Autumn's spectacle – Leaf season resides in the eye of the beholder

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A mixture of fall color with a hint of summer as the leaves have been slow to change this season.  (Karen Bobotas/for the Laconia Daily Sun)

 

By RICK GREEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — The yellows, reds, oranges and purples of autumn may be more or less brilliant depending on the year, but Andy Fast always finds the season incredibly beautiful.

Fast, the University of New Hampshire Extension forester in Belknap and Strafford counties, spends a lot of time outdoors.

He is diplomatic on the question of how this year stacks up against others.

“I find this to always be an amazing time of year,” he said. “When I'm out in the woods, it's just spectacular.”

He's heard from people who say this year's fall foliage season was a bit shorter or is ending a little sooner.

He recommends the fall foliage page on the VisitNH.gov website, which tracks the progression of the foliage season by region of the state.

Wedding season

“It seems like the season can vary from year to year, but a lot of it is perception,” Fast said.

The perception of Linda Kohn, function coordinator at the Inn on Newfound Lake is that the color has been a little delayed this year.

“It seems like it's not quite as bright as expected,” she said. “Usually after a good rain, we get a big boost of color, and this year has been kind of dry.”

The inn, which has been hosting travelers since 1840, has a view of 3,155-foot Mount Cardigan, and, of course, the lake. This is a busy time of year.

“We have a wedding rehearsal today and a wedding tomorrow,” Kohn said. “September and October are wedding season for us.”

Fast said there are a number of variables that can affect the color of the leafs.

Tree biology

“The season can certainly look different year to year, based on a lot of different facts, the chemistry of the trees, the biology and physics and physiology of the trees,” he said.

“If we have a really bad storm in foliage season, that can knock down leafs, and can have a pretty big impact. Raining too much or too little can affect things.

“In theory, a dry year should push the season forward a little bit.”

Reduced hours of sunlight and cold weather trigger the turn.

The ingredients necessary for a tree's growth are manufactured in the leaf in cells containing chlorophyll, which gives the leafs their green color. Chlorophyll absorbs energy from sunlight that is used in transforming carbon dioxide and water to carbohydrates, such as sugar and starch.

Deciduous trees

In the fall, chlorophyll breaks down and the green color goes away, allowing other pigments, or colors, to make their appearance. As the change of season continues, trees form a layer of cells at the leaf stem. The leaf separates from the branch and falls to the ground.

To the north of the Lakes Region, the White Mountains are a big draw for “leaf peeping.” People from around the world come to the region.

Jayne O'Connor, president of the White Mountains Attractions Association, said the colors are now starting to fade.

International visitors

"The colors came early, then slowed, and lasted a long time," said O'Connor. "This allowed us to receive visitors for a week or two longer, who came hoping to catch every last bit of color."

"Since Columbus Weekend we've had close to 50 buses with nearly 2,000 people crossing our threshold. These tours originate from diverse locations including California, Texas, Ohio, Australia, and the United Kingdom."

The New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism predict an estimated 9.8 million visitors to the state of New Hampshire during the fall season, with many of those visiting the White Mountains to take in the foliage.

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Soucook River, Loudon, NH off Route 106 (photo by Ginger Kozlowski)

 

  • Written by Rick Green
  • Category: Local News
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How many s’mores can you make? Elm Street 5th graders develop an app with the answer

10 20 ESS Coding Kids

Awnya Johnson and Kendora Harper-Cartier, fifth graders at Elm Street School, show off a mobile app they have been working on as part of a computer coding workshop. (Photo by Rick Green, Laconia Daily Sun)

 

 

By RICK GREEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — Fifth graders at Elm Street School showed their parents Friday what they have been working on – a mobile app that calculates how many s'mores can be made with a given amount of chocolate.

Heather Drolet, a technology integrator and winner of the Christa McAuliffe Sabbatical, has been leading a weeklong computer coding workshop. She works in Concord but lives in Laconia.

The New Hampshire Charitable Foundation provides the sabbatical every year so that a teacher can travel the state and work on a meaningful project.

Drolet's coding program allows students to work on critical thinking skills, creativity, collaboration and communication. The motto is “#failforward, never let setbacks stop you from succeeding.”

Students demonstrate that they understand fractions and division of fractions while working through how many chocolate squares are needed for a certain number of s'mores, the traditional campfire snack that includes graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallows.

The app allows the user to select a number of chocolate bars and then shows how many s'mores that would make. For example, since each s'more requires one-fourth of a chocolate bar, four bars would provide enough chocolate for 16 s'mores.

“We had to figure out how we were going to do it,” said Kendora Harper-Cartier, one of the students. “So if we had like four chocolate bars, we had to figure out how to divide it by one-fourth.

“Also, putting it together and the main design of it was hard. Adding all the colors to it, that was fun.”

They had to select an icon for the app. They had to test the app before “it went live.”

Harper-Cartier and classmate Awnya Johnson even tried to put a soundtrack of a crackling campfire in the background of the app, but they ran out of time.

Drolet said her workshop could spark an interest in computer science that will pay off for the kids and for the state.

“This is when we get their interest, especially the girls,” Drolet said. They say, 'Oh, we can do this.'

“And, it's not yet the environment where they are in a computer class and they are the one girl in a classroom with 15 boys. They are like, 'Oh, I'm an equal and I can do it.'

“When you look at statistics, we have way more computer science jobs in New Hampshire than we have people qualified to fill them. And so the point is to try to get kids engaged in that sooner and realize that they may be interested in that as a career choice but also to inject or inspire a sense of problem solving and computational thinking.”

To build the app, the students used a computer program available through thunkable.com. Workshop computers and tablets were donated through a charitable foundation.

Drolet, who works at Christa McAuliffe Elementary School in Concord, next takes her workshop to Pleasant Street School.

The apps are different depending on local preference. At Pleasant Street, students will be working on an app showing an engineering, design process.

Drolet has a master's degree in technology integration in education.

“In order to stay current with technology in the classroom, we need to find those new, innovative things that instruct but also assess in the classroom and this is a great way to show that they understand what a fraction is because they are applying it in a real world sense,” she said.

Parents were brought in to get the whole family onboard with the program and the technology. Handouts were given to the parents listing resources and classes that could allow the children to further explore computer science.

Andrea Besegai, who had Drolet's son as a student last year, said her class loved the workshop.

“The engagement was 100 percent,” she said.

She has photos of smiling children working on computer coding.

“Look at their faces. They were absolutely thrilled,” Besegai said.

“Yesterday, when they added the sound and edited it the way they wanted to, they were on top of the world.

“They have a sense of accomplishment and pride. And, when they found that if their parents had an Android or Samsung phone they could download the app, they were like, 'Wow, really, I'm a published coder.'”

  • Written by Rick Green
  • Category: Local News
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Gilford Planning Board approves four site plans


By THOMAS P. CALDWELL
LACONIA DAILY SUN
GILFORD — The Gilford Planning Board has approved four new site plans, only two of which elicited any public comment.
An abutter to two dwellings slated for conversion to condominium units at 72 Belknap Point Road expressed concern about his water rights to a well on the property during the Oct. 16 hearing. David Fite said that, although he has put in his own well, he wants to preserve his deeded water rights in case his own well ever fails. Fite was worried that dealing with a condominium association might be difficult.
Although such issues are beyond the purview of the Planning Board, Planning and Land Use Director John Ayer pointed out that all that is changing is the form of ownership. The land currently listed under the Charles B. Sullivan Jr. Revocable Trust is managed by Sullivan’s sons, who would remain in charge after the condominium conversion. Fite would still be dealing with the same individuals, Ayer said.
Doug Hill, who owns the road serving the five dwellings that include his own home at the end of the road, asked that the site plan include a note identifying his family as the fee owners, who have granted an easement to the property under discussion.
Ayer noted that the E911 system requires naming roads serving three or more dwellings, and the Planning Board added that as a stipulation, along with granting Hill’s request to identify the owner of the right-of-way.
David Whalley’s plan to remove existing buildings and construct three new buildings to house 54 commercial storage units at 2645 Lake Shore Road met with some concerns from members of the nearby Mineral Springs Condominium Association. They were worried about maintaining the buffer between the properties and the lack of a waste containment bin in the plans.
The former Victorian House property owned by APS Solo 401K Trust had been unused for years, and Whalley, a trustee, said the new units would be built behind a berm on a graded site with downcast lighting and underground electric lines. He said the agreement would include maintaining the detention pond and catch basins, and closing the access from Lake Shore Road so entrance would be along a driveway from Cumberland Road.
A plan by Ames Farm Inn and Resort, LLC, to build a 1,280-square-foot accessory building on the property passed unanimously.
The Lyman Family Exempt Trust won approval to make a .32-acre boundary line adjustment and subdivide the remainder of the 16-acre property into six lots.
The planning board asked for the continuation of an easement along the property’s edge to preserve a snowmobile corridor passing by, and asked that the site plan indicate that it extend along the length of the property line. The Lymans also agreed to clear the area as necessary so snowmobiles could safely pass through.
Richard Grenier, the selectmen’s representative to the Planning Board, commented, “The generosity of the Lyman family is phenomenal, and I want to compliment them on continuing that tradition.”
Other conditions for the property included providing a water supply and driveway turnaround approved by the fire department and that the driveway be named and numbered to meet E911 requirements.

  • Written by Tom Caldwell
  • Category: Local News
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