Belmont Village trees said be in need of TLC

BELMONT — Conservation Commission member and professional forester Scott Rolfe told selectmen Monday night that some of the trees in the village are distressed and possibly dying.

Rolfe took an inventory of the trees in the village and realized that the English oaks newly planted behind the library were poorly placed in the ground, with at least one planted with its roots still encased by the canvas bag.

He said one of the three is doing well.

Rolfe also noted that the town should look seriously at hiring an arborist to trim some of the dead branches and crowns of some of the older maples.

He also suggested that the Public Works Committee get some "Gator bags" which are bags that look like donuts that are place around the base of the tree and holds 15 gallons of water that gradually seeps into the soil. Selectmen agreed this was a good plan.

Rolfe also noted the harsh winter and very dry spring with creating additional stress on all of the trees but especially those planted as part of the Belmont Village revitalization project.

"The first three years you have to baby them," he said.

Rolfe also said that adding fertilizer to the new trees is not a good idea because nitrogen will stimulate the trees to produce more leaves but will not enable them to grow a root structure that they need in their early years.

Selectman Ron Cormier expressed his irritation about the poor planting practices. Rolfe told him he contacted the company and the employee who planted many of the new trees was no longer employed by them.

Rolfe said the company indicated it would stand by its product.

In other business, selectmen unanimously agreed to put letters of commendation in the files of town firefighters who spent three days last week extinguishing a grass fire that burned 100 acres and, at one point, threatening a housing development called Gardner's Grove. Many of them worked 18 hours days consecutively in hot conditions and dangerous terrain.

They also asked Town Administrator Jeanne Beaudin to send a letter of appreciation to the multiple departments from as far away as Concord, Clairmont and Woodstock who assisted Belmont and Tilton-Northfield fire crews.

Holy Grail restaurant & pub opens in downtown Laconia on Tuesday

LACONIA — After more than a year of renovation, the building at Veteran's Square that formerly housed the Evangelical Baptist Church is re-opening today as the Irish restaurant and pub, Holy Grail of the Lakes. Dave Kennedy, one of the owners, said the restaurant will open its doors at 11:30 a.m. and will be open for lunch and dinner every day of the week until Labor Day.

"We're having a grand opening all week with entertainment every night," said Kennedy. The restaurant will kick things off with a curtailed "starter menu" and will add new menu items each week as the staff gains experience. There will be no dearth of beverage choices, though, as Kennedy said the restaurant boasts 32 beers on tap.

The Holy Grail of the Lakes is the second venture for Dave and Maureen Kennedy, who since 2008 have operated the Holy Grail in Epping, also located in a former church. The Kennedys, along with business partner Khalid Farid, completed the purchase of the former Evangelical Church in February of 2014 and have been renovating the 1835 structure since.

BHS students build footbridge in Marden Town Forest as 'community contribution'

BELMONT — The Jeff Marden Town Forest needed a bridge to cross over some muddy spots along one of the more popular walking and running trails.

First noticed by the High School cross-country running team members Alexandra Lugar and Chayleigh Cadarette, along with social studies teacher and cross country Coach Elizabeth Tardugno, the three thought building a bridge would make a great project as the community contribution portion of the girls' effort to earn a "diploma with distinction".

"The runners either had to jump over it or get their shoes muddy," said Tardugno, who noted that wet, muddy shoes aren't very conducive to a good run.

Both girls wrote a letter of intent telling administrators that they intended to graduate with a diploma with distinction. To accomplice this each students must complete a community service project that has a direct benefit to either Belmont or Canterbury, along with meeting some strict academic requirements.

"We thought it would be a neat contribution that would be helpful for the school and for the people," said Tardugno.

Both Alexandra and Chayleigh admitted neither had any previous experience with carpentry or building.

"Our fathers helped a lot," said Chayleigh, who added it was a great experience to work with her dad, Matt, on a project.

Alexandra said she felt the same and her step-father, Tom Russo, was a huge help also.

"We didn't know how to build a bridge in the forest," said Alexandra whose said their first stop was Ron Mitchell — the groundskeeper for Belmont High School.

"Mr. Mitchell got us two used telephone poles," she said.

Once those were in place, the team — that also included Belmont Land Use Technician Rick Ball, who assisted them with building and with going to the Conservation Committee for their approvals — started laying the bridge.

Chayleigh said they first had to take measurements and within one day they had put down the decking. She said they learned how to go to a buildings materials store and buy the proper strength lumber — in this case pressure-treated pine — and how to shop for the right type of fasteners.

For the first time, the girls used measurement levels, squares, chalk lines and drills in a real and permanent project. All of the decking is attached by screws and not nails. Both said their fathers and Ball used the power saws.

As to logistics, some of the materials that were too long to be hauled by a tractor had to be hand-carried into the woods and that was one of their jobs.

They learned how to operate drills without immediate access to electricity, quickly learning that the battery life of a cordless drill is limited.

"At one point we had to run up to the school and recharge," said Tardugno.

The next task was for the girls to design the railings and between designing them and building them, they worked nine straight hours one day.

Chayleigh said her family donated half of the money for materials while the Belmont Rotary Club donated the balance, meaning they had to present their plan to the Rotarians.

Even Chayleigh's black Labrador retriever "Lily" helped by sitting on the new bridge continually and making sure it was strong enough, said the group while laughing. Many of their photos have Lily right in the heart of the action.

Now that the bridge is complete, Chayleigh and Alexandra said they have one more task to finish — making a sign to dedicate the bridge to Elizabeth Roach of Canterbury, a former teacher and dedicated volunteer to the Booster Club who passed away last month.

"Her and her husband were so involved," said Chayleigh, who noted that for her four years at Belmont High "Miss Roach" was always a friendly face who worked the concession stand for the Booster Club.

When asked how they felt about the project, both said it came out "a lot better than they thought".

"We hope the community enjoys it," said Alexandra "We were happy to do it."

"And to everyone who helped us, thanks," said Chayleigh.

Alexandra will be attending Plymouth State College in the fall and will be studying psychology and criminal justice.

Chayleigh will be attending the University of New Hampshire and hasn't decided on her major field of study as of yet.


CUTLINE: Chayleigh Cadrette, Alexandra Lugar and Belmont High School senior class adviser work on the bridge them made to cross a muddy spot in the Jeff Marden Town Forest. (Submitted photo, Belmont High School.)