Free fuel for veterans

Mike Dutile of Dutile Oil has provided thousands of gallons of oil to those in need


LACONIA — Two years ago, shortly before Christmas, a gentleman in Meredith asked Mike Dutile of Dutile Oil Company to bid on replacing his boiler. When Dutile, himself a veteran, met the man he discovered he had fought in the Korean War and a week later, when he returned to tend to the boiler, was stunned to discover the man has passed away and that his widow, a woman of 90, was left with a failing boiler and an empty tank.

03-09 Mike Dutile"She told me she had five gallons coming from Easter Seals, but wouldn't get more until January," Dutile said. "I had 150 gallons delivered that day," he said, "and fixed the boiler, which I've been babying ever since."

That evening Dutile began his Free Fuel for Veterans program. He said that in 2015 he provided oil, together with servicing and repairs, to more than 40 veterans in need and a year later had delivered some 3,000 gallons heating oil to veterans in the Lakes Region and beyond., among them a veteran of World War II in his 102nd year.

Dutile stressed that the program is intended "for the truly in need" and for the families of those serving in combat overseas. "I'm the program," he said, "and I'm the boss." He said that many veterans are reluctant to seek, even accept, assistance, yet has met many who need a helping hand. He has enlisted three volunteers willing to drive vets wherever they need to go to see to their health care or tend to their affairs.

Apart from his own generosity, Dutile has drawn on donations from others, many of them longtime customers of Dutile Oil Company and including a significant contribution from Bank of New Hampshire. Likewise, he turned to the New Hampshire Chapter of the Combat Veterans Association of New Hampshire, whose members have spread word of his program throughout the state as well as contributed to its success. To serve to remote locations, Dutile draws on network of suppliers who deliver the oil and send him the invoices.

Dutile has pitched his program on local radio stations — WLNH and WEMJ — and advertised it in The Laconia Daily Sun to seek donations, which he said can be made online at the company's website, Or he said, "You can drop it through the slot at the office on Messer Street." He emphasized that 100 percent of every penny donated to the program pays for fuel for veterans who are either in need or in combat. "This is all about helping our veterans," Dutile said.

Crash victim was local man on his way to work


BARNSTEAD — An accident involving a car that ran off a straight road and landed upside down in a creek occurred less than a mile from the home of the 51-year-old man killed in the wreck, police said Thursday.

Police Chief Paul Poirier identified the man who died in the Wednesday crash as Stephen Bognar.

The incident likely occurred about 5 a.m., which is when Bognar typically left his home on Bow Mills Road for the hour-long commute to his electronics job in Londonderry, the chief said. A passing motorist reported seeing the damaged vehicle four hours later.

Bognar covered just one minute, or one-third of a mile, of his drive to work when his 2008 black convertible Chrysler Sebring crossed the oncoming lane and plunged 12 feet off the rural road, landing on its roof in the waist-deep icy creek.

Tire tracks in the mud and a flattened mailbox in the 300 block of Peacham Road showed the route of the car before it flew into the creek. Poirier and Officer Dan Shapiro broke a side window, pulled Bognar from the submerged passenger compartment and attempted CPR.

The cause of the crash is not clear, but Poirier said roads were icy that morning and there were other accident reports in the area.

Bognar lived with his brother, Michael Bognar, who said he was awaiting the results of an autopsy to see if any medical issues might have contributed to the crash.

He said his brother worked almost 25 years as an electronics assembler, solderer and trouble shooter. Stephen Bognar worked for L-3 Warrior Systems, a defense contractor.

"He was always dedicated to his work, committed to his work, a real professional," Michael Bognar said.

He said he and his brother are from Trenton, New Jersey. They moved to New Hampshire in 1996.

"His hobbies were drawing, animation," he said. "He liked to come up with characters. He liked working on old cars, doing his own mechanical work, replacing parts himself when it was needed."


Laconia Athletic and Swim Club is sold


LACONIA — The Laconia Athletic and Swim Club has been acquired by Charlie Mabardy, president and chief executive officer of Mabardy Oil Inc. of Seabrook, who is a distributor of gas and diesel fuel and owns and operates a stable of service stations, convenience stores and car washes on the Seacoast as well as the Health Club of Concord.

Mabardy, doing business as 827 Main Street, LLC, purchased the once popular health club from ReadyCap Lending, LLC of Providence, New Jersey, which held the mortgage on the property, for $575,000. Mabardy is on vacation and was not available for comment.

The 24,887-square-foot building, with 18,075 square feet of usable space, including a pool, on three floors sits on a 1.15-acre lot and is assessed by the city for $1,193,100, of which $1,103,300 represents the value of the building itself.

In 1991, Tom and Lori Oakley acquired the building, which since it was built in 1962 housed the YMCA, and operated the facility very successfully for nearly a quarter of a century. However, in 2015 several factors combined to compel them to shutter the club. They were denied a federal loan for improvements to increase energy efficiency and reduce energy costs. Their primary mortgage holder filed for bankruptcy, hindering their efforts to refinance the operation. Creditors filed suit and, as the Oakley's struggled to trim costs, membership dwindled. In 2015, the day after Thanksgiving, the club closed.

After spending several months of seeking partners, the property was put up for auction in February 2016, but the auctioneer failed to appear. At a second auction in April, Optiline Enterprises of Hudson placed the only bid of $735,000, but the transaction never closed.

03-09 LASC

The Laconia Athletic and Swim Club property has sold to a Seabrook man for $575,000. (Adam Drapcho/Laconia Daily Sun)