Owner of stolen excavator offers $1,000 reward

04 08 belmont PD excavator stolen folo

Belmont Police hope a witness will step forward and identify the culprits who stole a Volvo Excavator Model #EC 140 CL from a property along Route 140 in March. (Courtesy photo)


BELMONT — The owner of a stolen Volvo excavator is offering a reward, while police continue their search for the stolen piece of equipment that went missing in late March.
"We have not located it," confirmed Belmont Police Lt. Richard Mann on Friday.
Police received several tips, one in Pembroke, another in Candia, but so far none has panned out, he said.
"The public is helping us. They are keeping their eyes open," Mann said.
Belmont-based contractor John DeWare, owner of the excavator, said the machine was stolen from a site at 151 Gilmanton Road, Route 140 in Belmont.
Police think the culprits loaded up the 35,000-pound piece of equipment in broad daylight, hoping that passersby would chalk it up to typical commercial activity.
DeWare is offering a $1,000 reward to "the first person with information that leads to recovery of the machine and/or the arrest and conviction of whoever is found responsible."
The stolen piece of equipment, a Volvo Excavator Model #EC 140 CL, did not have a key with it at the time of the crime, police said.
The excavator was parked at a residence where DeWare was preparing to start a job.
Anyone who was on the section of Route 140 in Belmont near the Belmont Elementary School and who saw an excavator being loaded sometime in the last week of March is asked to call Officer Evan Boulanger at the Belmont Police at 267-8350.

Folk fiddlers

04-08 Tilton fiddlers group

Playing a combination of "Midnight on the Water" and the theme to "Game of Thrones" are the group from Tilton. Katrina Brow of Tilton and Noel Dickinson of Penacook pulled together the arrangement. They appeared at the Grappone Toyota showroom in Bow on April 1, and play the Franklin Opera House this Saturday. (Ginger Kozlowski/Laconia Daily Sun)

Lots of local talent in the New Hampshire Fiddle Ensemble


FRANKLIN — Celebrating the eighth year as host of the New Hampshire Fiddle Ensemble, the Franklin Opera House will present the finest amateur fiddlers from around the state on Sunday, April 9 at 2 p.m.
There will be lots of local talent taking the stage as the ensemble, made up of people of all ages and abilities, will perform lively fiddle music in a variety of traditions including rich melodious Irish, driving rhythmic Cajun and danceable old time and swing music, plus a chance to sing along.
Ellen Carlson, founder, trainer and facilitator of the ensemble, said it now boasts 87 members, ranging in age from 8 to 87, and played its very first concert eight years ago at the Franklin Opera House.

"The organization was great," she said. "They gave us a place to play and practice at no charge, so we gave them all the profits from the concert."
The ensemble has two other coaches, Shana Eisenberg of Freedom and Melissa Bragdon Caron of Somersworth, and holds practices from November through mid-March at various locations around the state, including Tilton, Manchester, Exeter, Somersworth, Freedom and in Portland, Maine, before getting together late in March for two rehearsals in Exeter and Franklin.
Locally, members of the ensemble practice at the Tilton Senior Center. Among those from the area taking part are:
• Katrina Brow of Tilton, who is in her third year with the ensemble and has been playing the fiddle for nine years. She also enjoys running and hiking and competed in her eighth marathon in October.
• Pat Chagnon of Loudon considers herself a jack-of-all-trades and has studied voice, piano, accordion, drums and violin/fiddle and taught herself to play the ukelele and guitar.
• Roxanne Del Frari of Meredith is back playing her violin after 35 years and says making music with her grandchildren is her goal.
• Marilyn Gillis of Moultonborough, who played violin as a child and 10 years ago, after winning a guitar, took up bluegrass.
• Jim Heath of Franklin, who thee years ago picked up the guitar as an adjunct to his blues harmonica.
• Pam Hunt of Tilton, now in her second year with the ensemble and also plays cello for the Lakes Region Symphony Orchestra.
• Joan Murray of Alton, who also plays violin for the Lakes Region Symphony Orchestra.
• Sandy Price of Meredith, who took lessons with her grandfather's violin, and at age 60 hiked the Appalachian Trail from George to Maine and last year completed her hiking goal of reaching the top of all 48 mountains in New Hampshire which are 4,000 feet or higher.
• Ed Puffinburger of Franklin who became hooked on fiddling after attending a fiddle contest in Vermont in 1979.
• Ron Towle of Franklin, now in his fourth year in the ensemble and does set-up and some repairs on acoustic and electric guitars and enjoys cooking, kayaking and hiking in his spare time.
Concerts were held last weekend at Grappone Toyota in Bow and in Portland, Maine. This Saturday night, a concert will be held in Exeter, and the season's final concert is being held Sunday afternoon in Franklin.
"It's a really fun group and we have people from all professions and all ages playing together," says Carlson, who says that she expects as many as 70 musicians will be taking part in Sunday afternoon's concert.
"One thing you'll notice is that there are no music stands on the stage. Everyone memorizes their parts and learns them by ear so that we can communicate musically on stage instead of staring at a page," says Carlson.
Carlson has been performing on fiddle for 40 years and is dedicated to bringing the many forms of fiddle music to as many people as possible. Currently she is the fiddler for the acoustic roots band High Range, which has had a number one hit on Music Choice, a cable/satellite radio station, and won runner-up in the International Acoustic Music Awards.
She grew up in a musical family in a small town in northwest Connecticut and had taken violin lessons before she started performing with her older brother Darrell's band, which he started at the age of 12.
"Everyone in the family played an instrument, my great-grandfather, my grandfather, my father and uncles," says Carlson, who taught herself how to play the fiddle.
She says that her family used to spend summer vacations in the Littleton area and that she always loved New Hampshire, which is why she chose to attend Plymouth State College in the 1980s, where she earned a business degree with a minor in music. Carlson moved to the Granite State permanently in 1988 and joined together with Val Blachly and Mary Maguire to form the swing band "Sweet,Hot and Sassy," which featured the sound of the Andrews Sisters and other popular tunes from the 1940s.
Carlson and Blachly are still singing together in group called Honest Milly.
She is also a member of the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts Education roster. She teaches at Kid's Academies at Grey Fox Music Festival, Joe Val Bluegrass Festival and Pemi Valley Bluegrass Festival. She also currently performs with Jim Prendergast, Joe Deleault, Newfound Grass, the Grumbling Rustics and others.
Carlson also co-organizes the Fiddleheads Acoustic JamCamp, which has had 18 years of success teaching acoustic musicians how to play with others in a jam setting. She is a New Hampshire-certified middle school math teacher with 15 years' classroom experience. She holds a Master's Degree in Education, and has taught a variety of subjects to first-graders, college students, and every level in between.
Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine called her "an exceptionally talented musician" and gave her a coveted highlight review for her solo album "People I Play With." Fiddler Magazine picked one of her tunes as a winner for publication in the annual tune contest. She does educational programs that integrate music and mathematics as well as programs on Fiddle Styles and Women in Traditional Music.


NH Fiddle Ensemble

Sunday, April 9, at 2 p.m.

Franklin Opera House

$12 admission for adults, $10 for seniors, $6 for children

proceeds to benefit the Franklin Opera House

04-08 Manchester fiddle group

The Manchester group invited the audience to sing along to the "Wabash Cannonball" last Saturday in Bow. (Ginger Kozlowski/Laconia Daily Sun)

For a sample of their music: https://youtu.be/mXh5m3fLVmQ

Weirs Pier ultimately to be replaced with steel construction

04-07 Weirs Pier Ryan Cardella


Ryan Cardella, operations manager for East Coast Flightcraft Inc., describes the work to be done at the Weirs Pier. (Adam Drapcho/Laconia Daily Sun)


LACONIA — The century-old Weirs Pier, which is undergoing a facelift for the summer season, likely will be torn down eventually so that it can be replaced with modern steel construction.

Ryan Cardella, operations manager for the boat company that owns the structure, said Thursday that demolition is being considered as a more economical option than piece-by-piece replacement of aging wood supports.

"It's also about safety too, because there's so much wood in here, and you have to go through and find out what makes sense and what doesn't, and what's going to hold, because we want the integrity of the building to last," said Cardella, of East Coast Flightcraft Inc.

Efforts will be made to retain a historic feel.

"It makes sense to actually replace the wood with steel structuring, but we want to keep the pier looking like a pier," he said. "We don't want it to look like a steel warehouse or anything like that. We want a setup like you are going to visit a friend's lake house. There will still be a lot of wood features and wood faces but steel underneath. The bones, the spine, will be steel."

Brandee Loughlin, Laconia's assistant planning director, said it's not surprising for a builder to do a major upgrade on building supports for an old wooden structure.

Since the pier is over water, the project would fall under state regulatory control, she said. Ultimately, a demolition permit could be sought.

It could take five years before all work is completed on the project, but in the short term, workers are rushing to have a small general store, a casual restaurant, an arcade and other public spaces on the pier ready for business next month.

The boardwalk leading up to the pier will also be ready for the summer season, including a Sal's Pizza, a Traveling Texas Smoke Shop restaurant, a souvenir shop and a candy store.

The long-term project calls for the addition of about 30 public boat slips, which would be owned by the city of Laconia. There are 47 slips now.

There is a need for more boat slips in the area, Cardella said. Some of the existing slips are undersized. Six slips will be used by his company to show and sell boats.

There will be inside areas for boaters to relax and meet others who are using the dock for the season.

"We want you to know your neighbor," he said. "We want it to be like it was in the '40s and '50s, when you knew everybody."

The pier was in its heyday during the Big Band Era. Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Harry James and Paul Whiteman were among the big names who played in its ballroom. 

On Thursday, workers were sanding portions of the wooden floor where people once danced to this music.

The pier area lost some of its cachet and its entertainment when Elvis Presley ushered in the rock 'n' roll era and the bands that once played there went out of existence.

04-07 Weir Pier

The miniature golf course has already been removed from the property. (Adam Drapcho/Laconia Daily Sun)

04-07 Weirs Pier slips

The wood pilings for the pier are aging and plans call for replacement with steel.  (Adam Drapcho/Laconia Daily Sun)