Gun range project could land in Concord or another NH town

By Ray Carbone

SUTTON – Since his efforts to build a retail gun store/indoor shooting range in Warner were defeated last month, resident Eric Miller says he’s heard from numerous local communities that are anxious to see if his new business can be established in their towns.

Speaking by phone from his home here late last week, the owner of Dragonfly Ranges said that he’s seriously considering several potential locations, including two in Concord. “There are two (spaces there), and one is large enough for indoor skeet/trap shooting,” Miller explained. “So, I’m seriously considering doing two ranges. One for skeet/trap shooting and the other the more traditional range,” like the was proposed in Warner, he explained.

The two locations are “within four or five miles of each other,” Miller noted.

‘What I’m looking at right now is speed-to-market. It took a year for this to play out in Warner and I’m not spending another six months (delayed).’

  • Eric Miller, owner of Dragonfly Ranges

 

Miller said he’s decided against appealing the Warner zoning board of adjustment’s recent decision to deny a variance that would have allowed his $1.4-million firearms facility to be constructed on Warner Road, despite the urgings of his attorney. “My lawyer has said in no uncertain terms that the zoning board violated state law (by rejecting the variance request), and he has written me a very detailed analysis, even though I’ve told him I’m not looking to appeal this,” the business owner said.

“What it comes down to, quite simply, is that if I appeal then the judge would likely send (the case) back to the another zoning hearing,” Miller said. “And since its their (members) intend to violate state law, the only thing I could expect is that they would try to conceal their preconceived opinions and hide their real biases better than they did this go-around… It’s not a good investment of time.”

“What I’m looking at right now is speed-to-market,” he said. “It took a year for this to play out in Warner and I’m not spending another six months (delayed).”

Planning officials in Concord have assured Miller that there are numerous locations around the city – including some on Main Street – where he would have no problem opening up his retail gun store/shooting range operations. “We’d need no more than a building permit,” he said.

In Warner, Miller was unable to convince the five-member ZBA that his proposal was allowable under the town’s legal definition of a “permitted use” for a zoning variance. During the last year, a significant number of area residents said that they did not feel the facility was a good addition to the community because of concerns about noise, pollution and safety. Last month, the ZBA voted 3-2 to turn aside Dragonfly’s variance request.

Miller said that since the group’s decision, he’s received invitations from officials or private citizens in Hillsboro, Newport, Grantham, Springfield and Hopkinton, as well as City of Concord and his Sutton hometown, offering to discuss the possibility of locating his facility in their towns. Some involved procuring land and constructing a new building, something he’s not interested in at this time. Miller wants to rent space in an industrial-style building to speed his opening, he explained.

The business owner said he hasn’t yet developed any plans for the 2.9-acre Warner property he bought last year in hopes of constructing his facility.

“So far I’ve had three offers (to buy it),” he said. “One of them, of course, being from Norm (Carlson).”

Carlson is the founder and president of MadgeTech, Inc., the high-tech firm located adjacent to Miller’s property. He led the legal fight to defeat the firearms facility proposal, so the Miller admitted to having some reservations about his offer. “I’m not the emotional type but, it (selling to Carlson) certainly wouldn’t be my first choice.”

This story first appeared in the InterTown Record newspaper of Sutton, New Hampshire, on Tuesday, February 6, 2018.

 

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Warner high-tech firm buys two smaller Newport companies

By Ray Carbone

WARNER – The local company that’s been embroiled in efforts to stop the construction of an indoor shooting range in town is expanding its business by purchasing two Newport companies

MadgeTech, Inc., an industry-leading manufacturer of high-tech data loggers, has bought Matrix Air/Pollution Research and New England Solar Concepts, both located on Sunapee Street. The deal was announced in a recent press release issued by MadgeTech earlier this month.

The new, expanded business wants the deal to allow it to manufacture high-quality products in growing fields including HVAC and alternative energy.

 

Matrix has been manufacturing a variety of air filtration and purification systems for businesses and homes since 1983, according to the company website. “For decades, New England Solar Concepts has been helping home and business owners,” according to the press release, “(by) specializing in the installation of photovoltaic electric and thermal solar panels.”

Financial details of the purchase were not disclosed to the public.

Norman Carlson, the founder and president of MadgeTech, said that his company has been negotiating with the owners of the Newport firms for months. “The recent acquisition was the perfect opportunity to support local businesses while complementing our commitment to providing the necessary resources needed to ensure safety and quality across influential industries worldwide,” he commented.

The new, expanded business wants the deal to allow it to grow and manufacture high-quality products in growing fields including HVAC, alternative energy, food processing and life sciences, according to the press release.

Carlson started MadgeTech more than 20 years ago. Today, the company employs about 60 people at its plant and its data loggers are used around the world for security and safety.

Carlson opposed a project proposed by Dragonfly Ranges to build a 16-lane firing range and gun retail store next to his plant’s Warner Road facility. The Warner business owner threatened to move MadgeTech out of town if the firearms facility was built, because his employees had safety concerns about its proximity. But the zoning board of adjustment rejected Dragonfly’s request for a zoning variance last week, effectively killing the proposal.

This story first appeared in the InterTown Record newspaper of Sutton, New Hampshire, on January 16, 2018.

Opponents, supporters of Wild Goose plan have their say at public hearing

NOTE: The NH’s new Lake Sunapee Public Access Commission will hold a public hearing at the Legislative Office Building in Concord this Thursday, Dec. 14, at 9:00 am. At its recent meeting in Newbury, the commission announced that it would soon begin seeking input from state officials about the issue. – RC

By Ray Carbone

NEWBURY – At a recent public meeting of the new Lake Sunapee Public Access Development Commission, the ongoing debate was renewed between those who favor developing the state’s long-planned plan to build a boat access facility on the Wild Goose property and those who claim the site is unsuitable.

Approximately 70 people attended the two-hour gathering of the state’s new 15-member board at the town offices on the afternoon of Thursday, Nov. 30.

The issues have been “fought over for more than 25 years,” said Chairman Neil Lavesque.

Neil Lavesque, the group’s chairman, told the crowd that Gov. Chris Sununu had formed the commission several months ago in the hope that it would find a “New Hampshire solution” to the unresolved problems related to granting greater public boat access to the state’s sixth largest lake.

The issues have been “fought over for more than 25 years,” Lavesque reminded the group. People will need to work together to come up with a solution, even if “everyone is not going to be happy” with the outcome.

During the meeting, the commission members mostly listened as people outlined their opinions.

Dick Smith of Hancock, who called himself a lifelong angler and a member of the state’s public access water advisory board, said that he “knows a little about boat access, fishing and so forth.” “I feel like I’m here to represent the one-quarter million people who fish in New Hampshire every year,” he said. “It’s apparent that public access should be expanded on Sunapee. The question is where would be the best site for that.

“The citizens of New Hampshire own that lake, all of us equally,” he added, affirming the state’s legal authority over the waterway. “It’s held in a public trust. We also own the Wild Goose property, and its intent when it was bought was for it to be for provide public access to the general public, and it still is.”

Smith said the state has already invested about $450,000 into a plan to develop a Wild Goose facility, and that when it’s completed the federal government will pay for three-quarters of the total costs. The plan has been approved by the NH Department of Environmental Services (DES) and the NH Supreme Court has twice turned down legal challenges to the site’s development.

“There’s an awful lot of support for Wild Goose,” he concluded.

But Ed Thorson, the chairman of the Newbury board of selectmen, said there are problems with the location. “It’s dangerous. There are already many accident on that stretch of road,” he said. “The speed limit on Rte. 103 is 50 mph, but in reality many of the motoring public is going much faster. The site distance at either end of Birch Grove Road is not adequate to safely have boats and trailers pulling out onto a very busy Route 103. “

June Fichter, the executive director of the Lake Sunapee Protective Association (LSPA), agreed with Thorson, arguing that Wild Goose was a bad choice. “Although purchased purely for conservation purposes, along with another 100 acres on Mount Sunapee, Wild Goose is much better suited for car-tope access, for canoes and kayaks,” she said.

Fichter asked the commission members to encourage relevant state agencies to work together to develop the Sunapee State Beach recreational area to increase parking and develop the launch facility there.

State Rep. Dan Wolf (R-Newbury) supported Fichter’s stance. “The state beach works,” he said, adding that the costs of renovating that facility would be much more economical than the proposed Wild Goose development. “There are plans drawn up,” Wolf added, referring to the state beach parking challenge. “There’s a way to do it.”

Attorney Howard Dunn of Claremont, who is representing several organizations and individuals that are suing the DES for not moving forward with the Wild Goose development, said that the idea of developing the state beach site was flawed.

“It’s been degraded a little bit by the snowmaking equipment there but it’s still a terrific place to swim,” he said of the public beach. “But it needs protection from having this kind of boat access there.” Dunn said that if the state doesn’t use the Wild Goose site, he doubted that there would ever be a state-owned public access facility on Sunapee.

State Rep. Peter Hanson (R-Amherst) reported that he’d recently introduced a bill in the legislature that would restore funding for the development of the Wild Goose site, adding that problematic traffic issues could be resolved by reducing the speed limit on Rte. 103 and taking other precautionary measures.

At the hearing’s conclusion, Chairman Lavesque said the commission would meet again on Thursday, December 14, at 9 a.m. in the Legislative Office Building in Concord, and the public is again invited to attend.

The group plans to soon start speaking with public officials about the Sunapee public access issue, then move into a deliberative session in advance of a final decision. Gov. Sununu has asked the commission to issue its recommendation by March 2018.

This story first appeared in the Inter-Town Record of Sutton, New Hampshire, on Tuesday, December 5, 2017.

Charges dropped against Sunapee man

By Ray Carbone

SUNAPEE – All charges against a local man charged with illegally altering an email message written by a political foe of his wife’s in a local school board race have been dismissed.

In a ruling in Newport District Court last week, Judge Gregory E. Michael ruled that state prosecutors made a mistake when they charged Joseph Furlong, 40, of Sunapee with two counts of illegally altering an email with the aim of influencing the results of an election (Class A misdemeanor) and one count of forgery (a Class B misdemeanor) related to being an accomplice to the incident.

The incident goes back to March 2016 when, several days before the annual municipal elections, several residents attending a local basketball game were surprised to receive an email message from a woman running for a school board seat.

The message appeared to portray another school board candidate negatively, and alleged sender later told police that she saw an immediate negative backlash from the message.

She later lost the election and Heather Furlong, Joseph’s wife, who was one of three candidates running to fill two vacant seats on the Sunapee school board against the woman, was elected.

‘Although the actual activity complained of by the state (attorney general) may be the same, the conduct of (Furlong) in the three new charges is different, as is the proof necessary for a guilty finding.’ – Judge Gregory E. Michael

 

Within days, Police Chief David Cahill began looking into the situation. Several citizens told him about unusual encounters with Joseph Furlong and the chief questioned the man, who was a producer of the American Builder reality TV series.

Furlong denied sending the altered email but indicated that he was close to finding out who had.

Later that day, Cahill received an email from Adam Gaw of Londonderry claiming responsibility for the doctored message. Cahill suspected that Furlong had “invented” Gaw to take responsibility for the misdeed.

Because the case appeared to involve election fraud, the state attorney general’s office was soon involved.

It took almost one year before the original six charges were filed against Furlong this past March. (Heather Furlong immediately resigned from the school board.)

Days later, Gaw confessed and took full responsibility for altering the controversial email message.

In July, Brian W. Buonamano of the attorney general’s office withdrew the original six charges against Furlong and filed the three newer ones, claiming that had acted “in concert with and/or aided” Gaw to alter the message, and to commit forgery.

But James D. Rosenberg, Furlong’s attorney, asked the court to dismiss the charges. The lawyer said that Gaw’s confession meant that Furlong was now being charged with actions that were significantly different than what was in the original charges. The new actions would require a different kind of defense and, in any case, the legal time limit for charging Furlong for new actions ran out in early March.

Last Tuesday, August 22, Judge Michael agreed with Rosenberg. “Although the actual activity complained of by the state (attorney general) may be the same, the conduct of (Furlong) in the three new charges is different, as is the proof necessary for a guilty finding,” he wrote in his ruling.

In addition, the judge said that the legal statute of limitations “should be liberally interpreted in favor of the defendant (Furlong).”

At press time, there was no information available regarding Gaw’s legal status regarding the charges.

 

 

Local TV producer charged in election fraud trial

By Ray Carbone

SUNAPEE – A local man who helped produce the American Builder TV series with reality personality Brain Gurry is scheduled to go on trial in Newport District Court this week for allegedly altering an email in order to damage the reputation of a political opponent of his wife’s in a local school board race.

Joseph Furlong, 40, of Sunapee, is charged with two counts of altering an email written by another person with the aim of influencing the results of an election (Class A misdemeanor) and one count of forgery (a Class B misdemeanor) related to being an accomplice to the incident.

Furlong is listed on the International Media Database website as associate producer of the American Builder television show from 2004-2007. The program, which is seen on the Tuff.TV network, features Gurry, who has been on at least two National Geographic programs and has won several Emmy awards.

David Cahill, police chief, arrested Furlong in March, after an investigation that took almost one year. Because the incident involved possible election fraud, the chief worked with the state attorney general’s office and Assistant Attorney General Brian W. Buonamano.

The investigation began in March 2016 after resident Don Bettencourt reported that an email that was written by his wife Jan Bettencourt to a friend had apparently been altered and forwarded on to other residents just days before the school board elections.

The changes made Jan Bettencourt, who was running against two other candidates to fill two vacant school board seats, made her “look bad” by attributing disparaging remarks to her about someone who was seeking a different school board position: “I seriously question (her) integrity or motives,” were some of the added words. “Is this a popularity contest for her?”

The altered email went out while many people were enjoying a local basketball game and the caused an “immediate backlash against her,” Jan Bettencourt said.

At the time, Furlong’s wife Heather Furlong and another candidate were running with Jan Bettencourt, hoping to fill two vacant seats on the Sunapee school board. Heather Furlong and the other candidate were elected but Jan Bettencourt came in third. (Heather Furlong resigned after her husband’s arrest.)

“After the Chief literally threatened that he would send Mr. Gaw to jail, Mr. Gaw broke down,” and implicated Furlong, according to the court document.

 

In March 2017, Joseph Furlong was arrested and charged with six counts related to forgery and making a false statement to the police. An alleged accomplice, Adam Gaw of Manchester, was also arrested and charged in the case.

Last month, the original charges against Furlong were dropped and the three newer ones instituted. Days later, his lawyer, James D. Rosenberg of Shaheen & Gordon of Concord, asked the court to dismiss all the charges because the new ones reflected a new legal approach, and Furlong was not properly notified of the switch in a timely manner.

The newer charges, according to Rosenberg, claim that it was Gaw, not Furlong, who sent out the doctored email, and that Furlong was only an accomplice.

In addition, Gaw’s confession that Furlong had played a role in doctoring and sending out the email was in question, according to Rosenberg.

The Manchester man made the connection only after Chief Cahill “engaged in blistering interrogation of Mr. Gaw, urging him to implicate (Furlong), and stating things like: ‘I have a hard time believing that you masterminded this whole thing;” ‘‘You’re taking the fall for somebody, and you’re digging a hole deeper for yourself, creating more problems for yourself”; and ‘You’re going to jail for this, do you understand that?’”

“After the Chief literally threatened that he would send Mr. Gaw to jail, Mr. Gaw broke down,” and implicated Furlong, according to the court document.

In fact, Furlong was not even with Gaw when the email was sent out because he was at a business dinner with Brain Gurry in New London, talking about the American Builder television program, according to the lawyer. When Furlong arrived home afterwards, he found Gaw and some other acquaintances talking about the email and, “(Furlong) discouraged Adam from sending the email.”

The trial’s list of witnesses includes a David Gaw of Manchester, but no one named “Adam Gaw.” It also includes Chief Cahill, Jan Bettencourt and several other residents.

Chief Cahill’s report paints a different version of Furlong’s actions around the same time. Town residents reported several interactions with the local man in the days after the email was sent. One recalled Furlong telling him about an acquaintance who “could have intercepted, altered and forwarded the email while under the influence of some wine.”

Another said Joseph Furlong showed up at her house and asked to see a cell phone because there was “something on there that could get him into trouble.”

Around the same time, another resident told Chief Cahill that Furlong called him and confessed to making the email changes. He said Furlong was crying, “nervous and afraid” that his wife would divorce him if he admitted to the actions.

Furlong’s trial is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 25, at 9 a.m. in the Newport District Court.

This story first appeared in the InterTown Record of Sutton, New Hampshire, on Tuesday, August 22, 2017.

On Tuesday, August 22, 2017, Judge Gregory E. Michael of the Newport District Court issued a ruling dismissing all charges against Joseph Furlong. A follow-up story explaining the ruling will appear next week in the InterTown Record and on GraniteBeneathMyFeet.wordprss.com

 

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