2 Laconia natives working together at U.S. Military Africa Command located in Stuttgart, Germany

LACONIA — It was more 35 years ago when two Laconia natives, Donald Bolduc and Tom Saunders, last met. Now, a continent away, the two are both playing supporting roles with the U.S. Africa Command in Stuttgart, Germany. U.S. Africa Command (http://www.africom.mil/) or US AFRICOM - is the Department of Defense's lead military organization overseeing military support to the broad U.S. military and interagency effort to the African continent.

Army Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc and Tom Saunders are currently serving with US AFRICOM, the military command responsible for military relations with African nations, the African Union, and African regional security organizations. AFRICOM provides military support in areas such as operations planning, training, logistics humanitarian assistance, and engineering to assist African partners in improving security, governance, and development.

General Bolduc, a 1981 graduate of Laconia High School, is the deputy director of the Directorate of Operations for US AFRICOM, which conducts operational planning; organizes forces for assigned missions, coordinates movement and employment of forces, and monitors and directs operations in order to enhance stability in the USAFRICOM area of activity.

"It's great to meet up with a hometown friend. It brings back memories of youth and more peaceful and simpler times," said General Bolduc, who has served nine
deployments to Afghanistan, Kuwait and Iraq, is one of US AFRICOM's leaders that provides recommendations to senior decision makers for orchestrating how the command responds to complex contingencies and crisis, often at short notice.

"I'm very humbled and grateful to serve the men, women and families of our U.S. military. It is an honor to be part of a U.S. military that is able to be called up to not only defend our country's freedoms during wars, but is also capable of rapidly responding to humanitarian disasters in order to prevent death and human suffering," said General Bolduc, who joined the Army as a private in 1981, received his commission to 2nd Lieutenant in 1988 and is now serving as a general officer.

Saunders, a 1979 graduate of LHS who retired in 2005 as a senior master sergeant after serving in the U.S. Air Force for 26 years, is currently an Army civilian employee assigned as a media engagement action officer with the US AFRICOM Public Affairs Office.

"It was ironic to go to a meeting, see the name plate 'Bolduc' on his desk, then suddenly have an image of a focused, enthusiastic southpaw at baseball practice," said Saunders. "It was like, 'Don Bolduc from Laconia?' And suddenly the years faded a bit and we were back in Laconia."

General Bolduc and his wife Sharon are planning a vacation in the Laconia area
in early December to visit family, specifically, his 20-month old grandson and
1-month old granddaughter, said the General with a big smile on his face. The Bolducs have three sons, Joshua (25), Zachary (18), and Matthew (16). General Bolduc is the
son of Armand and Janet Bolduc of Laconia. He has two brothers and one sister. His brother Armand is a retired Master Sergeant currently residing outside of Houston, Texas with his wife Sherry. His brother Dave is currently serving in the US Army as a Colonel and resides in Northern Virginia with his wife Karen and their two children. His sister Michelle resides in Laconia with her husband Dustin Muzzey and their two children.

Among Don's military decorations and badges are two Defense Superior Service Medals, a Legion of Merit, Bronze Star with "V" Device for Valor, four other Bronze Star Medals, and Army commendation Medal with Valor Device and two Purple Hearts.

Saunders is the son of Claudette Saunders of Laconia. He has two brothers (Tim and Eric) and three sisters (Linda Goodwin, Michelle O'Meara and Laurie Martines) living in Laconia and the surrounding region. Saunders and his wife, Dawn, have five children, Ryan (31), Brittany (24), Tommy (22), Gunner (18), and Tori (11). Tommy is currently serving in the U.S. Air Force as a Staff Sergeant assigned to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Brittany is currently in an Airman Basic at her technical training school at Keesler AFB, Miss. Saunders' dad, Thomas Noyes Saunders, who passed away in 2002, was a long-time Laconia Little League coach.

Lakes Region Tea Party meeting on Dec. 17

MOULTONBOROUGH -- The Lakes Region Tea Party will hold its next meeting and annual Christmas party on Wednesday, Dec. 17, at 7 p.m. at the Moultonborough Public Library.

Those attending are encouraged to bring a pot luck dish.

There will be an opportunity for conversation as well as to hear about the group's plans for next year.

Further information can be obtained by contacting Hal or Peggy at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Living Nativity at Gilford Methodist Church on Sun.

GILFORD — The First United Methodist Church of Gilford will hold a Living Nativity on Sunday, Dec. 14, at noon following their regular service.

The public is invited to participate in this traditional Nativity, with story and song. The Holy Family will be portrayed by Drew and Shayna Lacroix and their son, Mason. Also taking part will be head shepherd Jeff Keyser with sheep from Ramblin' Vewe Farm in Gilford. Weather permitting, Kathy Salanitro will participate with one of her oxen, and Eeyore the Donkey, owned by Jeff and Joyce Keyser, is scheduled to be here as well.

Pastor Tom Getchell-Lacey will narrate the Christmas story as an intergenerational group of people play out the scenes of the Christ Child's birth.

Following the program, cider and cookies will be served in the church's Fellowship Hall.

Last year was the first time the Live Nativity was held in front of the Methodist Church. In previous years it was held in Gilford Village, but was moved to the church because of the greater availability of parking.

The tradition of the Living Nativity was started many years ago by the Rev. Ray Wixson and was done in conjunction with Gilford Community Church and the Gilford Historical Society.

The church is located at 18 Wesley Way (off Route 11A) in Gilford. If anyone has any questions, please call the church on weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and noon and speak to Joyce.


Waterville Valley’s annual ‘Cookies and Santa’ event is Sat.

WATERVILLE VALLEY — On Saturday, December 13, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., merrymaking will ensue at Waterville Valley's annual 'Cookies and Santa' event.

To kick off the day of festivities, guests can create their own candy cottage at the Waterville Valley Recreation Department from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Small cottages cost $12 and large cottages cost $18. The price includes all of the candy decorations. Registration ends on December 10. Call 603-236-4695 to order a cottage.

Ice Skating and Sleighrides are also available throughout the day. Ice Skating is in Waterville's Indoor Ice Arena located in the town center from, 2:45-2 p.m. and 6:45-8 p.m and costs $5 for admission and $5 for skate rental. Sleigh ride tours last 30 minutes. Between 1 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Saturday, two Belgium draft horses pull a Austrian sled around Waterville Valley. A seat costs $18 for adults, $12 for chilren 2-12, and free for children under the age of two.

From 3–4 p.m. there will be a Curious George Story Time at the Rey Center, located in the Town Square. There will be beanbags to lounge in as parents and little ones gather to listen to their favorite books read aloud.

From 3-5 p.m. Santa Clause will be walking around the Town Square taking requests for gifts and pictures. Visitors can also snack on complimentary freshly baked cookies. For lunch and dinner, the village of Waterville Valley has a variety of dining options. Tucked in the White Mountains, the Town Square is festively decorated and surrounded by towering, snowcapped mountains. For more information visit www.visitwatervillevalley.com