TRASH WARS 3: Big Problems in small town New Hampshire?


“I think the only other way for people to really get you where it hurts is to destroy your quality of life and devalue your property,” says Jill Nickerson, homeowner, Deerfield, New Hampshire.

Our investigation—TRASH WARS—reaches a disturbing level tonight.

As we showed you on NH1 News at 5, Jill Nickerson’s been pleading with the town to help her get her neighbor’s toxic dump site—that spans a huge section of this fence—right along their property cleaned up for nearly two years—with no luck.

So, we tracked down all these players—leaders of Deerfield—to find out what could possibly be the hold up.

“It’s been exhausting, to be honest, it’s been really exhausting,” says Jill.

Letters, phone calls, town meetings and a desperate plea to NH1 News.

Jill says she’s done everything she can think of to end this bizarre trash war with her neighbors Jennifer and Tom Connor.

“They wanted people’s trash. They were advertising, they actually wanted it. So we felt, the town felt, that they were mocking the system,” says Jill. She adds, “They’ve stated in court that they have the right to do whatever they want on their property.”

Bill Von Hassel lives a few doors down.

He’s angry that town leaders can’t control the chaos in their own backyard.

“I think they have to do something more than just provide lip service to the taxpayers on this side of the town,” says Bill. “We need to see some action to get this cleared up.”

Police Chief Gary Duquette—not interested.

“It’s a mess and I prefer to stay out of it,” says Duquette.

Fire Chief Mark Tibbetts—not his job.

“I’ve done everything in my power to try to do my job, and it’s in the police hands and the town’s hands,” says Tibbetts.

Board of Selectman Vice-Chair Richard Pitman says they’re following the police chief’s see-no-evil lead!

CELINE: “He said that he did not want to get involved and he wasn’t going to do anything.”

SELECTMAN:  “He’s a good man, so whatever he says goes.”

CELINE: “So, you’re okay with that?”

SELECTMAN: “You bet. We don’t question him. We hired him to do his job and so far he’s been unbelievable.”

CELINE: “Okay, in this scenario, not being involved, when there are children on both sides of the fence and there have been fires and whatnot, do you think that’s the right decision—to not make any move on that?”

SELECTMAN: “He’ll be there if he needs to be. If there’s some type of arrest thing. Other than that, he’s not into household domestic things until it’s a problem.”

Chief Duquette already admitted that it’s a problem.

“It’s a mess and I prefer to stay out of it,” says Duquette.

We also tracked down Rick Pelletier, the town’s code enforcement and building inspector. He says this is worse than the town’s own dump!

“My landfill is cleaner—because I’m also the landfill manager in the Town of Deerfield—than that place is currently,” says Pelletier.

Pelletier also happens to be the health inspector.

“So many people in my position in New Hampshire automatically become health officers even though we have very little formal training,” says Pelletier. He adds, “My limit to health is extremely limited.”

So, he really couldn’t say how dangerous it is to be this close to dumped chemicals, rotten foods and what lies beneath. In the meantime, an attorney was hired by the town this summer to address the controversy.

“Some of the items that are in there wouldn’t even be allowed in a junkyard,” says Steven Venezia, Upton & Hatfield.

As you can see in the photos, these matters violate the town’s zoning ordinance.  As a result, there are penalties that go along with it and consequences,” says Venezia.

But Venezia warns that the courts are backed up, so a decision could take months.

Celine: “How does this make you feel?”

Jill: “Scared, actually, I don’t feel safe. Even though I am standing here with you guys, I don’t feel comfortable. I think anybody with this kind of frame of mind is not well, and obviously doesn’t care about the quality of other people, never mind their own.”

We reached out to the neighbors Jennifer and Tom Connor. They have not returned our calls for an interview.

In the meantime, we discovered that Jennifer has had some run-ins with the law. According to the Deerfield Police Department’s Facebook page, Jennifer was arrested in town on October 6th on an active warrant for contempt of court, and was arrested on bail jumping charges on August 19th.  Under public records request laws, we’ve requested more information on these arrests. We will update this story as soon as that information is provided to NH1 News.

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