Dana arraigned on murder charge in death of daughter

LANCASTER — Roger Dana will remain incarcerated at the Coos County Jail in West Stewartstown without bail following his arraignment Monday on a charge of second-degree murder in the death of his 2-year-old daughter.

Dana was arrested Friday for recklessly causing the death of Madison Dana by physically assaulting her multiple times at her home at 109 York St., in Berlin, on Nov. 27.

In Lancaster District Court, Judge Paul Desjardins explained to Dana that he could not accept a plea or set bail because the felony charge is beyond the jurisdiction of the district court.

Dressed in an orange jumpsuit, the 43-year-old Dana appeared on video from the jail for the arraignment, which lasted less than 15 minutes. A probable cause hearing was set for Dec. 14 in Berlin District Court at 11 a.m.

Desjardins read the complaint and noted that Public Defender Marcie Hornick was present in court, representing the defendant. Dana  replied yes when asked if he understood the charge and his rights.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Strelzin would not comment on details of the investigation after the hearing. Asked if the mother of Madison Dana faces criminal charges, he said there are none pending but noted that the investigation is still open.

Dana has an extensive criminal record and has faced 34 different charges ranging from motor vehicle violations to burglary and criminal trespass.

In September 2015, he was found guilty of domestic violence against the child’s mother, Ashley Bourque. The police affidavit said Bourque told authorities Dana had slapped her on both sides of her face and then pushed her.

He was also found guilty of assaulting Berlin Police Officer Joseph Priest at the time of his arrest on the domestic violence incident as well as criminal mischief for urinating on the floor of the Berlin police station.

Sen. Shaheen celebrates Wireless Partners’ 4G LTE network

Sen. Shaheen celebrates Wireless Partners’ 4G LTE network

By Edith Tucker
The Berlin Daily Sun

GROVETON — Following 18 months of concerted effort, Verizon broadband and voice service is available on the new 4G LTE network built by Wireless Partners. The four now-operational tower sites are Milan Hill, Errol on Route 26, Morse Mountain in Groveton, and Chapel Hill in Pittsburg-Stewartstown.

Bob Parsloe, CEO of both Wireless Partners, LLC and Great North Woods Wireless, pledged that Wireless Partners would continue to expand LTE service to Verizon and its future customers by constructing 12 more towers across Coos County in Phase II.

Parsloe was the master of ceremonies at a press conference on Friday, Dec. 2, called by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in the town meeting room at 10 Station Square.

Parsloe welcomed the standing-room-only crowd and thanked the many stakeholders on hand who represented public safety, economic development, executive and legislative leadership and local government, but keyed in on the ongoing advocacy, leadership and perseverance of Shaheen and her staff. Shaheen is a member of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, he noted.

Parsloe admitted that when he had publicly committed Wireless Partners to the project 18 months earlier at a similar press conference held at the Mountain View Grand in Whitefield, he had thought only a 90-day build-out period would be required.

“But we didn’t then have the infrastructure,” he explained.

He thanked Paul Ramsey, N.H. vice president of operations for Eversource, for ensuring that electrical power was made available to the tower sites.

The final step that allowed the network “to go live” was the required E911 testing, completed earlier in the week that enabled voice-over LTE including HD Voice, to be introduced to Verizon customers with compatible smartphones.

WP just signed a lease for office space in Chapman Industrial Park on the banks of the Upper Ammonoosuc River off Route 3, once home to both the Wausau and Groveton Paperboard paper mills. WP engineers are already at work scoping out sites for a dozen towers.

“Access to wireless technology and broadband Internet is essential to economic development and competitiveness in the 21st Century,” Parsloe said. And, thanks to this new network, it is now accessible in northern New Hampshire, he added.
Shaheen recalled that she had first taken up the cause of trying to bring cell phone and broadband service to the North Country two decades ago when she was governor.

“Today’s an exciting day for me,” Shaheen said, pointing out that its success can be attributed to both public and private sectors. She said she’d learned first-hand of the ongoing obstacles to public safety communications from both Customs and Border Patrol in Pittsburg, as well as from EMS crews and state Fish and Game conservation officers.

The new jobs coming to the industrial park in January 2017, when NSA Industries of St. Johnsbury, Vt., opens a 73,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Wausau’s former finish goods warehouse, would not, Shaheen said, have been located in town if robust four-bar cell service and high-speed Internet had not been part of the package, that includes water and sewer installations that local voters backed with bonds at town meeting.

Fifteen workers are already on payroll being trained, and NSA plans to hire up to 45 more skilled workers.

Shaheen praised the collaborative efforts of local, state, and federal governments. She supported the $1 million-plus grants that were secured this year for Groveton from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Development and the Northern Border Regional Commission.

Commissioner Jeff Rose of the state Department of Resources and Economic Development (DRED) called the day “an almost transformational moment in the North County.”

The new cell and Internet services are now considered among the essential building blocks that are needed to support economic development, he explained. Tourists expect connectivity, and these services also allow the state to more effectively manage its lands, including easements held on the Connecticut Lakes Headwaters Working Forest.

Rose called out the ongoing contributions of two key DRED staffers: Director of Broadband and Technology Carol Miller of Gorham and North Country Industrial Agent Beno Lamontagne of Colebrook and Plymouth. He also brought greetings from Gov. Maggie Hassan, who was unable to attend.

Sheriff Gerry Marcou of Gorham said that although he personally hates the impersonality of today’s technology, it’s now a necessity in Coös, which due to growing ATV use is turning into the state’s “playground.”

Still, the outgoing sheriff said, he remains skeptical that cell phone service will be available “to save lives and protect the public” in every backcountry nook and cranny.

Chapman Industrial Park manager Mike Stirling said he’s thrilled with this technological advancement because attracting new companies and jobs is literally impossible without cell service. To thrive, the area needs an infusion of youthful families, he said. Two more memorandums of understanding have recently been signed, designed to bring new companies to town.
“This is merely the first step that will have a positive effect on the whole county,” Stirling said. “Economic development will drive Groveton and the North Country.”

Parsloe praised WP’s whole in-house team.

He also commended state Senator Jeff Woodburn of Whitefield and Executive Councilor Joe Kenney of Wakefield, both on hand. Also on hand were Groveton selectmen Chairman Jim Weagle and Jim Tierney Jr.,
Rep. Wayne Moynihan of Dummer, Rep.-elect Troy Merner of Lancaster, Berlin Mayor and Coös County Commissioner Paul Grenier, Mark Scarano, co-chair of the Northern Border Regional Commission, headquartered in the James Cleveland Building in Concord. Also Northern Community Investment CorpAlso Northern Community Investment Corp. president Jon Freeman and vice president economic president Cathy Conway, and Coös Economic Development Corp. executive director Mike Scala and its former ED Bob DeAngelis, and Brian Bresnahan, representing Congresswoman Annie Kuster. president Jon Freeman and vice president economic president Cathy Conway, and Coös Economic Development Corp. executive director Mike Scala and its former ED Bob DeAngelis, and Brian Bresnahan, representing Congresswoman Annie Kuster.
Rep. Larry Rappaport of Colebrook, a member of the House Science, Technology and Energy Committee who is wrapping up his fourth term this week, was missed.

Dueling petitions on Cog Railroad proposed lodge, planning board chair says conceptual review does not allow for public comments

 By Barbara Tetreault
LANCASTER — Dueling petitions have already surfaced following the Mount Washington Cog Railway's announcement last week that it is considering building a hotel about a mile below the summit of the 6,288-foot peak.

One petition was started by the Cog, asking the public to support a 35-bed lodge and restaurant located on a 99-foot-wide strip of land it owns straddling its historic railroad line. Noting that the mountain has a history of recreational and commercial use, the railroad believes the lodge would help expand the limited accommodations and alleviate congestion on the popular mountain.

The hiking community, however, has responded with petitions of its own, arguing that a lodge would have a large environmental impact on the fragile alpine zone. The petitions ask that the project be stopped in its "tracks."

Change.org, a website that hosts petitions, currently shows three petitions, all started last Friday, Dec. 2, that are dedicated to the topic of Cog Railway-built lodging on Mount Washington.

One, started by Paul McCoy of Conway, is called "DERAIL Cog Railway hotel proposal." It said a hotel would "irreparably damage a fragile mountain environment, impact the surrounding ecosystem, and impair aesthetics." As of Monday afternoon, it had attracted about 400 signatures.

“Preserve Mount Washington! This is the patriarch of a unique mountain range already pillaged with unnecessary development. A posh resort, catering to elite users, is nothing more than trash on the flank of a beautiful landscape,” said Chris Magness of Conway.

A second anti-Cog petition is titled "Stop the Cog Railway from building a hotel on Washington." Started by someone identified only as "Rachel L of NH," it had 3,598 supporters on Monday.

"Much consideration needs to be put into this motel to preserve an already fragile mountain. I would be interested to see an environmental impact assessment,” the author states.

One opponent, Stephanie Gould of Bethlehem said the fragile alpine summits and forests of the White Mountains cannot sustain any more human traffic.

“The existing huts should be the only opportunity to stay above treeline and a waiting list should be the means to obtain the privilege, not simply building more infrastructure,” she wrote on the petition.

The third petition, "Support The Cog Railway In Building A Lodge To Accommodate Mt. Washington Visitors & Hikers," was posted by the Cog Railway and had 469 supporters.

"The Skyline Lodge will be built with careful consideration of the environment," it said. "This would be consistent with the Cog's conversion to environmentally friendly bio-diesel locomotives. The Lodge would provide overnight accommodations to hikers who currently cannot access The Lake of The Clouds Hut due to high occupancy, as well as guests who are unable to hike to The Hut."

As part of the project, the railway said it would help the state upgrade its septic operations at the summit. A new lodge, it said, would have the benefit of allowing those who get caught in inclement weather to take refuge in the lodge. The railroad pointed out that the Appalachian Mountain Club operates the Lake of the Clouds hut on the mountain and there have been several lodging places on the mountain in the past.

"The Cog is simply re-creating the ambiance and uniqueness of what existed on the mountain at the turn of the century," the company wrote.

North Country state Sen. Jeff Woodburn has announced his support for the project, calling it "a bold and visionary plan" and noting the role of Cog owners Wayne Presby, and Joel and Cathy Bedor in redeveloping the Mount Washington Hotel (now the Omni Mount Washington Resort) in Bretton Woods.

"They have a long history of preserving our threatened historic landmarks, creating jobs and giving back to the community. Mount Washington is a working mountain and this will be an important addition and add necessary amenities," Woodburn said.

Coos County Planning Board Chairman John Scarinza said the Cog will be coming before the planning board Thursday for a preliminary review only and public comments will not be accepted.

"Whereas the planning board does not have a formal application before it, no formal decisions whatsoever will be taking place on Dec. 8, and the board will not at this time be able to take public comment specifically on this conceptual project," Scarinza said in an advisory he issued.

Scarinza said planning board regulations allow an applicant to discuss a proposal in conceptual form and in general terms with the board to review the county's master plan, zoning ordinance and subdivision regulations, as well as necessary state and local requirements.

He said many public comments have been received, and if a formal application is submitted, the board will provide an address where all public comments should be sent. Scarinza said all projects that come before the board receive a "thorough, thoughtful and complete" review.

The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday at the North Country Resource Center on Route 3 in Lancaster.

Joliette Snowshoe Club announces international competition this January

By Barbara Tetreault

ANDROSCOGGIN VALLEY — Another part of the region’s winter recreational history will be highlighted next month when the Joliette Snowshoe Club hosts the 2017 International Snowshoe Championship on Jan. 27-29 in Gorham.

Club President Gerard Bergeron, his wife Anita Bergeron and daughter Marie Arsenault are overseeing the event and expect to attract 125 competitors from Canada and northern New England.

The Town and Country Inn and Resort in Shelburne will be the event headquarters while the races will be held at the nearby Androscoggin Valley Country Club in Gorham. Snowshoers will compete in various categories by age and distance, including 5k and 1k sprints as well as a 5k walking competition. There will also be a Tiny Tots race.

The event kicks off Friday night, Jan. 27, with a dance at the Town and Country where the king and queen will be chosen. Five people are running for queen including Cheryl Flanders of Berlin. The winner is selected based on tickets sales.

The races will be held Saturday at the Androscoggin Valley Country Club during the day. At night, there will be a torchlight parade with a couple of marching bands, starting at 6:30 p.m., down Main Street from the common to the Town and Country; followed by a spaghetti dinner. The weekend activities conclude with the awarding of medals Sunday morning at brunch.

The Canadian Snowshoe Union Club and the American Fraternal Union of Snowshoe Clubs have held the International Snowshoe Championships annually for over 100 years. In their heyday, the championships attracted hundreds of competitors and guests to the host community. In one of his columns, Berlin historian Paul Tardiff described the 1935 championship in Berlin, which attracted participants from 25 snowshoe clubs. The coronation of the queen was held Friday night as part of the official opening. A special train brought many members and visitors to the city to compete and watch the competitions at what is now Community Field and on the riverbanks on the Berlin Mills section of the city. After the day’s races, more than 700 people enjoyed a traditional Saturday night bean supper at St. Anne parish hall.

Tardiff described a two-mile torch light parade with music provided by the many drum and bugle corps. The evening ended with a ball at the state armory. More guests arrived Sunday morning and another parade was formed with the queen and her court riding to St. Anne Church for Sunday mass in a “beautifully decorated sleigh.” A dinner followed the mass and then a great send-off was held at the railroad station.

It has been 15 years since the local club hosted an international meet and membership in the club has dwindled, as has the number of snowshoe clubs overall. Arsenault said 378 people participated in 2001 event.

The city’s Centennial booklet states the Club Joliette (or Club de Raquetteurs Joliette as it is registered with the state) was incorporated on May 20, 1929 “to bring together Franco-Americans in order that they may become better acquainted with each other.” Indeed current members Betty Gillis Bennett, Cheryl Flanders, Alan Bailey said you had to be Franco-American or married to a Franco-American to join the club.

The club rented space in the Morin block across from what is now Rite-Aid. Eventually, the club purchased a former store at the corner of Pleasant and Mason Streets. There was space for bingo and social dancing, and had a bar that catered to mill shift workers with morning hours. The Ladies Auxiliary occupied the downstairs space.

In 1936, the Club Joliette drum and bugle corps was organized to compete with corps from other clubs. Tardiff said the Joliette corps won the grand prize in the International Convention in Quebec in its first year. He said the Joliette drum and bugle in its bright red uniforms with black and white trim went on to compete and perform in many conventions and celebrations across New England and Canada and came home with many trophies and awards.

Snowshoeing was part of the Franco-American tradition dating back to the days of the trappers and traders. By 1840, the Montreal Snow Shoe Club had formed, and recreational use and competitions began. Snowshoe clubs, like the Joliette Snowshoe Club, popped up in communities like Berlin and Lewiston, Maine, with large Franco-American populations.

According to one history of the sport, by their heyday in the 1930s, the Canadian Snowshoe Union and the American Fraternal Union of Snowshoe Clubs were staging regular cross-border snowshoe meets with 10-mile marathons, 400-yard sprints and 100-yard hurdles. There were 42 clubs in New England plus another 75 across the border in Quebec.

Gerard Bergeron said members of the club would travel to different places to race. It was not unusual, he said, for some competitors to walk several days to get to the race, compete, and then turn around and walk back home.

Racers used wooden snowshoes with leather bindings and they were considerable bigger than the lightweight aluminum models sold today.

Enthusiasm for the sport waned after World War II as attention turned to downhill skiing.

The Joliette Snowshoe Club reached it peak membership in the 1960s when it had about 1,500 members. The clubhouse closed by 1998, and the building was torn down to make way for a drugstore that was never built. There are currently about 35 members in the club.

“We were there when they closed the door,” said Anita Bergeron pointing to the small group of members at her house recently.

Snowshoeing has enjoyed growing popularity in recent years with the redesigned lightweight gear and the attention on fitness. As the cost of downhill skiing increases, snowshoeing has become a more attractive way to enjoy the outdoors with only the cost of equipment.

Arsenault said the club hopes the January competition will help revive interest in snowshoeing. She said individuals do not have to belong to a club to compete in the January competition. Independents will be allowed to participate.

“I’m into getting people to snowshoe race,” she said.

Arsenault, who lives in Maine and belongs to a snowshoe club in Lewiston as well as the Joliette, said she believes passionately in promoting snowshoeing, especially for young people. Kids, she said, don’t get enough exercise these days.

More information is available by calling Anita Bergeron at 752-2579 or Marie Arsenault at 207-890-3511. A Facebook page, International Snowshoe Championship 2017, has also been posted.