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Man's second-career dream comes true with opening of 'Jilly's Bistro' sports bar at Lakeport Square

LACONIA — Dave Perry, proprietor and chef at Jilly's Bistro, can trace the opening of the city's newest eatery back to an unhappy event that occurred in 2007: an accident that ended his career as a construction worker.

"I had a tree fall on top of me," he said, grimacing. Injuries from the incident required him to hang up his tools for several years while his body healed from both the accident and the several surgeries aimed at relieving the discomfort which he still experiences. However, Perry, who served in the U.S. Army during the Operation Desert Storm, wasn't content with life in a recliner. "I started dabbling in some courses at Lakes Region Community College, next thing I know, I started on my path to getting my degree in culinary arts."

A native of Lowell, Mass. who moved to Ossipee about a decade ago, Perry signed up for a cooking class on a whim. He was shocked by how much he enjoyed the program. "To me, it was more like hanging out and having fun everyday than like going to school... The staff there is just awesome."

"I really didn't think that I would end up hanging around long enough to get my degree," continued Perry. "I was constantly amazed at what I was learning, how much there really is to know, how much is involved in this industry."

While Perry was sharpening his culinary skills, his father happened to pass through Lakeport Square and noticed that the building at 777 Union Avenue was for sale. He decided the price was too good to pass, and so he purchased the property. The building had once been a five and dime store, more recently was an antique shop, and was not ready to be a restaurant when Perry first set foot inside. Since 2008, Perry and his friends from his construction days have been effecting a transformation to what it is now. The polished floorboards and tin ceiling hint at the building's history but Perry's hard work is evident elsewhere. The result is a Boston-themed sports bar, one that Perry said reminds him of his favorite haunts of his younger days.

"When I first started, I really didn't know what I wanted it to be," said Perry. He had spent hours upon hours traveling through Laconia, collecting menus and tallying the various types of eateries nearby. He had interned under chef Scott Ouellette at Canoe in Center Harbor, and with Oullette's O Steak and Seafood restaurant, he knew he didn't want to compete in the fine dining arena. He knew he wanted a hardwood bar in the center of the dining room, though, and it was when he was working on that project that his vision began to take shape. "It got me thinking of places I went to growing up in Lowell, the sports bars there, things I really enjoyed."

The menu he created matches the venue: onion rings, wings, steak and cheese subs. There's some signature touches, too. Perry was stationed in New Orleans for part of his military service, and his muffaletta sandwich and deep-fried pickles came back with him. He expects his hamburger, featuring a patty of chuck mixed with brisket, will become a favorite on his menu. Sandwiches are served with house-made potato chips. At Jilly's, Perry thinks he's offering something that didn't previously exist, a neighborhood spot for a sandwich and a ball game. "I wanted people to feel like they could afford to come in here, watch a game, eat some bar food... It's blue-collar, that's what I like about it. It's not anything fancy, especially with the way the economy is. I want people to be able to stop in and eat with their kids."

Jilly's Bistro, which Perry named after his sister, is open Thursday through Monday, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.



Dave Perry, owner and chef of Jilly's Bistro, recently opened his establishment in Lakeport after earning a culinary degree from Lakes Region Community College. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Adam Drapcho)

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 September 2013 03:08

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Worsman asks that auditor's summary report on county government be made public

LACONIA — County Convention Chairperson Rep. Colette Worsman (R-Meredith) asked Belknap County Commissioners last night to make a so-called management letter which accompanied a financial audit report the commission recently received to be made public.
Worsman made the request following a review of the audit report by a representative of Melanson Heath and Company at a commission meeting last night at a which excerpts from the management letter were read and discussed briefly by commissioners.
County Administrator Debra Shackett said that it was her understanding that the letter should not be distributed publicly but would check to see if she was correct.
Worsman requested that the letter be available on the commission's web site along with the audit report itself, which commissioners said would be posted online.
The Registry of Deeds office was mentioned in the management letter, which noted that internal monitoring of the office's procedures had addressed some of the concerns raised in an audit report two years and that there were significant improvements.
But there was concern raised in the letter that the general ledger and accounts payable ledger of the office didn't agree.
The commission brought legal action against elected Registrar Barbara Luther two years ago in an attempt to have her comply with recommendations made in a management letter which criticized three specific "material weaknesses" in the record keeping or handling of public funds.
The criticisms included the fact that at times a single individual controlled "all phases of a particular (financial) activity" and certain record keeping processes. The management letter did not allege or imply any actual wrongdoing by the registry staff but dealt with improving procedures in keeping with modern accounting standards.
When the parties and registrar could not agree on system changes to address the criticisms, the commissioners brought the lawsuit in October of 2011 asking the Belknap County Superior Court to "order the (Registry) to conform with the recommendations of the management letter."
Extensive negotiations ensued in August of 2012 and a statement released to the media from the county announced that the agreement between the two parties had been reached. The agreement allowed the existing checking account used by the Register of Deeds to be continued and requires that any checks or withdrawals from that account be signed by the Register of Deeds and the Belknap County Treasurer.
It also established procedures for the daily handling of payments and operations at the office.
Commissioners said at the time that the settlement was consistent with recommended best accounting practices and removed a negative comment from the county audit.
Luther, who was represented by attorney Philip McLaughlin in the negotiations, has since asked the county to pay the $ 5,500 legal bill she incurred, but commissioners have so far refused to pay, despite the County Convention including a line item in the budget that it passed this year for $5,500 to pay Luther's bill.
Worsman also requested, speaking, she said, as a taxpayer of Meredith, that the commissioners see that no one who was an employee of the county be a part of the team negotiating contracts with representatives of the unions representing county employees.
She said that the contracts which are negotiated also affect those who are not union members and that she didn't think any of those doing the negotiating for the county should be employees of the county because they would be in a position to benefit from the contracts they negotiated.
County Commission Chairman John Thomas said that the request was ''contrary to whatever I've seen'' and noted that department heads, who are paid by the county, have routinely been part of contract negotiations on behalf of the county.

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 September 2013 02:53

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Surveillance photo quickly leads to man's arrest for burglary

LACONIA — A Jackson Street man will face a judge in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division this morning after being charged with burglary and theft of a handgun.

Police said Henry A. Rogers, 40, of Jackson St. was taken into custody at his home yesterday morning and charged with breach of bail for failing to appear for a 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division appearance scheduled for July 15 for simple assault.

Lt. Rich Simmons said Rogers was taken to the Belknap County House of Correction because of the bench warrant and late yesterday afternoon police charged him with burglarizing the Opechee Trading Post in Laconia on August 30 and stealing a loaded handgun during the heist.

Although Rogers allegedly cut the wires to the store's surveillance system and took the DVD cartridge, owner Jim Makris said Tuesday that camera specialists were still able to recover a photo of the person who burglarized his place.

Simmons said yesterday that numerous phone calls were made to the police and many of the officers recognized Rogers as the person who was allegedly in the trading post during the time of the burglary.

Police said it appeared Rogers first tried to enter the store on Lake Opechee through a front window and eventually got into the building through a rear window.

Police said they recovered the gun in Rogers' backyard.

He refused the services of a bail commissioner and is scheduled to appear by video in court this morning.

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 September 2013 01:50

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Forrester named chair of powerful N.H. Senate Finance Committee

CONCORD — State Senator Jeanie Forrester (R-Meredith) was picked to chair the Senate Finance Committee by newly elected Senate President Chuck Morse (R-Salem) yesterday.

Forrester, who is midway through her second term in the Senate, was the lone freshman senator to serve on the committee following her election in 2010 and was appointed vice-chairman after her re-election in 2012.

"I am very pleased by the confidence Senator Morse placed in me to head the Finance Committee," Forrester said yesterday.

Senator Lou D'Allesandro (D-Manchester) was named vice-chairman. Forrester said that she and D'Allesandro worked well together throughout the budget process earlier this year and anticipated their successful relationship would continue.

In a prepared statement, Morse said that he had worked closely with both senators during the last two budget cycles. "I have complete confidence in their understanding of the intricacies of the budget, as well as their ability to oversee the implementation of this fiscal spending plan going forward," he said.

Morse recalled that the Legislature worked across party lines to prepare and adopt the 2014-2015 budget. "I know Senators Forrester and D'Allesandro will work well with Governor Hassan and our executive branch agencies to ensure our spending targets are met." Managing the state budget, he continued, provided the foundation for a sound economy.

Harrell Kirstein, spokesman for the New Hampshire Democratic Party, immediately charged that by appointing Forrester, Morse began his presidency by "starting down the same ethically questionable road that ended Peter Bragdon's."

Earlier Kirstein charged charged that Bragdon, who resigned the Senate presidency to become executive director of the Local Government Center (LGC), appointed Forrester to a committee studying the LGC and the statute governing the management of insurance risk pools, knowing that was in line for the job, which pays $180,000. Claiming the appointment to the study committee breached the Ethics Guidelines of the General Court, Kirstein alleges that Forrester lied when she denied she was not aware of Bragdon's interest in the position when she accepted the committee assignment.

Yesterday Kirstein issued a statement insinuating that Forrester's appointment to chair the Finance Committee was a reward for her part in helping Bragdon secure the job.

Bragdon has insisted that he decided to name Forrester to the study committee on July 5, when the bill creating it crossed his desk for his signature and almost a week before his initial conversation with the LGC on July 11. Later on July 16, documents record a conversation in which Bragdon told Forrester of his interest in the position. She encouraged him and offered to provide a reference.

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 September 2013 02:40

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