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Senior Center 'gangleader' celebrates 100

LACONIA — "Oh, yes, I remember the Model-T. . . I rode in one," exclaimed Marie Carrigan as City Councilor Bob Hamel reeled off a list of milestones she had passed when the Laconia Senior Center celebrated her 100th birthday yesterday.

Carrigan has been an active volunteer at the center for the past two decades. She is revered for her baked goods, particularly her renowned chocolate cake, as well as her knitting and crocheting, which have brought joy to many of her fellow seniors.

Carrignan was born in Canada, but has lived nearly all her life in New Hampshire, where she worked in hosiery mill in Franklin. She was married for 41 years with one daughter, three grandsons and two great-grandchildren and still makes her home in the same large house where she has lived for more than 60 years.

A regular at the Bingo table on Wednesdays and Fridays as well as at "Dine Around," she is known at the center as "the gangleader." When Hamel noted that the year she was born marked the first time a woman jumped from an airplane, someone was heard to "Marie drove her to it."

Asked what was the secret to a long life, Carrigan replied without hesitation "there's no secret. The years just keep creeping up on you and all of a sudden you're a hundred."

Last Updated on Saturday, 24 August 2013 02:30

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Popular cafe devestated by fire is back in business

LACONIA— "We're grateful to be back," said Ted Roy, who with his wife Jen owns and operates the Water Street Cafe, which reopened last week, four months after an early morning fire destroyed the kitchen and damaged the dining areas. "We missed our customers and they missed us."

Taking a break during a busy lunch hour yesterday, Roy quickly passed over the three days in March when fire first struck his apartment building on Gilford Avenue and then the restaurant at the corner of Fair Street and Water Street. "It was like nothing you could ever imagine," he said. "You ask yourself what's going on here?"

Although the flames were largely confined to the kitchen, Roy said that the smoke reached into every corner of the building. "We had two months of smoke damage alone," he remarked. "We took 90-percent of the restaurant down to the studs and replaced the pine ceiling and sheet rock."

"The support we got from other local businesses, including restaurants, was just amazing," Roy said. "People on the street kept asking us 'when are you going open? When are you going to open?'"

Roy said that the renovation provided an opportunity to make a few small changes. The counter was shrunk and an elevated booth was added to the smaller of the two dining rooms. A new door was fitted leading to outdoor seating.

The Roys also took the opportunity to refine the dinner menu. "It is geared to casual yet sophisticated," Roy said, "with new wines and bottled beers." He explained that "people come here because they know what to expect. It's hard to change something that's worked so well for so long," he continued. "We've stuck to our roots by trying to keep the old favorites and add some new items."

Roy said that only two employees on hand when the restaurant burned have returned. "We're very fortunate to have found good people, very professional and eager to learn."

Although disappointed to have lost most of the busiest season, the Roys are not looking back. "I look at it as a summer vacation and now we're back to work. Most of of all we're getting back to normalcy in our life," he said.

The Roys have owned the business since 1988, when they acquired LaFlamme's, a small coffee shop, which traced its origins to a downtown bakery that opened in the 1920s. With urban renewal in the 1970s , the business moved to Water Street. In 1992, the Roys rebuilt and reopened as the Water Street Cafe.

On August 27, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. the Roys will host Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours and mark the reopening with a ribbon cutting. Meanwhile, Roy said that he is planning a New Year's Eve party, "2014 has got to better than 2013," he said.

Last Updated on Saturday, 24 August 2013 02:15

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Belmont buying covered pedestrian bridge from Dover for $1

BELMONT — A 154-foot long covered pedestrian bridge which once spanned the Cocheco River in Dover is being taken apart and will be brought to this town in three sections, where parts of it will eventually span the Tioga River in two different locations.
The eight-foot wide wooden bridge was sold to the Belmont Conservation Commission for $1 by the Dover City Council last month after efforts by Dover residents to keep in that community and use it as a centerpiece for a park fell short.
Built in 1996 at a cost of $162,845, the bridge was removed with a crane in 2010 and is currently dry-docked, in the way of a waterfront development.
Selectman John Pike said the town's Conservation Commission and Heritage Commission have developed plans for the use of the bridge, whose parts will be stored over the winter in the Public Works garage with an eye toward reconstructing it over the Tioga River next year.
The Conservation Commission discussed the project at its August 7 meeting at which Chairman Ken Knowlton reported that contractor Mark Roberts has checked the bridge and said that it would have to be moved in three sections, including disassembly and actually cutting off the roof which was added after the bridge sections were assembled.
He said that Roberts has also developed a scope of work to move everything to Belmont with a price of $12,600 for moving and about $10,000 for using two cranes to place two sections of the bridge over the river, just upstream from the Belmont Mill, providing the engineers determine that the bridge sections can be used separately.
Another section of the bridge would go in below the mill, where a pedestrian bridge which would have been built with volunteer labor as part of the downtown project was envisaged.
Knowlton said that he and Woody Fogg had taken measurements after brush along the river had been removed earlier this year and were confident that two sections of the bridge would be able to put into place by cranes.
The commission is currently looking for ways to raise funds for the cost of putting the bridges in place, as well as for a trail system which will be built along the right of way of the former Belmont Spur rail corridor, which used to bring trains in from Tilton to the Belmont Village area.

Last Updated on Thursday, 24 October 2013 06:29

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Meredith family displaced by fire

MEREDITH — A local couple, their three children and a house guest were displaced from their manufactured housing unit at 20 True Road, Lot 60 after a kitchen fire left the home dirty and damaged yesterday.

Fire Chief Ken Jones said that the fire was reported at 11:36 a.m., shortly after firefighters returned from an earlier call. "We were at the station and able to respond promptly," he said. Using extinguishers, firefighters quickly quelled the fire. All residents escaped unharmed.

Jones said that the fire started on the stove and, reaching combustible materials nearby, spreading to the extractor fan. Both the stove and fan, he said, were damaged beyond repair. However, he said that there was significant smoke damage throughout the home as well as residue from the chemical agent applied by the fire extinguishers. "The residence will be habitable once it is thoroughly cleaned," Jones said.

Last Updated on Friday, 23 August 2013 02:55

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