Promoter has leased drive-in for series of Bike Week rock concerts

LACONIA — The Weirs Drive-In Theater will become a venue for live music and boxing matches during the the 92nd running of Motorcycle Week, the world's oldest motorcycle rally.

Vesslarglobal Partners, LLC of West Jeffereson, North Carolina has leased the property from its owner, Patricia Baldi, and this week has submitted a proposal to stage concerts on each of the last four days of the rally, along with a boxing exhibition on Friday.

A stage, 160 by 100 feet, will be erected in front of the main screen on the west (uphill) side of theater. The boxing ring, surrounded on four sides by seating, will be set up and broken down on Friday. Two bars, one 50 feet and another 20 feet, are planned for the site, which will also feature 10 beer "tubs" scattered throughout the venue.

Concerts are scheduled to begin at 5 p.m., with bands playing until midnight, except on the Thursday when the music will stop at 10:30 p.m. The line-up of bands has yet to be announced.

According the the permit application form filed with the city, concert attendance is projected to begin at 5,000 people on Wednesday, climb to 8,000 to 10,000 on Thursday, reach 15,000 to 20,000 on Friday and jump to 30,000 on Saturday, the last night of the rally.

Planning Director Shanna Saunders said that the proposal will be presented to the Motorcycle Technical Review Committee on Wednesday, May 6.

In the past, the Weirs Drive-In Theater has been a popular site for vendors and motorcycle parking, but their numbers have diminished in recent years as attendance at the rally has fallen.

Sporazzo promoted to principal at GHS

GILFORD — School Board Chair Karen Thurston said yesterday that current high school vice-principal Anthony Sporazzo will be promoted to principal beginning next school year.

Sporazzo will take over for current Principal Peter Sawyer, who is taking the job of Middle School principal next year.

"(Sporazzo) is a very highly respected individual with his students and co-workers," said Thurston. "He's firm but he listens."

She said Sawyer and Sporazzo were a "dynamic duo" at the high school and because of the campus design both will continue in the same building.

Sporazzo joined the Gilford High School as a Physical Education teacher 11 years ago, said Thurston.

"He's a fair individual and we're very fortunate to have him," she said.


Reporting of heroin overdoses in Laconia takes dive in last 30 days

LACONIA — Police Chief Chris Adams told the Police Commission yesterday that the number of overdoses from heroin has declined from a record of high of 35 in the two- and one-half months preceding March 20 to two in the months following it.

The 35 includes fatal and non-fatal deaths and the two since March 20 have both been non-fatal incidents.

"I hate to say this but this is a positive for us," said Adams.

He credits the decline to a number of things including the work of Prevention-Education-Treatment Officer Eric Adams, some recent arrests made by police and some recent heroin deaths in the city, saying that the deaths may have caused some people to rethink their heroin use.

"We got a little bit from all angles," he said.

Adams said that while the recent drop in overdoses is welcome news, he told commissioners there is still a heroin problem in the city and police are others are still working hard to address it.

He also said that with the snow nearly gone, discarded needles are showing up all over the place. Adams said if someone sees a needle they should not touch it and they should call the police or fire departments and it will be disposed of it properly.

Commissioner Armand Mahew asked Adams if he thought the City Council would continue to support the position of a PET Officer and Adams replied that he thought it would.

"Law enforcement isn't usually involved in the treatment portion (of heroin addiction) but now we're learning that it can be a good thing," he said.

In other police news, Adams said there are the usual summer grants coming to the department for traffic patrols, DWI patrols, and early morning patrols.

City Prosecutor Jim Sawyer told the commission that he was training firefighters for testifying in court and occasionally assisting the Planning Department with some of their land and property cases.

Laconia Heritage Commission looks to lengthen time city gets to react to proposed demolition of buildings

LACONIA — Troubled by the recent loss of several historic buildings in the city, the Heritage Commission will ask the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) to amend the demolition ordinance to apply to a greater number of properties and allow more time to explore alternatives to demolition. The commission will present its proposal when the ZBA meets on Monday, April 20.

The proposed amendment opens by stressing that the demolition of historic buildings "should be avoided when possible and practical" and only undertaken as "an action of last resort".

Pam Clark, who chairs the Heritage Commission, said that the commission will ask the ZBA to recommend the amended ordinance to the City Council, which has the final say.

The ordinance applies to "significant buildings", which are defined by four criteria. A significant building must be one with features and qualities meeting the national or state criteria for designating "a historical, cultural or architectural landmark". Buildings constructed to an uncommon design with unusual materials that could only be reproduced at great expense would also qualify. Finally, the ordinance would extend to buildings of such architectural value or historic interest that their demolition would be adverse to the public interest as well as to buildings whose preservation would preserve a place of historic character and value. While the original ordinance applied to buildings 75 years old and older, the amendment would reduce the age of significant buildings to 50 years.

The remainder of the ordinance prescribes the process triggered when an application is made to demolish a building that the Heritage Commission determines is "significant". The process begins with a public hearing scheduled and hosted by the commission at which the owner presents plans for the property and members of the public can propose alternatives to demolition.

If no agreement about he future of the property is reached, further discussion between the Heritage Commission and property owner shall be held within 10 business days. If still no agreement is reached the commission may petition the City Council to delay the issuance of the demolition permit for another 180 days to allow time to pursue alternatives, including acquisition of the property. When all options have been exhausted and no petition to extend the 180 day time period has been submitted, the property owner may proceed with demolition.

With the consent of the property owner, the Heritage Commission shall document the structure and features of the building and encourage the owner to salvage significant architectural features.

Clark said that the commission expects to engage an intern during the summer months who will begin the process of taking an inventory of historic properties in the downtown, in Lakeport and at the Weirs.