LACONIA — It's a quiet, mid-winter night at the Laconia Municipal Airport. Windy and cold, the general aviation community definitely has better things to be doing on a windswept Thursday night than fly through the mountain ranges of the Lakes Region area. By all accounts, the airport should be quiet and empty, so it's a contradiction to see the airport aglow with lights and activity. Packed with about 13 young adults in their Civil Air Patrol cadet uniforms, the airport is alive with marching, saluting and drill routines, engaging the teens who have braved tonight's winter weather.
The Laconia Airport is home to the Hawk Composite Squadron of the New Hampshire Civil Air Patrol Wing, one of nine squadrons around the state. Every Thursday beginning at 6:30 p.m., up to 29 young men and women arrive at the airport. A youth program not unlike others in the area, the Civil Air Patrol (or CAP) cadet program differs in that it focuses exclusively on aviation. In the program, youth from the ages of 12 to 21 serve as the junior arm of the Civil Air Patrol, the United States Air Force Auxiliary. According to the organization's website, the cadet "program allows young people to progress at their own pace through a 16-step" curriculum of "aerospace education, leadership training, physical fitness" and character development.
"This program builds confidence and develops relevant skills," states Diane Terrill, who is airport's general manager. "Each week, I watch these kids come in and a tackle a new objective for the evening. They are committed to building each other up along their paths of exploration. It's a great experience for all of them and the Laconia Airport is proud to have the facilities to serve as home base for the Hawk squadron."
Terrill is referring to the main terminal, where the cadet's are practicing one of the many drills they've learned throughout their time in the program. According to one cadet, he's been able to take his love for sailing and transfer it into the cadet program with the Civil Air Patrol. "I've been involved with CAP since I was in 8th grade," stated Riley Woods, a Belmont High School sophomore. "I always loved to sail and fly, and I knew that celestial navigation between the two types of craft were pretty similar so when I came to a few meetings to find out if the program might interest me, I was hooked right away."
The broad reaching program allows for most individual interests to be satisfied, especially if they're aviation driven. Whether it's photography, astronomy, flying and flight training or even survival training, there's something for young adults participating in the Civil Air Patrol youth program, including the opportunity to fly in an airplane during a summer camp program!
There are many rewards for the young participants. For those who continue with the program until the end of high school, the Civil Air Patrol offers academic and aviation scholarships. All cadets are eligible for 10 orientation flights: five in powered aircraft and five glider flights. Participants who become a cadet officer (or a Cadet 2 Lt.) must pass rigorous leadership and aerospace education tests, engage in physical conditioning and training, and attend a minimum number of character development classes during eight different achievement phases. But before they earn the title, they must pass both comprehensive leadership and aerospace tests as well as a review board. Finally, a cadet who goes on to enter the Air Force, they may do so at the Enlisted 3 level (instead of Enlisted 1), which has specific pay advantages.
Another step beyond the weekly CAP meetings is the Honor Guard program within the Civil Air Patrol. The Honor Guard has a very specific focus and requires an added level of commitment from Civil Air Patrol youth cadets. This select group meets an additional day of the week for three extra hours, and must maintain their grade point average and other academic commitments in order to be accepted into the program. Their mission is four-fold. The first is to provide precision riflery in both drill exercises and ceremonies, much like that of the U.S. Air Force drill team. The second is to seek out opportunities to be positive role models to those within the community. Supporting families of fallen soldiers through ceremonial funeral processions is the third element of their mission and lastly, to embrace all aspects of ceremonial flag etiquette. Nothing speaks to this element more than the efforts of the Honor Guard over the holidays as they participated in Wreaths Across America, helping to place holiday wreaths at headstones in veterans cemeteries.
Brendan Drew, a senior at Plymouth Regional High School, is a Civil Air Patrol cadet who began his affiliation with the program only 12-months ago. When asked what he most enjoys about CAP, he says it has given him a small taste of what he believes basic training will be like when he (hopefully) heads off to the Air Force Academy to which he just applied. On a recent night, Brendan and the other cadets were seen engaged in their annual fitness test in the terminal building of the Laconia Airport, which benchmarks the physical condition of each of them. With stopwatches in hand and orange cones marking off a path, each cadet took turns sprinting through the terminal in an attempt to capture their best individual time, with echoes of encouragement from their peers sounding throughout the airport. Physical conditioning is important since each cadet is expected to maintain good health to insure optimal strength and agility should they be called to serve. The Hawk Squadron cadets were recently on stand-by to provide some strenuous and critical community support. They were about to be dispatched to a neighboring community, tasked with providing search assistance over rough terrain in an attempt to help locating a senior citizen stricken with Alzheimer's Disease. Fortunately, the person was found but the cadet's were ready to go, thanks to their weekly conditioning and training.
A community service project the cadets have been involved in is the annual Christmas Village. Held at the Laconia Community Center, Santa's Village offers area children an opportunity to visit with Santa. Since that coveted opportunity to wish for that special gift while sitting on Santa's knee comes with a long waiting line, local children could have their faces painted to ease the boredom of the wait thanks to the Civil Air Patrol cadets. The reindeer, snowmen and Rudolph noses that Brendan and Riley painted on the patient children brought squeals of delight to those who waited in long lines to visit with St. Nicolas!
"It's a joy to watch these kids develop," states Terrill. "I wish every young adult in the Lakes Region would come to the airport on a Thursday night to get a glimpse of the leadership skills and character development program the Civil Air Patrol has to offer. These are tremendous kids in their commitment to service."
The Hawk Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol invites interested youth to come to the airport on Thursday evenings to see what it is all about or to check the program out online at http://hawksquadron.nhcapcadets.org
CAPTION: Cadets from the Hawk Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol/New Hampshire Wing helping out at Christmas Village at the Laconia Community Center in December. (Courtesy photo)
Last Updated on Thursday, 20 February 2014 01:30
LACONIA — A former auxiliary police officer in Whitman, Mass. was sentenced to serve five to 10 years in prison yesterday for digitally penetrating his 11- and 12-year-old granddaughters while on a family camping trip in Yogi Bear Camp Ground in New Hampton in August of 2014. One year of that sentence can be suspended for good behavior.
Irving Small, 70, was also sentenced to a second 10- to 20-year term — all suspended — provided he be of good behavior and complete a year-long sexual offender program while in the New Hampshire State Prison. Should he not complete the program, the 10-to 20-year sentence would be served consecutively to his first sentence.
"I'm totally ashamed of myself," Small said barely choking out the words through his tears. "I totally hurt my family."
Some members of Small's family were in the court room including his two victims. The girls' mother told O'Neill she accepted the sentence because she didn't want to put her children through a lengthy trial.
Small said he wanted to apologize to them however, after a side bar consultation between Assistant Belknap County Attorney Carley Ahern and Small's attorney Howard Clayman, O'Neill said Small could address the court but not look at the girls while he spoke.
"I want to tell my grandkids I'm very, very sorry," he said.
O'Neill wanted to know why he should accept such a light sentence when if Small had pleaded guilty to all four of the aggravated sexual assault charges he was initially indicted for, he could sent him to jail for up to 60 years.
Clayman said Small's health has suffered in the 192 days he has been incarcerated while awaiting trial. He said his client has high blood pressure, depression and has been treated at the hospital on more than one occasion. He has lost more than 50 pounds during that time.
He said Small has a stomach aneurism that will need surgery within a year and the surgery could be fatal.
"Five or four years could be a life sentence," Clayman said.
Clayman also noted that if Small is released from prison in New Hampshire he faces similar charges in Massachusetts.
"The (Commonwealth) of Massachusetts will deal with him how they will assuming he is alive," said Clayman.
The youngest of Small victim's had Belknap County Victim's Advocate Brenda Belmont read her statement to the court for her.
The girl told the court that she has nightmares and she used to cry everyday. She said sometimes she feels completely numb and that she is "sad when there is no reason to be."
She said she was learning to accept what had happened to her and "it will always be a bad memory of the past."
She also told O'Neill she would not let what happened to her define who she is.
After deliberating for a moment or too, O'Neill chose to accept the plea bargain.
He told Small that his "betrayal of his family was completely unacceptable" and that they have in some part forgiven him by not objecting to what he considers a light sentence.
Last Updated on Thursday, 20 February 2014 01:08
ALTON — The Planning Board has placed seven amendments to the zoning ordinance on the 2014 warrant while petitioned articles would eliminate the position of town planner and secede the town from membership in the Lakes Region Planning Commission (LRPC). A third article would do away with the position of town assessor.
Loring Carr, who chairs the Board of Selectmen, said that he was not aware of who initiated the petitioned articles, but said that there were some 40 signatories to all three.
Both the Selectboard, by votes of three-to-one, and the Budget Committee, by votes of five-to-zero with two abstentions, recommended against the articles to eliminate the positions of planner and assessor. Moreover, at the deliberative session amendments explaining the fiscal impact were attached to both articles.
Carr said that when the position of planner was vacant the town contracted for services in the interim, noting that the amendment drew on this experience to estimate that it would cost $120,120 plus mileage to hire a consultant, compared to the $64,040 plus benefits paid to the planner.
Carr suspected that the article, together with the other not to fund membership in the LLRPC, stemmed from the controversy sparked by the decision of the Planning Board to recommend amending the zoning ordinance to provide for the development of so-called workforce housing. The proposed amendment, which would bring the town into compliance with state law as well as match the housing goals of its Master Plan, is the first of the seven proposed by the Planning Board.
Two forums on the issue, sponsored by the Alton Business Association, were overshadowed by charges that LRPC, in league with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), was seeking to impose an agenda of "smart growth" and "sustainable development" under the aegis of the "Granite State Future" project. Representative Jane Cormier (R-Alton), who this year introduced legislation to do away with all nine regional planning associations, was a featured speaker at the second forum and a signatory to the petitioned article.
The article to eliminate the assessor was also amended to explain the fiscal impact of replacing the position with a contractor. Carr said that information from Meredith, Moultonborough, Gilford and Wolfeboro indicated that the cost of contracting for assessing services would be $95,000 per year plus $125,000 every five years for a revaluation compared to the $68,599 plus benefits paid to the assessor.
Last Updated on Thursday, 20 February 2014 01:04
GILMANTON — The School Board and the Gilmanton Education Association have tentatively agreed to a three-year collective bargaining agreement that includes a raise in salary and allows credit for experience ("step" increases) as well as an increase in the employee contribution to health insurance premiums.
The contract provides for a salary increase of approximately six percent over the three years, which includes in addition to salary longevity health insurance and fixed costs. The increases are 1.07-percent, or a total of $26,777, in the first year, 2.2-percent, or $55,562, in the second year, and 2.82-percent, or $72,825, in the third year.
With concern over the litigation surrounding the Local Government Center, the district has chosen to place its health insurance program with the only other available carrier, School Care. Consequently, the number of plans on offer was halved from four to two and the $1 mail order prescription rider was eliminated
Currently the premium contribution for employees enrolled in the two-person and family plans are 21 percent and 31 percent respectively while the school district pays the entire premium for those with single-person plans. Under the proposed contract employees would share premium costs for all plans, including the single-person plan.
These changes would reduce the district's share of health insurance costs by more than $23,800 in the first year and is expected to lead to further savings in subsequent years.
The agreement will appear as a warrant article when the town votes on Tuesday, March 11 at the Gilmanton Academy.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 February 2014 02:34
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