Where to graduate? I-L considers request to move ceremony to field

MEREDITH — In what could become nearly an annual event nearly as regular as graduation itself the senior class at Inter-Lakes High School this week again petitioned the School Board to move the ceremony from Prescott Park to the gridiron at the school.

As of yesterday, the online petition had gathered 180 signatories, including about 90 percent of the class of 2016.

"Would you rather be under a tent with your feet in the mud at Prescott Park," asked Mark Billings, who chairs the School Board, "or sitting in the sunshine on the artificial turf field at the high school?"

The petitioners noted the shortcomings of the parking lot, particularly during or after a rain, and restroom facilities, which are inadequate and inconvenient, at Prescott Park . But, above all they stressed that the field, where "championships were won and individual accomplishments were achieved," holds "an abundance of great memories." Moreover, the field lies between the two schools where many graduates spent most of their young lives.

Billings said the board has two concerns about changing the venue: the risks of damaging the artificial turf and of running afoul of inclement weather. He said that the field was laid at significant expense nine years ago with expectation that it would last at least 15 years. He said that to spare the artificial turf, the cost of raising a tent is prohibitive. In the event of rain, the ceremony would have to be moved indoors, but the capacity of the gymnasium is limited. He allowed that the ceremony could be scheduled for Friday with the following Saturday or Sunday as rain dates.

"I fully understand the reasons for the students' request and the passion with which they have pursued it," Billings said. He anticipated that the board will address the request and make its decision when it meets on April 12.

Speed table to be installed on Gilford portion of Summit Ave.


GILFORD — After hearing from two of the directors of the Governor's Island Association about speeding problems, selectmen voted to put an asphalt speed table, which is a wider type of speed bump, on the flat portion on Summit Avenue on the Gilford side of the bridge.

Speaking for the association was Cary Corkin, who said speeding along Summit Avenue was and has always been a problem. He said he appreciates the amount of time the Gilford Police spend patrolling in the area but said it's just not possible to have them patrol all of the time.

"We would like to modify (the road) rather than burden the police department," said Bill Jacobson, who accompanied Corkin and lives in the first house after the bridge.

Summit Avenue begins in Laconia but the bridge is the border between the two communities. After it turns into Gilford, there is a flat area that transects Edgewater Drive, which circles the island. Summit Avenue itself goes over Governor's Island, is quite steep and narrow in many parts, and reconnects to Edgewater Drive on the northwest side of the island.

The single asphalt speed table on the flat portion of Summit Avenue is not recommended by Gilford Public Works Director Peter Nourse. He said that having a speed table just below the hill coming down Summit Avenue toward the bridge is a recipe for disaster.

He said he was absolutely against having any kind of speed bump or speed table on the portion of Summit Avenue that is on the northeast side of the island, and selectmen agreed.

Nourse also said that one thing his crews notice is that usually the same cars and the same license plates are primarily the ones speeding. He also said that speed tests done in the past show 64 percent of the people obey the 25 mph speed limit set for all of the island.

After Police Chief Anthony Bean Burpee said he does spot patrols in the area, which have the effect of slowing traffic down for a few weeks, those who are inclined to do so will likely start speeding again.

Nourse said an asphalt speed table would cost about $5,000 and that his plows should be able to plow in the area without too much damage to it or the equipment.

Bicycle Exchange looking for executive director


LACONIA — The Laconia Area Bicycle Exchange is looking for an executive director and is advertising for a person willing to take on the responsibility of running the nonprofit organization while holding out the hope that grants may be obtained in the near future to fund a stipend or salary for that position.
The exchange was the brainchild of John Rogers. Having worked with troubled youth in the past, Rogers would take bicycles that he found, fix them up and give the bikes away so they could get to school and get out for exercise.
Rogers says that as a result of his experience with the Landmark Education program, he realized that his idea could be expanded into the community, and brought his idea to Better Together's annual celebration in December of 2013.
"It received a positive response. From there, with support from Better Together, the city of Laconia, civic leaders, Piches, MC Cycle, and New Hampshire Charitable Foundation,the Laconia Area Bicycle Exchange was created and opened its doors two years ago in March."
Rogers says that in the two seasons that the exchange has been operating, 245 bicycles have been given out to those in need. There is currently over 125 bicycles in storage with about 25 ready to be refurbished. Funding through grants, donations and the sale of some high-end bicycles provides funds for rent, insurance, replacement parts, tires tubes and bike locks.
He says that the primary purpose of the exchange is to provide a means of inexpensive alternative transportation in the form of refurbished bicycles, made available to people who would benefit with greater mobility as it relates to work, family and personal living. A referral program is used by working with area human service organizations that refers people to the exchange. Personal referrals and demonstrated need also qualifies someone to receive a bicycle. Bikes locks and helmets are also offered.
The exchange is located at 343 Court St. and has space for a workshop and storage area. It is open from April to through mid October three times a week for one to two hours each day. Appointments are available during the off season for special needs for bicycles.
Since the exchange opened, Rogers said, he has put in about 20 hours a week and will be available to help train anyone interested in the executive director's position.