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A treasured guest from the Bronx

LACONIA — Tammy McKenzie of the Pendleton Beach neighborhood are the parents of eight-year old twins — their son Aidan and daughter Heather — but for the next three weeks the family will the pair will grow to triplets with the addition of Joshua Goumerra, a Dominican boy from the Bronx who has returned for his summer vacation.

McKenzie, with her husband John, are a volunteer host family of the Fresh Air Fund, which for the past 138 years has placed more than 1.8-million children from the five boroughs of New York City with families in small, rural communities across 13 states from Virginia to Maine to enjoy a summer vacation.

"This is Joshua's second year with us," McKenzie said, "and we're hoping to have him 10 more years till he's 18." The twins held a banner reading "Welcome Back Joshua" and a bunch of colored balloons as Joshua stepped from the North Fork Express that carried him from the New York Port Authority to the McDonald's parking lot in Tilton yesterday.

Altogether the bus brought nine children to the Lakes Region and, according to Rhu McBee, who her husband Burritt co-chairs Laconia Friendly Town, one other missed the bus. She said that buses from New York will arrive in the state each week in July and in the first week of August, hoping that they bring more than 157 children who visited New Hampshire a year ago.

The program began in 1877 amid a tuberculosis epidemic that swept through the tenements of New York City, prompting Reverend Willard Parsons of Sherman, Pennsylvania, a small town southeast of Binghamton, New York, to ask his congregation to provide the city's neediest children with a spell in the country. By 1881 the Fresh Air Fund drew support from the "New York Tribune" and seven years later incorporated. Today the organization benefits from the generosity of the "New York Times." Apart from placing children with host families, the fund operates five camps on 2,300 acres in the Hudson Highlands near Fishkill, New York.

McKenzie said that the twins kept in touch with Joshua throughout the year. "He's another member of our family," she said. "I cried like a baby when he left last summer."

"Noting that the motto of the fund is "the simple things in life connect us all," McKenzie said that apart from throwing party for Joshua's eighth birthday, there is no formal structure to his stay. "There's swimming and fireworks, but a lot of just messing around playing like kids — blowing bubbles on the lawn and throwing a ball. It's simple things."

"It's great," exclaimed Joshua, who when asked what he enjoyed most exclaimed "everything!"


CAPTION: Aidan McKenzie and his twin sister Heather welcomed Joshua Goumerra, who arrived from New York City yesterday to spend the next three weeks at their home in Laconia. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/ Michael Kitch).

Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 July 2014 12:36

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Laconia organizers looking to fill out 4th of July parade before 4:30 start

LACONIA — Amy Lovisek of the Parks and Recreation Department is looking for some civic organizations and neighborhood groups willing to march together or tow a float in the parade celebrating the Independence Day on Friday, July 4th.

The parade will stage at Wyatt Park between 3:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m then wend its way along Main Street to Opechee Park. "I want more people, more floats and kids riding decorated bicycles, Lovisek said.

The celebration at Opechee Park will include two bands, The Glympse between 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. followed by Livin' the Dream from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Throughout the evening there will a variety of vendors and attractions at the park, among them a trampoline and climbing wall.

The fireworks will begin at 10 p.m. This year the fireworks will be staged on the playing field within the Smith Track, not on a barge in Lake Opechee. Lovisek said as a result of the change of venue the fireworks display may not be as visible to residents of surrounding neighborhoods as they have been in the past and urged people to come to the park and join the crowd.

For information about participating the parade, contact the Parks and Recreation Department at the Community Center or call 524-5046.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 July 2014 01:37

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City Council to decide path of riverwalk at Beacon Street West

LACONIA — Chinburg Builders has submitted plans to add 37 residential units at Beacon Street West as well as construct the downtown riverwalk along the waterfront as recommended by the Planning Board, contrary to the advice of the Downtown Tax Increment Financing District (TIF) Advisory Board.

Although the route of the riverwalk has been approved by the Planning Board, the ultimate decision rests with the City Council, which controls both the easement and funding for the project.

The new units will be divided between two buildings. The large building at the center of the site, originally intended for commercial use, will house 30 rental units. A new 6,230-square-foot building straddling the Perley Canal will house another seven rental units.
Chinburg's decision to build residential units over the canal prompted reconsideration of the proposed route of the downtown riverwalk. That section of the riverwalk runs along the Winnipesaukee River but stops short of the Perley Canal. Closing the gap over the canal to Beacon Street West and extending the path from City Hall to Church Street would complete the riverwalk along the north bank of the river.

However, there was initial concern that following the course of the riverbank, as originally envisioned, past the new apartments would impair the privacy of residents. Rather than follow the river, Chinburg proposed routing the riverwalk around the building, crossing the Perley Canal with a bridge behind the building then turning a corner before joining Beacon Street West. The developer agreed to fund the cost of constructing this segment of the riverwalk.
The TIF Advisory Board agreed to present both the original and alternative plans to the Planning Board, but voted three-to-two to recommend the route preferred by the developer. But, in April the Planning Board voted to recommend that the City Council hold the project to its original route along the river. Following the the decision of the Planning Board, Chinburg designed the building to accommodate the riverwalk and the architectural sub-committee of the board approved the plan.

As planned, the building will have a patio space and two single-story units facing the river and five two-story units to the rear. The riverwalk will run past the patio and two units, crossing the mouth of the Perley Canal, then connect to Beacon Street West.

Planning Director Shanna Saunders said yesterday that because the easement does not address the precise route planned for the riverwalk, the City Council must negotiate an amendment to accommodate the design. Moreover, while Chinburg agreed to underwrite construction of the alternative route around the building, the city must bear the cost of building the planned route. Saunders said that Chinburg has agreed to estimate the cost of the project, which could be financed either through the city budget or the Downtown Tax Increment Financing Fund.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 July 2014 01:27

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CruCon: From mom's basement to all of this

MOULTONBOROUGH — It was a special night for a special person Saturday as friends, co-workers, clients, and town officials joined president and CEO of CruCon Cruise Outlet Sandy Cleary at an open house for her recently expanded company.

Cleary, who began her on-line cruise search company from her mother's East Boston home, chose Moultonborough as its world headquarters because she spent her childhood summers on Paugus Bay and wanted to return to the Lakes Region of New Hampshire.

A former aerospace engineer in California, Cleary said she went on weekend cruises for relaxation while working in that industry. Nineteen years ago, she gave up her job as an engineer to return to East Boston to care for her recently widowed mother.

Without a job, and working form the basement of her mother's three-store brownstone, Cleary and her sister started brokering online reservations for people who wanted to cruise. She said it had to be an Internet company because her mother wasn't excited about people coming in and out of the house. The two daughters staffed the initial call center themselves.

When she accidentally forgot a Pop Tart in her mother's toaster and burned down the kitchen, she said her mother told her to get an office.

Staying in East Boston, she said they worked from a small commercial building and gradually her company began to grow. Cleary said the day a senior vice-president from Carnival Cruise Lines called her and thanked her for her business, was the day she knew she was on the right path.

Cleary eventually moved her company to Moultonborough and has spend the better part of a year constructing the company's new building.

Three stories tall, CruCon Outlet has an entire floor dedicated to its employees — from a kitchen that serves three meals a day, a gym with state-of-the-art workout machines to a "Zen" room used for resting. The top two floors are office space, storage space, booking rooms and executive suites.

CruCon also constructed the entire building including furnishings from New Hampshire companies using the "greenest" or most environmentally sensitive materials available.

Joining Cleary at her grand opening were top level executives from a number of cruise companies including Celebrity Cruises, Vacation.com, Royal Caribbean Cruises Lines, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Princess Cruises and Holland-America Cruise Lines.

Travelzoo.com North American President Shirley Tafoya named CruCon Outlet the 2014 Travelzoo Advisor of the Year Award for the sixth year in a row in a surprise announcement that even Cleary didn't see coming.

Cleary also said Moultonborough's local government has been very supportive of her and her building project since she first made her proposals.

She said for her entire 19 years, space has been the limiting factor in her company's expansion. With the new world headquarters, she said she will be able to increase staff to up to 150 people.

Heading a company with over $100-million in sales, Cleary has been recognized as one of the top five women business owners in New Hamphire

Selectman Russell Wakefield said CruCon Outlet's expansion in Moultonborough has been a wonderful addition to town. He said they've brought decent paying jobs to the town and worked very well with town officials in building the offices.

"They've done everything we asked them to do," he said.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 July 2014 01:19

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