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Lakes Region Community College awards 173 degrees

LACONIA — The 45th Annual Commencement Ceremony was held for Lakes Region Community College (LRCC)  graduates on May 17 at Bank of N.H. Pavilion at Meadowbrook Musical Arts Center in Gilford. One hundred seventy students graduated from LRCC in 23 academic programs with 173 degrees.

Presiding over LRCC's Commencement ceremony was President Dr. Scott Kalicki, who served as vice president of Student Affairs at Southern New Hampshire University prior to taking the top position at LRCC.

The Student of the Year Award was presented to Kimberly Johnson of Meredith, president of Phi Beta Lambda, LRCC's professional business organization for college students interested in careers in the business world. The Student of the Year Award is based on a vote of the faculty and staff.

Liberal Arts student, Kimberly Amerson of Hillsboro was the class valedictorian. She had the highest grade point average for the graduating class in her LRCC studies.
The Chancellor's Award of Teaching Excellence went to Kathleen Kenney of Concord. The Chancellor's Award for Service Excellence was given to Penelope Garrett of Mirror Lake.

Instructor of the Year was LRCC English Professor  Arthur Deleault of Manchester, voted on by the students. Deleault has been voted Instructor of the Year more times than any other faculty member at the college.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 May 2014 12:11

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A 'Local' celebrity chef for New Hampshire Restaurant Week

LACONIA — As a six-year-old, Kevin Halligan was asking for cooking utensils, at 13 he was working in a commercial kitchen, by 17 was the line cook at local restaurant and this week he is a "celebrity chef," one of eight from all corners of the state chosen by the New Hampshire Lodging & Restaurant Association to mark the third annual Restaurant Week.

"It's been cool," said Halligan, who throughout the week has offered a three- course, prix-fixe menu at the Local Eatery in Veterans Square, alongside the diverse 10 entrees on the regular menu, which changes every two weeks. "It's given me an opportunity to bring something different to the area," he said.

The chefs were selected for their contributions to the culinary community.

"I'm definitely simplistic," Hallingan remarked. "Usually there are not more than five ingredients in a dish. Simple food done well let's the ingredients shine."

Halligan gathers his ingredients from nearby farms while raising his own pork and collecting his own eggs. "I think I bought two bags of mixed greens during the winter," he conceded. P.T. Farm in Haverhill provides beef, Ramblin' Ewe in Gilford lamb, and Bonnie Brae Farms in Plymouth venison. "We're serving oysters from Great Bay five hours after they're brought ashore," he said, "and I'm working with the community supported fishery in Portsmouth to get whatever — hake, pollock, monkfish."

Halligan uses the entire animal, from the tip of the nose to the end of the tail and everything inside. "A little while ago we had ravioli with braised lamb neck, short ribs and some other stuff that was delicious," he said. From innards he makes pates and liverwurst and has been known to serve tongue as an entree.

Beans & Greens Farm in Gilford serves as a cornucopia of fresh vegetables and home to Halligan's pigs. He draws on foragers for fiddleheads and ramps in the springtime and gardeners for produce in the summer. Last year he bought a ton of potatoes, half of it from the Grafton County Jail. All the fruit and berries are picked at local orchards and farms. "New Hampshire peaches are the best," he said. "I wouldn't serve a Georgia peach."

Halligan tailors his menus around the seasons, serving what nature produces in its prime. With asparagus, along with Brussels sprout among his favorites, coming into season, he said he will be serving lots of it soon. At the same time, by freezing and preserving, he is able to serve homegrown produce throughout the year.

Altogether, Halligan partners with more than three dozen local suppliers, including wineries, distilleries and brewers. Nothing served at the Local Eatery has traveled more than 138 miles to the diner's plate.

For Restaurant Week, Halligan is offering a first course of braised beef cheek crostini with carmelized spring onions, blue cream sauce and chives, oysters gratinee with pernod cream, tomato and parmesan and oat cakes with goat cheese, red onion jam and spinach. The second course features cucumbers, tomatos, olives, feta, greens and a quail egg, or beef tartar with caper mustard dressing and house chips, or fiddlehead tempura with baby carrots, ginger soy dip and hot chili sauce. Finally, there is pekito crusted pollock with lobster rissoto, baby kale, bacon and gouda sauce, or pork chop with red onion jam, potato latke and apple parsnip puree, or mushroom cakes with brown rice, red onion and spinach.

Both Halligan and his wife Gillian grew up in Laconia, where they worked in restaurants from a young age. Gillian's grandfather built the Christmas Island Steak House nearly 50 years ago and it has remained in the family for three generations. Kevin was schooled at the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, Vermont, and returned to cook at Christmas Island before the couple purchased the Village Bakery in 2007.

Two years ago, obsessed with becoming the first chef to open a restaurant offering dishes fashioned of local ingredients, Halligan opened the Local Eatery. "This is what I like," he said, noting it is "only a step away from the bakery." The venture has met his expectations. "We have 35 seats and we'll turn the place over three times on Fridays and Saturdays and serve 70 to 80 people on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Halligan was not the only chef from the Lakes Region to enjoy celebrity status this week. As corporate chef of T-Bones and Cactus Jack's, Nicole Barreira, who has been in the business since the age of 14, plans and develops all seasonal and specialty menus for the restaurants. Roland von Gunten, born and raised in Switzerland,is director of culinary operations for the Common Man family of restaurants, which he joined in 2007 after making his mark with the Alpine Resort Hotels in Switzerland and the Swiss Hotal Lafayette in Boston.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 May 2014 12:08

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Meredith looking for ground water source

MEREDITH — James Emery of Emery & Garrett Groundwater Investigations told the Board of Selectmen this week that the groundwater exploration program is moving closer to developing an alternative source of water should the flow from Lake Waukewan, the sole municipal water supply, be interrupted.

Emery explained that in 2010 the Legislature enacted a statute that authorizes the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) to expedite approval of a large groundwater withdrawal "to protect human health and the environment in the event that circumstances beyond the control of the person requesting the withdrawal occurs, such as fire, flood, drought, other acts of God, or infrastructure failure." The statute limits the emergency withdrawal to two years without further approval. However, Emery said that he could not foresee an emergency lasting more than 30 to 60 days.

The search for a source of groundwater was recommended by the Water System Committee in 2008. Emery said that while many municipalities in New Hampshire have connected their municipal water systems to one another, Meredith's neighbors have no capacity to deliver water to the town.

Emery said although groundwater is plentiful in Meredith, since most of the sources are far from the existing infrastructure, the irrigation well at Prescott Park was tested. Although the well had sufficient capacity, the water is laced with high levels of iron. He said while drinking water quality is not required of an emergency source, the iron would have adverse impacts on the distribution system. But, five test wells were sunk just west of the irrigation well, one of which had a potential yield of 374 gallons per minute (gpm), easily enough to meet both the average demand of between 150 and 170 gpm and peak demand of between 200 gpm and 230 gpm with no significant trace of iron,

Moreover, Emery said that the test well is alongside the graveled way joining lower and upper Prescott Park on property owned by the town and not far from the municipal water system. He proposed drilling an eight-inch well, conducting a long term pump test to measure its yield, sampling and analyzing the quality of the water and assessing the impact of the well on the natural environment and nearby wells.

Emery told the Selectboard that since the project was among the first to be pursued under the statute of 2010, "we're going to plow some new ground." Likewise, he said that DES had an interest in applying the statute for the first time and suggested that as the agency is receptive the selectmen maintain the momentum of project. Town Manger Phil Warren said that funds could be drawn from the Water System Improvement Fund and a request presented to the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) Committee in the fall.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 May 2014 12:03

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Smoke from attic ashtray brings firefighters

LACONIA — At 6:40 a.m. Tuesday, firefiighters from three communities responded to a report of smoke in the building at 118 Court St., a multi-family dwelling.

While first responders didn't see any smoke coming from the building, they found smoke on one of the upper floors coming from a plastic container in the attic.

Firefighters learned the container was being used as an ashtray in the attic.

Chief Ken Erickson said had someone not smelled the smoke the fire could have spread.

He cautioned all cigarette smokers to dispose of their cigarettes in either water or sand. He also said not to throw cigarette butts into planters or landscaped area with peat moss or mulch.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 May 2014 01:17

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