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Pleasant St. School is a recipient of CLiF Award

LACONIA — Pleasant St. Elementary School is a recipient of a Children's Literacy Foundation (CLiF)  2014-2015 Year of the Book sponsorships. It was one of eight schools in New Hampshire and Vermont which will receive free books and literacy programs valued at $25,000 over the course of a school year.

The CLiF Year of the Book sponsorship supplements literacy curricula at schools with high percentages of students scoring below state standards on reading and writing tests and high percentages of students who qualify for free or reduced lunch. Over the course of the year, students may select and keep new books of their own.

In addition to free books, a sponsorship brings in literacy professionals to inspire students. Programs may include author/illustrator visits, multi-day comics or poetry workshops, storytelling presentations and theater or video production.

CLiF is a non-profit organization founded in 1998. Its mission is to nurture a love of reading and writing among low-income, at-risk, and rural children in New Hampshire and Vermont. Over 16 years CLiF has supported and inspired 150,000 young readers and writers through six literacy program sponsorships and has given away more than $3 million in new, high-quality children's books.

CLiF does not receive any federal or state funds for its programs. It relies solely on the generosity of individuals, local companies, social organizations, and foundations.

Last Updated on Monday, 31 March 2014 08:34

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Winni Players invite local groups to participate in ‘Brundibar’ production

MEREDITH — Fifty-nine local performers, ages seven to over seventy, and numerous behind-the-scenes volunteers are hard at work on The Winni Players Spring production of The Brundibar Project. The production will run from May 1-4 with performances Thursday through Saturday at 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Brundibar is an opera for children written by Hans Krasa and Adolf Hoffmeister in 1938 in Prague. It was only performed twice before Krasa and many of the Jews involved in the production were transported by the Nazis to Theresienstadt Concentration Camp. The music was smuggled into the camp and the opera was performed 55 times between 1943 and 1945 by Jewish children in the camp. The chance to perform was a welcome break from the stark reality of their daily lives. Most of the children who performed were later sent to Auschwitz and murdered, yet their memory lives on through productions of Brundibar.

Despite the sad historical context, Brundibar is a fun and entertaining musical allegory about bullying appropriate for all ages. The plot revolves around two young children who want to buy milk for their sick mother, but the town Organ Grinder, Brundibar, won’t allow them to sing on his street and drowns them out with his organ. Three talking animals enlist the kids of the town to sing together loud enough to drown out Brundibar and “overthrow” the tyrant. Brundibar is often used as a way to introduce children to the subject of the Holocaust because it is not scary but offers meaningful context to the time period as well as lessons kids can apply to their everyday life.

The production also includes Pulitzer Prize-winning Playwright Tony Kushner’s one act play But the Giraffe which Kushner wrote specifically to pair with Brundibar. But the Giraffe imagines how the score for Brundibar may have been smuggled into the camp when a little girl is faced with the decision to pack her beloved stuffed giraffe or her uncle’s musical score in her suitcase when faced with deportation.

Amongst the cast are 13 Lakes Region families represented by at least one parent and child, and five adult couples. This enormous undertaking is the Winni Players annual Holocaust Remembrance Day event, but this year instead of a staged reading of a play, the group is presenting a full scale musical production. Youth groups (religious, school, theatre, chorale, etc) are invited to participate in this unique event by learning a song from the show to sing with the cast on stage during a performance. Educational packets have been prepared for these groups to use in advance to learn about the Holocaust and the events surrounding Brundibar’s history.

To find out more how your group can get involved contact Bryan Halperin, the director, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Tickets are only $10 and will be available online at www.winnipesaukeeplayhouse.org beginning April 1. Group sales are already open by calling (603) 279-0333. The production is made possible by the support of the NH Humanities Council, the Jewish Federation of NH, and Temple B’Nai Israel.

Last Updated on Monday, 31 March 2014 08:30

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Belmont High School FBLA Wins Big at State Leadership Conference

BELMONT — Twenty-seven members of Belmont High School's Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) chapter attended the 42nd Annual NH-FBLA State Leadership Conference at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester on March 13 and 14. After a rough start to the day on Thursday, the students settled right in and performed admirably, earning a spot as one of the top three chapters in New Hampshire for the fifth consecutive year.
Ben Hill, the adviser of the FBLA chapter at Belmont High School (BHS), reflected on the work of his students this year, stating, "I am so happy for the students because they put a lot of effort and energy into the many things we have done during the last year. There is certainly a bar that has been set by their predecessors, but we had almost 50 students involved in FBLA this year, and I think they accomplished more than any group before them. I hope they are able to connect the work ethic and commitment to excellence demonstrated throughout the year to these awards and recognition."
Things weren't looking so good on Wednesday evening, as the snow started to fall and the threat of a school cancellation had the students worried that they would not be able to attend the conference. According to Hill, "I had students calling me Wednesday night asking if they could drive to the conference if school was cancelled. Some of them worked very hard for weeks preparing for their competitive events, so they were anxious about the weather."
After a two-hour delay on Thursday morning, the bus rolled out, and an hour later, the conference kicked off with professor, author, and motivational speaker, Dr. Joe Martin. In his first session with students, Dr. Martin used poetry and personal experience to deliver an emotional message about living each day to the fullest and never wasting opportunities. He returned after lunch for a second session, where he told students to learn to be ugly. The message was simple: don't let others get in your way, pursue your dreams, and don't settle for being average.
When Dr. Martin was finished, the candidates for state office gave their speeches, and then it was time for competitive events. Students delivered presentations and took tests on a wide variety of business-related subjects or skills. After the events were finished, a formal dinner was held for students and advisers to practice business dining etiquette. A casual dance and game night was held after the dinner to allow time for relaxation and encourage networking between schools after an intense day of competition.

Last Updated on Monday, 31 March 2014 08:22

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Sealite USA grows business in new Tilton facility

TILTON —  From the outside, the grey, concrete block building is quite average as far as manufacturing facilities go. So when Weeks Commercial Realtor Kevin Sullivan brought the Sealite USA management team through it last fall, it was deemed a perfect fit by the future buyer. And while not a unique building on the outside, what's being produced on the inside is far from ordinary. The production line in this building turns out marine and aviation aids to navigation that insure the safety of the largest ocean-going vessels and farthest-flying aircraft.

Sealite USA, in its new 20,000 s.f. Tilton facility since last summer, serves both the marine and aviation markets. Their product line consists of aids to navigation that insure safe passage of ships through marked channels as well as solar powered airfield lighting systems produced for military, government and state/municipal and consumer markets.

The Australian company began operating in the United States under very humble circumstances. In 2005, Sealite products were distributed by a Gilford firm, Watermark Navigation Systems. Owned and operated by brothers Mark and Paul Goodwin and another investor, Watermark Navigation Systems initially began distributing the Australian made navigation lights and buoys to the State of New Hampshire to mark the many navigational hazards boaters on lake and coastal waters. What began as an emerging regional business turned into a government sales powerhouse as decades old navigational aids were upgraded and replaced with Sealite products. Business boomed and Goodwin's Watermark Navigation Systems was named Distributor of the Year for the Australian firm in 2009. Recognizing the commitment Goodwin had made to the company and its growth potential, Sealite acquired the lantern and buoy distributorship, Watermark Navigation Systems, in 2010 and renamed it for its soon-to-be expanded capabilities, Sealite USA. More than simply a distribution company, Sealite USA began light manufacturing.

With the company growing and demand continuing for both marine aids to navigation (or navaids) and aircraft lighting systems, more space was needed so Goodwin negotiated the purchase of the Tilton manufacturing site in 2012 and the company formally took occupancy in 2013.

Kevin Sullivan of Weeks Commercial Real Estate, represented Goodwin and Sealite in the purchase of the Tilton facility, which has proven to be an outstanding fit for the expanding company, especially since Sealite USA secured a large Canadian government contract.

Unfortunately, Goodwin was unable to see the fruits of his labor come full circle. Four years after being diagnosed with a terminal illness, Goodwin passed away in late 2013 after successfully launching Sealite USA in the North, South and Central American markets. According to Sealite Sales Manager Mark Novo, Goodwin was keenly attuned to the needs of the western market and the customers therein. "Mark Goodwin was a visionary. He recognized new markets and applications for Sealite products, generated the business to support the company's growth and helped create products that our customers needed. He was a mentor and a friend and will be missed deeply by all who knew him."

Novo's comments relate specifically to the recently awarded Sealite contract from the Canadian government to supply aids to navigation. In the new Tilton facility, Sealite brought in a rotational molding machine to build the navaids to the Canadian governments exact specifications and requirements. This manufacturing capability has created a number of new jobs, both on the manufacturing line and in the local construction business, as building modifications were necessary to explicitly align the rotational molding machine to its new space.

Sealite's customers are both large and small, local and distant. While small navaids dot the New Hampshire lakes and private docks of waterfront property owners, large Sealite navaids line the St. Lawrence Seaway, Ellis Island in New York Harbor and Elgin Air Force Base on Florida's panhandle. Sealite also makes a line of products specifically suited to relamp lighthouse beacons.

The Elgin Air Force Base installation also includes Sealite's aviation lighting, sold under the brand name Avlite. Because the Avlite products are relatively easy to set up and transport, they have become a standard for military and humanitarian organizations in the set-up of portable airfields where infrastructure is at a minimum, mobility is important and running cables is impossible. Iraq and Afghanistan each have several hundred Avlite portable airfield lighting installations.

Avlite also has safety lighting solutions for obstructions that might impede safe aircraft travel, such as telecommunication towers, buildings, bridges, wind turbines and other tall structures. Because Avlite products are constructed of LED (light omitting diode) technology, they are super bright, energy efficient and cost effective.
One local company using Avlite products is JBI Helicopters in Pembroke. With a fleet of helicopters providing lift/external load services, agricultural spraying and business/personal charter services, JBI uses Avlite for solar approach and taxiway lighting for their helipad. President Ray Newcomb figures he made a smart decision to use Avlite products. "Our pilots can remotely operate and control the brightness of the LED approach lighting. Not only are they great products keeping my pilots and helicopters safe, but using the Avlite lighting system saved me money since I didn't have a complicated installation -- no need to cut through the helipad tarmac to run cables. It's a great product from a company sensitive to the needs of their customers."

Now that some Sealite and Avlite products are made in America, that will open up even more sales opportunities, says Sales Manager Novo. "Producing a product that is made in the United States is key for our growth in the America's, not only to support US government business but also for the ease of shipping and transport to other countries. The move from distributor to manufacturer has been key for Sealite in the world marketplace. And Weeks Commercial Real Estate found Sealite the right spot for future growth."

Weeks Commercial Real Estate serves the commercial and industrial real estate markets from Concord to the North Country, and has the largest portfolio of commercial properties for sale and lease in the greater Lakes Region area. Stephen Weeks, owner of Weeks Commercial, expressed his enthusiasm for Sealite's prosperity and appreciation for their business. "Partnering with Sealite to get them into the right spot was a pleasure. We knew we had a great building for what they needed and couldn't be happier about their growing sales forecast and manufacturing capabilities."

Last Updated on Monday, 31 March 2014 08:12

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