A+ A A-

Veteran Christmas Village trio wondering who will take their place

LACONIA — "There's somebody out there who wants to do it," said Ernie Bolduc, who with his brother Armand and their friend Bob Hamel have been the mainstays of Christmas Village since the annual festival began 38 years ago. "But, finding them, I just don't know." Ernie is 80, Armand is 74 and Hamel, the baby of the bunch is 62.

"We're not getting any younger," Armand said.

In 1975, Dick Tappley, director of Parks and Recreation, inspired by the example set by his father in Bristol, overcame resistance from the City Council to inaugurate the Christmas Village. Ernie said that the village started small, but grew quickly to fill the Community Center. Black plastic covered the walls while snowflakes, strung from strands of fishing line, fell from the girders, offering the illusion of a snowy, moonlit Christmas Eve. The village began as five eight-foot by eight-foot buildings, including a castle, barn, toy shop, post office and train deport. Local merchants, along with the Police and Fire Departments, operated stalls. A creche featured a burro and sheep from the Bolduc farm, along with a live Christ child, whose conception, Ernie quipped, was timed to suit the Christmas season.

Gradually the merchants disappeared and fire regulations stiffened, which changed the shape and face of the village without diminishing its charm to young and old. "It's for all ages, not just kids," said Ernie, who estimates that between 4,500 and 5,000 people pass through the village during its four day run each year.

While for the Bolducs and Hamel the village has been a labor of love, its construction and operation also represent a significant investment of time and money. Ernie estimated that 6,000 man hours are required to set it up and take it down. They credited Fred McVey, who this year enlisted hockey players from Laconia and Gilford to haul the sets from storage, with assisting with the assembly as well as arranging the train displays.

What Armand called "the holding area," the ground floor where children gather to await their turn through the village upstairs, was painted and decorated by Sharon Cavanaugh. She also has provided face painting, games, crafts, movies and even "Santa's Jail" to entertain the children under the watchful eyes of some of the 60 or 70 elves working in the village under the supervision of Kathy McClellan. In the village itself Dave and Sylvia Detscher host "Santa's Sidewalk Cafe," featuring gallons of pink lemonade and 600 dozen cookies, brewed and baked at the direction of Patty Desrosiers.

"It's not just the construction and the set up," said Ernie. "It's the operation. It wouldn't work without these volunteers."

"It costs a good $8,000 a year," Hamel said. "$5,000 for toys alone." Ernie said that the village has enjoyed the generosity of a number of anonymous donors as well as contributions from the WLNH Children's Auction. Many of the decorations have been donated or salvaged over the years.

"We've sold Christmas trees, ornaments, candy bars and all kinds of stuff and we've reached into our own pockets more than once," noted Hamel. "And we still do," Ernie added. "It's a lot of work," he continued. "We'll have our first meeting in January and there isn't a week during the year I won't do something for Christmas Village."

"It's a lot work," Hamel agreed. "But, it's all worth when you see those kids come through the curtain and their faces light up. It brings tears to your eyes." He said that every child leaves laden with an ornament, turned from wood that Ernie rescued from the Allen-Rogers factory, a gift, personal letter from Santa, bearing the postmark "Christmas Village, Laconia N.H. 03246-1/2 . "The only thing they pay for is a color photograph with Santa for $3," he said.

"We're concerned," said Erniue. "There are no successors in the wings. The volunteers and donors are aging and dwindling. My wife told me 'you'll do it as long as you're alive,'" he continued. "And it doesn't enter my mind not to do it. But, I'm getting concerned."

The Christmas Village will be open to the public Thursday, December 5 and Friday December 6 from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. and on Saturday, December 7 and Sunday December 8 from 2 p.m. until 5 p.m. The village will be open to senior citizen on Saturday between 10 a.m. and noon and to those with disabilities on Sunday between 10 a.m. and noon.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 December 2013 05:08

Hits: 459

Meredith Selectboard welcome private effort to light I-L field

MEREDITH — At a workshop yesterday the Board of Selectmen welcomed the initiative by Chris Kelly, a local resident and realtor, to mount a fundraising campaign aimed at completing a second phase of the athletic complex at Inter-Lakes High School.

Kelly, who presented the proposal to the Inter-Lakes School Board in October and subsequently met with the selectboards in Center Harbor and Sandwich, said that when the artificial turf field was laid in 2006 it was anticipated that lighting, a grandstand, concession booth and restrooms would be added. Since the complex is configured as a natural amphitheater, a grandstand is unnecessary, but Kelly suggested that something akin to a press box would be thrown into the mix. He said that the conduit required to light the field was installed when it was constructed.

Estimating the cost of the project at between $500,000 and $600,000, Kelly stressed that "my goal would be to see this as a privately funded project." He expected that the School District would bear the operating and maintenance costs of the facility.

Kelly said that he intended to assemble a committee to explore the prospects of raising the funds needed to pursue the project.

Kelly told the selectmen that the proposal "met with great favorability" from the school board and was well received by the selectmen in Sandwich and Center Harbor. Selectman Lou Kahn reminded Kelly that students from Moultonborough participated in athletic programs, including football, at Inter-Lakes High School and suggested approaching that town as well.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 December 2013 01:41

Hits: 145

Court documents shed light on case against Belmont man accused of killing his mother & brother

BELMONT — Police affidavits supporting the search and arrest warrants for the former home, personal property, and person of accused double murderer Shawn Carter indicate that during his initial interview with police he told them he was someone else.

During Carter's initial interview with two N.H. State Troopers held at the Belmont Police Department, Carter initially waived his Miranda rights and told police he was Alex Morley but he didn't know the date of his birth.

Carter told police he was also known as Shawn Carter and gave them a birth date of November 3, 1981.

When asked, affidavits said he told police that he had last visited his mother on Thursday, May 23, 2013 and she had let him borrow her car that evening.

Priscilla Carter, 59, and her son Timothy Carter, 39, were found chopped to death around 11 a.m. on May 24 in a first-floor bedroom at the 20 Sunset Drive home the three shared. The Asst. N.H. Medical Examiner estimated their times of death at between 10 p.m. and midnight on May 23.

The coroner determined each died of multiple chopping wounds consistent with those that could have been delivered with an ex or a hatchet. Priscilla Carter also had a single stab wound that was consistent with a knife.

Carter was spotted on May 24 driving his mother's car on Route 3 by Tilton Police who, along with Belmont and State Police arrested him. He was initially charged with driving without a license — second offense.

Taken to the Belmont Police Station, Carter asked them why he was there and they told him his mother and brother had been killed.

"Carter did not respond when told that information," read the affidavit. It went on to say that Carter told police he hadn't slept in six months and had no recollection of anything except being stopped by police.

He said he was returning his mother's car when he was stopped by police.

At that point, read the affidavit, Carter said he wanted a lawyer and the interview stopped.

During their interviews of neighbors and employees following the discovery of the bodies, an employee of Winnisquam Marine, located next to the house, said Shawn Carter had come on the company's property a few times — once he was asking for someone named Alex.

A neighbor told police she saw lights on in the house, both upstairs and downstairs, around 3:30 a.m. on May 24.

During the interview, said police, one trooper noticed there was "red/brown staining of the body of the baseball cap Carter was wearing that was consistent with blood splatter."

The second trooper said that during the time he was with Carter, Carter never asked him what happened to his mother and brother nor did he, in this trooper's opinion, express any surprise when told about their deaths.

Belmont Police supervisors interviewed Frank Dalton, the owner of the home rented by the Carters.

Affidavits said Dalton rented the house to the Carters and about three or four days before the murders, he asked Priscilla what was wrong with her son and she told him "Shawn was very depressed."

Dalton also told police that about one week before the murders, Priscilla Carter asked him about getting some wood. Police found two small stacks of chopped wood logs on the first floor of the home.

Affidavits said Dalton told police that Shawn Carter has stated he needed to get a hatchet and Dalton had told him the wood was already split and a hatchet wasn't needed. He also said he saw Shawn sitting outside and staring at Lake Winnisquam the day before the murders. Priscilla's car wasn't there and Dalton assumed she was working as he knew she did every day.

A second trooper spoke with Dalton's son who said he saw Shawn Carter splitting wood with a yellow-handled ax. A yellow-handled ax was recovered from the truck of Priscilla Carter's car when Shawn was arrested.

Affidavits say that three spots of blood from the ax were tested and determined Timothy Carter was the major source of the DNA. "As to two of the samples, due to the complexity of the genetic information, it cannot be determined whether Priscilla Carter and/or Shawn Carter may be a minor contributor to the DNA that was obtained," read the arrest warrant affidavit.

Two samples tested from the light-colored baseball cap Shawn Carter was wearing when he was arrested showed Timothy Carter was the major contributor. Again forensic specialists were unable to determine if Priscilla or Shawn Carter may have been minor contributors.

Two blood samples taken from one of the boots Carter was wearing after his arrest showed that Timothy Carter was the major contributor to one of them. As to the other sample, Shawn Carter was excluded as a contributor however, neither Priscilla nor Timothy can be excluded a a source.

"The DNA and blood evidence obtained from the Lab is consistent with Shawn Carter wearing his boots and baseball cap at the time he used the yellow-handled ax to kill Timothy Carter and Priscilla Carter," read the arrest warrant.

Included in the search warrant affidavits was also a description of the bedroom where both bodies were found. Police said they noticed glass that apparently came from a broken globe on a ceiling fan in the room on the floor behind Priscilla Carter's head.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 December 2013 01:38

Hits: 536

Judge rejects plea bargain involving heroin sale in Belmont

LACONIA — A Belknap County Superior Court judge rejected a Brooklyn, N.Y woman's attempt to plead guilty to one count of possession of heroin yesterday, telling her he found the negotiated plea that allowed for seven months of her 12 month sentence be suspended was inadequate.

Judge James O'Neill told Heather Cleveland, 27, that he would accept a 12 month sentence if all of it was served. He also said that if she successfully completed the ADAPT drug and alcohol abuse program while in jail, he would agree to allow the rest of her sentence to be suspended.

He agreed with both the prosecutor and Cleveland's defense counsel Wade Harwood that prison was not appropriate.

O'Neill also asked Prosecutor Carley Ahern if the Belmont Police were in agreement with the proffered sentence and she replied that they took no position.

Cleveland was arrested on September 4, 2013 by two Belmont Police officers who were working a drug detail in the village. According to affidavits obtained in September from the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division, the police saw a car idling in front of 125 Main St.

Cleveland came from the house and got into the car that headed down Main Street but didn't have its head lights on.

During the stop, an officer posted behind the car but out of eyesight of Cleveland said he saw a movement that looked like her taking a bottle from the back seat of the car and putting it into to center console.

The driver of the car gave police permission to search it and police recovered the bottle, finding 53 paper packages. A random sample of four of them at the state lab showed they contained heroin.

Yesterday, Ahern said the total weight of the heroin was 2.04 grams. When Judge O'Neill asked what the approximate street value was, Atty. Wade Harwood said it was about $200.

Harwood said he and Ahern worked to craft a sentence that would be rehabilitative and there were suppression issues that could be raised should the case go to trial, meaning in his opinion some or all of the evidence may be excluded from the jury because of the way it was obtained.

He said Cleveland had no criminal record, was the mother of two children, and was working during the time she was arrested. Harwood also noted she volunteered in her church and collected items for Hurricane Sandy survivors.

Cleveland told the judge tearfully that she "was committed to turning herself around" and that heroin possession was a selfish act that hurt her family. She also accepted responsibility for her actions.

"I learned I don't want to become the person I was becoming," she said.

Cleveland has been in the Belknap County House of Corrections since her arrest and is credited with 90 days of pretrial confinement. Had O'Neill accepted the plea as negotiated, she would have served two more months.

It is not known if she and Harwood will reconsider O'Neill's offer or go to trial.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 December 2013 03:18

Hits: 489

 
The Laconia Daily Sun - All Rights Reserved
Privacy Policy
Powered by BENN a division of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Login or Register

LOG IN