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AG's Office: Winchester man was killed days before police found him
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WINCHESTER — The man police found dead in a Scofield Mountain Road home Wednesday morning was fatally shot several days earlier, according to the N.H. Attorney General’s Office.

Police arrested Keegan Duhaime, 26, of Winchester on Wednesday on two counts of second-degree murder alleging he killed Timothy Hill, 72, the previous Saturday, the AG’s Office said in a news release.

An autopsy conducted by Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Mitchell Weinberg determined Hill’s death to be a homicide caused by a single gunshot wound to the head, Thursday’s news release states.

Both Hill and Duhaime lived at the home at 484 Scofield Mountain Road where officers found Hill’s body shortly after 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, when they conducted a welfare check, the AG’s Office said in an earlier news release.

As of 4 p.m. Thursday, caution tape and several vehicles — including police cruisers and a State Police Major Crimes van — remained outside the timber-framed home. Neighbored by residential properties with goat and sheep farms, the house with a large attached garage is tucked into the woods off winding dirt roads several miles west of the Ashuelot Covered Bridge.

Duhaime is the grandson of Hill’s wife, who also lived at the home, Senior Assistant Attorney General Geoffrey Ward said. Hill was a licensed forester, according to a directory maintained by UNH Cooperative Extension. Duhaime graduated from Keene High School in 2015.

One of the murder charges against Duhaime alleges he knowingly caused Hill’s death by shooting him, and the other alleges he recklessly caused his death “under circumstances manifesting an extreme indifference to the value of human life,” according to the AG’s Office.

Duhaime was taken into custody shortly after noon Wednesday and arrested on second-degree murder charges late that night, according to Ward. He waived his arraignment in Cheshire County Superior Court in Keene on Thursday and was ordered held without bail. As of the court’s closing for the day, documents filed in the case offered no new details.


Hannah Schroeder / Sentinel Staff

Tom Daniels of Proctorsville, Vt., operates a bulldozer for Hodgkins & Sons at the building site of a new 84-unit apartment complex along Route 10 at Perry Lane in Swanzey on Wednesday afternoon. Jack Franks, president of the Walpole-based Avanru Development Group, said workers broke ground two weeks ago, and he estimates construction of the two three-story buildings of workforce housing will take a year.


Hannah Schroeder / Sentinel Staff

Tom Daniels of Proctorsville, Vt., pictured here, and Marshall McGuirk of Walpole work together to clear materials from the construction site of a new 84-unit workforce-housing apartment complex along Route 10 at Perry Lane in Swanzey on Wednesday afternoon.


State_news
Effects of climate change are already changing life on the Seacoast

Those living on the New Hampshire Seacoast are intimately aware of the impacts of climate change. They’ve watched high tides draw closer over the years, flooding their streets and homes. The ocean that drew them here now threatens their ability to stay.

As sea levels rise, communities are scrambling to adapt to the new reality.

Steve Belgiorno, a retired math teacher, has seen the flooding worsen since he first bought a house in Hampton in 2005. In 2017, he said, a nightmare storm ruined the house’s boiler, hot water tank, and flooring, leaving marsh grass and kelp in exchange. “We’re the Titanic,” he said.

The flooding strains town resources, too. A fire truck was substantially damaged in a 2018 flood after it was driven through stormwater to respond to an emergency. Salt water is corrosive and can destroy vehicles. It also eats away at home foundations. Belgiorno pays a company thousands of dollars to reseal his foundation every few years, but the cracks inevitably return.

Tom Bassett didn’t think about flooding when he bought a home in Hampton in 2002, but now he documents each one. While big storms used to drive the flooding, now a king tide is enough to deposit nearly a foot of water in low-lying areas.

Bassett raised his house 10 feet above the ground in 2007 and has no plans to leave – even if the situation gets worse. But he worries about getting stranded without access to emergency services, like when his daughter lived with him during her pregnancy.

Residents like Bassett want to leave their homes to the next generation but fear climate change will eliminate that possibility. In the meantime, flooding shapes their daily routines.

“These tide charts are like our bible. We live by them,” said Debra Bourbeau, who started coming to Hampton in 2010. The charts help her and other residents predict when their streets will fill with water and become impassable, an event residents have come to expect as frequently as each month.

Bourbeau and Belgiorno worked with the town to pass an ordinance that allows residents in the lowlands to park on higher ground whenever a tide over 10 feet is in the forecast. But adaptation doesn’t erase the problem. “Despite these mitigation measures, the Town of Hampton continues to experience disproportionate property damage due to flooding when compared to the rest of the State of New Hampshire,” according to a December 2021 report by the Department of Environmental Services.

The ocean is

taking back land

Belgiorno and Bourbeau live with water on two sides that’s expected to keep rising: their streets extend into a tidal marsh to the west, while the ocean is just two streets to the east.

“As we see sea levels rising, it’s these lower-lying areas that the ocean is taking back,” said Rayann Dionne, who works for the Seabrook-Hamptons Estuary Alliance and lives in Hampton.

The land where Belgiorno and Bourbeau live once belonged to the ocean – part of a marsh that was filled in to make room for development. That process is ongoing, and as more of the marsh is filled in to make way for new condos, there are fewer places where the water can go. Belgiorno recalled a map of the marsh from around 1915: Only around 16 percent of it remains. And while the marsh would naturally migrate farther inland, pushed by the rising sea, development has limited its ability to do so.

“The marsh is probably our best protection against flooding, but we are hemming it in, we’re squeezing it, and so we’re losing that ecosystem service,” Dionne said.

The marsh acts as a sponge, absorbing water as the tides rise, but it can’t do that when it’s filled in.

“It always concerns me when they’re doing more development because all you’re doing is putting more people in harm’s way,” Dionne said.

The current residents already live with that harm, and they’re aware that sea-level rise will likely make things worse.

“Flooding makes climate change very tangible and difficult to deny,” Bassett said.

Statewide impacts of climate change

The 2022 New Hampshire Climate Assessment, published in June, documented changes that affect the entire state. Looking at data from 1901 to 2020, the report found that the state is becoming wetter and warmer, trends that are projected to continue. New Hampshire has warmed an average of 3 degrees Fahrenheit since 1901, the report found. How significant the future impacts are will depend on how much we do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the report said, echoing consensus from the scientific community.

“Human-induced climate change is not a future problem,” said Mary Lemcke-Stampone, state climatologist and lead author of the climate assessment. “It’s not something that is far away from us. It’s already happening.”

Impacts around the state include more extreme weather events, more precipitation that comes in concentrated events that can cause flooding, less snow, and an increase in invasive species and pests, such as ticks and the Asian long-horned beetle.

The Seacoast isn’t alone in experiencing these impacts, but the region is particularly vulnerable to climate change, Stampone said. Since the 1970s, the amount of rain that falls in a given storm has increased.

“When you add those storm events to sea-level rise for the coastal regions, you have kind of a double whammy, where you have stronger storms with more rain, producing higher storm surges on top of a higher sea level,” she said.

The high-tide flooding in the Seacoast is a direct result of sea-level rise. And saltwater is now encroaching into the groundwater table farther inland, affecting water quality in coastal areas.

Stampone said the report was intended to aid adaptation efforts throughout the state. As communities consider replacing old bridges, installing new culverts, and increasing drainage, the report provides projections about how much more water they will have to contend with in the next 30 years.

Adaptation

on the coast

Around five years ago, Bourbeau’s neighbors started gathering in her kitchen to talk about flooding and what they could do about it. She said the impromptu meetings drew anywhere from 30 to 40 people. In 2019, the Hampton Coastal Hazards Adaptation Team began meeting. Now, Bourbeau and Bassett both serve on that team as resident representatives, working as liaisons between residents and the town, educating their neighbors on higher ground about the impacts of flooding, and developing adaptation recommendations for the town.

In 2018, the town passed a warrant article to spend $80,000 to study flooding along Kings Highway, and in June received a $2 million grant from the state’s Critical Flood Risk Infrastructure Grant Program to retrofit a defunct sewage treatment pumping system into a storm drain system, Bassett said. Funding for those grants comes from federal pandemic aid, but the town would still need to raise at least $400,000 to complete the project, he said.

For many other adaptation efforts, residents say more study – some of which is underway – is needed. The town is updating its master plan, which will include a section on coastal resilience, and has hired a consultant to contribute recommendations on that part of the plan, according to town planner Jason Bachand.

While Bassett is hopeful the infrastructure project will alleviate the flooding to some extent, he still worries about the floods of the future when the sea level is even higher. Although local infrastructure projects can offer some relief, he said, they don’t address the underlying cause of the sea-level rise: global warming.

“It’s gonna just get worse, so we need to do something about that, which is obviously a much bigger challenge than infrastructure development in our neighborhood,” Bassett said.


Hannah Schroeder / Sentinel Staff

Tom Daniels of Proctorsville, Vt., operates a bulldozer for Hodgkins & Sons at the construction site of a new 84-unit workforce-housing apartment complex along Route 10 at Perry Lane in Swanzey on Wednesday afternoon.


Carson Aiken, 8, of Troy rides over a ramp on his scooter at the Keene Skatepark last August. The City Council's Finance, Organization and Personnel Committee on Thursday unanimously recommended moving forward with plans to build a new park on the same site.


Statehouse
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Ballot-counting machine passes test before NH Voter Confidence panel
  • Updated

An AccuVote optical-scan voting machine of the type used throughout New Hampshire passed a test without a flaw before the N.H. Special Committee on Voter Confidence this week.

Formed in April by Secretary of State David Scanlan, the panel is holding a series of meetings across New Hampshire to examine why there seems to be a decline in public confidence about the election system and what can be done to change this. The panel will meet in Laconia, Nashua and Berlin before coming to the Keene Public Library at 1 p.m. on Sept. 6.

It will eventually produce a report with ways to strengthen the voting process in New Hampshire, or to explain why people should have confidence in the system as is.

“I think we have the best elections in the country,” Scanlan said at the committee’s meeting Tuesday in Concord. “But our job is to make sure we’re as transparent as possible, and we can educate the public on why our systems are functioning well.”

Jeff Silvestro of LHS Associates, a Salem, N.H.-based elections-services company, and representatives of the Secretary of State’s Office tested one of the AccuVote machines in front of the committee. He loaded it with 25 ballots that had been marked by state workers.

The machine performed as it was supposed to.

Some of the ballots had errant marks on them. The machine segregated these into a separate compartment for an election official to examine to discern the voter’s intent.

Others had more than one candidate selected in a race, and the machine would not accept these so-called “over-voted ballots.”

LHS will not support the 30-year-old machines beyond the 2024 election, so the state will eventually have to certify a new automated vote-counting device, Brad Cook, co-chair of the committee, said Thursday.

“Our job on Tuesday was to look at the AccuVote machine and evaluate its accuracy so that we can come to a conclusion on whether it should inspire confidence in the voters or not, and I think the overwhelming testimony and evidence is it’s probably more accurate than hand counts,” said Cook, an attorney who is also chairman of the state’s Ballot Law Commission.

Small discrepancies are sometimes seen due to people filling out ballots incorrectly. And in Windham, a well-publicized discrepancy occurred in 2020 when some absentee ballots were improperly folded, but the election result did not change.

Tuesday’s test produced results consistent with input the committee has received from the Secretary of State’s Office and election workers that it performs well, Cook said, adding that nothing he has heard at the panel’s meetings so far has shaken his confidence in the election system.

N.H. Rep. Russell Muirhead, D-Hanover, a political science professor at Dartmouth College, offered his opinion to the committee on why people are questioning election integrity, despite a lack of evidence to back up former President Donald Trump’s claims of systemic fraud in the 2020 general election.

Dozens of court decisions have gone against his unsupported allegations of a stolen election. William Barr, who was nominated by Trump as U.S. attorney general, has said there was no widespread fraud as have many former White House officials.

Muirhead, who has done extensive research on political conspiracy theories, said it’s not surprising many still believe Trump and question election integrity.

“If leaders say there is voter fraud, then citizens who find those leaders really compelling and persuasive on other subjects … will believe it,” he said.

And, those people are not likely to change their minds, Muirhead said.

He said the willingness of presidents to accept election defeat has been an important hallmark of democracy in the United States, and something previously unprecedented in world history.

“There’s no way to make our democracy work unless those who run for office and serve in office have a modicum of virtue and are willing to accept defeats when they occur,” he said.

Still, Manchester resident Deb Roux, carrying a replica of the National Monument to the Forefathers, told the committee she has no confidence in the election system.

“This monument represents freedom,” she said of the Plymouth, Mass., statue commemorating the Pilgrims. “This is what our forefathers represented to our country, and I’m going to preserve it.”

She said all ballots should be hand-counted in New Hampshire and no machines should be used. She also called for a forensic audit of the 2020 election results in the state.

Felisa Blazek, of Windham, showed the committee a ballot she recommends for use in the state. It is on special paper meant to safeguard against counterfeiting with authentication markings similar to those on U.S. paper currency.

To emphasize her point, she approached the committee members with a $100 bill.

“You don’t know me, how do you know it’s real,” she said, extending the bill to Cook, the chairman. “How do you know it’s real? What if I want to buy something from you?”

Cook asked her whether she has any evidence that a counterfeit ballot was ever used in a New Hampshire election. She responded by asking him if he has any evidence that one has not.

“I don’t have to prove a negative,” he told her.

Committee members include co-chair Richard Swett, director of the World Affairs Council of New Hampshire board; Andrew Georgevits, chairman of the Concord Republican City Committee; and Amanda Merrill, a board member for the N.H. Land & Community Heritage Investment Program.

Also on the panel are Jim Splaine, a former New Hampshire legislator; Douglass Teschner, president of Growing Leadership; Olivia Zink, executive director of Open Democracy in Concord; and Ken Eyring, co-founder of the Government Integrity Project.


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