Grand Prize contest nears end, prize is not on private property

LACONIA — The Laconia Daily Sun's first Grand Prize contest will end soon, when one intrepid investigator follows the clues to a certificate redeemable for $1,000. The 18th clue will be released today, and will be found on posters in several stores in the region.

Clue posters can be found in Hannaford stores in Meredith, Plymouth, Bristol, Gilford and Concord; in Wine'ing Butcher shops in Gilford and Meredith; at Sanborn's Auto Repair in Laconia; and at the Gilford Mobil Mart.

The 18th clue will conclude the nine-week run of clues, which were printed in the newspaper on Tuesdays and posted in the above stores on Wednesdays. By press time on Tuesday night, no one had come forward with the certificate. If there's no winner by Monday, Mark Brady, who has crafted each of the four-line, rhyming clues, will release an additional clue for next week.

While it's up to prize-seekers to deduce the prize's hiding spot from Brady's clues, he stated yesterday that the prize won't be hidden near a home, nor will it be on land that is clearly private property.

"It's on property that is clearly accessible to the public," he said.

This will be Brady's 36th year running his Grand Prize contest, which has appeared in newspapers throughout New England. Brady conceived the contest for a group of radio stations he was operating in the Middlebury, Vermont, area, and has adapted the game for print media.

Over the years, he has operated the contest in many different markets.

When the winner has been announced, Brady will reveal the meaning hidden behind each of his clues.

"It's great fun. No matter where I go, the contests are customized for you area's geographic and historic points. It's a lot of fun to put it together."

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Suspect arrested in Cottage Street kidnapping, meth bust made


LACONIA — Police have arrested one man suspected of the reported kidnapping that occurred in the vicinity of 40 Cottage St. late last Sunday night, and arrested another man on drug charges after seizing a "significant amount" of methamphetamine, heroin and pills in relation to the kidnapping case.

10-25 lemmondJames Lemmond, 32, whose last known address is Monroe Street in Concord, was arrested by Concord Police at his place of work on Tuesday morning on charges of kidnapping and armed robbery. He refused bail and is being held in Belknap County Jail pending his arraignment in Belknap County Superior Court this afternoon.

Capt. Matt Canfield of the Laconia Police said that Lemmond was identified as the suspect on the strength of information provided by the victim of the alleged kidnapping, who was only found after much searching late Monday afternoon at the Landmark Inn. She had not been harmed.

The arrest followed an intensive investigation that began with a report that a man had dragged a screaming woman into a black GMC Terrain by her hair in the vicinity of 40 Cottage St. around 11:30 p.m. on Sunday. The witness who reported the incident told police he attempted to follow the vehicle and recorded its plate number. He said that he heard a shot fired as the Terrain reached Baldwin Street. The vehicle was later found abandoned in Concord.

Canfield said the woman told police that after being forced into the Terrain, Lemmond took a small amount of cash from her purse and her cell phone and, while holding a gun to her head, drove to Academy Street, where she was able to escape from the vehicle and flee.

Canfield said that when the incident occurred on Sunday, there was what he called a "disturbance" at 40 Cottage St., which police believed was related to the reported kidnapping. But, he said that after speaking with a number of individuals on Monday, officers found their statement so inconsistent that they began to question everything that happened, including the reported kidnapping. However, once the victim was located, a suspect was identified and a warrant was issued, leading to the arrest of Lemmond on Tuesday morning.

10-25 Brian NorrisBrian Norris, 31, a transient with the last known address of 477 White Oaks Road, Barnstead, was arrested Monday afternoon at the Landmark in, suspected of trafficking in drugs. He is being held in Belknap County Jail in lieu of $50,000 cash bail following his arraignment on charges of possession of a narcotic drug with intent to distribute (methamphetamine), possession of a narcotic drug (heroin) and two counts of possession of a controlled drug (buprenorphine and clonazapram)in Belknap County Superior Court on Tuesday.

Capt. Matt Canfield said that officers found Norris while searching the hotel for the victim of the alleged kidnapping on Cottage Street on Sunday night.

Police estimated the street value of the drugs in Norris's possession, which included 42 grams of methamphetamine, at $9,000.

Police urge anyone with information bearing on this case to contact the Laconia Police Department at 524-5252 or the Laconia Crimeline at 527-1717.

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Organizers propose two-day Pumpkin Festival


LACONIA — Organizers of the New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival found out on Saturday what would happen if there was rain during festival day. The weather – cool, sometimes windy, and downright torrential for one period – resulted in lower turnout than the first year that it was held in Laconia, but it was still a day that attracted thousands of people to downtown, and resulted in a banner day for many downtown businesses.

In fact, the outcome despite the rain was so positive that Karmen Gifford, president of the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, is considering expanding the festival to include two days next year.

She said the festival drew an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 people, and that the total number of pumpkins numbered less than 6,000 – far fewer than the 30,562 needed to set a Guinness World Record. Considering that the weather was nearly as bad as could be imagined, Gifford was encouraged by this year's festival, which was the second year that the event was held in Laconia, and the first year that it was organized by the Chamber of Commerce.

While there was a period of soaking rain, Gifford said festival-goers seemed to find shelter during the downpour.

"Our downtown has a great vibrancy," she said, describing how people seemed to "disappear" during the rain, only to reappear when it ceased. "People went inside, they hunkered down, and they came back with pumpkins. The rain didn't stop people."

The haunted house inside the Belknap Mill – "Mayhem at the Mill" – was again a popular event, as was the scenic train ride, and Gifford received positive feedback about new additions to the festival, such as the two beer tents and the nearby live entertainment.

While parking was temporarily banned on many city streets for last year's festival, the city's police decided not to do so this year, and the vast majority of festival attendees elected to find a parking spot in one of the neighborhoods near downtown instead of paying to use a remote lot and shuttle service.

Looking forward to next year, Gifford wants to add more activities, especially amusement rides, and more opportunities for interactive experiences at the festival. Lengthening the festival to two days, she thinks, would make a trip to Laconia more attractive to vendors and others who would offer such experiences. And, it will give local businesses another day to capitalize on the crowds that come for the festival.

At Wayfarer Coffee Roasters, worker Kelly Carter said the coffee shop was "very busy – busy throughout the day" during the New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival. She liked the idea of expanding the event to two days.

"I don't see why not," she said. "I think it's great for all the local businesses, a good boost to the economy. I think it would be a great idea."

Asia Bixby worked at Burrito Me during the festival, and she also reported a busy day, both for the eatery and for the several other businesses that set up tents in the burrito shop's parking lot. However, she isn't in support of lengthening the event.

"I like that it's just the one day. I think it might get crazy if it goes to two days. As long as the rain holds off, I think it's good as one day," she said, adding that she thinks the festival organizers are doing a "good job" with the event.

Charlie St. Clair, owner of the Laconia Antique Center, said his shop had its best sales day of the year, and that the day prior and after the festival, Friday and Saturday, were also above average for this time of year. Even so, he did not support an expansion to two days.

"I think one day works fine. I don't know how the logistics would work," he said, adding that he is concerned about leaving thousands of jack-o'-lanterns on the city streets overnight. "The thing with pumpkins is ... things can happen."

Laconia Mayor Ed Engler is willing to consider the proposal but has concerns about how the expansion would work. The city does close Lakeside Avenue during Motorcycle Week, he noted, but that road closure doesn't affect people outside of Weirs Beach. Main Street, on the other hand, is a major thoroughfare through the city, as well as a state highway.

"I think the biggest issue would be the closure of streets," said Engler. "That would have to be vetted."

Gifford will be meeting with the chamber's board of directors soon to pick a date for 2017 and to discuss spreading the festival over two days.

"By the end of this week, we'll have an announcement of a date, and I'll know what to request from the city," she said.


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