Sandwich selectmen will pick new school board member

MEREDITH — After representing the town of Sandwich on the Inter-Lakes School Board for the past four years, John Martin has tendered his resignation, explaining that he has chosen to pursue a professional opportunity that would hinder his ability to be an effective member of the board.

The board would have accepted Martin's resignation at its regularly scheduled meeting earlier this month, but the meeting was cancelled for want of a quorum. Once the resignation is accepted the position will be advertised and applicants, who must be residents of Sandwich, will be invited to submit a letter of intent together with their qualifications to the district.

However, the school board will not fill the vacancy. A statute enacted in 2013 prescribes that in a cooperative school district the remaining members of the board representing the same town or towns as the departed member shall fill vacancy, provided there are at least two such members. Since there is only one remaining member of the board from Sandwich — Howard Cunningham — the statute requires the Sandwich Board of Selectmen to make the appointment and if they cannot do so, the responsibility falls to the moderator of the cooperative school district. The appointee will serve until the next school district election in 2016.

Laconia Country Club celebrates renovated club house

LACONIA — Laconia Country Club teed up its 93rd season yesterday with an open house, offering members their first taste of the renovated club house.

Tim James, president of the club, said that the club house was built in 1965 after its predecessor was destroyed by fire, and has not undergone a significant renovation since. The bar has been enlarged with the addition of a spur overlooking the deck on the west end of the building. Work is beginning to double the size and triple the seating on the deck, which will offer expansive views of the golf course. The deck is expected to be complete by Memorial Day.

Inside a new ceiling, featuring paneled sections and new lighting, has lent spaciousness to the dining room without expanding its dimensions. A sliding divider, glazed with tempered glass, enables the room to be split in two without denying natural light to either section.

The renovation was the work of Opechee Construction Corporation of Belmont, whose president Mark Woglom modestly remarked that the replacement of the tired oaken furniture represented a significant contribution to the success of the renovation. Woglom is also a member of the club.

James said that the club counts some 440 members, noting that about 60 percent are year-round local residents and the balance are seasonal residents. He said that the course is rated among the best in the state. Gene Sarazen, one of only five golfers to win all four major championships, played the course along with entertainers like Jack Benny, Mickey Rooney and Alice Cooper and athletes like Bobby Orr and Rico Petrocelli.

James said that the New Hampshire Golf Association recently announced that the club will host the New Hampshire Amateur Championship, the premier golf event in the state, in 2016.

Number of homeless students in city schools said to have topped 100

LACONIA — The number of homeless children attending Laconia schools has been increasing in recent years according to Mollie Greeley, homeless coordinator for the Laconia School District, who says that this year there were a total of 106 students who at one time or another during the school year were without a home.
Greeley, who is also a guidance counselor at Woodland Heights Elementary School, outlined the extent of the problem of homeless school children in the city at Tuesday night's meeting of the School Board.
Woodland Heights Elementary School reported the most incidents of homeless students, 36, followed by Laconia High School, 23; Laconia Middle School, 22, Pleasant Street Elementary School, 17, and Em Street Elementary School, 8.
Greeley said that she works closely with other school districts in the area as part of a regional network of homeless coordinators and that Franklin schools reported 45 incidents of homeless children and Gilford had 24. The largest number in the state was 665 incidents in Manchester, the state's largest city.
She said that her role is to remove barriers for homeless students in order for them to have access to education and that involves providing immediate access to educational services, transportation, counseling as well as free and reduced school programs.
Greeley said that federal guidelines from the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act of 1987, which was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan, are used to define homeless students and the services for which they are eligible.
She said that in many cases the students or their families lack the documentation normally required and in those cases the requirements are waived in order to provide immediate access. ''We need to provide stability to the students,'' says Greeley, who says that she works closely with guidance departments at all of the district's schools to identify students eligible for services.
She said that intake meetings with new families in the School District help identify many of the needs and that in some cases of homeless children who are runaways or have been abandoned by their families immediate needs are often clothing and footwear.
Children who have been classified as homeless in the School District are often able to continue attending Laconia schools even if they obtain temporary housing in another nearby community is it is deemed in the best interest of the student she says.
Greeley said one recent success story involved a family with two young girls who had been living in the Salvation Army's homeless shelter at Carey House and was finally able to rent an apartment.
''The only catch was they had no beds for the girls. But a quick call to my Meredith counterpart helped get the beds they needed,'' said Greeley.
Another situation she is currently dealing with involves a family which has had to move out of their apartment because their electricity has been shut off and the children are staying in different homes.
''We have a moral obligation to help them.'' says Greeley, whose work was praised by School Board Chairman Joe Cormier and Superintendent of Schools Terri Forsten.

Pumpkin Festival decision expected today

LACONIA — Ruth Sterling of Sterling Design & Communications, who has managed the annual Keene Pumpkin Festival in partnership with Let It Shine, Inc., will announce plans for the 2015 festival today, Friday, April 24, at a press conference at the railroad station in Veterans Square, beginning at 1 p.m.

Earlier this month the Keene City Council voted 13 to 1 to deny Let It Shine, Inc. a license to hold the event in the city this year after rioting near the campus of Keene State College coincided with the festival and overwhelmed local law enforcement agencies last October.

More than a dozen cities and towns in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, including Laconia, have expressed interest in hosting the festival in 2015.

During an interview with The Daily Sun on April 16, Sterling said it appeared "all roads lead to Laconia" in terms of where the festival might relocate to and credited Laconia Motorcycle Week Executive Director Charlie St. Clair as the reason. She recalled that her relationship with Laconia began as the Keene City Council debated the future of the event and St. Clair traveled to Keene to speak on behalf of that city keeping the festival.

Sterling had made no public statements about the festival since that interview.

More than 30,000 pumpkins were on display at the one-day Keene Festival last October.