Pub Mania sets sights on topping million-dollar mark

GILFORD — Pub Mania kicked off its seventh year Thursday morning with an opening ceremony at Patrick's Pub & Eatery, at which Allan Beetle, Patrick's co-owner, set a goal of raising at least $210,596 at this year's event.
Beetle said that raising that much this year will put Pub Mania over the million-dollar mark, as it has raised $797,000 for support the annual Children's Auction since it first was started.
"We started out in 2009 with 26 teams and a goal of raising $25,000 and ended up raising $47,000. Last yea,r we had 30 teams and raised $235,596," said Beetle, who pointed out that that Pub Mania was inspired by the Laconia Athletic & Swim Club's long-running "Cycle Mania" fundraiser.
He noted that even though the Athletic & Swim Club closed at least temporarily recently, its team is still taking part in this year's Pub Mania and that he and others are hopeful the club will reopen soon under the leadership of Tom and Laurie Oakley.
During Pub Mania, Patrick's reserves bar stools for teams that commit to filling the stool with a different team member each hour of the event. With 30 teams and 24 people per team, the event has 720 "Culinary Athletes" participating.
Judy Taggart, who heads up the Tagg Team, said she and her husband, Butch, have participated in all seven of the Pub Mania events and is looking forward to this year's event being the best ever.
"This is the party of the year, and everyone wants to be here,'' said Taggart.
Beetle thanked all of the team captains and offered a toast to their success, noting that 99.5 percent of the work of raising funds had already been accomplished at events the teams have held, ranging from golf tournaments and road races to cribbage tournaments and comedy shows.
"This is a celebration today," said Beetle.
Laconia Mayor Ed Engler praised the success of Pub Mania and its contribution towards the Children's Auction.

"We all know what the need is. But the sad thing is that the need keeps getting bigger," he said, urging people to take a look at the big picture. "What we need to do is make the need less by ramping up the level of overall economic activity in this area."
Mike Seymour, chairman of the board of trustees of the Greater Lakes Region Charitable Fund for Children, a nonprofit corporation which earlier this year took over ownership of the auction., noted that of the $2 million raised by the auction in the last five years, 40 percent has come from Pub Mania.
He said that Pub Mania T-shirts created and donated by Body Covers Screen Printing of Laconia will be a hot item this year and noted that, in addition to supplying the venue, Patrick's will also donate 20 percent of its gross sales for the day.
Pub Mania will end at 9 a.m. Friday. The auction is being telecast by Lakes Region Public Access Television on TV Channel 25 Metrocast. It is also being carried by Metrocast Channel 12 and broadcast live on FM stations 104.9 The Hawk and WZEI 101.5, the auction's new radio partners. It runs through Saturday Dec. 12; from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. Friday and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday.
Last year, the auction raised $486,575 to be distributed to local not-for-profit agencies, the second highest total ever recorded.
In 2013, the event raised $510,801 with a major contribution of $90,000 coming from the Lakes Region Home Builders and Remodelers Association through a home the organization built to raise funds for the auction.

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Gunstock neighbors want zoning change

GILFORD – Fifty-two Gilford residents have petitioned for a zoning article that would change the zone designation of Gunstock Inn and Resort from limited residential to resort commercial.

Owners Leslie and Linda Schuster feel that if the inn were in a resort commercial zone it would be much more conducive to the hotel, restaurant and fitness center that has operated in the same spot for years.

"It has been a commercial business since long before we owned it," said Les Schuster, who added that he thinks one of the reasons his predecessor failed was because it was improperly zoned as limited residential.

He said recently he needed to get a commercial sign approval, but learned he had to go before the Zoning Board of Adjustments to get it. While he was approved, he said every commercial endeavor he tries to make must go before the ZBA simply because of how the property is zoned.

He said, for example, he mentioned outdoor weddings after learning that previous owners had been historically hosting them.

"If I was in a resort commercial zone, I wouldn't need to go to the ZBA for permission for every little thing," he said.

Schuster noted that there are two other commercial properties within a stones throw of the Gunstock Inn – namely Gunstock Mountain Resort and the former Alberg Inn property.

Because there are a few residential properties between the inn and the former Alberg property directly across from the Gunstock Mountain, Schuster said that if the ordinance passed on the 2016 town warrant, he would leave it to the land use boards to decide it that small area should also be changed from limited residential to resort commercial zoning.

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Council to consider city garage’s future

LACONIA — The City Council will address the future of the downtown parking garage when it meets on Monday, Dec.14, beginning at 7 p.m.

In September, the parking garage was closed when an inspection found that the structural steel supporting the ramps were weakened by corrosion from exposure to water and salt. Emergency repairs were made to open the garage to the second level, but the third level has remained closed.

Dubois & King, Inc. completed an assessment of the condition of the parking garage last month and estimates the cost of repairs required to ensure long-term use of the facility at $1.2 million. Alternatively, emergency repairs similar to those undertaken in October could be made to reopen the third deck at a cost $120,000, but the ramps would require inspection and re-evaluation every six months.

The issue has taken on a measure of complexity and urgency because Genesis Behavioral Health has an option, which expires at the end of this year, to purchase the privately owned portion of the facility. Maggie Pritchard, executive director of Genesis, said yesterday that should the council fail to ensure the long-term integrity of the structure in a timely manner, the transaction could be jeopardized.

Ownership of the garage is shared between the city and Downtown Crossing, LLC, whose principle is Daniel Disangro of Rosindale, Massachusetts. The publicly owned portion of the garage includes the ramps and north end of the second and third levels, including the northernmost stairwell. Downtown Crossing LLC owns the ground floor of the garage, except for the ramps, and the south end of the second and third levels, including the southernmost stairwell. In other words, the city is responsible for maintaining most of the garage, particularly the ramps to access the privately owned spaces on the second and third levels.

In addition, Downtown Crossing LLC also owns the commercial spaces on the ground floor housing the Grace Capital Church, Soda Shoppe, Tangerine Green, Wedbush Securities and, Moods of Manhattan as well as two vacant units.

Genesis is seeking to acquire the property owned by Downtown Crossing LLC and convert the portion occupied by the Grace Capital Church together with some of the smaller units to house its administrative and clinical services. The project would be financed by a bond $5.5 million bond issued by the New Hampshire Health and Educational Facilities Authority. Pritchard said that the agency will seek to raise $1.5 million through a capital campaign as well as sell its properties at 111 Church St. and 771 Main St., which have assessed values of $959,000 and $625,200 respectively, and apply the proceeds against the debt.

City Manager Scott Myers said yesterday there are other aspects to the issue for the council to consider, most obvious among them the impact of losing some 220 parking spaces — about 180 owned by the city – in the center of downtown. He said that prospect of reopening the Colonial Theatre has increased interest in downtown properties, which will increase the demand for parking.

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