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10/14 Berlin District Court news

 A charge of going through a traffic light in Gorham on May 12 against James Speranza, 55, Dixfield, Maine, was placed on file for one year without a finding.
A charge of littering against Timothy Gallagher, 47, Berlin, stemming from a July 4 incident in Gorham, was placed on file without a finding.
A complaint of speeding against Clifford Robinson, 60, Wellesley, Mass., in Gorham was placed on file without a finding.
A charge of speeding against Jennifer Holmes, 42, Stoughton, Mass., in Gorham on July 31 was placed on file without a finding.
Jacquelyn Campbell, 27, Berlin, was found guilty of driving in Berlin on May 1 after the revocation of her license and was fined $620.
Caleb Hurd, 23, Andover, Maine, was found guilty of drunken driving for an Aug. 30 incident in Berlin. He was fined $930, lost his license for one year and must attend an impaired driver's course.
Christopher Mohr, 37, N. Conway, was found guilty of the prohibited sales of alcohol for an incident on May 25, 1998 and was fined $420.
A charge of driving after the revocation of his license against Thomas Styles, 61, Berlin, for a Sept. 5 incident in Berlin was placed on file without a finding.
Randy Poulin, 27, Berlin, was found guilty of drunken driving for a July 24 incident in Berlin. He was fined $620 and lost his license for nine months.
Randy Duguay, 34, Berlin, was found guilty of violating a protective order in Berlin on April 19. He received a six-month jail sentence, suspended, and was sentenced to one year of probation.
He was also found guilty of contempt of court for a May 9 incident and received a concurrent jail sentence of six months in jail suspended and one year probation.
Mark Tabak, 51, Milan, was found guilty of shoplifting at Cumberland Farms in Gorham on June 11 and was fined $434. A second count was placed on file for one year without a finding.
Kate-Lynn Greenlay, 25. Berlin, was found guilty of driving without a valid license in Berlin on Sept. 4 and was fined $124.
Gregory Wood, 47, Milton, Mass., was found guilty of criminal trespass for an Aug. 26 incident and was fined $434.
Jonathan Dingman, 26, Henniker, was found guilty of driving 107 in a 55 mph zone in Randolph and was fined $620.
Harold Hannigan, 64, Berlin, was found guilty of aggravated drunken driving, and transporting alcohol. For the first charge he was fined $930, lost his license for one year, and was sentenced to 17 days in jail with 12 days suspended.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 October 2014 22:56

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Stairs at historic St. Anne Church get facelift

 BERLIN – For more than a century, parishioners have walked up the wide granite steps and through the arches to enter the ornately decorated St. Anne Church.
Done in Romanesque and late Victorian style, the church is considered one of the most beautiful in New England and has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1979.
But thousands of footsteps and years of snow, ice, and salt have taken a toll on the steps. Some of the steps have moved and settled and others have fallen into disrepair.
Concerned about safety, Rev. Kyle Stanton, pastor of Good Shepherd and Holy Family parishes, said the church has hired a contractor to repair the stairs retaining as much of the original granite as possible. The work got underway Monday and the project will take up to four weeks to complete.
Rev. Stanton said the parish began planning a year ago to repair the stairs. The parish hired HEB Engineers to come up with a variety of options that would save as much of the original granite steps as possible.
Jason Ross, senior structural engineer at HEB, said the granite steps are six inches tall and 12 inches wide. He said it appears the stairs were the original ones put in place when the church was built in 1908-09.
"Those granite stairs were set on top of stone masonry supports," said Ross.
He said it does not appear much fill was placed between the stone supports.
HEB produced six to eight options for repairing the stairs for review by Stanton and the diocese of Manchester. The project was put out to bid and the bid was awarded to S. D. Szetela LLC of Glen.
Ross said the decision was not to reconstruct the full width of the current stairs. Instead, the best of the original granite steps will be selected and re-installed in what was the middle third of the existing stairs. Reducing the area of stairs will avoid the need to purchase additional granite and save on future maintenance.
On each side of the stairs, there will be planters although the planting will wait until next year. Ross said at the bottom, the stairs will flare out to the sidewalk.
The steps will be set in concrete and the space between will be filled with crushed stone. Ross said that will create a solid base and the steps should not move in the future. Ross said HEB worked with a landscape architect to develop a design that will blend in with the church's architecture.
"It's going to look different but we're trying to keep as much of our history as we can," said Rev. Stanton.
The cost of the project, which was not released, is being covered by a bequest donated by Paul E. Becotte and money donated by the Cedar Pond Association. Stanton explained that when the association closed its chapel at Cedar Pond and sold the land, it donated the money to the parish because St. Anne had conducted worship services at the chapel. In the spring, Rev. Stanton said the parish plans to hold a dedication service and install a plaque recognizing the two gifts that paid for the reconstruction.
For the next couple of weeks, Rev. Stanton said parishioners are asked to use the two side doors to access church for services.
Earlier this week, Rev. Stanton said an open house held to celebrate the completion of a renovation project at Holy Family Church in Gorham. He said the interior of the lower hall was renovated with a new tile floor and ceiling tiles installed. The hall was painted. Outside, new rain gutters and drain system installed outside.
The work started in July with volunteers doing the demolition and painting. Lee Corrigan did the drainage work and Brian King repaired the paving. S& J Gutters installed the new gutters. Caron Building Center installed the tile floor. The paint was purchased at Sherwin Williams and the tile and supplies at Caron Building.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 October 2014 22:43

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Selectmen will go ahead with absolute auction despite concerns

GORHAM—Selectmen have decided to go ahead with selling four tax-deeded properties at absolute auction but said the board would probably handle such a sale differently in the future.

Four properties recently acquired for back taxes have been at the center of debate during recent selectmen's meetings in Gorham. One property known as Currier Trucking at 459 Main Street has been particularly touchy with roughly $400,000 owed in uncollected taxes.
Selectmen received criticism from two Budget Committee members a week ago for listing the four properties as an absolute auction.
Budget Chairman Mike Waddell addressed the board during public comment to express his concerns with how the sale was being handled. Glen Eastman, also a member of the Budget Committee was at the meeting to reiterate potential downfalls of using an absolute auction.
Waddell questioned the board's decision to go with an absolute auction, versus placing a modest minimum bid.
"The sellers protect themselves if someone does buy it for less than taxes, because there isn't even a guarantee that they will even pay their taxes. It seems needlessly reckless not to protect yourself," explained Waddell.
Eastman also criticized the town's approach, saying that an absolute auction is not going to solve the tax problems, and should only be used as a last resort.
"It could work out, but this is the town's money, almost $700,000. I would have thought that a better approach would be to look at each property and come up with a fair price. Absolute auctions should be the last resort," Eastman said.
Selectmen agreed that it would be in the town's best interest to contact the company handling the auction, and a local realtor to determine the best course of action.
That evening the board motioned to cancel the auction and look into further options, like placing a reserve price on the properties. All three board members voted in favor of the cancellation.
By last Wednesday, the town learned that the cancellation process was going to be much more costly than originally thought.
Stipulations in the contract with the auction company Paul McInnis Inc. state that there are penalties for canceling or changing the contract. Initially the town estimated that the penalty would cost around $8,000.
After contacting McInnis, the town learned that the penalty could equal six percent of the fair market value or nearly $83,000.
McInnis still recommended that the town continue with the absolute auction; citing that it would likely bring in the most competition, leading to higher profit. The company reminded the town that they will never recuperate the money that is owed, and the most important priority should be getting the property back on the tax roll this year.
With the newly learned information the board held a meeting this past Monday to discuss and finalize a plan for the four properties. Waddell and Eastman were both present at the meeting, and were once again shared concerns about how the process was handled.
Waddell reminded the selectmen that they have an obligation to Gorham townspeople to make the best choices based on research, and that moving forward there needs to be a different approach when it comes to large financial choices like this one.
"I just wouldn't have gone with the absolute auction, because as selectmen you have to be prudent, and going with an absolute auction you're taking a gamble. We have to find some way to adequately handle big decisions like this. I think we all can agree that we could have talked about it a little more," said Waddell.
The selectmen were in agreement that all possible angles had not been considered for the properties, and that they could have done more to research other possibilities.
"Your comments make a lot of sense, unfortunately it is what it is now, and your points are well taken. In the future it will be handled differently. In my time coming to these meetings and being on the board this is one of the toughest and hardest decisions that I have made, but I am confident that we can move forward from here," said Schall.
The board of selectmen ended the meeting by voting to continue with the original plan of an absolute auction. All four properties are being auctioned Wednesday, Oct. 22.
The next board of selectmen meeting will be held Oct. 20 starting at 6 p.m. at the Gorham Town Hall.

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 October 2014 22:43

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Senate candidates to debate at BHS on Oct. 21

State Senate District I candidates Jeff Woodburn and Mark Evans will debate one-on-one as part of Berlin Candidates Night on Tuesday, Oct. 21 at Berlin High School.
Berlin Candidates Night is set up to allow voters to talk with their neighbors about the issues that matter most to them and to meet and ask questions of the candidates.
In addition to the debate, the four candidates for the three seats in House District 3 have been invited to speak briefly about their candidacies as well.
The evening will begin at 6 p.m. with registration and an opportunity for the public to meet the candidates. At 6:30 p.m., after a brief welcome, those in attendance will break out into small groups to discuss issues and develop a list of questions for the senate candidates. After 30 minutes, the groups will report out their top issues. The two state senate candidates, incumbent Democrat Jeff Woodburn and Republican Mark Evans, will then each answer as many of the questions as time allows.
Following the debate, there will be closing remarks and a second opportunity for the public to meet and network with the candidates.
Pre-registration is requested but not required. To pre-register go to www.northcountrylistens.org/events.
The event is being hosted by North Country Listens, The Berlin Daily Sun, and Berlin High School.

Last Updated on Monday, 13 October 2014 17:17

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