Kettle curling - Adaptation of curling has won Gilford an excellence award

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

GILFORD — It was very cold the night photographer Karen Bobotas went to the ice rink to photograph people who participate in the weekly kettle curling club.
Nevertheless, she said it wasn't cold enough to stop her from trying the sport and said she actually slid two kettles filled with cement down the nearly 45-yard ice court.

"It was so much fun, I'm going back to play," said Bobotas.

According to Herb Greene, the director of Gilford's Parks and Recreation Department, "kettle curling" has been an annual department offering for four years at the ice rink on Varney Point.

"It started in 2011 in its current form," Greene said, saying that there are about 16 regulars participants in this year's Thursday night town-sponsored event.

Last winter, which to many seemed like one of the coldest and longest in recent years, the program had about 24 regular attendees and was awarded with the New Hampshire Parks and Recreation Association Clarence B. "Willy" Shellnut Program award for excellence.

Curling at the Olympic level is a sport played with teams of four people who slide 44-pound granite stones down a sheet of ice to try to land them closest to the center of a concentric circle about 45 yards away. While two teams of four people each take turns sliding their stones, their teammates use brooms to create friction to try and direct the stone without touching it, or "curl" its path.

It is similar to shuffleboard, and one point is earned for the team who has the closest stone to the center. That team can garner an additional point for each stone closest to the center provided no opponent stones are closer. Each team member throws two stones per round or "end" and there are 10 "ends" to a match.

In Gilford, Greene said the basic rules are the same, but instead of granite stones, they use 2-quart tea kettles filled with cement that weigh about 16 to 17 pounds. Brooms come from the cheapest available site and the footwear – most in Gilford use crampons to keep from falling – is self-provided.

Greene said using tea kettles was his version of experiments he had seen from other parks and recreation departments. He said in Gilford, they originally started with gallon milk jugs filled with frozen water, but switched to tea kettles in 2011.
He said he shopped online for a particular type of tea kettle.

"For example, it couldn't have a flat bottom with a ridge," he said.

Once he found the perfect kettle, he ordered enough for two teams in two different colors. He said he didn't want to fill them with sand for fear the sand could spill and spoil the ice, so he filled them with cement. He said for a few years they had some problems with the handles breaking, but said the DPW was able to fix them to make them stronger.

The ice markings have evolved over the past few years as well. Greene said they started with ice paint but it often bled into other areas of the ice during warmer days. He said last year, they started using nylon mesh and flooding over it. He said it's worked better, but this year the ice conditions in general haven't been great.

Last year, the program was so successful, said Greene, that many of the regular participants donated some money so the department could buy two more sets of kettles and run two games at a time. He said the newer kettles are a little different from the older ones because the older model of kettle was no longer available.

Greene said the kettle curling program is an adult program. He guessed the age demographic to be from age 45 to early retirement, however the department has demonstration days for youths during school vacation week.

The cost to play is $2 per person per night and he said about half of his regulars are Gilford residents and half come from neighboring communities. Greene said the curling season usually ends at the end of February, but he's is willing to continue as long as the ice remains viable.

 

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City Council to weigh Davis Place offers

BY MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — City Manager Scott Myers has advised the City Council that the sale of a patch of untended woodland on Davis Place would not affect future extension of the downtown riverwalk or restrict public access to the Winnipesaukee River while suggesting that the sale of adjacent land should be contingent on securing an easement to provide public access to the river.

The council will consider whether to declare any or all of the property under offer as surplus, which is the first step in selling city property, when it meets on Monday, Feb. 22, beginning at 7 p.m.
Harry Bean has offered to purchase 9,810 square feet of woodland straddling Jewett Brook, which adjoins the house lot he owns at 32 Davis Place. Most of this land lies within a sprawling 1.67-acre lot owned by the city that fronts on Davis Place, stretches along the north bank of the Jewett Brook to the Winnipesaukee River, and includes a sliver of land reaching from the south bank of the brook to Howard Street. Bean also seeks to acquire a strip of land, approximately 10 feet by 131 feet, along the east side of a 0.15-acre lot, also owned by the city, that lies within the larger lot, which he would attach to the other parcel then the whole parcel add to his abutting lot at 32 Davis Place.

Meanwhile, Lloyd Wylie, who owns the lot at the far end of Davis Place that houses an apartment building, has made two offers to purchase portions of the 1.67-acre lot, which abuts his property to the east and south. One offer would include the portion of the lot abutting his lot to the south and fronting the Winnipesaukee River and Jewett Brook, an area of 0.40 acres.. Alternatively, he has offered to acquire the entire lot except for the portion Bean has requested and the stretch on the south bank of Jewett Brook leading to Howard Street, an area of 1.43 acres.

Neither Bean nor Wylie intend to develop the property, but instead seek only to police what has become a dumping ground, gathering place and scene of less than desirable activity.

The Planning Board and Downtown Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Advisory Board has urged the council to reject both offers and retain municipal ownership of the land. The Conservation Commission has said that no land should be sold without first placing protective easements on the properties to ensure that the natural environment is not impaired and public access to the river is not impeded.

In a memorandum, Myers told the council that Bean's proposal "will not impact any potential use future use City use for the Riverwalk or other access to the Winnipesaukee River." Nor, he continued, would the parcel qualify as a buildable lot. Myers recommended that if Bean's offer is accepted, the remainder of the 0.15-acre lot within the larger lot should be merged with it rather than left as a separate lot.

Myers reported that Bean has offered $6,500, which includes the cost surveying and conveying the property, which he estimated would net the city $1,500. He declined to comment whether this represents a fair market value, but noted that the property would be difficult to appraise. Adding the parcel to Bean's abutting lot would increase the assessed value of the property by $10,800.

Wylie, Myers explained, made a similar offer in 2014, which the council rejected. He seeks to purchase all or part of a 1.5-acre lot with approximately 200 feet of frontage on the Winnipesaukee River. Wylie does not intend to build on the property at this time, but he has not precluded the prospect of developing it in the future. Myers advised the council that the sale of any portion of the lot be accompanied by an easement ensuring public access to the river.

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Gilford chooses Beitler for superintendent

GILFORD — The Gilford School Board announced Friday that they have selected Kirk Beitler as the next Superintendent of Schools. Beitler, will succeed Kent Hemingway, who will retire at the end of this school year.

Beitler is presently the Assistant Superintendent of Schools in Laconia and has experience as a teacher and a former principal at Raymond High School. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree at the State University of New York at Cortland, his Master of Education at Plymouth State University, a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies in administration also at Plymouth State University, and was enrolled in Educational Leadership at Argosy University, Sarasota, Florida. Beitler will begin his duties in Gilford on July 1.

Beitler was selected after several candidates went through a three-month process that included initial interviews with a district search committee, school district visitations and a community forum.

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