Best March ever for Gunstock

GILFORD — Gunstock Mountain Resort will shut down winter operations at the close of day on Sunday after what general manger Greg Goddard "another very solid season that met or exceeded our projections. and the third consecutive season sales have increased."

Goddard said that by April 1st more than 179,000 winter sport enthusiasts had enjoyed the mountain with a strong possibility of surpassing the 182,500 visitors who came a year ago during the remaining four days of the season. "We'll have top to bottom skiing with all lifts open this weekend," he promised, "and top it off with the traditional pond skim, outdoor barbeque and live entertainment."

"This was the strangest winter ever," Goddard remarked. He explained that the season started slowly then lagged through the Christmas holidays, a deep freeze in January and a sluggish school vacation week in February before taking off with the strongest March in the history of the mountain. Goddard anticipated that higher electricity and staffing costs will squeeze profitability when the books are closed later this month. Electricity costs rose two cents per kilowatt hour, he said, adding that each penny represents an increase of $50,000. On the other hand, he noted that the cost of gasoline and diesel was lower this year than last.

Goddard said that preparations for the beginning of the spring and summer season, scheduled to begin with what he called "a soft opening" in the middle of May, will get underway on Monday. He expected the campground to open around Memorial Day and the Adventure Park by the time of Motorcycle Week in June.

Laconia Bicycle Exchange marks first anniversary; youth program planned

LACONIA — The Laconia Area Bicycle Exchange marks its first year anniversary this month and is poised to offer an expanded program this summer, according to founder John P. Rogers.
He says that last month's meeting was very productive and that volunteers John Allen and Karen Vliet have offered to help in repairing bikes and helping with publicity and programs.
He says that Allen wants to help disadvantaged youth learn and enjoy riding bicycles, which will make a nice fit for plans to coordinate a bikes for youth program with Got Lunch! Laconia.
Rogers says that currently the exchange has a good inventory of youth bikes available and is looking for volunteers to help coordinate with community service agencies.
Since it was formed last April, the organization has received 101 donated bicycles and currently has an inventory of 80 in stock, according to Rogers. The exchange, originally located near the Big Banana store on Messer Street, moved to a new location during the fall at 343 Court Street and is located in part of the Eased Edges building owned by Brian Flanders.
The exchange has received a $5,000 donation from generous donors from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation which Rogers says was arranged by Peter Benson.
Rogers noted that at a recent meeting of Re-Imagine Laconia, alternative transportation like walking and biking was listed a top priority and he plans to invite Mayor Ed Engler to attend the next meeting of the exchange, which will be held Thursday, April 16 at 4 p.m. at the Laconia Middle School as part of the monthly Better Together meeting.
The purpose of the Laconia Area Bicycle Exchange (LABE) is to provide a means of inexpensive alternative transportation in the form of refurbished used bicycles, made available to people who would benefit with greater mobility as it relates to work, family and personal living. The focus of the exchange is for people who have no means to afford an automobile or who have no valid drivers license.
For more information on the program call Rogers at 603-630-7571 or contact him by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Belmont police say man arrested with heroin & meth in pocket

BELMONT — A Laconia man was arrested by Belmont Police Thursday evening and charged with felony possession of methamphetamine and felony possession of heroin.

Police affidavits obtained from the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division said James Morin, 35, of 144 Valley St. was reported to be hanging around and stumbling outside of the Penguin Express Mart on Rte. 106 around 9:53 p.m. Thursday.

When police arrived, one officer made contact with him briefly and he reported that Morin was having a hard time talking and maintaining his balance. Police said Morin dropped a number of items on the ground around him.

Morin told police he was waiting for someone to pick him up from his contractor's job but police said he continued to be unsteady on his feet and was constantly moving his arms and legs in a "sporadic manner".

The officer said he didn't smell any alcohol on Morin's breath but, based on his actions, believed he was under the influence of some kind of narcotic. Affidavits said he was sweating and had multiple scratch marks on his face, neck and arm that were consistent with narcotic substance abuse.

While the first officer was still speaking with Morin, he was told that Morin's ride had arrived. The officer went to speak to the driver and left a second officer with Morin.

The second officer performed a "Terry" search, or a search to determine whether or not he had any weapons, because he said Morin was acting evasive and that he kept putting his hands in his pockets.

While police found no weapons on him, the officer felt something hard and round in his pocket and asked Morin what is was.

Affidavits said Morin replied "Come on man" and the officer asked him again to show him what was in his pockets.

Morin complied and brought forth two bags — one he said was methamphetamine and a smaller one he said was heroin.

Police said Morin wouldn't reveal any information about how or where he got the drugs but allegedly admitted his story about working was a lie. He later said he came to Belmont to get the drugs and had used some methamphetamine about two hours before his encounter with police.

Morin also told police that he was on parole and being supervised by the Laconia Probation and Parole Office.

He was placed on a 72-hour parole violation hold and after appearing in court yesterday morning was ordered held on $5,000 cash-only bail.

Program that guides elderly through mazes said threatened by House budget cuts

LACONIA — "Food and music is what we need for our Fred. He loves music and has a wonderful voice," remarked Phyllis Mecheski, who cares for her partner, Fred Davidson, around the clock. "I keep him at home and I keep the home."

Mecheski, who worked at the Laconia Senior Center for seven years, said that despite her experience she would be challenged to cope but for help she has received through ServiceLink. For the past 15 years Service Link has provided senior citizens as well as adults with disabilities and chronic illness with the information, referrals and assistance to navigate the health care and social service systems and secure the services enabling them to remain in their homes.

But, the budget adopted last week by the New Hampshire House of Representatives has cast a shadow over the future of ServiceLink. The House stripped the $1,336,000 the state contributes to operate the program from the 2016-2017 budget, without which $1,907,000 in federal funding would be foregone, scuttling the program altogether.

Janet Hunt, executive director of ServiceLink for Belknap and Carroll counties, said that her team of seven fielded nearly 6,000 calls for assistance in 2014.

During the next 15 years the number of those older than 65 are projected to increase to more than a third of the population in Belknap County and to nearly half the population of Carroll County. Lisa Morris of the Lakes Region Partnership for Public Health, Inc., which counts ServiceLink among its partners, stressed that the program enables a significant share of the aged population to live at home, sparing the high cost of nursing home care — currently about $230 per day — primarily funded by Medicaid.

"ServiceLink is a treasure trove of information," Mecheski said. "The maze you have to go through in the health care system is very challenging. They help you reach the right person and fill out the application forms, which can be hard even for a person who is educated." At the same time, she noted that caring for an infirm adult and maintaining a household "takes so much out of you that you need help." Through ServiceLink she said she was able to secure help with care and chores, which gives her "a chance to relax and do the paperwork. I have a sense of relief when they're there," she added.

Boyuan Fang, who retired after working as a custodian at LRGHealthcare, confessed he struggled with English as a second language. "I'm Chinese," he said, "but with ServiceLink it I can talk to them in person. They are helpful and so patient," he laughed. "they don't want me to do anything. They do everything for me." He said that when his wife, Chongjie Guo, required medical care and he was billed $200,000, the staff at ServiceLink spared the couple financial ruin.

When Gerald Kinight's wife was stricken with Crohn's disease and required round-the-clock care, he said that he was unaware of ServiceLink. "I was overwhelmed, at my wit's end," he recalled. Then he contacted the New Hampshire Family Caregivers Program that funded three hours of respite care each week. "It was truly a godsend for me," he said. "I had time to do the grocery shopping and pay the bills."

Ken Young, who encountered ServiceLink when he and wife became overwhelmed caring for her mother, and Bob Franks both volunteered for the Meals on Wheels program in the Lakes Region. They said that in the course of delivering meals to senior citizens living at home, often by themselves, they frequently came across people in need of assistance. "ServiceLink is the solution," Young said.

Franks admitted that while the younger generation can tackle its problems through the Internet, "we want to talk to somebody and the only people you can talk to is ServiceLink. Take all the problems everywhere I went with Meals on Wheels, people in dire need of help," he continued. "Call ServiceLink! How can you beat that? It didn't cost them a dime." He said that the program speaks directly to the issues and facing individuals. "It's the answer to the problems of seniors," he remarked.

Morris explained that ServiceLink emerged from a series of conversations throughout the state about the challenges facing older adults, at which the vast majority highlighted the difficulty of navigating the health care and social service systems. At the same time, there was mounting concern at the high cost of long-term care and growing preference for supporting the elderly in the least restrictive and expensive environment — their homes.ServiceLink was established as a kind of brokerage to enable seniors to draw on the services they required to maintain optimal Independence.

With number of seniors rising more rapidly now than 15 years ago, Morris said that ServiceLink is more necessary today than it was then.