Kibby loses bid to keep letters sealed

By Barbara Tetreault

CONCORD — The Gorham man who kidnapped and raped a young North Conway girl has lost his bid to stop the release of five letters he wrote to the court.

The N.H. Supreme Court this week unanimously agreed with the ruling by Superior Court Justice Larry Smukler unsealing the letters written by Nathaniel Kibby.

During the case, Kibby sent five letters concerning his legal representation to the court. Court documents indicate a disagreement arose between Kibby and the N.H. Public Defenders office, which represented him. The letters were sealed until after Kibby was sentenced. In May 2016 under a plea agreement, he pleaded guilty to seven charges and was sentenced to serve 45 to 90 years in jail. The following month, the court ordered all documents in the case unsealed, including the letters.

Kibby appealed the order and this April, the case was argued in front of the N.H. Supreme Court.

Representing Kibby, Attorney David Rothstein argued the letters are covered by attorney-client privilege “because four of them “raised general issues about counsel’s representation,” and one letter “related specifically to the issue that was the subject of counsel’s pleadings and two hearings.””

In her decision, Chief Justice Linda Dalianis pointed out the defendant conceded unsealing the documents would not compromise his defense and thus failed to demonstrate a compelling interest to justify maintaining the letters under seal.

Kibby now has 10 days to file a motion for reconsideration with the court. Until that time, the letters will remain under seal.

The 37-year old Kibby was originally charged with 205 felony counts including rape, kidnapping for abducing the teen and holding her captive at his home for nine months. He is currently being held in a prison in Montana.

Council will discuss referendum on allowing keno

By Barbara Tetreault

BERLIN — The city council Monday night will hear from state Lottery Commission Executive Director Charles McIntyre as it discusses placing a referendum question on the November ballot to allow the lottery game keno to be played in Berlin.

The Legislature this June approved keno as a revenue source to help fund the cost of full-day kindergarten, which Berlin already provides.

McIntyre said each community must vote on whether to allow keno although the funds are distributed to each community with full-day kindergarten regardless of whether they allow keno. He said that is the same process the state followed when the lottery was first introduced.
“Let the voters decide if they want it,” he said.

Since Berlin is a city form of government, the council has to vote by late September to put the measure on the November ballot so voters can decide. Towns have more time to get the measure on their March town warrants.

Berlin Mayor Paul Grenier said he “absolutely” supports allowing keno in the city. He predicted the city council will support keno as well, noting the body has previously gone on record as supporting a casino in the state.

The state currently provides communities with funding for half-day kindergarten, even if, like Berlin, they provide full-day kindergarten. Berlin Superintendent of Schools Corinne Cascadden said the district receives $1,780 per kindergarten student. The state is promising communities with full-day kindergarten will receive an additional $1,100 per pupil as a result of the keno revenues.

Cascadden said with an estimated 90 kindergarten students, Berlin would receive about $99,000. McIntyre said the revenue estimates are conservative and the per pupil amount could go as high as $1,800. But with the city losing $225,000 per year in education stabilization funds, Cascadden said the new revenues still fall far short.

The legislature approved keno to be played in “pouring establishments” or bars and restaurants that serve liquor. The establishment gets an eight percent commission for sales.

Bureau of Trails plans to install fence as temporary solution to ATV complaints at Rt. 2 trailhead

By Barbara Tetreault

GORHAM — The N.H. Bureau of Trails plans to install a 6-foot fence near the Route 2 parking lot for the Presidential Recreational Rail Trail as a short-term solution to issues raised by heavy ATV use of the trail east from the parking lot.

In a letter to abutters of the rail trail, Bureau Chief Chris Gamache wrote that the bureau continues to seek a long-term solution that would relocate the connector trail for the 2018 riding season.

Residential homeowners near the parking lot and trail have complained about noise and dust from ATV traffic. Over the next few weeks, Gamache said his agency plans to install a 6-foot tall by 8-foot wide solid wood fence panels on posts.

The fence would start just east of the parking lot and run 600 feet west on the north side of the state property (Crestwood Drive). He said they also plan to install 400 feet of fencing on the south side of the trail going east. The fence will be installed on the state side of the property within feet of the property line. The panels will be installed in a staggered pattern to deflect more sound than a continuous fence line.

“The fence will provide a visual barrier between some abutting homes and the trail users, and is intended to deflect some of the sound waves from trail users. We understand that sound will still travel and be heard from abutting homes but believe this will help to cut down some of it,” Gamache wrote.

The letter said the bureau hopes to have the fence installed before Camp RZR on Sept. 22-23.

Gamache also said the state is still researching different surfacing materials such as paving or using reclaimed asphalt on the trail entrance east for about 300 feet to reduce dust.

Gamache was scheduled to discuss the matter with the Gorham Trails Committee at its scheduled meeting Monday afternoon but was unable to attend.

But in an email sent to the committee, he said the state is still talking to Pike Industries about possibly relocating the connector trail onto property the paving company owns off Route 2. Gamache said he has also had N.H. Departments of Transportation and Safety review using Route 16 as a connector route, from the area of the high trestle bridge south to the intersection of Routes 2 and 16. He said the officials were not encouraging because Route 16 is four lanes at that point and a majority of the traffic is traveling well over 30 mph.

Several abutters at the committee meeting indicated they were not pleased with the idea of the fence. Harry Sterns said the fence may be a good start but there are still property owners who will be impacted by ATV traffic. He said a six-foot fence will be just feet from his property line.
Audrey Albert, an abutter, called the fence a band-aid approach and not a long-term solution.

Another abutter, Abby Evankow, said moving the trailhead would just be moving the problem into someone else’s neighborhood.

Michael Waddell urged abutters unhappy with the fence proposal to call Town Manager Robin Frost and have the issue put on the agenda for the Aug. 21 select board meeting.

The fence reopened the on-going discussion about allowing ATVs on Gorham streets. The town currently allows ATVs on most streets but residents appear split on matter.

Diana Holmes noted that back in 2002, Jeff Taylor conducted a Plan NH charrette that looked at the Berlin-Gorham Road. One option called for creating more of a parkway with single traffic lanes in each direction and adding pedestrian and bike lanes. She said maybe that could be revisited and an ATV lane created.

Steve Jackson said he believes ATVers would still come to Gorham even if they were not allowed to ride on local streets. He said he opposes allowing ATVs on Gorham’s streets.

Michael Waddell, emphasizing he was not speaking in his capacity as selectman, said he understands Jackson’s position but feels the committee should stay focused on the trailhead issue.

Conrad Klefos said he agreed with Waddell on the need to stay focused on solving the trailhead issue and taking advantage of the state’s willingness to spend money on a solution.

Holmes said when the town agreed to allow ATV access to town roads, there was an understanding that if it didn’t work out, it would stop. She said residents are complaining and there is no long-term vision.

Reuben Rajala said ATVers who come to Gorham and stay like accessing lodging establishments and restaurants on their ATVs. Another member said shutting off that access to local businesses would be like shooting yourself in the foot.

Police Chief P.J. Cyr said it would be great to have a multi-use recreational plan and get ATVs out of residential neighborhoods. He noted the state is working on that.

Cyr said his department responded to about 20 OHRV complaints during the Jericho ATV Festival weekend. Road access for ATVs closed at 10 p.m. and he said there were not many operating after hours.

“The weekend went well overall,” he said.

Cyr said he feels there needs to be a focus on safety. He said many ATV riders do not wear helmets or eye protection, which are optional for riders 18 and older. He said he also observed adults driving ATVs holding young children. Cyr said those are issues for the Legislature.

Klefos expressed frustration that the committee continues to digress onto the larger question of ATV road access as attendance changes at every meeting.

Waddell pointed out that the committee is a fluid group, which makes it hard sometimes to make progress.

Serving as facilitator, Coutney Wrigley of North Country Listens, agreed that the topic keeps coming up. The group spent time discussing its direction.

In the end, the group decided to focus for now on the Route 2 trailhead and to request Gamache meet with it at its September meeting.

Gorham man seriously injured as FIsh and Game report four ATV accidents over weekend

ANDROSCOGGIN VALLEY — Fish and Game responded to four separate ATV accidents over the weekend with one rider air-lifted to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon with serious injuries.

Jason May 28, of Gorham crashed his ATV into a tree near Stearns Brook on an ATV trail in Success Saturday afternoon.

Fish and Game along with first responders from Milan Fire Department Berlin Fire Department, and Berlin Emergency Medical Service responded to the scene after the call was received at approximately 3:30 p.m. Although the crash site was several miles into the woods, crews were able to get an ambulance to the site. May was transported to Androscoggin Valley Hospital in Berlin and then transferred via the DHART helicopter to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. His injuries were described as serious.

Fish and Game said they believe speed and intoxication were factors in the accident and criminal charges are pending. May was wearing a helmet and eye protection at the time of the accident.


Success Pond Road accident

A woman sustained a leg injury in an ATV accident Sunday on the Success Pond Road.

Justine Baldassara, 28, of Wilton told authorities she was driving through a murky mud puddle when some unseen ruts underneath the water caused her ATV to list to one side. Baldassara said she instinctively put her foot down and it caught on something, injuring her foot as the ATV continued. She was able to get back on her ATV and drive to her father’s house in Berlin. Once there, however, she experienced increased pain and authorities were called shortly after 1 p.m. Berlin EMS, Berlin Police, and Fish and Game responded and Baldassara was transported to AVH for evaluation and treatment.

Fish and Game reminded riders to always be aware of unforeseen hazards. Baldassara had ridden many times on that section of trail but very high traffic and recent rains had obscured new ruts. Baldassara was wearing a helmet and eye protection at the time of the crash.


Jericho Park accidents

Authorities responded to two separate ATV accidents in Jericho Mountain State Park on Friday afternoon.

Shortly before 4:30 p.m., an UTV, operated by Jacob Alvarez de Toledo, 20, of Newburyport, Mass., rolled on its side on the Turbine Trail.

A passenger, Daniel Alvarez de Toledo, 22, also of Newburyport, Mass., suffered non-life threatening injuries and was taken by private vehicle to Memorial Hospital in North Conway for treatment. Speed is considered a contributing factor in the accident.

At about the same time on Brook Road in the park, Hirsh Fischbein, 21, of Brooklyn, N.Y., crashed a rental side-by-side OHRV into a large orange reflective colored gate.

There was a sign on the trail warning of the upcoming gate. In addition to Fischbein, there were three passengers in the OHRV. All of the occupants of the OHRV were wearing helmets and no one was injured. Fischbein was issued a summons for speed and will be responsible for the cost of repairing the gate.