PARIS — The District Attorney's Office has dismissed charges against a Bethel businessman after an argument outside a Bethel Board of Selectmen meeting in May.
Rick A. Savage Sr., of Intervale Road, was arrested in May after an argument with Peter Mason, the husband of Bethel Town Clerk Christen Mason, who was upset because Savage had called their home about a petition to remove the town's sign ordinance. Savage was charged with disorderly conduct and refusing to submit to arrest.
A memorandum from Assistant District Attorney Richard Beauchesne explained the reason for dismissing each charge. The first disorderly conduct charge alleged that Savage taunted Mason and backed him over a fence, but Mason didn't include that in his testimony, stating only that Savage “started getting loud.”
For the second disorderly conduct charge, alleging “loud and unreasonable noise,” Beauchesne wrote there wasn't sufficient evidence that Savage annoyed others. For the resisting arrest charge, Savage's actions while Deputy Matthew Noyes was arresting him were “if at all, barely sufficient to meet the requirements of the statute,” the memorandum read.
The memorandum, dated Nov. 15, was written the day after Savage waived a jury trial for the charges in Oxford County Superior Court.
Savage, who runs several contracting and real estate businesses with his brother, Ron Savage, as well as the Black Diamond Steakhouse, said the charges were trumped up. He said that many in the town want to quiet him and his brother.
“The town has been corrupt for a long time, and we've been calling them out, and this is how they come back on us,” Savage said Monday.
“We don't mind raising our voice when there's a problem,” he said. “And there's been a problem for a long time.”
Savage and his brother had been unsuccessful in getting permission from the town to set up directional signs pointing the way to the Black Diamond Steakhouse on the Sunday River access road. He proposed a change that would direct people to other businesses on the access road.
“It was a perfectly reasonable change to the ordinance,” Town Manager Jim Doar said. However, the ordinance review committee decided that while it was a good solution for Sunday River road businesses, it wouldn't fit the whole town.
Savage and his brother then collected more than 130 signatures for a petition to eliminate the town's sign ordinance. The issue would have been voted on at the June town meeting.
Doar said the petition didn't arrive on time and wasn't specific enough. Savage called the home of the town clerk and sent someone to Doar's home with additional signatures, which Doar later called “completely inappropriate and a little unnerving.”
Doar said there was opposition to repealing the ordinance, and instead of putting the question to a town meeting vote, voters were asked to appropriate $10,000 to hire a consultant and started a special committee to look into options on changing the sign ordinance.
Savage said that's not enough. “The bottom line is this: It's not what the will of the people wanted on the petition.” He called Doar and the Board of Selectmen “corrupt.”
“He's corrupt and he's a liar,” Savage said of Doar on Monday.
“I won't even justify that with a response,” Doar said Savage's statement.
Savage has since had other problems with the town's sign ordinance. He said a trailer parked by the road at his mother's house had the name and address of the Black Diamond Steakhouse and that he was forced to remove the address.
In October, he was told to remove the word “steakhouse” from signs for a farm stand at the Black Diamond Steakhouse. Signs for farm stands are exempt from the ordinance in the fall, and Savage had put up signs for the “Black Diamond Steakhouse Farm Stand,” but the town determined that the sign was also advertising his restaurant in violation of the ordinance.