Former Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius campaigns in Berlin

By Barbara Tetreault

BERLIN — Former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius made a brief visit to Androscoggin Valley Hospital Tuesday to advocate for the Affordable Care Act and the campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Maggie Hassan.

Sebelius, who served in the Obama cabinet with Hillary Clinton, noted that Clinton's opponent, Donald Trump, does not support Obamacare.

Sebelius said she worked with Gov. Hassan to expand Medicaid coverage in New Hampshire to thousands through the Affordable Care Act. In the race for U.S. Senate, Sebelius pointed out incumbent Kelly Ayotte opposes the ACA while Hassan is a supporter. While U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen is not up for election, Sebelius cited her contribution as a leader for the program among rural states.

Traveling with Sebelius, state Sen. Jeff Woodburn said 50,000 people received health insurance coverage in New Hampshire as result of the Medicaid expansion. He said the highest percentage was in Coos County where more than 2,000 people are receiving coverage because of the program.

Androscoggin Valley Hospital President Michael Peterson said the Medicaid expansion has been critical for the hospital where he said margins are razor thin.

“These programs are incredibly important to us,” he said.

Peterson said the four hospitals in the North Country are also economic engines as the largest employer overall.

AVH Financial Consultant Terrill Platt said the expansion of Medicaid has taken some of the pressure off the federal health care centers. She said a lot of people wouldn’t get health services without the program. AVH Marketing Director James Patry said delaying treatment is not only bad for the patient, he said it generally turns out more costly because it ends up as an emergency. Since the Medicaid expansion, Peterson said the emergency department has seen a decline in the volume of visits.

Patry said assessments have shown that not only is Coos County the poorest county in the state but it is also the sickest. Woodburn said Coos County is also the oldest.

Woodburn said the Medicaid expansion will be up for renewal in the next two years and said its future in the legislature is uncertain. He said its renewal is especially critical to Coos County.

Sebelius also spoke with Jen Lemoine of Gorham about her experience as the mother of a child with a heart condition.

Sebelius was Secretary of Health and Human Services from 2009-2014 when Obamacare was implemented. Prior to joining the cabinet, she served two terms as governor of Kansas. After leaving the White House, she formed and is CEO of Sebelius Resources LLC, which Wikipedia said “provides strategic advice to private companies, non-profit organizations, higher education institutions, and financial investors.”

Kibby fights to keep documents sealed

By Barbara Tetreault

GORHAM – Serving 45 to 90 years for kidnapping a 14-year old girl, Nathanial Kibby wants to stop the trial court from unsealing documents in the case that reveal he had issues with his legal representation.

Among the documents he wants to keep sealed from public view are five letters he sent to the court concerning his counsel’s representation. The N.H. Public Defenders office represented Kibby with Jesse Friedman as lead attorney. According to filings in the case, a disagreement arose between Kibby and his counsel. The court held hearings with the defense to address issues raised in some of the letters. At one point, the court hired an independent counsel to meet with Kibby and report back.

In addition to the motions regarding the status of his legal representation, Kibby also wants to keep sealed motions for services other than legal counsel.

The state Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case and this week issued an order giving Kibby’s lawyers until Nov. 7 to file its brief. The state has until Dec. 22 to respond.

The 36-year-old Gorham man was originally charged with 205 felony counts including rape, kidnapping for abducting a North Conway girl and holding her at his home for nine months. Under a plea agreement, he pled guilty to seven charges and was sentenced this May to serve 45 to 90 years in prison.

After the sentencing, Superior Court Justice Larry Smukler issued an order stating the court intended to unseal any pleading filed ex parte (by one side) and under seal effective June 14. Kibby filed an objection and asked the court to stay the order to allow him to appeal if it ruled against him. Despite Kibby’s objection, the court on June 13 unsealed the documents and released them to the state.

Two days later, Kibby filed a motion with the N.H. Supreme Court to stay the trial court’s order to allow him to appeal to Supreme Court. The Supreme Court granted the motion to stay and the trial court recalled the documents.

To be decided on appeal is whether the trail court erred in unsealing the motions because the subject matter is protected by attorney-client privilege.

Also to be decided is whether it is appropriate for the trail court to release sealed documents without a request that they be unsealed.

Kibby is currently being held in a prison in Montana.

Camp RZR weekend’s impact on area businesses spotty


By Edith Tucker
The Berlin Daily Sun

BERLIN-GORHAM — Some store and restaurant owners saw a significant jump in activity over the Camp RZR weekend, but others were disappointed.
As expected, area motel and hotel rooms were filled.

A couple from Grand Rapids, Mich., said while pumping gas on Sunday at the Lowe’s, they’d liked the cabin they’d rented at the Mount Jefferson View on Route 2 in Randolph.

“We think this area is beautiful and everyone’s been very friendly,” the husband said. “We’ve had a great time.”

Charles Jumpre, who owns the Gorham House of Pizza (GHOP) on Route 2, said his restaurant, which also serves gyros, had had a terrific weekend.

“We didn’t get caught up in the advance RZR hysteria, but we put on extra staff and ordered extra supplies,” Jumpre said. “Successful festivals will help bring more people to the area on their own, even when there are no special events. The area has trail access; and it’s clean, beautiful and quiet, compared to places like Portsmouth and Exeter. We need to continue to promote the area.”

Shayla Bisson who works at Toni’s Pizza on Main Street in downtown Berlin said that the restaurant hadn’t gained any customers over the weekend. “But it was cool to see all the traffic going by,” she said.

Maureen Patry, co-owner of both Maureen’s Boutique in downtown Berlin and Vintage Junky on the Berlin-Gorham Road, had different experiences at these shops.

A number of four-wheeler customers came into her Main Street store on the first two days of the weekend, especially on Saturday — a raw chilly early autumn day — when many visitors realized they hadn’t packed warm clothes. They bought hats, mittens and heavy sweatshirts. The store isn’t open on Sundays.

“The ATV short-sleeved mud T-shirts that had jumped off the shelf in August just weren’t warm enough for this weekend,” Patry explained.
Few new customers came over the threshold at her second-hand shop, however.

The experience of her mother, Wanda Lacasse, co-owner of 46 Wight St. Antiques on Route 110, was in sharp contrast. ATVers eagerly shopped and bought items on Friday and Saturday on their way to the park and then picked up them up on Sunday on their way out of town.

Patry pointed out that she and her family had had a wonderful time at Saturday night’s Big & Rich concert and fireworks, taking the shuttle bus to and from what she described as a “spectacular and professionally presented event.”

Circle K, which sells Irving gas and convenience store items south of the Cleveland Bridge doubled its business, exulted manager Kelley Flood.

“Business has been up with the City’s other Circle K pumps shut down to replace tanks (although its convenience store was busy over the weekend) and the Big Apple torn down to make way for a new facility, but this busy weekend’s numbers were off the charts,” Flood said.

Tourists found their way to the Family Dollar store, reported store manager Wendy Whitehouse. Its new location, accessible from both Main and Pleasant Streets, has boosted sales, and this weekend was no exception. ATVers and other tourists are very pleasant and enthusiastic about the area, Whitehouse said.

Penny Binette, co-owner of the Valley Creek Eatery, said that it only picked up an additional 10 percent in sales.

“Almost everything took place up at the park,” she said, complaining that the city had allowed unlicensed vendors and local residents to cook and sell food at nearby informal and uninspected venues. “It’s not fair; everyone should have to pay rooms and meals tax,” Binette said.

Jericho Motorsports, with its Route 110 location near the park entrance, helped a lot of RZR Festival customers, changing flat tires and fixing ATVs so they could get back on the trail, said owner Randy Cicchetto. “We sold a lot of accessories, including jackets, sweatshirts and gloves,” he said.

Cicchetto said that he has been in business at that location for nearly 10 years and had played a key role in making ATV events at Jericho a success.

He has just sold the thriving business, which includes one of the nation’s top Arctic Cat franchises, to a couple of locals but said he isn’t quite ready to reveal their names.

“My wife is living in Loudon and going back and forth has been difficult,” Cicchetto explained.

Six-plus-year employee Tucker Riendeau has agreed to stay on.

Bob Chapman opened up the area for "dry camping" next door to Jericho Motorsports, until recently the site of the Bass Shoe building that he razed and cleaned up. Chapman said he rented porta-potties and hired temporary staff at both the Bass site, large enough to accommodate 160 RVs and motor homes, and alongside the former Car Freshener building, where 70 could park. Only about 40 RVs parked on the Bass site.

“I only made back half my short-term expenses,” he said, noting that he handed over the weekend operations to his right-hand-man Mike Stirling and his son Jesse.

“I also worked as a parking attendant and met a lot of people as they parked with us or ate at one of the onsite vendors,” Chapman said.

“The extensive work we did to the Bass property was done, of course, for its future uses and not for the ATV event,” he explained. “I see multiple opportunities to help some businesses — new and established — expand on the site. The greatest opportunity is for the development of a hotel at the trailhead at Jericho. The motels and hotels in Gorham were swamped this weekend, and there is definitely a need for additional hospitality services in the area, especially on Jericho Road.

“I even became the newest ATV enthusiast,” Chapman continued. “I took my first ride this weekend, and I’m interested in getting my grandkids into a riding course. I’m going to purchase some ATVs for the family to use.”

Chapman touted the other developments taking place on Route 110.

“I’m thrilled with the new campground and the new restaurant being developed further up the road, which will significantly improve the area and greatly increase Berlin’s ability to handle hundreds of visitors with world-class food, services and accommodations, he said. “This will create a center for visitors that will attract a year-round crowd to Jericho.”

Water main installation on Willow Street

BERLIN — Due to the installation of a new water main on Willow Street from Hillside Avenue to State Street, it will be necessary to stop traffic on Willow Street from Hillside Avenue to State Street. Only local traffic will be allowed on Willow Street during the water main construction. Drivers are asked to find an alternate route during the water main construction that will be starting on Wednesday, Sept. 28.

The Berlin Water Works apologized for the inconvenience and thanked the people in the areas for their patience and understanding. When the water is turned back on, Berlin Water Works advises that users may experience discolored water, and should let their faucets run for five to 10 minutes to permit the discolored water to pass through the area.