LACONIA — Trail conditions are ideal for the 86th annual World Championship Sled Dog Derby, which gets underway today, and have benefited from recent heavy snowstorms.
''We've got a 15 mile course laid out which should be great through Saturday.'' says Lakes Region Sled Dog Club president Jim Lyman, who is also the trail boss for the derby.
Sunday may be more problematic with a forecast of anywhere between eight and 18 inches of snow for the eastern part of northern New England accompanied by high winds.
''We can't worry about that right now. We'll just have to wait and see what Sunday brings and make a decision at that time. If there's snow we can work on the trails but if there' s drifting and poor visibility it's a problem. We'll at least be able to get in two days,'' says Lyman.
The start and finish line is at the intersection of Old North Main Street and North Main Street in Laconia, with many viewing opportunities along that route and at the Laconia Country Club, which will be open for food service from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. all three days of the derby and will provide warm viewing locations as the trail passes right by the clubhouse.
Lyman expects a very competitive race with at least 15 entries in the open class, in which drivers have up to 16 dogs. Defending three-time champion Claude Bellerive of Charette, Quebec, will return along with other Canadian drivers and local favorites Keith Bryar Jr. of Moultonborough and Vermont musher Doug Butler will also be competing.
The total prize purse this year is $12,945.
Last year's derby was one of the most competitive ever, with the top five mushers finishing only two minutes and 21 seconds apart.
Bellerive held on to win by just 27 seconds over the three-day race and became only the fifth person ever to win the derby three or more times.
Bellerive is no stranger to close finishes, having had previously won back-to-back titles in 2007-08 by margins of 10 seconds and eight seconds.
The other mushers who have won the Laconia Derby three or more times are Emile St. Goddard (1930-31-33); Dr. Charles Belford (1956-64-65-66) Keith Bryar (1960-62-63) and Dick Moulton (1968-71-73-75-76).
Local favorite Keith Bryar Jr. is a two-time derby winner, having won in 2002 and 2011. During his 2011 victory his team set a blistering pace averaging 20 miles an hour on the 15.5 mile course on the first day.
Like most of the other mushers, Bryar drives a team of Alaskan Husky-German Short-haired Pointer mix dogs, also known as Eurohounds, which have a lighter coat than he Husky breeds and have tremendous stamina and have been the dominant dogs in sprint races since the eary 1990s.
The event begins at 10 a.m. today with the six-dog class, followed by the open class at 1 p.m. On Saturday, the six-dog event starts at 10 a.m., and at noon, the three-dog junior class goes out. At 1:30 p.m., the open class will run.
On Sunday, the competition continues with a six-dog class at 10 a.m., followed by a three-dog junior class at noon and the open class at 1:30 p.m.
Awards will be presented at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Laconia Country Club at 607 Elm St.
Last Updated on Friday, 13 February 2015 01:22
CONCORD — State Senator Andrew Hosmer (D-Laconia) has introduced legislation to convene a committee to study the feasibility of offering a New Hampshire license plate commemorating Laconia Motorcycle Week, the oldest motorcycle rally in the country which will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2023.
Hosmer said yesterday that the purpose of the plate, which would be offered at a premium price, would be to generate funds to strengthen marketing of the event. He said that instead of seeking to introduce the plate, he preferred to establish study committee that could address the issues the proposal would raise,.
Hosmer noted that law enforcement agencies have expressed concern about the proliferation of specialized license plates and the Division of Travel and Tourism, which annually awards a grant to the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association to promote the rally, may have questions about earmarking additional funds exclusively for promoting the event. He said that the study committee would also consider the pricing of the license plate.
Hosmer said that a positive report of a study committee would lend momentum to a bill to introduce a specialized license plate for Motorcycle Week in a future session of the Legislature. Since the rally has grown and spread across the state, he expected the effort to strengthen promotion of the event would draw support from lawmakers beyond Laconia and the Lakes Region whose districts benefit from the influx of visitors.
The legislative initiative is one of several underway to bolster the flagging finances of the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association, which is saddled with debt.
Last Updated on Friday, 13 February 2015 01:08
GILFORD — Selectmen voted unanimously to renew the town's contract for trash removal with Waste Management, Inc. for two more years at a cost of $13,735.
Department of Public Works Operations Manager Mia Gagliardi said she solicited five bids and not only did Waste Management come in at the lowest price, the town has had a very good working relationship with them.
While Gilford doesn't provide home trash pickup, there are containers around town that are picked up by Waste Management, including at the Glendale Docks, the Town Hall, the library and other places around town.
In other business, selectmen scheduled a public hearing for February 25 at 7 p.m. to gather input regarding the town's proposed synthetic drug ordinance.
Town Administrator Scott Dunn said the contract for the police station expansion has been signed by both the town and the contractor and groundbreaking is scheduled for March 2.
Dunn and selectmen also thanked the Public Works Department for their hard work during the past few storms and asked residents not to berate and swear at the drivers and employees in the office.
Last Updated on Thursday, 12 February 2015 02:40
BELMONT — The Shaker Regional School Board has voted not to have two sections of kindergarten at both elementary schools, with class membership chosen by lottery, because of the negative feedback it received from district parents.
Superintendent Maria Dreyer said yesterday that the board reconsidered the lottery concept and decided it was inequitable. Instead, the board returning to its original proposal with regard to pre-first grade education.
A supplementary budget hearing will be held on the revised spending plan at the Belmont Middle School cafeteria on February 17 at 6 p.m.
In the course of budget preparation, the board decided against having full-day kindergarten because of space constraints and chose instead to add a half-day of universal pre-kindergarten.
Parents, who have nothing against pre-kindergarten, felt that the district had been promising them they would have full-day kindergarten and many of them attended a meeting in early January to voice their displeasure.
As a compromise, the board met on January 19 and decided to offer two full-day kindergarten sessions — one at Canterbury Elementary School and one at Belmont Elementary School. While there is plenty of space in Canterbury, there is not in Belmont so the Belmont slots would be chosen by lottery.
Last Updated on Thursday, 12 February 2015 02:49
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