Boulia-Gorrell Lumber sold to Derry firm

144-year-old company will continue to operate under current name as Benson Lumber takes over


LACONIA — The Boulia-Gorrell Lumber Company, the second oldest business in Laconia, has been sold to Benson Lumber and Hardware of Derry and Londonderry, but will continue to operate under its familiar name and with the same staff its customers have grown used to.
Sally McGarry, Boulia-Gorrell president and general manager, said there is a shared synergy with the new owners, who, like the Veazey family, have owned their business for four generations.
"We truly felt this was the right direction for the future of the company. We are very dedicated to our customers and we wanted the same level of customer service to continue,'' said McGarry, who has been in charge of the company's operations for 20 years.
"The friendly and long-term staff at Boulia-Gorrell will remain the same and they will continue to provide the same quality product and services, but customers will also see new products on the shelves," said McGarry.
Grant Benson, one of the owners of Benson Lumber and Hardware, said, "Before we began to expand, our business began at a size similar to Boulia-Gorrell's. With many of Benson's employees being long-term, you can expect knowledgeable help with your home improvement and commercial projects."
He said the family-owned Benson Lumber has been in business for 103 years and, like Boulia-Gorrell, has a history of being involved with their communities, assisting with such programs as Derry Girls and Boys Clubs, Beautify Londonderry, and local Cub and Boy Scouts.
Boulia-Gorrell Lumber Company is 144 years old, and the company name dates back to 1872, when Julius Boulia and Horace Gorrell opened a sawmill and finish mill in Lakeport, just below the dam. Later, they added a cabinet shop and factories that built boxes and crutches. The entire operation was consumed, along with much of Lakeport, by the great fire of 1903, but was rebuilt in the same location.
By 1918, the owners were facing organizational and financing challenges, and sold the business to William D. Veazey, an attorney in town and McGarry's great-grandfather. The mill was again destroyed by fire later that year, but was rebuilt and modernized. Within a couple of decades of Veazey ownership, the company was operating two lumber processing facilities, one at the original Lakeport site and a second on the shore of Paugus Bay near the current site of Watermark Marine Construction. Veazey had also purchased Cook Construction, on Fair Street, the six acres of Winnipesaukee River-front property where the business is located today.
The two mills on the shore of Paugus Bay put the company in position to capitalize on the hurricane of 1938, which flattened forests throughout New England. Loggers raced to harvest the best trees before rot could set in. The logs were brought by train from lumber mills to the north to the shores of Winnipesaukee, which were towed by steamboats across the lake and then into Paugus Bay, which was chock full of lumber waiting to be processed.
John Veazey , who died in 2010, leaving the business in the care of his son Allen, nephew Charles Veazey, and daughter, McGarry. He also led a political career as a representative in the New Hampshire State House and an influential member of the state's Republican Party. Many future presidents, and nearly all candidates for governor, made stops to confer with Veazey at the business, which by then had consolidated to the Fair Street location. Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush all spent time in the Boulia-Gorrell cabinet shop.

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The Boulia-Gorrell Lumber Company has ben sold to Benson Lumber and Hardware of Derry and Londonderry, but will continue to operate under its familiar name and with the same staff its customers have grown used to. (Courtesy photo)

Farewell, Capt. Landry

Laconia firefighter honored for decades of service as he retires


LACONIA — "A firefighter's firefighter," said Capt. Chris Shipp. "An icon," added Lt. Chad Vaillancourt. "An icon," echoed Deputy Chief Shawn Riley. "This fire department is what it is today because of this man," declared Fire Chief Ken Erickson.

These tributes and more were showered on Capt. Bob Landry Thursday, his last after 31 years in the fire service, the past 27 of them with the Laconia Fire Department, where, as Shipp said, "He earned the friendship and respect of every man and woman in the department."

Deputy Chief Kirk Beattie said Landry's "dedication to the Fire Department, the city and the surrounding communities is second to none."

Two firefighters from Platoon Number 1, Firefighter Rick Hewlett and Lt. Dave French presented Landry mementos of his tenure, a plaque commemorating his lengthy and exemplary service, and photographs – one of his colleagues and another taken at a fire.

"I'm not much for making speeches," Landry remarked, adding "I just loved doing my job. I love these guys," he continued, casting his eyes around the room. "The respect and support they've given me has made it easy to do my job."

Erickson recalled when he joined the department 15 years ago.

"It was not a fun place. I wouldn't have lasted two months," he said, draping an arm on Landry's shoulder, his voice choking with emotion, "without this guy."

"Somebody had to train you," Landry quipped.

"I owe you my deepest, deepest gratitude," Erickson said.

Calling Landry "the last of a breed," Erickson recalled that he was blown out of an attic, fell down a flight of basement stairs, tore his bicep hauling hose and used three air packs fighting a fire, "but he would never give up. He just never gave up."

Landry enjoyed his work, as a photograph of him leaving a fire sweaty, sooty and smiling attests. He said he liked crawling through a burning building full of smoke on his hands and knees more than "standing around and throwing water on it." But, he said that as synthetics have displaced natural materials in home furnishings, fires burn hotter and quicker, leaving firefighters little time inside a building afire.

Known for answering the call to virtually every fire, Landry was in California when an apartment building on High Street caught fire on an April evening in 2012. Sensing he would be disappointed, several firefighters at the scene called to tell him he was missing a fire.

Landry said he has no specific plans for his retirement apart from "some deer hunting, maybe some hiking and spending more time with my grandchild." However, he added that after a while he may look for work outdoors, perhaps as a ski instructor.

Landry's career in the fire service was to end this morning at 0700 hours, unless an alarm was sounded earlier, for he would not fail to answer his last call.

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Lt. Dave French, on behalf of Platoon Number 1, presents Capt. Bob Landry with mementos of his service to the Laconia Fire Department, which ended this morning after 27 years. (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)

A special thank you

Police and firefighters honored by children in summer school program in Belmont


BELMONT — It was a special day for police and firefighters in the Belmont area Thursday as children from the summer school program treated them to songs, pizza and special banners made for them.

After a blessing by Father Rick of the St. Joseph Parish, first responders joined with children aged 4 to 10 and helped them color and engaged them in discussion.

Although he couldn't stay long, Belmont K-9 Vito visited with his handler Evan Boulanger just long enough to say hello. Vito and Boulanger told the children that Belmont's National Night Out will be on Mill Street on Aug. 2 and they were all invited.

Belmont Elementary School Principal Sheila Arnold said there are about 60 children in the summer school program from pre-kindergarten to fourth grade.

She said the students had about a week to work on their posters and letters and the thing they wanted the first responders to know was "We like them."

Lt. Rich Mann said the Belmont Police already have a significant presence in the school. There are two school resource officers, one of whom is full-time and the second of whom works 30 hours a week. He said officers also frequently visit all the schools and read to the younger ones.

"It's fun for us and fun for them," said Mann.

As for the celebration, he said he was overwhelmed with the outpouring of support for them and the town's firefighters.

"These kids gave up a day of their summer to do this for us," he said.

Belmont police and firefighters were also joined by police from Gilford, Gilmanton and Canterbury.

"This is so wonderful," said Gilford Detective Denise Parker. "Any interaction we can have with a child is good. And the earlier we meet them, the better. This means a lot to us."

The Belmont Police Department will display a poster made by the children in the department that says, "Not all heroes wear capes."

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Children from the Belmont area shared pizza and conversation Thursday as the summer school program thanked first responders for their service. (Gail Ober/Laconia Daily Sun)

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Children sang "Ten Little Firefighters" at the lunch honoring first responders. (Gail Ober/Laconia Daily Sun)

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