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Castleberry Fairs

Still no financing for The Balsams, lawsuit blamed


August 02, 2012
DIXVILLE — There is still no financing on the horizon for the renovation and reconstruction project at The Balsams Grand Hotel.

When the co-owners' spokesman, Scott Tranchemontagne of Montagne Communications of Manchester, was asked in a Thursday evening email exchange whether the Colebrook natives had secured financing, he replied: "Nothing yet. The Andy Martin suit has ground things down. No one will lend money to a project being sued."

The Andy Martin lawsuit to which Tranchemontagne refers has remained under the radar.

On Thursday, July 5, Martin, a self-described presidential candidate, New Hampshire corruption fighter, and conservative blogger who "by default has become New Hampshire's only public interest lawyer," announced that he had "filed suit to undo the sale of New Hampshire's historic grand hotel The Balsams." He charged "the 'sale' of the Balsams was tainted by corruption and insider dealing." Previously, Martin had filed a right-to-know suit.

Martin's own July 5 press release reports: "The suit was filed in Merrimack County Superior Court, (and) has been served on the defendants and process has been returned to the Clerk's office. Among other relief the suit seeks to undo the sale of the overall property to Daniel Hebert and Dan Dagesse, Jr.

"The more I looked into the sale of The Balsams the more it smelled," Martin explained. "The media were asleep, and no one in New Hampshire is organized to fight local corruption. Hebert and Dagesse never had any intention of reopening The Balsams. A priceless North Country resource is being raped and destroyed by these real estate hucksters/speculators.

"The recent 'auction' of The Balsams contents was an effort to ensure the hotel never reopens as a family-oriented facility," Martin alleged.

"Governor (John) Lynch and Attorney General (Michael) Delaney eliminated 300 North Country jobs," Martin continued. "They are two of the biggest job-destroyers in recent New Hampshire history.

"I have consistently accused the N. H. Attorney General of fraud and incompetence in his regulation of the Tillotson Trust, and eventually I am going to ask the Court to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate this mess," Martin said in his press release.

"We know as a fact that Attorney General Delaney conducted his 'review' proceedings in secret, received no input from the public, and allowed a priceless North Country resource to be sold in the dark of night to a couple of hucksters and speculators.

"That is not the way public trust assets are supposed to be handled. The whole transaction smelled from start to finish."

Martin concluded his press release by writing, "The rape of Neal Tillotson's trust is a public disgrace."

The lawsuit filed by Andy Martin in Merrimack County Superior Court was also discussed briefly at the July 9 meeting of the Coös County Planning Board for the Unincorporated Places by its chairman John Scarinza of Randolph.

According to the draft minutes, "The petition for injunction and other relief was filed against North Country Auctions, Dan Hebert, Dan Dagesse, Balsams View, LLC, the Coös County Planning Board, the Colebrook Planning Board, the Attorney General, Tillotson Corporation, and the Neil Tillotson Trust.

Planning Board clerk and county administrator Sue Collins indicated that the Coös County Commissioners had engaged Attorney Phil Waystack of Colebrook to file an appearance on behalf of the Planning Board after it was determined that there was no conflict for the Waystack Frizzell law firm to represent the Coös County Planning Board.

"(County treasurer and Planning Board member) Fred King of Colebrook noted that Mr. Martin alleges that nothing will take place at The Balsams. That is simply not true as progress is currently taking place with the boiler plant being dismantled and a crew working inside the hotel. The plan to have the hotel remodeled and up and running is still in place."

Waystack, in his capacity as the county's attorney, explained on Monday morning that all the defendants would have to file pleas or responsive answers to Martin's allegations at the Merrimack Superior Court by Friday, Aug. 3.

Typically some defendants will also make additional motions, such as a motion to dismiss or ones designed to bring the lawsuit to a quicker resolution in a shorter timeframe.

The next step will be for the judge to set a date for a case structuring conference.

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