Children's Auction looking for more donated items (396 w/Alan's pix)

LACONIA — The tables in the auction items room at the Opechee Conference Center, site of the 33rd annual Children's Auction, resembled Old Mother Hubbard's cupboard by late afternoon on the first day of the auction.
The tables were close to bare, which isn't all that uncommon on the first day of the auction according to Sandy Marshall, one of the directors of the Greater Lakes Region Charitable Fund for Children, a nonprofit corporation which earlier this year took over the auction.
"It's always slow to start with. A lot of people like to drop by with their donations and get into the spirit of the season. It's fun to be a part of it and they like to drop in and see what's going on." said Marshall.
"There's a big need for auction items," said Marshall, who encouraged donors to stop by with their items or to call 293-4700 to let auction officials know what they'll be donating.
Warren Bailey, a familiar voice and face at the auction, who started the ball rolling for the very first children's auction on radio station WLNH over three decades ago, was one of those taking part in the opening day, which was telecast by Lakes Region Public Access Television on TV Channel 25 Metrocast. It is also being carried by Channel 12 Metrocast and broadcast live on FM stations, 104.9 The Hawk and WZEI 101.5, the auction's new radio partners..
Bailey said that he is glad to see the auction now being run by a community organization. "That was my dream since year one. It's amazing to think that it's raised over $4 million over the years."
He said that in recent years the auction has has become something of a year-round phenomena, thanks to the tremendous outpouring of support for Pubmania, which was launched by Patrick's Pub several years ago and involves over 700 people on 30 different teams who run fundraising events throughout the year for their team.
"It's made the auction a rallying point for he community and has taken it to a whole new level," said Bailey.
Some 61 charities have applied for support from the auction with requests totaling $580,000.
Last year the auction raised $486,575, with nearly half of that coming from Pubmania.
The auction runs through Saturday Dec. 12; from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. on weekdays, and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday. For more information, visit the auction's website at www.childrensauction.com.

Parking problem - Necessary downtown garage repairs pose a challenge

LACONIA — After completing its assessment of the condition of the downtown parking garage, Dubois & King, Inc. has estimated the cost of repairs required to ensure long-term use of the facility at $1.2 million.

In October the parking garage was closed when initial inspections 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.

City Manager Scott Myers said yesterday discussions currently underway about what represents "long-term use" measured in number of years and what annual maintenance costs would be incurred to optimize the life of the facility.

Furthermore, renovation of the garage will be complicated by the curious ownership of the facility, which is itself in flux. Ownership of the garage is shared between the city and a private party, 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 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 addition, Downtown Crossing also owns the commercial space on the ground floor housing Grace Capital Church, the Soda Shoppe and several small businesses. The second level deck of the garage, two-thirds of which is owned by the city, serves as the roof for the privately owned commercial space on the ground level.

Downtown Crossing is negotiating the sale of its commercial space, which will include its share of the garage, to Genesis Behavioral Health. Dubois & King, Inc. prepared an assessment of the privately owned portion of the garage for Genesis, which has not yet been made available to The Laconia Daily Sun.

Myers said that to restore the structural integrity of the entire complex, any repairs would have to be undertaken in coordination with the city and the private owner.

The garage was built in 1974 and provides some 220 parking spaces, about 180 of which are owned by the city. Dubois & King Inc. noted it is unique in two respects. First, parking garages with exposed steel framing and decking are rare in the Northeast, where repeated salting and sanding of roads hastens corrosion, which causes them to weaken and fail. Second, the commercial space on the ground level has no roofing system separate from the parking deck above, which has leaked over most of the life of the garage, requiring continual maintenance by the Department of Public Works.

Dubois & King found the structure of the ramps in poor to very poor condition, describing the ramps as "highly susceptible to failure or collapse." The emergency repairs made in October, the report noted, represent a "temporary solution and should be inspected an re-evaluated in 6 months." Since drainage throughout much of the second and third levels of the garage is poor, the consequent leakage corrodes and weakens the steel deck forms along with supporting beams and columns. Finally, the report noted that the decking and framing above the commercial spaces cannot be completed until fireproofing material is removed.

The major recommended permanent repairs include replacing or strengthening the decks and repairing the steel on the ramps, repairing steel beams and columns, replacing pavement and removing and reapplying paint to exposed steel.

Lawmaker to limit bare breast freedom

CONCORD — After asserting their right to bare their breasts on the beach this summer, the champions of Free the Nipple will find themselves defending that freedom in the State House this winter.
Rep. Brian Gallagher (R-Sanbornton) has filed legislation (House Bill 1525) that would make it a misdemeanor for a woman to purposely expose "the areola or nipple of her breast or breasts in a public place and in the presence of another person with reckless disregard for whether a reasonable person would be offended or alarmed by such act." His bill, which would amend RSA 645:1, "Public Indecency; Indecent Exposure and Lewdness," would not apply to the act of breast feeding.
Gallagher said yesterday that he was approached by constituents who were troubled by the thought of topless women at local beaches. Some women appeared topless at Hampton Beach last summer, and others indicated they would come to Weirs Beach. There was also an incident at the Gilford Town Beach at that time, where Heidi Lilley of the Free the Nipple campaign was arrested after a mother complained to police. Gallagher said that, after reviewing laws in other states, he found that the language in Arizona's laws would be best suited to New Hampshire.
Gallagher stressed that he has no intention of restricting or punishing private behavior in private settings. However, he insisted that in public places the conduct of individuals must be reconciled with the rights of others to share those same spaces without being offended or troubled. He said parents find it difficult to explain adult nudity to their children and are "entitled not to have an evolving standard imposed on them. If this kind of behavior is minimized," he asked, "what prevents it from taking place at a Little League game in June or a University of New Hampshire football game in September?"
Since cities and towns in New Hampshire have only the authority expressly granted to them by the state, Gallagher acknowledged that the beach regulation applied to Lilley in Gilford and the Laconia ordinance (Chapter 180) prohibiting women from exposing their breasts may not be enforceable without a state statute like he has proposed.
Meanwhile, Lilley, who will stand trial in Fourth Circuit Court, Laconia Division on Dec. 28, said yesterday she will testify against the bill, which she described as "unconstitutional." Free the Nipple contends that laws and ordinances that forbid women from displaying their breasts in public, but allow men to do so, violate the constitutional right of women to equal protection under the law by criminalizing the very state of being female. She explained that such prohibitions are based on the mistaken notion that the female breast is a sex organ, the display of which is indecent or lewd. Instead, she insisted "the woman's breast was created to feed a baby, not to be a sex organ."
Representatives George Hurt of Gilford and Peter Spanos of Laconia have co-sponsored Gallagher's bill.

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