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Selected Editorials from the Editor

Suns & Shields Christian Inspirational Writings by Rachelle Hamlin

Selected editorials from Dr. Katherine Albrecht, Ed. D.


The Roberts Trap is Sprung

By:  Bill Dunne
One of the most overlooked aspects of the year just ended is the vindication of Chief Justice John Roberts -- a vindication that showed up as the national catastrophe known as ObamaCare got rolling.  Roberts may have also doomed Hillary Clinton's chance to live in the White House again... click here to read whole editorial


Town Takes Immediate Action on Redemption Center Building


By:  David Deschesne

Fort Fairfield Journal, October 1, 2014



A pair of excavators from McGillan, Inc. raze the redemption center building (a potato house formerly owned by HAPCO Farms) on High Street last Monday after a portion of the siding on the east wall fell off.  The Fort Fairfield town council had already begun the process to declare the building a dangerous structure after years of deterioration caused it to become unsafe. See Flash Video, below

photo and video/David Deschesne



   Less than a week after the Fort Fairfield Town Council voted to declare it a dangerous building, Doughty's Top Shelf Redemption Center, located at 71 High Street, began to fall apart.

   “Portions of the siding fell off the building at 8:00 a.m.,” said Fort Fairfield Code Enforcement Officer, Tony Levesque on Monday, September 22 shortly afterward, he initiated emergency procedures to raze the building.  “We're now taking steps to safeguard both the public and the occupants of the building.”

   The building has been deteriorating for years but only recently that deterioration has become threatening to both the public and a neighboring building owned by Gary Sirois.

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During a hearing to present facts on the building at the September 17 town council meeting, Levesque described the chain of events leading up to the building's demise.

   “On February 22, 2012 we received a copy of a letter from Timothy Roix who is an engineer, principal and owner of BRSA LLC.  Roix stated in his summary, ' is obvious the building is out of square and out of plumb... we were asked simply whether we felt the building  was in a condition that posed an immediate risk of failure or collapse.'“

   At that time, now two and a half years ago, Roix stated the building was not in immediate risk of failure.

   Before ownership of the building was about to change to the Doughtys last August, Riox was asked again by the town to review the safety and structural integrity of the building.  His summary stated, “It is our recommendation that the braces on the exterior of the building be repaired to actually provide additional support to the walls as they have been in the past.  Likewise the corresponding interior walls' framing needs to be repaired and strengthened as needed. We were asked specifically if the building was in a condition that posed an immediate risk of failure or collapse.  It has been explained to us that the owner who operates the building has addressed the condition of the building by adding brace and support in the past and this has worked adequately.  Therefore it is our opinion that if the building is maintained and operated in a similar manner as in the past, it does not appear that there is a risk.”

   On May 13, 2014 Levesque met with town manager, Mike Bosse to discuss Tim Roix's condition letter for the redemption center.  On June 5, 2014 Bosse, along with Gary Sirois, met with Devon and Dennis Doughty to discuss the status of the building.  “The Doughtys said that they were waiting to hear from the Amish.  Mike spoke to Noah Yoder and Noah will get Mike an answer,” said Levesque.  “On June 16, a letter from Noah to Mike stated he is not aware of anyone in the local Amish community who is interested in demolishing the redemption center at this time.”

   On July 11, 2014 Levesque inspected the Doughty's Top Shelf Redemption building with Randy Tarr who is the local assessor's agent.  “We hire him to do town wide review and he is familiar with the condition of all of the structures in Fort Fairfield and would note any changes for me.  We took pictures.  I noted on the Northerly side on High Street the wall surfaces were falling off, the Easterly wall was shifting, the Westerly wall was scalloping and changing its shape, the roofline on the Northerly section had shifted.  I contacted Tim Roix and asked him to review the building.  Tim inspected and took pictures of the whole structure.  We discussed the condition of the Northerly end and recognized that the whole structure is changing.  After a discussion with Tim and Devon I placarded the building as unsafe.”

   Levesque met with Devon Doughty the following day regarding his plans for the removal of the structure.  “He said he just needed to call McGillan.  I told him he needed to establish a timeline for that demolition so that the fire department can coordinate their participation.  I restated that he needed to keep people out of the damaged portion of the building.  I inspected the exterior of the structure and took pictures.  I told Devon the conditions are changing the scalloping of the roofline and the bulging of the building.  I told Devon I would be making a report to the town council, meeting on Wednesday, August 20, that they may initiate further process to declare the building as dangerous.” 

   On September 17, 2014 Levesque and Fort Fairfield Fire Chief, Mike Jalbert visited the site.  “We spoke about the condition of the structure as severely changed from our last visit.  The roof, roofing, walls, bracing and siding were all visibly stressed and moving.  Debris around the building has increased.”  Levesque, Chief Jalbert and the engineers were in agreement that the building is in fact a dangerous structure.     

   During the public hearing on September 17, 2014, Adam Swanson, from Swanson Law, P.A., representing Doughty's Top Shelf Redemption, threw a curve ball by suggesting the Doughtys are not in fact owners of the building, even though they have up to this point never objected to being in that position.  “We have no evidence to suggest that this building is in fact owned by Doughty's Top Shelf Redemption.  The only evidence we have is an asset purchase agreement between the company and Mr. James Ireland that suggests that they purchased a leasehold interest only in property located at 71 High Street.  There's no recording at the registry of deeds that suggests that they own this property,” said Swanson. “With a leasehold interest what we're looking at is the right to enjoy an asset for a particular period of time;  no different than renting a home or a building that would one day expire.”

   Mr. Swanson said  when he spoke to Fancis Bemis at Bemis & Rossignol, the attorney for former building owner, James Ireland, he suggested that he (Bemis) is not aware of any written leasehold interest at all, on record.  “According to him he said that this right here is a right to use the building but not in fact own the building.  As far as Doughty's Top Shelf Redemption is concerned the town of Fort Fairfield owns this piece of property and the building and Doughty's Top Shelf Redemption purchased the right to use that building that Mr. James Ireland had already worked out with the town of Fort Fairfield.  So, Doughty's Top Shelf Redemption's position is that if the town of Fort Fairfield is going to demolish this building it should not be at their expense since they don't own it, they're not responsible for its upkeep unless we have a written leasehold agreement to suggest otherwise.  We have not been provided that leasehold agreement and have no evidence to suggest that it exists.”

   According to Levesque, In 1972 Henry Pollack entered into a contract with B & A Railroad to purchase the building but the Railroad retained ownership of the land.  The building was conveyed to HAPCO farms in 2002 by a bill of sale; in 2006 it was conveyed to Tina Ireland by a sales agreement and bill of sale.  It was conveyed on April 4, 2010 to James Ireland by a divorce decree.  Then it was conveyed on September 30, 2013 with a bill of sale to Devon Doughty,  Dennis Doughty and Samantha Doughty. 

   Levesque entered into the public record during the public hearing a copy of the bill of sale between Ireland and the Doughtys forwarded from Ireland's attorney at Bemis & Rossignol in Presque Isle.  He also entered in an asset purchase agreement with amendments “That has been signed by the three people who had been deeded the property by a bill of sale dated September 23, 2013.”

   “Having had to do some research to establish ownership in the chain of title, since I had never received a copy of the bill of sale previously, I contacted the former owner to see if he had a copy of it.  He told me to contact his lawyer and gave me permission to get that.  When I received the bill of sale I recognized the fact that in order to notify the owners and any parties of interest we needed to do a search at the registry of deeds.  We had done that.  Dennis had allowed the tax assessor, Ella to do that.  Then I needed to make sure that the owners were notified so I sent out a second mailing.”

   The land the building sits on was owned by B&A Railroad up until they went out of business and the town purchased the B&A land inside the town lines in 2003.  Each time the building changed ownership it was done as a bill of sale, rather than as real estate.  Levesque says at no time has the town of Fort Fairfield ever been in the chain of ownership of the building.

   After the town acquired the land in 2003, they initiated an annual lease payment with an open ended term for the land only, which is now $500.00 a year. At the time the town purchased the B & A land the lease agreement was with HAPCO Farms.

   Levesque says that at no time in any leasing arrangement for the land at 71 High Street was it noted or implied that the town of Fort Fairfield owned the building or was in fact leasing it along with the land to the lessee.

   Presuming Mr. Swanson's allegations that the town owns the building is correct, then the lessee prior to the Doughtys would have been James Ireland.  If Ireland was in fact leasing the building from the town then, according to Swanson's statements, he would be “sub-leasing” his lease to the Doughtys.  However, according to Levesque “ This permit cannot be assigned or sublet, by the Lessee, without written consent of the Town.”  Levesque also stated that the lease for the land states that the town has no interest in the building and the Doughtys signed it as the owner of record. “At the time that we created the Permit and Agreement, Doughty's Top Shelf Redemption, LLC signed as the Owner.”

   In the past, the various owners of the building were assessed and billed property tax on the structure by the town and at no time were any objections raised by those respective taxpayers that they were not the owner(s) of the building.  “The Owner of Record for April 1, 2013 was James Ireland and the tax bill for 2013/2014 was sent in his name. Devon, Dennis and Samantha Doughty were given a Bill of Sale dated September 30, 2013 and they are the Owners of Record for April 1, 2014,” said Levesque.

   Levesque also stated that in all correspondences and notices with the Doughtys in regard to the status of the building at no time did any of them ever object to being the owner and thus were not the correct party to receive the communication.

   An audio recording of the September 17, 2014 public hearing on the presentation of facts on the Doughty's Top Shelf Redemption Center building is available online at at the MP3 AUDIO FILES tab.







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