State champs on the ski jump - Bobcats take team, individual awards in Plymouth

A skier goes down the inrun of the 28 meter jump during Plymouth High School’s ski jump meet on Friday evening.  (Karen Bobotas/for the Laconia Daily Sun)  Competitors take to the air off the 28 meter jump during the first jumping meet held Friday evening at Plymouth High School following the jump’s renovations.  (Karen Bobotas/for the Laconia Daily Sun)

PLYMOUTH — Plymouth Region High School's ski jump, newly rebuilt thanks to a robust community effort, was the site for the state championship ski jump meet on Friday evening. The local team flew the furthest, with the Bobcats winning the team title, as well as the top individual finishes for female jumpers.

"It was fantastic," Jim Carey, Plymouth athletic director, said about the environment on Friday evening. He estimated that there were about 200 people in attendance to watch the event. "It was a great evening."

The Plymouth team took the state title. There aren't enough female competitors across the state to offer a girls' team title, but both of the top two individual female jumpers were Bobcats, said Carey, with freshman Rebecca Caron finishing in first place, followed by Holly Mason, also a freshman.

Full event results were not immediately available.

Plymouth's ski jump was deemed unsafe last year, leaving many in the Plymouth skiing community concerned that the program would fade away. A campaign was quickly started to rebuild the jump, using private donations and volunteer labor. Interest flowed over into the student-athlete world, also, with the roster of the jump team swelling to 23 members.

New Hampshire is the only state in the country to have ski jumping as a high school sport.

— Adam Drapcho

A skier goes down the inrun of the 28 meter jump during Plymouth High School’s ski jump meet on Friday evening.  (Karen Bobotas/for the Laconia Daily Sun)  Competitors take to the air off the 28 meter jump during the first jumping meet held Friday evening at Plymouth High School following the jump’s renovations.  (Karen Bobotas/for the Laconia Daily Sun)

A skier goes down the inrun of the 28 meter jump during Plymouth High School’s ski jump meet on Friday evening.

At top, competitors take to the air off the 28 meter jump during the first jumping meet held Friday evening at Plymouth High School following the jump’s renovations.  (Karen Bobotas/for the Laconia Daily Sun)

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Gilford could cut trash disposal costs with proposed new transfer station

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

GILFORD — The recycling center on Kimball Road could become a full-fledged solid waste transfer station, with the first step being approval of a request for $45,000 to pay for the design, permits and cost estimate next month, saving waste disposal costs.

The town's Solid Waste Committee is recommending the the passage of that warrant article.

The request comes in the wake of the findings of the four-person committee that realized single-stream recycling is costing the town $150 per load to remove, or $60 more than household or solid waste does.

"We're ultimately trying to reduce the cost of waste disposal to the taxpayers," said Selectman Richard "Rags" Grenier, who sat on the committee.

In the short term, the report addresses mainly the recycling center, which is the only facility Gilford has.

The town partners with Laconia for solid waste, and Gilford residents either pay a private hauler or take their garbage to the Meredith Center Road in Laconia for disposal.

The town of Gilford owes the city of Laconia about $66,000, which is its cost of the upgrades done some years ago to the Laconia facility. The town pays the city by allocating its portion of revenues paid by residents either directly to the city or through the haulers and Gilford anticipates the debt will be paid in full by July 1, 2018.

Gilford pays $50 per ton to Laconia for solid waste disposal, said the final committee report, but the actual cost is $90 per ton, meaning the town offsets about 50 percent of its garbage disposal costs with taxes. In addition, the town has no way of knowing if all the trash brought to Laconia is really from Gilford residents.

Right now, the tipping fee for the trash that flows through Laconia is $68 a ton, which is considered stable and below market rates.

Gilford spent about $164,828 operating its recycling center in 2004 and collected $13,742 in fees for acceptance and sales of recycled products. The town also accepts mixed trash and recyclables for island properties at no cost to the residents but it costs the town about $4,500 annually.

In the short term, said Grenier, the goal is to make the recycling facility at Gilford more efficient. He said residents are now separating their cardboard from the rest of their recyclables and the town is looking at grants for a baling machine at approximately $15,000, a glass crusher for about $11,000, and temporary storage bins for about $3,000.

Rags also said the town people are taking good advantage of the free compost and beginning next year will be able to purchase screened compost from the recycling center.

He said they also brought in a crusher for all of the old pavement and were able to generate 110,000 tons of material the town Department of Public Works can use for certain road projects.

In the long run, town officials hope the study will provide the answers they seek as to whether it will continue in its relationship with Laconia and the Concord Regional Solid Waste Resource Recovery Cooperative, which has a contract with Waste Management through November 2019.

The study mentions that the site where the recycling facility is now is big enough for a transfer station but said the "town may also wish to consider asking the voters if they want to construct their own facility as a means of gaining a sense of independence with regards to trash disposal."

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Rabbit for dinner - Steve and Kay Doyon breed animals for local restaurants at Song Away Farm

Steve and Kay Doyon with "Koko," a fine example of the Californian breed, one of more than 40 breeding does in their rabbitry at Song Away Farm in Loudon. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Michael Kitch)

Steve and Kay Doyon with "Koko," a fine example of the Californian breed, one of more than 40 breeding does in their rabbitry at Song Away Farm in Loudon. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Michael Kitch)

By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LOUDON — "Education is our marketing campaign," said Steve Doyon, an engineer with the Dam Bureau at the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, who with his wife Kay, a nurse, has been raising rabbits for restaurant tables and family kitchens at Song Away Farm for the past five years.

Kay said that despite culinary and nutritional qualities of rabbit, it has been slow to gain popularity in New England. She explained that rabbit, while very high in easily digestible protein, is low in both fat and cholesterol and rich in minerals and low in calories compared to other meats. In southern states, she said, rabbit is commonly served in hospitals, especially to patients with digestive disorders.

In 2014, New Hampshire enacted a statute allowing certified farms to sell as many as 1,000 rabbits to restaurants without undergoing inspection by either the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food or the United States Department of Agriculture. Today Steve said that by catering to a number of restaurants, "We are selling what we produce."

The Doyons began farming in 2002, when the news was rife with reports of tainted foodstuffs. They began with chickens, then added turkeys and pigs.

"The tom turkeys bark like a dog," Kay said, "and if we could hear them, our neighbors could hear them. And the pigs were a lot of work."

"We were dabbling," said Steve, "and about five years ago we focused on rabbits."

Most of their stock are Californians, snowy white with black ears, noses and feet, which share space with some New Zealands and Americans, both white rabbits. The rabbitry, a dedicated space in the barn always filled with music and kept above 40 degrees, is lined with spacious cages, some with boxes filled with straw where breeding does give birth and rear their kits, others holding a lone breeding buck or doe and still others alive with growing rabbits.

"We buy only from certain breeders and may quarantine new rabbits. We're very selective," she said, stressing that their goal is to improve the breed as well as produce meat by working with "show quality" stock. The ideal rabbit, Steve explained, has the shape of a toaster — square with rounded corners — with weight in the haunches and along the back. "Every rabbit has a name," she said, their health and breeding schedule closely monitored and recorded.

Steve said that does are bred between 6 and 10 or even 14 weeks between litters, depending on their condition.

"We don't work them too hard," he said, adding that breeding does are retired after about three years, again depending on their condition and size of their litters. He calculated that they breed four times a year and average litters of seven kits, the 45 breeding does produce more than 1,250 rabbits.

The rabbits are fed a varied diet, high in protein and fiber, of organic alfalfa pellets, oats, barley, hay and sunflower, along with homegrown organic wheat fodder in winter and fresh garden greens in spring and summer. They are raised without antibiotics or hormones and packaged without preservatives or additives.

The Doyons raise "fryers," rabbits that reach four-and-a-half to six pounds in weight within 9 to 11 weeks, which represents between two-and-a-half and three-and-a-half pounds of meat. fetching about $7 per pound. Fryers, Kay explained, are the most tender and versatile rabbits, suited to the widest variety of recipe. Steve said that, with their breeding regimen, each doe produces between 60 and 70 pounds of meat in a year, a fraction of the output of large commercial operations where does are bred every four or five weeks. He added that rabbits, common prey in their natural environment, are sensitive animals prone to stress and do not fare well under factory farming conditions.

Rabbit from Song Away Farm is served at a number of restaurants, including Tek-Nique in Bedford, the Granite Restaurant at the Centennial Inn in Concord and Moxy and the Black Trumpet , both in Portsmouth.

Evan Mallet, the chef and owner of the Black Trumpet, guessed that a half-dozen restaurants in Portsmouth serve rabbit from time to time. He recalled that dining on rabbit in 1998 "got me back in the kitchen after years as a food writer." But, when China became the sole source of rabbits, the quality was so poor that he struck it from the menu.

"The Doyons," he said, "were the key to the success of getting rabbit back on our menu. Their rabbits are the most favorful and consistent," he said. "Just sensational."

Currently he is serving rabbit paella, featuring meatballs, snails, peppers, leeks and mushrooms.

"The meatballs are to die for," Doyon remarked.

Kay said that rabbit, like chicken, to which it is often likened, takes on the flavors of the seasonings and spices it is prepared with and can be substituted for chicken in a variety of recipes.

 


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