EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

December 29, 2013

New Hampshire: Year in review


The Eagle-Tribune

---- — Town administrator charged with indecent exposure

The downfall of Derry's top leader in the wake of indecent exposure charges emerged as one of Southern Hampshire's top 10 stories of the year.

It began in July when Town Administrator John Anderson was placed on paid administrative leave with no explanation given by town councilors.

It was eventually revealed that Anderson, 50, town administrator for three years, was arrested by state police on two counts of indecent exposure and lewdness.

Anderson was charged with exposing himself to a satellite TV salesman who came to the door of his home. The town administrator, who was naked, was accused of masturbating in front of the salesman and asking him to to take off his clothes and allegedly told the salesman it was a "nudist" household, according to a police affidavit.

The Town Council voted the next day to place Anderson on leave and dismissed him without cause three months later, opting not to renew his contract once it expired Oct. 31. Larry Budreau, Derry's human resources director and assistant town administrator, has filled in.

Anderson was to go on trial Dec. 13, but a scheduling conflict caused it to be postponed until February.

Teen commits suicide with chief's gun

A Timberlane Regional High School freshman shot and killed himself with Danville police Chief Wade Parson's service revolver on March 11.

The boy, Jacob Carver, 15, was the son of Parson's girlfriend.

Parsons was charged with negligent storage of a firearm for failing to secure his loaded handgun before leaving the house to run errands.

Parsons has pleaded not guilty, contending he is not responsible for the teen's death. If convicted, he could face a fine of up to $1,000, but no jail time.

In October, Judge Michael Sullivan requested that Assistant County Attorney Terri Harrington provide additional information on how a state firearms law has been applied in similar cases.

County attorney, others suspended

As the year comes to a close, suspended Rockingham County Attorney James Reams is still fighting to keep his job.

Reams, Deputy County Attorney Thomas Reid and a third unidentified employee of the county attorney's office were placed on administrative leave Nov. 6 while state and federal authorities investigated "management and operational issues" within the office.

Attorney General Joseph Foster suspended Reams' authority as a prosecutor and county commissioners barred him from returning to his office.

Reams and his attorney, Michael Ramsdell, fought the suspension.

In the meantime, accusations arose that Reams mismanaged county funds and sexually harassed some of his female employees.

He denied the charges and admitted in a court filing that he had been accused in the past but exonerated by the attorney general's office.

Judge Richard McNamara heard Reams's request to be reinstated at a hearing Dec. 19 in Merrimack County Superior Court. A ruling is expected soon.

Lawmakers spike casino bill

It was a year marked by the defeat of legislation that some hoped would bring a $600 million casino to Rockingham Park in Salem.

But 2014 begins with a renewed effort to legalize expanded gambling in New Hampshire. The Legislature will be asked this winter to consider a new bill to allow casinos in the state.

Hopes for pumping millions of dollars into the state's economy through gambling revenue were dashed in May when the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted, 199-164, to kill casino legislation after the Senate had already approved the bill.

All bets were on the casino being established at Rockingham Park, a century-old former racetrack.

Millennium Gaming of Las Vegas has said it remains committed to establishing a 300-room hotel and entertainment venue at the park as long as the Legislature approves expanded gambling.

State approves medical marijuana

Use of marijuana for medical reasons won approval from the Legislature and governor.

"This bill is not going to turn this state into a bunch of pot heads," said co-sponsor Rep. Debra DeSimone, R-Atkinson.

The fight to legalize marijuana for medical reasons was a personal for Rep. Paddy Culbert, R-Pelham, who related to colleagues how his wife, Judy, resorted to marijuana for relief before she died.

The process of approving regulated dispensaries is expected to take until at least 2015 before marijuana would be available for use by patients.

Meanwhile, a House panel this fall recommended on an 11-7 vote killing a separate bill that would permit recreational use of marijuana.

The full House will take it up in January, but Senate President Chuck Morse, R-Salem, has said he opposes the bill and Gov. Maggie Hassan has said she will veto it if the Legislature approves.

Survivor can't walk at graduation

Pinkerton Academy refused to let cancer survivor Brandon Paquette walk with his classmates at graduation.

Brandon had academic issues with geometry that forced him into summer school. He blamed absences as doctors tested for a possible relapse, something that proved unfounded.

Brandon's public struggle with cancer gained him statewide attention. He was New Hampshire's Champion Child for The Children's Miracle Network in 2008.

Ultimately, Brandon beat geometry, too. He received his diploma during the summer.

Pelham police officer fired

Veteran Pelham police Officer Eugene Stahl was fired in September after selectmen unanimously backed police Chief Joseph Roark's recommendation to terminate him.

About 40 people, including many members of the police department, attended a hearing in August at Town Hall where the issue was aired.

Police administrators maintained Stahl was repeatedly suspended for disregarding department policies.

They alleged he had spoken in anger at citizens and waved a gun near a school bus. A video from a DWI stop showed Stahl cursing at a woman and saying, "You're going to jail."

Athlete ends career to donate marrow

It was impossible to envy the situation Cameron Lyle was in this year.

He could finish up his senior season of track at the University of New Hampshire, or he could give the season up and have an opportunity to save someone's life.

It ended up being a no-brainer.

Lyle, 21 donated his bone marrow to an anonymous recipient on April 24. He ended up missing the final two meets of his career, including the America East Championships, where he was hoping to throw shot put.

"I knew right away I was definitely going to donate," said Lyle, who graduated from Timberlane Regional High School in 2009.

Lyle had his mouth swabbed during his sophomore year. In March, the National Marrow Donor Program told him he was a match. It was a one in 5 million chance that Lyle would have been a match.

Lyle donated to a 28-year-old male who suffered from acute lymphoblastic leukemia. By law, Lyle and the recipient must remain anonymous.

The selfless act made many around him proud, but most of all his own mother, Christine Sciacca.

"He's my hero," Sciacca said. "I couldn't be more proud of him and how he's been so humble about it."

Big changes in police department

The Atkinson police chief position was a revolving door this past year.

Longtime Atkinson police Chief Philip Consentinom who had been with the department for 45 years, was dismissed by selectmen in February, just one day after he announced his retirement.

Officials still have not said why Consentino was let go, only that it was for "cause." The town had hired an independent consulting firm to conduct an investigation.

But Atkinson may not have seen the last of Consentino. He announced he may be running for selectman in March.

Sgt. Patrick Caggiano served as acting chief once Consentino left. But after selectmen announced they would be opening up the position to outside candidates, Caggiano retired and left Atkinson on Dec. 19.

The Rockingham County Sheriff's Department appointed Sheriff's Chief Deputy Al Brackett to fill in until a new full-time chief is hired.

Dodgeball banned, reinstated

Dodgeball was able to duck away from being out at Windham schools.

The school board voted to remove dodgeball and nine other "human target" activities in March. But in June, the board reluctantly reversed course and reinstated the games.

Windham superintendent Henry LaBranche said the game was dangerous.

"We spend a lot of time making sure our kids are violence free," he said. "Here we have games where we use children as targets. That seems to be counter to what we are trying to accomplish with our anti-bullying campaign."

School Board member Dennis Senibaldi was the only board member who was against banning the games. His two sons created petitions to save the games.

The district instructed a committee of teachers, students and parents to study the merits of dodgeball. The committee came back with a recommendation to let the students play the games, which the school board followed.

"We don't typically have injuries in Nerf-ball games," said Windham Middle School physical education teacher Erin Shirley, who served on the panel.