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Funeral for Esther Peters today: broadcasting pioneer was still on TV well into her 90s

LACONIA — Esther Peters, the local broadcasting pioneer who died last Sunday at the Belknap County Nursing Home at the age of 98, is remembered by her friends and family as an incredibly positive woman who always had a kind word for everyone and was deeply engaged in her local community.

In 2005 the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce recognized her achievements by naming her the recipient of the prestigious James R. Irwin Award for community service.
''My mother really found herself after she moved here in the early 1950s. She loved Laconia and Gilford and all of the Lakes Region and in the end the people here loved her back,'' says her daughter Anne Oehlschlaeger.
Peters arrived in the Lakes Region in the summer of 1953 as a the divorced mother of two children and thrived on being in the public's eye once she arrived. It didn't take her long to attract attention and she was discovered by Art ''Roxie'' Rothafel of radio station WLNH at a party where he heard her voice and he told her she could do well on radio.
The only available job was bookkeeping, but, after the station's regular woman's show hostess fell ill, Esther filled in and soon took over the show.
Broadcasting "Around Town" from the curved front window of Woolworth's store on Main Street, Peters played records, talked with passerby's and interviewed people. Her studio interviews in the WLNH studio in the Masonic Temple building included Dwight Eisenhower, Rose Kennedy and Richard Nixon. Over the years she interviewed many of the stars who appeared at the Gilford Playhouse, including Paul Newman and Tallulah Bankhead.
She scooped other reporters by interviewing Newman in the car which picked him up at the Laconia Airport and said that her favorite interview was Tallulah Bankhead, who talked for a half hour without stopping.
Oehlschlaeger said that her mother would frequently have to drive in snowstorms from Cotton Hill Road in Gilford to the WLNH studio in downtown Laconia and was proud of the fact that she could put on tire chains in eight minutes. ''It was quite a trick getting down Cotton Hill Road during the winter'' her daughter recalls.
Dorothy Duffy, who worked Peters for about 10 years producing the "Now and Then' show for Lakes Region Public Access television, said that she still recalls Peters' distinctive voice from the early 1950s radio show and always held her in high esteem.
''She was non-abrasive and was famous for driving her convertible around town. She kept doing the the LRPA show until she was 95, which is really a remarkable achievement,'' says Duffy.
Peters worked for WLNH from 1973 to 1978 and was a member of numerous community organizations, including The Belknap Mill Society of Laconia and Lakes Region Clean Waters Association, both of which she helped form, as well as the Laconia Historical Society, Laconia Chamber of Commerce, Laconia B.P.W. and Altrusa Clubs, Laconia and Lakeport Women's Clubs, Opechee Garden Club, Salvation Army, Genesis ( Lakes Region Mental Health), Thompson Ames Historical Society, Gilford Library, Gilford School Board P.T.A., Gilford Conservation Commission, Laconia Conservation Commission, volunteered for Lakes Region Conservation Trust, Lakes Region United Way, preservation of the Rowe House, V.F.W. Post 1670 Ladies Auxiliary, Boy Scouts of America and the Gilmanton Garden Club.
She was a member of the St. James Episcopal Church of Laconia served as a lay reader, vestry member, Sr. Warden and Sunday school teacher.
A Memorial Funeral Service will be held on Saturday, February 15, 2014 at 11 a.m. at the St. James Episcopal Church in the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church location at 2238 Parade Rd. Laconia, The Pastor Rev. Tobias Nyatsambo will officiate.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that memorial donations be made to the Lakes Region Scholarship Foundation PO Box 7312 Gilford, NH 03247-7312.

CAPTION: Esther at Taylor Home (Adam Drapcho photo)

Last Updated on Saturday, 15 February 2014 01:03

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Belknap County lawmakers record 2 votes on gun background check bill

CONCORD — When the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted on a bill that would require background checks for all commercial purchases and sales of firearms on Wednesday, the members from Belknap County, with two exceptions, split along party lines.

House Bill 1589 required that all firearms transactions, with exception of sales between qualified individuals known to one another, be conducted by a federally licensed dealer, effectively applying background checks to all commercial transactions and prohibiting private deals closed at gun shows, flea markets and on-line.

After a motion to table the bill failed by two votes, the House adopted an amendment fulfilling the intent of the original legislation by a vote of 174 to 166.

With two members not voting, the Belknap County delegation cast 12 votes against the amendment and four in favor. Republicans Richard Burchell of Gilmanton, Guy Comtois of Barnstead, Charles Fink and Michael Sylvis of Belmont, Bob Greemore, Herb Vadney and Colette Worsman of Meredith and Don Flanders, Bob Luther and Frank Tilton of Laconia were joined by Ruth Gulick of New Hampton, the lone Democrat to oppose the bill. Democrats Beth Arsenault and David Huot of Laconia and Lisa DiMartino of Gilford were joined by Dennis Fields of Sanbornton, the only Republican on the delegation to vote in favor of the bill. Republican Jane Cormier of Alton and Democrat Ian Raymond of Sanbornton did not vote.

However, opponents of the bill then offered an amendment to replace the bill with a call for a study committee, which carried the House 177 to 175. The members of the Belknap County delegation reversed their votes as those who opposed the bill supported the study committee and those who supported the bill opposed the study committee. This time Fields was not only the lone Republican on the delegation but also the lone Republican in the House to vote against the study committee. This time, with Raymond voting, the delegation divided 12 to 5 in favor of the study committee.

After a series of motions to table and adopt the amended bill to establish a study committee failed, the House killed it without a roll call vote, 242 to 118.

Last Updated on Friday, 14 February 2014 12:56

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Logger accused of under-reporting Belmont timber cut fails to come up with $20k and will face trial

BELMONT — A Farmington logger charged with two counts of deceptive forestry business practices and one count of filing a false report to the Department of Revenue Administration told Belknap Superior Court yesterday that he cannot meet his obligation as outlined in a plea bargain agreement and would proceed to trial.

Dan Cutter, 49, allegedly didn't pay a Belmont land owner for the value of the logs he removed from his property as was iterated in a contract dated September 17, 2011.

Cutter had originally agreed to plead "no contest" to the charges, accept a two-to-four year suspended sentence in the N.H. State Prison and pay the property owner $20,000 on the date the plea was accepted by the court.

According to motions filed in court, Cutter allegedly logged the Belmont land, under reported the quantify and species cut to the Department of Revenue and failed to compensate the land owners.

When the landowner asked Cutter to produce the mill scale slips, he allegedly failed to do so.

The matter was investigated by N.H. Division of Forestry rangers working with an investigator from the Department of Revenue Administration.

Together, the rangers and the DRA said they uncovered the alleged criminal conduct by comparing the quantity and species filed with the DRA report to the actual scale slips from the mill.

The state contends that the full value of the logs that were cut was not remunerated to the landowner.

Specifically, he is charged with over cutting and under reporting wood harvested from the Belmont landowner, as well as depriving the town of Belmont with the appropriate amount of money that should have been paid in timber taxes.

In January of this year, Cutter said he needed more time to raise the $20,000 he agreed to pay the land owner and asked for a 30-day extension of the date he agreed to plead "no contest."

The court rescheduled the matter for yesterday but Cutter's attorney filed a notice of agreement saying his client had still not raised all of the money to reimburse the landowner and notified the court that the case be scheduled for trial.

Judge James O'Neill agreed but as of yesterday, no date has been set for Cutter's trial.

Last Updated on Friday, 14 February 2014 12:30

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From East Alton to shooting Fashion Week at Lincoln Center, photographer Andrew Walker has forged first-class career

ALTON — So much of life goes by in a flash. For photographers the constant challenge is to capture a moment in time — freezing it as it were — in order to reveal something interesting about a person or event.
That's what Andrew Walker strives to do every day in his work as a celebrity/event photographer.
For the past week Walker has been encamped at Fashion Week in New York City, a semi-annual event where top designers showcase their latest creations which consumers may see in the fall.
As a staff entertainment photographer for Getty Images, Walker has for more than six years now been watching and recording the comings and goings of celebrities at fashion shows, posh parties, sporting events and film festivals, including Cannes in France and Sundance in Utah. The career path that has taken him from East Alton to the Big Apple has been anything but a straight line.
And considering Walker's first try at taking pictures it's a wonder that he found his niche in photography.
"When I was in high school (at Alton Central) I tried taking photographs of games for the school paper. But when I turned in three or four rolls of blank film they took me off the job," Walker said with a chuckle.
But while his initiation to picture-taking was far from auspicious there was another influence in his early life that helped prepare him for his career.
"My dad was a painter. I got a lot of my visual sense from watching him paint," he recalled.
Both Walker's father, Frank, and his stepmother, Margot, are teachers at Kingswood Regional High School in Wolfeboro.
After high school Walker attended Pacific University in northern Oregon where he graduated in 1992 with a major in creative writing and played varsity soccer. While at Pacific he decided to take a photograph course "as a lark." Looking back on that first serious exposure to photography he observed that what he learned was how to take better photographs, "but they don't teach you how to make a living as a photographer."
After college he got a job in a photo lab in Oregon. Processing rolls of film of other people's vacations and family events wasn't for him, and after a year he joined the Peace Corps which sent him to Poland. At the end of his two-year stint in the Peace Corps he joined the non-governmental organization called Building with Books which sent him to Nepal and Bolivia to oversee the building of schoolhouses.
By 1998 he returned to the U.S. and ended up in New York City where he worked at an assortment of jobs, including bartending. Eventually he got a job as a creative director for a company that owned entertainment venues. His responsibilities included overseeing photography and art direction for events. But that job ended shortly after 9/11 when business dropped off.
Rather than seeing the layoff as a setback, Walker viewed it as "unpredicted opportunity." He picked up a camera and with the contacts he had made began doing all sorts of photography assignments: actor's head shot, band performances, bar and bat mitzvahs, weddings, you name it.
"There's a very thin, fine line of people who have gotten me to where I am today," Walker said during a telephone interview on Wednesday during a break from shooting Fashion Week at New York's Lincoln Center. While the spotlight at Fashion Week is on the runway, Walker cruises the sidelines of the event capturing mood, rhythm and style of the occasion. "I walk around the venue looking for alternative views. I want to get something interesting or unique," he said.
His work has brought him into contact with countless celebrities, mostly in the field of entertainment. He drops a couple of names: Megan Boone of NBC's "The Blacklist," and Vanessa Hudgens of "High School Musical" series fame, who Walker was hired to photograph while she was shopping in a New York boutique.
Perhaps because Walker spends so much time around the glitterati of stage and screen he realizes that many people stereotype celebrity photographers. "I get defensive when I hear the word paparazzi," he said. Just about every celebrity he photographs wants to be photographed. Most of the time the shoot has been set up either by the celebrity's representative or a third party who has obtained the celebrity's permission beforehand.
Walker credits his affable manner with his success as a celebrity photographer. "I'm very personable. Talking to people comes easily for me," he explained. "And I try not be too demanding."
While Walker mostly rubs elbows with actors, singers, musicians and the like. His work has brought him into the world of politics. In 2006 he was the personal photographer for Andrew Cuomo during his successful campaign for New York Attorney General, an opportunity that brought him into contact with Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Asked to name someone who he would like to photograph, Walker quickly cites, Hillary Clinton, who he says he greatly admires. But then he adds, "I'd love to be able to shoot any sitting president."
But Walker says that being a photographer is not always as glamorous as it might appear. "(Celebrities) want to be photographed, but they don't want to see the person taking the photo," he observed.
And being a professional photographer means there will be times when there will be humdrum or even unpleasant assignments. Walker recently had an experience of the latter.
On Feb. 2. Walker got a call to go Manhattan's West Village and stand outside Philip Seymour Hoffman's apartment building and try to get a photograph of the actor's body being taken from the building. Walker was on the scene for five hours and the best shot was able to get was of two medical examiners exiting the brownstone building. "It wasn't the kind of assignment that I enjoyed," he said. But then he added that to being successful as a photographer means taking opportunities as they come. "Don't be afraid to take any assignment."

Last Updated on Friday, 14 February 2014 12:23

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