Written by Barbara Tetreault
Todd Fahey, the court-appointed trustee overseeing TCCAP, said the park is not aligned with the organization's core mission. It is also not self-supporting at a time when TCCAP is facing financial
In December, the First Circuit Probate Court approved an emergency petition from the Charitable Trust Division of the state Attorney General's office to suspend TCCAP's board of directors and appoint Fahey because of concerns about the organization's ability to continue to provide services. Fahey said TCCAP is reviewing its programs and making adjustments to its operations.
One decision is to discontinue TCCP's involvement with the NFHP. Fahey said TCCAP is seeking another entity to own and/or operate the park. He said he understands the importance of the park to the region.
"It's a resource to be preserved and we're trying hard to do that," he said.
Fahey on Friday confirmed that TCCAP officials have talked to the chamber about having that organization take over the park, which includes an outdoor amphitheater and a full-size replica logging camp on three acres of land along the Androscoggin River on upper Main Street.
At last week's city council meeting, Councilor Diane Nelson, who is also a member of the chamber, reported officials from the city, chamber, TCCAP, Brookfield Power, and Northway Bank met last month to discuss the chamber taking over the park. Northway Bank is involved because TCCAP has used the park as collateral for bank financing.
The discussions do not include the Brown House or the former Brown Company Research Building, which are also owned by TCCAP.
Fahey said TCCAP has many advance reservations for parties and events at the park and expects to honor them. He said Dick Huot continues to oversee the park for TCCAP. In a press release, Fahey said TCCAP will work to make the "transition seamless for those who have scheduled events there in the upcoming months and who enjoy this community resource."
TCCAP has a long history of involvement with the park. Former TCCAP Executive Director Larry Kelly was one of the founders of the park back in 1994 and helped set up the non-profit entity that accepted the Brown House and riverfront property from Crown Vantage.
The NFHP was able to attract federal grants to construct the logging camp and amphitheater but throughout its existence it has had trouble raising funds to cover day-to-day operations.
In 2006, the NFHP turned to TCCAP for staffing and management when the only full-time employee resigned and the park was in peril. Three
years later, the NFHP board of directors voted to dissolve their 501c3 nonprofit tax-exempt organization and become part of TCCAP.
Last Updated on Monday, 04 February 2013 22:03
Written by Barbara Tetreault
The position of chief financial officer has been vacant since the termination of Dori Ducharme on Dec. 3. In a press release issued Friday, Fahey said a new CFO will allow TCCAP to permanently address some of the issues that lead to its current fiscal problems.
"It's a critical position," Fahey said in a follow-up phone interview.
He said he expects to issue a job description and hire someone as soon as possible.
In his Jan. 15 status report to the Probate Court, Fahey cited major shortcomings with the fiscal operations of TCCAP and said it appeared there was little financial oversight by the governing board of the agency. He wrote there was "a lack of financial sophistication relation to systems and accounting practice in place, a cultural of distrust and dysfunction between central administration and the various programs, and a general running of TCCAP more like a (poorly run) small business than a critical multi-million social service agency."
Fahey said there is no centralized accounting system in place to make administration and financial reporting more efficient and accurate but said software has been found to correct that problem.
In a Dec. 7, 2012 letter to Anthony Blenkinsop, director of the Attorney General's Charitable Trusts unit, TCCAP Chief Operating Office Peter Higbee said information on TCCAP's financial situation had "not always been easy to ascertain from our CFO, as she has been for some time allowed to operate with a high degree of control and minimal oversight."
Six days after the letter from Higbee, Blenkinsop petitioned the First District Probate Court to suspend the authority of TCCAP's board of directors and appoint Fahey as special trustee to oversee the organization. That motion was granted.
Fahey said TCCAP expects to keep operating for the foreseeable future and in his report said he believes the organization can be viable going forward if it understands its fiscal situation and regains the confidence of its funders.
He wrote that substantial efforts have been made by many government funders to expedite reimbursements. A group of funders, including the Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund, the Endowment for Health, Granite United Way, the HNH Foundation, the N.H. Community Development Finance Authority, the N.H. Community Loan Fund, and the Episcopal Diocese of N.H., last month provided $260,000 in emergency funding to be used as working capital to help TCCAP's clients.
Fahey took steps to cut costs by terminating three employees, furloughing eight employees for four weeks, and cutting pay for all but the lowest paid employees.
TCCAP received $100,000 in weatherization funds and Fahey said the Head Start Program has been reauthorized for another year – which he called a "big shot in the arm for TCCAP".
In his report, Fahey said TCCAP had been able to make substantial payments on accounts that were past due and described the financial outlook as more positive. He said concerns remain about misallocation of funds, in particular $224,000 owed to the Guardianship Program. Documents filed with Probate Court indicated that for 18 months, starting in July 2011, funds from Guardianship Services had been used by TCCAP for general operating expenses and had not been repaid.
Fahey noted that TCCAP routinely seeks appropriations at town meetings and through the municipal budget process. He said the agency will continue to ask for such funding. He said funders who have questions about TCCAP can call him at 223-9144 or Peter Higbee at 752-7001.
Last Updated on Monday, 04 February 2013 21:46
Robert Towle, 41, formerly of Berlin, was convicted by a Coos County jury last Tuesday, Jan. 29, for a second time on charges of aggrivated felonious sexual assault and accomplice to felonious sexual assault on a juvenile who was under the age of 13 at the time.
Towle was originally indicted on nine counts of aggrivated felonious sexual assault and four counts of criminal liability for (the) conduct of another in October, 2008. Towle was living in Berlin at the time and the crimes occured in Berlin.
He had been found guilty on four charges of aggrivated feloniou sexual assault and the four criminal liability charges in 2010. He appealed that conviction and the verdict was overturned by the N.H.Supreme Court.
According the John McCormick, Coos County Attorney, the Supreme Court overturned the verdict because Towle had, at some point during the prior proceedings, expressed his interest in being his own attorney, which is his right. The higher court ruled the superior court judge should have pursued that idea further with Towle at that time.
After he won the appeal, Towle was let out on cash bail pending the new trial.
The new trial began on Jan. 14 and testimony lasted nine days, until Monday, Jan. 28 with Towle serving as his own attorney. A verdict was reached by the jury the next day. McCormick estimated the jury was out three and one-half to four hours. A sentencing date has not yet been set.
In February, 2012, Towle was indicted on two counts of possession of child pornography. These counts were nol prossed.
The person Towle was found guilty of being the accomplice of, Katie Wilmont, is due in superior court for a probation violation hearing on March 7. She pled guilty to felonious sexual assault on Aug. 4, 2009 and received a state prison sentense of two and a half to seven years, all suspended. She received five years of probation, during which time the sentence could be imposed.
According to court paperwork, she has failed to pay the required $40 per months towards supervision fees, failed to continue to attend counseling and has consumed alcohol, all violations of her probation.
Last Updated on Monday, 04 February 2013 21:51
Kyle Newton, a 2010 graduate of Berlin High School, didn't have much support when he announced his intention to make his living as a writer.
While still in school he was discouraged from pursuing a career around his love of history because, he was told, his grades were too low. Truth be told, most of his teachers and other school officials at the high school probably didn't believe he'd amount to much. Although no one came right out and said it, it's clear Newton certainly felt that vibe.
Now, two published books later, at only 21 years old, Newton came to speak to students at a career class at his alma mater. Work hard and don't give up on your dreams, was the main message he hoped to get across to students.
Newton began his talk to the career class by asking students, mostly freshmen, if they knew what they wanted to do. Only a couple did. He told them he had been very interested in medieval times and had thought he might do something in the history field. He said he was discouraged from doing that and after that, still just a freshmen, he lost interest in school.
Another interest was martial arts, something he started taking lessons in at the young age of seven. But over the years he found he was too quick to anger, and got into a lot of fights, something he said he really didn't like to do, but it kept happening.
Meanwhile he had discovered the medieval re-creations world. An offer came for him to become a knight in a re-creation in Maryland. He was still in high school and when the organizers found this out, he said one of the participants sat him down and told him “there was something better for me” down the road.
Sometimes life's experiences combine in a way that lead you in a direction you never thought of.
He was still in high school and in Mrs. Judson's career class when he started thinking about starting his own business. At first he thought maybe a gym, but that didn't pan out and was put on the back burner – for now. Then his father lost, temporarily as it turned out, his job at the state prison.
“I didn't know how to verbalize how I was feeling and so I started writing,” he said. It was a made up world, but the characters and events echoed what was going on in his own life. “A friend of mine (who later became his girlfriend) said 'this is great, you've got to do something about this'.”
She suggested he attend a writers' workshop being held at Southern New Hampshire College, where she was attending school.
He attended the weekend class and one of the editors there read what he had written so far and said “I don't know why this is not in a book.” He didn't know it at that time, but the editor was Stephen King's editor.
“When Stephen King's editor says your stuff is good enough to publish, I guess you have to listen,” Newton said.
So, when he got back home he announced he was going to be writer, that was how he was going to make his living.
His mom and girlfriend were supportive, but his father and grandparents – not so much. Even his friends thought it was a stupid idea.
His father urged him to be realistic. He said he fought with his father and grandparents for months.
Through it all he just kept on writing, continuing to base what happens in the book on what was happening in his life.
When his first book, which he called “Allegiance of Soldiers” was done and published, he handed his father the book. His father looked down at it, blinked, and when he looked up his eyes were red and filled with tears. His grandparents had the same reaction.
“Allegiance of Soldiers” is about a soldier in medieval times who is arrested for crimes he didn't commit (as his father wrongly lost his job at the prison) and is suffering through PSTD. In this book he is trying to break out of prison and find out about the charges
His second book “Lies of a King,” came out just a couple of weeks ago. In that book his lead character has gotten out of prison and a civil war starts. As of last week he had sold 733 copies of his first book and 30 of his second.
He is hoping to have his third book, in which the civil war ends, out this summer. This will be the last one in this series, but he said he has ideas for many more books in various stages of development, some just a paragraph or so.
“It's slow but it's on it's way,” he said. “I'm not famous. I still have to have a part-time job, but I hope to support myself totally by writing someday.”
Newton has self-published his two books. Publishers, he said, were positive about his writing, but told him he was too young, only 19 at the timeof his first book, for them to invest that much money in. Newton said self-publishing is hard work. You have to find an editor, an artist, and you have to go around and market your books yourself. He's had some luck in this area with friends and relatives with editing and artistic skills willing to help out.
But it's all worth it when you get a letter like the one he got from a sgt. major based at the Pentagon who had served numerous tours in Iran and Iraq. The soldier's mother, who lives in Gorham, had sent him the book and this real soldier told Newton he believed the book has helped him on his road to recovery from PTSD.
“That's the greatest thing,” Newton said.
Remember that idea once put on the back burner, the plan to someday start his own business? Now that he has experienced the struggles and problems involved with self-publishing, he has started a new business “Bright Dog Products,” a publishing house he hopes to be able to grow into a business that will help other writers.
“There will come a time when you can take the easy road or chase your dream,” he told students, then quoting from Archimedes said, “Give me a place to stand and I'll move the world.”
“Don't ever consider something you struggle through a loss,” he said. “When something bad happens, take one day to be sad about it, then move on.”
After the class ended, Newton talked with this reporter about his writing process.
His two main characters, he said, are based on the two sides of himself (remember the boy who loved to fight and hated it at the same time?), how each would react differently in a situation.
When writing, one must eventually sit down and type it out, but first, he said, he acts out the scene. If two knights are fighting, he'll get up and act out the fight from the point of view of each. That way he knows he will be accurately portraying the scene when he puts it in words. He will do the same thing when the characters are talking to each other. When one says one thing, he thinks how the other would respond.
Newton has only just begun to market his books. To date they are available on the website of LuLu, a self-publishing place online. His books are in several local stores, including the bookstore at White Mountains Cafe in Gorham and SaVoir Flare in Berlin.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 February 2013 18:09
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