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Strong pitching staff expected to be core of improved Muskrats this season

LACONIA — I'm excited," said Noah Crane, general manager of Laconia Muskrats. "This is by far the best roster we've put on the field, especially the pitching staff. All our players start for their college teams, which gives us a lot depth."

After a 2013 season marked by recurrent rain that dampened attendance and numerous injuries that hampered performance, Crane is looking forward to Friday, June 6 when the Muskrats open their fifth season in the New England Collegiate Baseball League by hosting the Vermont Mountaineers at Robbie Mills Field. "Last year every team in the league was challenged by bad weather," he said, adding that he was "encouraged" that paid attendance at home games shrank only by 600.

Last year, following a promising start that kept the Muskrats in contention in the Eastern Division through the All-Star break, injuries idled two-thirds of the starting pitchers, most of the middle infielders and several members of the bullpen crew. The Muskrats lost eight of their last 10 games to finish three games below .500, missing the playoffs for the first time.

Crane believes that he has assembled the players who will return the Muskrats to the postseason. Among the pitchers, Jordan Sheffield, a righthander completing his freshman year at Vanderbilt, where his coach Tim Corbin described his arm strength and overall pitching tools as "not common for a young man." He was was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 13th round after earning All-America honors as a high school senior. Adam Frank, a junior from Dartmouth, who has won eight of 10 decisions and held opponents to a batting average below .250 in his first two seasons, was drafted by the Oakland Athletics as a high school senior. Adam Grantham, a sophomore righthander from Arkansas State, was drafted by the Atlanta Braves after an impressive high school career.

The pitcher sure to draw thew most attention is Mariano Rivera, Jr., a sophomore righthander from Iona College. Crane said that while he has yet to post numbers matching his father, he has good velocity and "lots of room to grow." Cory Geisler of Texas State, a southpaw has won three games this year without a loss while pitching to an earned run average of 1.78 and holding hitters to a batting average of .200. As an outfielder he is the team's second leading hitter with average of .307.

"We're very strong at the corners," Crane said. At third base, Braxton Martinez enjoyed one of the best freshman seasons ever at St. Louis University, hitting for an average of .314 with 76 hits in 62 games, and as a sophomore is among the team leaders in hits, average and runs batten in. Ben Miller, a freshman at Nebraska, was recruited as a left-handed pitcher, but found himself at first base and leading the team in hitting with an average of .362.

D.J. Rulhman, a junior shortstop from Seton Hall, is batting .371 and slugging .457 to lead his team while making just five errors in 42 games. Crane said that Cornelius Copeland of St. Petersburg College, brings range and speed to the middle infield, while his teammate Cory Baptist, who at six feet, four inches and 220 pounds, can pitch as well as play first base and the outfield, is "a big time hitter."

"We have a lot of talent, along with versatility and depth," Crane said. "Now we're hoping for good weather."

Crane said that this season the scheduling format has changed so that each of the six teams in the North division will play each other six times, three at home and three away, while playing a home and away series of two games against each of the six teams in the South division. Apart from Laconia, the North division consists of the Keene Swamp Bats, Vermont Mountaineers, Sanford Mainers, Holyoke Blue Sox and North Adams Steeple Cats. Crane said that the would reduce travel times and costs while enhancing divisional rivalries.

Crane said that plans to complete the terrace atop and behind the green monster ran afoul of the severe, prolonged winter weather. He explained that a crew of students from the Huot Technical Center had been enlisted to complete the project, but lingering winter weather delayed the start of the work until there was not enough time remaining in the school year to finish it. The project was started before the 2012 season and has never been finished.

The 30 players, manager and two coaches will be arriving around the beginning of June. Crane said that although while homes for 25 have been arranged, another eight remain to be found. He urged anyone willing to provide an aspiring big league ballplayer with a bed and breakfast during the season to contact him directly by e-mail, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit the team website, www.laconia muskrats.com.

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 May 2014 12:46

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Cafua files plan for new building on Hathaway House site

LACONIA — Cafua Management Company, LLC, which owns the lot at 1106 Union Avenue that holds both a Dunkin' Donuts store and the Hathaway House, has submitted plans at City Hall to redevelop the portion of the property where the Italianate home stands.

Last September, Cafua , which purchased the property in 2000, applied for a permit to demolish the Hathaway House, sparking a frantic effort to preserve it. After meeting with Greg Nolan of Cafua, to discuss alternatives to demolition the Heritage Commission ultimately conceded that if the building was to be preserved, it would have to relocated. Last month the commission agreed to search for a private developer interested in moving, renovating and owning the building.

Cafua proposes to construct a 4,850-square-foot retail building on the northern half of the 1.6-acre lot. The building would would be reached by a spur off the existing entryway to Dunkin' Donuts, eliminating the need for a fresh curb-cut. The building would be divided into three units, two of 1,650-square-feet and one of 1,550-square-feet and would be served by 27 parking spaces, 11 more than required.

In addition, with the removal or demolition of the Hathaway House, Cafua intends to improve the traffic flow through Dunkin' Donuts by adding a loop at the northwest corner of the site, which would carry vehicles to the drive-through window. At the same time, delivery trucks, which have parked in the entryway alongside the Hathaway House would be assigned a dedicated lane to circle the building and park on the south side of the lot.

The Heritage Commission will meet at 5 p.m. today when an update on the effort to preserve the Hathaway House is expected.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 May 2014 12:21

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Seemingly minor campaign issue brings AG investigator to Sanbornton

SANBORNTON — After some complaints made to the N.H. Attorney General's Office, for at least a part of the day on Tuesday, elections were monitored by an investigator.

Investigator Paul Brodeur said a complaint by someone who said selectmen's candidate Jeff Jenkins was using campaign signs that didn't have his address posted on them was made to his office earlier in the day.

"Other than that things are moving along just fine," said Brodeur who was in Sanbornton for at least two hours yesterday.

While the complaint was relative minor as election complaints go, that one was made underscores the rancor and backbiting that often accompanies Sanbornton's politics.

This is the second complaint filed relative to this election that The Sun has heard.
Late last week, someone made a complaint about an orange mailer encouraging voters to vote down all of the six proposed zoning articles on yesterdays ballot.

Asst. Attorney General Ann Edwards said that her office issued a cease and desist order to Jody Slack of Morrison Drive for mailing the flyers without identifying who paid for them.

She said her office spoke with Slack who apologized and said he had no idea he was supposed to include that information when he sent out the flyer. Slack was at the polls yesterday and reiterated that he didn't know about the law and wasn't trying to be anonymous.

State law prohibits individuals or organizations from trying to influence elections without identifying themselves and a fiscal agent. The law also requires an address or a point of contact like an email address.

As for Jenkins signs, he hand wrote his address on the front of them and continued to hold them.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 May 2014 01:37

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Workforce housing amendments take beating in Sanbornton

SANNORNTON — Former Highway Superintendent Johnny VanTassel bested Budget Committee member Jeff Jenkins by a vote of 372 to 291 in yesterday's election for a position on the Selectboard.

VanTassel will replace outgoing Selectman Guy Giunta who did not seek re-election.

All six zoning ordinance amendments failed as town residents said no to so-called workforce housing. Amendment 1 failed by a vote of 312 yeses and 331 nos. Amendment 2 failed with 267 people voting yes and 384 people voting no.

Amendment 3, which went to the heart of workforce housing, failed by a wide margin with 173 voting for it and 487 voting against it. Amendment 4 also failed by a wide margin with 247 voting for it and 410 voting against it.

One-hundred and sixty people voted for Amendment 5 while 491 people voted against and 219 people voted for Amendment 6 while 434 voted against it.

In the race for the two open seats on the Budget Committee, incumbent Roger Grey got the most votes with 329 of the 692 people who voted and Ralph Rathgen, who is currently a member of the Highway Privatization Committee got the second slot with 296 votes.

Incumbent Judy Burlingame Rich came in third with 262 votes followed by Mitch Lewis who got 100.

The last contested race was for Trustee of the Trust Funds and Gail Morrison bested Curt McGee by a vote of 335 to 261.

Town Meeting convenes tonight at 7 p.m. at the Sanbornton Central School.

Thirty-one percent or 692 of the 2,190 Sanbornton voters came to the polls yesterday. Town Clerk Tax Collector Jane Goss said that was about average.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 May 2014 01:29

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