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Diehards determined to resurrect tennis in Laconia

LACONIA — This summer, the Lakes Region Tennis Association, in partnership with the Parks and Recreation Department, is offering free tennis lessons for children of Laconia between the ages of seven and 18 — and their parents —  at Memorial Park.

Now in its fourth season, the association, founded by Robert Ronstadt and Phillip Eisenmann, of Gilmanton, has fostered the sport in the Lakes Region by underwriting youth programs in Alton, Belmont, Franklin, Gilford, Gilmanton, Sanbornton and Tilton and this year has added Laconia to its list of venues.

Ronstadt said that when the program began, 30 children were enrolled, a number that more than doubled the following year and reached 165 in the third season.

Tim James of Laconia, a director of the LRTA, donated $10,000 to support the program in the city as well as provide scholarships and purchase equipment for youth enrolled in the association's other programs. Raised in Gilford, James was drawn to tennis as an eight-year old by a free program offered by the town. His play at Gilford High School earned him a full scholarship to Iona College in New York State, where he was the top player in both singles and doubles.

"I wanted to give back and hopefully have some other children discover the fun and many benefits of tennis," James said yesterday. "No kid with an interest in playing the game should be unable to get instruction."

Ronstadt described the LRTA, which is accredited as a "community tennis association" by the United States Tennis Association, as a "facilitating organization" that provides qualified coaches, with experience and success teaching tennis to young players and imparting a lasting enthusiasm for the game. "We teach tennis etiquette as well as the basics of the game," he said. "We're teaching tennis differently," he explained, likening the approach to "Little League" baseball. "We use smaller courts, smaller racquets and low compression balls for the younger players."

James recalled when he was beginning to play in Gilford, there were eight tennis courts at Opechee Park, where today there are none, and noted that Laconia High School could not field a boys tennis team this year.

"We hope to change that," Ronstadt remarked.

Ronstadt said that apart from physical conditioning, strength and coordination, tennis breeds sportsmanship, friendship and integrity, all valuable traits that enrich all aspects a child's life. Growing up in California, he remembered coaches and parents saying "keep the kids on the court and out of court." Still a competitive player at 70, Ronstadt called tennis "a game for life."

Amy Lovisek of the Department of Parks and Recreation, who worked with the LRTA to arrange the program, said "I couldn't be more happy. They're adding a program for free and it will be a real benefit for the kids. My oldest is going!"

The program will run from July 8 until August 14 on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at Memorial Park. Classes for seven to 10 year olds will run from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., for 11 to 14 year olds from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. and for 15 to 18 year olds from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. If necessary racquets will be provided. Parents must remain at the park during the lessons and will be offered an opportunity to take instruction themselves at 8 p.m.

To register, contact the Laconia Parks and Recreation Department at 306 Union Avenue or 524-5046 or by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Last Updated on Friday, 27 June 2014 11:44

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Sex assaults on young girl said to have occurred over 4 years

LACONIA — Mark Thurber appeared by video in the 4th circuit Court, Laconia Division yesterday and was ordered held on $5,000 cash-only and $50,000 personal recognizance bail. He stands accused of raping a young girl over an extended period of time.

In addition, the 42-year-old Meredith man was ordered not to attend any church services or to participate in any church activities that involve minors even if he is supervised. He can get pastoral counseling and can worship with his pastor in private, ruled Judge Jim Carroll.

Thurber faces one count of aggravated felonious sexual assault for alleged having intercourse with a girl who was under the age of 13 during the months from January 2007 through December of 2010.

Police affidavits supporting Thurber's arrest are sealed by the court, however the court held open arguments for bail conditions.

Meredith Lt. Prosecutor Keith True argued Thurber should be held on $50,000 cash-only bail. He noted that Thurber recently returned from a trip to Alaska and though he didn't know if he had a passport, said he fear both a risk of flight and for the safety of the community.

True noted Thurber had $1,000 in cash on him when he was arrested.

Defense attorney John Bresaw said Thurber has no money to speak of and at most could raise $2,000 in cash.

He also said this was an uncorroborated allegation from a single person and said Thurber maintains his innocence.

He said Thurber is not a flight risk, that his biological parents are in Laconia and that he has been a resident of the state his entire life. He said he is employed locally as a plumber and has been living at his current residence for three or four years.

Bresaw said Thurber also agrees to any restrictions placed upon him by the court.

Should he post bail, Thurber in not allowed to go to Tilton or to Campton, not to drink alcohol or take any non prescribed drugs, and to check in with the Meredith Police twice daily — once at 7 a.m. and once at 7 p.m.

When Judge Carroll issued his ruling about Thurber's restrictions from attending church, Bresaw objected. He said he wasn't prepared to make an argument against the restriction yesterday but did want his objection on the record.

Thurber is a member of the Grace Capital Church said Pastor Mark Warren of Laconia. He said he is not an employee of the church or a youth councilor.

"We really focus on strong child safety mechanisms," said Warren, who added it is a sad situation about which he knows nothing.

Last Updated on Friday, 27 June 2014 11:28

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Tilton PD front & center for support of soldier

TILTON — Two heroes — Police Chief Bob Cormier and Corporal Norman "Sunny" Ashburn — were honored at Town Hall yesterday by Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), an agency of the U.S. Department of Defense that ensures employment for members of the National Guard and armed forces reserve following their deployment.

Ashburn, who began his career in law enforcement in his hometown of Portsmouth, Virginia after serving four years in the Marine Corps, joined the Tilton Police Department in 2004. Together with Scott Dimond, with whom he served in the Franklin Police Department, he joined the Army National Guard in 2006 and a year later was deployed to Baghdad where he trained Iraqi police officers. His tour was marred by the death of Dimond, who was killed by an improvised explosive device in southern Afghanistan in October, 2008, and the loss of several other close companions.

Ashburn, who himself suffered an injury requiring surgery, returned to Tilton in 2008, by which time Cormier had succeeded Kent Chapman as chief of police. "He brought me in, sat me down, gave me a cup of coffee and arranged for me to return to work as soon I recovered from the surgery," Ashburn said.

In 2010, Ashburn was deployed on the first of two tours in Afghanistan. He returned after 18 months with , infantry unit — C Company, 3rd Battalion of the 172nd Mountain Infantry Regiment. "When I got back," he said, "the chief put me right back to work."

In 2013, Ashburn left for his third tour, again in Afghanistan, from which he returned in February. "I had plenty of leave from the guard," he said, "and the chief told me to take my, but I couldn't just sit around the house."

General Steve Curry, New Hampshire Committee of the ESGR, presented Cormier with the Patriot's Award in recognition of his support for Ashburn's repeated military service. Noting that his last posting was as commander of the Military Police, Curry also presented Cormier with a Commander's Challenge Coin, reminding him of the tradition that if the two met in a bar, the one without his coin would stand for the drinks.

Senator Jeanie Forrester (R-Meredith) presented Cormier with the New Hampshire state flag that flew over the Statehouse yesterday in his honor.

Above all, Cormier recognized Ashburn by reading a letter he wrote to him extolling his three deployments in seven years as "professional and personal sacrifices" that typify the adage that "true leaders make sacrifices for the benefit of all."

(1) CAPTION: General Steve Curry Ret. (left) and Vic Rogers (third from left) of the New Hampshire Committee of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve) honored Tilton Police Chief Bob Cormier (third from right) for his support of fellow officer Norman "Sunny" Ashburn, whose service with the department was complemented by three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2007 and 2014. Executive Councilor Joe Kenney (second from left), Senator Jeanie Forrester of Meredith, and Representatives Ian Raymond (second from right) and Dennis Fields (right) were on hand for the presentation at Tilton Town Hall. (Laconioa Daily Sun photo/Michael Kitch)

(2) General Steve Curry Ret., of the New Hampshire Committee of Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve presents Tilton Police Bob Cormier (middle) with the organization's Patriot Award for his support of Corporal Norman "Sunny" Ashburn (right), who was deployed once to Iraq and twice to Iraq since joining the Police Department in 2004. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Michael Kitch).

Last Updated on Friday, 27 June 2014 01:25

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Police break-up underage party at Weirs motel

LACONIA — Eleven youths between the ages of 17 and 22 were arrested last night after police broke up an under-age drinking party at a Weirs Beach motel.

Police said they were asked to check on a loud party at 10 p.m. at 396 Lakedside Avenue. Responding officers saw several young people drinking.

When the made contact, several of the juveniles fled but were later found by police.

Eleven of them were charged with internal possession of alcohol and intoxication.

The party's alleged host, Nelson J. Parness, 21, of Hudson, Mass. is charged with one count of facilitating an under-aged drinking party. He was released on $2,000 personal recognizance bail and given a court date of August 14 at the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division.

Last Updated on Thursday, 26 June 2014 12:33

Hits: 225

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