applied for a position with the city. He recalled that the Department of Public Works, then led by Frank DeNormandie, was in the throes of transition marked by the departure of the assistant director. The job fell to Moynihan, who held for the next 20 years before succeeding Frank Tilton as director in 2003.

Altogether, Moynihan has worked with three different directors, served under four city managers, 11 mayors and countless city councilors.

"It's really a team effort to maintain the public works in the city," Moynihan said. He named a bevy of retired and serving supervisors, engineering technicians, mechanics and office managers along with his assistant director Luke Powell as essential to the success of the department.

"I worked with a lot of good people and I met a lot of good people," he said. "It has been fun, fulfilling but relentless."

Describing the sanitary sewer and storm drainage systems as "the forgotten utility," Moynihan noted that there was significant investment in the first early and in the second late in his career. When he joined the department, the Winnipesaukee River Basin Project, the sanitary sewer system serving to municipalities in the Lakes Region, was just getting underway. He said that DeNormandie played a key role in the undertaking, working closely with state and federal officials. During the next decade, the Meredith, Jewett Brook Gilford and West Paugus Bay interceptors were constructed, with federal funds distributed through the Clean Water Act, representing three-quarters of the cost.

The city's sanitary sewer system includes some 60 miles of gravity line and 10 miles of force mains as well as 17 pump stations. He said that the system has been expanded at The Weirs along Roller Coaster Road, Scenic Road and Watson Road, but the long-range expansion plan to extend service to Wentworth Cove Road, Eastman Shore Road, Leighton Avenue and Hilliard Road has lain fallow.

With much of the city at the level of the lakes overlooked by steep slopes, Moynihan said that emphasis has increased on improving storm drainage to protect both property and water quality. In particular, he remarked that high water in 2006 left Busy Corner awash for the first time in his career and heavy rain washed a stretch of the boardwalk at The Weirs two years later. Drainage projects were completed on Highland Street, Mechanic Street, Chapin Terrace, Anthony Drive and Bisson Avenue between 2010 and 2014.

Moynihan said that the approach to street repairs has changed over the years as what he called the "worst first" philosophy has been overtaken by greater emphasis on "keeping the good roads good" by prolonging their life with regular maintenance. He explained that since 2001 the city has invested at least $1 million in street repairs and this year plans to invest $1.5 million. While money will be applied to the streets in worst condition, most will be spent forestalling the deterioration of roads in good condition. At the same time, Moynihan said that the cost per mile of road reconstruction has risen as projects now include improvements to drainage, curbs and sidewalks.

Moynihan said he is looking forward to spending more time with his wife, three children and four grandchildren. At the same time, Moynihan, who is blessed with a wonderful singing voice, intends to devote more of his energy and talent to the Christian ministry with which he and his wife have been engaged for many years.

06-22 Paul Moynihan

Outside City Hall on fine day while public works projects were underway across the city, Director of Public Works Director Paul Moynihan spared time to recall his 38 years with the department and on the eve of his retirement next month. (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)

Through the glass - Car crashes German Motor Sports showroom

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

GILFORD – Some customers of German Motor Sports just can't seem to find the bay doors.

For the second time in as many years, a person has crashed a car through a portion of the building and caused damage to the exterior.

At 8 a.m. Wednesday, a woman driving an BMW X5 thought she had put her car in park when it appears she hadn't. The service manager said as she leaned over to get her registration from her glove box, the car rolled through the showroom window, breaking the glass and causing minor damage to a structural beam.

The woman was shaken up but unharmed, and one of the cars in the showroom sustained some minor scratches from broken glass.

On April 31, 2015, a BMW Z3 coupe was pushed through the cement block side of the building after a man parked in the Wendy's Restaurant parking lot next door accidentally put his car in drive instead of reverse. He lunged forward over a low grass median strip and struck the BMW, which crashed through the wall.

The owner of that BMW was not in the car at the time and the man driving was unharmed.

The wall took a beating.

crash2

Gilford Police Officer Curtis Mailloux stands next to the fender liner that came from a BMW X5 that drove through a showroom window Wednesday morning. (Photo courtesy of German Motor Sports.)

Felony cases to get priority as Belknap County goes to new court system

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — As the Belknap County Superior Court becomes the third New Hampshire court to join the state's "felonies first" trial system, a fifth attorney has joined the county attorney's office to made that program more efficient.

Attorney Richard "RJ" Meurin joined the office this week and, according to Belknap County Attorney Melissa Guldbrandsen, he will take over some of her felony case load while she handles felony arraignments, probable cause and bail hearings.

"We'll be dealing with all felony cases at the point of arrest," said Guldbrandsen, who said the attorney position was included in this year's Belknap County budget for this exact purpose.

"Felonies first" is the New Hampshire judicial system's program that is designed to expedite criminal cases through the system. As it stands right now, individuals who are charged with all crimes appear before a circuit court judge who initially determines if the arrest was reasonable and, if so, sets bail.

A defendant has an opportunity to have an probable cause hearing with witnesses within two weeks in circuit court and, if probable cause is found, the case is sent to the county attorney and superior court for possible indictment by a grand jury.

On July 1, all felonies will go directly to superior court at the point of arrest, eliminating the circuit court step. Most misdemeanors will continue to be adjudicated at the circuit court.

"I think (felonies first) this is a good model for early case resolution," said Guldbrandsen. "But it will increase the work load in my office."

In addition to assisting with the case load, the additional attorney will also take over all of the prosecution responsibilities of the Belknap County Sheriff's Department.

Sheriff Craig Wiggin said all circuit court prosecutions from the sheriff's department have traditionally been handled in court by a police prosecutor – or a non-attorney who is trained to some degree in criminal legal prosecution and who is a police officer.

"I'm thrilled we have an attorney prosecutor," Wiggin said. "Our officers do a good job but their time is better spent doing what they do best – policing."

In Belknap County, only police departments in Laconia, Center Harbor, Alton and Barnstead have attorney prosecutors. Laconia has its own attorney while the others contract legal services from private prosecutors.

Wiggin said the procedural requirements for criminal prosecution can be overwhelming at times and said it can also be unfair to pit a non-attorney prosecutor against a defense attorney in a courtroom.

Guldbrandsen said that adding the fifth attorney to her staff also gives an additional resource to the local police departments that can continue to prosecute their own misdemeanors cases in circuit court but may want some legal assistance from her office.

She said her office has always been there for the police prosecutors and has gone to circuit courts at the beginning of a serious or complicated case routinely in the past but, with the additional attorney, her office coupled with the felony-first program, can now offer even most assistance to police, especially in the early stages of new criminal cases.