Snowmobile trail GPS mapping will aid emergency responses

LACONIA — A project that will see all of the 5,000 miles of snowmobile trails in New Hampshire mapped will enhance the ability of emergency responders to locate and quickly extricate people who have suffered injuries or who may face life-threatening situations in the backwoods.
The project utilizes GPS tracking information from cell phones and other technology and much of the work has already been completed north of the Lakes Region according to Pete DeNutte, assistant director of the Department of Safety's Bureau of Emergency Communications, and Sean Goodwin, who is in charge of special projects for the bureau.
Chris Gamache, head of the state Department of Resources and Economic Development's Bureau of Trails, said that snowmobile clubs throughout the state have been assisting in the mapping project and that an October deadline has been set to complete the mapping.
Once all of the information has been received, it is estimated that it will take as long as a year for the so-called "back office work" to be completed to make it a totally functional system.
The mapping presentation was held at Department of Safety's GIS mapping office at the 911 Communications/GIS Mapping building at the former Laconia State School property off from North Main Street.
It was the first event of the day in the annual District 1 Executive Council snowmobile tour which was conducted by District 1 Executive Councilor Joe Kenney. Gamache said that the tour, which went by snowmobile from Laconia and along the rail corridor through Ashland and into Plymouth, was designed to show the variety of terrain which is being mapped.
Among those taking the trip was Major John Wimsatt of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, who said that the department conducted over 240 search and rescue missions last year, which compares to an average of 180 per year in the last five years.
He said the department spends $300,000 a year on those missions, which are partially paid for with dedicated funds but still require sportsmen's dollars. He said that the new Hike Safe program is producing some benefits for the department's operations.
Gamache noted that snowmobile recreation provides a $584 million boost to the state's economy, which compares very favorably with the $1 billion realized from Alpine skiing.

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The annual District 1 Eexecutive Council snowmobile tour was held Friday starting at the 911 Communications/GIS Mapping building at the former Laconia State School property. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

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David Rivers, chief of operations at the 911 Communications/GIS Mapping building at the former Laconia State School property, discusses how the center works with a group of state officials and representatives of the New Hampshire Snowmobile Association. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

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Restorative Justice to expand Payday Food Drive


LACONIA — Belknap County Restorative Justice, a program which provides court diversion services for both adults and juveniles, has been conducting a twice-a-month Payday Food Drive for over two years and now is looking to expand it even further.

"Our director, Brian Loanes, came up with the idea in October of 2014 as a  community service project for our clients. It's gone so well that we'd like to make it even bigger," said Mike MacFazden, case manager for the department who is in charge of the program.
He said the food drive sees pickups made on the first and third Friday of each month from 14 drop-off points around the city with deliveries made to food pantries all over the county the same day.

"In January we had our biggest ever food pantry month. We delivered 65 cases to the Salvation Army, which feeds 135 people a  week." said MacFazden.

He said that the drive collects nonperishable food and personal hygiene items, such as shampoo, soap and toothpaste, as well as pet food for families that have animals.

"We like to work with the small, church-based food pantries because they know who needs the help but may be too proud to ask for it," said MacFazden.

The program delivers food to Calvary Bible Church, the Center Harbor Church and Saint Charles Borremo in Meredith; the United Baptist Church in Meredith; the Commmunity Action Program; and the Sanbornton Food Pantry.

Collection points include the Belknap County Nursing Home, Belknap County Commissioners office, Belknap County Superior Court and Laconia Circuit Court, the Wescott Law office, Horizons Counseling, Lakes Region Community services, the SAU 30 office on Harvard Street, Laconia City Hall, the Public Defender's office, Normandin, Cheney and O'Neil law office, Uniformly Yours, Boulia Gorrell Lumber  and Tremblay's  Touch Painting.

For more information contact MacFazden at 527-5493.


Food Drive 2-24-2017

 Skyla Farquharson, a college intern with Belknap County Restorative Justice, stands next to a van full of items collected in the Payday Food Drive, conducted twice a month by the department. (Courtesy photo)

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Man dies after collision with utility pole

LACONIA — A local man died after the vehicle he was driving struck a utility pole at the junction of Union Avenue and Messer Street very early Thursday morning.

Dennis Rudzinski, 25, of Laconia was found inside the vehicle but unresponsive when police came upon the scene of the collision at 12:29 a.m. on Thursday. Firefighters attended to him at the scene then transported him to Lakes Region General Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

Police have not determined the cause of the accident, which remains under investigation. Anyone who witnessed the collision or has information shedding light on the incident should contact Officer Anna Brewer-Croteau of the Laconia Police Department at 524-5252.

– Michael Kitch

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